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 #4402

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

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4402. 'And he called it El Elohe Israel' means that it, that is to say, interior worship, originated in the Divine Spiritual. This is clear from the meaning of 'El Elohe', dealt with below, and from the meaning of 'Israel' as the spiritual, dealt with in 4286, 4292. The things stated so far in this chapter from verse 17 onwards appear there because the subject in the highest sense of the chapter is how the Lord made His Natural Divine. But since things in the highest sense which are concerned with the Lord are beyond the range of ideas present in a person's thought because such things are Divine, let them be illustrated by means of the kind of things that do fall more immediately within the range of a person's ideas. That is to say, let those things that are Divine be illustrated by means of the way in which the Lord regenerates man's natural. Indeed the regeneration of man, that is, of his natural, is also the subject here in the internal sense; for the regeneration of man is a model of the glorification of the Lord, 3138, 3212, 3296, 3490. In fact the Lord glorified Himself, that is, made Himself Divine, according to Divine order, according to which same order He also regenerates man, that is, makes him celestial and spiritual. Here the way in which He makes him spiritual is dealt with, for 'Israel' means that spiritual man.

[2] The spiritual man is not the interior rational man but the interior natural. The interior rational man is that which is called celestial. How the spiritual man and the celestial differ from each other has often been stated already. A person becomes spiritual through the joining of the truths residing with him to good, that is, through the joining of matters of faith to those of charity, a joining together which takes place within his natural. There exterior truths first are joined to good, and after that interior truths. The joining of exterior truths within the natural has been dealt with in verses 1-16 of this chapter, the joining of interior truths to good in verses 17-end. Interior truths are not joined to good except by means of an enlightenment entering through the internal man into the external. That enlightenment makes Divine truths visible in a purely general way, as when, to use a comparison, countless objects are seen by the eye as an obscure single whole devoid of any distinguishable features. This enlightenment making truths visible in a purely general way was meant by Esau's words to Jacob, 'Let me now place with you some of the people who are with me', and by Jacob's reply, 'Why so? Let me find favour in your eyes', dealt with in 4385, 4386.

(References: Genesis 33:1, 33:1-17, 33:17-20)


[3] On the point that the spiritual man, compared with the celestial, dwells in obscurity, see 2708, 2715, 2716, 2718, 2831, 2849, 2935, 2937, 3241, 3246, 3833. It is this spiritual man that is represented by 'Israel', 4286. The expression spiritual man is used because the light of heaven, which holds intelligence and wisdom within it, flows into those things with man which belong to the light of the world and causes those which belong to the light of heaven to be represented in those belonging to the light of the world, and in this way causes them to correspond. For regarded in itself the spiritual is the Divine Light itself which comes from the Lord, and therefore consists in intelligence which essentially is truth and as a consequence is wisdom. With the spiritual man however that light falls on things which are matters of faith with him and which he believes to be true, whereas with the celestial man it falls on the good of love. But although these considerations are clear to those who dwell in the light of heaven they are nevertheless obscure to those who dwell in the light of the world, and so to the majority at the present day. They are perhaps so obscure as to be barely intelligible. All the same, since they constitute the subject in the internal sense and are by nature as described, the exposition of them must not be left out. The time will come when people will be enlightened

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2715-2716)


[4] The reason why the altar was called El Elohe Israel and why interior worship originating in the Divine Spiritual was meant by it is that in the highest sense El Elohe is identical with the Divine Spiritual; as also is Israel. For 'Israel' means the Lord's Divine Spiritual, and in the representative sense the Lord's spiritual Church, or what amounts to the same, a person like that, see 4286, 4292. In the original language El Elohe means 'God God', and also, to be strictly literal, 'God of gods'. 1 In the Word Jehovah, or the Lord, is referred to in very many places by the singular name 'El', or else 'Eloah', as well as by the plural name 'Elohim'. Both names are sometimes used within the same verse or in the same section. A person who is not acquainted with the internal sense of the Word cannot know the reason why. Anyone may conclude that 'El' implies one thing, 'Eloah' another, and 'Elohim' another, from the consideration that the Word is Divine, that is, has its origin in the Divine, and that it is for that reason inspired as to every word, indeed as to the smallest part of every letter.

[5] What the name 'El' implies when it is used, or the name 'Elohim', may be seen from what has been shown in various places above, namely that El or Elohim - that is, God - is used when truth is the subject, see 709, 2586, 2769, 2807, 2822, 3921 (end), 4287. This is why in the highest sense El and Elohim mean the Divine Spiritual, this being the same as Divine Truth. The two names differ however in that 'El' means truth in will and action, which is the same as the good of truth, 4337, 4353, 4390. The plural form Elohim exists for the reason that by Divine truth is meant all the truths which come from the Lord. This is also the reason why in the Word angels are sometimes called elohim or gods, 4295, as will be further evident from places in the Word that are quoted below. Now because El and Elohim in the highest sense mean the Lord as regards truth, they also mean Him as regards power; for truth is the entity to which power is attributed. Indeed when exercising power good acts by means of truth, 3091, 4015. Therefore when in the Word reference is made to the power received from truth, the Lord is called El and Elohim, that is, God. Hence also it is that El in the original language means one who is powerful.

[6] The fact that the names El and Elohim, or God, are used in the Word where the Divine Spiritual is the subject, or what amounts to the same, Divine Truth, and Divine Power received from this, may be seen in addition from the following places,

God spoke to Israel in visions in the night. I am the God of gods (El Elohe) of your father, do not be afraid of going down into Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. Genesis 46:2-3.

Since these words are addressed to Israel, whom He is going 'to make into a great nation', and so the subject is truth and the power this possesses, El Elohe is used, which in the proximate sense means the God of gods. The fact that in the proximate sense Elohim means gods because it has reference to truths and to the power received from them, is also evident in the same author,

There Jacob built an altar, and called the place El Beth El, for there the Elohim were revealed to him, when he was fleeing from before his brother. Genesis 35:7.

And elsewhere in the same author,

Jehovah your God, He is God of gods, and Lord of lords, the God (El) who is great, powerful, and fearful. Deuteronomy 10:17.

Here 'God of gods' is expressed by Elohe Elohim, and after that 'God' by El, to whom greatness and power are attributed

[7] In David,

A great God (El) is Jehovah, and a great King above all gods (elohim), in whose hand are the deep places 2 of the earth; and the strength 3 of the mountains are His. Psalms 95:3-4.

The name 'God' or El is used here because reference is made to Divine Truth and the Power received from this, and also 'gods' because reference is made to subordinate truths. For in the internal sense 'a king' means truth, 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670. From this it is clear what 'a great King above all gods' implies. 'The deep places of the earth' too means the truths of the Church, which are called 'the strength of the mountains' from power rooted in good. In the same author,

Who in heaven will compare himself to Jehovah? Who will be likened to Jehovah among the sons of gods (elim). God (El) mighty in the secret place of the holy ones, O Jehovah God Zebaoth, who is strong as You are, O Jah? Psalms 89:6-8.

Here 'sons of gods (or of elim)' stands for Divine truths, to which, it is evident, power is attributed, since it is said 'God (El) mighty, Jehovah God of hosts, who is strong as You are?'

[8] Similarly elsewhere in the same author,

Give to Jehovah, O sons of gods, give to Jehovah glory and strength. Psalms 29:1.

In Moses,

They fell on their faces, and said, O God of gods (El elohe) of the spirits of all flesh. Numbers 16:22.

In David,

I said, You are gods (elohim), and sons of the Most High, all of you. Psalms 82:6; John 10:34.

Here they are called 'gods' from truths, for 'sons' means truths, 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2628, 3373, 3704. In the same author,

Confess the God of gods (Elohe elohim), confess the Lord of lords. Psalms 136:2-3.

In Daniel,

The king will act according to his own pleasure, and will uplift himself, and exalt himself above every god (el), and will speak astonishing things above the God of gods (El elohim). Daniel 11:36.

These quotations show that in the proximate sense El elohe means God of gods, and that in the internal sense 'gods' is used in reference to truths which come from the Lord.

(References: Numbers 14:22)


[9] The fact that the singular name El or God is used where the power which comes from Divine Truth is the subject, or what amounts to the same, from the Lord's Divine Spiritual, becomes clear from the following places: In Moses,

Let my hand be for God (El) to do you evil! Genesis 31:29.

And elsewhere,

Nor is there a hand for God (El). Deuteronomy 28:32.

And in Micah,

Let there be a hand for God (El). Micah 2:1.

'Let there be a hand for God' means, let there be power. For 'hand' means power, see 878, 3387, and 'hand' is used in reference to truth, 3091. In David,

I will set His hand in the sea, and His right hand in the rivers. He will cry to Me, You are My Father, My God (El), the Rock of My Salvation. Psalms 89:25-26.

This refers to power from truths. In the same author,

The wicked says in his heart, God (El) has forgotten; He has hidden His face; He never sees. Arise, O Jehovah God (El); lift up Your hand. For what reason does the wicked despise God (Elohim)? Psalms 10:11-13.

Here the meaning is similar.

[10] In the same author,

Jehovah is my rock (petra) and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God (El), my rock (rupes). Psalms 18:2.

This refers to power. In Isaiah, A residue will return, the residue of Jacob, to the God (El) of power. Isaiah 10:21.

In the same prophet,

To us a Boy is born, to us a Son is given, the government upon His shoulder; He will call His name, Wonderful, Counsellor, God (El), the Powerful One, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6.

In the same prophet,

Behold the God (El) of my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for He is my strength. Isaiah 12:2.

In the same prophet,

I am God (El) even from today; I am He, and nobody delivers from My hand; I work, and who will reverse it? Isaiah 43:12-13.

This refers to power. In Jeremiah, Great and powerful God (El), whose name is Jehovah of hosts. Jeremiah 32:18.

In the second Book of Samuel,

With my God (El) I will leap over the wall. God (El) is perfect in His way; the word of Jehovah is pure. Who is God (El) besides Jehovah? Who is a rock besides our God (Elohim)? God (El) is the strength of my refuge. 2 Samuel 22:30-33.

In Moses,

God (El) is not a man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not act? Or has He spoken, and will He not carry it out? He brought them out of Egypt; He has so to speak the strength of a unicorn. At that time it will be said to Jacob and to Israel, What has God (El) been doing? Numbers 23:19, 22-23.

This in the internal sense refers to power and to truth.

[11] And in the same author,

God (El) who brought him out of Egypt has as it were the strength of a unicorn. He will consume the nations, his enemies, and will break their bones, and smash their weapons. Numbers 24:8.

'Horns' and 'the strength of a unicorn' mean the power of truth that springs from good, see 2832. And there are many other places besides all these. Since most things in the Word also have a contrary sense, no less do 'god' and 'gods', names which are used when the subject is falsity and power from falsity, as in Ezekiel,

The gods (elim) of the mighty will speak to him in the midst of hell. Ezekiel 32:21.

In Isaiah,

You inflamed yourselves among the gods (elim) under every green tree. Isaiah 57:5.

Here the name 'gods' is used on account of falsities. Similar examples exist in other places.

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Footnotes:

1. 'El Elohe Israel may be understood in two different ways - 'God, the God of Israel' or 'Israel's God of gods'. Most English versions of the Bible prefer the first of these (e.g. in Genesis 46:3; Deuteronomy 10:17).

2. literally, the searchings

3. literally, the strengths

-----

(References: Genesis 33:20)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4400, 4538, 4544, 4559, 4560, 4581, 4964, 5249, 5827, 6098, 6256, 6289, 6716, 6742, 6827, 6854, 6904, 7010, 7016, 7091, 7166, 7193, 7194, 7268, 7313, 7873, 7975, 8192, 8241, 8301, 8330, 8658, 8760, 8765, 8864, 8867, 8875, 8904, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 185, 300


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 24, 32, 205, 220, 286, 298, 323, 401


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


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