Arcana Coelestia #8932

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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8932. 'You shall not make [to be] with Me gods of silver and gods of gold' means that they are to avoid completely things which to outward appearances look like truths and forms of good but inwardly are falsities and evils. This is clear from the meaning of 'making gods' as worshipping, since someone who makes gods for himself does so in order to worship them; from the meaning of 'silver' as truth, and therefore in the contrary sense as falsity, and from the meaning of 'gold' as good, and therefore in the contrary sense as evil, both dealt with in 113, 1551, 1552, 2954, 5658, 6914, 6917, 7999. The reason why these are things which to outward appearances look like truths and forms of good, but inwardly are falsities and evils, is that the words 'making them with Me', that is, with Jehovah God, are used. Actual Divine Truth and Goodness reside on an inner level; they reside on an outer level as well, but then they are embodied in types or representative images. For the outward things composing a type or image stand for and represent inner realities. Outward things are falsities and evils when, separated from inner realities, they are held to be holy and are worshipped; and yet they still look like truths and forms of good because they represent those realities. These things are meant by 'making [to be] with Jehovah God gods of silver and gods of gold'.

[2] This commandment follows immediately after the Ten Commandments because the Israelite and Jewish people were the sort that held outward things separated from inward realities to be holy and worshipped them as being altogether Divine, 3479, 3769, 4281, 4293, 4307, 4314, 4316, 4433, 4680, 4825, 4832, 4844, 4847, 4865, 4903, 6304, 6832, 8814, 8819. To gain more definite knowledge of what those things are which look to outward appearances like truths and forms of good but inwardly are falsities and evils, and what those things are like, take as examples all the ritual practices of the Jewish Church, such as sacrifices, burning incense, washings, and many other practices. Outwardly they were truths and forms of good, not in themselves but because they were types or images that stood for and represented inward truths and forms of good, which are aspects of love to the Lord and faith in Him. When the outward objects belonging to such practices were held to be holy, and especially when they were worshipped, as they were by the Jews and Israelites when they became idolaters and used them in the worship of strange gods, they no longer had any connection with the truths and forms of good which they stood for and represented, because inwardly they were falsities and evils.

[3] The situation was the same with all other things that were types or representative images of heavenly and Divine realities among that people. For as soon as outward things which represented inner realities were used in the worship of other gods they became idols worshipped by them or 'gods of silver and gold which they made [to be] with Jehovah God'. For then those things looked to outward appearances like truths and forms of good, but inwardly they were falsities and evils.

[4] In general 'gods of silver and gold' are all the falsities and derivative evils in worship which are made to look like truth and good through wrong usages and misinterpretations of the Word, and at the same time through reasonings that are the product of self-intelligence. Such things are meant by 'gods of silver and gold' in the following places: In Isaiah,

On that day a person will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold which they made for themselves to bow down to, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts 1 of the rocks and into the fissures of the crags. Isaiah 2:20-21.

'Moles and bats' stands for those who are in darkness, that is, are steeped in falsities and derivative evils.

[5] In the same prophet,

On that day a man will cast aside his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which your hands have made for you - a sin. Isaiah 31:7.

'Which your hands have made' stands for things which are the product of self-intelligence. In the same prophet,

The craftsman casts a graven image, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold and casts silver chains for it. Isaiah 40:19.

'Graven images' are things which are products of the proprium or self, 8869. 'Overlaying with gold' stands for making things look to outward appearances like forms of good, 'casting silver chains' stands for making them seem to hang together as if linked to one another with truths, good being meant by 'gold' and truth by 'silver', see the paragraphs referred to above.

[6] Similarly in Jeremiah,

The customs 2 of the nations are vanity. Since indeed one cuts out wood from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, he decorates it with silver and gold; they make it firm with pegs and hammers, so that it is not unsteady. Jeremiah 10:3-4.

In Hosea,

The Ephraimites sin more and more, and make for themselves a molten image from silver, idols by their own intelligence, completely the work of craftsmen. Hosea 13:2.

'Ephraim' stands for the Church's understanding, 5354, 6222, 6234, 6238, 6267; 'a molten image made from silver' stands for falsity that looks like truth, which is why it says 'by their own intelligence'; and 'completely the work of craftsmen' stands for the fact that it is all brought about through reasonings which are a product of the proprium or self.

[7] In Habakkuk,

Woe to him who says to a piece of wood, Awake! or to a dumb stone, Wake up, this will teach! Behold, this is bound in gold and silver, but there is no spirit in the midst of it. Habakkuk 2:19.

'A piece of wood' stands for evil, 'a stone' for falsity. 'Bound in gold and silver' stands for applications used to give the appearance of what is good and true. In Daniel,

Belshazzar said, when he had properly tasted the wine, that they were to bring the vessels of gold and silver which his father Nebuchadnezzar had brought from the temple that [had been] in Jerusalem, in order that the king and his nobles, his wives and his concubines might drink from them. And they would drink wine, and praise the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone. Daniel 5:2-4, 23.

'The vessels of gold and silver from the temple of Jerusalem' represented the forms of good and the truths which belonged to the Church and to the Lord's kingdom; 'drinking wine from them' meant desecrating them by means of evils and falsities, which are 'the gods of gold and silver'.

[8] In David,

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands They have a mouth, but they do not speak; they have eyes but do not see. Psalms 115:4-5; 135:15-16.

'Silver and gold, which are idols' stands for falsities and evils; 'the work of human hands' stands for the fact that they are the product of self-intelligence. In Moses,

You shall burn the graven images of the gods of the nations with fire; you shall not covet the silver and the gold that are on them, so that you take them to yourself; for it is an abomination to Jehovah your God. Therefore you shall not bring an abomination into your house, lest you become 3 an accursed thing like it; you shall utterly abhor it. Deuteronomy 7:25-26.

'Silver and gold on graven images' stands for falsities and evils which are worshipped as truths and forms of good because they have been made to look like these.


1. Reading scissuras (clefts) for fissuras (fissures)

2. literally, statutes

3. Reading fias (you become) for fiat (it becomes)

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