VALLEYS >> External Worship >> Unclean Worship
That they found a valley in the land of Shinar.That this signifies that their worship became more unclean and profane, is evident from the signification of "a valley," and of "the land of Shinar." In the Word, "mountains" signify love or charity, because these are the highest, or, what is the same, the inmost things in worship, as before shown (n. 795). Hence "a valley" signifies what is beneath the mountains, that is, what is lower in worship, which is the same as what is exterior therein; and "the land of Shinar," signifies external worship wherein is what is profane, as before shown (n. 1183). And so in this passage, their having found a valley in the land of Shinar signifies that their worship became more unclean and profane.
 In the first verse it is said of the church that it was of one lip and that its words were one, which means that it had one doctrine in general and in particular. But in this verse the decline of the church is treated of, in that it is said that they journeyed from the east, that is, they began to go back from charity; for insofar as the church, or a man of the church, goes back from charity, so far his worship goes back from what is holy, or in other words, so far his worship approaches what is unclean and profane. That their having found a valley in the land of Shinar signifies the decline of the church, or of worship, to what is profane, is because a valley is a low place between mountains, by which are signified the holy things of love or of charity in worship, as before said. This may also be seen from the signification of "a valley" in the Word, where valleys are designated, in the original language, by certain terms which signify, when used in that sense, what is more or less profane in worship.
 That "valleys" have such a signification is evident in Isaiah:
The burden of the valley of vision. For it is a day of tumult, and of treading down, and of perplexity, to the Lord Jehovih of Armies, in the valley of vision (Isa. 22:1, 5).
"The valley of vision" denotes phantasies and reasonings, whereby worship is falsified and at last profaned. In Jeremiah:
How sayest thou I am not defiled, I have not walked after the Baalim? see thy way in the valley (Jer. 2:23).
"The valley" denotes unclean worship. Again:
They have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom; wherefore behold the days come, saith Jehovah, that it shall no more be called Tophet, nor the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of slaughter (Jer. 7:31-32; 19:6).
"The valley of Hinnom" denotes hell, and also the profanation of truth and good.
 In Ezekiel:
Thus hath said the Lord Jehovih to the mountains and to the hills, to the watercourses and to the valleys, Behold Me, I bring a sword upon you, and I will destroy your high places (Ezek. 6:3).
I will give unto Gog a place there for burial in Israel, the valley of them that pass through toward the east of the sea, and they shall call it the valley of the multitude of Gog (Ezek. 39:11, 15).
This is said of worship in externals; "a valley" denotes such worship. But when the worship has not yet become so profane, this is expressed by the Hebrew word for valley that is used in the verse before us (Gen. 11:2); and also in Isaiah:
I will open rivers upon the slopes, and I will make fountains in the midst of the valleys, the wilderness a pool of waters, and the dry land springs of waters (Isa. 41:18).
This is said of those who are in ignorance, or who are beyond the knowledges of faith and of charity, and yet are in charity. "Valley" as used here denotes these. In like manner does "valley" in Ezekiel 37:1.*
* The Hebrew word for "valley" in Ezek. 6 and 39 means merely a "low, flat place," even if in a gorge; whereas in Gen. 11, Isa. 41, and Ezek. 37 the Hebrew word used for "valley" means a valley as opposed to mountains, even if it be a plain. [Reviser.] [AC1292]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)