Apocalypse Explained #1042

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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1042. (Verse 4) And the woman was arrayed in crimson and scarlet. That this signifies the appearance of that religious persuasion in externals, as if it were from celestial good and truth, although in internals it is from diabolical evil and falsity, is evident from the signification of the woman, as denoting the religious persuasion among the Papists; and from the signification of being arrayed, as denoting to be in externals; for garments denote things external that cover - hence being arrayed, denotes the appearance in externals; and from the signification of crimson, as denoting good from a celestial origin, and also the evil that is the opposite of this, which is called diabolical evil, of which we shall speak presently. And from the signification of scarlet, as denoting truth from a celestial origin, and also the falsity that is the opposite of this, which is called diabolical falsity. That those goods and truths differ from the goods and truths that are from a spiritual origin, and similarly the evils and falsities that are their opposites, which are called infernal evils and falsities, will be seen in the following article.

[2] The reason why the woman, who is the whore and Babylon, is thus described is, that those who are in evils and falsities therefrom are described in the Word from their external appearance; thus, such as they are in the eyes of the men who worship them. The reason why they are thus described is, that the sense of the letter of the Word consists of appearances. But the spiritual sense puts off those appearances, and presents interior things naked, without garments, which, when they appear, do so in quite another form. As in the present case, the woman outwardly appearing clothed in purple and scarlet is, in the internal form, called the mother of the whoredoms and abominations of the earth. Just as it is said of

The rich man clothed in crimson and fine linen, who notwithstanding was cast into hell (Luke 16:19).

And also concerning the Assyrians, with whom Ohola and Oholibah, that is, Samaria and Jerusalem, committed whoredom, who are said to be

Clothed in blue, officers and leaders, horsemen riding upon horses (Ezekiel 23:6, 12).

And so in other passages. Babylon here described as a whore appears in the world, splendidly clothed, but still abominable, because full of uncleanness.

[3] Before it is confirmed from the Word that crimson and scarlet signify goods and truths from a celestial origin, something shall first be said about those goods and truths. The Divine good that proceeds from the Lord is united with His Divine truth, as the heat of the sun with its light in the time of spring. But the angels who are recipients of the Divine good and Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, are distinguished into celestial and spiritual. Those who receive the Divine good more than the Divine truth of the Lord are called celestial angels, because these constitute the kingdom of the Lord which is called the celestial kingdom. But the angels who receive the Lord's Divine truth more than His Divine good are called spiritual angels, because of these consists the Lord's spiritual kingdom. It is therefore evident that goods and truths are of a twofold origin - from a celestial origin and a spiritual origin. Those goods and truths that are from a celestial origin are the goods and truths of love to the Lord; whereas those goods and truths that are from a spiritual origin are the goods and truths of love towards the neighbour. The difference is like that between what is higher and what is lower, or between what is interior and what is exterior; consequently, as between those things that are in a higher or interior degree, and those that are in a lower or exterior. What is the nature of this difference is evident from what is said in the work on Heaven and Hell concerning the three degrees of the heavens, and thence of the angels; and also of their intelligence and wisdom (n. 33, 34, 38, 39, 208, 209, 211, 435).

[4] That crimson in the Word signifies that good, and scarlet that truth, is evident from the passages in the Word where they are mentioned. As in Ezekiel:

"Fine linen of needlework from Egypt was thy expansion; blue and crimson from the isles of Elisha was thy covering" (27:7).

This is spoken of Tyre, by which is signified the church as to the knowledges of truth and good. Blue and crimson denote those knowledges from a celestial origin. By covering and expansion are signified the externals of that church.

In Luke:

"There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in crimson and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day" (Luke 16:19).

By the rich man is meant the Jewish nation, and the church there, called rich from the knowledges of good and truth from the Word, which they possessed, crimson having relation to the knowledges of good, and fine linen to the knowledges of truth, both from a celestial origin.

In Lamentations:

"Those that fed delicately are devastated in the streets; those that were brought up upon scarlet, embrace the dunghill" (4:5).

To be brought up upon scarlet denotes to be instructed from infancy in truths from celestial good.

[5] Because the tent of the assembly represented heaven, and the garments of Aaron the holy things of heaven, and crimson and scarlet signified the goods and truths of heaven, therefore, the curtains and veils of the tent, also the garments of Aaron, were wrought with blue, purple, scarlet double-dyed, and fine-twined linen. As, for example,

Upon the curtains of the tabernacle (Exodus 26:1).

Upon the veil before the ark (Exodus 26:31).

Upon the covering for the door of the tent (Exodus 26:36).

Upon the covering at the gate of the outer court (Exodus 27:16).

Upon the ephod (Exodus 28:6).

Upon the belt (Exodus 28:8).

Upon the breastplate of judgment (Exodus 28:15).

Upon the borders of the cloak of the ephod (Exodus 28:33).

Because double-dyed signified the truth of celestial good,

A cloth of scarlet double-dyed was spread over the table upon which was the bread of faces, and afterwards it was covered with a covering of badgers' skin (Numbers 4:8).

For the inmost things of the celestial kingdom were signified by those things that were upon the table, which were the bread, but the exterior things by those that covered them; these have reference to truths from good.

[6] Because truth from celestial good, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, is signified by scarlet, therefore it was used for the sake of remembrance, as when it was ordered,

That the sons of Israel should make for themselves a fringe upon the borders of their garments, and should put upon the fringe of the borders a scarlet thread, that by it they might remember all the precepts of Jehovah, and do them (Numbers 15:38, 39).

For the same reason also it was a custom in ancient times, when significatives were in use, to tie a scarlet thread, in order to remember a thing. As we read concerning Perez, the son of Tamar,

That the midwife tied scarlet upon his hand (Genesis 38:28, 30).

And concerning the harlot Rahab,

That she tied in the window a scarlet thread, that the searchers might remember their promise (Jos. 2:17, 21).

[7] Because all purifications from evils take place by means of truths from the Word, therefore

In the cleansings they made use of cedar-wood, scarlet, and hyssop (Leviticus 14:4-7, 49-52);

And the scarlet from a red cow for the waters of expiation and separation (19:6).

The reason of such significations of crimson and scarlet is from their colours. For there are colours in heaven far more brilliant than in the world, that have their origin in the light there. And because red colour originates there from something fiery or flamy, and what is fiery and flamy there is from the good of love, hence crimson signifies good from a celestial origin. But scarlet, which derives its colour from what is flaming and white together, and the white from light signifies truth, therefore that colour signifies the truth of celestial good.

[8] As most things in the Word have an opposite sense, so also have crimson and scarlet; then they signify evils and falsities, the opposites of those goods and truths. As in Isaiah:

"Though your sins were as scarlet, they shall become white as snow; though they were red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isaiah 1:8).

Because by scarlet is signified truth, the same as by snow; and by crimson is signified good, the same as by wool; and since by scarlet and crimson, in the opposite sense, is signified falsity and evil, therefore, because falsity and truth, and evil and good, have an opposite correspondence to each other, it is said, "Though your sins were as scarlet, they shall become white as snow, and though they were red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

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Translation by Isaiah Tansley. Many thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.