Daniel 7

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1 In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream and visions of his head upon his bed: then he wrote the dream; he told the sum of the matters.

2 Daniel spoke and said, I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of the heavens broke forth upon the great sea.

3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, different one from another.

4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle's wings: I beheld till its wings were plucked; and it was lifted up from the earth, and made to stand upon two feet as a man, and a man's heart was given to it.

5 And behold, another beast, a second, like unto a bear, and it raised up itself on one side; and [it had] three ribs in its mouth between its teeth; and they said thus unto it: Arise, devour much flesh.

6 After this I saw, and behold, another, like a leopard, and it had four wings of a bird upon its back; and the beast had four heads; and dominion was given to it.

7 After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and exceeding strong; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet; and it was different from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns.

8 I considered the horns, and behold, there came up among them another, a little horn, before which three of the first horns were plucked up by the roots; and behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things.

9 I beheld till thrones were set, and the Ancient of days did sit: his raiment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like pure wool; his throne was flames of fire, [and] its wheels burning fire.

10 A stream of fire issued and came forth from before him; thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened.

11 I beheld therefore, because of the voice of the great words that the horn spoke; I beheld till the beast was slain, and its body destroyed, and it was given up to be burned with fire.

12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away; but their lives were prolonged for a season and a time.

13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven [one] like a son of man, and he came up even to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom [that] which shall not be destroyed.

15 As for me Daniel, my spirit was grieved in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me.

16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the certainty of all this. And he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things:

17 These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, [that] shall arise out of the earth.

18 But the saints of the most high [places] shall receive the kingdom, and they shall possess the kingdom for ever, even to the ages of ages.

19 Then I desired to know the certainty concerning the fourth beast, which was different from them all, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and its nails of brass; which devoured, broke in pieces, and stamped the rest with its feet;

20 and concerning the ten horns that were in its head, and the other that came up, and before which three fell: even that horn that had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things, and whose look was more imposing than its fellows.

21 I beheld, and that horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them;

22 until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most high [places]; and the appointed time arrived, and the saints possessed the kingdom.

23 He said thus: The fourth beast shall be a fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.

24 And as to the ten horns, out of this kingdom shall arise ten kings; and another shall arise after them; and he shall be different from the former, and he shall subdue three kings.

25 And he shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most high [places], and think to change seasons and the law; and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and a half time.

26 And the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end.

27 But the kingdom and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heavens, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high [places]. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.

28 So far is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my thoughts much troubled me, and my countenance was changed in me; but I kept the matter in my heart.

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Daniel's First Vision: 4 Beasts and the Little Horn      

By Rev. Dr. Andrew T. Dibb


This opening verse of the prophecies of Daniel has a resounding similarity to the opening verses of most of the preceding chapters of the book of Daniel. Like them, it places the vision in a context, we are shown the point of our regeneration at which the Lord is directing us: the first year of Belshazzar, king of Babylon.

In the internal sense, time is an indication of state. This means that the events and prophecies of Daniel do not follow in a strict chronological order, but rather happen on different levels at the same time. While Nebuchadnezzar is king of Babylon, representing selfishness in our inner self, Belshazzar rules our outer self. The work of overcoming selfish motives has to go hand in hand with the removal of that very selfishness in our external—otherwise the exercise is purely intellectual. Daniel’s visions in the last six chapters of the book, indicate the process by which we become aware of the effects of selfishness in our daily lives: when Belshazzar is king.

In spiritual development, we sometimes delude ourselves that change follows effort without delay. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our habits are very powerful—often we are not even aware that we have them. Yet "regeneration" literally means "re-birth," which entails casting out each and every obstacle in the path of our spiritual development. This can only be done by examining the exterior motives in our lives, and getting to the very bottom or root of our behaviors.

Daniel’s vision traces this exploration for us. Each of the four beasts he saw rising up from the sea depict the states of an evil life in us, with the added twist in their relationship to the religious principles a person purports to hold. Each must be examined and rejected. Every detail of the vision, therefore is important.

As with all numbers in the Word, the number "four" has a special meaning vitally important to the exposition. "Four" represents a joining together, and so has the same meaning as the number "two," (Arcana Coelestia 1686, 9103, 9601) which is obvious since "four" is the result of two multiplied into itself.

In a general sense, when the term "four winds" is mentioned in the Word, it means "all things of good and of truth, thus all things of heaven and of the church" (Arcana Coelestia 9642:10) flowing into a person, for "wind" means the influx of life from the Lord (Apocalypse Revealed 343). Thus the Lord breathed life into Adam in the Garden of Eden, and again on His disciples, filling them with the Holy Spirit. In an ideal situation, the presence of the Lord, both in our will and our understanding, in equal measure, indicates a state of regeneration. In that state, we are as "four-square" as the New Jerusalem.

As in so many cases in the book of Daniel, the symbolism needs to be reversed in order to see its full meaning. Daniel is in Babylon, a servant to the king, and thus anything usually relating to the Lord is inverted to relate to the king of Babylon, as selfishness: the opposite of love to the Lord.

The influx then is not goodness and truth, but evil and falsity, specifically love of self and control over others. The "sea" in this vision depicts the great restless tide of selfishness controlling our external being. The book of Daniel is a picture of a person whose conscience is restricted to thoughts and feelings, yet whose behavior, attitudes, and habits still reflect the old states of selfishness (Apocalypse Explained 316). Babylon reigns. In the vision that follows, the states and their effects are revealed.

The vision of the four beasts coming up from the sea tells our story when we cynically misuse truth to live selfishly, until evil completely takes over and would destroy us (Apocalypse Explained 556, Apocalypse Revealed 574). Evil will succeed unless the power of the truth, in our conscience, overcomes evil and allows us to reject it.

The first of these beasts was like a lion with eagle’s wings. Lions are mentioned many times in the Word, and usually describe the power of truth to destroy falsity and evil (Apocalypse Explained 556). But in this vision, describing Babylon, the lion takes on the opposite meaning: the lion represents the power of the love of self (Arcana Coelestia 6367), and the power of falsity to destroy truths.

The eagle's wings, representing human reason, were taken away from the lion, and he was made to stand on his two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to him. A person engrossed in selfishness loses their ability to appreciate religion, and weighted down by their own contrary thoughts, find themselves alienated from the truth.

Next, Daniel saw a bear raised up on one side. This posture indicates our eagerness to misinterpret the Word to suit our own means (Arcana Coelestia 781). This a vision of the human state when self love (Nebuchadnezzar) rules our internal being, and the expression of that selfishness (Belshazzar) controls our daily actions. The bear is the pleasure of justifying evil with our own 'superior' reasoning.

It is easy to be kind, while manipulating other people for our own benefit. It is easy to present oneself as a spiritual being in order to deceive other people. In such a life, charity is a dead form. Thus the bear had three ribs hanging from its mouth.

Daniel never tells who commanded the bear to 'arise, and devour more flesh,' but perhaps the urging comes from deeper states of selfishness which control our external actions. Whatever its origin, these words give voice to the heart of a person misusing the Word for his or her own gain.

A leopard is "a ferocious beast" which loves to "kill harmless animals." Its very appearance, black spots on white, illustrates the effect of falsity on truth (Apocalypse Revealed 57). But the leopard in Daniel also had four wings like a bird. As in the case of the lion which had the wings of an eagle, the wings here also signify our intellect destroying the truth. The four wings on the leopard depict "confirmations of what is false" (Apocalypse Revealed 574).

The leopard not only had four wings, but also four heads. This is a depiction of human degradation when falsity rules. It is a state of spiritual insanity, for when a selfish internal acts with a falsified external, there is nothing to prevent a person engaging in all kinds evil (Arcana Coelestia 1944:3). In this state, the conscience is enslaved, powerless to stop the madness.

The fourth beast, whose appearance is not described, signifies the "destruction of truth and good" (Apocalypse Revealed 574). Once a person reaches this state of degeneration, they stop at nothing to destroy any restraining influences. Falsity is used to destroy truth through denial or twisting it to suit one’s own ends. This process is described as "teeth like iron" devouring and breaking in pieces (see 1 explanation of Daniel 2 for a description of 'iron')(Apocalypse Revealed 556).

'A horn' is usually a symbol of power, and in the highest sense, the power of truth against falsity. But again, in this story the opposite sense applies, and the power here is of falsity for evil (Apocalypse Explained 316). These ten horns depict the complete power falsity has over the way we act.

The whole sordid description of the four beasts culminates on a little horn. This is the complete perversion of anything good and true drawn from the Word, and so represents the final profanation. If there was no counter-balancing conscience, a person would be irrevocably in hell.

The casting out of the three horns depicts the power of evil and falsity to destroy and remove the truths of the Word (Apocalypse Explained 316). The number "three" represents fullness or completeness, and thus the power of evil when brought into action to destroy all truths. Hence, the old saying 'when you break one of the Commandments, you break them all,' takes on a more powerful meaning.

The next image shifts: we see the thrones "cast down" signifying the falsities (Arcana Coelestia 8215) from the beasts, judged by the truths of the Word forming our conscience. All judgment begins with truth, for truth provides the balances upon which our lives are measured.

In the image of God’s throne, symbolizing judgment, it is important to remember that His judgment is always a product of love and mercy. But the Lord’s love should not be confused with license: just because He loves the human race, individually and collectively, this does not mean evil is permissible. Evil interferes with a person’s reception of the Lord, putting barriers between Him and ourselves. For the most part, the Lord permits evils, but does not will them, because they are useful reminding us to turn away from them (Divine Providence 275, 278). Yet there are times when human beings overstep the mark.

The judgment in this chapter must be seen in its context, which is in the reign of Belshazzar. It is the story of both the beasts and the fact that Belshazzar was weighed in the balances, found wanting, and killed by Darius. That in essence is a judgment on the external’s of our lives, on our behavior. and attitudes which have their origin in the Nebuchadnezzar states of our inner being.

Here, however, we see the origin of truth as "the Ancient of Days," sitting on the throne of judgment, heralding the destruction of one state and the beginning of another (Apocalypse Revealed 574). The "Ancient of Days" is an image of the love of the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 9470), and in a sense is the Divine counterpart to the love we are led to by means of truth. The object of all truth is to lead one to a love of God, and a love of the neighbor, and a life expressive of both. Our love for God is a reflection of His love for us.

In the Word, a garment corresponds to truth one knows and which forms a part of a person’s mind. Thus the garment of the Ancient of Days represents the truth veiling over the Divine Good. This truth is truth in our minds, in our conscious minds (Arcana Coelestia 9470, Apocalypse Explained 67). These garments were as white as snow to show us the quality of the intelligence and wisdom we can have from the Lord (Apocalypse Explained 195:18).

'Hair' means the most external parts of our lives—the natural thoughts and feelings we have which prompt us into action, all perfectly conscious. While we are in this world, this very external part of us seems to be vitally important, but in fact it is only driven by the inner things. If these are from the Lord, then our external will also appear as virgin wool.

The fire of the throne is the appearance of the Lord's love. The wheels represents the wisdom and intelligence we have from the Lord, which are full of love and so are described as "burning."

All judgment is done by the Lord. The Lord’s birth in Bethlehem was the beginning of a last judgment on the ancient churches, and that judgment from love by means of wisdom, came about through the life and death of Jesus Christ, the Divine Human of the Lord.

In Daniel’s vision, there is a similar relationship between the Ancient of Days, seated on His throne, and the Son of Man to whom was given all power. The Ancient of Days represents the Lord, and in that vision we saw the unity of the Divine love and Divine wisdom in the fiery throne upon which He sat.

Once the presence of the Lord has been established in us by the overthrow of evil and falsity, we will continue to develop in goodness and truth. This spiritual growth is described in the words that 'the Son of Man was given an everlasting dominion,' a theme repeated in verses 18 and 27. The kingdom of the Son of Man extended over "all peoples, nations and tongues," representing the different states of the human mind which will be made subject to truth from the Word. "Peoples" are the truths of doctrine—in this case, the false ideas which affect our behavior to be judged against the truth introduced into our minds by the conscience. "Nations" mean the evils of life, overthrown in the process of judgment (Apocalypse Revealed 483, Apocalypse Explained 175, 455). Thus in the process of judgment, both our habitual thoughts and feelings will be confronted by truth, and replaced by feelings drawn from the goodness and truth of the Lord. Finally, "tongues" signify the actions drawn from evil feelings and false thoughts—these too will be brought down in our personal "last judgment."

The "time, times, and half a time" are the states of temptation and combat we need to go through in order to regenerate. Yet each minute of that combat is a temptation, and temptation only takes place within the framework or regeneration. Thus a person being tempted, who resists the evil, sits in judgment on that evil, and from the power of the Lord will eventually prevail over it.

These final verses are a vision of things yet to come. This is before our entrance into the Lord’s kingdom, before the power of falsity is broken. We still have growing to do. There are still states we need to face and overcome. Even with this marvelous promise of ultimate victory, Daniel found that his thoughts still troubled him.




Hlavní výklad ze Swedenborgových prací:

Arcana Coelestia 1326, 10455

Apocalypse Revealed 748

De Verbo (The Word) 5

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 178

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 37

Další odkazy Swedenborga k této kapitole:

Arcana Coelestia 49, 934, 1066, 1607, 1990, 2547, 2832, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 24, 36, 47, 49, 101, 166, 229, ...

Conjugial Love 26, 81, 193

Divine Providence 134

The Lord 4, 6, 10, 26, 42, 48, 52

Sacred Scripture 49, 86

Doctrine of Life 61

Heaven and Hell 171

True Christian Religion 1, 113, 157, 223, 251, 262, 288, ...

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 63, 67, 70, 175, 195, 199, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 41

Canons of the New Church 37

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 3

De Verbo (The Word) 10, 15, 25

An Invitation to the New Church 10

Marriage 0, 1, 113

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Apocalypse Explained # 780

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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780. Verse 2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, signifies reasonings that are discordant, and yet appear as if they cohere. This is evident from the signification of "a beast coming up out of the sea," which is here treated of, as being reasonings from the natural man confirming the separation of faith from life (see above, n. 774, so here it means such reasonings; also from the signification of a "leopard," as being reasonings that are discordant and yet appear as if true. Such is the signification of a "leopard" because the skin of the leopard is marked and variegated with spots, from which variegation it appears not unbeautiful; also because it is a fierce and insidious animal, and swifter than the others in seizing its prey; and because those are of like character who are versed in reasoning adroitly in confirming the dogma of the separation of faith from good works by reasonings from the natural man, and because this dogma, although it is inconsistent with truths, is made to appear as if it cohered with truths, therefore that beast appeared as to its body like a leopard.

(Odkazy: Revelation 13:2; The Apocalypse Explained 774)

[2] As this is the signification of the "leopard," I will first illustrate by some examples how those who separate faith from its life, which is good works, make things that are discordant to appear by their reasonings to be coherent. In many passages of the Word heresies are represented by "idols" which the workman forms by various means until he makes them appear in the figure of a man, and yet no life can be imparted to them so that they may see, hear, move the hands and feet, and speak. This I have also seen done in the spiritual world by some who had separated faith from good works; and this work continued for many hours; and when the idol had been made it appeared the sight of many like an image of a man, but before the eyes of angels like a monster. Moreover, they wished to impart to it something of life by means of their arts; but this they were unable to do.

[3] Such things take place in the spiritual world, because all things that are seen in that world are representative of spiritual things, which are presented in such forms as exist in this world; consequently beasts of the earth of every kind and birds of heaven are seen there; also houses and apartments in them, with various decorations, likewise gardens and paradises full of trees bearing fruits and flowers, also tables are seen and eatables of every kind upon them, with innumerable other things, which, however, are all from a spiritual origin, and are therefore representative of spiritual things. For the same reason some there form various things by means of which spiritual things are presented in effigy. This is why they also desired to exhibit faith separated from good works under the image of a man in order to persuade the simple by that appearance that that heretical dogma is Divine truth. For every truth from the Lord is in its form a man; therefore the angels, as they are recipients of Divine truth from the Lord, are human forms, yea, whatever is with an angel from Divine truth has such a form. (That this is so can be seen from many things in the work on Heaven and Hell, especially in n. 460.) That "idols" signify in the Word false doctrinals from self-intelligence that appear as truths, can be seen above n. 587. This has been said to make known that upon all heresies, and especially upon this universal one of the separation of faith from good works, an appearance can be induced by reasonings as if they were from truths and not from falsities.

(Odkazy: The Apocalypse Explained 587)

[4] But this shall be illustrated by an example. Who may not be brought to believe that faith alone is the only means of salvation, since man is unable to do good of himself which is good in itself? For this appears to everyone at first sight as a consequence, and thus to agree with truth; and it is not then recognized to be a reasoning from the natural man confirming the separation of faith from good works; and when a man has been persuaded by this reasoning he thinks that there is no need to attend to his life, because he has faith. But he who is in this persuasion is not aware that to do good from the Word, that is, because it is commanded in the Word, is to do good from the Lord, and that thus a man may do good from himself, and yet may believe that it is from the Lord. But about this more will be said in what follows. From this much it can be seen how the appearance can easily be induced by reasonings that this falsity which universally prevails in the Christian Church is in agreement with this truth, that every good that is good in itself is from the Lord, and not at all from man, from which it is inferred that a man can cease doing good and yet be saved; when in fact, this is altogether in disagreement with the truth.

[5] That such is the signification of the "leopard" can be seen from the following passages. In Jeremiah:

Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then can ye also do good who have been taught to do evil (Jeremiah 13:23).

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin" signifies that evil cannot change its nature, for "the Ethiopian" because he is wholly black, is evil in its form, and the skin, because it is the outermost part of man, and corresponds to his sensual, means his nature. "Or the leopard his spots" signifies that neither can the falsity of evil change, "leopard" here meaning the falsity from evil, since it means truth falsified by reasonings; and "spots" mean things falsified. As both of these are against good it is said, "Then may ye also do good who have been taught to do evil." It is said that both are against good, namely, evil and the falsity of evil, because evil of the will and falsity of the understanding therefrom are meant. Evil of the will is evil from one's nature, and falsity of the understanding becomes evil by act; for the will acts and does evil by means of the understanding.

[6] In Isaiah:

Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His hips; therefore the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little boy shall lead them (Isaiah 11:5, 6).

This is said of the Lord and of His kingdom, and of the state of innocence and peace therein. That this is said of the Lord is evident from the first verse of this chapter, where it is said that "there shall go forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a shoot out of his roots shall bear fruit." "Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His hips," signifies that the Divine good proceeding from the Lord's Divine love shall conjoin those in heaven and in the church who are in love to Him; and that the Divine truth proceeding from Him shall conjoin those in heaven and in the church who are in love towards the neighbor. "Righteousness" when predicated of the Lord means the Divine good, and "His loins" means those who are in love to Him; "truth" means the Divine truth; "His hips" mean those who are in love towards the neighbor; and "girdle" signifies the conjunction with these in heaven and in the church. "Therefore shall dwell" signifies the state of peace which exists when nothing of evil from hell is feared, because it can do no harm; "the wolf with the lamb and the leopard with the kid" signifies that no evil or falsity shall harm those who are in innocence and in charity from the Lord; a "wolf" signifying the evil that is the opposite of innocence, and that endeavors to destroy it, a "leopard" meaning the falsity that is the opposite of charity and that endeavors by reasonings in favor of faith to destroy charity; "a lamb" signifying innocence, and a "kid" charity. "The calf also and the young lion and the fatling together" signifies that infernal falsity shall not harm the innocence of the natural man, or any affection for good of the natural man; a "calf" signifying the innocence of the natural man, a "fatling or ox" the affection of the natural man, and a "lion" infernal falsity in respect to its power and eagerness to destroy Divine truth. "And a little boy shall lead them" signifies the state of innocence and love to the Lord in which they will be; "boy" signifying innocence together with love to the Lord, for love to the Lord makes one with innocence; because those who are in that love are also in innocence, as those are who are in the third heaven, and who consequently appear to the eyes of others like infants and boys.

(Odkazy: Isaiah 11:5-6)

[7] In Jeremiah:

A lion out of the forest hath smitten the great men of Jerusalem; the wolf of the plains shall devastate them; the leopard is watching against their cities; everyone that shall go out shall be torn in pieces, because their prevarications have been multiplied, their backslidings have become strong (Jeremiah 5:6).

This is said of the falsification of truth in the church. "The great men of Jerusalem" mean those who excel others in teaching truths and goods; and "Jerusalem" means the church in respect to doctrine. "A lion out of the forest" that smote the great men, signifies the dominion of infernal falsity; the "wolf" that shall devastate them signifies the dominion of evil therefrom; both of these, the falsity and the evil, destroying the truths and goods of the church. "The leopard watching against the cities" signifies reasonings from the falsities of evil against the truths of doctrine, "cities" signifying doctrinals, thus the truths of doctrine. "Everyone that shall go out shall be torn in pieces" signifies that everyone who recedes from the truths of doctrine shall be destroyed by falsities. The "prevarications" that have been multiplied signify the falsifications of truth; the "backslidings" that have become strong signify the adulterations of good. That the falsifications of truth and the adulterations of good are signified by "prevarications" and "backslidings" is evident from the following verse, where it is said that "they committed adultery, and entered in crowds the house of the harlot," which signifies these falsifications and alterations.

[8] In Habakkuk:

Whose horses are lighter than eagles 1 and more fierce than the wolves of the evening, so that her horsemen spread themselves (Habakkuk 1:8).

This is said of the devastation of the church by the adulteration of truth, which is signified by the Chaldean nation, of which these things are spoken. "Whose horses are lighter than leopards" signifies the eagerness to seduce by reasonings, and a consequent expertness in seducing; such eagerness and expertness are signified by their "lightness" or "swiftness;" "horses" here signifying reasonings from the natural man. And as "horses" and "leopards" have a like signification it is said, "whose horses are lighter than leopards." "More fierce than the wolves of the evening" signifies craftiness in deceiving by fallacies; the fallacies of the senses are here signified by "the wolves of the evening" because the fallacies are from the sensual man, which in darkness sees falsities as truths. "So that her horsemen spread themselves" signifies that the truths of the Word by adulteration become heresies; "horsemen" signify heresies because "horses" mean reasonings by which falsities are confirmed.

[9] In Daniel:

The third beast coming up out of the sea was like a leopard, which had four wings like birds' wings upon its back (Daniel 7:6).

The successive devastation of the church is here depicted by "the four beasts coming up out of the sea," and this third beast, which was "like a leopard," has a similar signification as the leopard here treated of in Revelation, namely, reasonings that are discordant and yet appear as if coherent; "which had four wings like birds' wings upon its back" signifies appearing like the understanding of good and truth from the application thereto of the sense of the letter of the Word.

[10] In Hosea:

I knew thee in the wilderness, in the land of droughts; when they had pasture they were satiated; when they were satiated their heart was elated; therefore they have forgotten Me, therefore am I become to them as a lion, as a leopard will I watch over the way (Hosea 13:5-7).

"I knew thee in the wilderness, in the land of droughts," signifies a state without good and without truths; "wilderness" meaning a state without good, and "land of droughts" a state without truths; "when they had pasture they were satiated" signifies when goods and truths were given them, that is, when they were instructed respecting them from the Word, even to the full nourishment of the soul; "when they were satiated their heart was elated" signifies when by reason of such fullness they exalted themselves above all others, believing that for that reason heaven was for them alone and for no others. "Therefore they have forgotten Me" signifies that pride has obliterated goods and truths, and thus their desire and with it their heart has receded from the Lord. "Therefore am I become to them as a lion" signifies the consequent devastation of every truth of the church; "and as a leopard will I watch over the way" signifies the falsification of truth by reasonings from the natural man; a "leopard" signifying falsification by reasonings; "the way" truth leading to good, and "to watch" the intention to pervert. This is said of the Lord in the sense of the letter of the Word, from the appearance of truth, in which nevertheless lies hidden the genuine truth (which is the spiritual sense of the Word) that it is not the Lord that as a lion devastates the church, or that as a leopard falsifies truths by reasonings, but it is the man himself that does this when his heart is lifted up. From this it is clear what is signified in the Word by a "leopard."


1.  Photolithograph has eagles, the Hebrew has leopards. In the explanation Swedenborg translates it leopards.


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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 779, 781, 802, 827, 1029

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.