By Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb
This chapter continues the angel's testimony to Daniel. Originally chapters nine ten, eleven and twelve flowed as a continuous narrative—the divisions into chapters and verses came much later—and in the internal sense the continuity is easy to see To put chapter eleven into its perspective one must go back, to Daniel's repentance in chapter nine and his vision in chapter ten after repenting, in a deep state of humility, he sees a man, clothed in linen, whose waist was girded with the gold of Uphaz. Daniel alone saw this vision and fell to the pound. Then an angel, one like the sons of men, touched him, stood him upright, and telling him not to fear, proceeded to promise to tell Daniel "what is noted in the Scripture of Truth." Chapter Eleven is the record of that scripture.
It is important to note that throughout chapters eleven and twelve it is the "one like the sons of men" who does the talking. The importance of this point lies in the angel's correspondence. As we saw earlier, the "one like the son's of men" represents the truth developing in our minds, which sets us free from the bondage of selfishness and greed.
What is not apparent in the story, however, is why the angel speaks. In any given part of the Word, the person speaking sets the principle focus of the entire chapter. From this we can see that as the angel who looks like "one of the sons of men" speaks, the leading principle therefore is the emergence into our consciousness of the truth which eventually sets us free from the bondage of selfishness.
In general chapter eleven is a description of the perversion or twisting of the human mind by wrong ideas and thoughts, and the rectifying of this by means of genuine truths, now conscious in our minds (Arcana Coelestia 3708). Thus the whole chapter describes the battle, or temptation leading to the final overthrow of the feelings, thoughts and actions of selfishness.
The primary focus of this series is the truth, now consciously in our minds, leading us through the states of temptation which follow repentance until the final victory. This focus gives a different view of the battles we have seen before. For example, in chapter four we saw the temptations Nebuchadnezzar faced when he was reduced to the state of a wild animal. Similarly in chapter six we saw Darius the Mede tempted when he put Daniel in the lion's den. in these temptations we see them from the side of selfishness—Daniel is somewhat minor player in the historical series.
When selfishness is uppermost in our minds, any attack on it is perceived as an attack on oneself. Because selfishness appeals so strongly to our natural and even physical senses, anything opposed to it is taken as a threat against our very lives. It is ironic that good never tempts, for temptation is an assault from hell on things good and true within our minds (cf. Arcana Coelestia 986). Yet the feeling or sensation is precisely the opposite. Temptation feels as if we are about to lose things we love, things that motivate and enthuse us. While the reality is that these things will drag us into hell, the sensation is one of heavenly bliss when selfishness is allowed to run unchecked. All the temptations in the earlier parts of Daniel approach temptations from this aspect. The change, however, comes when we repent, when we hand our evils over to the Lord—not in the sense that we thereafter sit on our hands, hoping for a miracle, but in the sense of recognising that in terms of our own powers we have no ability to fight the evils rampant at the core of our beings. With the essential recognition of the Lord in control, which we saw depicted as Daniel's deep humility, we now begin a new phase of temptations.
This time we see the battle from the side of goodness, which is why the one talking is the one like "the sons of men." The truth has fought a hard battle to come into our conscious minds, fighting against both our Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar states, and it is only in the sixth chapter, in the reign of Darius the Mede, that the conscience really begins to make headway.
The final chapters of Daniel, however, indicate the change of focus. Once a person genuinely repents, he or she stops thinking from selfishness, and starts thinking from conscience. The result is a complete change in the way of Ionic in g at temptation.
Darius the Mede represents the consciousness of our conscience. This is shown in his reaction to Daniel after the death of Belshazzar. The latter king had used Daniel as a sort of oracle, to read the hand-writing on the wall, much the same way that in a pre-regenerate state we might use our knowledge of truth to keep ourselves out of trouble. Darius on the other hand saw Daniel's potential and elevated him to a position of high authority.
It is because of this that this final chapter takes place in the reign of Darius the Mede: "Also in the first year of Darius the Mode, I, even I, stood up to confirm and strengthen him."
The story then retraces its steps from the reign of Cyrus to that of Darius. However, just as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, who illustrated the internal and external of the Babylonian or selfish sides of our natures, Cyrus and Darius are the inner and external parts of our regenerating natures. They stand in opposition to the two Babylonian kings ']'his is clear if we keep in mind that Cyrus represents the Lord in His human, lighting against and overcoming the powers of hell on our behalf'), while Darius describes the increasing awareness of our conscience and a willingness to elevate it in our minds. If we avoid linear thinking, it is possible to see the two kings ruling simultaneously on different levels, and just as Ilelshazzar had to be killed, so Darius needs to fight for truth. Belshazzar was killed because in the process of regeneration external behaviotir must change Darius provides the arena for the final battles, because truth must become conscious in our external minds, so that we, consciously, may make truth our ruler. It makes sense then that in the first year of Darius the Mode the angel 'having the likeness of one of the sons of men" was able to stand up and strengthen Michael.
With Daniel listening the angel begins his narrative of the events leading up to the fulfilment of the long road begun when Nebuchadnezzar carried Daniel off into Babylonian captivity so many years before. The angel's opening words are those of hope, for there are still battles to be fought He begins with comforting words, "And now I will tell you the truth"
The "truth" here is the same "truth" mentioned at the end of Chapter Ten. It is not the cold, factual truth of a court of law, but the warm, loving,, supportive truth of the Lord's presence in our lives which makes possible the up-building and support of our spirits in times of temptation. As the chapter progresses, the angel will outline the tremendous battle each of us wages along the path of regeneration. By prefacing this description with mention of "the truth," however, he indicates that we are not alone in this battle, and so we can have confidence of its outcome.
This penultimate chapter is filled with the alternations of state so prevalent in the process of regeneration Even a cursory reading of the chapter shows them up clearly: in verse two there is the interplay of the king of Persia and Greece. Verses three and four speak of the rise of a "mighty king" whose kingdom shall he uprooted. From verse five onwards we are told of the warring between the kings of the North and South. These alternations of state fit the pattern established in earlier chapters. As we make spiritual progress, we swing between states in which our selfish nature expresses itself, and those in which, with the conscience leading us, we are able to resist self.
Central to the vision in this chapter are five kings:
 The king of Persia
 The rich and strong king (vs 2)
 The mighty king (vs 3)
 The king of the South (vs 6)
 The king of the North (vs 6)
By studying the interaction of these five kings we are able to see the principal positions, or protagonists, of the various alternations of states we go through in the final states of temptation. As in many other parts of Daniel there is an interplay, or a dialogue between the kings. Some of this appears sequentially, for example the king of Persia succeeded by the rich and strong king, followed by the mighty king. The sequences are introduced by the introductory words for each verse. For example: “Behold three more kings will arise in Persia, AND the fourth shall he far richer and stronger than thorn all THEN a mighty king shall arise.”
These sequences are then replaced by the simultaneous presence of the kings of the North and the South, and most of the rest of the chapter is taken up with the battles between them.
Each of these kings represents the way in which truth guides our minds in times of temptations.
THE RICH AND STRONG KING
The truth the angel tells Daniel is this: three more kings will arise in Persia, followed by a fourth who shall be richer than all before him, "By his strength, through his riches, lie shall stir up all against the realm of Greece."
These words, pregnant with meaning, open the account of the final battles of our spiritual life. In the literal sense, the king of Persia was Cyrus, who overcame the Babylonian king. After Cyrus there were three kings, Cambyses, the son of Cyrus, Smerdis, who was an impostor pretending to be another son of Cyrus, and Darius, son of Hystaspes, who married Cyrus' daughter (Clarke's Commentary at this verse). Daniel does not refer to any of these by name, but lists them all as three more kings arising from Persia.
The fourth king after Cyrus was Xerxes, who, while of less ability than Cyrus (Bright 1972:375), was still a man of enormous riches (Clarke's Commentary at this verse). It was this Xerxes who razed the walls of Babylon, and, having done that turned his sights on an invasion of Greece. In 480 BC bridging “the Hellespont, he moved with a huge army through Macedonia, overwhelmed the heroic Spartan band at Thermopylae, captured Athens, and put the Acropolis to the torch” (Bright 1972:376).
Although the angel in Daniel's vision described events which can easily be seen in historical terms, the fact remains that like visions before this, the historical sense is only a vessel containing the spiritual meaning of the vision itself. The kings portrayed in the story are not important from their historical value, but because they represent states of the church, or, to put it another way, the human beings’ understanding of truth. and practice of goodness, which together constitute the church in him or her.
To understand it we need to move beyond merely historical characters. However, it is worthy of notice that the introduction revolves around the "kings of Persia." Persia, as we saw in the last chapter, describes a new state in our spiritual development. The Persians overthrew Babylon, liberated the Jews, and, under Xerxes, invaded Greece. All these things are meaningful. In addition to this, Persia lay to the geographical east of Babylon, and, as we saw earlier, the east represents tlie1ord.
The Persians first make their mark in chapter ten, which we are told is a vision taking place in the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia. Before that the kings were either Babylonian, or Median. The fact that Persia emerges, however, indicates a great advance in our spiritual state. Darius the Mede is the king who slew Belshazzar, and in doing this he describes how, when we becomes conscious of our conscience, the one thing we have to stop doing is the evil activities we once enjoyed. Similarly, Darius elevated Daniel to the most powerful man in his empire, second only to himself. This in turn shows how, once we begin on the path of regeneration, the conscience takes precedence in our way of looking at things. One then skips through Daniel's visions in chapters seven and eight, through the repentance of chapter nine, to the temptations of chapter ten.
It is here that we meet the Persian king, Cyrus for the first time. Cyrus, remember, represents the Lord fighting and overcoming evils in our lives. The Persians came from the east, which represents the Lord, and conquered the Babylonians of the west. As we have seen before, the west describes a state in which love for the Lord has grown cold, it has been overshadowed by selfish loves.
Notice the development of the sequence of kings in this verse: three more kings shall arise in Persia, and the fourth shall be far richer than them all. The number three runs like a ribbon throughout the book of Daniel, for it was in the third year of Jehoiakim that Nebuchadnezzar overran Jerusalem. Daniel's vision of the he-goat was in the third.year of the reign of Belshazzar, and the vision of angel in the third year of Cyrus. In addition to this the number three occurs several times as well: Daniel had three friends, he prayed three times a day during Darius' ban on prayer, and so on. The recurrence of the number three, as we saw at the very beginning of the book of Daniel, lies in the significance, and this holds as true in this verse as in any other.
The angel told Daniel that three more kings would arise in Persia To follow this we need to remind ourselves that Cyrus the king of Persia who overthrow Babylon represents the presence of the Lord fighting in us to overthrow our personal states of selfishness. The number., three, which follows here, represents the progression of a state until its completion.
As we have also seen earlier, the process of regeneration, and particularly of overcoming selfishness is cyclical. As we overcome one state the next arises, presenting us with a series of states in which the conscience and our selfishness alternate with each other.
This process is described in this verse, and in the ones following, but from the perspective of the conscience—for it is the angel speaking to Daniel. Thus after repentance, our states of humility make it possible for the Lord to be present and active in our minds. At first, as a result of repentance we have a heightened awareness of selfishness and an increased dedication to overcoming it. This awareness is represented by the angel speaking to Daniel, the dedication to overcoming it comes from the Lord Himself, and thus is described by Cyrus, king of Persia.
The three kings following are increased states of awareness. In earlier chapters we saw how "kings" represent states of truth in our minds (Arcana Coelestia 3708, Apocalypse Revealed 720). We cannot see our evils except from the perspective of truth. Truth, however, is not a static thing, for we are constantly learning new things, and the more we learn the more perfect our understanding becomes. This new understanding increases our awareness of our evils, thus widening the gap between the two distinct parts of our personalities.
The fourth king is described as rising up in his riches and strength. In this he is similar to Gabriel, the "strong angel" mentioned in chapter eight. There we were told that "a strong angel" refers to the whole of heaven Apocalypse Explained 302) Spiritual strength comes to us in the power of truth, and here we see the concurrence of correspondences in the description of the fourth king, for kings, as we have seen, represent truths, riches are an accumulation of truths (Arcana Coelestia 1327). Thus we see a progression from the time at which we begin to overthrow our selfishness—represented by Darius killing Belshazzar, through the process of repentance and temptation in chapters nine and ten, to the rule of Cyrus, or the presence of the Lord. As this process continues, we the presence of conscience increases and extends its control over our minds—somewhat like the ram in chapter eight who extended his power by pushing towards the four corners.
The climax comes with the push towards Greece. In the history, parallel to the prophecies of the Word, we see Xerxes pushing westward towards Greece. At that time Greece was at the height of its power, and its civilisation was being felt beyond its borders—which in fact is what brought it to Xerxes attention.
We have seen in earlier chapters that Greece represents states of thought remote from the Lord, but which can be led into states of understanding (Apocalypse Explained 50, Apocalypse Revealed 34). The ancient Greeks knew some correspondences from the Ancient Church (Arcana Coelestia 2762, 7729, 9011, 10177, Apocalypse Explained 405), yet essentially Greece was a gentile nation (Arcana Coelestia 2724), which had fallen into the habit of regarding mere men as gods (Apocalypse Explained 955). The early truths from the Ancient Church which comprised the basic sub-cult of Greek life had been heavily overlaid by paganism and idolatry to the point of almost complete spiritual ignorance.
This information is very helpful in understanding the inner meaning of why Xerxes invaded Greece, for in Greece's history we see something of a parallel with our own lives. Before we start off with some basic religious knowledge we have Divinely implanted spiritual tendencies, for example there is an influx into all human minds that there is a God, and that He is one (True Christian Religion 8). In addition to this we have the dual gifts of infancy, innocence and the presence of angels, both of which serve to lay a foundation plane in our minds upon which later spiritual things can he built. These hidden states can be compared to the role the Ancient Church played in the development of the people of Greece (and other places). Onto this foundation other things are added, simple things taught to us by our parents or teachers.
However, as we grow older, and as we grow away from the innocence of infancy, so those tender things of childhood are gradually turned way. In place of them we pick up falsities from the world around us. Concepts of God are extrapolated into hero worship, innocence is gradually turned by experience into a whole different way of looking at things. Gradually parts of our minds become "gentileised."
It is these part of our minds which are addressed by the rich and strong king turning his attentions on Greece. As a person's conscience develops, especially after the mind develops the sense of spiritual reality from being an intellectual exercise into a guiding force in life, so other areas begin to show themselves in need of the presence of truth.
There are many attitudes, ideas, habits we have which originally had some basis in truth, but which have become so debased that truth is no longer there. These need to be analysed and assessed, and the light of truth brought to hear on them in such a way that we can rise above the restraining bonds of affection and habit, and see these parts of our minds for what they really are—gentile states separated from the Lord.
This verse, therefore, opens up the rest of the eleventh chapter. The king, rich and powerful invades Greece. The upshot of Xerxes' historical invasion of Greece here fades into the background. It has served its purpose in showing us something about our minds, of how compartmentalised they are, and how, in spite of our conscience growing there are still areas yet untouched. These areas will he affected by the presence of conscience.
THE MIGHTY KING
The time comes with the mighty king. This second king stands in contrast to the fourth king spoken of above. At first glance it seems as though the two could be the same, for as the rich and strong king, the historical Xerxes stirs up against Greece, so it seems to follow that the next mighty king arising should follow in the same vein.
This, however, is not the case. The "mighty king" must be seen in his context, for in the next verse we read that his kingdom will be broken up and divided toward the four winds of heaven, and thus uprooted. If this king was the same in the same line as the rich and strong king, then one would see a continuation of his reign.
What one sees here is one of the alternations of state, which have been so apparent through the whole book of Daniel. A "king" means a truth, but it can also mean a falsity (Arcana Coelestia 3708, Apocalypse Revealed 720). As we have seen before, the struggle for control over human minds is fought out on the front of truth and falsity. The struggle continues until one or the other side wins which, technically speaking, happens when we make up our minds irrevocably to commit either to heaven or to hell.
The king, in verse three represents the antithesis of the rich and strong king. In our minds he can be compared to the states described by Nebuchadnezzar, or the love of selfishness when it is allowed unhindered freedom. The difference is, however, that while early in the book, Nebuchadnezzar was free to do as lie pleased, this king is opposed by a very powerful conscience.
Notice what is said about this mighty king: he shall "rule with great dominion, and do according to his will." A temporal king rules by the power invested in him, and through the backing of his social system. A spiritual king rules by means of truth. The Lord's "kingly" office is the administration of His truths to maintain order and administer justice.
The same is true of a spiritual king, since lie represents the presence of truth in our minds, the rule of that truth is the presentation and preservation of truth and justice, and the keeping of order in our thoughts and through that in our behaviour. The mighty king, however, takes the opposite meaning. He represents false ways of thinking, which lead our thoughts into twisted ideas and ultimately leads us into evil behaviour.
Before our conscience takes a hold over our thinking processes there is little to stop this negative cast to our thoughts. With an uncontrolled selfishness in the driver's seat, we find it easy, even pleasant to think in terms that satisfy that selfishness. However, once the conscience begins to exert some power over the way we see things, the control over our selfishness is challenged.
This is what is described in this chapter. The mighty king, arising after the fourth king, depicts a relapse into our old ways of thinking. The Nebuchadnezzar side of us resurges, so to speak, bringing the semi-submerged affections for selfish things to the surface once again. The pendulum between our good and evil sides has swung, as we have seen it do before.
Yet this time the swing is not unexpected. Remember that this vision was dictated to Daniel by an angel speaking comforting and uplifting truths. If, as we noted, in past temptations it seems that good is attacking evil, then in this temptation the opposite in the case. The mighty king comes in contrast to the kings of Persia. He comes in spite of the wealth and strength of the fourth king.
As a person's spiritual development progresses, it follows that our perspectives on life change. Things which had once been enjoyable, now become invested with less enjoyable aspects. Perhaps a person feels misgivings about something they once liked because they have learned to think about it from a new perspective. Perhaps he or she feels a sense of guilt that was hidden before.
Whatever happens, this mighty king, who could do as he liked, found his kingdom broken down and divided towards the four winds of heaven. The vision at this point is reminiscent of the great statue erected by Nebuchadnezzar in the second chapter. It also stood tall and proud, and yet it was brought to the ground by a small stone. That stone, it must be remembered, represents the truth bringing down the entire structure of selfishness and greed rampant in our hearts.
So the mighty king was brought down, and the hold that selfishness with all its supporting and attendant thoughts is broken. Note what happened to this king's kingdom: it was divided to the four winds of heaven. This is also a phrase we have encountered before.
In chapter eight we read of the lie-goat, whose great horn was broken, but four others grew up "toward the four winds of heaven” (Daniel 8:8). In that vision the "horn" represents the power of selfishness, while the four lesser horns describe the falsities and evil affections deriving from the selfishness, These horns were placed towards the "four winds of heaven." The "four winds of heaven" are the different states of our minds, north and south being those which belong to our understanding, and east and west to our will. Thus in the vision of the he-goat, Daniel saw the extension of evil into all our thoughts and feelings.
That vision, however, is described in the period before repentance, as described in chapter nine. When a person repents his or her mind changes direction, Things, which had once controlled our thoughts and feelings, loose their appeal. Thus in this verse the kingdom of the mighty king is broken, which can be comparable to the destruction of the four horns from the he-goat.
The principle described here is one of "divide and conquer" As regeneration progresses and as selfishness looses it appeal, the thoughts and delights which go with selfishness are scattered "toward the four winds of heaven" In this we see the mind opening up, and becoming more and more receptive of the states of heaven.
However, this is a gradual process. Notice the continuation of the same verse, “but not among his posterity nor according to his dominion with which he ruled; for his kingdom shall be uprooted., even for others besides these.”
In other words, the posterity of the mighty king shall not be scattered to the four winds. They have lost their head, but that does not mean they cease to exist. Thoughts and feelings remain with us even after we start to look away from them. Eventually even these will loose their power over us, but the time for that has not yet come.
This process of gradual release from the grip of our selfish feelings and thoughts is beautifully expressed in a passage from the Arcana Coelestia, Because it; deserves careful consideration it is quoted at length: “When a man is being regenerated, which is effected by the implanting of spiritual truth and good, and by the removal at the same time of falsity and evil, he is not regenerated hastily, but slowly. The reason is that all things the man, from his infancy, has thought, intended, and done, have added themselves to his life, and have made it, and likewise have formed such a connection among themselves that no one thing can be taken away unless all are taken away at the same time. For an evil man is an image of hell, and a good man is an image of heaven; and the evils and falsities with an evil man have such a connection among themselves as there is among the infernal societies, of which he is a part; and the goods and truths with a good than have such a connection among themselves as there is among the heavenly societies, of which lie is part. From this it is evident that the evils and falsities with an evil man cannot be removed from their place suddenly; but only in proportion as goods and truths are implanted in their order, and interiorly; for heaven in a man removes hell from him. If this were done suddenly, the man would fail; for each and all things that are in connection and form would be disturbed, and would take away his life (Arcana Coelestia 9334).
This is the process described by the uprooting of the mighty king. It follows as a logical consequence of the establishment of the "kings of Persia" on the throne of Babylon. No wonder this chapter is written from the perspective of an angel, for if it was written from Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar's perspectives, it would tell a different story, one of war and violence, for that is the reaction of evil against good. But because it is written from the point of view of goodness in our minds, the story is gentle, there is no bombast on the part of the angel, no gloating as we saw in the historical chapters, simply the quiet matter of fact statement of truth that the mighty king would be overthrown. This is the truth we have spoken of before, the truth inspiring us with confidence that the Lord's presence can overthrow our evils, with the trust that lie will indeed do so if we co-operate with Him.
THE KING OF THE SOUTH
As the mighty king passes from the scene, so the attention of the chapter is turned to the third of the kings, the king of the South. In the New King James Version of the Bible the king of the South is introduced with the word "also," but if one turns back to the original Hebrew, one finds a single word expressing a phrase of great importance: "and shall be strong." A purely technical reading of this verse should be: “And shall be strong the king of the South, as well as one of his princes...”
The emphasis then is different from the English where this phrase is broken into two and almost disappears as a result, but in Hebrew it is one word, and is the first word of the verse. Earlier in this book we examined the concept that the first thing said in any sequence sets the tone for all the things to follow, it is important to notice, then, that as the mighty king looses his power, so strength shall arise, and this is the king of the South.
It may seem nit-picky to dwell on this, but the increasing strength of the king of the South is directly related to the declining strength of the mighty king. The rise and fall of each fortune is directly linked to each other. Thus in Hebrew, in sharp counter-balance to the uprooting of the mighty king's kingdom is the increasing strength of the king of the South.
As we saw earlier, spiritual strength comes from truth. The king of the South then, is the natural inheritor of the rich, and strong king of verse two He comes by this inheritance by the meaning of "south," winch, as we have seen before, denotes wisdom, for in heaven the "south" is where the angels who are in greater states of wisdom and intelligence live (Heaven and Hell 149). Their intelligence is drawn completely from the Word, so that in a general sense the "South" represents the possession of concepts and intelligence from the Word (Arcana Coelestia 3708, 9642).
The rise of the king of the South, then, continues the progression of spiritual development began when Daniel is first taken hostage, and reaching a peak when Cyrus of Persia is king. Many people think of regeneration as a static state, as if in reaching that goal, there is no longer any perfecting to do. Nothing could be further from the truth. The angels of heaven, who by definition are regenerate, continue to be perfected to eternity. We see this perfecting in the progression of kings in this chapter: from the king of Persia, through the next three unnamed kings after him, to the fourth king, and finally to the king of the South.
Interestingly enough, while the rich and strong king of verse two is able to push into Greece, it is the king of the South who is able to take on the falsities represented by the king of the North This fact alone indicates progression. There is a principle given in the doctrines that as one's understanding of spiritual things advances, so the person is more and more able to discern not only between truth and falsity, but between greater and lesser truth (Arcana Coelestia 6766). If we apply that principle to the progress of kings in this chapter, one sees how at first our new insights and perceptions into truths help to review areas of our minds which before had been beyond the scope of our spirituality. These areas are our Gentile states, states that could be enlightened and opened up to the influence of truth.
It is far harder, however, for us to use the same truths to directly confront our false thoughts, for these are deeply rooted in the base plane of our selfishness. They often present themselves as truth, so in a sense we feel as though we are judging between two things that seem to us to both be true. This is where spiritual maturity comes into play. When we are faced with our gentile states, or when we are confronted with pure selfishness it is not so difficult, for we look at our lives, weigh them in the balances and finding them wanting, we reject them. The more subtle things, however, need to wait.
This is why the rich and strong king advanced against Greece and not against the king of the North—the truth he represents was not yet sufficiently mature to fight against the North.
Yet the king of the South is strong, meaning that as our understanding develops, so it pulls in additional knowledge, which, allied to an increasing affection for goodness, gives us new concepts, insights and thus added spiritual strength. We are finally ready for the last battles of our regeneration, and these promise to be the fiercest battles yet to be fought.
In the letter of the Word the king of the South does not fight alone, he has alongside him "one of his princes" These words depict the formation of the truths which will fight against falsity. Kings, as we have seen, are the truths with us. Kings produce princes, just as truths sire the primary concepts of truth (Arcana Coelestia 2761 et al). The concepts of truth are the first concepts we draw when our knowledge of truth is married to an affection for truth., or, in other words, when we believe things because they are true, and because we love the truth in them. There is, then, a hidden love behind the power of the king of the South, the love of doing good according to the truths we have learned.
The prince is the combination of both our knowledge and our love, and for this reason the prince shall gain power over the king and have dominion over him. The power of the combination of love and truth together is far stronger than simply the power of knowledge, and so the prince is said to have a great dominion.
THE KING OF THE NORTH
The king of the South is in direct opposition to the king of the North. The initial relationship is outlined in verse six “And at the end of some years they shall join forces, for the daughter of the king of the South shall go to the king of the North to make an agreement; but she shall not retain the power of her authority, and neither he nor his authority shall stand; but she shall be given up, with those who brought her, and with him who begot her, and with him who strengthened her in those times.”
In this verse we meet the king of the North obliquely, which is quite suited to the character and nature of his representation. Notice the progression of ideas leading up to the first introduction: at the end of some years they, that is, the king of the South and his prince shall join forces.
It takes time, temporally and spiritually, for truths to produce concepts, and for those concepts to ripen enough to tackle the falsities infesting us. This is why the king and prince do not join forces immediately, but, as it said, "at the end of some years." "Years" in the Word, as we have seen already, represent states. In this verse this state is unspecified.
At the end of this period, the daughter of the king of the South goes to the king of the North. Notice that it is neither the king nor his prince who make that overture, but the daughter. The reason becomes clearer when one knows that in the Word a daughter represents an affection (Arcana Coelestia 3024, 3067). The type of affection depends on its origin, and in this case she is the daughter of the king of the South.
As we saw earlier, the king of the South represents the truths we learn, which in turn make it possible for us to form concepts. These concepts, described as the prince who shall have great dominion, make it possible for us to reject evil and falsity.
However, before we are regenerated these concepts by themselves do not lead us, for they belong to the understanding part of our minds. Our understanding can reason even to the heights of heaven (Divine Providence 222), but if that reasoning is not linked to a sense of goodness they will not be able to overcome our tendencies towards evil.
The daughter of the king of the South represents the affection for truth, growing up alongside the concepts. Imagine a person learning truths and forming concepts from them. The process itself would never take place unless that person felt some sort of delight, some enjoyment, some desire to learn the truth in the first place. That is the affection of truth—a desire to learn truth because it is true.
Now perhaps it becomes a little clearer why the daughter of the king of the South went up to the king of the North. If south represents truth and wisdom, north represents falsity and obscurity. This is quite a different part of us than Greece, for Greece describes a state of ignorance. The north is a state of falsity, wilfully concluded in the face of knowledge of the truth (North = the thick darkness of falsity (Arcana Coelestia 3708:23) and reasoning from memory only (Arcana Coelestia 9642)).
Reason by itself is hopeless in the face of this falsity, for we all know from experience that if we know something is wrong, yet we embrace it anyway, then no amount of reason will break its hold on us. The only possible appeal against this kind of thinking is the affection of truth. If a person is willing to hear the truth and weigh it up because it is true, and is willing to put aside old and false ways of thinking because they are false, then half the battle is won. The approach then is not from the intellect, but from the affection.
So the daughter of the king of the South went to the king of the North "to make an agreement," but "she shall not retain the power of her authority." As we have seen, the regenerative process is long and slow. The selfish side of our being is threatened by the presence of an affection for truth, for truth introduces ideas which are inimical to selfishness. The person finds him or herself in the situation in which the affection for truth is overcome by the obscurity arising from a selfish orientation.
The end result is a series of wars between the kings of the north and south which rage for much of the rest of this chapter. The affection for truth does not die out, and becomes the basis of the "attack" on the falsity in our minds. One can perhaps picture this as the continual questioning at the back of our minds of whether what we are thinking is true or not. It is right? Does it benefit our general state of goodness? These kinds of questions run truth a person's mind, and keep alive the idea that the things we feel, think, do and say may not be good or true. This idea in turn forms the basis of our response to these states, much as the conscience keeps alive the ideals of truth in us as we prepare for the regenerative process.
One should not underestimate the power of an affection for truth. If there is a part of our minds alive to truth, as Daniel was alive and active in the rule of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, then there is hope for salvation. The hope is given in chapter seven: “But from a branch of her roots one shall arise in his place, who shall come with an army, enter the fortress of the king of the North, and deal with them and prevail.”
Before we can utterly get rid of our falsities, we need to see them as false, otherwise it is hard to reject them. To do this, we need to strip them of any truths or half-truths which may be bound up with the falsity, giving it a modicum of acceptability. Thus the "branch of her roots" invaded the North, and "carried their gods captive." By "gods" here one means the falsities they held to be more important than others are (Arcana Coelestia 7873, 6932). The princes, like the prince of the south, represent the concepts, and the articles of silver and gold, the knowledges of goodness and truth which support the falsity, just as wealth supports a king.
All these things were stripped away from the king of the north. This describes how truths we know and love, forming the basis of our conscience, shall take away the any supporting understanding of truth (Apocalypse Explained 811). All that is left is the bare bones of the falsity without any superficial covering to make it appear just or true.
It is at this point, that the king of the North shows his true colours, for it is then that he comes to the kingdom of the king of the South, and, although he withdraws, his sons "stir up strife and assemble a multitude of great forces."
Here the picture of the strife becomes clearer. A person who is regenerating has two trains of thought running through his or her head. The one side, the South, represents the light coming from truth and its affection for and delight in truth. The North depicts the darkness of falsity, and its rejection of the truth. When this side of our being has the upper hand in a time of temptation we feel no delight or enjoyment in truth, nor are we concerned about the fact that our reasons for rejecting the truth are true or not.
Truth, however, is a powerful instrument in our spiritual development, for it shows us the nature of our falsities. In truth light the underpinning substructure of falsity is laid bare, and we are left with a clear choice between two opposite things. This is where the final battle begins in earnest.
The next phase of the battle is carried out by the "son" of the king of the south. The last time we saw a son was when Belshazzar succeeded Nebuchadnezzar. There a Belshazzar was described as being the external conscious behaviour drawn from an inner selfish love Much the same is true here, for the "son" of the king of the north is the behaviour resulting from the rejection of truth and the consequent falsities
There is a parallel here with Belshazzar, for while he threw a riotous party and profaned the sacred vessels of Israel, so the "son" here "stirs up strife" and "assembles a multitude of great forces." The strife is the friction between the one side of us wanting to do things the other side of us holds as unacceptable (cf. Arcana Coelestia 1573: In worship the nature and quality of the disagreement between the internal man and the external are especially discernible, and this even in every single thing of worship; for when in worship the internal man desires to regard the ends that belong to the kingdom of God, and the external man desires to regard the ends that belong to the world, there thus arises a disagreement which manifests itself in the worship, and that so plainly that the smallest bit of such disagreement is noticed in heaven.). The "multitude of great forces" describes the whole army of justifications and excuses the person invents to make this kind of behaviour possible.
The difference this time is the response. In the earlier story Belshazzar is weighed in the balances, found wanting, and is killed that same night by Darius the Mede. In this story, however, it is seen from the point of view of goodness, rather than selfishness. Thus the process is seen to be different, for the ensuing battle does not take place on the plane of the external behaviour, but on the plane of the inner motivating truth or falsity.
So we are told, “The king of the south shall be moved with rage, and go out and fight with him, with the king of the north.”
In this battle the determining factor is the reaction of the king of the South. Truth brings clarity to a person's Me, and obliterates many grey areas. We see this in the reaction of the king of the south responding with rage to the attack.
Rage in the Word is an interesting concept. When seen from the point of view of goodness, "rage" is only so in appearance. In reality it is zeal, or the desire to protect things that are good and true from things evil and false, and this looks like anger from the outside (Arcana Coelestia 3909). Because the king of the South has this positive meaning, his rage really depicts this zeal.
The zeal can easily be understood, for when one reacts with zeal, one fights, “not because one is moved by any feeling of enmity or hostility, but rather by charity. Zeal is different from anger in that zeal holds the good of charity within it, and therefore, when zeal goes into battle it merely removes those ruled by falsity and evil to prevent them from harming those governed by goodness and truth. Anger however not only removes them but also pursues them in a spirit of hatred and vengeance. For zeal, because of the charity within it, desires the welfare even of those ruled by evil and falsity, and also works towards it provided that they cannot do any harm to those who are good. But anger, because of the hatred and vengeance within it, wishes harm to all with whom it engages in conflict, whether they are good or evil. From all this one may see what is meant by an influx of the good of charity into truth that engages in conflict” (Arcana Coelestia 5898: As regards zeal, that it holds good within it, while anger holds evil, see Arcana Coelestia 4164, 4444).
It is this zeal for the truth which gives a person the ability to continue to fight against his or her falsities in the ongoing battle of regeneration. As the angel described the battle to Daniel, we see the king of the south fighting against the north. Our spiritual truths fighting zealously against the falsities drawn from selfishness, to protect and preserve our spiritual state.
The battle is not an unequal one, for the northern king "musters a multitude," which describes all the excuses we raise against the truth. If a person knows something is wrong, and yet it willing to continue doing it, then one part of him or her, the king of the south, shows clearly how wrong that action is. Yet the other part of him or her, the king of the north, brings up an increasing number of excuses as to why one cannot change that behaviour. And so the battle rages.
The battle may not be an unequal one, but in the heat of temptation it is a wonderful thing to know that once a person begins the process of regeneration, in spite of all the challenges one faces, there is always hope of victory. Thus the king of the north swept down with his multitude, but the "multitude will be given into the hand of his enemy."
As chapter eleven progresses it describes the ongoing battles between the kings of the south and the north. Part of the impact of falsity's attack on our conscience lies in the affiances existing between different levels of truth. There is an old saying that if a person breaks one commandment, he or she breaks them all. The true in this saying can be seen in how interlinked one's ideas and thoughts are. All too often when we are able to resist an outright falsity, but are weak against a half-truth, or a something appearing to be true which in form only.
This is the situation described on the fourteenth verse of this chapter. In the battle between the kings of the north and south, the king of the south, representing our understanding of truth and enlightenment from that understanding, is receiving a battering from things false. These are probably things we "always knew," the cultural, social things blinding us to the truth. Like so many things in the negative side of our minds selfishness and greed underpin them.
The king of the north, mustering a great multitude, and an army with much equipment to attack the king of the south describes the battle. In our minds falsity arms itself with all its friends half-truths, appearances of truths, excuses, justification, and that powerful feeling of being right Verse fourteen begins in this state of mounting opposition to the presence of the conscience. So we are told that "in those times," meaning in that state, "many shall arise against the king of the south."
Notice the description of the type of enemy against the king of the South; they are called "violent men." That term is used in the Psalms, and in other places in the Word. Psalm 140 gives us some idea of the nature of a "violent man": “Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; preserve me from violent men, / Who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. / They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips. Selah” (Psalm 140:1-3).
In the battle for the human soul, the "violent man," allied to the king of the north, represents the evils and falsities which undermine our conscience and lead us away from its influence and so destroy the church within us (Arcana Coelestia 10287). The danger these pose to our spiritual life is easily seen when one considers that the greatest sin of all is profanation, which is called 'violence when people do violence to holy things by desecrating them (Arcana Coelestia 623).
In times of temptation our selfish side brings forth all the thoughts, opinions, ideas and so on which support itself. When these are confronted with truth, they fail, but only insofar as people are willing to allow the truth to form the minds. The problem we face in temptation is that that willingness is not always there—otherwise the temptation itself would pass easily. So while there is a check on the freedom we give to our thoughts of falsity.
This does not mean that those thoughts simply go away. Notice that when the violent men were overthrown, the king of the north will come again This time he will build a "siege mound" until he could "take a fortified city." The forces of the south will fall before him. These descriptions of war describe once again how difficult it often is to give up selfish ways. As we have seen earlier, selfishness in all its manifestations, is a powerful force in our lives, present even after a state of repentance.
The illustrations of war are important. When a city was in a state of siege, it meant that the enemies surrounding it prevented anyone from entering or leaving. The result was often starvation. A spiritual siege is quite similar. As mentioned earlier, a state of temptation is often characterised by a sense that one's knowledge, understanding and commitment to the truth has deserted one, which Daniel described as "mourning" in chapter ten. In this chapter we gain an insight into how this comes about.
A part of temptation is the focus on our falsities and evils and this effectively blocks out our insight into truth. Put in military terms, the evils and falsities blockade, or lay siege to, our understanding of truth. A siege is a "shutting out and not admitting any genuine truth” (Apocalypse Explained 706), resulting in a spiritual darkness.
The king of the north, however, was not content merely to besiege the king of the South, he pressed his attack until he took the "fortified city" This is the logical conclusion of the war, for once the north had defeated the south, it could extend its control further and further into the south, and so we are told that the "choice troops" of the south "shall have no strength to resist."
As the battle of temptation rages onwards, there are times when it looks as if our selfish side is going to win. The power of falsity based on selfishness can appear to be so strong that it effectively blocks out our ability to thaw even the most basic truths in defense of our regeneration. The very concepts of truth, which have been built up and which form the basis of our conscience, are then at risk.
The risk is described by the king of the South capturing the fortified city. A "city" in the Word represents the collection of truths (or falsities in the negative sense), which together form a doctrinal understanding of some subject (cf. Arcana Coelestia 402, 2418, 2723). As a person learns truths, and forms a conscience, so his or her mind is opened up to the light of heaven itself (Arcana Coelestia 2851: "From the goods and truths present there the rational mind is compared in the Word to a city and is actually called a city").
The fortified city of the king of the South represents these truths, and when it falls to the king of the North, it is an image of how, in temptation, the concepts of truth are first starved and then overthrown. One could imagine this to consist of doubt about the truths, and disdain for them. Contempt and then rejection follow disdain. As this happens our ability to reason from truth, or to use our understanding of truth effectively as a conscience, breaks down. Thus even the king of the South's "choice troops," had no strength to resist.
Falsity is like a cancer. Once it starts to grow it grows out of control. Resistance is swept aside as being of little or no import. When selfishness controls one's thoughts and actions, it reduces the conscience to impotence. This is shown clearly in the next few verses, where it is said that the one "who comes against him shall do according to his will," and "no one shall stand against him." In this way resistance is gradually broken down.
As this happens, so the falsity begins to influence the whole way a person thinks. This phenomenon has appeared before, first with the he-goat's horns growing to the four directional points. Later we saw it in the description of the mighty king whose kingdom shall be "divided towards the four winds." Now we see it in the actions of the king of the north, for he presses southwards until he stands in the Glorious Land, with destruction and power.
The extension of falsity into our minds seems to continue unchecked Our experience of allowing a train of thought to so dominate our minds gives us a deeper understanding of this process. When we allow some falsity of thought, especially when it is based on self concern, we find that falsity dominating all our thoughts. Selfishness is pernicious and destructive of conscience.
As we have seen earlier in Daniel, the conscience at times seems to he dormant. Daniel, for example, was a captive in Nebuchadnezzar's court, and it was not until he resisted the king that we became aware of his presence. In times of temptation our conscience also seems quiet. This is related to the loss of clarity in thinking about truth, and in affection for the truth. It does not mean, however, that our conscience is not working actively in the deeper recesses of our minds.
The invasion of falsity precipitates a general slide into increasing falsity. The pattern shown in the vision in chapter seven of the four beasts coming up from the sea, is repeated in this chapter. Those beasts represent a person's slide into evil when one allows falsities to destroy truths that form the conscience (the first beast was a lion, which represents the power of selfishness to destroy truths). The parallel with this chapter rests in the vision that after the king of the north invades the Glorious Land, and extends his dominion there, another shall "arise in his place who imposes taxes on the glorious kingdom."
The key to the decline shown here is given in the context of taxes. In a good sense, taxes are for the benefit of the country. However, in a negative sense, as is the case here, taxes are more properly tributes paid by a conquered country to the conqueror. The effect of these tributes was twofold, firstly it reminded the conquered people of their position, and secondly it reduced them to a state of penury, making it difficult for them to overthrow the oppressors.
The spiritual parallel with taxes is very similar. When a person allows false and selfish thoughts to govern his or her mind, those thoughts extend themselves, affecting their conscience and making them reluctant to follow the truth. The result is a weakening of the power of truth with them.
The power of falsity to control our thoughts is then consolidated by "taxes" that is, truth is reduced to servitude and compelled to serve the falsity (Arcana Coelestia 6659, Apocalypse Explained 131, 513). This makes it possible for a person to concoct half-truths, or things that superficially appear to be true, in service of thoughts that are actually false.
The slide into evil depicted here shows first the power of truth to invade the mind, and secondarily its ability to reduce the mind to servitude so that the person becomes unable to think apart form the falsity—it dominates his mind.
From this it is a small step down to a total submission to falsity. The king who imposed taxes is destroyed, but "not in anger or in battle" By this it is meant that that state of making the mind serve falsity, passes, and a new state arises in its place. The verse dealing with this is chilling: “And in his place shall arise a vile person, to whom they will not give the honour of royalty; but he shall come in peaceably, and seize the kingdom by intrigue.”
Notice the description of this next "leader"—he is a "vile person" without the "honour of royalty" who comes hypocritically and ends Up in control. This describes the next phase of our final temptations. When a person's conscience is active, as it is in this part of our spiritual development, the appeal to direct evil declines for there is too much resistance to it. Remember that in this state the person has already gone through the process of repentance, described in chapter nine, and had some experience of this new sort of temptation already.
So the selfishness within attacks in a different way. The "king of the North" lays the foundations for the attack, and it is pressed home. Notice, however, the nature of this person—he is vile. In the original language the word "vile" means "to be despised, to be despicable, to be vile, to be worthless" (Brown-Driver-Briggs #959). As one turns to Swedenborg's Writings the fullness of this decline is shown to us.
A person is "vile" when he or she despises or holds as cheap the internal things of religion. The inner things are those which affect the spirit, such as humility and innocence. A "vile" person discards these, clinging only to an external behaviour, putting on a good front for the sake of their own ends, and covering up a disdain for spiritual and inner things (cf. Arcana Coelestia 975: "People whose worship is external separated from internal are the lowest of all..."). When these become the focus of a person's life, the person can truly be said to worship them, and all other worship is merely an external front put up to confuse one's neighbours into thinking that on is really a good person. The Writings describe this external worship in many places, but the following passage is a good summary: “That external worship regarded in itself is nothing at all unless internal worship exists to sanctify it may become dear to anyone. What is external adoration without adoration of the heart but a mere gesture of the body? What is prayer on the lips if the mind is not in it but a meaningless babble? And what is any activity if there is no intention within it but a kind of nothing? Consequently everything external is in itself something soulless, living solely from that which is internal” (Arcana Coelestia 1094).
External things are those which relate to the mere pleasure of the body. When a person puts aside inner spiritual things, which happens when the falsities described as the king of the North control his or her mind then the conscience looses its power to focus the person's thoughts and put up a barrier between the things one would like to do and the things we know we should do. The result is the slide into evil described here, ending up in the person becoming increasingly interested only in the pleasures of the senses. The higher things of the spirit are closed off, and the person becomes "vile" or lowly, holding as worthless the redeeming qualities of man, and thus becoming despicable in his or her own right.
Notice that the vile person following in the wake of the king of the north is himself held in low esteem. He is not given the honour of royalty, "but shall come in peacefully, and seize the kingdom by intrigue." This describes how a person moves into external things. The change from one state to another in our spiritual development is not always quick or clear. As the conscience, represented by the king of the South comes under attack, so the temptation to put increasing emphasis on external and physical things becomes stronger. Our mind finds it easy to embrace things that feel good. If at the beginning of our development we were to tell ourselves that eventually sensuality would be our driving force, we would not believe it. There is a progressive slide into mere sensual things, however, and by the time we notice it, we have become addicted to merely external things, and the inner spiritual qualities which once resisted are all but forgotten.
The next verse describes how "with the force of a flood" the vile person "sweeps away all before him" and breaks them This is precisely what happens when a person allows the external things of life, especially if those are allied with the things of the senses, to pervade one's thoughts and feelings. When this happens any restraining influence from the conscience is "swept away," for the mind closes itself off from the truth that could have exerted the kind of influence that might put merely sensual things into their place. Thus the vile person meets not resistance, but instead becomes strong.
However, it is interesting to notice a small detail at the end of verse 23—after showing how the vile person sweeps like a flood and breaks any opposition, still he only becomes strong "with a small number of people." This indicates that the battle is not lost. It is important for us to remember that the temptations described in this chapter are those taking place after repentance. The reality of the situation is that the conscience is very much alive, only it is dormant momentarily because the person has backslid, first into false thoughts, represented by the king of the north, then into the situation where these thoughts completely dominate one's mind—thus bringing us into a state in which we "pay tribute." Finally the person becomes merely external and sensual.
But this only happens with a portion of our minds. The vile person could only really muster support with a "small number of people." The rest of our minds, the part under the control of the conscience, may be quiet during this swing of the alternations of state, but that doesn't mean it has gone completely.
Notice a further thing about this "vile person:"he comes in peace. Twice the idea of peace is connected with him. In verse 21 when he is introduced as a force in our lives, we are told that he comes in "peaceably." Then, in verse 24 the idea is repeated: "He shall enter peaceably." This is not the peace the Lord offers us—for he says that His peace is "not of this world,” and it is not, for the Lord's peace is the fruit of conquered sin.
The "peace" the vile one offers is the peace of the person who has been separated from the conscience. When this happens, a person feels a type of freedom to rush unchecked into things appealing to the senses. To a person resisting conscience the sense there is a certain sense of peacefulness when the conscience stops bothering them. The fact that it is not true peace is immaterial, it is a peace appealing to the senses, to the external part of us.
It is not, however, the kind of peace that endures, for it is not based upon the removal of evil and sin from us, for genuine spiritual peace is by definition removed from the person who is stuck in merely external and sensual things. The peace on which the vile person enters is really a fake peace.
This becomes very clear when one notices the actions of the vile one. He comes in peace, and he enters the richest parts of the province but he disperses "plunder, spoil and riches"—which he got through the deceitful acts described in the previous verse.
As in so many lists of words in the book of Daniel, this sequence shows us something of the nature of our lives when the conscience becomes quiet and we are able to hypocritically put on a good front whilst harbouring selfish and evil desires. Although sensual things comes "peaceably," they act like a thief. Later one we will be able to look back on these states and find that things which had seemed so pleasant have in fact plundered our spiritual states. In this verse the term "plunder" illustrates the activity of the vile person within us, while the spoil and riches are the states of goodness and truth they remove.
To "spoil" someone—as an act of robbery or plunder, in the spiritual sense means to deprive a person of goodness (cf. Apocalypse Explained 714:20 where the Latin word "spoilium" is used in the connotation of being stripped naked), for when the pursuit of mere bodily pleasures becomes the primary factor in our minds, then we loose interest in goodness. The effect is the same as if goodness has been stripped away from us. The temptation involved in this action is that the process of stripping away goodness often seems pleasant. One sees this from experience, for a person often finds it easier and easier to give in to some gratifying behaviour, and thus less and less concerned with the effect of that behaviour on his or her spiritual life. As this happens, the vile person is "spoiling" us, and distributing that spoil, or the behaviour devoid of goodness, throughout the range of our lives.
Similarly the vile person plundered the "riches." In the Word there is often mention of "riches," and in each case these refer to the knowledge of spiritual things "To become rich" in the internal sense means to acquire power and strength (Arcana Coelestia 1750), and since spiritual power originates in truth, being rich means knowing many truths (Arcana Coelestia 4372, 4744). It follows, then, that to be deprived of riches, or plundered, means that the truths one has lose their power in our lives.
The process is very clear if one thinks of the sequence of ideas here. The vile person, representing a state one comes into when one turns aside from the conscience and merely puts on a front of goodness, strips a person down First to go is the actual goodness which should underlie human actions, for these are traded in for a more cynical hypocrisy. As one gives in to this temptation, so the very conscience, the knowledge and belief in truth itself is worn down. As mental resistance fades, so the appeal of sensual or externally pleasing things take stronger hold of our minds At this point the vile person is fully in charge He sneaked in peacefully, but the effects of his presence are devastating to our spiritual development.
It is no wonder, then, that having consolidated its position in our minds in this way, the external things begin a serious assault on the higher things of the conscience. The vile person, stirs "up his power and his courage against the king of the Sough with a great army." This army, as in others we have seen before, represent the false justifications being mounted in attack against the things that our "good side" know to be true. In these states of temptation it is as if everything we know is being question and discarded, and it takes a huge effort of the will to face and overcome.
Thus there is a war between the vile person and the king of the south. The king of the South "shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army," indicating the resistance to the attack by all the things we know to be true. In times like this, however, there often seems to be an incredibly strong pull towards the externalism dominating us, especially when we have so many excuses and justifications to back it up. The result is that the king of the south could not prevail. His army would be swept away, and "many shall fall down slain."
Thus the state of temptation continues. Yet we should not lose heart. The battle for the human spirit is not over in a moment. The times of alternation between the good and selfish sides of our characters may seem interminable, but from the historical overview in the first six chapters of Daniel we know that there is hope. Even when our spiritual resistance is at its lowest, it is important to keep hoping.
Before that hope comes to fruition, however, there darkness will get darker. Spiritual recovery only begins when a person reaches their darkest point. Thus the next three verses of this section paint the increasing darkness.
Firstly we are told that "both these kings hearts shall be bent on evil." These kings can only mean the vile person, who so peacefully came into our lives and destroyed it, and his immediate predecessor, the king who "shall impose taxes on the glorious kingdom." By linking these two states together we are shown a grim picture of our final temptation.
One needs to keep in mind at all times that these temptations take place after repentance when we are fully aware of our proclivities towards evils. When our slide towards evil is consolidated and made subject to our false and selfish thoughts represented by the king of the north, then we are truly in a grip of temptation.
Notice the note of hope—they shall not prosper. Once a person has repented, there is always a part of him or her reserved for the truth, and that truth, no matter whether it is defeated as is the king of the south at this point, or closed up like Daniel in the lion's den, is always able to draw on higher resources. Selfishness feeds only on itself. It is human in every respect, and so by definition is limited by human finiteness. Powerful as it may seem in our lives it cannot look beyond us.
This is not the case with our conscience, or the side of us allied with the truth, The resources truth draws upon are infinite, for truth originates in the Lord Himself, and therefore is not limited by human boundaries. The vile person and his allies can make war on the king of the south, they can inflict damage, which we may feel as despair, or doubt, but finally they have to return to their own land.
The actions of the king of the North dominate the next series of verses in this chapter, and they read like a child throwing a tantrum. The catalyst is the arrival of ships from Cyprus coming against him to join the fight against him.
This is part of the resistance exerted by our conscience to keep the falsities dominating our minds at that point under control. Each act of repentance requires us to change the way we think, and, when our habitual thought patterns resist this, there is a battle or temptation. At times it seems as though our false thoughts, our king of the North, can and will drag us down, progressively blacking our the voice of our conscience. In the process falsity and externalism extend their control over our minds.
The resistance is there: the king of the south was indeed stirred up to great battle, but lost, and, with loosing allowed the falsity even greater latitude. Experience shows how often this happens to us. We know something to be wrong, we resist it and give in. Once we have done this, further resistance becomes more difficult; we look for and find other opportunities to test our conscience, until gradually it looses power. At the same time we may feel the pricks of guilt indicating that we have done wrongly. At first these pricks are fierce, but gradually they lessen in intensity. It looks at that point as if our spiritual life is winding down.
As we said earlier, however, the conscience can draw on higher sources of power and encouragement to sustain it. Although it is not mentioned as such, the king of the south had an ally in Cyprus, for we are told that the ships of Cyprus shall come out against the king of the north.
In the Word "ships" signify the knowledge of good and truthful things (Apocalypse Revealed 406, Apocalypse Explained 514), and this knowledge in turn is drawn from the Word which forms the concepts and religious teachings in a person's mind (Arcana Coelestia 6385; although there can be a negative correspondence, as in all things. This negative meaning for the word "ships" will be seen later in the treatment of verse 40). It is possible, therefore, to correlate the "ships" in this passage with the conscience emerging while we are in a state of temptation to help us overcome the inclination and subsequent enjoyment of actions based on the false understanding.
A person's understanding of doctrine is dependant on many things, not the least of which is their willingness both to learn and to internalise the truth. Owning a copy of the Word, for example, does not in itself confer understanding. Nor does reading the Word without any way of interpreting the things one reads. The ability to interpret the Word depends largely on one's training and education. A Catholic and a Protestant may both read the Bible and see it differently. The same is true of a liberal and a fundamentalist. The Word is only understood by means of doctrine, or teaching from the Word that helps to shape our minds.
When we are in a state of temptation, as we are at this point in the story of Daniel, our willingness to hear the Word, or, to put it another way, to listen to our conscience, is somewhat external. For this reason the prophecy does not say that "ships" came against him, but ships from Cyprus." Stating the origin of the ships gives us an insight into the state of our conscience at this point.
In the original language the island of Cyrus is called "Kittim", and it is mostly under this name that one finds references to it in the Old Testament. Cyprus, like Greece is a long way from the Holy Land, and carries a similar correspondence, for "isles of Kittim" denote those who are more remote from worship, that is, Gentiles who are in simple good, and thereby in natural truth (Arcana Coelestia 1156, 1158, 3268). The type of good represented here is good locked into forms of ritual, or external behavior, rather than true good grounded in a genuine faith.
The conscience described by the "ships from Cyprus", is a very limited understanding of truth tied to forms of behavior we could call habitual, or even cultural, but which has very shallow roots. These forms of behavior might include being nice to other people, or being kind or honest (cf. Arcana Coelestia 1156).
Understanding this correspondence helps to open up the picture of the development of this temptation even further. As the king of the North, representing a false logic drawn from selfishness, rampages through our minds, taking our thoughts captive, and leading us into the a hypocritical external behaviour, so our sense of decency begins to rebel. Even in this spiritual decline there is a part of our mind rejecting the pure selfishness which, although it may be hidden from our public life, is clearly active in our inner life. So we begin to rebel -we tell ourselves that it "isn't right" to think or feel in this way. We begin to reject the side of ourselves that acts so contrarily from what we have always believed to be true.
Notice the similarity here to the progression of the conscience outlined at the beginning of this chapter. After the king of Persia there were three more kings, followed by a fourth. This fourth king, we were told, was richer and stronger than all his predecessors. He pushed his way into Greece. He represents the development of the conscience extending itself into the many areas of our lives that are remote from the Word, or aspects of our lives which we had never thought of as being affected by religion. Yet he was not powerful enough to stand up to the mighty king, representing a powerful relapse into our old, selfish, ways of thinking.
That sequence of verses showed how much more we need in our conscience than simply a recognition of something to be true because we have always thought it to be so. We need more than culture or custom or an innately pleasant personality. We need a clear and undisputed view of the truth, for that is the only weapon against selfishness and greed.
The ships of Cyprus do not give us this view of truth. They form a sort of external conscience based on the Word, but the Word filtered through expected practices, our own "ritual" behaviours, so to speak. It is no wonder then, that the vile person reacted so strongly against it.
The vile person, or the devious, hypocritical, self-seeking external worming its way into our life on a tide of pleasant feelings, reacts like a child throwing a tantrum when it is being disciplined by a parent. There is nothing less welcome to a person who has given him or herself freedom to act according to his or her own dictates than a sense of a restraining conscience.
The result is anger and rejection of the conscience, even this very external conscience. We are told that the vile person "shall be grieved, and return in rage against the holy covenant. So he shall return and show regard for those who forsake the holy covenant."
Notice the sequence of events typifying this rejection. First there is grief, then rage, and then a return to the old states of forsaking the covenant. Grief arises from the sense of being deprived -as one feels on the passing of a much loved person into the spiritual world. However, in this case the grief is caused by the reminder from the good side of our minds that the life we are living, the feelings and thoughts we foster and the actions we relish in, are actually contrary to good. They may feel good, for it is the nature of the vile person to paint his actions as good and pleasurable, but the fact remains that they are not good. When we realise that a genuine spiritual life demands that we give these things up, then we grief the potential loss of them.
From grief it is a short step to anger. We find ourselves saying that we will not give our habits up. We begin to rage at the unfairness, for why should anything so pleasant be evil or wrong. In this frame of mind we rage against the truth. It is interesting to note that the original word for rage here, literally means we "foam at the mouth" (Strong's #2194). The more we rage against the conscience, even an external conscience, the more willing we become to turn aside from it, and so the vile person returned and showed regard for those who forsake the Covenant. This completes the efforts to use an external conscience against the effects of selfishness and its false ways of thinking in our lives.
In the Gospel of Matthew the Lord tells a parable of a man who casts out a spirit, and returns to find the house clean and swept. The evil spirit returns with seven more spirits, each worse than himself. The point is that when a person relapses back into a live of selfishness and evil, especially if that life feels so pleasant, then it becomes easier to fall into even deeper states of evil than before.
This is somewhat the case happening in this section of Daniel. The ships of Cyprus are a reminder of a different order of things, and yet they formed a relatively weak, external conscience without the power to withhold the course our lives are following at this point. Like the evil spirit in the parable, the rejection of this offer to reign in the selfish will is accompanied with an even greater rejection.
After the episode of the ships of Cyprus the vile person mustered his forces. This army, like others we have seen in the book of Daniel, represent the falsities gathered together to launch an all out assault on our spiritual life. These are generally the falsities or denial of truth, the twisting of truth into half-truth and the resurrection of old falsities once thought to be true by since discarded as false. All these thoughts flood back into our minds, guided and directed by the vile person, and we, listening to his voice, accept them. The result is that these forces "defile the sanctuary fortress, then take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation."
The attack on the sanctuary moves this temptation into another gear, for the sanctuary is that part of our minds where the Lord is, that is, in the understanding of truth from His Word, and a willingness to use that truth in our daily lives.
It is described as a "sanctuary fortress", because the truth making up the Lord's presence in us, also protects us from evil.
When a person rejects the conscience, it makes every level of truth vulnerable. We cannot pick and choose what we are going to believe, and so if we reject something because the truth is antagonistic to our perception of rightness or goodness—a perception based on our own sensual feelings -then the whole bastion of our belief begins to crumble.
This crumbling is shown in the rest of the verse. Defiling the sanctuary makes it possible for the vile person to take away the daily sacrifices. In the Old Testament the daily sacrifices were the key to spiritual life. Each of them was correspondentially significant, and each addressed some part of our regeneration. To take away these sacrifices, then, means to halt the progress of spiritual development, for no one progresses towards heaven if one actively rejects the truth.
Evil is not the opposite of good, but the cessation of goodness. When a person ceases to do good, he or she begins to do evil. When the vile person invaded the sanctuary, that is, when we reject the very truths on which the Lord's presence is grounded in our minds, then we cease to do good. No good feeling, thought or deed can ever exist without a foundation of truth to support it. The absence of truth makes it possible to degenerate into a life of evil we perceive to be freer and more pleasant than ever before.
Remember that the vile person is the natural descendant of all the states of selfishness we have seen before. This temptation forms a sort of resurrection of Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar in their worst states. In it the beasts arising from the sea are unleashed on our lives again, and the he-goat runs rampant across the desolate plain of our minds.
The result is that instead of spiritual progress there is degeneration, for instead of the daily sacrifices there is the abomination of desolation. In the original language the terms here tie in very closely with the internal sense. An abomination in Hebrew means "a detestable thing or an idol" (Strong's #8261). When we remember that the "vile person" who is at the centre of this temptation, represents merely external behaviour without any spiritual inner support, this definition becomes important. External behaviour divorced from any genuine spiritual motivation, or behaviour appearing good springing from a selfish motivation, is an idol, for an idol is something that is reverenced as a god, and appears to be a god, but in reality is a fake.
This phoniness is the abomination. We can call it hypocrisy, or sanctimonious deceit, and left unattended it destroys a person's spiritual life. This is why it is called the "abomination of desolation," for behaviour in which there is no love or charity destroys spiritual life (Arcana Coelestia 2454). The destruction comes gradually and without notice—remember that the vile person enters peaceably. As a person falls into the delusion that because their external behaviour is good, they themselves are also good, so the person falls under the influence of misleading falsity and evil. The person looses the ability to think clearly and see that behind the apparent pleasantness of the external lies a selfish and manipulating mind. With this ability gone, so one also loses the ability to think objectively from truth and to use that truth to govern one's life (Arcana Coelestia 3488).
In the final analysis, this state leads to a denial of the Lord with the consequent breakdown in both love towards Him and belief in Him. Our behavior may seem good on the outside, but inwardly there is no charity towards our neighbour nor any inner belief or faith (Arcana Coelestia 3652). We become an empty shell.
This shell is the desolation. In older translations of the Word, the "abomination of desolation" is translated "the abomination that maketh desolation." This captures more accurately the process of decline and the poison spread from it throughout our spirits. We see this so clearly in the words of the next verse, where we are shown how the vile person will corrupt with flattery "those who do wickedly against the covenant."
There is a part in each one of us that responds to the flattery of the vile person. We want to believe that we are innately good or clever or in control of our own lives. We listen to the inner selfish voice flattering us into believing that we have every right to feel and think and act as we do. Our inclination to follow this voice could lead us into hell.
At this point it is important to remind ourselves once again that this is a temptation, and a temptation is a conflict between two sides of our being. Throughout this chapter there have been voices of resistance to the decline to evil, voice we can compare to the pangs of conscience felt when after repentance we allow ourselves to backslide into states of evil.
Remember that the vile person only "becomes strong with a small number of people" (vs. 23), and his power will last only "for a time" (vs. 24). The king of the South will battle against him, although he will not stand (vs. 25). Even though he continues his raging attacks against goodness, "he shall not prosper, for the end will still be at the appointed time" (vs. 27).
There is a side of our being, our Daniel, so to speak, resisting the imprecations of the vile person. There is a part of us that recognises our hypocrisy for what it is, who knows that we cannot simply put on a series of external behaviourisms in order to achieve selfish ends. That part of us continues to resist, to strengthen our commitment to our conscience and to our vows of repentance. In this sequence these are called "the people who know their God."
We know God through the truths He gives us in the Word. These in turn form our conscience. They show us the nature of evil and sensitise us to the slide into evil. We can only identify Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar if we know the truth. The same is true for the beasts rising from the sea and the he-goat. Truth tells us of their existence, and reflection from truth shows their existence in us. Our conscience leads us to reject these things in the prayers of repentance and steels us for the work of temptation.
It is very important for our equilibrium, therefore, to draw strength from the words" "the people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits." The greatest spiritual exploit is the rejection of empty gestures for selfish reasons, and the pursuit of good for the sake of goodness.
This is not easy, especially when we are aware of the tremendous power and strength of our selfish side. The vile person insinuates himself into our lives with pleasurable sensations and flattery, and we give in and backslide. That is the human condition, for if it was not, the our regeneration would be accomplished in a minimum of time. But note the prophecy given here "yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering."
The attempted destruction of our conscience comes from many fronts, for evil attacks both our ability to will to do good and our competence in thinking truth. It twists goodness into evil and truth into falsity, presenting the twisted form as if it was actual goodness and truth. Unless we are really determined to follow the truth and refuse to allow ourselves to fall into delusions, we find it only too easy to give in.
Notice the sequence instruments used to undermine "the people who know God" -they shall fall by "sword and flame, captivity and plundering." Each of these describes a means of attack.
In the Word a "sword" generally describes truth, or truth combating falsity (Arcana Coelestia 2686, 4135, 2799, 4499). In this series, however, the opposite correspondence is true. Here a sword describes falsity fighting against truth ('The sword' stands for falsity in conflict with truth. Arcana Coelestia 2799). The falsity in the attack here consists of the misunderstanding of the true nature of things implanted in a person's mind by the vile person, as is evidenced in the vile person coming peaceably and worming his way into our thoughts. After a while, of we don't resist from conscience, our minds are corrupted until all things of our spirit, faith, intelligence and wisdom are squeezed out and only falsity remains. This is what the Lord meant when He said: "all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matt 26:52).
When a person starts thinking in a certain vein, the feelings begin to follow. We have all had the experience of thinking about something only to find ourselves longing for the object of our thoughts. This happens in all matters of thought, for our thoughts inspire our feelings.
As the vile person corrupts our thoughts, so that "the people who know God" are destroyed, they fall not only by sword, but also by flame. The word for "flame" in the original language carries the menace of destruction, for while it can mean fire, it can also mean the flashing point of a spear or sword (Brown-Driver-Briggs #3851) (it is interesting to speculate that the blade of a spear is somewhat flame shaped).
Fire, or flame, is a symbol of love. In common English we speak of love burning brightly and warming our hearts. Fire takes this representation from the Lord who presents Himself to the angels of heaven as a sun, the heat of which conveys His love and as the angels receive it, so they are warmed with love (Arcana Coelestia 6832). This correlation has been known for so long that in Ancient time it was common for people to light "perpetual fires" in their temples, and this represented the "perpetual and eternal love, that is, the mercy of the Lord" (Arcana Coelestia 2177, 10177, 4489).
However, the flame introduced by the vile person is not the flame of the Lord's love. It is the opposite. The opposite of loving the Lord is loving self and all it entails. When this love is allowed access to our minds, as for example when it is introduced by the thoughts aroused by the awareness that our external behavior can fool other people and lead them to believe that we are good, then within that awareness lies the seed of selfishness. Once it begins to take root in our minds, it begins to obsess us. Like fire through grassland, selfishness penetrates into and subverts our motivations. We are moved by love, but not love for the Lord. Our loves in these states of temptation are pure loves of selfishness.
The Writings describe some of the states burning like flames in our hearts at this time. They "mean filthy kinds of love, such as those of vengeance, cruelty, hatred, and adultery, and in general the cravings that spring from self-love and love of the world" (Arcana Coelestia 6832).
Now it becomes clear how the vile person captivates the minds of those who allow it access. The understanding is put to the sword and the will to the flames. The result is a captivity of the will, for it is hard to break free the shackles of this kind of evil. At the same time the understanding 1s plundered, which, as we saw earlier, means deprived of truth.
All is not, however, gloom and doom. Notice the progression of ideas being suppressed by the "vile person":
Vs. 32: The people who know their God shall be strong and carry out great exploits.
Vs. 33: Those of the people who understand shall instruct many.
Vs. 34: When they fall they shall be aided with a little help.
Vs. 35: And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end.
These sequence of "people" within the context of the battle of temptation is very important, for it reminds us of the resistance within us. Without it there would be no temptation, but until our inner states are solidly established against evil we will be prey to evil.
Temptation is a battle for our souls—a battle taking place on many different levels simultaneously. The fact of resistance, contained in the sequences of the "people who understand," shows us briefly the other side of the battle. It is not surprising, considering the intensity to which temptations can arise, especially after repentance and some spiritual progress, for a person to begin to loose sight of some of these affirmative qualities. At times one has the sense that the conscience has all but disappeared, but this is not true. The conscience is always there, gathering strength through the process of temptation.
Something about the purpose of temptation is given to us at the end of this sequence: “And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.”
This verse describes how a person's conscience, under attack in temptation, is actually strengthened because of the assault. The idea is contained in the very meaning of the Hebrew words themselves.
Begin with the word "understand." Up to now we have taken the understanding in a fairly literal way. It is our understanding of truth, and thus the conscience which has been under attack from the vile person, who represents mere externalism in our lives. In the original language, however, the word we translate as "understanding" means "to be prudent, to be circumspect, to wisely understand, to prosper" (Brown-Driver-Briggs #7919). It also carries the connotation of being intelligent (Strong's #7919). All these qualities take their root in truth, for truth from the Word, which is the very basis of our conscience, makes us genuinely prudent (Cf. Divine Providence 130-145 "there is no such thing as man's prudence."), and therefore circumspect (wary and taking all things into account (OED)) especially when evil is present. The result is wisdom, prosperity and intelligence.
This definition of "understanding" is important to the temptation described in this chapter, for it is the very opposite of the things represented by the vile person who is oppressing this side of our characters. There is an important teaching relating to this, however, and that is that the Lord never allows evil to happen unless He can bring some good out of it. Yet sometimes that evil seems to undo whatever gains we have made towards goodness.
Notice what happens to "those of understanding:" they fall. Once again the original language is much more expressive than the English translation, for to "fall" means to "to totter or waver (through weakness of the legs, especially the ankle); by implication, to falter, stumble, faint or fall" (Strong's #3782). Thus we picture the process which has already unfolded before us between chapter ten and now. The progress we made as a result of repentance has come under attack, and, in the face of that attack our resolve has faltered, stumbled, fainted and fallen. Finally we reach the point described in this verse where the vile person's almost has complete control over our minds.
There is, however, a reason why the Lord allows this to happen. Notice the next words of the verse: "to refine them, purify them, and make them white." This sequence shows us the benefits of temptation -although in the process we may not see them as such.
To refine our consciences is the first step, for when we learn truths we learn them in a general way. It takes a life of temptation to make it possible for us to learn to focus the truths to specific things in our own lives. We may know, for example, the teachings about repentance and temptation, but until we actually undergo the process of repenting and endure the temptations following, those teachings remain as intellectual ideas. At first in temptation we are buffeted about by our evils because we are not yet able to zero our spiritual states in on the evil attacking. It is only as we progress in temptation that this becomes possible, and in that progress we "refine" our understanding of truth -we add additional things to bolster it, we may discard some things we have misunderstood. In a sense we "learn on the job."
"Purifying" follows the refining process. The concept of something becoming pure includes the idea of discarding impurities. Our understanding of the Word is coloured in many ways by the states of mind we are in when we first learn the truth. The truth remains the same, but the understanding of it often needs to change. Think of how often a person has the experience of reevaluating something he or she has learned. In a new context the truth can take on a different form. This is especially so in times of temptation, for then we are, as it were, fighting for our lives. Truths which once had seemed intellectual, or unrelated to our own states may suddenly take on a whole new meaning as we let go our older presuppositions and embrace a new way of seeing things. Temptation, therefore, serves to purify our conscience.
The final phase described in this verse is that they are made "white." This implies the purity of the conscience when it has risen above temptation, triumphant in truth. There are many places in the Word where whiteness is used in this way, and in each case it denotes the purity of truth (Arcana Coelestia 4007, 5433, 8458 et al). Technically "whiteness" represents truths, in which one has faith.
But the truth of faith does not exist with any who believe that they have faith of themselves and so believe that they are wise of themselves. Rather, it exists with those who believe that their faith and wisdom come from the Lord, for faith and wisdom are imparted to them because they do not ascribe any truth or good at all to themselves. Even less do they believe that they possess any merit through the truths and goods residing with them, and less still any righteousness, but only by ascribing these to the Lord, and so everything to His grace and mercy (Arcana Coelestia 4007).
One cannot have faith in the truth until it has been tested, and so temptation serves as a means of focusing one's truth, purifying them, and converting them into objects of faith.
It is interesting to note that in the original language the word for "white" is related to the concept of making bricks (partly because bricks drying in the sun would become a whitened colour). This linguistic concept helps us to visualize how the various things we know, the collection of knowledges forming our conscience, once they have been tested in the fires of temptation, become the building blocks of our spiritual lives.
However, the time has not yet come for the temptations to reach this end. It is useful, in the middle of a temptation, to know that there is a purpose for our suffering. It helps to put our spiritual state into perspective, especially if we have repented and feel we make some progress, only to be beaten back, time and again, by our own inner selfishness.
It should come as no surprise, then, that the very next verse takes us back into the thick of things. The next four verses describe the intensity of the attack: “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all. But in their place he shall honor a god of fortresses; and a god which his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and pleasant things. Thus he shall act against the strongest fortresses with a foreign god, which he shall acknowledge, and advance its glory; and he shall cause them to rule over many, and divide the land for gain.”
These words give one a sense of deja vu, taking one back to the heyday of Nebuchadnezzar when he ran amok establishing his empire. We also find shades of Belshazzar, blaspheming the Lord by misusing the vessels from the temple. Neither of them cared for anyone but themselves.
States of temptation have to run their course, and, as we have seen before, part of that course is to reach rock-bottom when the conscience is unable to exert any restraining influence. This could be compared to a binge, for when our inner restraints break-down, we binge, be it on food, or alcohol, or any one of a million evils.
In this process, however, it is important to keep in mind that this happens in providence. The control of the conscience is not permanently disabled, it is, if our repentance was genuine, gathering its force, being refined and purified until it can reassert itself in our minds, and bring us back, this time with the knowledge of our weakness firmly imprinted in our minds, to spiritual sanity.
The last five verses of this chapter chronicle the disappearance of the vile person and the final destruction of the king of the north and all he represents. The whole book of Daniel has worked towards this end and the promise of peace given in chapter twelve. The light at the end of the tunnel is growing brighter, but, as in the case of many a natural dictator, the death throes often entail the greatest violence and destruction.
The assault begins with a battle between the old enemies -the king of the South and the king of the North. It is interesting to note that when the king of the South attacks the north, the vile person simply disappears. This is so because as soon as the conscience begins to reestablish itself in our minds, at least for the moment it is not possible for us to remain purely in externals. The conscience challenges our external behavior, which then has to be justified by in inner concept. Thus the vile person is heard of no more in a way similar to the killing of Belshazzar, who, on being weighed in the balances is found wanting and so is killed. No external can truly exist without some internal underpinning. Once that underpinning is challenged by the conscience it either has to cease to exist, or respond in battle.
It is understandable that the king of the South should attack, for he represents our understanding of truth and wisdom. This is the basis for our spiritual resistance against the hypocritical states of the vile person. When these states reach the absolute bottom, and evil floods our minds to the extent described above (vs. 36-39), the conscience begins to fight back.
We all have this experience at some point in our regeneration. Having repented we allow ourselves to slide, at first gradually and then with gathering force, into evils. Initially they present themselves as pleasurable things, the vile person came with flattery, and who could imagine that he would become the very epitome of evil? Yet this is what happened.
When we come into states like that our conscience rebels. "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him." This is the culmination of the whole sequence of resistance earlier in the chapter.
The response to this "attack" from our conscience is outrage on the part of our evil side. Evil sees the presence of goodness as an attack, and likewise falsity confronted by truth is at pains to justify itself. In this section of the vision it is not the vile person who responds to the king of the South, but the king of the South himself. The reason for this is that although the vile person is object of the attack, he the natural inheritor of the king of the North. If south generally refers to truth and wisdom, the north carries the opposite meaning, of self-seeking falsity and evil. The conscience does not attack a person's actual behavior, it focuses rather on the reasoning behind that behavior. This concept is shown to us clearly in a passage from Divine Providence where it says: “The evils which a man believes to be allowable, even though he does not commit them, are also appropriated to him; since whatever is allowable in the thought comes from the will, for then there is consent. When, therefore, a man believes any evil to be allowable, he loosens an internal restraint upon it, and he is withheld from doing it only by external restraints, such as fears; and because his spirit favours that evil, when external restraints are removed he does it as allowable; and meanwhile, he continually does it in his spirit” (Divine Providence 81).
To change behavior one begins by changing the thoughts behind it. Thus the idea that something is permissible has to be altered to its opposite. In this way the mind is changed first and the actions following from it will change accordingly.
One way of interpreting these verses is that when our evil states get so bad that we "do according to our own will," exalting and magnifying ourselves over every god, as the vile person did, then even our conscience rebels as an act of self-defense. Evil is inherently destructive, and selfishness is self-destructive.
The result of this attack is a fierce defense from the king of the North whose ferocity is described in these words: “The king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.”
The "vile person" represents a state in our spiritual development when we allow the inner things of religion to lapse. We cling only to an empty external, hypocritical behavior. The problem with this sort of spiritual emptiness is that while at first it may be flattering, or pleasing, it deteriorates, leading us into a deepening spiritual crisis.
The crises is deepened by the responsive attack from the North in a final and desperate bid to break the power of the conscience. The force of that counter-attack is contained in the words used to describe the actions of the king of the North. The English narrative simply states that "he came against him like a whirlwind." In the original language, however, the words take on a stronger meaning. Interestingly the words "to come" mean to storm and sweep away like a whirlwind, and the word is then repeated as "whirlwind” (Brown-Driver-Briggs #1875). Perhaps a better translation would be to say, "he stormed against him like a whirlwind," capturing the force and fury of the Northern attack.
The king of the North presses his attack against the South with chariots, horsemen and many ships. Once again we see a sequence of ideas in this list:
- Chariots represent the teachings and knowledge of things that make up the church in us. However, since these chariots are in the service of the king of the North, they are the false teachings and knowledge that form the basis of the spiritual obscurity in our minds.
- Horses represent the understanding of these things. A chariot is only useful if it is harnessed to a horse, which then moves it from place to place. In a similar way, the things we know are only useful when we understand them, and see in them a way of governing and controlling our lives.
- Ships, as we saw earlier in this chapter, have a similar meaning, for they also represent our understanding of truth, or, in this case, the deeper falsities, which will be needed to bring our lives back into some sort of, order.
It may seem strange to contemplate that it is the evil side of us that sets into motion a series of actions which will eventually lead to its own destruction, and which eventually is so effective against our deteriorating external behaviour. If we contemplate this problem, however, a solution is offered to us in the Writings by way of analogy. It is common, in hell, for evil to punish itself—this is one of the uses evil plays. When falsity stands in opposition to the results of falsity, the weaknesses of both are shown up, and it becomes impossible for them to continue together. It is not possible, for example, for a person to continue on a self-destructive path and be motivated by self-preservation at the same time. One of the two, or both must give, with a resulting diminishing of each.
The king of the north seems to be victorious over the South, just as in all the previous states of temptation we have seen, it often appears that the tide runs in favour of selfishness, arrogance and pride. He shall enter the countries, or states of life, "overwhelm them and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many of countries shall be overthrown."
This show of force, impressive as it may seem presses home the problematic nature of the attack. It must be remembered that at this stage of a persons spiritual development the conscience is present—the person will remember the images of evil running rampant in his or her life, he or she will recall the states of repentance and earlier temptations. The conscience at this point is no longer a captive boy, but a fully matured state—the Daniel who is accustomed to power and governorship. The result is an implosion of evil, making it possible for the person who still has an active conscience, and a memory of repentance, to turn aside from the selfishness altogether.
This happens in stages over the next few verses. As the king of the North stands in opposition to the king of the South, and penetrates into the very externals of our lives, so our states of goodness begins to resist. This is described in another list of words: "these shall escape form his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon."
In the literal sense these three ancient nations lived outside the land of Canaan, and at times were enemies of Israel. However, as one looks to the inner meaning of each of them it becomes clear why they escaped from the vengeance of the king of the North, and how, in our lives, they form a part of the resistance which makes spiritual victory possible.
In the literal sense Edom is another name for Esau, twin brother to Jacob. He is called "Edom" because at birth he was red, and, in the original language "edom" means "red." The Edomites were the people who descended from Esau.
In the positive sense, Edom represents the humanity of the Lord (Arcana Coelestia 1675, 2025:2) that is, the human qualities the Lord took on at His incarnation which made it possible for the Divine Itself to come down to our level, fight against evil and over come it. Unless the Lord had done that, we could not have the power in our own lives to face and overcome evil.. The essence of this humanity is love for the human race and a desire to save people from the pangs of spiritual death. It was that love in action that moved the Lord to suffer temptations on our behalf, asking in return only that we "pick up our crosses and follow Him." Should people respond to the Lord's wish, our lives become filled with goodness, with the result that Edom, on another level also represents the good in a person's life when he or she learns the Lord's Word and lives according to it (cf. Arcana Coelestia 3320, 3322).
In our lives Edom describes the goodness that results from doing things because we have been taught that those things are right, and from a love of truth we are willing to subdue our more selfish side in order to live according to the truth (cf. Arcana Coelestia 3320, 3322). This goodness can take several forms: it can either be simple, which happens when we do good things because we have been taught to do them, or, it can be good originating in a genuine love for other people (cf. Arcana Coelestia 8314). Either way it is a state of good with us that is impervious to the falsities spewed out by the king of the North.
MOAB AND AMMON
Both of these people were descendants of Lot's incestuous relations with his daughters after the destruction of Sodom (Arcana Coelestia 1360). Their correspondence is not as pure nor as high as that of Edom, for the represent states of natural good with a person (Arcana Coelestia 3322) Natural good is good that comes naturally, (which was described in the first chapter when Ashpenaz was treated of). In summary, however, natural good is good that does not have a spiritual backing, it comes to us as part of our personalities and therefore is common to both good and evil people. Because there is no underlying and supporting truth, this good can easily be led astray and be misused for selfish reasons. A person in this state may well put on the appearance of friendliness, honesty and integrity, but in reality hold all others in contempt and as objects to be used to one's own advantage.
Ammon has a similar representation, except that it pertains to truth. The Ammonites represent "those who falsify truths and live according to them when falsified" (Arcana Coelestia 6405).
These three, taken together are an image of the parts of our minds which resists the force and power of falsity. The Moabite state in us is a genuine grounding in goodness, while the latter two are more external—however, they form a part of our basic human decency—a product not so much of our conscience, but of a moral idea of right and wrong. However, so strong is the headlong flight into a life of evil, that these unspiritual good states with us are not sufficient by themselves to stop the slide into spiritual chaos. With the king of the North on the warpath, both the will and understanding are corrupted, and hold us back, that unless they are crushed we can make no progress. It follows then, that the king of the North "stretched out his hand against the countries."
As we have seen earlier, "hand" is a symbol of power. The force of our own self-interest, represented here by the king of the North overrules the states of natural good and truth described as Edom, Moab and Ammon. The conquest growth and development. The entire book of Daniel, taking us through one excursus after another to describe and illustrate our progress stands behind us. Daniel, once a captive, is in high power, although speechless in the vision. The view of falsity and evil and the impact of these on our lives means that we are not ignorant, and therefore not entirely at the mercy of our Babylonian selfishness. The very fact that we have committed ourselves to repentance and victory in earlier temptations, helps us to realise that life is a progression. The alternating states of temptation and peace give us courage even when we seem about to give in to the pressure.
The activity of real truth is the beginning of the end for the king of the North. The very forces of selfishness in our lives that unleashed a decline into evil are themselves brought in by the greater power of conscience. True self-reservation does not lie in total freedom to do as we please, for that leads to destruction, but to the submission to a higher, truer presence—the conscience.
The king of the North found himself in an untenable position. In the final verse of this chapter we read: “And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.”
The "tents of his palace" represent the life based on falsity and half-truths. The fact that they are placed between the seas and the "glorious holy mountain" describes the tension of these between the truths, represented by the sea, and the worship and love symbolised by the mountain. Our upward swing from the depths of evil brings us to the point at which are can be faced by genuine truth and love from the Lord. In the face of this falsities can be finally seen as falsities and rejected. So also the elements of selfishness, which have so dominated our lives can be measured against the love given to us by the Lord, and found hopelessly wanting. When the conscience is active, as it is in this case, then the comparison leads us to withdraw from evil.
Thus the king of the North shall "come to his end, and no one will help him." The state of temptation is broken, and the conscience wins. Falsity looses its power to dominate us, and our lives are rescued from the emptiness and destructiveness of a cynical misuse of external behaviour, all the while harbouring hatred and contempt for others in our breasts.
This destruction of the king of the North marks the turning point in our spiritual development. The entire book of Daniel has been building up to this point, for during the course of its chapters we have seen how the conscience has been formed and nurtured by the Lord, how it has shown us the nature of evil and lead us to the point of repentance. We are shown over and again how temptations arise and how, with truth as our guide we have the power to face and overcome even our most hellish and dire selfish loves.
4164. 'Jacob was incensed and wrangled with Laban' means the zeal of the natural. This is clear from the meaning of 'being incensed' or being angry, and as a result 'wrangling', as zeal; and from the representation of 'Jacob' as the good of the natural, dealt with already. The reason why 'being incensed', or being angry, and as a result 'wrangling', means zeal is that in heaven or among angels no anger exists, but instead of anger zeal. For anger is different from zeal, in that anger contains evil but zeal contains good. Or to put it another way, a person who is filled with anger intends evil to another with whom he is angry, whereas someone who is filled with zeal intends good to another for whom he is zealous. For this reason also a person who is filled with zeal is able to be good in an instant, and in what he is actually doing to be good towards others. Not so with a person who is filled with anger. Although in outward form zeal has a similar appearance to anger, in inward form it is altogether dissimilar.
(References: Genesis 31:36)