Arcana Coelestia #9424

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9424. 'And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you' means teachings of truth that are derived from that outward sense of the Word. This is clear from the representation of 'Aaron' as the Word in its outward sense, and also teachings that present what is good and true, dealt with in 6998, 7009, 7089, at this point teachings of truth that are derived from that sense alone, since 'the elders', over whom Aaron presided as head beneath the mountain, means those restricted to the outward sense of the Word, 9421; and from the representation of 'Hur', when linked with Aaron, as the truth as it is presented by those teachings, which Hur also represents in Exodus 17:10, 12, when he and Aaron together supported Moses' hands, 8603, 8611. For truths from the Word that are the source from which doctrinal teachings are derived support the Word, which 'Moses' represented then.

(References: Exodus 17:10-12, 17:10-13)

[2] Since another opportunity to do so is provided here, something more will be stated about the way in which support is given to the Word by teachings derived from the Word. A person unacquainted with the arcana of heaven cannot help thinking that the Word can be supported without the teachings derived from it; for that person supposes that such teachings lie in the letter or literal sense of the Word. But it should be recognized that all things taught by the Church must be derived from the Word, and that teachings from any source other than the Word are not teachings that possess anything of the Church within them, let alone anything of heaven. The teachings must be gathered together from the Word, and while they are being gathered a person must receive enlightenment from the Lord; and a person receives such enlightenment when governed by the love of truth for its own sake and not for any selfish or worldly reason. These are the people who are enlightened in their reading of the Word; they see truth, and formulate religious teachings for themselves from it. The reason why this should be so is that such people are in touch with heaven and so with the Lord, and because of this they receive enlightenment from the Lord and are led by Him to see the truths of the Word as they exist in heaven. For the Lord flows by way of heaven into those people's understanding, a person's inward understanding being that which receives the enlightenment; and at the same time the Lord flows in with faith, which is imparted through the co-operation of the new will, which desires truth for truth's sake. All this now shows how the Lord provides people with teachings that present what is true and good.

[3] The fact that these teachings support the Word as to its literal or outward sense is evident to anyone who gives thought to the matter. For everyone in the Church whose thought is guided by doctrinal teachings sees truths in the Word from and in accord with the teachings he knows. He also finds an explanation for the truths that do not agree exactly with these teachings, and passes over any that seem to him to be contradictory, as though he does not see them or fails to understand them. All people, including heretics, act in this kind of way, as is well known. But those who possess authentic teachings of truth that are derived from the Word, and who receive enlightenment when they read the Word, see accordant truths everywhere and nothing whatever contradictory. For these people do not cling to the actual statements made there in accordance with appearances and ordinary human perception, because they know that if the appearances are opened out and so to speak peeled away, truth is laid bare there. They are not led astray by falsities that result from the illusions of the outward senses, as heretics and zealots are, especially Jews and Socinians, nor by falsities that result from self-love and love of the world, as those meant by 'Babel' are. Since none of these are able to receive enlightenment, they deduce their doctrinal teachings solely from the outward sense of the Word to suit their own loves, also adding many ideas of their own, as a result of which the Word is not at all supported but collapses. It should be remembered that the inward sense of the Word contains the authentic teachings of the Church.

[4] All this now shows what the teachings represented here by Aaron and Hur are like, teachings which - being derived solely from the outward sense of the Word, without the inward - were simply idolatrous. This accounts for what it says about Aaron, who represented such teachings, that he made an idol, or the golden calf, Exodus 32:2-5, 21, 35; Deuteronomy 9:20. Indeed these teachings are described in the Word as 'idols'; they are described as such throughout the prophets, as in Ezekiel,

I went in and saw all the idols of the house of Israel, portrayed on the wall round about. And seventy men from the elders of the house of Israel were standing before them; and each had a censer in his hand, and a thick cloud 1 of incense was going up. Ezekiel 8:10-11.

Here 'the idols of the house of Israel' are teachings derived solely from the outward sense of the Word, not through enlightenment received from the Lord but through self-intelligence, thus falsities. Worship in keeping with those falsities is meant by 'a censer in each man's hand' and by 'a thick cloud of incense'.

(References: Deuteronomy 9:16, 9:21; Exodus 32:20)

[5] In Hosea,

They sin more and more, they make for themselves a molded image from their silver, [idols] by their own intelligence, completely the work of craftsmen, saying to these, Those who offer human sacrifice kiss the calves. Hosea 13:2.

'A graven image from their silver' and 'completely the work of craftsmen' stand for teachings that are fashioned by self-intelligence and do not come from the Lord, thus are derived from the outward sense of the Word, separated from the inward. This happens among those whose minds are set solely on outward and not at the same time on inward things, that is, among those who are ruled by self-love and love of the world and not by love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour.

[6] In Isaiah,

On that day a person will cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold 2 which they made for themselves to bow down to, to the moles and bats, to go into the clefts 3 of the rocks and into the fissures of the crags. Isaiah 2:20-21; 31:7.

'Idols of silver' stands for falsities embodied in doctrinal teachings, and 'idols of gold' for evils embodied in doctrinal teachings. 'Bowing down to moles and bats, and going into clefts or fissures of rocks and crags' stands for worship springing from falsities and evils of belief.

[7] In the same prophet,

You will judge unclean the covering of the graven images of your silver, and the clothing of the molded image of your gold. You will throw them away like a menstruous rag; a piece of dung you will call it. Isaiah 30:22.

'The covering of the graven images of silver' and 'the clothing of the molded image of gold' stand for factual knowledge of falsity and evil, which are acknowledged and revered instead of truths and forms of good. In the same prophet,

I told you of old, lest you should say, My idol has done these things, and my graven image, and my molded image has commanded them. Isaiah 48:5.

Here also 'idol', 'graven image', and 'molded image' stand for matters of doctrine fashioned by self-intelligence.

[8] In Jeremiah,

Every person has been made stupid by knowledge; every metal-caster has been filled with shame by his graven image, for his molded image is a lie; and there is no spirit in those things. They are things of no importance, a work of errors. Jeremiah 10:14-15.

In this place too 'graven image' and 'molded image' stand for matters of doctrine fashioned by self-intelligence, which to outward appearance look like truths because they are derived from the outward sense of the Word, but inwardly are falsities. This is why it says that this person is 'made stupid by knowledge', that 'the molded image is a lie', that 'there is no spirit in those things', and also that they are 'of no importance, a work of errors'. Something similar occurs in Habakkuk,

What profit is a graven image since its image-maker has graven it, a molded image and a teacher of lies, since the image-maker trusts in the thing he himself has made? Habakkuk 2:18.

[9] In Isaiah,

The craftsman casts a graven image, and a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts silver chains for it. He seeks for himself a skilled 4 craftsman to make ready a graven image. Isaiah 40:19-20.

Here in like manner 'a graven image' stands for some matter of doctrine fashioned by self-intelligence. The likeness to truth imparted to it by the Word, by its outward sense alone, and at the same time by illusions and outward appearances, is meant by 'a goldsmith overlays it with gold, and casts silver chains for it' and by 'he seeks a skilled craftsman to make it ready'.

[10] In the same prophet,

Makers of the graven image, all are vanity; and their most desirable things are profitless. He fashions the iron with tongs, and works it with the coals, and forms it with sharp hammers; so he makes it with his strong arm. 5 He fashions pieces of wood, stretches out a cord, and marks it off with a ruler. He makes it into angles, and marks it out with a ring, so that he may make it in the form of a man (vir), according to the beauty of a human being, to dwell in the house. Isaiah 44:9-18.

This is a description of the way in which self-intelligence, without any enlightenment from the Lord, shapes religious teachings, and of the way in which the Word, its outward sense alone, and reasonings based on the illusions of the senses, are used to make falsities look like the truth. This is why it says 'so that he may make it in the form of a man, according to the beauty of a human being, to dwell in the house'. Consequently to outward appearance it looks like the truth, but inwardly it is falsity. Falsity exists inwardly when people do not think correctly about truths; for one person's thought about one and the same truth is different from another's, but that of all those who are steeped in evil is false. One truth consists of countless other truths; but with those steeped in evil it consists of countless falsities. With these people therefore that truth has no life in it, and this is meant by 'there is no spirit in them', Jeremiah 51:17, and 'they do not hear, see, nor understand', Psalms 115:4-6. All this may be likened to a painting that portrays a person's likeness, which inwardly is nothing but paint, in contrast to the actual person's outward appearance which has heavenly life and beauty inwardly present if truths springing from good exist there.


1. literally, the abundance of a cloud

2. literally, idols of his silver and idols of his gold

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

4. literally, wise

5. literally, the arm of his strength

(References: Exodus 24:14; Isaiah 44:9-13, 44:9, 44:13)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9466, 10105, 10329, 10399, 10400, 10548, 10584

The White Horse 8

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 257

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 386

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