The Story of the Peoples and Lands of Scripture and Their Spiritual Significance as Revealed in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg
Hugo Ljungberg Odhner
Swedenborg Foundation, Inc.
Copyright, 1954, by Hugo Lj. Odhner
[Map of the Holy Land with correspondences.]
The Hebrew Perspective 6
The Location of Paradise 11
The Pre-adamites 12
The Old Stone Age 14
The Racial Migrations 19
The Extent of the Golden Age 23
Nations of the Ancient Church
Noah and the Spread of the Ancient Church 30
The Nations of the Ancient Church 35
The Decline of the Ancient Church 38
Japheth and Shem 42
The Hebrew Church 43
The Patriarchal Period
The Covenant with Abram 48
Conjunction by Correspondences 49
Canaan and Egypt
The Prophetic Role of Abram 53
Problems of Biblical Chronology 54
The Date of the Exodus 58
The Spiritual Egypt 61
The Formation of Egyptian Culture 64
The Scientifics of Egypt 68
Egypt, the House of Bondage 70
Religious Elements in Israel 73
Meaning of the Exodus 76
The Conquest of Canaan
The Correspondence of Canaan 78
The Inheritance of Reuben 82
The Balm of Gilead 87
The March into Canaan 91
Manasseh in Bashan 94
Simeon and Judah 95
The Northern Tribes
The Migration of the Danites 103
The Sources of the Jordan 105
Issachar and Zebulon 110
Joseph and Benjamin
The Inheritance of Joseph 115
Benjamin - the Medium 118
The Lot of Benjamin 123
Israel Among the Nations
The Kingdom Divided 126
The Captivities of Israel and of Judah 130
Every Nation is "Representative" 133
The Land of the Gospel
Canaan - the Scene of the Advent 140
The Old Jerusalem and the New 142
The Allegory of Regeneration 144
MAPS AND DIAGRAMS
Correspondences of the Bible Lands Frontispiece
The Hebrew World 7, 8
Ancient Races of Man 15
Theory of Post-Glacial Migrations 21
Ancient Migrations in the Bible Lands 45
Comparative Chronologies of Egypt and Canaan 54
Correspondences of the Twelve Tribes 80
"These things are an allegory."
Paul, in Galatians 4:24
"Everywhere in the Word there are internal things which never appear at all on the surface, except for a very few which the Lord revealed and explained to the apostles: such as that the sacrifices signify the Lord; that the land of Canaan and Jerusalem signify heaven - being called the heavenly Canaan' and the heavenly Jerusalem'; and that Paradise has a similar meaning."
"No one can know the spiritual sense of the Word except form the science of correspondences."
THE DIVINE ALLEGORY
It is widely believed among Christians that the holy Bible is Divinely inspired and worthy to be called the Word of God. But if one asks wherein its holiness lies or what makes it different from other religions books, few can give any adequate answer. On the surface, or in its literal sense, the Bible is a history of men and nations, giving intimate glimpses of domestic bliss and of human folly, high-lights of moral wisdom and of tender faith, as well as examples of the lowest depravity to which men can sink. If we reflect we must admit that if God is the real Author of the Bible, His infinite wisdom must be present in the whole and in every part, even where the subject matter ostensibly is confined to wars between nations or the frank outpourings of human emotions of fear or revenge.
And how could this be, unless the story of the Biblical nations were in fact a parable intended to teach a wisdom far beyond the literal meaning of the words spoken to the prophets and the apostles? If the Bible be indeed the Word of God, it must contain a substratum of spiritual teachings so inexhaustible and profound that it can enlighten and inspire all generations to come.
That such a depth of truth is indeed present in the history and rituals of the Jews has sometimes been suspected by earnest students of Scripture. Paul warned that "the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life" (2 Cor. 3:6) and found an allegorical meaning in the story of Abraham's two sons (Gal. 4:22-31). He showed that the priests ministering in the tabernacle had served "as an example and shadow of heavenly things" (Hebr. 8, 9).
* * *
The Word, as it exists on earth, is the eternal foundation of the wisdom of the heavens. In it Divine truth is finally crystallized in its last or ultimate form. It was given as a mirror for all possible states of human life, in which we may see the relations of these states in their connection and contrast, and see their progressions as the angels see them, with the hope that we may thus be consociated with heaven.
Even a simple reading of the Sacred Scripture begins to accomplish these ends. For the Word - in its most obvious meaning - is clearly an account of how the Lord the Creator and Savior guided the human race toward an eventual salvation. Aside from its moral philosophy, which even the scoffer admires, it is a study of the ways of God with man and a record of man's fickle responses.
But in the New Church, we are promised, "every Divine truth of the Word in the sense of the letter with the men of that Church is translucent from the Divine truth in the spiritual sense" (AR 911). The spiritual sense is disclosed in the Writings, in order that the literal sense of the Word may become more and more a mirror of the Lord and of His Divine order.
This objective is impossible of fulfillment unless the sense of the Letter be understood. It must be read and known and studied. It is true that the angels who attend man when he reverently reads the Word, do understand the internal sense without any idea of the persons and places about which man reads. And this is true also of the interior degrees of man's mind - upon which, subconsciously, spiritual ideas are inscribed without his knowledge; but man cannot on earth utilize these spiritual ideas, or think about them, or discuss them, unless he has seen them, either from open doctrine or in the sense of the Letter when this is rendered transparent.
Emanuel Swedenborg, in preparation for his mission as revelator, spent three years (1745-1748) in an intensive study of the literal sense of the Word; and this despite his having already been a constant reader of the Bible since his childhood. He was first led to search the literal sense and to see therein genuine truths of doctrine, before he could perceive the spiritual sense which he published in the Arcana Coelestia. And then the Heavenly Doctrine - which is a one with the internal sense of the Word - was published in a new series of volumes.
This is the order which we also need to follow. We cannot divorce the Doctrine from its foundations in Scripture. How can we understand what the 'New Jerusalem' implies, if we know nothing about the old Jerusalem? How can we follow the intricacies of the spiritual teachings given in the Arcana Coelestia, unless we have a clear idea of the natural events and the places and peoples that stand as the ultimate background of their representations and outline the connections between the spiritual states that are described.
For these reasons it is useful to take up the study of the places and the peoples about which the Word speaks in its letter. These places and these people were chosen for their role by a Divine selection. The more nearly we come to know and understand the peoples and the situations spoken of in the sense of the letter, the more details and the more profound depths can we discern in the spiritual meaning within. The less we know about the natural sense, the more general and obscure the internal sense becomes; as we may confirm from the fact that the Writings say about some nations, "What is signified by these cannot so well be seen, because they are not mentioned in other parts of the Word . . ." (AC 1183, 1153, etc.); and of some others, "By these nations are signified so many rituals . . . But what these kinds of ritual are, it is impossible to say, because they are determined by their relation to the worship itself, and until this is known nothing can be said about its rituals; nor would it be of any use to know them; neither do the names recur in the Word . . ." (AC 1247).
It stands to reason that if we had an intimate knowledge of oriental life and customs, the literal sense of the Word would be endowed for us with new and more precise shades of meaning which would render it more transparent to the living spirit within. For words mean different things to different ages; and the same holds true of names and places, objects and gestures. Many an obscure passage in the Prophets, referring to some strange little village or district, has received a new glow of beauty or a new and forceful meaning since archaeologists have unearthed its secrets from the sand: perhaps it had a shrine to the Moon-goddess, or was a source of some spice for the sacrifices; perhaps it was the place of some decisive battle.
THE HEBREW PERSPECTIVE
The inspired books which compose the Word* were written in different ages, and compiled from many sources. And therefore they contain several different styles. Some are poetical, in whole or in part. Some contain representative visions and historical predictions, or vague allusions to things yet to come. A great part is historical and biographical, depicting the actual events of Israelitish history from the time of Abram to that of the Lord's coming in the flesh.
* "The books of the Word are all those which have the internal sense; but those books which have not an internal sense are not the Word". The books of the Word are: Moses, Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, the Psalms, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel and the twelve Minor Prophets, the four Gospels and the book of Revelation (AC 10325).
The historical portion contains the true history of Israel as the eyes of Israelites saw it. Certainly no other nation has preserved so merciless a record of its own shortcomings. None the less, the data given in the Bible are those which were accepted by the prophetic writers as the facts, and no doubt the record contains exaggerations - here and there - which redounded to the greater glory of Israel, to the power of Jehovah, and to the shame of His enemies. Thus the Writings reveal that when the text records how the sun and the moon, by Joshua's command, stood still over the valley of Ajalon, this was the actual appearance to the Hebrews, although the earth did not stop revolving (AE 401:18). And whatever slight aberrations the sincere history of Israel contained, it was by permission of Providence for the sake of the internal sense - which was the inward secret purpose within the literary records of this unique race.
What is true of Hebrew history, also holds true of the geography and ethnology of the Bible. It was the natural world, with its people, its fauna and flora, as known to the Israelites, that was the ultimate for the spiritual sense of the Word: a world seen in a very different perspective from ours. From the factual side, it was very inadequate. For the simple Hebrews believed themselves to dwell on a habitable crust of earth which the Creator had literally "stretched out above the waters" (Psalm 136:6) or "established upon the floods" (Psalm 24:2). Beneath it He had "gathered the waters of the sea together as an heap" and "laid up the depth in storehouses" (Psalm 33:7).