Arcana Coelestia #8764

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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8764. 'And [how] I bore you on eagles' wings' means and that as a result they were raised by means of truths to heavenly light. This is clear from the meaning of 'bearing someone on eagles' wings' as being raised on high, even to heavenly light; for 'bearing' means being raised, 'wings' spiritual truths, and 'an eagle' the rational in respect of truth (regarding this meaning of 'eagle', see 3901); for eagles fly on high. By the visible heaven or sky the ancients understood the angelic heaven. The simple also believed that angels had their home up there, and in addition that since places on high were nearer the sun and stars, heavenly light itself shone there. So it is that 'being borne on eagles' wings' means being taken on high into that light. The reason why one is raised into it by means of the truths of faith is that the truth of faith is what raises a person right up to heaven, where the good of faith is. The rational in respect of truth is meant by 'an eagle' because the rational level of a person is his heaven or sky, and in relation to it the natural level is so to speak the earth. For the rational constitutes the internal man and the natural the external.

[2] The reason why 'wings' are spiritual truths is that birds in general mean intellectual concepts and thoughts, 40, 745, 776, 3219, 5149, 7441, and therefore 'wings' are spiritual truths since all real understanding is formed from them. An understanding formed from falsities, no matter how clear and sharp-sighted it may seem to be, is no real understanding. Real understanding sees in the light of heaven, and the light of heaven is spiritual truth, that is, the truth of faith. Consequently where the truth of faith does not exist there is no light, only thick darkness; and an understanding set in thick darkness is no understanding at all. 'Wings' are also power, which spiritual truth possesses, derived from its good; for the wings on birds are like the hands and arms on a human being, and 'arms' and 'hands' mean power, 878, 3387, 4931-4937, 5327, 5328, 5544, 6292, 6947, 7538, 7673, 8050, 8153, 8281, 8305. Regarding the power which spiritual truth possesses, derived from good, see 3563, 4931, 5623, 6344, 6423.

[3] The fact that 'wings' are spiritual truths or the truths of faith, possessing power derived from good, is evident from places elsewhere in the Word. Consequently when wings are attributed to the Divine, Divine Truth possessing almighty power is meant by them, for example where they are attributed to cherubs, by whom the Lord's providence is meant, as in Ezekiel,

Each cherub had four faces, and each one had four wings. Their wings were straight up, [the wing] of one towards [that of I the other; each had wings covering their bodies. I heard the sound of [their] wings, like the sound of great waters, like the voice of Shaddai, when they were coming, the sound 1 of tumult, like the sound 1 of a camp. When they stood they let down their wings. I heard the sound 1 of their wings, brushing together 2 , [the wing] of one towards [that of] the other, and the noise 1 of the wheels beside them. The sound 1 of the wings of the cherubs was heard even in the outer court, like the voice of God Shaddai. The likeness of the hands of a human being was under their wings. Ezekiel 1:4, 6, 23-24; 3:13; 10:5, 21.

[4] 'Wings' here are God's truth. This is clear from the details contained in the description, both from the detail that the wings were straight up, one towards the other, and that they covered their bodies, as well as the details that the sound of them when it was heard was like the sound of great waters, like the noise of the wheels, and like the voice of Shaddai, and also the detail that the likeness of the hands of a human being was under their wings. The wings going straight up, one towards the other, represented the fellowship of all in the Divine. Their covering the cherubs' bodies was a sign that Divine Truth clothed Divine Good from which it comes forth; for Divine Good is the flame, and Divine Truth is the light emanating from it. This light encircles and so clothes that flame all round. The actual flame is not visible in heaven, only the light containing the flame, which is thereby felt as heat, which is love. The sound heard 'like the sound of many waters' means the nature of Divine Truth as it exists in heaven; and the like is meant by the sound of it being like the noise of the wheels and like the voice of Shaddai. For 'sound' and 'voice' are attributed to Divine Truth. This explains why the words 'the sound of great waters' are used, for 'waters' are truths, 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 5668, 8137, 8138, 8568; also the words 'the noise of the wheels', for 'wheels' are truths belonging to religious teachings, since 'chariots' are teachings that uphold truth, 5321, 5945, 8146, 8148, 8215; as well as 'the voice of God Shaddai', for 'God Shaddai' is truth rebuking in temptations and subsequently bringing comfort, 1992, 4572, 5628. 'The likeness of the hands of a human being under their wings' was a sign of the almighty power that Divine Truth possesses, for 'hands' are power, and in the highest sense almighty power when they are attributed to the Lord.

[5] From all this one may see what was represented by the wings of the cherubs who were over the mercy seat which was over the ark of the covenant, and by their being spread out upwards and covering the mercy seat, Exodus 25:20; also what the cherubs on the curtains of the tabernacle and on the veil represented, and in Solomon's temple too. In a similar way one may see what those all around within the new house represented, as described in Ezekiel 41:18-20; likewise what is meant by the four living creatures around the throne, each one of which had for itself six wings round about, Revelation 4:8, and what by the seraphim standing above the throne, each of which had six wings, Isaiah 6:1-2.

[6] The fact that 'wings' in the internal sense are spiritual truths or the truths of faith is clear in Ezekiel,

Thus said the Lord Jehovih, A great eagle with great wings with long pinions full of feathers, 3 in its embroidery, came on Lebanon and took a twig of the cedar. He carried it into a land of commerce. After that he took some of the seed of the land and planted it in a seed field; he took it to great waters. It sprouted and became a spreading vine. And there was another eagle with great wings and full of feathers, 4 and behold, the vine directed its roots towards it, and sent out its branches to it, in a good field, by many waters. It was planted to produce branches, and to bear fruit, in order that it might become a magnificent vine. Ezekiel 17:1-8.

This prophecy describes the establishment of the spiritual Church by the Lord. 'The eagle' referred to here is faith, 'its great wings and long pinions' are the truths of faith, and 'its embroidery' is factual knowledge. Growth out of all this is described by 'a twig of the cedar from Lebanon, by 'a land of commerce', and 'the seed of the land in a seed field, [taken] to great waters', the actual Church arising from this being 'a vine'. For the meaning of 'a vine' as the spiritual Church, see 1069, 5113, and as the external Church, 6375. But 'a magnificent vine' planted by another eagle is the internal Church, 6376; for the external aspect of the Church is described by the one eagle, and the internal aspect of it by the other. The prophet describes later on in the same chapter how this Church established among the Ancients was perverted among the Jews.

[7] The truth of faith is in like manner meant by 'wings' in David,

If you lie between the rows, 5 [you will be like] the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her pinions with the yellow of gold. Psalms 68:13.

'The wings of a dove' are the truths of faith, 'dove' meaning faith, see 870. They are said to be 'covered with silver' because 'silver' is truth derived from good, 1551, 2954, 5658, 6914, 6917, 7999.

[8] The meaning of 'wings' as God's truth is in addition clear from the following places: In Isaiah,

Those who await Jehovah are renewed with strength; they mount up with wings like eagles. Isaiah 40:31.

In David,

God rode on a cherub, and flew; He was borne on the wings of the wind. Psalms 18:10; 104:3.

This refers to Divine Truth and its power. In the same author,

Jehovah will cover you under His wing, and under His wings will you put your trust. Truth is a shield and buckler. Psalms 91:4.

'Being covered by Jehovah's wing, and putting one's trust under His wings' stands for protection and trust that belong to faith. The like is meant by being hidden under the shadow of God's wings, Psalms 17:8; trusting in the shadow of His wings, Psalms 36:7; 57:1; 61:4; singing in the shadow of His wings, Psalms 63:7.

[9] Most things also have a contrary meaning, and this is no less so with 'wings'. In that contrary sense 'wings' means falsities, as in John,

From the smoke of the pit of the abyss there went out locusts, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of many chariot horses running to war. Revelation 9:3, 9..

Here 'wings' are falsities fighting against truth, for 'locusts' are falsities in the things that are outermost, 7643.


1. literally, voice

2. literally, kissing

3. literally, A great eagle, great with wings, long with pinions, and full with feathers

4. literally, another eagle, great with wings, and full with feathers

5. What Swedenborg, following the Latin version of Sebastian Schmidt, understands the Hebrew to mean here is uncertain.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.