GATES >> Access to the Interiors >> Access to the Rational Mind >> Entrance to Heaven
Opposite Sense >> Access to Hell, Evil, Falsities
And thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies. That this signifies that charity and faith shall succeed in the place where evil and falsity were before, is evident from the signification of "inheriting," as being to receive the Lord's life (see n. 2658); here, to succeed in the place, because when charity and faith are in the place where evil and falsity were before, then the Lord's life succeeds there; from the signification of "seed," as being charity and faith (see n. 1025, 1447, 1610, 1941); from the signification of a "gate" (explained in what follows); and from the signification of "enemies," as being evils and falsities, or what is the same, those who are in evil and falsity: in the internal sense of the Word these are signified by "enemies" and "foes."
 As regards the signification of a "gate," there are in general two gates with every man; the one opens toward hell, and is opened to the evils and falsities therefrom; in this gate are infernal genii and spirits; the other gate opens toward heaven, and is opened to good and the truths therefrom; in this gate are angels. There is thus a gate which leads to hell, and a gate which leads to heaven. The gate of hell is opened to those who are in evil and falsity, and only through chinks round about above does anything of the light from heaven enter, by means of which they are able to think and reason; but the gate of heaven is opened to those who are in good and the truth therefrom.
 For there are two ways which lead into man's rational mind-a higher or internal one, through which good and truth from the Lord enter, and a lower or external one, through which evil and falsity come up from hell. The rational mind itself is in the middle, and to it these ways tend. That mind, from the goods and truths which are in it, is compared in the Word to a city, and is called a "city." And because it is compared to a city, and is called a "city," gates are attributed to it, and it is often described as being besieged and stormed by enemies, that is, by evil genii and spirits; and as being defended by angels from the Lord, that is by the Lord. The infernal genii and spirits, with their evils and falsities, cannot come further than to the lower or outer gate, and in no case into the city. If they could get into the city, or into the rational mind, all would be over with the man. But when they come so far as to seem to themselves to have taken that city by storm, it is then closed, so that good and truth no longer flow into it from heaven except as was said some little through chinks round about. From this it is that such persons no longer have anything of charity or anything of faith, but make good consist in evil, and truth in falsity. From this also it is that they are no longer truly rational, although they seem to themselves to be so (n. 1914, 1944). And it is from this that they are called dead men, although they believe that they are more alive than others (n. 81, 290 at the end). These things are so because the gate of heaven is closed to them. That it is closed to them manifestly appears and is perceived in the other life; as also on the other hand that the gate of heaven is open to those who are in good and truth.
 As regards the "gate of enemies" in particular, which is treated of in this verse, it is with man in his natural mind. When man is wholly natural, or not regenerate, evils and falsities occupy the gate; or what is the same, evil genii and spirits flow into it with cupidities of evil and persuasions of falsity (see n. 687, 697, 1692); but when man becomes spiritual, or is being regenerated, then the evils and falsities, or what is the same, the evil genii and spirits, are driven away from the gate, or from the mind; then goods and truths, or charity and faith, take their place; which things are signified by its being said, "thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies." This takes place in particular with every man when he is being regenerated; and in like manner in the other life with those who come into the Lord's kingdom; and it also takes place in the general body, or in the church, which is composed of many.
 This was represented by the sons of Israel expelling the nations from the land of Canaan. The latter is meant in the literal sense where it is said, "thy seed shall inherit the gate of thine enemies;" but in the internal sense are signified the things which have been told. Hence in ancient times it became customary to speak thus when blessing those who were entering into marriage; as is also manifest from the benediction of Laban to his sister Rebekah, when she was going away betrothed to Isaac:
Our sister, be thou thousands of ten thousands, and let thy seed inherit the gate of those that hate thee (Gen. 24:60).
 That such things are signified in the Word by the "gate of enemies" or of "those that hate," may be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:
I will kill thy root with famine, and I will slay them that remain of thee. Howl, O gate; cry, O city; thou art melted away, O Philistia, all of thee, for there cometh a smoke out of the north (Isa. 14:30-31);
to "kill the root with famine, and to slay them that remain," denotes to take away the goods and truths which had been stored up interiorly by the Lord. That "they that remain" mean these, may be seen above (n. 468, 530, 560-562, 661, 798, 1050, 1738, 1906, 2284). The "gate" denotes access to the interiors, or to the rational mind; the "city," that mind, or what is the same, the goods and truths in it (n. 402, 2268, 2450, 2451, 2712); "Philistia" denotes the memory-knowledge of the knowledges of faith, or what is the same, those who are in the memory-knowledge of them, but not in the goods of faith (n. 1197, 1198); "a smoke out of the north" signifies that there is falsity from hell (that "smoke" is falsity from evil, may be seen above, n. 1861).
 In the same:
The city of emptiness shall be broken down, every house shall be shut up that no one may come in; there is a crying in the streets because of the wine; all gladness shall be desolated, the joy of the land shall be exiled, that which is left in the city shall be desolation, and the gate shall be smitten with devastation, for thus shall it be in the midst of the earth, among the people (Isa. 24:10-13);
the "city of emptiness which shall be broken down" denotes the human mind as being deprived of truth; that "every house shall be shut up," denotes being without good (that a "house" is good, may be seen above, n. 2233, 2234; the "crying in the streets because of the wine" denotes a state of falsity (that a "cry" is predicated of falsities, may be seen above, n. 2240; also that "wine" is truth, of which the cry is that there is none, n. 1071, 1798; that "streets" are what lead to truths, n. 2336); "gladness which is desolated" is predicated of truth; the "joy of the land which is exiled" is predicated of good; hence it is manifest what is signified by "that which is left in the city shall be desolation," and by "the gate shall be smitten with devastation;" the gate is said to be "devastated" when nothing but evils and falsities reign.
 In Jeremiah:
The ways of Zion do mourn, because none come to the appointed feast; all her gates are desolate, her priests do sigh, her virgins are afflicted, and she herself is in bitterness; her adversaries have become the head, her enemies are secure, because Jehovah hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions; her children are gone into captivity before the adversary (Lam. 1:4-5);
"the ways of Zion mourning" denotes there being no longer truths from good (that "ways" are truths, may be seen above, n. 189, 627, 2333); "all the gates being desolated" denotes that all the approaches are occupied by falsities; "the enemies having become the head" denotes that evils reign.
 In the same:
Jehovah hath made the rampart and the wall of the daughter of Zion to lament; they languish together; her gates are sunk into the earth; He hath destroyed and broken her bars; her king and her princes are among the nations; the law is not; yea her prophets found no vision from Jehovah; all thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee; they hissed and gnashed the teeth; they said, We have swallowed her up; surely this is the day that we looked for; we have found, we have seen it (Lam. 2:8-9, 16);
"the gates sunk down into the earth" denotes the natural mind occupied by evils and falsities; "her king and her princes being among the nations" denotes that truths are immersed in evils (that a "king" is truth in general, may be seen above, n. 1672, 1728, 2015, 2069; also that "princes" are primary truths, n. 1482, 1089; and that "nations" are evils, n. 1259, 1260, 1849, 1868, 2588).
 In Moses:
A nation from far, from the end of the earth, shall straiten thee in all thy gates, in all thy land; thus shall thine enemy straiten thee (Deut. 28:49, 52, 63).
This is among the curses which Moses foretold to the people if they should not remain in the precepts and statutes: a "nation from far from the end of the earth," in the internal sense, denotes evils and falsities, or those who are in evil and falsity; to "besiege in all the gates" denotes cutting off all access to good and truth.
 In Nahum:
Behold, thy people in the midst of thee are women, the gates of thy land are set wide open to thine enemies, the fire hath devoured thy bars; draw thee water for the siege; strengthen thy fortresses; go into the clay and tread the mortar, make strong the brickkiln (Nahum 3:13-14);
"the gates of thy land being set wide open to thine enemies" denotes that evils occupy the place where there should be goods. In the book of Judges:
The highways ceased, and they walked through byways, they went through crooked ways, the villages ceased in Israel. He chose new gods; then was war against the gates; was there a shield seen or a spear in forty thousands of Israel? (Judg. 5:6-8);
the prophecy of Deborah and Barak; there being "war against the gates" denotes against goods and truths.
 In David:
They that dwell in the gate plot against me, they that drink strong drink sing songs (Ps. 69:12);
"they that dwell in the gate" denotes evils and falsities, and also the infernals. In Ezekiel:
In the visions of God he brought me to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north. (He there saw the great abominations of the house of Israel.) He also brought me to the door of the gate of the house of Jehovah that looketh toward the north; he there also saw abominations (Ezek. 8:6, 14-15);
"the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north" denotes the place where interior falsities are; "the door of the gate of the house of Jehovah toward the north" denotes the place where interior evils are (that the falsities and evils are interior ones, and that it is an interior sphere in which such spirits and genii are, may be seen above, n. 2121-2124).
 In David:
Lo, sons are a possession of Jehovah, and the fruit of the womb is His reward; as arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are sons of the youth. Happy is the man that hath filled his quiver with them; they shall not be ashamed, for they shall speak with the enemies in the gate (Ps. 127:3-5);
"to speak with the enemies in the gate" denotes to have no fear of evils and falsities, and thus not of hell. In Isaiah:
In that day shall Jehovah Zebaoth be for a spirit of judgment to Him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn back the battle to the gate; and these also are insane through wine, and through strong drink are gone astray (Isa. 28:5-7).
In the same:
They shall be cut off that make men to sin by a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate; and make the just to turn aside to a thing of naught (Isa. 29:20-21).
In the same:
Elam bare the quiver in a chariot of a man, and horsemen; Kir uncovered the shield; and the choice of thy valleys was full of chariots and horsemen; placing they placed themselves at the gate, and he looked in that day to the armory of the house of the forest (Isa. 22:6-8).
Judah hath mourned, and the gates thereof languished; they have mourned to the earth, and the cry of Jerusalem is gone up; their nobles have sent their little ones to the waters; they came to the pits, they found no waters (Jer. 14:2-3).
In the same:
The elders have ceased from the gate, the young men from their music (Lam. 5:14).
 It may be seen from these passages what is signified by the "gate of enemies," namely, that it is hell, or infernal spirits, who are continually attacking goods and truths. Their seat with man as before said is in his natural mind. But when a man is of such a character as to admit goods and truths, and thus angels, the infernal spirits are then driven away by the Lord from that seat; and on their being driven away, the gate of heaven or heaven itself is opened. This gate is also mentioned in the Word in various places; as in Isaiah:
A song in the land of Judah. We have a strong city, salvation will He appoint for walls and bulwarks; open ye the gates, and the righteous nation that keepeth fidelities shall enter in (Isa. 26:1-2).
In the same:
Thus said Jehovah to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open the doors before him, and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and will make the crooked places straight, and I will break in pieces the doors of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron (Isa. 45:1-2)
In the same:
The sons of the stranger shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee; they shall open thy gates continually, they shall not be shut day nor night; violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting and destruction within thy borders; and thou shalt call thy walls salvation, and thy gates praise (Isa. 60:10-11, 18).
In the same:
Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way for the people, level, make level the highway; say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold thy salvation cometh (Isa. 62:10-12).
They shall pass through the gate, and shall go out thereat, and their King shall pass on before them, and Jehovah in their beginning (Micah 2:13).
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? Jehovah strong and mighty, Jehovah mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; lift them up, ye everlasting doors (Ps. 24:7-10).
Praise Jehovah, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion: for He hath strengthened the bars of thy gates, He hath blessed thy children within thee (Ps. 147:12-13).
 From these passages it is manifest that the "gate of heaven" is where angels are with man, that is, where there is an influx of good and truth from the Lord; and thus that as before said there are two gates. Concerning these two gates the Lord speaks thus in Matthew:
Enter ye in by the strait gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in thereat; because strait is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matt. 7:12-14; Luke 13:23-24).
Moreover the gates to the New Jerusalem and the gates to the new temple are much treated of in Ezekiel, and also by John in Revelation, by which nothing else is meant than the entrances to heaven (see Ezek. 40:6-49; 43:1-2, 4; 44:1-3; 46:1-9, 12; 48:31-34; Rev. 21:12-13, 21, 25; 22:14; Isa. 54:11-12). Hence Jerusalem is called the "gate of the people" (Micah 1:9; Obad. verse 13). [AC2851]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)