Apocalypse Revealed #535

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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535. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. (12:2) This symbolizes the emerging doctrine of the New Church and the difficulty of its being accepted owing to the opposition to it by people meant by the dragon.

Being with child symbolizes the emerging doctrine because the child that she had in her womb, whose birth is described in verse 5, symbolizes the doctrine of the New Church. For to be with child, to be in labor, and to give birth means, symbolically in the spiritual sense, to conceive and give birth to such things as are matters of spiritual life, as we will show. To cry out in labor and be in pain to give birth symbolizes the difficulty of that doctrine's being accepted owing to the opposition to it by people meant by the dragon. This is apparent from the following particulars in this chapter, as that the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child, and that afterward it pursued the woman into the wilderness.

[2] That to be with child, to be in labor, and to give birth has this symbolic meaning is apparent from the following passages:

Jesus... said..., ."..unless one is born again..., he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, while that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." (John 3:3-6)

Sing, O barren woman, who have not given birth! ...cry aloud, you who have not labored with child! For more are the children of the desolate woman than the children of the married one. (Isaiah 54:1)

...(they) ceased... until the barren woman bore seven, and she with many children became feeble. (1 Samuel 2:5)

The barren woman symbolizes gentiles, who are without genuine truths because they do not have the Word. The married woman and the woman with many children symbolize Jews, who have the Word.

She who has borne seven will become feeble; she will take her last breath. (Jeremiah 15:9)

This likewise refers to Jews.

We have conceived, we have labored, we have, as it were, given birth to wind; we have not produced the means of the land's salvation. (Isaiah 26:18)

Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child... Shall the earth labor in one day? Shall a nation be born all at once? Shall I bring to the time of birth and not cause delivery? ...Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb? (Isaiah 66:7-9)

Labor to give birth, O earth, in the presence of the Lord, in the presence of the God of Israel. (Psalms 114:7)

Oh this day! ...for children have come to the mouth of the womb, and there is no strength to give them birth. (Isaiah 37:3)

Sin shall labor to give birth and shall not 1 be able to break through. (Ezekiel 30:15-16)

...I heard the voice... of an ailing woman, ...as of one laboring to give birth to her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion. She sighs, she stretches out her hands. "Woe is me, for my soul is weary of murderers!" (Jeremiah 4:31)

Pangs and sorrows take hold of them; like a woman in childbirth they labor to give birth. (Isaiah 13:6-8)

The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up... The sorrows of a woman laboring to give birth shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, for he does not spend time where children are born. (Hosea 13:12-13)

As for Ephraim, like a bird your glory shall fly away - from birth, from pregnancy, and from conception... Give them, Jehovah... a miscarrying womb and dry breasts... Also, when they bear offspring, I will kill the longed-for fruit of their womb. (Hosea 9:11-12, 14, 16)

In these places also, the difficulty in accepting doctrinal truths from the Word is described by various references to the pain experienced in laboring to give birth. So, too, in many other places elsewhere.

Moreover, Jehovah, or the Lord, is called a former from the womb (Isaiah 44:2, 24; 49:1, 5), and a former from the womb means the Reformer.


1. In his later citations of this text, the writer read non erit ("shall not") for No erit ("No shall"). No (Nowe or Nuwe) was the name of the ancient capital of Egypt, later called Thebes.

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Many thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem, and to Rev. N.B. Rogers, translator, for the permission to use this translation.