581. For their tails were like serpents, and had heads, signifies that from sensual knowledges [scientifica] which are fallacies, they reason craftily. This is evident from the signification of "tails," here, the tails of horses, as being knowledges [scientifica] which are called sensual because they are the ultimates of the understanding (see above, n. 559; from the signification of "serpent," as being the craftiness of the sensual man (of which presently); and from the signification of "having heads," as meaning to reason by means of such knowledges; for the "head" signifies intelligence, therefore "to have a head" signifies to be intelligent. To reason by means of such knowledges is meant, because the "head," in reference to the sensual man, signifies knowledge [scientia] and fatuous thought therefrom (see above, n. 577, and accordingly also reasonings by means of sensual knowledges. From this it can be seen that "the tails of the horses were like serpents, and had heads," signifies that from sensual knowledges which are fallacies they reason craftily. These are called fallacies because sensual knowledges become fallacies when man reasons from them concerning spiritual things; as for example, that dignities and wealth are real blessings; that glory, such as belongs to the great in the world, is that in which heavenly blessedness consists; and that the Lord desires adoration from man for His own glory, and other like things; these are fallacies when applied to things spiritual, since the sensual man thinks in this way, and cannot know otherwise because he is not endowed with intelligence.
Revelation 9:19; The Apocalypse Explained 559, 577)
 That "serpents" signify in the Word the sensual man in respect to craftiness and in respect to prudence, can be seen from the following passages. In Moses:
The serpent was more crafty than any wild beast of the field which Jehovah God had made (Genesis 3:1).
"Serpent" here does not mean a serpent, but the sensual man, and in a general sense the sensual itself, which is the ultimate of the human understanding; "the man and his wife" signify the Most Ancient Church, which fell away when the men of that church began to reason from sensual knowledges [scientifica] respecting Divine things, which is signified by "eating of the tree of knowledge;" their craftiness in reasoning respecting Divine things from the sensual is described by the reasoning of the serpent with Adam's wife, by which they were deceived. The serpent is said to have been "more crafty than any wild beast of the field," because it is poisonous and its bite is therefore deadly, and because it hides itself in lurking places. "Poison" signifies craft and deceit, and therefore the "bite" of the serpent signifies deadly hurt; and the lurking places from which it bites, and in which it conceals itself, signify craftiness.
 It is to be known that all beasts signify affections such as are in man, and "serpents" signify the affections of the sensual man, for the reason that they creep on the belly upon the ground as does the sensual of man, for this is in the lowest place, and creeps as it were upon the ground beneath all the other faculties. Moreover, sensual men in the spiritual world dwell in the lower parts, and cannot be elevated towards the higher parts, since they are in externals, and from these they judge and form conclusions respecting everything. Again, the evil who are in the hells are mostly sensual, and many of them crafty; when, therefore, they are looked at from the light of heaven they appear like serpents of various kinds; and this is why the devil is called a "serpent." The infernals are also crafty because evil conceals in itself all craftiness and malice, as good does all prudence and wisdom. (On this see the work on Heaven and Hell 576-581, where The Malice and Wicked Arts of Infernal Spirits are treated of.)
 This, then, is why the devil or hell is called "a serpent" in the following passages. In Revelation:
The dragon, the old serpent, the devil and Satan, which seduceth the whole world (Revelation 12:9, 14, 15; 20:2).
They have sharpened their tongue like a serpent; adder's poison is under their lips (Psalms 111:3);
which signifies their crafty and delusive deception. In the same:
Their poison is like the poison of a serpent (Psalms 58:4).
He shall suck the poison of asps; the viper's tongue shall slay him (Job 20:16)
And in Isaiah:
They hatched adder's eggs, and wove spider's webs; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and when one is crushed there breaketh out a viper (59 Isaiah 59:5).
This is said of evil men, who by deceit and craft seduce others in spiritual things; the hidden evils to which they allure by their craftiness are signified by "adder's eggs, which they are said to hatch;" their deceitful falsities are signified by "the spider's webs which they weave;" the deadly hurt when they are received is signified by "he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and when one is crushed there breaketh out a viper."
Acts of the Apostles 20:16; Psalms 140:3; Revelation 12:14-15)
 Because the Pharisees were such they are called by the Lord:
Serpents, a generation of vipers (Matthew 23:33).
That the craftiness and malice of such can do no harm to those whom the Lord protects is signified by the following in Isaiah:
The suckling shall play on the hole of the adder, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the basilisk's den (Isaiah 11:8).
The "suckling" and the "weaned child" signify those who are in the good of innocence, that is, those who are in love to the Lord; and "the hole of the adder" and the "basilisk's den" mean the hells in which are deceitful and crafty spirits, and the entrances into these appear like gloomy holes, and within they are like dens.
 That the craft and malice of infernal spirits can do no harm to those whom the Lord protects is signified also by these words of the Lord:
That the disciples would have power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy (Luke 10:19).
Also that they would have power to take up serpents, and to drink any deadly thing, and it would not hurt them (Mark 16:18).
"To tread on serpents" signifies to despise and make light of the deceits, craft, and wicked arts of the infernal crew; therefore it is added, "and over all the power of the enemy;" "the enemy" is that crew, and "his power" its craftiness.
 The malice and craftiness of infernal spirits, who, taken together, are called "the devil" and "Satan," are also meant by "serpents" in the following passages. In Moses:
Jehovah God led thee through the great and fearful wilderness of the serpent, the fiery serpent, and the scorpion (Deuteronomy 8:15).
The journeyings of the sons of Israel in the wilderness represented and thence signified the temptations of the faithful; the infestations at such times from the hells by evil spirits and genii are signified by "serpents, fiery serpents, and scorpions."
 In Isaiah:
Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of thee, because the rod that smiteth thee is broken; for from the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, whose fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent (Isaiah 14:29).
"Philistia" signifies faith separate from charity; the misleading of many by the sophistries by which that faith is confirmed is signified by "from the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, whose fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent." In Jeremiah:
Behold I send among you serpents, basilisks, against which there shall be no charm, and they shall bite you (Jeremiah 8:17).
The voice thereof shall go like that of a serpent (Jeremiah 46:22).
Although they hide themselves 1
before My eyes in the bottom of the sea, thence will I command the serpent to bite them (Amos 9:3).
Craftiness is signified also in Isaiah by:
Leviathan the crooked serpent (Isaiah 27:1).
 That "serpents" signify craftiness, and also the prudence with sensual men, is evident from the words of the Lord in Matthew:
Be ye prudent as serpents and simple as doves (10 Matthew 10:18).
Those who are in good are called "prudent," and those who are in evil are called "crafty," for prudence is of truth from good, and craftiness is of falsity from evil; and as this was said to those who were in good, "serpents" here mean prudence.
 Because the craftiness of the evil is diabolical those who are in it are said "to eat the dust." In Moses:
It was said to the serpent, Be thou accursed above all beasts, and above all the wild beasts of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life (Genesis 3:14).
Dust shall be the serpent's bread (Isaiah 65:25).
And in Micah:
They shall lick the dust like a serpent (Micah 7:17);
"dust" signifying what is damned, and "to go upon the belly" signifying the sensual, which is the ultimate of life in man; and as this is the ultimate of life, it is in no intelligence or wisdom, but in craftiness and cunning, which are contrary to intelligence and wisdom.
 In Moses:
Dan shall be a serpent upon the way, an arrow serpent on the path, biting the horse's heels, and his rider 2
shall fall backwards (Genesis 49:17).
What this prophecy respecting Dan signifies no one can know unless he knows what is signified by a "horse" and its "heels," also by a "serpent;" a "horse" signifies the understanding of truth, and a "rider" intelligence; a "serpent" signifies the sensual, which is the ultimate of the intellectual life; "the heels of a horse" signify truths in ultimates, which are sensual knowledges; that the sensual by means of reasonings from fallacies, does harm to and leads astray the understanding is signified by "the serpent biteth the horse's heels and his rider shall fall backwards." This is said of Dan, because the tribe named from him was the last of the tribes, and thence signified the last things (ultimates) of truth and good, consequently the ultimates of the church (see Arcana Coelestia 1710, 3923, 6396, 10335, where this prophecy is explained).
Arcana Coelestia 3923, 6396, 10335)
 The sensual, which is the ultimate of the intellectual life, is signified also by:
The stretched serpent (Isaiah 27:1; Job 26:13);
The serpent into which the rod of Moses was changed (Exodus 4:3, 4; 7:9-12).
(See Arcana Coelestia 6949, 7293.) Again, sensual things which are the ultimates of man's life are signified by:
The fiery serpents sent among the people who wished to return to Egypt (Numbers 21:6);
while the healing of the bite of such serpents by the Lord's Divine sensual is signified by:
The brazen serpent set upon a standard, by looking upon which they revived (Numbers 21:5-9).
The expression, the Lord's Divine sensual, is used, because the Lord when He was in the world glorified, that is, made Divine, His whole Human even to its ultimates, as can be seen from the fact that He left nothing in the sepulcher, and that He said to the disciples:
That He hath bones and flesh, which a spirit doth not have (Luke 24:39, 40).
The ultimate sensual, which was also glorified or made Divine by the Lord, is signified by that "brazen serpent" set upon a standard, respecting which the Lord Himself thus spake in John:
As Moses lifted up the serpent, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life (3 :14, 15).
The Lord was represented before the Israelitish and Jewish people by such a sign, because they were merely sensual, and the sensual man in looking to the Lord is unable to elevate his thought beyond and above the sensual; for everyone looks to the Lord according to the elevation of his understanding, the spiritual man looking to the Divine rational, and so on. This makes evident that "the brazen serpent" signifies also the sensual, but the glorified or Divine sensual of the Lord.
1. Latin has "thou hide thyself," the Hebrew "they hide themselves."
2. Latin has "horse," the Hebrew "rider," as in AC 259, 1984, 2761, 6395, 6401.
Acts of the Apostles 26:13; Exodus 4:3-4; Jeremiah 46:22-23; John 3:14-15; Luke 24:39-40; Matthew 10:16; Psalms 140:3; Revelation 9:19)