Arcana Coelestia #5576

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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5576. And the famine became grievous. That this signifies desolation from the want of spiritual things, is evident from the signification of “famine,” as being a lack of the knowledges of good and truth (see n. 3364, 5277, 5279, 5281, 5300), and hence desolation (n. 5360, 5376, 5415); and because desolation comes from a scarcity and consequent want of spiritual things, this also is signified by “famine.”

[2] Hunger in the spiritual world or in heaven is not hunger for food, because the angels do not feed upon material food, which is for the body that man carries about in the world; but it is hunger for such food as nourishes their minds. This food, which is called spiritual food, is to understand truth and be wise in good; and wonderful to say the angels are nourished by this food; which has been made evident to me from the fact that after little children who die have been instructed in heaven in the truths of intelligence and the goods of wisdom, they no longer appear as little children, but as adults, and this according to their increase in good and truth; and also from the fact that the angels continually long for the things of intelligence and wisdom, and that when they are in the evening, that is, in a state in which these things fail, they are so far in what is relatively not happiness, and they then hunger and long for nothing more than that the morning may dawn for them afresh, and that they may return into their life of happiness, which is of intelligence and wisdom.

[3] That to understand truth and to will good is spiritual food, may also appear to everyone who reflects that when anyone is enjoying material food for the nourishment of the body, his food is more nourishing if he is at the same time in cheerful spirits and conversing on agreeable topics, which is a sign that there is a correspondence between spiritual food for the soul and material food for the body. And the same is further evident from the fact that when one who longs to imbue his mind with the things of knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom is kept from them, he begins to be saddened and distressed, and like one who is famished longs to return to his spiritual food, and thereby to the nourishment of his soul.

[4] That there is spiritual food which nourishes the soul as material food nourishes the body may also be seen from the Word, as in Moses:

Man doth not live by bread only; but by every utterance of the mouth of Jehovah doth man live (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

The “utterance of the mouth of Jehovah” is in general the Divine truth which proceeds from the Lord, thus all truth of wisdom, specifically the Word, in which and from which are the things of wisdom. And in John:

Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you (John 6:27).

That this meat is the truth of wisdom which proceeds from the Lord is evident.

[5] From this too it may be known what is meant by these words of the Lord in the same chapter:

My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed (John 6:55);

namely, that the Lord’s “flesh” is Divine good (n. 3813), and His “blood” Divine truth (n. 4735); for when the Lord made His whole Human Divine, then His flesh was nothing else than Divine good, and His blood Divine truth. It is evident that in the Divine nothing material is to be understood; and therefore “food” in the supreme sense, that is, when predicated of the Lord, is the good of the Divine love for saving the human race. This food is what is meant by the Lord’s words in John:

Jesus said to the disciples, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to perfect His work (John 4:32, 34);

“to do the will of Him that sent Him, and to perfect His work” is to save the human race; the Divine from which this is done is the Divine love. From all this it is now plain what is meant in the spiritual sense by “famine.”

(References: Genesis 43:1)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 5579, 6078, 6110, 6144, 6502, 6576, 8408, 9003, 9052, 9139, 9198, 9210, 9372, 9412, 9527, 10037

Heaven and Hell 356

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51, 121, 196, 218


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 118, 235, 336, 374


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


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