The Bible

 

Genesis 1

English: King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.

12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.

16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.

17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,

18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.

19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.

23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

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   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, ...

Apocalypse Explained 257

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 402


Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 246, 300, 476, 478, 480, 670, 709, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 200, 414

Conjugial Love 132, 156

Divine Love and Wisdom 11, 18, 287, 358

Divine Providence 123, 328

Sacred Scripture 14, 103

Heaven and Hell 137

The Last Judgment 20

True Christianity 20, 34, 46, 48, 364, 490


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 229, 294, 401, 513, 526, 527, 555, ...

Canons of the New Church 45

Charity 91

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 23, 25, 28

De Verbo (The Word) 14

Spiritual Experiences 1973, 1974, 5605, 6110

Marriage 20, 34, 46, 48, 71

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:




Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 2:3, 7, 16, 19, 5:1, 2, 6:1, 21, 8:17, 9:1, 2, 3, 6, 11:7

Exodus 20:11

Deuteronomy 4:19, 32:4

2 Kings 19:15

2 Chronicles 2:11

Nehemiah 9:6

Job 12:7, 9, 26:8, 38:8

Psalms 8:4, 7, 19:2, 24:2, 33:6, 7, 9, 74:16, 95:5, 104:6, 14, 19, 25, 115:15, 16, 121:2, 136:5, 7, 9, 148:4, 7

Proverbs 8:29

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Isaiah 40:26, 45:7, 61:11

Jeremiah 4:23, 10:12, 31:35

Jonah 1:9

Zechariah 12:1

Matthew 19:4

Mark 4:28, 10:6

Luke 3:38

Acts of the Apostles 4:24, 17:29

1 Corinthians 11:7, 15:38

2 Corinthians 4:6, 6:14

Colossians 3:10

1 Timothy 4:4

Hebrews 6:8, 11:3

James 3:9

2 Peter 5, 6

Revelation 4:11

Word/Phrase Explanations

beginning
In the Word, "beginning" doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a spiritual...

god
The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

created
The creation of heaven and earth in the first chapter of Genesis means the new creation of the celestial church called 'Man'.

heaven
Heavens are celestial and spiritual things. Consequently, they are inmost things, both of the Lord's kingdom in heaven the and in the earth. This also...

form
A person who has yet to be regenerated is called 'a void and an empty earth', and also 'ground where no good or truth has...

darkness
"Darkness" is a state without light. "Light" is truth from the Lord, so "darkness" is a state where truth is lacking.

Face of the deep
The face of the deep (Gen. 1:2) signifies the lust of the unregenerate man, and the falsities thence originating.

face
“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

Spirit of God
'The spirit of God,' as in Genesis 1:2, signifies the divine mercy of the Lord. 'The spirit of God' is His emanation. 'The spirit of...

Face of the waters
The face of the water (Gen. 1:2) signifies the knowledges of good and truth.

waters
'Waters,' 'rivers,' and 'depths,' as in Psalm 78:15-16, signify truths from the Lord.

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

light
Nov. 4, 1879: Thomas Edison filed a patent for a long-burning light bulb. Nov. 5, 1879: The light bulb was universally accepted as the symbol...

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

called
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

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...

night
The sun in the Bible represents the Lord, with its heat representing His love and its light representing His wisdom. “Daytime,” then, represents a state...

Evening
Since the light and warmth of the sun represent the Lord’s wisdom and love, it makes sense that evening, a time when the light and...

morning
Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

Firmament
The firmament, as in Genesis 1, signifies the internal man. The firmament of heaven is mutual love.

midst
The "midst" of something in the Bible represents the thing that is most central and most important to the spiritual state being described, the motivation...

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...

Gathered together
'The waters were gathered together' signifies falsities collected.

one
A company might have executives setting policy and strategy, engineers designing products, line workers building them, managers handling personnel and others handling various functions. They...

place
'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

land
'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

seas
Water generally represents what Swedenborg calls “natural truth,” or true concepts about day-to-day matters and physical things. Since all water ultimately flows into the seas,...

herb
Every herb in the Word signifies some species of scientifics. 'Herb bearing seed,' as mentioned in Genesis 1:29, signifies every truth which regards use. 'Green...

seed
'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

fruit
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

tree
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

Third day
'The third day' signifies the end of a state of preparation for reception, and so an end of purification, as in Exodus 19:16. 'The third...

third
'Three' denotes fullness, and 'a third,' not full.

lights
'The two luminaries' denote love and faith in the internal self.

signs
'A token,' as in Genesis 9:12, 13, 17, signifies causing it to be.

two
The number "two" has two different meanings in the Bible. In most cases "two" indicates a joining together or unification. This is easy to see...

Great lights
Great lights, as in luminaries, signify love and faith, and are called in Genesis 1:14-17, the sun, moon, and stars.

great
The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

give
Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

fourth
'The fourth watch' signifies the first state of the church at break of day, when good begins to act by truth.

Fowl
Fowl signify spiritual truth; a bird, natural truth; and a winged thing, sensual truth. Fowl signify intellectual things. Fowl signify thoughts, and all that creeps...

fly
To fly, when spoken of the Lord, signifies to foresee and to provide. To fly, when predicated of the Lord, also signifies omnipresence. To fly...

Open
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

whales
'A whale,' as in Jeremiah 51:34, signifies people who possess the universal aspects of the knowledges of faith, as known, and apply them to evil...

winged
'Wings' signify spiritual truths. 'Wings,' when related to the Lord, signify the divine spiritual. In the opposite sense, 'wings' relate to falsities and rationalizations from...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

fruitful
To be fruitful is predicated of goodnesses, and to be multiplied, of truths.

multiply
'Spreading themselves on the earth,' as in Genesis 8:17, signifies the internal self operating on the external.

fill
There are two ways something can be filled: It can be filled with something bad against the wishes of its owner, or it can be...

beast
"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...

us
Because people are governed by angels and spirits, in Genesis 1:26 it says 'let us make man into our image.' But because the Lord alone...

Image
'An image' signifies falsities from self-derived intelligence.

sea
'The sea and the waves roaring' means heresy and controversies in the church and individual.

air
"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

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...

female
Because of their understanding of spiritual marriage, the people of the Most Ancient church perceived 'male and female' as two faculties in the spiritual self:...

a
A help-meet for him,' or 'a help as before him,' as mentioned in Genesis 2:18, signifies proprium, or what is one's own. However, whereas the...

sixth
Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

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.


 Animals and Plants in Heaven
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Celebrating the Seven Days of Creation
Offers a wide array of ideas for play time, art projects, field trips, and more.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Correspondences of Light
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that talk about light. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Creation Chain
Make a paper chain with the names (or pictures) of the people in your family and other things that the Lord has made. Or make a paper chain that illustrates several things in creation that depend on one another. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Diorama
A great family project to build and display in your home.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Mobile
Assemble this lovely mobile to remind you of all the Lord's precious gifts to us.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Creation Poem with Hand Motions
A lovely poem about creation with hand motions.
Activity | Ages up to 10

 Creation | Seas to Trees Pop-up
Color cut-and-fold pop-up project showing dry land rising out of the water and then growing a tree illustrating Genesis 1:9-13. Sample activity from Creation: reflection of God, Level C, ages 11-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Creation Sequencing Cards
Children can color and cut out these cards, then practice putting them in order from day 1-7.
Activity | Ages 4 - 10

 Creation Story (circle book project)
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Creation | The First Day - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness game and song, separate light and darkness collage, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level A, ages 3-6.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 6

 Creation | The First Day - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: light and darkness experiment with accompanying video, let there be light folding paper project, scripted story discussion, coloring page, and a memory verse. Sample lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level B, ages 7-10.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Creation | The First Day - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: living in the dark--group blindfold games, video and discussion on the bible, creation and a can of peaches, scripted story discussion, and an illustrated quotation card. Sample Lesson from Creation: reflection of God, Level C.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Family Worship: The Story of Creation
Ideas for reading and discussing the story of creation in Genesis 1. Includes suggestions for extending the experience such as going for a nature walk.
Religion Lesson | Ages 3 - 15

 God Said What? The Creation Story
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Memory Verse: Giving Thanks for Creation
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Memory Verse: Life Is Eternal
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Overview of Creation Reflection of God Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14
Overview of Creation: reflection of God, Levels A, B, C for ages 3-14.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 14

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Quotes: Giving Thanks for Creation
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Summary of Creation and Thankfulness
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Sun and the Fruit of Creation
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Thankfulness
A Thanksgiving "wreath" to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Thanking the Lord for Creation
How can your words and actions show the Lord that you appreciate His creation?
Activity | Ages over 15

 The Creation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Creation: A General View
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

 The Creation: The Fifth and Sixth Days
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

 The Creation: The First Four Days
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

 The Days of Creation Collage Book or Mural
Ideas from an art teacher for making a creation book or mural.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fifth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The First Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The First Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Fourth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Fourth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Greatest Gift
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Meaning of the Tree of Life
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Purpose of Creation
Birth brings a person into the natural world, but God's ultimate purpose is that a person be born again into heavenly life, the life of the spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Second Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Second Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Seven Days of Creation
An illustrated story of the seven days of creation.
Story | Ages 3 - 7

 The Sixth Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Sixth Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Story of Creation
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Story of Creation: Family Worship Ideas
Detailed notes on the seven days of creation.
Article | Ages over 18

 The Third Day of Creation
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Third Day of Creation
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Universe
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Word Made Flesh
Like Genesis, the Gospel of John begins with creation. While Genesis describes the creation of natural light, John describes a second creation into spiritual light.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Two Great Lights
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Using the Lord’s Creation
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Where Did Everything Come From?
Grandpa explains to Annika and Peter where everything came from.
Story | Ages 4 - 6

 Why Are We Here?
Lesson and activities to explore why we were created - what God intends for us.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

Commentary

 

Resurrection, the first      

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'Resurrection' signifies salvation and eternal life. 'The first,' mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, does not mean a first resurrection, but the essence and primary part of resurrection, which is salvation and eternal life. There is only one resurrection to life. A second does not happen, and is not mentioned anywhere in the Word.

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 851; Revelation 20:5-6)

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #2180

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

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2180. 'And took a young bull, tender and good' means a celestial-natural which the rational took to itself in order that it might join itself to perception from the Divine. This is clear from the meaning of 'a young bull' or 'a son of an ox' in the Word as natural good. And because the subject is the Lord's Rational, it is called 'tender' from the celestial-spiritual, which is truth grounded in good, and 'good' from the celestial itself, which is good itself. Within the genuine rational there is both the affection for truth and the affection for good, but that which is first and foremost there is the affection for truth, as shown already in 2072. This explains why 'tender' is mentioned before 'good'; but even so, as is quite usual in the Word, both are mentioned on account of the marriage of truth and good which is referred to above in 2173.

(References: Numbers 15:2)


[2] That 'a young bull' or 'a son of an ox' means the celestial-natural, or what amounts to the same, natural good, becomes especially clear from the sacrifices, which were the principal representatives in the worship of the Hebrew Church and after this of the Jewish Church. Their sacrifices were made either from the herd or from the flock, thus from animals of various kinds that were clean, such as oxen, young bulls, he-goats, sheep, rams, she-goats, kids, and lambs, besides doves and fledgling pigeons. All of these creatures meant the internal features of worship, that is, celestial and spiritual things, 2165, 2177, those from the herd meaning celestial-natural, those from the flock celestial-rational. Because both of these - natural things and rational things - are more and more interior and are various, so many genera and so many species of these creatures were therefore employed in sacrifices. This fact becomes clear also from its being laid down as to which creatures were to be offered in burnt offerings and also which in every kind of sacrifice - the daily sacrifices; those offered on sabbaths and at festivals; those made as free-will, eucharistic, or votive offerings; and those offered in purifications, cleansings, and also in inaugurations. Which creatures were to be used, and how many, in each kind of sacrifice is mentioned explicitly. This would never have been done unless each one had had some specific meaning, as is quite evident from those places where the sacrifices are the subject, as in Chapter 29 of Exodus; Chapters 1, 3, 4, 9, 16, and 23 of Leviticus; and Chapters 7, 8, 15, and 29 of Numbers. But this is not the place to explain what each one meant. The situation is similar in the Prophets where those animals are mentioned, from which it may become clear that young bulls meant celestial-natural things.

[3] That none but heavenly things were meant becomes clear also from the cherubim seen by Ezekiel and from the living creatures before the throne which were seen by John. Regarding the cherubim the prophet says,

The likeness of their faces was the face of a man (homo); and they four had the face of a lion on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; and they four had the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 1:10.

Regarding the four living creatures before the throne John says,

Around the throne were four living creatures - the first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a young bull, the third living creature had a face like a man (homo), the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle - saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and who is, and who is to come. Revelation 4:7-8.

Anyone may see that holy things were represented by the cherubim and these living creatures, thus also by the oxen and young bulls in the sacrifices. The same applies in the prophecy of Moses concerning Joseph,

Let it come upon the head of Joseph and upon the crown of the head of the Nazirite among his brothers. The firstborn of his ox has honour, and his horns are the horns of a unicorn; with these he will thrust the peoples together, to the ends of the earth. Deuteronomy 33:16-17.

These words are not intelligible to anyone unless he knows what ox, unicorn, horns, and many other things mean in the internal sense.

(References: Revelation 4:6-8)


[4] As for sacrifices in general they were indeed commanded to the Israelites through Moses. But the Most Ancient Church which existed before the Flood never knew anything at all about sacrifices, nor did it ever enter their minds to worship the Lord by the slaughtering of animals. The Ancient Church which existed after the Flood knew nothing about it either. Representatives did indeed exist there, but not sacrifices. These were first introduced in the subsequent Church called the Hebrew Church, and from there they spread to the gentile nations, and even to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and so to Jacob's descendants. The fact that the gentile nations had sacrificial worship has been shown in 1343, and the fact that Jacob's descendants also had such worship before they left Egypt, thus before sacrifices were commanded through Moses on Mount Sinai, becomes clear from Exodus 5:3; 10:25, 27; 18:12; 24:4-5.

(References: Exodus 10:25-26, 10:25-27)


[5] This is especially clear from their idolatrous worship in front of the golden calf, regarding which the following is said in Moses,

Aaron built an altar in front of the calf, and Aaron made a proclamation and said, Tomorrow there will be a feast to Jehovah. And they rose up early the next morning and presented burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Exodus 32:5-6.

This happened while Moses was on Mount Sinai, and so before the command came to them regarding the altar and the sacrifices. That command came to them for the reason that sacrificial worship among them had been turned, as it had among the gentiles, into idolatrous worship, from which they could not be drawn away because they looked upon it as-the chief holy thing. Once something has been implanted in people from their earliest years as being holy, the more so if received from their fathers, and thus is inrooted, the Lord in no way breaks it - provided it is not contrary to order itself - but bends it. This was the reason for its being laid down that the sacrificial system should be established, such as one reads in the books of Moses.

[6] The fact that sacrifices were by no means acceptable to Jehovah, and so were merely permitted and tolerated for the reason just stated, is quite evident in the Prophets. Concerning them the following is said in Jeremiah,

Thus said Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel, Add your burnt offerings on to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. I did not speak with your fathers and I did not command them on the day I brought them out of the land of Egypt on the matters of burnt offering and sacrifice. But this matter I commanded them, saying, Obey My voice, and I will be your God. Jeremiah 7:21-23.

In David,

O Jehovah, sacrifice and offering You have not desired; burnt offering and sin-sacrifices You have not sought. I have delighted to do Your will, O my God. Psalms 40:6, 8.

In the same author,

You do not delight in sacrifice that I should give it; burnt offering You do not accept. The sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit. Psalms 51:16-17.

In the same author,

I will not take any young bull from your house, nor he-goats from your folds. Sacrifice to God confession. Psalms 50:9, 14; 107:21-22; 116:17; Deuteronomy 23:18.

In Hosea,

I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6.

Samuel said to Saul,

Has Jehovah great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices? Behold, to be submissive is better than sacrifice, to be obedient than the fat of rams. - 1 Samuel 15:22.

In Micah,

With what shall I come before Jehovah and bow myself to God on high? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will Jehovah be pleased with thousands of rams, with tens of thousands of rivers of oil? He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does Jehovah require of you but to carry out judgement, and to love mercy, and to humble yourself by walking with your God? Micah 6:6-8.

(References: Deuteronomy 23:19; Psalms 50:13-14)


[7] From these quotations it is now evident that sacrifices were not commanded but permitted, and also that in sacrifices nothing else was regarded except that which was internal, and that it was that which was internal that was pleasing, not that which was external. For this reason also the Lord abolished them, as was also foretold through Daniel in the following words when he was speaking about the Lord's Coming,

In the middle of the week He will cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease. Daniel 9:27.

See what has been stated about sacrifices in Volume One, in 922, 923, 1128, 1823. As for 'the young bull' which Abraham made ready or prepared for the three men, the meaning is similar to that of the same animals when used in sacrifices. That it had a similar meaning becomes clear also from the fact that he told Sarah to take three measures of fine flour. Regarding the fine flour that went with the offering of a young bull the following is said in Moses - referring to when they were to come into the land,

When you make ready a young bull for a burnt offering or a sacrifice in the declaring of a vow, or for peace offerings to Jehovah, you shall bring with the young bull a minchah of three tenths of fine flour mixed with oil. Numbers 15:8-9.

Here similarly the number 'three' appears, though three 'tenths' here but three 'measures' in Abraham's instruction to Sarah. But only two tenths went with the offering of a ram, one tenth with that of a lamb, Numbers 15:4-6.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 922-923, Genesis 18:7; Numbers 15:2)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 2183, 2184, 2276, 2566, 2776, 2781, 2805, 2818, 2830, 3218, 3309, 3519, 4210, 4264, 4378, 4433, 4488, 4489, 4502, 4581, 4874, 5198, 5642, 5895, 5943, 5998, 6357, 6413, 6767, 6905, 7424, 7523, 7726, 7781, 7872, 8075, 8680, 8801, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 221


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 329, 391, 537, 559, 700

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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