Arcana Coelestia #10453

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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10453. 'And the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved on the tablets' means the outward sense of the Word and the inward - which come from the Divine - and Divine Truth. This is clear from the meaning of 'the tablets' as the Word in its entirety, dealt with immediately above in 10452, but at this point the outward form of the Word, dealt with below; from the meaning of 'the work of God' as its coming from the Divine; from the meaning of 'the writing' as the inward form of the Word, also dealt with below, so that 'the writing of God' is the inward form of the Word coming from the Divine, and thus is Divine Truth; and from the meaning of 'engraved on the tablets' as the inward impressed on and so contained within the outward.

(References: Exodus 32:16)


[2] The reason why the tablets here mean the outward form of the Word is that they are distinguished here from the writing, which is its inward form; but when they are not distinguished from the writing they mean the inward and the outward forms of the Word together, thus the Word in its entirety, as above in 10452. They are distinguished here because these tablets were broken, but nevertheless the same words were afterwards inscribed by Jehovah on the other tablets which were hewn by Moses. The outward form of the Word is its literal sense, the inward form is its internal sense. The former - the literal sense - is meant by 'the tablets', because this sense is like a tablet or level surface on which the internal sense is inscribed.

[3] The breaking by Moses of the tablets which were the work of God, when he saw the calf and the dances, and the hewing by Moses, as commanded by Jehovah, of other tablets, which then had the same words inscribed on them (so that the tablets were no longer the work of God but the work of Moses, though the writing was still the writing of God), hold an arcanum unknown up to now. The arcanum is that the literal sense of the Word would have been different if the Word had been written among another people, or if the character of the Israelite people had not been such as it was. For the literal sense of the Word is all about that people since the Word was written among them, as is evident from both the historical sections and the prophetical parts of the Word. They were a people steeped in evil because they were idolatrous at heart; yet in order that the internal sense and the external sense might be in agreement that people had to be highly acclaimed, and to be called God's people, a holy nation, and a peculiar treasure. Consequently the simple, who would be taught by means of the outward sense of the Word, would believe that that nation was all those things, as that nation itself also believes, and indeed as the majority in the Christian world do at the present day. Most of the things furthermore that present themselves in and constitute the outward sense of the Word were ones that were permitted on account of their hardness of heart, such as those referred to in Matthew 19:8 and also others which need not be mentioned here.

[4] Since therefore the literal sense of the Word came to be what it was because of what those people were like, the tablets which were the work of God were broken and others, as commanded by Jehovah, were hewn by Moses. But since they nevertheless had the same holy and Divine content within them the same words as were on the first tablets were inscribed by Jehovah on them, as is evident from the following verses in Moses,

Jehovah said to Moses, Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. And Jehovah wrote on those tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Words. Exodus 34:1, 4, 28.

And elsewhere,

At that time Jehovah said to me, Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. And Jehovah wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Words. Afterwards Jehovah gave them to me. Deuteronomy 10:1-4.

[5] The fact that Jehovah did not acknowledge that people as His own people - even though they were called such so that the inward sense would accord with the outward - but as Moses' people is clear from the present chapter,

Your people have corrupted themselves, whom you caused to come up out of the land of Egypt. Go! lead the people to what I have spoken of to you. Exodus 32:7, 34.

And further on,

And Jehovah spoke to Moses, Go up, you and the people whom you have caused to come up out of the land of Egypt, to the land of which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And I will send an angel before you, for I will not go up in your midst because you 1 are a stiff-necked people. Exodus 33:1-3.

[6] The like is meant by Moses' being put in the hole of the rock, and his not being allowed to see Jehovah's face, but only His back parts, Exodus 33:22-23. The like is also meant, when the skin on Moses' face shone, by his putting a veil onto his face whenever he talked to the children of Israel, Exodus 34:30-35. What the character of that people would be is foretold by Jehovah to Abram, when he wanted his seed to inherit the land of Canaan, where it is stated that after Abram had parted down the middle the three year old heifer, the three year old she-goat, and the three year old ram, which served for entering into a covenant,

A deep sleep came over Abram, and behold, a dread of a great darkness was coming over him. And when the sun went down there was thick darkness, and behold, a smoking furnace, and a flaming torch which passed between these pieces. Genesis 15:8, 9, 12, 17.

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Footnotes:

1. The Latin means that [people] but the Hebrew means you, which Swedenborg has in other places where he quotes this verse.

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(References: Exodus 32:16; Genesis 15:9-10)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 10461, 10603, 10604, 10687

The White Horse 12

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 248, 261


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 391, 433

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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