The Mysterium Magnum by Jacob Boehme


Jacob Boehme

Chapter 34

The Thirty-Fourth Chapter

How Noah cursed his Son Ham, and of the Mystical Prophecy Concerning his Three Sons and their Posterity

1. And Noah began to be an husbandman, and planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, Canaan's father, saw the nakedness of his father, and told it his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backwards, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, so that they saw not their father's nakedness. Now when Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him, he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of all servants he shall be amongst his brethren. And he said further, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. And God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan he his servant. (Gen. ix. 20-27) This is an exact real type of the human property, according to the three Principles or worlds: for the spirit in Noah speaks from the centre; and the three sons of Noah did now stand before the spirit in a figure; typifying what kind of people should arise from them.

2. By this figure the spirit of Noah prophesied or declared, from the very stock or root of the formed Word of the human property, what the second monarchy should be. Noah was drunk, and lay naked with his shame, at which his son Ham mocked, and also declared it to his brethren, that they also should do the like. Here the spirit intimates and points out whence the curse arose upon Ham, viz. from the shame of his father.


3. For this was even the abomination before God's holiness; out of which root Ham and his generation, viz. the man of vanity, does arise, for in the image of God the shame is an abomination.

4. Therefore God commanded Abraham to be circumcised on this member, to show that this member was not given to Adam in the beginning, and that it should be again cut off from the image of God, and not inherit the kingdom of God; upon which cause and reason also the soul's spirit is ashamed to uncover it.

5. But seeing that Adam did not stand in the image of God, when his Eve was made out of him, it was hung upon him for to propagate in a bestial nature and kind; thereupon also this bestial tree, viz. the fleshly spirit of vanity, came to be propagated all along from this property, and adheres to man. The figure of this was Ham, and therefore he mocked his own property in his father.

6. The spirit of this property mocked its ens which it had from the centre of nature; it beheld itself in his father's shame, from whence it had its rise, as in a looking-glass of its selfhood. And thus this spirit [of fleshly Ham] forthwith brake forth as a life of vanity, and manifested what itself was, viz. a scorn [disdain or mock-god] of heaven.

7. Which the spirit of God's image in the formed Word of the good ens in Noah did well know, and did awaken in him the fire-centre of the soul in the wrath, and cursed this spirit of vanity, that it should not co-inherit in the kingdom of heaven. The scoff-spirit shall not possess the kingdom of God, but be cut off from the image of God, that is, from the outward image of the formed creature.

8. For the same property from whence the shame arises, is good in itself; but in Adam's imagination after the bestial property it became monstrous, bestial and strange in the image of God; and therefore this strange form and shape shall not remain for ever.

9. From this strange false shape the scorner or scoff-spirit did arise. The devil insinuated into the figure of Ham's strange spirit, and mocked at the heavenly generatress, that it was now even become a monster in the image of God; and therefore the spirit of Noah cursed the false scoff-spirit [in Ham and all his generation].

10. Not that we are to understand that Ham was accursed in his soul and soul's spirit, but according to the figure [he and all his were accursed] in the property of the reviling mocking spirit, which brake forth and manifested itself out of the monster; but he (that is, the earthly image of the limus of the earth) should be hidden with its own self-will in the image of God, and be only as a servant or instrument of the divine image proceeding from the holy ens; the earthly spirit should not rule, but the heavenly, viz. the soul with its spirit; the monster, that is, this vile reviling spirit, must not be manifest. But seeing the free will did awaken and stir up the monstrous spirit, which was only a scorner of the Mystery and hiddenness in the Covenant, Noah cursed him, [1] and said, He should be a servant of his brethren.

[1. Or it.]

11. For he said, blessed be the God of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant: God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem. The God of Shem was he who had espoused or incorporated himself with the Covenant in the seed of the woman; the figure and type of this (in the spirit) was Shem; and Japheth was the figure of the poor soul captivated in the monster; God should let this Japhethical (or soul's) property, dwell in the tents of Shem, and enlarge it in Shem's figure.

12. But Ham's figure (according to the monstrous spirit) should not have any dominion or reign in the life of the new birth, but be only as a servant or as an instrument, without self-will or any peculiar life of selfness, [and] must serve and administer to the use of the spiritual kingdom; in manner as the night is hidden in the day, and yet 'tis really there, and yet so as if it were not; and it is the handmaid to the day's operation and power.

13. Thus in like manner the spirit did express how the three properties of the humanity, viz. the woman's seed, and the creatural soul's seed, and the earthly seed in Ham's figure, should stand in their place order and rule in the regeneration in the spiritual kingdom; and thereby it did declare and point at the kingdoms of the world, intimating that this same figure would all along put forth itself in the kingdom and dominion of the humanity [2] upon the earth, and thus keep its figure externally, so long as mankind should live in the dominion of the four elements; as it has thus fallen out.

[2. Or mankind.]

14. For Shem's figure passed in the Covenant upon Abraham and Israel, among whom the Word of the Covenant was manifested and spoken forth; and Japheth's figure went along in nature, viz. through the wisdom of nature in the kingdom of nature; whence the Gentiles arose, who looked upon the light of nature, and Shem's lineage looked upon the light in the Covenant. Thus Japheth, that is, the poor captive soul which is of the eternal nature, dwelt in Shem's tent, viz. under the Covenant; for the light of nature dwells in the light of grace, and is a tenant or inhabitant of the light of grace, viz. of God's light, it is even as a form of framed substance of the unformed uncomprehended light of God.

15. And Ham's line passed upon the animal bestial man, proceeded from the limus of the earth, in which was the curse; whence the Sodomitical and almost wholly brutish people did arise; who esteemed neither the light of nature, nor the light of grace in the Covenant.

16. This signifies and points out the outward part of the soul from the spirit of this world; which, in the regeneration in the spiritual world, shall be a formed and very fixed will; which may not or desires not to rule in the manner and condition of a selfish peculiar spirit; but shall be as a servant and minister of the creatural soul and God's spirit in the holy light's image; it shall not be manifest in any self-full arrogative understanding of selfhood, but remain hidden, as the night is hidden in the day; and yet it is really there.

17. For the animal soul shall not inherit the kingdom of light; although it shall and will be therein; yet it has no dominion [or predominant virtue of its selfness]. As an instrument is a dead senseless thing in reference to the master, and yet it is the master's tool wherewith he makes what he pleases; the same in like manner we are to understand concerning the animal soul in the regeneration.

18. But in the time of the four elements it will have the upper hand and sway, for it has brought itself into a proper selfhood and imaginative life of selfish propriety; and therefore God has accursed it, and condemned it to death, so that it must die to selfhood.

19. For when Adam in his desire did awaken the earthly properties out of the limus of the earth, so that they went forth out of their just accord and mutual harmony, each of them into its own self-will and lust, to behold and look upon its self as a peculiar self-life; the bestial soul was hereby brought to its predominant power and force. And this same is Ham's property, which God has ordained to be servant under the angelical kingdom, and cursed its jeering scorning power, in that it did mock at the heavenly matrix, and set forth its own figure and form.

20. The spirit says in Moses, Shem and Japheth took a garment upon their shoulders, and went backward to their father and covered him; so that their faces were turned backward, and they saw not his shame. (Gen. ix. 23) O you wonderful God! how very mystically and secretly dost you carry your works: who would know and understand your ways, if your spirit did not lead us, and open the understanding!

21. Both these brothers took a garment upon their shoulders and covered the father. Wherefore did not one do it alone? or wherefore did Noah drink himself drunk, and lay so naked with his shame? This, reason looks upon, as if there were nothing more in it [but only a history of such an act]. But seeing that Ham was thereby cursed, and made to be a servant of his brethren, and not only he, but also all his posterity out of him, we see thereby very clearly what the spirit doth hereby signify, viz. that it is a type, character and figure of that which should afterwards come to pass.

22. The earthly spirit, which the devil had made monstrous, was a scorner and jeerer of the heavenly birth; it indeed saw the shame which it must bear upon it as a monster; but he went away as a beast, and mocked the new regeneration of the heavenly matrix. But Japheth, viz. the poor soul, and Shem, that is, the disappeared heaven's image, which was moved, stirred or quickened again in the Covenant, they took a garment upon their shoulders. This garment was the new humanity, which should open itself out of the Covenant, out of the angelical world.

23. And they went backward, and covered the father's shame. This intimates and betokens that the free will of self must and shall wholly turn itself away from the bestial monster of self-fullness and ownhood, wherein the shame stands open, and enter again into the resigned filiation or child-ship; and go no more forwards, but retire again backwards; and must take the garment of the new humanity, viz. Christ's innocency, merit and satisfaction upon it, and therewith cover the shame which our father Adam has, with the monster, passed upon us by inheritance: This was the type which was here set forth.

24. And that Shem did not carry the garment alone, and cover the father, doth figure out unto us, that the soul, viz. Japheth, (that is, the inward kingdom) of the inward eternal nature, must help; for the soul is of the Father's property, and this, Japheth doth typify. And the soul's spirit, viz. the fair image of God in the light, which did vanish or disappear in Adam, and stood typically [3] in the Covenant, of which Shem was the figure, doth point out unto us the Son's property, who should open the Covenant. Thus also we are to understand that the Father in his will, who freely gave us the Son, took on one part the garment of our sins' covering, and this was typified by Japheth; and the Son, on the other part, who covered our shame with the Father's will, of this Shem was a figure.

[3. Or in the image.]

25. For if Christ shall lay the covering garment upon our shame, then the soul must help, that is, it must give up and resign its will wholly thereinto; and go backwards with its will towards the bosom of the Father; and not any longer parley with itself in its own will and knowledge, how it goes or will go; and so it must take the garment, in true repentance, upon its shoulders; and leave the other part upon the shoulders of Shem, viz. unto the true image of Christ, [4] which is the precious noble Sophia.

[4. Or God.]

26. Both these take the heavenly garment, and go backwards to the Father; and though they cannot see how they go, yet they go in faith, trusting on God's mercy, and turn away their eyes from the shame, vanity and false will. For in this place going backwards and covering the shame signifies nothing else but to convert the selfhood naturally going forwards in its own will and way, and go back again into the ONE, out of which the free will departed and came into the monster, or shame.

27. Noah's drunkenness signifies, that when Adam entered with his lust and desire into this world's property, he became drunk in the bestial property; and therein he uncovered his shame, that is, he disclosed and made bare therein the bestial lust. Now, when this was done, he stood before God in great shame; and then the bestial spirit in this monster of false lust and poisonful concupiscence brake forth, and reviled the precious heavenly image, and made itself master.

28. And thus Christ must, in our soul, and in our disappeared and again revived noble Sophia, cover the shame of our father Adam and his children; for he would therefore not be born of the seed of man; but out of the heavenly, disappeared ens, and brought his living ens of the holy world thereinto; that so he might cover with his heavenly ens our monstrous shame [5] of the soul's property, which Adam's lust had uncovered.

[5. Text: seed.]

29. The corrupt nature which had opened itself now in Paradise, went along in all men; and though the image of God was again regenerate in the spirit of the saints, as in a figurative form until the fulfilling of Christ in the flesh, yet the monstrous image was propagated all along in all in the earthly property.

30. But seeing the first earthly world of the human property was drowned in the flood, and there the first monarchies ceased, the same figure did forthwith represent itself again in Noah and his three sons. So that now the spirit does here signify from the very stock and root of the human property, how it should afterwards be, viz. the tree of man would in its properties introduce itself into boughs and branches; that is, spread forth itself into distinct nations and governments; and that they would not all know the only God according to the light of his grace; and how that God would represent unto them the light of grace in the generation of Shem.

31. For Noah says, Blessed be the God of Shem, and let Japheth dwell in Shem's tents. By the God of Shem he means the holy Word in the Covenant, intimating how the same would manifest itself. And then the Japhites or Gentiles, which lived in the light of nature, should come to the light of grace manifested from the generation of Shem; and enter into Shem's tents, and dwell therein. This did point at the Gentiles, who before knew only of the light of nature, but when the Word did manifest itself in the person of Christ, with the gracious light of the Gospel, they came into the light of grace.

32. And even here Ham, viz. the fleshly lust-spirit, must be in its own property and selfhood a servant among the children of light, for the children of God do compel him to servitude and keep him under, and take away his reviling scorning will. For the spirit of Ham, which Noah cursed, does intimate how this Ham's spirit would be great upon the earth, and go on only in its own proud monstrous and bestial knowledge, and scoff at the children of the light, account them fools, because they hope upon something else, which they do not outwardly see.

33. Thus the spirit in Noah points out unto us three sorts of men; first it signifies the children of faith, who nakedly and merely look upon the hidden light of God's grace, and have the same shining in their hearts.

34. The other would look upon the light of nature and reason, and would endeavour to fathom and search out the hidden light by the strength of reason, and that they would therefore contend, dispute, wrangle and jangle, and bring forth many wonderful strange monsters and conceits out of the light of nature, and set them up for gods, or God's light, as it has so come to pass among the Christians and Gentiles.

35. The third sort would be of Ham's nature and generation; and know neither the light of nature nor grace; but walk as the beast, and be only titular verbal praters and literal children, and, moreover, mockers, scoffers, and fleering apes, who would also be called the children of God. But their knowledge would be only of the external stone church; a mere custom, and verbal round of a service of God, [6] where the mouth would use indeed the name of God; but the heart would only bring forth a bestial spirit to earthly pride, lust and pleasure.

[6. Or Divine Service as they call it.]

36. Thus the spirit of Shem, Ham and Japheth would dwell together in one congregation. Shem's generation in faith hidden among the Japhites, as a poor, disesteemed, contemned, abject people. But the tribe of Japheth would set forth themselves with great plausible words, with great and huge ostentation of God's service; but yet it would be but as an hypocrisy and seeming holiness, proceeding from the light of nature. But Ham's lineage would be full of gluttony and drunkenness, scoffing, and reviling, and they would mock at both, viz. the children of the Cain-like seeming holiness, and also at the children of the true light; and would live as the wild brute beast; and yet in their swinish life would be children of grace by an outward appropriation or adoption.

37. This Ham has now the dominion in Christendom; he has flattered with Japheth, so that he has set him up by the light of nature an external specious divine worship, as a titular God. This titular God has covered Ham, in his bestial Sodomitical spirit, with a very fair and glorious covering, under the purple mantle of Christ; and laid under his head great sacks full [7] of the light of grace; and these the bestial mouth-spirit of Ham must take along with it; and when it must indeed die, then it has whole sacks full of the light of grace.

[7. Or satchels full.]

38. But the light of grace remains only in the sacks, and Ham's spirit remains in itself an evil beast; and cannot truly open the sacks and take out the light of grace. This Ham's spirit is accursed, and shall not inherit God's kingdom; unless it be really born again out of the light of grace; otherwise the sacks and coverings avail him not at all.

39. For a beast goes into the sanctuary [or to holy service of God] , and remains a beast when he comes thence. Your seeming holiness and devotion, your comforting, flattering and soothing up yourself, avails nothing, unless you return again into your first mother, from whence man is originally proceeded, and become as a little, new born child, and let Ham and Japheth go, with all their arts and pratings.

40. For Japheth obtains it not in his specious glistering kingdom; unless he enter into Shem's tent, viz. into the light of grace, so that the same may be born in him. Outward adopted children avail not in God's account; but innate children, born anew of the heavenly ens in Christ spirit; and whosoever has not the same is already judged. (John iii. 18)


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