The White Horse #1

White Horse (Ryder translation)

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1. CONCERNING THE WHITE HORSE as described in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 19

In the writings of John, in the Book of Revelation, the following is a description of the Word in its spiritual sense, in other words the sense contained within it, or its 'inner meaning:'

I saw heaven standing open, and behold, a White Horse. And the one sitting on the White Horse was called faithful and true, judging and fighting in righteousness. His eyes were a flame of fire, and on His head were many jewels. He had a name inscribed that no one knew but He Himself. And He was dressed in a garment dyed with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. The armies that followed Him in heaven were on white horses, they themselves dressed in clean white linen. On His garment and on His thigh was written a name, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Revelation 19:11-14, 16.

No one can have a clear idea of what each of the details in this description entails except by way of its 'inner meaning." It is obvious that each particular detail must represent or signify something, as follows:

Heaven which was standing open; a horse which was white; the one seated on it was called faithful and true,1 judging and fighting in righteousness; His eyes a flame of fire; and many jewels2 on His head; having a name inscribed that no one knew but He Himself; and dressed in a garment dyed with blood; and the armies that followed Him in heaven were on white horses, they themselves dressed in clean white linen;3 on His garment and on His thigh He has written a name.

It is stated plainly that the one seated on the White Horse is the Word, and He is the Lord who is the Word, for what is said is that His name is called The Word of God; and then, He has written on His garment and on His thigh the title King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

From the interpretation of each individual phrase or statement it is clear that all this serves to describe the spiritual sense or internal meaning of the Word. The phrase heaven which was standing open' represents and signifies that the inner meaning of the Word is seen by those in heaven, and consequently also by those on earth for whom heaven stands open. 'A horse which was white' represents and signifies an understanding of the Word as regards its inner meanings.4 That the 'white horse' means what I have said will be clear from what follows.

It is clear that 'the one seated on it' means the Lord in His capacity as the Word, and thus means the Word itself, for it is stated that 'His name is called the Word of God;' and he is called 'faithful' and 'judging in righteousness' because of His goodness; and 'true' and 'fighting in righteousness' because of His truth, for the Lord Himself is righteousness. 'His eyes a flame of fire' signify divine truth radiating from the divine good flowing from His divine love. The 'many jewels on His head' signify all the good and true properties of faith. Having a 'name written which no one knew other than He Himself' signifies that no one sees what is the nature of the Word in its inner meaning except Himself, and one to whom He reveals it.

Dressed in a garment dyed with blood' signifies the violence done to the Word in its literal meaning.5 'The armies in heaven which followed Him on white horses' signifies those who understand the Word as regards its inner meanings.' 'Those dressed in clean white linen' signifies the same people who are endued with truth arising from what is good. 'On His garment and on His thigh a name written6' signifies what is true and what is good and their specific qualities.

From all these verses, and from those which come before and after them, it is clear that they serve to foretell that the spiritual or internal sense of the Word will be laid open at around the final time of the Church; and what will happen at that time is also described there, Revelation 19:17-21. There is no need to show here the things which are signified by these words since they are individually shown in Arcana Caelestia. The Lord is the Word because He is the divine truth: 2533, 2803, 2894, 5272, 8535;7 the Word is the divine truth: 4692, 5075, 9987; He is proclaimed to be sitting on a horse judging and fighting in righteousness because the Lord is righteousness. The Lord is proclaimed to be righteousness from the fact that by His own power He has saved the human race: 1813, 2025-2027, 9715, 9809, 10019, 10152. Righteousness is a merit belonging to the Lord alone: 9715, 9979. 'His eyes a flame of fire' signify divine truth radiating from the divine good flowing from His divine love, because 'eyes' signify the understanding and truth of faith: 2701, 4403-4421, 4523-4534, 6923, 9051, 10569; and 'a flame of fire' signifies the good of love: 934, 4906, 5215, 6314, 6832; the 'jewels on His head'8 signify all the good and true properties of faith: 114, 3858, 6335, 6640, 9863, 9865, 9868, 9873, 9905.

Having a name written which no one knew other than He Himself' signifies that no one sees what is the nature of the Word in its inner meaning except Himself, and one to whom He reveals it, because a name signifies the nature of a thing: 144-145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3237, 3421, 6674, 9310. 'Dressed in a garment dyed with blood' signifies the violence done to the Word in its literal meaning because a garment' signifies truth, which clothes what is good: 1073, 2576, 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216, 9952, 10536; especially truth in its outermost form, and thus the Word in its literal meaning: 5248, 6918, 9158, 9212; and because 'blood' signifies violence done to truth by what is false: 374, 1005, 4735, 5476, 9127. 'The armies in heaven which followed Him on white horses' signify those who understand the Word as regards its inner meanings because 'armies' signify those who are equipped with the truth and goodness of heaven and the Church: 3448, 7236, 7988, 8019; and the horse' signifies understanding: 3217, 5321, 6125, 6400, 6534, 7024, 8146, 8381; and 'white' means the truth which the light of heaven has within itself thus, the inner truth: 3301, 3993, 4007, 5319.

Those dressed in clean white linen' signify the same people who are endued with truth arising from what is good because 'linen' or 'a garment of linen' signifies truth from a heavenly sourcewhich is truth from what is good: 5319, 9469. 'On His garment and on His thigh a name written' signifies what is true and what is good, and their specific qualities, because 'a garment' signifies truth, and 'a name' signifies its nature, as above, and 'thigh' signifies the good properties of love: 3021, 4277, 4280, 9961, 10488. 'King of Kings and Lord of Lords' is the Lord as regards divine truth and divine good; the Lord is called King by virtue of His divine truth: 3009, 5068, 6148, and He is called Lord by virtue of His divine good: 4973, 9167, 9194.

From all this it is clear what the nature of the Word is in its spiritual or inner sense, and that there is no single word within it which does not have some spiritual meaning relating to heaven and the Church.

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Footnotes:

1. The Revd John Elliott: "The [original Latin] text ought surely to read, as Arcana Coelestia 2760; 'quod fidelis et verus, et in justitia ...'" The translator has followed this conjecture.

2. In translating diademata as 'jewels,' rather than 'crowns,' I have noted the Revd John Elliott, who draws attention to John Chadwick's assertion (from his Lexicon to the Latin Texts of Swedenborg's Theological Writings), that there can be little doubt that Swedenborg understood jewel not crown by the Latin word diadema.

3. The Latin byssinus means 'a garment made form byssus' (Lewis and Shorts Latin Dictionary). Byssus: cotton (Baxter and Johnsons Medieval Latin Word-List); cotton, or (according to some) a kind of flax, and the linen made from it (Lewis and Shorts Latin Dictionary).

4. The Latin interiora (plural of interius, and comp. of intern um) means 'inward' or 'internal' (Lewis and Shorts Latin Dictionary). It may also signify: 'more hidden,' 'secret' or 'unknown' (Lewis and Shorts Latin Dictionary).

5. I am grateful to the Revd John Elliott for the suggestion of translating litera as 'in its literal meaning." I was in a fog as to Swedenborg's intention in using litera, which classically may mean either 'a letter' or 'writing."

6. The Latin interiora (plural of interius, and comp. of intern um) means 'inward' or 'internal' (Lewis and Shorts Latin Dictionary). It may also signify: 'more hidden,' 'secret' or 'unknown' (Lewis and Shorts Latin Dictionary).

7. Throughout this translation I have used the reference numbers following the emendations made by the Revd John Elliott in De Equo Albo (2004).

8. In translating diademata as 'jewels,' rather than 'crowns,' I have noted the Revd John Elliott, who draws attention to John Chadwick's assertion (from his Lexicon to the Latin Texts of Swedenborg's Theological Writings), that there can be little doubt that Swedenborg understood jewel not crown by the Latin word diadema.

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(References: Arcana Coelestia 2884, 6531, 7835, 8318, 10485, 2009; Revelation 19:16-18)


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