The Bible

 

Genesis 1

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

Genesis 1: The Creation and Development of our Spiritual Life      

By Rev. William Woofenden

The first book of the Bible is "Genesis", which means "creation". It's a very, very ancient story - one of the oldest stories of humankind, and it's full of symbolic meaning that - still - gets to the core of what it is to be truly human.

The first three days of creation describe the development of the natural degree of man's life. They come first as a preparation for the opening of the spiritual degree of our minds. The creation of the grass, herbs, and trees took place on the third day, and constitutes the third step in regeneration. The creation of the fowl and fish was on the fifth day. Between these on the fourth day the sun, moon, and stars were created.

From the beginning man had light, for all light is from the Lord, but it was not direct light. He was not at first in the clear light of the sun, moon, and stars, which are set in the firmament. The firmament is the internal man. There is a preparation that has to be made before the internal man is opened. At first we think we see the truth and do good from ourselves. Hence only inanimate things are produced. All truth and good are from the Lord who alone is truth and goodness, and only when we come to acknowledge this can we have true love from him, true faith in Him, and true knowledge of spiritual things. These are not seen from the external or natural degree of life.

Again we should note a change of language. It was said, "Let the earth bring forth" the grass, herb, and fruit trees. Now and through the remaining days it is said that "God created." Man has a part to play in his regeneration. There must be in his mind forms into which the warmth of love and the light of faith and of spiritual truths can flow.

When the mind is so prepared, influx from the Lord can be received, with greater power. "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." It should be noted that it is the waters that are commanded to bring forth the moving creature that hath life, and that it is not the seas but the waters which are to produce the living creatures. The seas represent the gathering together of knowledges, but by the "waters" are meant the spiritual truths in the mind. So in the Lord's words to the woman of Samaria, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst" (John 4:14). In Ezekiel it is the "waters" issuing from the sanctuary that give life (Ezekiel 47:1). The Psalmist writes, "Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters" (Psalm 104:3). It is not in natural waters that the Lord lays the beams of His chambers. His chambers are the interior principles of His church; the beams give them support and strength. These are said to be laid in the waters because they rest and have their foundation in the genuine truths of the Word. So in Revelation the Word itself is described as a pure river of water of life.

The will faculty in man embraces all his affections and is the internal man. When the sun, moon, and stars—love, faith, and knowledges of spiritual truth—are set in this heaven and begin to impart their warmth and light to the external man, enabling him to think and act from these higher and purer principles, then the external man is gifted with a new life. There may be no apparent change in his outward conduct—he may already be living a moral life—but the motives that direct his acts will be wholly different. And it is the motive that gives character to the act as well as to the actor. He no longer thinks of the truths that he has learned, either natural or spiritual, as the product of his own mind nor of the good, that he does as the result of his own efforts, but thinks of them as wholly from the Lord, who alone is the source of all true light and life.

Before one recognizes clearly that all good and truth come from the Lord, he can bring forth only inanimate things, the grass, herb, and fruit tree, however good and useful these may be. But when he is enlightened by genuine love and faith, his knowledges become the basis for the development of spiritual life and God can create in him the living creatures that have life. First the fishes are created; then the fowl of the air. There is a difference between fishes and birds. The fishes, living in water, represent our affections for natural truths. The great whales, the largest of living creatures, are affections for the great general principles that control the mind. The principle may be either true or false. Of Pharaoh or Egypt it is written, "Thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou earnest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouled at their rivers" (Ezekiel 32:2) Here is pictured a ruling false principle from the natural degree of the mind — Egypt. That is, when the ruling principle is false, it will be a monster making the truths in the mind obscure like filthy or muddy waters.

Another example of the meaning of the whale in a bad sense is in the story of Jonah. When the principle is false it swallows up for a time all the truths that are in the mind. This is the whale swallowing Jonah the prophet. But Divine truth cannot be used by a false principle so as to become a part of its organic structure. Nor can the Divine truth perish. So the whale could not digest Jonah, nor could the prophet perish, but the whale vomited him up.

Spiritually there are whales trying to swallow prophets today, evil principles that try to use Divine truths to attain their ends. In the creation story, however, the whales are affections for the principles of natural truth for the sake of uses to the spiritual man. There is one source of genuine love. The creatures of the fifth day are living because they are animated by this love. Birds fly in the air above the earth. They have the power of flight and enjoy broader views. They represent affections for truth that rise above the natural. They are the thoughts that look at life from the heights of spiritual perception, ideas about the Lord, heaven, and spiritual things. Isaiah writes, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles" (Isaiah 40:31). Birds represent spiritual intelligence, the power to lift us up to understand spiritual truth in heavenly light, through which truth the Lord can impart to us something of the Divine intelligence. So at the baptism of the Lord "The heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him" (Matthew 3:16). So a new knowledge of heavenly life is given, a new perception of our possibilities, and in this higher intelligence a basis for further development is laid. This further development is pictured in the creation of the living creatures upon the earth. These are symbols of the affections. Here, too, it is said, "Let the earth bring forth" and also "And God made the beast of the earth." The creation of living animals on the earth and of man in the image and likeness of God marks the completion of the six days of creation—the six stages in regeneration. Man has first to learn what is to be believed and done and then to do it.

It is the office of the understanding to hear the Word and of the will to do it. In this way the truths are made our own, and the will and understanding make one mind. And when one begins to act from love as well as from faith, he becomes a spiritual man, who is called an image of God, and is given dominion over all things. Thus all things natural and spiritual come to be a delight to him and serviceable to him. To be an image and likeness of God one must act from impulses similar to those of God. This he cannot do until he comes into the final state of regeneration. Then he will not act from selfish motives, as does the natural man, nor from mere obedience to truth, but from love to the Lord and the neighbor. When these loves are developed and rule, to them is given the dominion over all subordinate affections and the fruits of all the growths of intelligence. These are what make man to be a man and cause him to be in the image and likeness of his Maker. Each step in the formation of a truly human character the Lord saw and pronounced good, but of the work of the sixth day it is said, "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."

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

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 14, 103

Heaven and Hell 137

The Last Judgement 20

True Christian Religion 20, 34, 46, 48, 364, 490


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

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

Related 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

Bible Word Meanings

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
When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

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

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

earth
Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

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" represents a state where truth is lacking. Here's a cogent passage...

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.

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
In the Word, “light” in the highest sense represents Divine Truth: knowledge, ideas, understanding that come to us from the Lord. In lesser degrees...

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...

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
Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

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,...

grass
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...

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
We tend to think of "fruit" in two ways in natural language. One is as food that grows on trees and vines, sweet and delicious,...

tree
'Trees,' in general, signify the perceptions when discussing the celestial self, but when related to the spiritual church, they signify knowledges. A person in the...

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.

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

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;...

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;...

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 number "four" in the Bible represents things being linked together or joined. This is partly because four is two times two, and two represents...

life
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

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...

living
'Lives' is used in the plural, because of the will and understanding, and because these two lives make one.

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
Angels do give us guidance, but they are mere helpers; the Lord alone governs us, through angels and spirits. Since angels have their assisting role,...

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...

male
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:...

male and 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:...

female
Female signifies good.

given
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...

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...

Videos from the Swedenborg Foundation

The videos shown here are provided courtesy of our friends at the Swedenborg Foundation. You can find out more about them here: swedenborg.com.


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The Biblical creation story is about the re-creation of our minds. Learn how the first signs of life on the third day symbolize heavenly ideas taking root in our lives.


Swedenborg 101: The Basic Nature of Everything - Swedenborg and Life

In this episode, host Curtis Childs and featured guests explore what eighteenth-century Christian mystic and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg learned during his mystical explorations of the spiritual world. They delve into his life, spiritual awakening, and resulting philosophies about the relationship between this life and the afterlife.


What the 7 Days of Creation Mean - Swedenborg and Life

Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


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Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


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Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


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Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


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Was everything we see around us really created in seven days? Could that story in Genesis actually have something to say to each of us, right now? Join us as we discuss Swedenborg's accounts of his spiritual experiences and what he learned through them.


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Is there a religious call to exploit nature? Here, Swedenborg tackles a bit of text that has led some people to believe just that.

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

 Men and Women Are Different
Studies confirm that differences between men and women extend beyond the physical body, affecting engagement on all levels of life.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 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

 Qualities of the Lord
Look at colored pictures of stories from the Word. Using a word bank, identify the quality of the Lord shown in each picture.
Project | Ages 9 - 14

 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
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Apocalypse Explained #257

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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257. Because in this prophetical book numbers are often mentioned; and as no one can know the spiritual sense of what is contained in those numbers unless he knows what the particular numbers signify; for all numbers in the Word, as well as all names, signify spiritual things; and because the number seven is often mentioned amongst others, I am desirous here of showing that seven signifies all, and all things, also what is full and complete for that which signifies all, and all things, signifies also what is full and complete. For what is full and complete is said of the magnitude of a thing, and all and all things of multitude.

That the number seven has such a signification is evident from the following passages. In Ezekiel:

"The inhabitants of the cities of Israel shall set fire to and burn the arms, the shield also and the buckler, with the bow and the arrows, and with the hand-staff, and with the spear; and they shall kindle a fire with them seven years; and they shall bury Gog and all his multitude, and they shall cleanse the land seven months" (39:9, 11, 12).

The subject here treated of is the desolation of all things in the church. The inhabitants of the cities of Israel signify all the goods of truth, to set on fire and burn signifies to consume by evils. The arms, the shield, the buckler, the bows, the arrows, the hand-staff, the spear, denote everything pertaining to doctrine; to kindle fire with them seven years denotes to consume them all and fully by evils. Gog signifies those who are in external worship, and in no internal worship; to bury them and cleanse the land denotes to destroy them all, and completely to purge the church of them.

(References: Ezekiel 39:11-12; Revelation 3:22)


[2] In Jeremiah:

"Their widows shall be multiplied more than the sand of the seas, and I will bring to them upon the mother of the youths the waster at noon-day. She who hath borne seven shall languish, she shall breathe out her soul" (15:8, 9).

By the widows which will be multiplied are signified those who are in good and desire truths, and, in the opposite sense, as in the present case, those who are in evil and desire falsities. By the mother of the youths is signified the church; by the waster at noon-day is signified the vastation of that church, however much they may be in truths from the Word. By she that hath borne seven shall languish, she shall breathe out her soul, is signified that the church, to which all truths were given because the Word was given them, should perish; for she that hath borne seven signifies those to whom all truths were given. This is specifically said concerning the Jews.

(References: Jeremiah 15:8-9)


[3] Similarly, in the first book of Samuel:

"They that were hungry ceased, so that the barren hath borne seven, and she that hath many children hath failed" (2:5).

The hungry who ceased denote those who desire the goods and truths of the church; the barren who hath borne seven signifies those who are outside the church and are ignorant of truths because they have not the Word, as the Gentiles, to whom all things will be given; she that hath many children failing signifies those who have truths, from whom they will be taken away. Again, in David:

"Render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom" (79:12).

And in Moses,

That the Jews should be punished seven times for their sins (Leviticus 26:18, 21, 24, 28);

seven times here signifying fully.

[4] In Luke:

"And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent, thou shalt forgive him" (17:4).

Here, to forgive seven times, if he shall return seven times, denotes to forgive as often as the offender should return, and thus at all times. But lest Peter should understand seven times to be meant by these words, the Lord explains His meaning to him, as recorded in Matthew:

"Peter said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times, but until seventy times seven " (18:21, 22).

Seventy times seven is always, without counting. In David:

"Seven times a day do I praise thee for the judgments of justice" (Psalms 119:164).

Seven times a day denotes always, or at all times.

(References: Matthew 18:21-22)


[5] Again:

"The sayings of Jehovah are pure sayings, as silver refined in a furnace of earth, purified seven times" (Psalms 12:6).

Here silver signifies truth from the Divine: purified seven times denotes that it is altogether and fully pure.

[6] In Isaiah:

"The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days" (30:26).

The light of the sun signifies Divine truth from Divine good: and that this light should be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, signifies that the Divine truth in heaven should be without any falsity, thus that it should be altogether and fully pure.

[7] In Matthew,

The unclean spirit "shall take with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and he shall dwell there" (12:45; Luke 11:26).

Here profanation is treated of, and by the seven other spirits with which the unclean spirit is said to return are signified all falsities of evil, thus a plenary destruction of good and truth.

[8] Similar is the signification of the seven times which were to pass over the king of Babylon, in Daniel,

"His heart shall be changed from man, and the heart of a beast shall be given unto him; while seven times shall pass over him" (4:16, 25, 32).

By the king of Babylon are signified those who profane the goods and truths of the Word. By his heart being changed from that of a man to that of a beast is meant that nothing spiritual, that is, truly human, should remain with him, but that instead there should be everything diabolical. By the seven times which were to pass over him is meant profanation, which is a complete destruction of truth and good.

[9] Because the terms seven, and seven times, signified all things, and also what is full, the following commands were given to the children of Israel:

Seven days their hands should be filled (Exodus 29:35).

Seven days they should be sanctified (Exodus 29:37).

Seven days Aaron should put on the garments when he was being initiated (Exodus 29:30).

Seven days they should not go out of the tabernacle when they were being initiated into the priesthood (Leviticus 8:33, 34).

Seven times expiation should be made upon the horns of the altar (Leviticus 16:18, 19).

Seven times should the altar be sanctified with oil (Leviticus 8:11).

Seven times should the blood be sprinkled before the veil (Leviticus 4:16, 17).

Seven times should the blood be sprinkled with the finger towards the east, when Aaron went in to the mercy seat (Leviticus 16:12-15).

Seven times should the water of separation be sprinkled towards the tabernacle (Num. 19:4).

Seven times should blood be sprinkled for the cleansing of leprosy (Leviticus 14:7, 8, 27, 38, 51).

The lampstand had seven lamps (Exodus 25:32, 37; 37:18-25).

Feasts should be celebrated for seven days (Exodus 34:18; Leviticus 23:4-9, 39-44; Deuteronomy 16:3, 4, 8).

Seven days of the feast there should be a burnt offering of seven bullocks and seven rams daily (Ezekiel 45:23).

Baalam built seven altars, and sacrificed seven oxen and seven rams (Num. 23:1-7, 15-18, 29, 30).

They numbered seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, and then should cause the trumpet of the jubilee to be sounded in the seventh month (Leviticus 25:8, 9).

From the signification of the number seven, it is evident what is signified

By the seven days of creation (Gen. i.).

Also by four thousand men being filled from seven loaves, and that seven basketsful of fragments remained over (Matthew 15:34-37; Mark 8:5-9).

Hence now it is clear what is signified in the Apocalypse,

By the seven churches (1:4, 11).

By the seven golden lampstands, in the midst of which was the Son of man (1:13).

By the seven stars in His right hand (1:16, 20).

By the seven spirits of God (3:1).

By the seven lamps of fire burning before the throne (4:5).

By the book sealed with seven seals (5:1).

By the seven angels to whom were given seven trumpets (8:2).

By the seven thunders which uttered their voices (10:3, 4).

By the seven angels having the seven last plagues, (15:1, 6).

By seven vials full of the seven last plagues (16:1; 21:9)

and elsewhere in the Word, where seven is mentioned.

(References: Deuteronomy 16:3-4; Genesis 1, 1:1; Leviticus 4:16-17, 8:33-34, 14:7-8, 16:18-19, 23:4-8, 25:8-9; Matthew 15:34-38; Numbers 23:29-30; Revelation 1:16, 1:20, Revelation 3:22, 10:3-4, 16:6, 21:8-27)

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Apocalypse Explained 258, 300, 316, 336, 357, 386, 401, 486, 489, 602, 658, 676, 681, 715, 761, 775, 928, 949


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Translation by Isaiah Tansley. Many thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.

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Apocalypse Explained #386

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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386. And with hunger. That this signifies by privation, lack, and ignorance of the knowledges of truth and good, is plain from the signification of hunger, as denoting the privation of the knowledges of truth and good, also a lack and ignorance of them. These things are signified by hunger in the Word. The reason that these things are signified by hunger, is, because by meat and drink are signified all things that nourish and sustain the spiritual life, which in general are the knowledges of truth and good. The spiritual life itself has need equally of nourishment and support as the natural life; therefore when man is deprived of them, or when they fail, or when they are unknown and yet are desired, that life is said to be in famine. Natural foods also correspond to spiritual foods, as bread to the good of love, wine to the truths thence, and other meats and drinks specifically to their own goods and truths. This has been treated of throughout in the numbers preceding, and will be treated in those following. It is said that hunger signifies deprivation of the knowledges of truth and good, also a lack and ignorance thereof, because there is deprivation with those who are in evils and the falsities thence, a lack with those who cannot know them, because they are not in the church or in its doctrine, and ignorance, with those who know that [such knowledges] exist and thence desire them. These three are signified by famine in the Word, as is evident from the passages there in which famine, the hungry, thirst, and the thirsty, are named.

(References: Revelation 6:8)


[2] (i) That famine signifies a deprivation of the knowledges of truth and good which takes place with those who are in evils and the falsities thence, is plain from the following passages. In Isaiah:

"In the wrath of Jehovah of hosts is the land darkened, the people are become fuel for the fire; a man shall not spare his brother. And if he shall snatch on the right hand, he shall yet be hungry; and if he shall eat on the left hand, they shall not be satisfied; they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm; Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh; they together against Jehovah" (Isaiah 9:18-21).

No one can understand these words but from the internal sense, nor even the subject treated of, which is the extinction of good by falsity, and of truth by evil. The perversion of the church by falsity, is meant by the land being darkened in the wrath of Jehovah of hosts; and the perversion thereof by evil, is meant by the people becoming fuel for the fire; the land darkened, signifies the church where there is not truth, but only falsity; and fuel for the fire, signifies the consuming of it by the love of evil, fire denoting the love of evil; falsity destroying good, is meant by, "a man shall not spare his brother," man (vir) and brother signifying truth and good, here man [signifying] falsity, and brother good, because it is said, he shall not spare him. The consequent deprivation of all good and of all truth, however it may be sought for, is meant by, "if he shall snatch on the right hand, he shall yet be hungry; and if he shall eat on the left hand, they shall not be satisfied"; the right hand signifying good from which is truth, and the left hand, truth from good. To snatch at and to eat those things, signifies to seek for; and to be hungry and not be satisfied, denotes to be deprived of. That evil will extinguish all truth, and falsity all good, is meant by, "they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm," the flesh of the arm denoting the power of good by truth, man denoting falsity, and to eat denoting to extinguish. That thence all the will of good and the understanding of truth perish, is meant by Manasseh eating Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh. (That Manasseh denotes the will of good, and Ephraim the understanding of truth, may be seen, n. 3969, 5354, 6222, 6234, 6238, 6267, 6296.) That this is the case with those who are in evils and falsities, is meant by, "they together against Jehovah"; for when the will is in good and the understanding in truth, then they are with Jehovah; because they are both from Him; but when the will is in evil, and the understanding in falsity, then they are against Jehovah.

(References: Isaiah 9:19-21)


[3] In the same:

"Rejoice not thou, whole Philistea, that the rod that smiteth thee is broken; for from the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, the fruit of which shall be a flying serpent. I will kill thy root with famine, and it shall slay thy remainder" (14:29, 30).

Almost similar things are meant by these [words,] in the internal sense, but those are here treated of who believe that the interior sight alone of the natural man is faith, and that by the latter or the former they are justified and saved, thus denying that the good of charity is of any efficacy. Those who are of such a nature, are meant by the Philistines, and a company of them by Philistea (as may be seen, n. 3412, 3413, 8093, 8313). That this false principle, which is faith alone, or faith separated from charity, destroys all the good and truth of the church, is meant by its being said, from the serpent's root shall come forth a basilisk, the serpent's root denoting that false principle, and a basilisk denoting the destruction of the good and truth of the church thereby. That thence arises reasoning from absolute falsities, is meant by, the fruit of which shall be a flying serpent, a flying serpent denoting reasoning from falsities. The deprivation of all truth, and thence of all good, is meant by, "I will kill thy root with famine, and famine shall slay thy remainder," famine denoting the deprivation of truth and good, and the remainder denoting all things brought forth from that principle. That such things are meant, has also been made evident by experience itself. Those who have confirmed themselves in the principle concerning faith alone in doctrine and in life, are seen in the spiritual world as basilisks, and their reasonings as flying serpents.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3412-3413; Isaiah 14:29-30)


[4] In the same:

Who formeth a God, and casteth a molten image, and it profiteth not. "He worketh the iron with the tongs, and operateth upon it with the coal, and he formeth it with pointed hammers; so he worketh it by the arm of his strength; he is even hungry until his strength faileth, neither doth he drink until he is weary" (44:10, 12).

The formation of doctrine from the proprium, both from the intellect and the love, is described by these words. By forming a God, is signified doctrine from [one's] own understanding; and by casting a molten image, from self-love. By working the iron with the tongs, and operating upon it with the coal, is signified the falsity which he calls truth, and the evil which he calls good; iron denoting falsity, and a fire of coal denoting the evil of self-love. By, "he formeth it with pointed hammers," is signified by ingenious reasonings from falsities that they may appear to be coherent; by, "so he worketh it by the arm of his strength," is signified from the proprium; by, "he is even hungry until his strength faileth, neither doth he drink until he is weary," is signified that there is nowhere anything of good or anything of truth; to hunger signifies the deprivation of good, and not to drink the deprivation of truth. And until his strength faileth, and until he is weary, signifies till nothing of good and nothing of truth remains. How can he who looks at the Word from the sense of the letter only, suppose otherwise than that the formation of a graven image is here described? Yet any one can see that such a description of the formation of a graven image involves nothing spiritual. Nay, more, it would be superfluous to say, that he even hungers until he has no strength, neither doth he drink until he is weary. But not only in the Word here, but also elsewhere, the formation of a religion and doctrine of falsity is described by idols, graven and molten images, which signify the falsities of religion, and of doctrine originating from [man's] own understanding, and from self-love (see n. 8869, 8932, 8941, 9424, 10406, 10503).

(References: Isaiah 44:10, 44:12)


[5] In the same:

"These two things are come unto thee; who shall be sorry for thee? devastation and a breach and famine and the sword" (51:19).

By famine is here also meant the deprivation of the knowledges (cognitions) of good, even till there is no more good; and by the sword the deprivation of the knowledges (cognitions) of truth, even till there is no more truth; therefore mention is also made of devastation and a breach, devastation signifying that there is no more good, and a breach that there is no more truth.

[6] In the same:

"Thus said the Lord Jehovih, Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty; behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed" (65:13).

Here, also, by being hungry and thirsty is meant to be deprived of the good of love and the truths of faith, by being hungry to be deprived of the good of love, and by being thirsty to be deprived of the truths of faith; by eating and drinking are signified the communication and appropriation of goods and truths; and by the servants of the Lord Jehovih, those who receive goods and truths from the Lord; hence it is evident what is signified by, "Behold, my servants shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty." That the former shall have eternal happiness, but the latter unhappiness, is signified by, "Behold, my servants shall rejoice, but ye shall be ashamed."

[7] In Jeremiah:

"By the sword, by famine, and by pestilence will I consume them; Yet I said, Ah, Lord Jehovih! behold the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, neither shall ye have famine; wherefore thus said Jehovah against the prophets prophesying in my name, when I sent them not; yet they say the sword and famine shall not be in this land, by the sword and by famine shall these prophets be consumed; the people to whom they prophesy shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, neither shall there be any to bury them" (14:12, 13, 15, 16).

By sword, famine, and pestilence, is signified the deprivation of truth and good, and thence of spiritual life, by falsities and evils; by the sword, the deprivation of truth by falsities; by famine, the deprivation of good by evils; and by the pestilence, the deprivation of spiritual life. By prophets are meant those who teach the truths of doctrine, and, in an abstract sense, the doctrinals of truth. Hence it is evident what is signified by all these, namely, that those who teach the doctrine of falsity and evil shall perish by the things which are signified by sword and famine. That those also who receive that doctrine from them are separated from all the truth of the church, and damned, is signified by, "they shall be cast out in the streets of Jerusalem, neither shall there be any to bury them"; the streets of Jerusalem denoting the truths of the church, to be cast out in them denoting to be separated from those truths, and not to be buried denoting to be damned.

(References: Jeremiah 14:12-13, 14:15-16)


[8] Similar things are signified by the sword, famine, and pestilence in the following passages, namely, by the sword, the deprivation of truth by falsities; by famine, the deprivation of good by evils; and by pestilence, the consumption and deprivation of spiritual life thence.

In Jeremiah:

"They shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine, that their carcase may be meat to the birds of the heavens, and to the beast of the earth" (16:4).

The dead body being meat to the birds of the heavens, signifies damnation by falsities; and their being meat to the beast of the earth, damnation by evils.

In the same:

"They denied Jehovah, when they said, He is not; neither shall evil come upon us; and we shall not see sword and famine " (5:12).

In the same:

"Behold, I will visit upon them; the young men shall die by the sword; their sons and their daughters shall die by famine" (11:22).

In the same:

"Give their sons to the famine, and make them flow down upon the hands of the sword, that their wives may become bereaved and widows, and their men be put to death, their young men smitten by the sword in war" (18:21).

In the same:

"I will send upon them the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten for badness. And I will pursue after them with the sword, with famine, and with pestilence" (29:17, 18).

In the same:

"I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence upon them, till they be consumed from off the land that I gave to them and to their fathers" (24:10).

In the same:

"I proclaim a liberty for you, to the sword, to the pestilence, and to the famine; and I will deliver you up to commotion in all the kingdoms of the earth" (34:17).

In the Evangelists:

"Nation shall be roused against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be pestilences, and famines, and earthquakes, in divers places" (Matthew 14:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11).

In Ezekiel:

"Because thou hast defiled my sanctuary, a third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and I will scatter a third part to every wind. When I shall send among them the evil arrows of famine, which shall be for their destruction; whilst I will send them to destroy you; yet, for all that, I will increase the famine upon you, until I break your staff of bread. And I will send upon you famine and the evil wild beast, and I will make thee bereaved; and pestilence and blood shall pass through thee" (5:11, 12, 16, 17).

In the same:

"The sword from without, and the pestilence and famine within; he who is in the field shall die by the sword, but him who is in the city shall the famine and the pestilence devour" (7:15).

In the same:

"On account of all the evil abominations they shall fall by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence. He who is far off shall die by the pestilence; he who is near shall fall by the sword; and he who remaineth and hath been kept alive, shall die by the famine" (6:11, 12).

In Jeremiah:

"But if ye say, We will not dwell in this land, that you may not obey the voice of Jehovah your God; [saying,] No; but we will go into the land of Egypt, where we shall see no war, and shall not hear the sound of the trumpet, and shall not hunger for bread; and there will we dwell; hear ye the word of Jehovah, If ye wholly set your faces to go into Egypt, and come to sojourn there, it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall seize you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were fearful, shall follow close after you in Egypt; and there ye shall die. And they shall die there by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; neither shall one of them remain by reason of the evil that I will bring upon you. And ye shall be a reviling, and an astonishment, and reproach; neither shall ye see this place any more. Now therefore know certainly that ye shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence, in the place whither ye have desired to come in order to sojourn there" (42:13-18, 22; 44:12, 13, 27).

By Egypt is here signified the Natural, and by coming into Egypt and sojourning there, is signified to become natural. (That Egypt denotes the scientific of the natural man, and that hence it denotes the Natural, and the land of Egypt the natural mind (mens) may be seen, n. 4967, 5079, 5080, 5095, 5160, 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301, 5799, 6015, 6147, 6252, 7353, 7648, 9340, 9391; and that to sojourn denotes to be instructed, and to live, n. 1463, 2025, 3672.) From these considerations it is evident what is signified in the spiritual sense by, they should not come into Egypt, and they should then die by the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, namely, if they became merely natural, they would be deprived of all truth, good, and spiritual life; for the natural man separate from the spiritual is in falsities and evils, and thence in infernal life - (That the natural man separate from the spiritual is of such a nature, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem 47, 48); - it is therefore said that if they came into it, they should be a reviling, and an astonishment, and a reproach, neither should they see this place [any more]. By the place which they should see [no more] is meant the state of the spiritual man, the same as by the land of Canaan. Such things are also signified by the murmurings of the sons of Israel in the wilderness, in that they desired so often to return into Egypt, therefore also manna was given to them, by which is signified spiritual nourishment (Exodus 16:2, 3, 7-9, 22).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5079-5080; Exodus 16:2-3; Ezekiel 5:11-12, 5:16-17, 6:11-12; Jeremiah 29:17-18, 44:12-13; Luke 21:10-11; Matthew 24:7-8, 24:17; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 47-48)


[9] In Ezekiel:

"Then I shall stretch out mine hand against the house of Israel, that I may break its staff of bread, and send famine into it, and cut off man and beast from it. When I shall cause the evil wild beast to pass through the land, and it shall bereave it, that it become a desolation. When I shall send my four evil judgments upon Jerusalem, the sword, and the famine, and the evil wild beast, and the pestilence, to cut off from it man and beast" (14:13, 15, 21).

In these words is described the vastation of the church. The house of Israel and Jerusalem denote the church; by breaking the staff of bread is signified to destroy everything celestial and spiritual, by which [it is] to be nourished; for bread implies everything of heaven and the church, or all spiritual nourishment; and by cutting off man and beast (bestiam), is signified all spiritual and natural affection; therefore by the sword, the famine, the evil wild beast [feram], and the pestilence, are signified the destruction of truth by falsity, of good by evil, of the affection of truth and good by the lusts arising from evil loves, and the consequent extinction of spiritual life; these are called the four evil judgments, which are also meant by the sword, by hunger, by death, and by the evil wild beast in this verse of the Apocalypse. That it is the vastation of the church which is thus described, is evident.

[10] The three evils signified by the famine, the sword, and the pestilence, were also announced by the prophet Gad to David, after he had numbered the people (2 Sam. 24:13). No one can know why such evils were denounced against David because of his numbering the people, unless he knows that the people of Israel represented, and thence signified, the church as to all its truths and goods, and that to number signified to know the quality thereof, and afterwards to arrange and dispose them according to it. Because no one can know and do this but the Lord alone; and the man who attempts to do so, deprives himself of all good and truth, also of spiritual life, therefore because David did this representatively, those three [evils] were proposed to him, of which he might choose one. Who does not see that there was nothing evil in numbering the people, and that the evil on account of which David and his people were punished was concealed interiorly, namely, in the representatives in which the church then was? In those passages adduced, famine signifies the deprivation of the knowledges of truth and good, and thence the deprivation of all truth and good.

[11] (ii) That famine also signifies the lack of them [i.e. of knowledges], which is with those who cannot know them, because they are not in the church or in the doctrine thereof, is plain from the following passages.

In Amos:

"Behold, the days come, in which I will send a famine into the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Jehovah; that they may wander from sea to sea, from the north to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it. In that day shall the fair virgins and youths faint for thirst" (8:11-13).

Here is explained what is meant by famine and by thirst, namely, that a famine of bread is not meant, nor a thirst for waters, but of hearing, the word of Jehovah, thus that it is a lack of the knowledges (cognitions) of good and truth that is meant; and that these are not in the church, or in the doctrine thereof, is described by, they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north unto the east, to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it. From sea to sea signifies on all sides, for the last boundaries in the spiritual world appear as seas, where truths and goods take their beginning and are terminated; therefore seas in the Word signify the knowledges of truth and good, also scientifics in general. From the north to the east, also signifies on all sides, where truth and good are; the north denoting where truth is in obscurity, and the east denoting where good is. Because a lack of the knowledges of good and truth is signified by hunger and thirst, therefore it is also said, in that day shall the fair virgins and youths faint for thirst"; fair virgins denoting the affections of truth from good, and young men denoting the truths themselves that are of good, the thirst by which they shall faint denoting the lack thereof. (That virgins signify the affections of good and truth, may be seen, n. 2362, 3963, 6729, 6775, 6788; and that young men signify truths themselves, and intelligence, see n. 7668.)

(References: Amos 8:11-14; Arcana Coelestia 7668)


[12] In Isaiah:

"Therefore my people shall live in banishment for want of knowledge; and men of famine shall be the glory thereof, and the multitude thereof dried up with thirst" (5:13).

The desolation or destruction of the church for want of the knowledges of good and truth, is signified by, "My people shall live in banishment for want of knowledge." The Divine truth which constitutes the church is signified by glory; that this is not, and that, consequently, good is not, is signified by the glory thereof being men of famine, men of famine denoting those who have no perception of good, and no knowledges of truth; and that hence they have no truth is signified by the multitude thereof being dried up with thirst, to be dried up with thirst denoting a lack of truth, and multitude in the Word being said of truths.

[13] In the same:

"Let the people seek their God, the law, and the testimony; for they shall pass through it perplexed and famished; and it shall come to pass, that when they hunger, they shall be indignant, and shall curse their king, and their gods, and shall look upwards; they shall look also to the land, but behold straitness and thick darkness" (8:19-22).

Those who are in falsities from a lack of the knowledges of truth and good, and their indignation in consequence are here treated of; the defect is described by their looking upwards, and also regarding the earth, but behold, straitness and thick darkness. To look upwards and to regard the earth, denotes [to look] everywhere where are goods and truths. But, "behold, straitness and thick darkness," denotes that they are nowhere [to be found], but absolute falsities, thick darkness denoting dense falsity. Their indignation in consequence is described by, "and it shall come to pass, that when they hunger, they shall be indignant, and shall curse their king and their gods, to be hungry denotes a desire to know; king denotes falsity; the gods denote the falsities of worship thence; and to curse denotes to detest.

[14] In Lamentations:

"Lift up thy hands" to the Lord "over the soul of thy children, that faint for hunger in the top of all the streets" (2:19).

Lamentation over those who are to be instructed in the knowledges of good and truth by which spiritual life is attained, is described by, "Lift up thy hands to the Lord over the soul of thy children"; and the want of those knowledges is described by their fainting for hunger in the top of all the streets; hunger denotes want; streets denote truths of doctrine; to faint in the top of them, denotes their absence.

[15] In the same:

"Servants have ruled over us; neither is there any to deliver out of their hand. We get our bread with the peril of our souls because of the sword of the wilderness. Our skins are black like an oven because of the storms of famine" (5:8-10).

By the servants that have ruled while there was none to deliver out of their hand, are signified evils of life and falsities of doctrine, in general evil loves and false principles. We get our bread with the peril of our souls, because of the sword of the wilderness, signifies that there is no good from which the true spiritual life [results], in consequence of the falsity everywhere reigning; the bread denotes the good from which spiritual life [is derived]; the sword denotes falsity destroying; and the wilderness denotes where there is no good because no truth, for all good with man is formed by truths, therefore, where there are not truths, but falsities, good is not. Our skins are black like an oven because of the storms of famine, signifies that for want of the knowledges of good and truth the natural man is in its own evil love. The skin, from correspondence with the grand man or heaven, signifies the natural man; to be black like an oven, signifies to be in its own evil from falsities; and the storms of famine signify an entire lack of the knowledges of good and truth.

[16] In Luke:

"Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger" (6:25).

By the full in the Word are meant those who have the Word, where are all the knowledges (cognitions) of good and truth; and by being hungry is meant being in need of them, and being deprived of them.

In Job:

"Blessed is the man whom God hath chastened; therefore reject not the discipline of Schaddai. In famine he shall redeem thee from death; and in war from the hands of the sword" (5:17, 20).

This treats of those who are in temptations; temptations are signified by, "whom God hath chastened," and by, "the discipline of Schaddai." By Schaddai also are signified temptations, deliverance from them, and consolation after them (as may be seen, n. 1992, 3667, 4572, 5628, 6229). Famine in which he shall be redeemed, signifies temptation as to the perception of good, in which he shall be delivered from evil; to redeem is to deliver; and the hand of the sword in the war, signifies temptation as to the understanding of truth, war also denoting temptation or combat against falsities.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 5:17, 5:20)


[17] (iii) That famine in the Word also signifies ignorance of the knowledges of truth and good, as applied to those who know that there are such knowledges and thence desire them, is plain from the following passages. In Matthew:

"Blessed are they who hunger for justice, for they shall be filled" (5:6).

To hunger for justice signifies to desire good, for in the Word justice is said of good.

And in Luke:

"God hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away" (1:53).

They that hunger denote those who are in ignorance of the knowledges of truth and good, and yet in the desire of them and the rich, those who possess in abundance those knowledges, but have no desire for them. That the former are enriched, is signified by God filling them with good things; and that the latter are deprived thereof, is signified by God sending them away empty.

[18] In David:

"Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear him, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine " (Psalms 33:18, 19).

By them that fear Jehovah are meant those who love to do His precepts. By delivering the soul from death, is signified from evils and falsities, and thence from damnation; and by keeping them alive in famine, is signified to give spiritual life according to the desire. The desire for the knowledges of truth and good is the spiritual affection of truth, which exists only with those who are in good of life, that is, who do the Lord's precepts, who, as has been said, are meant by them that fear Jehovah.

(References: Psalms 33:18-19)


[19] Again:

"Let them confess his mercy to Jehovah, that he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with good" (Psalms 107:8, 9).

To satisfy the longing soul, and to fill the hungry soul with good, means for those who desire truths and goods; the longing soul signifying those who desire truths, and the hungry soul, those who desire goods.

Again:

"There is no want to them that fear" Jehovah. "The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good thing" (Psalms 34:9, 10).

Here also they that fear Jehovah, who have no want, signify those who love to do the Lord's precepts; and they that seek Jehovah, who shall not want any good thing, signify those who are therefore loved by the Lord, and receive goods and truths from Him. The young lions that lack, and suffer hunger, signify those who know and are wise from themselves; to lack and suffer hunger denote that they have neither truth nor good. (What lions in both senses signify, may be seen, n. 278.)

(References: Psalms 34:9-10, Psalms 107:8-9; The Apocalypse Explained 278)


[20] Again:

Jehovah "who executeth judgment for the oppressed; who giveth bread to the hungry. Jehovah who looseth the prisoners" (Psalms 146:7).

By the oppressed are here meant those who are in falsities from ignorance; their oppression is from spirits who are in falsities; therefore, it is said Jehovah executeth judgment for them, by vindicating them from those that oppress. By the hungry are meant those who desire goods, and because the Lord nourishes them, it is said Jehovah "giveth bread to the hungry"; to give bread denotes to nourish, and spiritual nourishment consists in knowledge (scientia), intelligence, and wisdom. And by those that are bound are meant those who desire truths, but are withheld from them by falsities of doctrine, or by ignorance, because they have not the Word. Therefore to loose the bound denotes to liberate from them. (That such are called bound, may be seen, n. 5037, 5086, 5096.)

[21] Again:

Jehovah "turneth the wilderness into a lake of waters, and a land of dryness into the going forth of waters. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city of habitation; and sow the fields, and plant vineyards, and make fruit of increase" (107:35-37).

These words are to be understood altogether otherwise than according to the sense of the letter, namely thus, that those who are ignorant of the knowledges of truth, and yet are desirous of knowing them, shall be greatly enriched and opulent; for by Jehovah turning the wilderness into a lake of waters, is signified that where there was ignorance there shall be abundance of truth, a wilderness denoting where there is ignorance of truth, and a lake of waters an abundance of it. By turning a land of dryness into the going forth of waters, is signified the same in the natural man, for the land of dryness denotes where there is ignorance of truth, the going forth of waters denotes abundance; the natural man denotes the going forth, and waters denote truths. That "He maketh the hungry to dwell there," signifies that [He maketh] those [live] who are in the desire for truth; to dwell denotes to live, and they that are hungry denote those who desire. "That they may prepare a city of habitation," signifies to form for themselves a doctrine of life; a city denoting doctrine, and a habitation denoting life. That they may "sow the fields, and plant vineyards, and make fruit of increase," signifies to receive truths, to understand them, and to do them; to sow fields denotes to be instructed and to receive truths; to plant vineyards denotes to receive those [truths] in the understanding, that is, in the spirit, for vineyards denote spiritual truths, whence to plant them denotes spiritually to receive, that is, to understand those [truths]; to make fruit of increase denotes to do them and to receive goods, for fruits are the deeds and goods of charity.

[22] Again:

"Jehovah knoweth the days of the upright; and shall be their inheritance for ever. They shall not be ashamed in the time of evil; and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied" (Psalms 37:18, 19).

The days of the upright signify the states of those who are in good, and in the truths thence, or those who are in charity, and in the faith thence. By Jehovah being their inheritance for ever, is signified that they are His own and are in heaven; by their not being, ashamed in the time of evil, is signified that they shall conquer when they are tempted by evils; and by their being satisfied in the days of famine, is signified that they shall be supported by truths, when they are tempted and infested by falsities. The time of evil and the day of famine, signify states of temptations; and temptations are from evils and falsities.

(References: Psalms 37:18-19)


[23] In the first book of Samuel:

"The bows of the mighty were broken, and they that stumbled were girded with strength. The full have hired themselves for bread; and the hungry have ceased, even until the barren hath borne seven, and she that hath many children hath failed" (2:4, 5).

Here, by the full who have hired themselves for bread, and by the hungry who have ceased, are signified those who wish for and desire goods and truths. The rest may be seen explained above (n. 257 and 357).

(References: 1 Samuel 2:4-5; The Apocalypse Explained 257, The Apocalypse Explained 357)


[24] In Isaiah:

"The fool speaketh foolishness, and his heart worketh iniquity, to practise hypocrisy, and to utter error against Jehovah, to make empty the hungry soul, and to cause the drink of the thirsty to fail" (32:6).

He is here called a fool who is in falsities and evils from the love of self, consequently, from his own intelligence. Falsities are meant by the foolishness which he speaks; and evils, by the iniquity which his heart works. The evils which he speaks against goods are meant by the hypocrisy which he practises; and the falsities which he speaks against truths, by the error which he speaks against Jehovah. That this is to persuade and destroy those who desire goods and truths, is meant by making empty the hungry soul, and causing the drink of the thirsty to fail; the hungry soul denoting those who desire goods, and he who thirsteth for drink, those who desire truths.

[25] Again:

"If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, thy light shall arise in darkness, and thy thick darkness be as the noonday" (58:10).

By these words is described charity towards the neighbour, here towards those who are in ignorance, and at the same time in the desire of knowing truths, and in grief on account of the falsities by which they are possessed; and that with those who are in that charity, falsities shall be dispelled, and truths give light and shine. Charity towards those who are in ignorance, and at the same time in the desire of knowing truths, is meant by, if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry; the hungry denoting those who desire, and the soul denoting the intelligence of truth instructing. That it is so with those who are in grief on account of the falsities with which they are possessed, is meant by, if thou wouldst satisfy the afflicted soul; that with those who are in such charity, ignorance will be dissipated, and truths give light and shine, is meant by, thy light shall arise in darkness, and thy thick darkness be as the noonday. Darkness signifies the ignorance of the spiritual mind, and thick darkness the ignorance of the natural mind; light also signifies truth in the light, in like manner noonday. Such enlightenment have they who, from charity or spiritual affection, instruct those who are in falsities from ignorance; for that charity is a receptacle of the influx of light or truth from the Lord.

[26] Again:

Is not this the fast which I have chosen? to break thy bread to the hungry, and to bring the afflicted outcasts into thy house? when thou seest the naked, and coverest him" (58:6, 7).

Similar things are meant by these words; for, by breaking bread to the hungry, signifies from charity to communicate to, and instruct, those who are in ignorance, and who at the same time are desirous of knowing truths. To bring the afflicted outcasts into the house, signifies to amend and restore those who are in falsities, and thence in grief; the afflicted outcasts denoting those who are in grief from falsities. For those who are in falsities stand without, whereas those who are in truths are in the house; for the house denotes the intellectual mind, into which truths only are admitted, for it is opened by truths from good. On account of such signification it is also added, "when thou seest the naked and coverest him"; to be naked signifying to be without truths, and to cover signifying to instruct; for garments in the Word signify truths clothing (as may be seen above, n. 195).

(References: Isaiah 58:6-7; The Apocalypse Explained 195)


[27] Again:

"They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor the sun smite them; for he that hath mercy on them leadeth them, even unto the springs of waters shall he guide them" (49:10).

That they shall not hunger nor thirst does not signify that they shall not hunger and thirst for natural food and drink; and that the natural heat and sun shall not smite them, does not signify that they shall not become hot from these; similarly, that they are to be led unto the springs of waters. Whoever thinks does he not see that other things are there meant? By to hunger and thirst, therefore, are signified to hunger and thirst for such things as pertain to eternal life, or which give it, which in general have reference to the good of love and the truth of faith, hunger to the good of love, and thirst to the truth of faith. The heat and the sun signify warmth from the principles of falsity and the love of evil; for these take away all spiritual hunger and thirst; the springs of waters unto which the Lord will lead them, signify enlightenment in all truth, a spring or fountain denoting the Word, and also doctrine from the Word; waters denoting truths; and to lead, when said of the Lord, denoting to enlighten. From these considerations it is evident what is signified by the Lord's words in John:

"I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (6:35).

Here it is evident that to hunger is to come to the Lord, and that to thirst is to believe on Him; to come to the Lord is to do His commandments.

[28] Because these things are signified by hungering and thirsting, it is also evident what is signified in the Lord's words in Matthew:

The King, said to them on the right hand, I was an hungered, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink; I was a sojourner, and ye took me in. And he said to them on the left hand, that he was an hungered, and they gave him no meat; that he was thirsty, and they gave him no drink; that he was a sojourner, and they took him not in (25:34, 35, 41-43).

By hungering and thirsting are signified to be in ignorance and in spiritual want, and by giving to eat and drink, are signified to instruct and to enlighten from spiritual affection or charity; therefore it is also said, I was a sojourner, and ye took me not in, for by sojourners are signified those who are out of the church, and desire to be instructed and receive the doctrinals of the church, and to live according to them (see n. 1463, 4444, 7908, 8007, 8913, 9196). In the Word also we read of the Lord, that He hungered and thirsted, whereby is meant, that from His Divine love He willed and desired the salvation of the human race.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 8013; Matthew 25:34-35, 25:37, 25:41-44)


[29] That He hungered we read in Mark:

"When they were come from Bethany," Jesus "hungered; and, seeing a fig-tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon; but when he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the time of figs. Therefore he said unto it, Let no man eat fruit of thee for ever. And the disciples, in the morning, as they passed by, saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots" (11:12, 14-20; Matthew 21:19, 20).

He who does not know that all things of the Word contain a spiritual sense, may think that the Lord did this to the fig-tree from indignation because He hungered but by the fig-tree here is not meant a fig-tree, but the church as to natural good, and specifically the Jewish Church. That there was not any natural good therein, because nothing spiritual, but only some truths from the sense of the letter of the Word, is signified by, Jesus seeing a fig-tree afar off having leaves, came if haply He might find anything thereon; but when He had come to it He found nothing but leaves. Leaves signify the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word. That with that nation there would nowhere be any natural good of the church, because they are in dense falsities and in evil loves, is signified by Jesus saying, "Let no man eat fruit of thee for ever," and by the fig-tree being dried up from the roots. It is also said, that it was not the time of figs, and thereby is meant that the church was not yet commenced. That the beginning of a new church is meant by the fig-tree, is evident from the Lord's words (in Matthew 24:32, 33; Mark 13:28, 29; and in Luke 21:28-31). From these considerations it is evident what is there signified by hungering. (That the fig-tree signifies the natural good of the church, see n. 217, 4231, 5113; and that the leaves signify the truths of the natural man, see above (n. 109).)

(References: Mark 11:12-14, 11:20, 13:28-29; Matthew 21:19-20, Matthew 24:32-33)


[30] That the Lord thirsted we read in John:

"Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst. And there had been placed a vessel full of vinegar; and they filled a sponge, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. And when Jesus had received the vinegar he said, It is finished" (19:28-30).

Those who think of these things only naturally and not spiritually, may suppose that they involve nothing more than that the Lord thirsted, and that then vinegar was given to Him; but because all things which the Scripture said concerning Him were then consummated, and He came into the world to save mankind, therefore He said, I thirst, by which is meant that from Divine love He willed and desired the salvation of the human race. But that vinegar was given to Him, signifies that in the coming church there would be no genuine truth, but truth mingled with falsities, such as exist with those who separate faith from charity, or truth from good, this being signified by vinegar. Their putting it upon hyssop signified a certain purification of it, for by hyssop is signified an external means of purification (as may be seen, n. 7918). That every particular of the things related in the Word concerning the Lord's passion, involves and signifies Divine, celestial, and spiritual things, may be seen above (n. 83). From the passages adduced above it is evident what famine signifies in the Word. Let them be examined and well considered, and it will be seen by such as think at all interiorly, that natural famine, hunger, and thirst, can in no way be meant, but, spiritual.

(References: Amos 8:11-14; Arcana Coelestia 7918; Matthew 24:7-8; Revelation 6:8; The Apocalypse Explained 83)

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 The Prophet Amos
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.
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Translation by Isaiah Tansley. Many thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.


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