722. That when she brought forth he might devour her offspring, signifies that they might destroy the doctrine of that church at its first rise. This is evident from the signification of "the offspring" that the woman was about to bring forth, as being the doctrine of the church; that this is meant by "the son a male" which she brought forth will be seen in the following article. Also from the signification of "to devour," as being to destroy; for what is predicated follows its subject, and when "the dragon" is the subject, "to devour" is predicated of him, but when the doctrine of the church is the subject, being destroyed is predicated of it, therefore "to devour" here signifies to destroy. To destroy it at its first rise is signified because it is said "that when the woman brought forth he might devour her offspring." "To devour" and "to eat" also elsewhere signify to destroy, when predicated of wild beasts, which signify falsities and evils, as is evident in Ezekiel:
One of the whelps of the lion went up, it became a young lion, and it learned to seize the prey, it devoured man (Ezekiel 19:3, 6).
"To devour man" signifies to destroy the understanding of truth and intelligence. In Hosea:
I will encounter them as a bear that is bereaved; and I will devour them like an immense lion; the wild beast of the field shall tear them (Hosea 13:8).
Behold, a beast, like to a bear, it had three ribs in the mouth between the teeth, it was said to it, Rise, devour much flesh (Daniel 7:5).
Moreover, in the Hebrew, "to devour" in many passages stands for to consume, to ruin, and to destroy, as in Jeremiah:
They have devoured Jacob, they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitations (Jeremiah 10:25).