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The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see what we mean). So when the Bible talks about seeing, the reference is to recognizing and understanding the truth intellectually.

(Verweise: Arcana Coelestia 3869, 4405, 4406, 4526; The Apocalypse Explained 260)

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Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3869. 'For Jehovah has heard' means in the highest sense providence, in the internal sense the will of faith, in the interior sense obedience, in the external sense the sense of hearing - faith in the will which is received from the Lord alone being meant here. This is clear from the meaning of 'hearing'. As regards 'hearing' meaning the sense of hearing, this needs no explanation; but that 'hearing' in the interior sense means obedience and in the internal sense faith in the will, this is clear from the many places in the Word that are referred to below. The same is clear also from the nature of the sense of hearing when compared with that of sight. Sight in the interior sense means the understanding and in the internal sense faith in the understanding, see 3863; and the reason why it has these meanings is that the essential nature of things comes to be seen by means of one's internal sight and with the aid of this comes to be grasped by a kind of faith, though such as exists only in the understanding. When however things that are heard penetrate to the interior parts they too are converted into something similar to sight, for things that are heard are then seen interiorly. Consequently that which is meant by the sense of sight is also meant by the sense of hearing; that is to say, that which is of the understanding and also that which is of faith is meant. But the sense of hearing at the same time convinces a person that the thing is true, for it has an influence not only on the understanding part of a person's mind but also on the will part, and so reaches more interiorly. That is to say, it reaches the will and causes that person to will that which he sees. This is why 'hearing' means the understanding of a thing and at the same time obedience, and why in the spiritual sense it means faith in the will.

[2] It is because these two - obedience, and faith in the will - lie thus within 'hearing' that these attributes are also meant in everyday speech by the phrases hearing, listening to, and paying attention to; for a person who 'hears' is one who is obedient, and 'listening to' somebody also means obeying him. For those entities which exist interiorly within something are sometimes included within the actual expressions a person uses when he speaks. These occur there because it is a person's spirit which thinks and which grasps the meaning of the expressions used by others when they speak; and his spirit is in a way in contact with spirits and angels among whom the first beginnings of verbal expressions exist. What is more, the whole range of man's experience is such that whatever enters in through the ear and eye, or hearing and sight, passes into his understanding, through the understanding into the will, and from the will into deed. So it is with the truth of faith. This first becomes the truth of faith present within knowledge, then the truth of faith within the will, and finally the truth of faith in deed, and so finally charity. Faith within knowledge or the understanding is meant by 'Reuben', as has been shown; faith in the will by 'Simeon'; and faith in the will when it becomes charity by 'Levi'.

[3] As regards 'hearing' in the highest sense meaning providence, this may become clear from what has been stated above in 3863 about 'seeing' in the highest sense meaning foresight, for the Lord's foresight is a seeing from eternity to eternity that a thing is so, whereas His providence is a governing that that thing should be so and a bending of a person's freedom towards good insofar as He foresees that that person is going to allow himself in freedom to be bent towards it, see 3854.

[4] That 'Jehovah heard', the phrase from which Simeon received his name, in the interior sense means obedience, and in the internal sense faith in the will acquired from the Lord alone, is evident from very many places in the Word, such as the following: In Matthew,

Behold, a voice from the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him. Matthew 17:5.

'Hearing Him' stands for possessing faith in Him, and obeying His commandments, and so possessing faith in the will. In John,

Truly, truly, I say to you, that the hour will come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice. John 5:25, 28.

'Hearing the voice of the Son of God' stands for possessing faith in the Lord's words, and willing them. People who possess faith that is part of the will receive life, and that is why the words 'those who hear will live' are used.

[5] In the same gospel,

The one entering by the door is the shepherd of the sheep; to him the gate- keeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. John 10:2-3, 16, 27.

'Hearing the voice' plainly stands for obedience resulting from faith that is part of the will. In the same gospel,

Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice. John 18:37.

Here the meaning is similar. In Luke,

Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets neither will they be persuaded if someone rose from the dead. Luke 16:29, 31.

'Hearing Moses and the Prophets' stands for knowing things contained in the Word and possessing faith in it, and so also willing those things. For possessing faith without willing is seeing but not hearing, whereas possessing faith together with willing is seeing and hearing. This is why both - seeing and hearing - are mentioned together in various places throughout the Word, seeing meaning that which is portrayed through 'Reuben' and hearing that which is portrayed through 'Simeon', since the two are joined together like brother to brother.

[6] The fact that seeing and hearing are referred to jointly is clear from the following places: In Matthew,

Therefore I speak to them in parables, because those who see do not see, and those who hear do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says, By hearing you will hear and not understand, and seeing you will see and not discern. This people's heart has become gross, and with ears they have heard in a dull manner, and their eyes they have closed, lest perhaps they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and with their heart understand. But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly I say to you, that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it. Matthew 13:13-17; John 12:40; Isaiah 6:9.

In Mark,

Jesus said to the disciples, Why do you discuss the fact that you have no loaves? Are you still without understanding and do not understand? Do you still have your heart hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? Mark 8:17-18.

(Verweise: Isaiah 6:9-10)

[7] In Luke,

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but for everyone else in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear. Luke 8:10.

In Isaiah,

The eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be opened. Isaiah 35:5.

In the same prophet,

Then on that day the deaf will hear the words of the book, and out of thick darkness and out of darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Isaiah 29:18.

In the same prophet,

Hear, you deaf, and look and see, you blind. Isaiah 42:18.

In the same prophet, Bring forth the blind people, who will have eyes, and the deaf, who will have ears. Isaiah 43:8.

In the same prophet,

The eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. Isaiah 32:3.

In the same prophet, Let your eyes be looking at your teachers, and let your ears hear the word. Isaiah 30:20-21.

In the same prophet,

He who stops his ear lest it hears of blood, and shuts his eyes lest they see evil, will dwell on the heights. Isaiah 33:15-16.

In Ezekiel,

Son of man, you are dwelling in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but they do not see, who have ears to hear but they do not hear. Ezekiel 12:2.

In these places both seeing and hearing are mentioned because one follows the other. That is to say, faith in the understanding, meant by 'seeing', is followed by faith in the will, meant by 'hearing'. Otherwise it would have been sufficient to mention only one. From this it is also evident why one son of Jacob was named from the expression 'seeing' and the other from 'hearing'.

[8] The origin of 'seeing' meaning faith within knowledge or the understanding, and 'hearing' faith within obedience or the will rests in correspondences in the next life and in meaningful signs based on these. People who have understanding and faith resulting from that understanding belong to the province of the eye, and those who are obedient and have faith resulting from that obedience belong to the province of the ear. The truth of this will be seen from what, in the Lord's Divine mercy, is going to be shown at the ends of chapters concerning the Grand Man and the correspondence with it of everything in the human body.

[9] So it is then that 'the eye' in the internal sense means the understanding, see 2701, and 'the ear' obedience. And in the spiritual sense 'the ear' means faith resulting from obedience, or faith in the will, as is also clear from the following places: In Isaiah,

Even so, you have not heard, even so, you have not known; even so, from that time your ear has not opened itself. Isaiah 48:8.

In the same prophet,

The Lord Jehovih will arouse my ear to hear like those who are being taught. The Lord Jehovih opened my ear, and I was not rebellious. Isaiah 50:4-5.

In the same prophet,

Attend diligently to Me, and eat what is good, that your soul may delight in fatness; incline your ear and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live. Isaiah 55:2-3.

In Jeremiah,

To whom am I to speak and testify, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot listen. Jeremiah 6:10.

In the same prophet,

This I commanded them, saying, Hear My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people. But they did not hear, nor did they incline their ear. Jeremiah 7:23-24, 26

In the same prophet,

Hear, O women, the word of Jehovah, and let your ear receive the word of His mouth. Jeremiah 9:20.

In the same prophet,

You did not incline your ear, and you did not obey Me. Jeremiah 35:15.

In Ezekiel,

Son of man, all My words that I have spoken to you, receive in your heart, and hear with your ears. Ezekiel 3:10.

In the same prophet,

I will bring My zeal against you, and they will deal with you in fury. Your nose and your ears they will remove Ezekiel 23:25.

'Removing nose and ears' stands for removing the perception of truth and good, and the obedience that goes with faith. In Zechariah,

They refused to pay attention, and fumed a stubborn shoulder, and made their ears heavy so that they might not hear, and set their heart adamant, so that they might not hear the law. Zechariah 7:11-12.

(Verweise: Isaiah 50:4)

[10] In Amos,

Thus said Jehovah, As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so will the children of Israel in Samaria be rescued, on the corner of a bed and on the end of a couch. Amos 3:12.

'Rescuing two legs' stands for rescuing the will for good, 'a piece of an ear' for rescuing the will for truth. It may be seen that 'a piece of an ear' has this meaning, as has been stated, solely from correspondences in the next life and from the meaningful signs based on these, with which the internal sense of the Word and also the ritual observances in the Israelitish and Jewish Church are in accordance. This explains why, when Aaron and his sons were to be consecrated for their specific function, Moses was commanded among other things to take some of the ram's blood and to put it on the tip of Aaron's ear and on the tips of the ears of his sons, and on the thumbs of their right hands and on the large toes of their right feet, Exodus 29:20. This ritual act represented the will anointed by faith, into which also as priest he was to be initiated. Anyone can recognize that this ritual act was holy since it was Jehovah who commanded Moses to perform it, and so also that putting blood on the tip of the ear was holy. But what holy thing was meant cannot be known except from the internal sense of the things in the Word, which at this point is that the holiness of faith when applied to the will must be preserved.

[11] The meaning of 'the ear' as obedience, and in the internal sense as faith resulting from that obedience, is even more plainly evident from the ritual that was to be observed when a slave did not wish to go free, described in Moses as follows: If a slave or servant-girl did not wish to go free,

His master shall bring him to God, and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl, and he shall serve him for ever. Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:17.

'Piercing his ear with an awl at the doorpost' stands for serving and obeying for ever. In the spiritual sense it stands for having no wish to understand what is true, only a wish to be obedient to it. This, compared with an understanding of what is true, is not freedom.

(Verweise: Exodus 21:5-6)

[12] Since the obedience of faith is meant in the internal sense by 'the ears', and being obedient by 'hearing', one may see what is meant by the following words spoken by the Lord many times, He who has an ear to hear, let him hear, Matthew 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Revelation 2:7, 11, 29; 3:13, 22.

[13] As regards 'hearing' in the highest sense meaning providence and 'seeing' foresight, this is clear from the following places in the Word in which eyes and also ears are attributed to Jehovah or the Lord; as in Isaiah,

Incline Your ear, O Jehovah, and hear; open Your eyes, O Jehovah, and see. Isaiah 37:17.

In Daniel,

Incline Your ear, O my God, and hear; open Your eyes 1 and see our devastations. Daniel 9:18.

In David,

O God, incline Your ear to me, and hear my speech. Psalms 17:6.

In the same author,

Incline to me Your ear, and save me. Psalms 71:2.

In the same author,

Turn an ear to my prayers, on account of Your truthfulness; answer me, on account of Your righteousness. Psalms 143:1.

In Jeremiah,

O Jehovah, You heard my voice; do not hide Your ear at my sighing, at my cry. Lamentations 3:56.

In David,

O Jehovah, do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress; incline to me Your ear; in the day I cry answer me. Psalms 102:2.

(Verweise: Lamentations 3:55-56; Psalms 102:1-2)

[14] It is well known that Jehovah does not have ears or eyes as man does but that some attribute which may be ascribed to the Divine is meant by the ear and the eye, namely infinite will and infinite understanding. Infinite will is providence, and infinite understanding foresight; and it is these that are meant in the highest sense by ear and eye when these are attributed to Jehovah. These considerations now show what is meant in each sense [of the Word] by 'Jehovah heard', the phrase from which 'Simeon' received his name.


1. The Latin adds O Jehovah but this does not appear in the Hebrew or in Sw's rough draft.


(Verweise: Genesis 29:33; Isaiah 50:4)

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Eingegangene Referenzen:

Arcana Coelestia 3966, 4060, 4497, 4551, 4606, 5001, 5017, 5199, 5354, 5400, 5461, 5475, 5482, 5538, 5626, 5665, 6032, 6238, 6352, 6513, 6803, 6805, 6900, 6971, 6974, 6989, 6990, 7095, 7216, 7231, 7314, 7769, 7794, 8172, 8238, 8361, 8621, 8766, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121

Referenzen aus Swedenborgs unveröffentlichten Werken:

Apocalypse Explained 11, 14, 25, 37, 39, 55, 68, 434, 443

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 Simeon: Just and Devout, Waiting
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