De Verbo (The Word) #1

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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I. A representation of the literal sense of the Word, containing a spiritual sense.

I was allowed to see great money-bags looking like sacks, in which a large sum of money was stored. Since the bags were open, it seemed as if anyone could help himself to the money in them, or even carry it all off; but near to them sat two angels as guards. The place where the sacks were stored looked like a manger in a stable. In the next room were to be seen some modest young women together with a chaste wife; and near that room were two children, and I was told they were to be played with not childishly, but wisely. Afterwards a prostitute was to be seen, and then a horse lying dead.

I then perceived that these represented the literal sense of the Word, in which there is a spiritual sense. 1 The large money-bags full of money meant knowledge about truth being present there in great quantity. Their being open, yet guarded by angels, meant that anyone could gain knowledge of truth from these, but care must be taken to avoid falsifying the internal sense, in which the bare truths are exposed. The manger in the stable, where the bags lay, meant spiritual instruction for the intellect. This meaning of a manger also applies to that in which the Lord lay when He was born; for a horse means the intellect, so a manger that which feeds it. The modest young women seen in the next room meant the truths of the church, and the chaste wife the linking of truth and good which is found throughout the Word. The children meant the innocence of the wisdom in it; they were angels from the third heaven, all of whom look like children. The prostitute with the lifeless horse meant the way many people today falsify the Word, as a result of which all understanding of the truth is lost. A prostitute means falsification, and a dead horse the absence of any understanding of truth.


1. Added in the margin: 'This is what the foundation of the wall of Jerusalem is, and the twelve precious stones in it, as well as the Urim and Thummim on Aaron's ephod.' -Translator.

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