The Bible

 

Jonah 3:7

Finnish: Pyhä Raamattu (1933/1938)         

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7 Ja hän huudatti Niinivessä: "Kuninkaan ja hänen ylimystensä määräys kuuluu: Älkööt ihmiset älköötkä eläimet-raavaat ja lampaat-maistako mitään, käykö laitumella tai vettä juoko.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Jonah 3      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

In the third chapter of the Book of Jonah, Jonah finally reaches Nineveh, and starts preaching repentance and reformation to the people there. And... they listen! Even the King of Assyria listens!

The inner meaning of the story is pretty close to the surface here, and there's important symbolism. Swedenborg summarizes the chapter's meaning in this one sentence:

"The nations, hearing from the Word of God about their sins, and that they would perish, were converted after repenting, and were heard by the Lord, and saved." (The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 213)

Rev. George McCurdy, in his exegesis of this chapter, offers this summary:

The great city of Nineveh has many spiritual representations. The world saw Nineveh as a mighty nation, but in the eyes of the Lord, it represented the shallowness and weakness (death) of false doctrines, contrived beliefs confirmed by the proprium (self love), the fallacies of the senses, and the unenlightened understanding that spawns spiritual ignorance.

The Lord’s mercy and love for all prompted Him not only to send His message to Nineveh, but to ensure that it would be preserved for eternity. Jonah’s call to "arise and go" preach to Nineveh is a call for spiritual renewal. It is a call for repentance. The fasting, sackcloth, and ashes symbolize a call to be aware that "where there is no truth, there is no church."

Where the Word is closed, and not loved, there is a loss of conjunction with the Divine resources. The fasting of man and beast symbolizes a need for the spiritual and natural appetites to come to the Lord for that "bread which comes down from heaven." The Ninevites giving up their natural food and drink represents their turning away from "as-of-self" concepts and reminds all who read and hear the Word of the Lord to rely on heavenly manna.

"Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance…" (Isaiah 55:2)

The king sitting in ashes and mourning represents a sorrowful attitude toward "the remains of the fire of self-love." Repentance involves self-examination, making oneself guilty for the sins and evils committed, asking the Lord for His help, and desiring to attain a new life.

As we mull over this concept, think about the Lord’s preaching on earth. As He went about His mission, He often used these words: "You have heard it said of old… but I say unto you…" Putting aside human traditions and taking on the Lord’s teachings is an ongoing effort. Jonah was told to preach the words of the Lord. He was not to make things up from his memory. He was to be a true and faithful prophet of the Lord’s ways.

Here's a link to an interesting (audio) sermon on this chapter, by Rev. Todd Beiswenger.

Rev. Martin Pennington suggests two explanatory passages from Swedenborg's theological writings:

"Forty days means a period of temptation combats or severe change." (Arcana Coelestia 730)

"A fast represents those who are in a state of unhappiness when good is no longer joined to the truths." (Arcana Coelestia 9182[10])

Other references of interest listed by Rev. McCurdy include:

"As ‘forty’ signified what is full or complete… forty signifies what is complete in respect to instruction and influx… for this reason it was said by Jonah to the Ninevites that ‘the city would be overthrown after forty days" (Jonah 3:4) (Arcana Coelestia 9437[2])

"By being clothed in sackcloth is signified mourning on account of the vastated truth in the church; for garments signify truths; and therefore, to be clothed in sackcloth, which is not a garment, signifies mourning that there is no truth; and where there is no truth, there is no church." Jonah 3:5-6 is cited. (Apocalypse Revealed 492)

"…the rite of putting sackcloth on the loins to testify…mourning may be seen from the historic and prophetic parts of the Word, as in… Jonah 3:5-8… for a sign representative of mourning over the evil on account of which Nineveh was to perish; thus over destroyed good." (Arcana Coelestia 4779[2])

"From the signification of garments it is also manifest why they rent their garments, when any one spoke against the Divine truth of the Word… and why, on account of transgressions against Divine truths, they put off their garments, and put on sackcloth." Jonah 3:5, 6, and 8 are cited. (Apocalypse Revealed 166)

"That ‘ashes’ denote falsity, may be confirmed from passages where another word for ‘ashes (cinis)’ is used, for these ashes have a like origin…" Jonah 3:6 is cited. (Arcana Coelestia 7520)

"…by ‘ashes’ in the opposite sense, namely, what is condemned that remains after the burning from the fire of self love. This is signified by ‘the ashes’ which they carried on the head, and in which they rolled themselves when bewailing their sins." Jonah 3:6 is cited. (Arcana Coelestia 9723)

"In the spiritual sense by kings those who are in truths are signified, by the great ones those who are in goods, by the rich those that are in the knowledge of good, by the mighty they that are in erudition, by servants they that are in such things from others, and thus from memory, and by freemen they that are in such things from themselves…" Jonah 3:7 is cited. (Apocalypse Revealed 337)

"The interior good and also the interior evil…are signified by ‘man,’ are those which are of the intention or end, for the intention or end is the inmost of man; but the exterior good and also the exterior evil which are signified by ‘beast,’ are those which are of the thought, and of the consequent action when nothing stands in the way…By ‘beast,’…in respect to the external or natural man, a man is nothing else than a beast, for he takes delight in the like cupidities and pleasures, as also in the like appetites and sense…Therefore… from a holy rite it was commanded by the king of Nineveh, that both man and beast were to fast, and were to be covered with sackcloth (Jonah 3:7, 8)." (Arcana Coelestia 7523)

"… in the spiritual world a man’s affections appear at a distance like beasts… and beasts, viewed in themselves, are nothing but forms of natural affections… By man and beasts together is signified man as to spiritual and natural affection, in the following passages… Jonah 3:7, 8…" (Apocalypse Revealed 567)

"Here ‘webs’ and ‘garments’ are predicated of things of the understanding, that is, of the thought; ‘iniquity’ and ‘violence,’ of things of the will, that is, of works. In Jonah 3:8… the ‘evil way’ is predicated of falsities, which are of the understanding; and ‘violence,’ which are of the will." (Arcana Coelestia 623[2])

"…the ‘wrath of anger’ is attributed to Jehovah, and consequently ‘repentance.’" (Arcana Coelestia 588[2])

"…the Word is such in the sense of the letter, it may be evident that it cannot be understood without doctrine. But let examples illustrate this. It is said that Jehovah repenteth (Jonah 3:9; 4:2), and it is also said that Jehovah repenteth not (Num. 23:19…): without doctrine these statements do not agree." (Teachings Regarding the Sacred Scripture 51)

"In these passages (Jonah 3:9,10) Jehovah is said to have ‘repented,’ when yet it cannot be that He repents, because He knows all things before He does them; from which it is evident that by ‘repenting’ is signified mercy." (Arcana Coelestia 10441[2-4])

Finally, here's a link to Rev. McCurdy's study guide for the Book of Jonah, which is available for free as a .pdf, for your use.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 213


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 4779, 7523

Apocalypse Revealed 337, 492, 567


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 408, 637, 650

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Bible Study Videos:



Word/Phrase Explanations

eläimet
"Beasts" represent the affection for doing good things, a true desire to do them from the heart. In the negative sense, "beasts" stand for the...

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Beauty for Ashes
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 How the Lord Saved Jonah
A retelling of the story for young children with beautiful color illustrations. 
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 Jonah
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Jonah
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jonah and the Gourd
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 Jonah and the Gourd (3-5 years)
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 Jonah and the Gourd (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Jonah and the Gourd (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 Jonah and the Great Fish
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Jonah Goes to Nineveh
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Quotes: Divine Providence and Evil
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 The Prophet Jonah
This article shows how the Lord tried to teach Jonah to be merciful and kind when Jonah disobeyed the Lord because of his hatred toward the Assyrians. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #637

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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637. Clothed in sackcloth, signifies in mourning because of the non-reception of Divine good and Divine truth. This is evident from the signification of "clothed in sackcloth," as being mourning because of the vastation and desolation of Divine good and Divine truth, here because of their non-reception; for the witnesses were seen clothed in sackcloth, and they signify the Divine good, from which is every good of love and charity, and the Divine truth, from which is every truth of doctrine and faith; these appear to be in mourning when they are not received, but in joy when they are received.

(References: Revelation 11:3)


[2] Likewise it is said of the sun and moon, which also signify the good of love and the truth of faith, that:

The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood (Revelation 6:12),

which signifies that every good of love was separated, and every truth of faith falsified (see above, n. 401; not that the sun in the angelic heaven, which is the Lord, ever becomes black, but that it so appears to those who receive no light from it.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 401)


[3] In ancient times, when the externals of the church consisted of mere correspondences and thence of representatives of things spiritual, mourning was represented by many things that are significative; as by sitting and lying on the ground, rolling themselves in the dust, by putting ashes on the head, rending the garments, and putting on sackcloth. "Rending the garments and putting on sackcloth" signified mourning because of the desolation of truth and good in the church, and because of the nonreception of them; for "garments" in general signified the truths of the church (see above, n. 64, 65, 195, 271, 395, 475, 476); therefore "rending the garments" signified grief because the truths of the church are hurt and as it were rent asunder by falsities; and "to be clothed in sackcloth" signifies mourning because of the deprivation of good and truth, and the consequent vastation of the church.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 64-65, 195, 271, 395, The Apocalypse Explained 475-476)


[4] For this reason:

When Hezekiah the king heard the words of Tartan the captain of the king of Assyria, he rent his clothes and covered himself with sackcloth, and came to the house of Jehovah; and he sent Eliakim who was over the house, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah (2 Kings 19:1, 2; Isaiah 37:1, 2).

This was done because the "king of Assyria" here signifies the perverted rational, or the rational that perverts the truths and goods of the church and destroys them by falsities; all the words of Tartan the captain of the king of Assyria, involve such things; and because the desolation and vastation of the church was seen to be imminent, to exhibit mourning and grief on this account they rent their garments and covered themselves with sackcloth.

(References: 2 Kings 19:1-2; Isaiah 37:1-2)


[5] Likewise:

When Benhadad the king of Syria besieged Samaria, and there came a great famine, the king rent his clothes, and as he passed by upon the wall the people saw that, behold, sackcloth was upon his flesh within (2 Kings 6:30).

This has a similar signification as above, namely, the imminent desolation and devastation of the church; for this reason the king rent his garments and had sackcloth upon his flesh, which was a representative sign of mourning and grief.

[6] Mourning for like reasons is signified also by the following:

Jacob, when he believed that Joseph was torn to pieces, rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days (Genesis 37:34).

So when Ahab, by the advice of Jezebel his wife, had taken away the vineyard of Naboth, and had heard the hard words of the prophet respecting that matter, he rent his clothes and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, yea, he lay in sackcloth, and went softly (1 Kings 21:27).

The king of Nineveh also, when he heard the words of Jonah, arose up from his throne, and laid his robe from him and covered him with sackcloth, and sat upon ashes, and proclaimed a fast, and that man and beast should be covered with sackcloth (Jonah 3:5, 6, 8).

So also Daniel set his face to the Lord God, to seek by supplication and prayer in fasting, sackcloth, and ashes (Daniel 9:3).

When Abner was slain, David said to Joab and to all the people that were with him, that they should rend their clothes and gird them with sackcloth, and mourn before Abner; and David himself walked behind the bier (2 Samuel 3:31).

This makes clear that in the Jewish and Israelitish church mourning was represented by "rending the clothes and being clothed in sackcloth;" and this because grief of mind and mourning of heart, which were interior things, were represented at that time by external things, which because of their correspondences with spiritual things were significative.

(References: Jonah 3:5-8, Jonah 3:5-6)


[7] That the representation of mourning by sackcloth signified especially mourning because of the desolation of truth and vastation of good in the church, and also, in particular, repentance, with mourning of heart on account of evils, can be seen further from the following passages. In Isaiah:

In that day will the Lord Jehovih of hosts call to weeping and to lamenting, and to baldness, and to girding on sackcloth (Isaiah 22:12).

This chapter treats of the vastation of the church in respect to Divine truth; its mourning is described by "baldness" and by "putting on sackcloth."

[8] In Jeremiah:

The lion is gone up from the thicket, and the destroyer of nations journeyeth; he hath gone forth out of his place to make the land a waste; thy cities shall be destroyed, that there shall be no inhabitant; for this gird ye with sackcloth, lament, howl (Jeremiah 4:7, 8).

"The lion from the thicket" signifies the falsity of evil destroying the truths of the church; and "the destroyer of nations" signifies the evil of falsity destroying the good of the church; the "land that they will make a waste" signifies the church, and the "cities that shall be destroyed" signify the truths of doctrine; "to gird with sackcloth" signifies mourning on this account, therefore it is added "lament and howl."

(References: Jeremiah 4:7-8)


[9] In the same:

O daughter of My people, gird thee with sackcloth and roll thee in ashes; make thee mourning for an only one, a lamentation of bitterness, for the waster shall suddenly come upon us (Jeremiah 6:26).

"Daughter of the people" means the church; "to gird herself with sackcloth and roll herself in ashes" signifies mourning because of the destruction of the good and truth of the church; the destruction of these or the vastation of the church is meant by "the waster shall suddenly come." Evidently grievous mourning and grief because of the destruction of good and truth is signified by "gird thee with sackcloth and roll thee in ashes," for it is added "make thee mourning for an only one, a lamentation of bitterness."

[10] In the same:

Howl, O Heshbon, for Ai is devastated; cry out, ye daughters of Rabbah; gird ye with sackcloth, lament, and wander among the walls; for their king is gone into exile, his priests and princes together (Jeremiah 49:3).

This is said of the sons of Ammon, who signify such as are in natural good and falsify the truths of the church; those who are such in the church are meant by "the daughters of Rabbah;" mourning because of the destruction of truth by falsifications is signified by "Gird ye with sackcloth, lament, wander among the walls," "walls" signifying truths falsified; that the truth of the church perished in consequence is signified by "their king is gone into exile," "king" signifying the truth of the church, and "to go into exile" signifying to be destroyed. That the goods of the church and all truths therefrom likewise perished, is signified by "priests and princes together," "priests" signifying the goods of the church, and "princes" the truths therefrom.

[11] In Lamentations:

The elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the earth, they keep silence, they have cast up dust upon their head, they have girded themselves with sackcloth; the virgins of Jerusalem bend their head down to the earth (Lamentations 2:10).

"To sit upon the earth," "to keep silence," "to cast up dust upon the head," and "to make the head to bend down to the earth," were all signs representative of mourning and grief because of the vastation of the church by evils and falsities. "The elders of the daughter of Zion" signify those that are wise and intelligent in the church, and in an abstract sense wisdom and intelligence; "daughters of Zion and the virgins of Jerusalem" signify those in the church who are in the affection of good and truth, and in an abstract sense these affections themselves.

[12] In Ezekiel:

The shipmasters shall make themselves bald for thee, and gird them with sackcloth, and they shall weep over thee in bitterness of soul, with bitter lamentation (Ezekiel 27:31).

This is said of Tyre, which signifies the church in respect to the knowledges of truth and good, and therefore also the knowledges of truth and good which belong to the church; here mourning on account of the destruction of these is described. "Shipmasters" signify all who bring and communicate these knowledges; "to make bald" signifies mourning on account of the destruction of all things of intelligence; "to gird with sackcloth" signifies mourning because the ability to know truth is also destroyed. Because mourning is what is described, it is added, "they shall weep over thee in bitterness of soul, with bitter lamentation. "

[13] In the Gospels:

Woe unto thee Chorazin, woe unto thee Bethsaida, for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which have been done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13).

"To repent in sackcloth and ashes" means to grieve and mourn because of the nonreception of Divine truth, and because of the falsities and evils that obstruct.

[14] In Joel:

Howl as a virgin girded with sackcloth for the bridegroom of her youth; gird ye and lament, ye priests; howl, ye ministers of the altar; come, pass the night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withholden from the house of your God (Joel 1:8, 13).

Here "to be girded with sackcloth" and "to pass the night in sackcloth" signify mourning because the good and truth of the church are destroyed, for the "meal offering" signifies the good of the church, and the "drink offering" its truth.

[15] In Amos:

I will bring up sackcloth upon all loins, and baldness upon every head, and I will make it as a mourning for an only one, and its latter end as a bitter day (Amos 8:10).

"Sackcloth upon the loins" signifies mourning because the good of love is destroyed, for this is signified by the "loins;" and "baldness upon the head" signifies mourning because the understanding of truth is destroyed.

[16] In Isaiah:

Upon all the heads of Moab is baldness, every beard shaven; in its streets they have girded themselves with sackcloth; upon its roofs and in its streets he shall howl, flowing down in weeping (Isaiah 15:2, 3).

In Jeremiah:

Every head baldness, and every beard shaven; upon all hands gashes, and upon the loins sackcloth; upon all the roofs of Moab and in its streets mourning everywhere (Jeremiah 48:37, 38).

"Moab" signifies those who are in natural good and who adulterate the goods of the church; that such have no understanding of truth or knowledge of truth is signified by "upon all the heads of Moab baldness, and every beard shaven," also by "upon its roofs and in its streets he shall howl" and "there shall be mourning;" "upon all hands gashes" signifies things falsified; mourning because of these things is signified by "to gird with sackcloth," and "to howl," and "to flow down in weeping."

(References: Isaiah 15:2-3; Jeremiah 48:37-38)


[17] In Isaiah:

It shall come to pass in place of spices there shall be rottenness, and in place of a girdle tatters, and in place of braided work baldness, and in place of a robe a girding of sackcloth, in place of beauty burning; thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy might in the war (Isaiah 3:24, 25).

This is said of "the daughters of Zion," by whom the church in respect to the affections of celestial good is signified, therefore "the daughters of Zion" signify the affections of good that belong to the celestial church. The loss and dissipation of these through the pride of self-intelligence is here described by the various things with which these daughters adorn themselves; the change of these affections into opposite and unbeautiful affections is signified by "in place of spices there shall be rottenness, in place of a girdle tatters, in place of braided work baldness, in place of a robe a girding of sackcloth, and in place of beauty burning;" "rottenness" signifies the vital perishing; "in place of a girdle tatters" signifies the dissipation of perceptions of truth instead of their union; "in place of braided work baldness" signifies imbecility instead of knowledge [scientia]; "in place of beauty burning" signifies foolishness instead of intelligence, "burning" signifying insanity from the pride of self-intelligence, which is foolishness, and "beauty" signifying intelligence. That the truths of the understanding will perish by falsities, even till there is no resistance against evils, is signified by "thy men shall fall by the sword and thy might in the war," "sword" meaning falsity destroying the truth.

(References: Isaiah 3:24-25)


[18] "Sackcloth" has a similar meaning in the following passages. In Ezekiel:

All hands are relaxed, all knees go into waters, whence they shall gird themselves with sackcloth, and terror shall cover them, and upon all faces shall be shame, and upon all heads baldness (Ezekiel 7:17, 18).

In David:

I, when they were sick, made sackcloth my vesture, I afflicted my soul with hunger (Psalms 35:13).

When I wept in the fast of my soul it became to me a reproach; when I made sackcloth my garment I became a byword to them (Psalms 69:10, 11).

In Job:

I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and have put my horn in the dust; my face has been soiled by weeping (Job 16:15, 16).

In Isaiah:

I clothe the heavens with blackness, and I make sackcloth their covering (Isaiah 50:3).

And in David:

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing, thou hast loosed my sackcloth and hast girded me with joy (Psalms 30:11).

In these passages, too, "sackcloth" signifies mourning; and "to gird sackcloth over the body instead of the vesture" signifies mourning because of the destruction of the truth of the church; and "to gird sackcloth upon the loins and upon the flesh" signifies mourning because of the destruction of the good of the church; for "the vesture" signifies the truth of the church, and "loins and flesh" signify the good of the church.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 16:15-16; Ezekiel 7:17-18; Job 16:15-16; Psalms 69:10-11)


[19] That "girding with sackcloth" was merely representative and thus significative of mourning and repentance, but was not in itself mourning and repentance, is evident in Isaiah:

Is such the fast that I shall choose, the day for a man to afflict his soul, to bow down his head as a rush, and to lie down in sackcloth and ashes; wilt thou call this a fast, and the day of Jehovah's good pleasure? Is not this the fast that I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to break thy bread to the hungry, and to bring the afflicted exiles to the home, and when thou seest the naked that thou cover him? (Isaiah 58:5-7)

And in Joel:

Turn ye back unto me with your whole heart, and in fasting and in weeping and in lamentation, and rend your heart and not your garments (Joel 2:12, 13).

(References: Joel 2:12-13; Jonah 3:5-8; Revelation 11:3)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 634, 717, 820, 951, 1007

Other New Christian Commentary

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

The Bible

 

Isaiah 58:5-7

English: King James Version         

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5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD?

6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?

7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?

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Explanation of Isaiah 58      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 58

(Note: Rev. Smithson's translation of the Isaiah text is appended below the explanation.)

1. CRY aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet, and declare unto My people their transgressions; and to the house of Jacob their sins.

VERSE 1. Divine Truth itself in heaven is signified by "voices" and "lightnings", but celestial or angelic Truth adjoined to the Divine, which is beneath or around, is signified by the "voice of a trumpet", as in Zechariah:

"Jehovah shall appear over them, and His weapon shall go forth as lightning; and the Lord Jehovih shall sound with a trumpet, and shall advance in the storms of the south." (Zechariah 9:14)

And in David:

"God ascends with noise; Jehovah with the voice of a trumpet"; (Psalm 47:5) where "noise" denotes the Truth of spiritual Good, and the "voice of a trumpet" the Truth of celestial Good. Arcana Coelestia 8815. See also the Exposition of Isaiah 27:13.

Declare unto My people their transgressions, etc. - As to the difference in meaning between "transgressions", "iniquities", and " sins", see Chapter 1:28, the Exposition.

2. Yet they seek Me daily, and the knowledge of My ways they desire, as a nation that has done justice, and has not forsaken the judgment of their God, that they might inquire of Me the judgments of justice; they delight in approaching to God.

Verse 2. That they might inquire of Me the judgments of justice, etc. - The "judgments of justice" denote divine Truths from Divine Good. Apocalypse Explained 946. See also Arcana Coelestia 612; True Christian Religion 51; Heaven and Hell 216.

3. [Saying] Wherefore have we fasted, and You seest not? have we afflicted our soul, and You dost not regard? Behold, in the day of your fasting, you find your pleasure; and all your demands you exact.

Verse 3. By "fasting" is signified to mourn by reason of a defect of Truth and of Good. Apocalypse Explained 1189.

4. Behold, you fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: do not fast as in this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

Verse 4. To "smite with the fist of wickedness", signifies to smite with full power by falsities from evil. By the "fist" is signified, full power from Truth in general. It is called general [or common] Truth, because it is generally received, and is everywhere of avail or power; hence to "smite with the fist" is with full force and power, in the spiritual sense, by Truths which are from Good; and, in the opposite sense, by falsities which are from evil, - in which sense it is understood in the above passage in Isaiah. Arcana Coelestia 9025.

5. Is this, then, the fast which I choose? a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it that he should bow down his head like a bulrush, and lie down in sackcloth and ashes? Wilt you call this a fast, a day well-pleasing to Jehovah?

6. Is not this the fast which I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the bruised go free, and that you break off every yoke?

Verse 5. Wilt you call this a fast, a day well-pleasing to Jehovah? - That by "good pleasure", or what is "well-pleasing" to Jehovah, when predicated concerning men, is signified to live according to His precepts, - which is to love God and our neighbour, is evident, for it is said that His "good pleasure", or what is "well-pleasing " to Him, is "to break bread to the hungry, and to cover the naked."

By "breaking bread to the hungry", is signified from a principle of love to do Good to our neighbour, who is in the desire of Good; and by "covering the naked", is signified to instruct in Truths him who desires to be instructed. Apocalypse Explained 295.

Verses 5-7. Whereas to "put on sackcloth"· and to "roll in ashes" represented mourning over evils and falsities, it also represented humiliation, and likewise repentance; for the first principle of humiliation on man's part is to acknowledge that, of himself, he is nothing but what is evil and false; and, in like manner, of repentance, which is not effected but by humiliation, and this by confession of the heart that, of himself, he is such. That to "put on sackcloth" was a representation of humiliation, see 1 Kings 21:27-29; that it was a representative of repentance, see Matthew 11:21; Luke 10:13; out that it was nothing else but a representative, thus only an external thing appertaining to the body, and not an internal thing appertaining to the heart, is evident from Isaiah:

"Is it that he should bow down his head like a bulrush, and lie down in sackcloth and ashes? Wilt you call this a fast, a day well-pleasing to Jehovah? Is not this the fast which I choose? - to loose the bonds of wickedness, to break bread to the hungry?" etc. Arcana Coelestia 4779.

7. Is it not to break your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the afflicted outcasts into your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from thine own flesh?

Verse 7. By "breaking bread to the hungry", is signified from charity to communicate and instruct those who are in ignorance, and, at the same time, in the desire of knowing Truths. To "bring the afflicted outcasts into the house"; signifies to amend and restore those who are in falsities, and thence in grief; "afflicted outcasts" denoting those who are in grief from falsities, for they who are in falsities stand without, whereas they who are in Truths are of the house, because the "house" is the intellectual mind, into which Truths only are admitted; for it is opened by Truths originating in Good. On account of which signification it is also added, "When you see the naked, that you cover him"; to be "naked" denoting to be without Truths, and to "cover the naked" is to instruct; for "garments", in the Word, signify Truths clothing, as may be seen above, Apocalypse Explained 295. Apocalypse Explained 386.

Those who press the literal sense of these words [as the only sense], believe that if they only break their bread to the hungry, and bring into their house the afflicted and wandering outcasts, and cover the naked, they shall, on that account, come into "the glory of Jehovah, or into heaven; whereas those deeds are only external, and can be done by the impious that they may merit heaven; but by the "hungry", the "afflicted", and the "naked", are signified those who are spiritually such, thus the different states of misery in which the man is who is the neighbour towards whom charity should be practised. Arcana Coelestia 3419.

8. Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and your justice shall go before you; the glory of Jehovah shall gather up your rear.

9. Then shalt you call, and Jehovah shall answer; you shalt cry out, and He shall say, Behold Me! If you remove from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and the speaking of iniquity;

Verse 8. The glory of Jehovah shall gather up your rear. - What is meant by these words, see above, Chapter 52:12, the Exposition.

10. And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness shall be as the noon-day;

Verse 10. To "draw [or press] out the soul to the hungry", and to "satisfy the afflicted soul", signifies to teach him who desires to know what is Good and True; by the "hungry is signified one who desires Good, and by the "afflicted" he who desires Truth; and by "drawing out the soul" is signified to teach those things, thus to draw them forth from the understanding, from doctrine, and from faith; for by "soul", in this passage, is denoted the life of the understanding. That those who are in ignorance, but still in the desire of receiving Truth, will receive the understanding of Truth and of Good, is signified by "then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness shall be as the noon-day"; "obscurity" and "darkness" denoting the ignorance of Truth and of Good, and " light" and "noon-day" are the understanding of them. Apocalypse Explained 750.

In these words is described the exercise of charity towards the neighbour; in this case, towards those who are in ignorance, and, at the same time, In the desire of knowing Truths, and in grief on account of the falsities which occupy the mind; and that with those who are in that charity, falsities shall be shaken off, and Truths give light and shine.

Charity towards those who are in ignorance, and, at the same time, in the desire of knowing Truths, is understood by "If you draw out your soul to the hungry"; the "hungry" denoting those who desire; "soul" denoting the intelligence of Truth instructing.

That it is thus to instruct those who are in grief on account of the falsities which occupy the mind, is signified by "If you satisfy the afflicted soul."

That with those who are in such charity, ignorance shall be dissipated, and Truths shine and give light, is understood by "your light shall rise in obscurity, and your darkness shall be as the noon-day"; "obscurity" signifies the ignorance of the spiritual mind, and "darkness" the ignorance of the natural mind; "light" signifies Truth in the light, in like manner "noon-day."

In such illustration are they who from charity or spiritual affection instruct those who are in falsities from ignorance; for that charity is the receptacle of the influx of light or Truth from the Lord. Apocalypse Explained 386.

11. And Jehovah shall lead you continually, and shall satisfy your soul in parched places; and He shall strengthen your bones: and you shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters deceive not.

Verse 11. He shall strengthen [or quicken] your bones; and you shalt be like a watered garden, etc. - By "bone" and "flesh" is signifIed the proprium of man, - by "bone" his intellectual proprium, and by "flesh " his will proprium, thus by "bone" his proprium as to Truth, for this is of his intellectual principle, and by "flesh" his proprium as to Good, for this is of his will, as may be seen in Arcana Coelestia 148, 149. As to what concerns the proprium in general, it is two-fold, the one infernal, the other celestial; man receives infernal proprium from hell, and celestial proprium from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord; for all evil, and every false principle thence derived, flows in from hell, and all Good, and Truth thence derived, flows in from the Lord.

That this is the case, is known to man from the doctrine of faith, but scarcely one in ten thousand believes it; hence it is that man appropriates to himself, or makes his own, the evil which flows in from hell, and that the Good which flows in from the Lord, does not affect him, consequently is not imputed to him.

The reason why man does not believe that evil flows in from hell, and Good from the Lord, is, because he is in self-love, which love is attended with this principle of unbelief, insomuch that it is exceedingly indignant when it hears it asserted that everything is the effect of influx; hence, then, it is, that all man's proprium. is nothing but evil, see Arcana Coelestia 210, 215. But the ground why man believes that evil is from hell, and Good from the Lord, is, because he is not in self-love, but in love towards his neighbour and towards the Lord, for this love is ever attended with this principle of belief; hence it is that man receives from the Lord a heavenly proprium, concerning which, see Arcana Coelestia 155, 164. This proprium, in each sense, is signified by "bone" and "flesh"; and this is the groundl and reason why by "bones", in the Word, is signified Truth, and, in an opposite sense, the false principle; and by "flesh" is signified Good, and, in an opposite sense, evil. That such is the signification of "bones", may appear from the following passages:

"Jehovah shall lead you continually, and shall satisfy your soul in parched places; and He shall strengthen [or quicken] your bones: and you. shalt be like a watered garden"; (Isaiah 58:11) where "strengthening [or quickening] the bones" denotes to vivify the intellectual proprium; that is, to illustrate it with intelligence; whence it is said that "you may be as a watered garden"; that "garden" denotes intelligence, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 100, 108, 1588.

Again, in the same Prophet:

"Then you shall see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall bud forth like the herb"; (Isaiah 66:14) where, by "bones budding forth like the herb", the same is signified as above. Arcana Coelestia 3812.

12. And they that spring from you shall build up the old waste places; you shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shalt be called the Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of paths to dwell in.

Verse 12. These words treat of the church in which charity and life are the essential. To "repair the breach", is to amend falsities which have crept in by the separation of what is Good from what is True, for everything false comes from this separation: to "restore paths to dwell in", signifies Truths which are of Good, for "paths" or "ways" are Truths, and to "dwell" is predicated of Good. Arcana Coelestia 4926.

13. If you turn your foot away from the Sabbath, from doing thine own pleasure on the day of My holiness; and shalt call the Sabbath a Delight to the Holy [One] of Jehovah, honourable; and shalt honour it, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Verse 13. To "turn away the foot from the Sabbath", denotes such things as are of the natural man; to "do his own pleasure [or will]", is to do those things which favour the lusts and evils of the loves of self and of the world; to "do his own ways, is to favour the falsities of evils; to "find his own pleasure", is to live according to the delights of those loves; and to "speak his own words", denotes to think such things. Hence it is evident that by "profaning the Sabbath" is signified to be led of themselves and of their own loves, and not of the Lord, who, in the supreme sense, is the "Sabbath."

Similar things are signified by "works" on the Sabbath day, as by "cutting wood", and "kindling a fire", and "preparing food" at that time, "gathering in the harvest", and by several other things which were forbidden to be done on the Sabbath day; by which also like things are understood, - by "cutting wood", the operating of good from themselves; by "kindling a fire", the doing of it from their own loves; and by "preparing food", teaching themselves from their own proper intelligence.

That such things are involved in the above prohibitions, no one can know but from the internal sense. It is further to be noted, that to be led of self and to be led of the Lord are two opposites; for he who is led by himself is led by his own loves, thus by hell, because the proper loves of man are from that source; but he who is led by the Lord is led by the loves of heaven which are love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour; he who is led by those loves is withdrawn from his own proper loves, and he who is led by his own proper loves is withdrawn from the loves of heaven, for they in no wise agree together; for the life of man is either in heaven or in hell, nor is it permitted to be at the same time in one and in the other.

This is meant by the Lord's words in Matthew:

"No one can serve two lords; for he will either hate the one and love the other, or he will adhere to the one and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24)

From these considerations it is evident what is signified by "doing work on the Sabbath day." When man is thus led by the Lord, and conjoined to Him, then the church and heaven are in him, which is signified by his being made to "ride upon the high places of the earth", and by his being" fed with the heritage of Jacob." Arcana Coelestia 10362; also 10360.

In the natural sense, which is that of the letter, the divine commandment to "remember the Sabbath day, and to keep it holy", signifies that six days are for man and his labours, and the seventh for the Lord and for man's rest in dependence on Him; for the word "Sabbath", in the original tongue, signifies rest.

The "Sabbath" among the children of Israel was the sanctity of sanctities, because it represented the Lord; the "six days" being significative of His labours and combats with the hells, and the "seventh" of His victory over them, and of the rest which He thereby attained; and because that "day" represented the close and period of the whole work of redemption accomplished by the Lord, it was esteemed holiness itself.

But when the Lord came into the world, and, in consequence, made all representations of Himself to cease, that day was then made a day for instruction in divine subjects, and thus also a day of rest from labours, and of meditation on matters that concern salvation and eternal life; and also a day for the exercise of love towards our neighbour. That it was made a day for instruction in divine subjects, is evident from this circumstance, that the Lord, on that day, "taught in the temple and in the synagogues"; (Mark 6:2; Luke 4:16, 31, 32; 13:10) and that He said to the man who was healed - "Take up your bed, and walk"; and to the Pharisees, that "it was lawful for His disciples on the Sabbath day to gather the ears of corn, and to eat"; [Matthew 12:1-9; Mark 2:23, to the end; Luke 6:1-6; John 5:9-19) which particulars signify, in the spiritual sense, to be instructed in doctrinals.

That that day was also made a day for the exercise of love towards our neighbour, is evident from what the Lord both "did and taught on the Sabbath day." (Matthew 12:10-13; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-12; 13:10-17; 14:1-6; John 5:9-19; 7:22, 23; 9:14-16)

From these and the foregoing passages it appears why the Lord said that "He is Lord also of the Sabbath"; (Matthew 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5) and from His making this declaration, it follows that the "Sabbath day" was representative of Him. True Christian Religion 301.

14. Then shalt you delight yourself in Jehovah; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob- your father: for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken it.

Verse 14. By "causing to ride upon the high places of the earth", is signified to give the understanding of superior or interior Truths concerning the things of the church and of heaven; and by "feeding with the heritage of Jacob", is signified to gift with all things of heaven and the church; for by the "heritage of Jacob" is understood the land of Canaan, and by that "land" is meant the church, and, in a superior sense, heaven. Apocalypse Explained 617.

That a "horse" signifies the understanding, and to "ride." means to be intelligent, see Chapter 31:1, the Exposition.

---
Isaiah Chapter 58.

1. CRY aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet, and declare unto My people their transgressions; and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2. Yet they seek Me daily, and the knowledge of My ways they desire, as a nation that has done justice, and has not forsaken the judgment of their God, that they might inquire of Me the judgments of justice; they delight in approaching to God.

3. [Saying] Wherefore have we fasted, and You see not? have we afflicted our soul, and You dost not regard? Behold, in the day of your fasting, you find your pleasure; and all your demands you exact.

4. Behold, you fast for strife and contention, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: do not fast as in this day, to make your voice to be heard on high.

5. Is this, then, the fast which I choose? a day for a man to afflict his soul? Is it that he should bow down his head like a bulrush, and lie down in sackcloth and ashes? Wilt you call this a fast, a day well-pleasing to Jehovah?

6. Is not this the fast which I choose, to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the bruised go free, and that you break off every yoke?

7. Is it not to break your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the afflicted outcasts into your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from thine own flesh?

8. Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and your justice shall go before you; the glory of Jehovah shall gather up your rear.

9. Then shalt you call, and Jehovah shall answer; you shalt cry out, and He shall say, Behold Me! If you remove from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and the speaking of iniquity;

10. And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in obscurity, and your darkness shall be as the noon-day;

11. And Jehovah shall lead you continually, and shall satisfy your soul in parched places; and He shall strengthen your bones: and you shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters deceive not.

12. And they that spring from you shall build up the old waste places; you shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shalt be called the Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of paths to dwell in.

13. If you turn your foot away from the Sabbath, from doing thine own pleasure on the day of My holiness; and shalt call the Sabbath a Delight to the Holy [One] of Jehovah, honourable; and shalt honour it, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

14. Then shalt you delight yourself in Jehovah; and I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob- your father: for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken it.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 58


Other references to this text:

Arcana Coelestia 2165, 3419, 4779, 5405, 5433, 7520, 9209, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 213, 323, 832


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 240, 295, 386, 637, 750

Scriptural Confirmations 13, 82

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  PDF Resources


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

2 Chronicles 28:11

Nehemiah 5:11

Job 31:19

Proverbs 11:17

Ezekiel 18:7

Jonah 3:8

Zechariah 7:9

Matthew 6:16, 25:35

James 2:16

Word/Phrase Explanations

a day
"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

day
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

soul
The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

head
The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

sackcloth
'Being clothed in sackcloth' signifies lamentation because of the devastation of truth in the church. 'Sackcloth,' as in Revelation 6:12, relates to destroyed good.

ashes
Ashes as in ('Ezekiel 27:30') signify what is condemned; because fire from which they are derived signify infernal love. Ashes of the furnace ('Exodus 9:8')...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

call
To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

bread
Just as natural food feeds the natural body, so spiritual food feeds the spiritual body. And since our spiritual body is the expression of what...

hungry
Food and drink in the Bible represent the desire for good and the understanding of what is true, which nourish and delight us spiritually the...

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

poor
'Poor' signifies someone who is not in truths, and people who are ignorant of good and truth, but desire instruction.

house
A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

naked
'Unclothed' signifies being deprived of the truths of faith.

cover
The "high mountains being covered " (Gen. 7:19) signifies that all the good things of charity were extin­guished.

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

flesh
Flesh has several meanings just in its most obvious form. It can mean all living creatures as when the Lord talks about the flood "destroying...

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