Arcana Coelestia #575

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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575. 'The days of man were to be a hundred and twenty years' means that he ought to have remnants of faith. At verses 3, 4 of the previous chapter it was stated that 'days' and 'years' meant periods of time and states, and that the most ancient people meant states and changes in the states of the Church by the numbers which they compounded variously. The exact nature of their computation of things that had to do with the Church is one of those matters that have been lost. Here in like manner numbers of years occur, whose meaning nobody can possibly know unless he knows what is concealed in each of the numbers 1-12, and so on. It is quite apparent that they embody some arcanum or other, for in saying that they would live a hundred and twenty years this verse contradicts those that go before it. Nor subsequently did they live a mere hundred and twenty years, as is clear from what Chapter 11 says about those who lived after the Flood - that Shem lived 500 years after he beget Arpachshad, Arpachshad 407 years after he beget Shelah, Shelah 403 years as well after he beget Eber, and Eber 430 years after he beget Peleg. Chapter 9:28 says that Noah lived 350 years after the Flood; and other examples could be given. What the number 120 embodies however is clear merely from the numbers to and 12, for 120 is the product of 10 times 12. It means remnants of faith. In the Word the number ten has the same meaning as tenths, representing remnants which are preserved by the Lord within the internal man. And since these are the Lord's alone they are holy. The number twelve means faith, that is, all things belonging to faith in their entirety. So this composite number means remnants of faith.

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