Arcana Coelestia #2567

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2567. 'And men servants and women servants' means, and also with rational truths and natural truths, as well as with affections for these...... This is clear from the meaning of 'men servants and women servants'. Men servants and women servants are mentioned in various places in the Word, and in the internal sense they mean those things which are relatively lower or baser, as rational and natural things are in comparison with spiritual and celestial. By natural truths are meant facts of every kind, since these are natural. That men servants and women servants have this meaning in the Word is evident from the internal sense of these words where they are used, as in Isaiah,

Jehovah will have compassion on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and will set them on their own ground, and the sojourner will attach himself to them, and they will join themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will inherit them on Jehovah's ground as men servants and women servants. Isaiah 14:1-2.

[2] Here 'Jacob' stands for the external Church, 'Israel' for the internal, 'sojourners' for people who receive instruction in truths and goods, 1463, 2025. 'Men servants and women servants' stands for natural truths and rational truths, together with the affections for them, which are to be of service to the Church meant by Jacob and Israel. The fact that Jacob and Israel, or Jews and Israelites, were not meant here, is quite evident, for once they had been dispersed among the gentiles the Israelites became gentiles. Yet the Jews still cherish and await an even literal fulfilment of this prophecy - that sojourners will attach themselves to them, and after that peoples will bring them [to their place] and will become their men servants and women servants. But in fact where reference is made in the prophetical parts of the Word to Jews and Israelites, not even the least thing is meant in regard to these, as must also be plain to the Jews themselves from the fact that in various places it is said equally of Israel as of Judah that they were to be led back.

[3] In the same prophet,

Behold, Jehovah is emptying the earth and making it desolate, and He will disfigure the face of it and will cause its inhabitants to scatter. And it will be, as with the people so with the priest, as with the man servant so with his master, as with the woman servant so with her mistress. Isaiah 24:1-2.

Here 'the earth' stands for the Church, 662, 1066, 1067, 1850, which is 'emptied and made desolate, and its face disfigured and inhabitants scattered', when interior truths and goods, meant by 'priest and people', and when exterior truths and goods, meant by 'man servant and woman servant', are no more, which comes about when external things have dominion over internal.

[4] In the same prophet,

I will bring forth seed from Jacob, and from Judah the heir of My mountains, and My chosen ones will possess it, and My servants will dwell there. Isaiah 65:9.

Here 'Jacob' stands for the external Church, 'Judah' for the internal celestial Church, 'chosen ones' for its goods, and 'servants' for its truths.

[5] In Joel,

I will pour out My spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Even on your men servants and women servants in those days I will pour out My spirit. Joel 2:28-29.

The subject here is the Lord's kingdom. 'Prophesying' stands for teaching, 2534, 'sons' for truths themselves, 489, 491, 533, 1147, 'daughters' for goods themselves, 489-491. 'Men servants and women servants' stands for lower truths and goods on which it is said that the spirit is to be 'poured out' when these serve to support and strengthen. That such things are meant here and elsewhere by 'men servants and women servants' is not too apparent, both because of the common idea which one has of men servants and women servants, and because of this being a prophecy of some seemingly historical event.

[6] In John,

I saw an angel standing in the sun, who called out with a loud voice saying to all the birds flying in mid-heaven, You may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses and those seated on them, and the flesh of all, free men and slaves, both small and great. Revelation 19:17-18.

Here it is quite plain that not the flesh of kings, captains, mighty men, horses, those seated on these, free men and slaves, which they were to eat, is meant but internal and external truths of the Church which became 'flesh' for them.

[7] That 'men servants' means truths and 'women servants' goods which were subservient to and so serve spiritual and celestial truths and goods is quite clear from the laws laid down in the representative Church which had to do with men servants and woman servants. All these laws have regard to the state of the Church and of the Lord's kingdom in general and in particular, and to the way in which lower truths and goods, which are natural and rational, have to serve those that are spiritual and celestial, and thus those that are Divine, such as the following,

The Hebrew male slave and the Hebrew female slave 1 was to be free in the seventh year and at that time was to receive gifts from the flock, the threshing-floor, and the winepress. Exodus 21:2-6; Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Jeremiah 34:9-14.

A wife was to go free if she had entered into bondage together with her husband; but if the master had provided him with the wife, the wife and children were to be the master's. Exodus 21:3-4.

A poor brother who had been bought was not to serve as a slave but as a hired servant and an alien; and in the jubilee year he was to go out together with his children. Leviticus 25:39-43.

If a brother were bought by an alien sojourner he could be redeemed and leave in the jubilee year. Leviticus 25:47 and following verses.

Male and female slaves bought from nations round about, and from alien sojourners, were to be their possession for evermore, whom they might subject to their absolute command, but not the children of Israel. Leviticus 25:44-46.

If a slave did not wish to be emancipated, he was to have his ear pierced with an awl at the door, and he was a slave for evermore. The same applied to a female slave if she did not wish to be released. Exodus 21:6; Deuteronomy 15:16-17.

If someone beat his own male slave or female slave with a rod, so that he died, that slave was to be avenged. But if he survived a day or two, he was to be free; for he himself was his money. Exodus 21:20-21.

If he struck the slave's eye or tooth [and destroyed it], he was to go free. Exodus 21:26-27.

If an ox gored a male slave or a female slave so that he died, [the owner] was to weigh out thirty pieces of silver for the master, and the ox was to be stoned. Exodus 21:32.

A slave who had escaped from his master was not to be placed under arrest but was to live in a place of his own choice and not be oppressed. Deuteronomy 23:15-16. A slave who had been bought with silver and who had been circumcised was to eat the Passover. Exodus 12:44, 45.

Anyone's daughter who had been bought was not to leave her bondage as male slaves did. If she was bad the master was not to sell her to a foreigner. If she was betrothed to his son she was to be treated as a daughter. If that son married another he was not to reduce her food, clothing, and marital rights. If he did not honour these requirements she was to leave her bondage without making any payment. Exodus 21:7-11.

[8] All these laws owe their existence to laws in heaven, which are laws to do with what is good and true. They also have regard in the internal sense to these laws in heaven, but they do so partly through correspondences, partly through representatives, and partly through meaningful signs. But when the representatives and the meaningful signs of that Church, which were the most external and lowest things of worship, were done away with, so also did the necessity for such laws come to an end. If therefore these laws which are derived from the laws of order to do with what is good and true, and from representatives and meaningful signs, were to be opened up [to reveal their inner reality], it would be evident that 'male slaves' means nothing else than truths of a rational and factual kind, which are lower truths and therefore ought to serve spiritual truths, and that 'female slaves' means accompanying goods which because they too are lower ought indeed to serve, though in a different way. This explains why certain laws laid down concerning female slaves or servants differed from those laid down concerning male ones. For regarded in themselves truths are servants much more than their accompanying goods.

[9] 'The royal right' referred to in Samuel means nothing else in the internal sense than the right of truth, and also the right of falsity when it starts to have dominion over truth and over good, as becomes clear from the explanation of the words describing it,

This will be the king's right who will reign over you - he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots, and to his horsemen, and they will run before his chariots; he will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers; he will take your male slaves and your female slaves, and your best young men, and your asses, and will put them to do his work; he will take a tenth of your flock; and at length you yourselves will be made into slaves. And you will cry out on that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but Jehovah will not answer you on that day. 1 Samuel 8:11, 13, 16-18.

'A king' means truth, see 1672, 2015, 2069, and so in the contrary sense what are not truths, that is, falsities. The sons whom he would appoint to his chariots and to his horsemen mean truths of doctrine that would be subservient to false assumptions, which are meant by 'chariots and horsemen'. The daughters whom he would take to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers mean the goods of doctrine by which the falsities would be made pleasing and acceptable. The male slaves and female slaves, the young men, and the asses whom 'he will put to do his work' mean rational concepts and factual knowledge by means of which those falsities will be made stronger. 'The flock of which he will take a tenth' means remnants of good to which he will do violence. And the statement that they would be made into slaves means that instead of having dominion the celestial and spiritual things of the Word and of doctrine will be subservient so as to confirm the falsities within his assumptions and the evils within his desires. For nothing exists which cannot be introduced into false assumptions so as to confirm them, either by false application, or by a wrong interpretation, or by perversion, or by rejection of things which do not support those assumptions. It is for this reason that the words are added, 'If you cry out on that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, Jehovah will not answer you on that day'.


1. In this paragraph man servant and male slave translate the same word (servus), and woman servant and female slave likewise translate the same word (ancilla).

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