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 Christian Religion 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...

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

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.

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

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...

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.

greater
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;...

stars
'Stars' signify the knowledge of truth and good. 'Stars' are frequently mentioned in the Word, and always signify goods and truths, but in an opposite...

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 #3858

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

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3858. Since the subject in the verses that follow now is the twelve sons of Jacob, and since the twelve tribes of Israel were named after them as their fathers, let an introductory statement be made here about what the tribes mean and why there were twelve. Nobody as yet has known the arcanum lying within these considerations, for people have believed that the historical descriptions of the Word are purely history and hold nothing more of the Divine within them than their ability to be made to apply to matters of a holy nature when these are under discussion. Consequently they have also believed that the twelve tribes meant nothing else than the divisions of the Israelitish people into so many separate nations or general families, when in fact Divine realities are implied in those tribes. That is to say, those tribes mean so many universal divisions of faith and love and so mean things that constitute the Lord's kingdom in heaven and on earth, each tribe in particular meaning some universal division. But what exactly each tribe means will be evident from the verses that follow directly after this, where the subject is the sons of Jacob after whom the twelve tribes were named. In general the twelve tribes meant everything constituting the doctrine of truth and good, that is, of faith and love; for these - that is to say, truth and good, or faith and love - constitute the Lord's kingdom, since what are essentially matters of truth or faith constitute the whole of thought there, and what are essentially matters of good or love constitute the whole of affection. And because the Jewish Church was established so as to represent the Lord's kingdom the divisions of that people into twelve tribes therefore meant those things of His kingdom. This is an arcanum which has not previously been disclosed.

[2] Twelve means all things in general, as shown already in 577, 2089, 2129, 2130 (end), 3272, while 'tribes' means matters of truth and good, or of faith and love, so that 'the twelve tribes' means all of these. Let this meaning of 'the twelve tribes' be substantiated here from the Word before each one is dealt with individually. In John,

The holy city New Jerusalem, having twelve gates, and above the gates twelve angels, and names written which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. He measured the city with the measuring rod, twelve thousand stadia. And he measured its wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The twelve gates were twelve pearls. Revelation 21:12, 14, 16-17, 21.

'The holy city', or the New Jerusalem, means the Lord's new Church, as is evident from each detail of this description. Previous chapters refer to what the condition of the Church was going to be like before its end; this chapter refers to a new Church. That being so, 'the gates', 'the wall', 'the foundations' mean nothing else than things constituting the Church, which are those of charity and faith since these constitute the Church.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2129-2130)


[3] From this it may be clear to anyone that 'twelve' used so many times in that description, also 'tribes', and 'apostles' too, are not used to mean twelve, or tribes, or apostles, but that 'twelve' is used to mean all things in their entirety; see what has been shown in 577, 2089, 2129, 2130 (end), 3272. The same is true of the number 'a hundred and forty-four', for this is twelve twelves. And since 'twelve' means all things it is evident that 'the twelve tribes' means all things constituting the Church, which, as stated above, are truth and good, or faith and love. The same is also true of 'the twelve apostles' who as well represented all things constituting the Church, that is, all things of faith and love, see 2129, 3354, 3488, 3857. That number is therefore called 'the measure of a man, that is, of an angel', by which is meant a state of truth and good. For 'measure' means state, see 3104, and 'man' means that which constitutes the Church, as is evident from things said about the meaning of 'man' in 478, 479, 565, 768, 1871, 1894, and also from the fact that the Lord's kingdom is called the Grand Man, which it is called by virtue of good and truth which come from the Lord, dealt with at the ends of chapters in 3624-3649, 3741-3750. And 'angel' has the same meaning, 1705, 1754, 1925, 2821, 3039.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 478-479, Arcana Coelestia 2129-2130, Arcana Coelestia 3624-3648)


[4] As in John, so also in the Prophets, in the Old Testament Word, is the new Jerusalem referred to, where in a similar way the Lord's new Church is meant, as in Isaiah 65:18-19, and following verses; in Zechariah 14; and in particular in Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48, where the new Jerusalem, the new Temple, and a new earth describe in the internal sense the Lord's kingdom in heaven, and the Lord's kingdom on earth, which is the Church. The contents of those chapters, plainer than anywhere else, show what 'earth', 'Jerusalem', 'Temple', and everything in them meant, and also what 'the twelve tribes' means. For the subject of those chapters is the division of the land and the inheritance of it according to tribes, as well as the city and its walls, foundation, and gates, and everything that was to go with the Temple there. From those chapters let simply matters relating to the tribes be quoted here,

The Lord Jehovih said, This is the boundary of your inheritance of the land, according to the twelve tribes of Israel. You shall divide this land according to the tribes of Israel. But you shall divide it by lot as an inheritance, and for sojourners sojourning in your midst. They shall cast lots with you for an inheritance in the midst of the tribes of Israel. Ezekiel 47:13, 21-23.

As regards the land, it will be for the prince as a possession in Israel. And the princes will no longer oppress My people, and the land they will give to the house of Israel according to their tribes. Ezekiel 45:8.

Concerning inheritances and how they were assigned to individual tribes which are also referred to there by name, see Ezekiel 48:1 and following verses; and concerning the gates of the city which are named after the tribes of Israel, verses 31-34 of the same chapter.

(References: Ezekiel 41:1, 42:1, 43:1, 44:1, 45:1, 46:1, 47:1, Ezekiel 48:31-34)


[5] Quite plainly, when the tribes are spoken of here it is not the tribes who are meant, for by that time ten tribes had long since been scattered throughout the whole world, and had not subsequently returned. Nor can they possibly return, for they have become gentiles. And yet reference is made to each individual tribe, and to how it was to inherit the land and what its boundary was to be. What the boundary for the tribe of Dan was to be is stated in verse 2; what the boundary for the tribe of Asher was to be in verse 3; what those of Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, and Judah were to be, and concerning the inheritance of the Levites; and what the boundaries of Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, and Gad were to be in verses 4-29. In addition to all this that chapter declares that the city was to have twelve gates named after the tribes of Israel - three gates facing north, those of Reuben, Judah, and Levi; three gates facing east, those of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan; three gates facing south, those of Simeon, Issachar and Zebulun; and three gates facing west, those of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, in verses 31-34.

(References: Ezekiel 48:2, 48:3, 48:4-29, Ezekiel 48:31-34)


[6] From all this it is evident that 'the twelve tribes' means all things that belong to the Lord's kingdom, and so all that are matters of faith and love, for these constitute the Lord's kingdom, as stated above. Because the twelve tribes meant all things of the Lord's kingdom they also represented that kingdom by their encampments and by their travellings. In Moses it is said that they were to encamp according to the tribes around the Tent of Meeting - to the east, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; to the south, Reuben, Simeon, and Gad; to the west, Ephraim Manasseh, and Benjamin; and to the north, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, and as they were encamped so they travelled, Numbers 2:1-end. In all this they represented the Lord's kingdom, as is quite evident from Balaam's prophecy,

When Balaam lifted up his eyes and saw Israel dwelling according to tribes, the Spirit of God came upon him and he delivered his utterance, and said, How good your tabernacles are, O Jacob; your dwelling-places, O Israel! They are like valleys that are planted, like gardens beside a river, like aloes Jehovah has planted, like cedars beside the waters. Numbers 24:2-3, 5-6.

The fact that Balaam received from Jehovah these words spoken by him is explicitly stated in Numbers 22:8, 18-19, 35, 38; 23:5, 12, 16, 26; 24:2, 13.

(References: Numbers 2, Numbers 24:2-6)


[7] From this also it is evident what the inheritances of the land of Canaan according to tribes represented, in connection with which it is said in Moses that he was to take a census of the congregation of the children of Israel, according to their fathers' houses; a census of those twenty or more years old, everyone going into the army of Israel. The land was to be distributed by lot; according to the names of their fathers' tribes they were to receive an inheritance, Numbers 26:2, 7-56; 33:54; 34:19-29. And Joshua's actual division of the land by lot according to tribes is described in Chapters 13, 15, 19 of the Book of Joshua. From these particular details it is evident that the Lord's kingdom was represented, as has been stated; for the land of Canaan meant that kingdom, see 1585, 1607, 3038, 3481, 3705.

(References: Joshua 16:1, 17:1, 18:1)


[8] The reason why they are called 'armies' and why it is said that 'they encamped according to their armies and travelled according to their armies', Numbers 2:4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 15, 19, 21-23, 26, 28, 30, is that 'an army' had the same meaning [as 'a tribe'], namely truths and goods, see 3448. And the Lord is called Jehovah Zebaoth or 'Jehovah of Armies (or Hosts)' 3448. They were for these reasons called 'the armies of Jehovah' when they departed from Egypt, as in Moses,

It happened at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, on that same day it happened that all the armies of Jehovah were to come out of the land of Egypt. Exodus 12:41.

Anyone may recognize that such people in Egypt, and after that in the wilderness, were not called 'the armies of Jehovah' except in a representative sense, for no good or truth was present in them, the worst of all nations.

(References: Numbers 2:4-30)


[9] From this it is also quite evident what was meant by the names of the twelve tribes on Aaron's breastplate, which was called the Urim and Thummim. Concerning the breastplate the following is said in Moses,

There shall be four rows in it and twelve stones. These stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names. The engravings of a signet, for each one over its name, there shall be for the twelve tribes. Exodus 28:17, 21; 39:14.

For 'Aaron' represented the Lord's Divine priesthood, and therefore all the vestments worn by him as high priest meant Divine celestial and spiritual things. But the exact meaning of those vestments will in the Lord's Divine mercy be clear where they are the subject. Since the breastplate itself was most holy, the names of it were representations of all the essential characteristics of love and faith in the Lord. These are the Urim and Thummim. The reason why the names were engraved on the precious stones was that 'stones' in general meant truths, 1298, 3720, and 'precious stones' truths shining through from good, 114. And because the name of each individual tribe meant some essential characteristic, a specific stone was also allocated for each tribe, Exodus 28:17-20; 39:10-13, which expressed by means of its colour and transparence the characteristic meant by that tribe. This was how Jehovah or the Lord gave answers by means of the Urim and Thummim.

(References: Exodus 28:17-21, 39:8, 39:10-14)


[10] The two shoham stones which were on the two shoulder-pieces of the ephod had a similar representation but in a lesser degree than the twelve stones on the breastplate. For 'the shoulders' meant all power, and so the Lord's omnipotence, 1085, whereas 'the breast' or heart and lungs meant Divine celestial and spiritual love - 'the heart' Divine celestial love, 'the lungs' Divine spiritual love, see 3635 and the end of the present chapter where the Grand Man and its correspondence with the province of the heart and the province of the lungs is the subject. The two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod are referred to in Moses as follows,

You shall take two shoham stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel, six of the names on one stone and the remaining six names on the other stone, according to their births. You shall put two stones on the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. Exodus 28:9-12; 39:6-7.

(References: Exodus 28:9-10, 28:12)


[11] Because 'the tribes' meant what are essentially matters of truth and good, or faith and love, and each tribe meant some universal aspect of these, and since the tribe of Levi meant love, as will be evident from the explanation at verse 34 below, one can therefore recognize what was meant by their placing rods, one for each tribe, in the Tent of Meeting and by Levi's rod alone blossoming with almonds. All this is described in Moses as follows,

He was told to take twelve rods, one rod for each head of their fathers' houses, and these were to be left in the Tent of Meeting, the name of Aaron being written on the rod of Levi. Aaron's rod was placed in the middle of them. And the next day, behold, Aaron's rod for the tribe of Levi had blossomed; it had produced buds, 1 so that it flowered and produced almonds. Numbers 17:2-8.

These occurrences meant that love was the essential, also the first and foremost, thing of all in the Lord's kingdom and that love is the source of all fruitfulness. And the reason why Aaron's name was on the rod was that Aaron represented the Lord as regards His Divine priesthood. For by the Lord's priesthood is meant Divine Good, which essentially is His love and mercy, and by the Lord's kingship is meant Divine Truth which stems from Divine Good, see 1728, 2015 (end), 3670.

[12] From what has been introduced so far one may now see what 'tribes' and 'the twelve tribes' mean in the following places: In John,

I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of every tribe of Israel - twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Reuben, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Gad, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Asher, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Naphtali, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Manasseh, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Simeon, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Levi, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Issachar, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Benjamin. Revelation 7:4-8.

In Moses,

Remember the days of old, understand the years of generation after generation.

When the Most High gave to the nations an inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He fixed the boundaries of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. Deuteronomy 32:7-8.

In David,

Jerusalem, built as a city which is closely compacted together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of Jah, a testimony to Israel, to confess the name of Jehovah. Psalms 122:3-4.

[13] In Joshua, who was told,

The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass over before you into the Jordan. Take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from each tribe. And it will happen when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of Jehovah, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan will be cut off. They will stand in one heap. Joshua 3:11-17.

And further,

Take out of the midst of the Jordan, from the places where the priests' feet stood, twelve stones which you are to prepare and carry with you. And let each man take a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of Israel, that it may be a sign that the waters of the Jordan were cut off. Moreover Joshua set up twelve stones in the middle of the Jordan, beneath the places where the feet of the priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant had stood. Joshua 4:1-9.

Also in the description about Elijah,

Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word had come, Israel shall be your name; and he built an altar to the name of Jehovah. 1 Kings 18:31-32.

(References: Joshua 3:11-13, 4:3-9)


[14] That 'the tribes' means the goods of love and the truths of faith is also clear from the Lord's words in Matthew,

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory. Matthew 24:30.

Here 'all the tribes of the earth will mourn' means that the acknowledgement of truth and the life of good will not exist any longer, for the subject in that chapter is the close of the age. Similarly in John,

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, and those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will wail over Him. Revelation 1:7.

What 'coming in the clouds of heaven' means, see Preface to Genesis 18. See in addition what I have been shown from experience about the number 'twelve', in 2129, 2130.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2129-2130, Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[15] The reason why all things of faith and love are called 'tribes' is that the same expression in the original language also means a sceptre and a rod. For 'a sceptre' and also 'a rod' mean power, as will in the Lord's Divine mercy be shown elsewhere. For this reason the noun 'tribe' entails the idea that forms of good and truth possess within them all power from the Lord. And angels too are therefore referred to as 'powers' and also 'principalities', for 'princes' means the first and foremost aspects of charity and faith, such as the twelve princes descended from Ishmael, Genesis 25:16, see 2089, as well as the princes who were leaders of the tribes, Numbers 7; 13:4-16.

(References: Numbers 7:1)


[16] From what has been said up to now about the twelve tribes one can recognize why the Lord's disciples, who later on were called apostles, were twelve in number, and that like the tribes they represented the Lord's Church as regards goods and truths, 2129, 3354, 3488, 3857. 'Peter' represented faith, 'James' charity, and 'John' the works that flow from charity, see the Prefaces to Genesis 18, 22, and also 3750. This is also quite evident from the things which the Lord said about them and to them.

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Footnotes:

1. literally, flower

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(References: Genesis 29:31)

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Arcana Coelestia 3862, 3913, 4060, 4236, 4427, 4495, 4503, 4535, 4592, 4603, 4688, 4918, 5044, 5313, 5403, 5440, 5514, 6000, 6075, 6335, 6397, 6419, 6446, 6451, 6640, 7231, 7418, 7830, 7833, 7973, 8368, 8753, 8902, 9212, 9229, 9338, 9389, 9404, ...

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 Quotes: The Holy City
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