Arcana Coelestia #2280

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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2280. That 'perhaps twenty will be found there' means even if there is no existence of conflict but good is nevertheless present is clear from the meaning of 'twenty'. As all the numbers mentioned in the Word mean real things and states, as stated and shown in various places already, see 2252, so also does 'twenty'; and what twenty means becomes clear from how it may be obtained, namely from twice ten. In the Word ten, as also tenths, means remnants, and by these are meant everything good and true which the Lord instills into a person from earliest childhood through to the final period of life. Such remnants are referred to in the verse that follows this. Twice ten, or two tens, that is, twenty, is similar in meaning to ten, but to a higher degree, namely that of good.

[2] Three kinds of goods are meant by 'remnants' - those instilled in earliest childhood, those instilled when want of knowledge is still present, and those instilled when intelligence is present. The goods of earliest childhood are those instilled into a person from birth up to the age when he starts to be taught and to know something. The goods received when want of knowledge is still present are instilled when he is being taught and starting to know something. The goods that come with intelligence are instilled when he is able to reflect on what good is and what truth is. Good instilled in earliest childhood is received up to his tenth year.

[3] Good instilled when want of knowledge is still present is instilled from then until his twentieth year; and from this year the person starts to become rational and to have the ability to reflect on good and truth, and to acquire the good received when intelligence is present. The good instilled when want of knowledge is still present is that which is meant by 'twenty', because those with whom merely that good exists do not enter into any temptation. For no one undergoes temptation until he is able to reflect on and to perceive in his own way what good and truth are. Those who have acquired goods by means of temptations were the subject in the two verses previous to this, while in the present verse the subject is those who do not undergo temptations but who nevertheless possess good.

[4] It is because these who possess the good called 'good instilled during want of knowledge' are meant by 'twenty' that all those who had come out of Egypt were included in the census - from 'a son of twenty years and over', and who, as it is stated, were every one 'going into the army'- by whom were meant those whose good was no longer merely that instilled during want of knowledge, referred to in Numbers 1:20, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 38, 40, 42, 45; 26:4. It is also said that all who were over twenty years of age died in the wilderness, Numbers 14:29; 32:10-11, because evil could be attributed to them, and because they represented those who yield in temptations. Also the value set for a male who was between five years of age and twenty years was twenty sheckels, Leviticus 27:5, whereas a different value was set for one between twenty years old and sixty, namely fifty shekels, Leviticus 27:3.

[5] As regards the nature of these different kinds of goods - those instilled in earliest childhood, those when want of knowledge is still present, and those when intelligence is present - the last of these is the best, since it is an attribute of wisdom. The good which precedes it, namely that instilled during want of knowledge, is indeed good, but because it has only a small amount of intelligence within it, it cannot be called the good of wisdom. The good that belongs to earliest childhood is indeed in itself good, but it is nevertheless less good than the other two kinds, because it has not as yet had any truth of intelligence allied to it, and so has not become in any way the good of wisdom, but is merely a plane enabling it to become such. Cognitions of truth and good are what enable a person to be wise in the way possible to man. Earliest childhood itself, by which is meant innocence, does not belong to earliest childhood but to wisdom, as may become clearer from what will be stated at the end of this chapter about young children in the next life.

[6] In this verse 'twenty' means no other kind of good, as has been stated, than the good that belongs to not knowing. This good is a characteristic not only, as has been stated, of those under twenty years of age but also of all with whom the good of charity exists but who at the same time have no knowledge of truth. The latter consists of those inside the Church with whom the good of charity exists but who, for whatever reason, do not know what the truth of faith is - as is the case with the majority of those who think about God with reverence and think what is good about the neighbor - and also of all those outside the Church called gentiles who in a similar way lead lives abiding in the good of charity. Though the truths of faith do not exist with such persons outside the Church and inside it, nevertheless because good does so, they have the capacity, no less than young children do, to receive the truths of faith. For the understanding part of their mind has not yet been corrupted by false assumptions nor has the will part been so confirmed by a life of evil, for they do not know what falsity and evil are. Furthermore the life of charity is of such a nature that the falsity and evil that go with want of knowledge can be turned without difficulty towards what is true and good. This is not so in the case of those who have confirmed themselves in things contrary to the truth and who at the same time have led a life immersed in things contrary to good.

[7] In other places in the Word 'two-tenths' means good, both celestial and spiritual. Celestial good and spiritual good derived from this are meant by the two-tenths from which each loaf of the shewbread or of the Presence was made, Leviticus 24:5, while spiritual good was meant by the two-tenths constituting the minchah that accompanied the sacrifice of a ram, Numbers 15:6; 28:12, 20, 28; 29:3, 9, 14. These matters will in the Lord's Divine mercy be dealt with elsewhere.

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