Arcana Coelestia #6723

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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6723. And she took an ark of rush. That this signifies what is of low value round about, but nevertheless derived from truth, is evident from the signification of “an ark,” 1 as being what is round about, or that in which anything is inclosed (of which in what follows); and from the signification of “rush,” as being what is of low value, but nevertheless derived from truth. That “rush” denotes what is of low value is evident, and that it denotes what is derived from truth is because a “rush” has this signification, as is clear in Isaiah:

Woe to the land that is overshadowed with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Cush; that sendeth envoys to the sea, even in vessels of rush upon the faces of the waters (Isaiah 18:1-2);

“the land overshadowed with wings” denotes the church, which darkens itself by means of reasonings from memory-knowledges; “beyond the rivers of Cush” denotes to the knowledges whereby they confirm false principles (n. 1164); “to send envoys to the sea” denotes to consult memory-knowledges (see n. 28); “in vessels of rush upon the faces of the waters,” denotes the lowest receptacles of truth.

[2] In the opposite sense:

The dry place shall become a pool, and the thirsty place springs of waters; there shall be grass instead of the reed and the rush (Isaiah 35:7);

“grass instead of the reed and the rush,” denotes that there will be true memory-knowledge instead of things in which there is no truth. That “grass” denotes true memory-knowledge is plain from the passages in the Word where it is mentioned.

[3] As it was provided that Moses should represent the Lord as to the law Divine, or the Word, specifically the historic Word, it was therefore brought about that when he was an infant he was placed in a little ark, but in one of low value, because he was in his first rising, and because his being there was only a representative; but that afterward when the law Divine itself had shone forth from Mount Sinai, it was placed in an ark which was called the “ark of the testimony.” (That the law Divine was placed in the ark, see Exodus 40:20; 1 Kings 8:9; and also that the books of Moses were placed in it, Deuteronomy 31:24-26.)

[4] Hence the ark was most holy, because it represented the Lord’s Divine Human as to the Divine law; for from the Lord’s Divine Human proceeds the Divine law, or the Divine truth, which is the same as the “Word” mentioned in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word; and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father (John 1:1, 14).

And as the ark represented that most holy thing, the propitiatory with the cherubs was placed over the ark; and near the veil thereof the lampstand with its lamps, and the golden table with loaves, both of which signified the Divine love. This then is the reason why Moses, when an infant, because he represented the law Divine, was placed in a little ark.


1. The Latin here is capsa seu arcula, “a repository or little ark;” the Latin term used in the text “she took an ark of rush” being capsa. The Hebrew word thus rendered is the same as that used to designate the ark built by Noah.

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