The Bible

Genesis 1

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

Genesis 2 →

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.

Genesis 2 →

   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

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
"Heaven" and "heavens" are used many times in the Bible, with a couple of variations of meaning. Sometimes it is relatively literal, including times when...

Earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

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...

Void
A 'void', or 'Vacuity' denotes a person's state before regeneration. From Arcana Coelestia 7: "The first state is the state which precedes, both the state...

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
There are two aspects to the life of each person. We might call them "heart" and "mind," a part of us that wants and feels...

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
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

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

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...

the first
'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...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Land
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...

Grass
Grass signifies the scientific principle. Just as green grass serves animals for support, scientific truth serves men for spiritual nourishment. ‘Grass’ is scientific truth, and...

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...

after
According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

third
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

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...

signs
The Bible often speaks of signs and miracles as things that convinced people of the Lord's leading. Swedenborg divides the two, identifying "signs" as things...

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...

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...

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.

stars
'The learned,' or 'wise,' who 'shall shine as the stars,' are people who are in good.

over
'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

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

life
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

fowl
"Birds" mean rational concepts in the external man and intellectual concepts in the internal man.

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.

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...

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

cattle
Animals in the Bible generally refer to spiritual activity, the things we actually do on a spiritual level. "Cattle," as typically used in the Bible,...

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...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

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

Fish
Fish signify sensual affections which are the ultimate affections of the natural man. Also, those who are in common truths, which are also ultimates of...

sea
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,...

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
Female signifies good.

Meat
'Meat,' as in Genesis 40:17, signifies celestial good, because 'the meat of the angels' are nothing but the goods of love and charity, which not...

green
The color green is almost exclusively used in connection with plants in the Bible (the exceptions include two stomach-turning references to moldy plagues in Leviticus),...

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

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #555

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

Study this Passage

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555. And they had hair as the hair of women.- That this signifies that they also seem to themselves to be natural affections for truth, is evident from the signification of hair, as denoting things pertaining to the natural man, and specifically truths scientific therein; see above (n. 66); and from the signification of women, as denoting affections, of which we shall speak presently. Hair signifies those things that pertain to the natural man, because the head signifies those things that pertain to the spiritual man, and all things of the natural man clothe all things of the spiritual man, as the hair invests the head. The head also corresponds to things spiritual, and the hair to things natural, therefore they are also significative. It is from this correspondence that the angels appear adorned with beautiful hair, and that, according to its orderly arrangement, gracefulness and neatness, the quality of the correspondence of their natural man with the spiritual, may be known. Now since women signify affections, it is evident, that by the [locusts] having hair as the hair of women, is signified that those meant by the locusts appear to themselves as natural affections [for truth]. This is also evident from the series of things treated of; for their faces being as the faces of men, signifies the appearing to be as it were spiritual affections for truth; therefore it now follows, that by their hair being as the hair of women, is signified the appearing to be as it were natural affections for truth. Presently also it is said of their teeth that they were as the teeth of lions, which signify the ultimates of the natural man as to knowledge and as to power. In the prophetic Word the terms woman, daughter, and virgin are frequently used. But hitherto the signification of them has not been known. That a woman, daughter, and virgin, are not meant, is very evident, for they are mentioned where the church is treated of; but the spiritual signification of them may be seen from the series of the things treated of in the spiritual sense.

(References: Revelation 9:8; The Apocalypse Explained 66)


[2] That a woman signifies the church as to the affection for truth, and thence the affection for the truth of the church, is clear from the following passages in the Word.

Thus in Jeremiah:

"Wherefore commit ye evil against your souls, to cut off from you man and woman, infant and suckling, out of Judah?" (xliv. 7).

Again, in the same prophet:

"I will disperse man and woman; I will disperse old and young, and I will disperse the young man and the virgin" (li. 22).

So in Ezekiel:

"The old man and young man, both the virgin, the infant, and the women, slay to destruction" (ix. 6).

And in Lamentations:

"They ravished the women in Zion, and the virgins in the cities of Judah. Princes were hanged up by their hand; the faces of elders were not honoured" (v. 11, 12).

Here, by man and woman, old man and infant, youth and virgin, are not meant man, woman, old man, infant, youth, and virgin, but everything pertaining to the church. By man and woman are signified truth and its affection, by old man and infant, wisdom and innocence, by youth and virgin, the understanding of truth and the affection for good. That such things are signified is evident from the fact that the church is treated of in these chapters, and its desolation as to its good and truth, wherefore by those names are signified such things as pertain to the church. For the Word is interiorly spiritual, because it is Divine, wherefore if by man and woman, old man and infant, young man and virgin, such were meant, the Word would be natural and not spiritual; but when by man and woman is meant the church as to truth and its affection, by old man and infant, the church as to wisdom and innocence, and by young man and virgin, the church as to intelligence and its affection, then it becomes spiritual. Man also is man, by virtue of the church being in him, and where the church is, there is heaven. When, therefore, mention is made of an old man, a young man, a male infant (homo infans), a male (homo vir), a woman, and a virgin, these expressions signify whatever pertains to the church, corresponding to their age, sex, inclination, affection, intelligence, and wisdom.

(References: Ezekiel 9:6; Jeremiah 44:7, 51:22; Lamentations 5:11-12)


[3] That by woman is signified the church as to the affection for truth, or the affection for the truth of the church, is also clear from these words in Isaiah:

"Then seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel; only let us be called by thy name; take away our reproach" (iv. 1).

The subject here is the end of the church, when there is no longer any truth, for these words precede: "Thy men shall fall by the sword, and thy strength in the war" (iii. 25), which signify that the understanding of truth would be destroyed by falsities, so that there would be no longer resistance in combats; and these words follow: "In that day shall the branch of Jehovah be beautiful and glorious" (iv. 2). This is said concerning the coming of the Lord, and signifies that truth should spring up anew in the church. By seven women taking hold of one man, is signified that from affection they would desire and seek truth, but would not find it, man denoting truth, women affections or desires for truth, and seven what is holy. That they would not find instruction in genuine truths, and thus spiritual nourishment, is signified by their saying, "We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel," bread denoting instruction and spiritual nourishment, and apparel truth clothing good. That it is truth only which can be applied, and by application conjoined, is signified by, only let us be called by thy name. And because all beauty is from the spiritual affection for truth and conjunction therefrom, and otherwise there is no beauty, therefore it is added, "take away our reproach."

(References: Isaiah 3:25, Isaiah 4:1, 4:2)


[4] So in Jeremiah:

"Return, O virgin of Israel, return into thy cities. How long wilt thou go about? for Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man" (xxxi. 21, 22).

The subject here is the spiritual captivity in which the church was before the coming of the Lord. The church is said to be in spiritual captivity, when there is no truth, and yet truth is desired; in such captivity were the Gentiles, with whom the church was established. Return, O virgin of Israel, return into thy cities, signifies, that they should return to the truths of doctrine, the virgin of Israel denoting the church, and her cities truths of doctrine; for Jehovah hath created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall compass a man, signifies the establishment of a new church, in which truth will be conjoined to its affection. To create a new thing in the earth denotes to establish that new thing; woman denotes the church as to the affection for truth, man denotes truth, and to compass denotes to be conjoined.

(References: Jeremiah 31:21-22)


[5] And in Isaiah:

"As a woman forsaken and afflicted in spirit, Jehovah hath called thee, and a woman of youth, when she is cast off, said thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee again" (liv. 6, 7).

Here also by a woman forsaken and afflicted in spirit, is meant the church, which is not in truths, but still in the affection or desire for them, woman denoting the church, which is said to be forsaken when it is not in truths, and afflicted in spirit, when in grief from the affection or desire for truths. By a woman of youth is meant the Ancient Church, which was in truths from affection; and by the same cast off, is meant the Jewish church, which was not in truths from any spiritual affection; the establishment of a new church by the Lord, and liberation from spiritual captivity, are meant by, "for a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee again."

(References: Isaiah 54:6-7)


[6] And in Jeremiah:

"Yet hear the word of Jehovah, O ye women, and let your ear perceive the word of his mouth, that ye may teach your sons mourning, and a woman her companion, lamentation. For death is come up through the windows, and is entered into our palaces, to cut off the infant from the broad way, and the young man from the streets" (ix. 20, 21).

The reason why it was said to the women, that they should hear and perceive, is, that they signify the church from the affection for and reception of truth. By the sons whom the women should teach mourning, and by the companion whom a woman should teach lamentation, are signified all who are of the church; by sons, they who are in the truths of the church; by companion, she who is in the good thereof, while mourning and lamentation signify that these things were to be done on account of the church vastated as to its truths and good; by death is come up through the windows, and is entered into our palaces, is signified the entrance of infernal falsity into the understanding, and thence into everything of thought and affection, windows denoting the understanding, and palaces, everything, of thought and affection; to cut off the infant from the broad way, and the young man from the streets, signifies the vastation of truth in the birth, and of the truth that is born, infant in the broad way denoting truth springing up, or in the birth, and young men in the streets denoting the truth that is born.

(References: Jeremiah 9:20-21)


[7] So in Ezekiel:

"There were two women, the daughters of one mother, and they committed whoredoms in Egypt; they committed whoredoms in their youth; the name of the elder, Oholah, and the name of her sister, Oholibah; and they bare sons and daughters. Samaria is Oholah, and Jerusalem Oholibah" (xxiii. 2-4).

Since Samaria, the metropolis of the Israelites, signifies, in the Word, the spiritual church, and Jerusalem, the metropolis of the Jews, the celestial church, each as to doctrine, therefore they are called women. And, because both those churches act as one, they are therefore called the daughters of one mother, for a mother also signifies the church, and also Oholah and Oholibah, or the tent or habitation of God, have the same signification, for this signifies heaven where Divine Truth and Divine Good are, consequently, also, where the church is; for the church is the heaven of the Lord on earth. By their committing whoredom in Egypt in their youth, is signified, that they were then in no truths, but in falsities, for in Egypt they had not the Word. This was afterwards given to them through Moses and the prophets, and thus the church was instituted among them. To commit whoredom in Egypt, signifies, to falsify truths by scientifics (scientifica) pertaining to the natural man, and to falsify truths there, denotes to turn holy things into magic, as the Egyptians did. The sons and daughters whom they brought forth, signify the falsities and evils of the church.

(References: Ezekiel 23:2-4)


[8] So in Micah:

"Ye strip the coat from them that pass by securely that are returned from war. The women of my people have ye cast out from the house of their delights" (ii. 8, 9).

Here, by stripping the coat from them that pass by securely who are returned from war, is signified to deprive of truths all those who are in truths, and who have combated against falsities. Those who pass by securely denote all those who are in truths; men returning from war, denote those who have been in temptations, and have combated against falsities. By casting out the women of the people from the houses of their delights, signifies to destroy the affections for truth, and thereby the pleasures and happiness of heaven. The women of the people denote the affections for truth, and the houses of their delights the pleasures and happiness of heaven, for these are the affections, for good and truth.

(References: Micah 2:8-9)


[9] So in Zechariah:

"For I will gather all nations to Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women shall suffer violence" (xiv. 2).

By all nations are signified evils and falsities of every kind; by Jerusalem is signified the church; by city, doctrine; by house, everything that is holy of the church; by women are signified the affections for truth, and by their suffering violence is signified that truths shall be perverted, and that thence the affections for truth will perish.

(References: Zechariah 14:2)


[10] So again, in the same prophet:

"In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, and the land shall mourn every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their women apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their women apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their women apart; the family of Simeon apart, and their women apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their women apart" (xii. 11-14).

The signification of David and his house, also of Nathan, Levi, and Simeon, and their houses, has been already shown in the explanations above. David signifies the Divine Truth, Nathan, the doctrine of truth, Levi, the good of charity, and Simeon means truth and good as to perception and obedience. It is said that the families shall mourn apart, and their women apart, because by families are signified the truths of the church, and by women, the affections for truth which mourn apart when truth mourns that there is no affection for it, and affection, that there is no truth for it. These things are said concerning the mourning over all and every thing pertaining to the church as being vastated and destroyed, for each and all things of the church are signified by all the families that remain, by which are meant the tribes. That the twelve tribes signify all things of the church in the aggregate, may be seen above (n. 430, 431). Jerusalem signifies the church and its doctrine.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 430, 431; Zechariah 12:11-14)


[11] Thus also in Matthew:

"Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill, and one shall be taken, and the other left" (xxiv. 40, 41).

The "two" (duo) mean men, and the "two" (duoe) mean women and by men are signified those who are in truths, and by women those who are in good from the affection for truth. Here also by men are signified those who are in falsities, and by women, those who are in, evils from affection for falsity; for it is said that one shall be taken, and the other shall be left; that is, that those will be saved who are in truths from affection, and those will be condemned who are in evils from affection. Field signifies the church; to grind at the mill, signifies to procure for themselves truths of doctrine from the Word; while those who apply them to good are signified by those who shall be taken, and those who apply them to evil are signified by those who shall be left; but this passage is explained in the Arcana Coelestia (n. 4334, 4335).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4334-4335; Matthew 24:40-41)


[12] So in Moses:

"I will break for you the staff of your bread, that ten women shall bake your bread in one oven, and they shall deliver you your bread again by weight; and ye shall eat and not be satisfied" (Levit. xxvi. 26).

These words in the spiritual sense, mean that truth from good, by which men are spiritually nourished, shall fail; for bread signifies every kind of spiritual food that is for the nourishment of the man of the church. Women signify those of the church who are in the affection for truth. By ten women baking bread in one oven, is signified, that they shall search for truth that may be conjoined to good, but shall only find a very little; for to bake signifies to prepare and conjoin so as to serve for the use of life. To deliver the bread by weight, signifies that it is rare; and to eat and not be satisfied, signifies, because truth from good is so scanty and rare, as scarcely to yield any spiritual nourishment for the soul.

(References: Leviticus 26:26)


[13] Again, in Moses:

"A woman shall not wear the raiment of a man, neither shall a man put on a woman's garment; for whosoever doeth so is abomination unto Jehovah thy God" (Deut. xxii. 5).

Here a man (vir) and his raiment signify truth, and a woman and her garment the affection for truth. These are distinct in every man (homo), as understanding and will, or as thought which is of the understanding and affection which is of the will, and unless they were distinct, the sexes would be confounded, and no marriage would be effected, in which the man (vir) is the truth of the thought, and the woman the affection. That man and woman were both so created that they might be two and yet one, is evident from the book of Genesis, in which it is said concerning their creation, "So God created man (homo) into his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them" (Gen. i. 27; v. 2).

(References: Deuteronomy 22:5, 22:6; Genesis 1:27, Genesis 5:2)


[14] And afterwards:

"The man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; therefore she shall be called wife, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh" (Gen. ii. 23, 24; Mark x. 6-9).

Here, by man (homo) is meant the church in general and in particular. The church in particular is the man of the church, or the man in whom the church is. By God creating man into His own image, is signified into the image of heaven. For by God, or Elohim, in the plural, is signified the proceeding Divine which makes heaven; and the man who is a church, is a heaven in the least form, for he corresponds to all things of heaven; see Heaven and Hell (n. 7-12, 51-58). By male is signified here, as above, the truth of the understanding, and by female, the good of the will. The wife said to be bone of the bones, and flesh of the flesh of the man (vir), signifies that good, which is the wife, is from the truth which is the man. Bone signifies truth before it is vivified, that is, conjoined to good, such as is the truth of the memory with man; and since all good is formed from truths, it is said, "because she was taken out of man." That a man (vir) shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, signifies that truth must be of good, and that hence both shall become one good; this is signified by their being one flesh, flesh signifying good, and also man (homo). The things now stated cannot enter into the understanding of man, with few exceptions, unless it be known that the subject treated of in the first two chapters of Genesis is the new creation, or regeneration of the men of the church. In the first chapter their regeneration is treated of, in the second chapter their intelligence and wisdom; and by male and female, or by man (vir) and wife, is meant, in the spiritual sense, the conjunction of truth and good, which is called the heavenly marriage. Into this marriage man comes when he is regenerated and becomes a church; and man is regenerated and becomes a church when he is in good and thence in truths, which is meant by the words "a man (vir) shall leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall be one flesh." But a still clearer idea may be obtained, upon this subject, from what is said in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, concerning good and truth (n. 11-19); concerning the will and understanding (n. 28-33); concerning regeneration (n. 173-182); also concerning good from which truths are derived (n. 24).

(References: Genesis 1:1, Genesis 2:1, 2:23-24; Heaven and Hell 7-12, 51-58; Mark 10:6-9; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 11-19, 24, 28-33, 173-182)


[15] Since by man and woman is signified the conjunction of truth and good, therefore Moses, when he saw that the sons of Israel took to themselves the female captives of the Midianites their enemies, commanded that they should kill every woman that had known man (vir) by lying with him, but that they should keep alive the women that had not known [man] (Num. xxx. 16-18). These things were commanded because a woman (femina) not conjoined to a man signified the church as to the affection for truth, or for conjunction with truth; but a woman (mulier) conjoined to a Midianitish man, signified good adulterated. For the Midianites represented, and thence signified, the truth which is not truth because not from good, consequently falsity; and hence it was that the women were to be slain who had known man, and that those who had not known man were to be preserved alive. That the Midianitish women signified the defilement of good by falsities, and thence good adulterated and profaned, which is foul adultery, is evident from the circumstances related concerning the whoredom of the sons of Israel with the women of the Midianites (Numbers xxv.).

(References: Numbers 25:1, Numbers 31:16-18, 31:17-18)


[16] He who does not know that a woman signifies the spiritual affection for truth, and he who does not know that the evils and falsities which are present in every one are in the natural man, and not any in the spiritual man, cannot know the signification of that which is written concerning a female captive, in Moses:

"If thou seest in captivity a beautiful woman," from thine enemies, "and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldst have her to thy wife; thou shalt bring her into the midst of thy house, where she shall shave her head and pare her nails; then she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and bewail her father and her mother a month of days, afterwards thou shalt go in unto her, and know her, and she shall be thy wife" (Deut. xxi. 11-13).

By a woman, is signified the church as to the spiritual affection for truth, or the spiritual affection for truth pertaining to the man of the church, but by a beautiful captive woman is signified the religion of the Gentiles in whom is the desire or affection for truth. By her being brought into the midst of the house, and there shaving her head, paring her nails, and afterwards putting the raiment of her captivity from off her, is signified being led into the interior or spiritual things of the church, and by means of them rejecting the evils and falsities of the natural and sensual man. The midst of the house signifies things interior, which are spiritual things; the hair of the head, that was to be shaved, signifies the falsities and evils of the natural man; the nails, that were to be pared, signify the falsities and evils of the sensual man; and the raiment of captivity signifies the falsity of the religion in which he who desires truth from affection is, as it were, held captive. The latter and the former things therefore he will reject, because they are in the natural and sensual man, as was said above. That she should bewail her father and mother a month of days, signifies that the evils and falsities of his religion should be buried in oblivion; that the man should afterwards go in unto her, and know her, and that she should be his wife, signifies that thus truth, which is the man (vir), should be conjoined with its affection, which is the wife (uxor).

No one can know why this statute was given, unless he understand, from the spiritual sense, what is signified by a woman taken captive from the enemy, what by the midst or inmost of the house, what by hair, nails, and the raiment of captivity, and unless he know something concerning the conjunction of truth and good, for on this conjunction are founded all the precepts in the Word concerning marriages. The church as to the affection for truth is also signified by the woman clothed with the sun, labouring to bring forth, before whom stood the dragon when she brought forth the man-child; and who afterwards fled into the wilderness (Rev. xii. 1 to end). That the woman here signifies the church, and the man-child whom she brought forth, the doctrine of truth, will be seen in the explanation below.

(References: Deuteronomy 21:11-13; Revelation 12, 12:1, 12:1-17)


[17] Since a woman signifies the church as to the affection for truth from good, or the affection for truth from good pertaining to the man of the church, also in the opposite sense a woman signifies the lust of falsity from evil; for most things in the Word have also opposite significations. This is also signified in the following passages, by woman and women.

Thus in Jeremiah:

"Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The sons gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of the heavens, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods" (vii. 17, 18).

What these prophecies involve, cannot be known, unless it be known what is signified by the cities of Judah, the streets of Jerusalem, the sons, the fathers, and the women, also what is signified by gathering wood, by kindling a fire, by kneading the dough, and what by cakes, by the queen of the heavens, and by drink-offerings; but when the significations of such things are known, and substituted in their place, then the spiritual sense involved in these prophecies results. The cities of Judah signify the doctrinals of the church; the streets of Jerusalem, the truths thereof; in the present case, falsities; sons denote those who are in truths of doctrine, in this case, those who are in falsities, who are said to gather wood when they procure for themselves falsities from evils. Fathers denote those who are in the goods of the church, in this case, those who are in evils, who are said to kindle a fire when they approve and excite from the love of evil. Women denote the affections for truth from good, in this case, the disorderly desires of falsity from evil; they are said to knead the dough, when they fabricate doctrine from these and according to them. To make cakes to the queen of the heavens, signifies to worship infernal evils of every kind, to make cakes denoting to worship from evils, and the queen of the heavens, denoting all evils in the aggregate; for the queen of heavens signifies the same as the host of the heavens. To pour out drink-offerings unto other gods signifies to worship from falsities, other gods denoting infernal falsities; for God, in a good sense, signifies proceeding Divine Truth, but other gods signify infernal falsities, which are falsities from evil.

(References: Jeremiah 7:17-18)


[18] In Isaiah:

"As for my people, their oppressors, little children, and women rule over them. O my people, thy leaders cause thee to err, and have blotted out the way of thy paths" (iii. 12).

Oppressors, little children, and women, signify those who violate, are ignorant of, and pervert, truths. Oppressors mean those who violate truths; little children, those who are ignorant of them, and women, the lusts which pervert them. Thy leaders who cause to err, signify those who teach; to blot out the way of their paths, signifies so that truth which leads is not known.

(References: Isaiah 3:12)


[19] Again, in the same prophet:

"When the harvest withereth, they who break in pieces, the women shall come, and set it on fire; for it is a people of no understanding" (xxvii. 11).

This is said concerning the vastated church. By the harvest withering, are signified the truths of good destroyed by evil loves; by the women who set it on fire, are signified the lusts of falsity, which altogether consume.

(References: Isaiah 27:11)


[20] So again:

"Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye confident sons (filii); in your ears perceive my speech, for the vintage shall fail, the gathering shall not come" (xxxii. 9, 10).

By the women who are at ease, are meant the lusts of those who care not that the church is vastated. The confident sons signify the falsities of those who trust in [their] own intelligence; women and sons signify all those who are such in the church, whether men or women; by the vintage which shall fail, and by the gathering which shall not come, is signified, that the truth of the church shall be no more; for vintage and vine both signify the truth of the church, whence the meaning of "the gathering" thereof is evident.

(References: Isaiah 32:9-10)


[21] Again, in Ezekiel:

"A just man (vir), who hath not eaten upon the mountains, neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, neither hath defiled the wife of his companion, neither hath come near to a menstruous woman" (xviii. 5, 6).

The man who has not eaten upon the mountains, is described as just, which signifies that his worship is not from infernal loves, for to sacrifice upon mountains and to eat of things sacrificed has this signification. Neither hath lifted up his eyes to the idols of the house of Israel, signifies, that his worship is not from the falsities of doctrine, for idols signify those falsities, and the house of Israel signifies the perverted church where those falsities are. Neither hath defiled the wife of his companion, signifies, who does not adulterate the good of the church and of the Word. Neither hath come near to a menstruous woman, signifies, who does not defile truths by the lusts of falsity.

(References: Ezekiel 18:5-6)


[22] So in Lamentations:

"The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their own children, so, that they became their food, in the breach of the daughter of my people" (iv. 10).

These words signify the destruction of the truth and good of doctrine from the Word by means of falsities, and the appropriation of those falsities, and the consequent vastation of the church. By the pitiful women are signified the affections for falsity as if it were truth. By their having sodden their children, is signified the destruction of the truths and goods of doctrine from the Word by falsities; by their being meat for them, is signified the appropriation of falsities; and by the breach of the daughter of my people, is signified the vastation of the church. Women also signify evil desires in the Apocalypse (xiv. 4; xvii. 3); concerning which see the explanation below.

(References: Deuteronomy 22:5; Isaiah 4:1-2; Lamentations 4:10; Numbers 31:16-18; Revelation 12, Revelation 14:4, 17:3)

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Apocalypse Explained 542, 577, 652, 707, 821, 863, 918, 1038

Other New Christian Commentary

Bake 1

Know (sexually) 1

Woman 1

Knead dough 1

Menstruating women 1

Nathan 1

Seethe 1


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Apocalypse Explained #430

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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430. A hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe [of the sons] of Israel.- That this signifies all who are in truth from good, and therefore in the church of the Lord, is evident from the signification of "a hundred and forty and four thousand," as denoting all things, and because it is stated of those who are in truths from good, of which signification we shall speak presently; and from the signification of the tribes of Israel, as denoting those who are in truths from good, and who are therefore in the church of the Lord, for tribes signify truths from good, and Israel signifies the church. That the tribes of Israel have this signification, will be seen in the following article. The reason why "a hundred and forty and four thousand" signifies all things and all persons, and is stated of truths from good, is, that this number arises out of the number twelve, which signifies all things and all persons, and is used in reference to truths from good. For the larger numbers, and those formed from the smaller, have the same signification as the smaller numbers and the simple ones from which they result by multiplication. Upon this fact see Arcana Coelestia (n. 5291, 5335, 5708, 7973). For example, a hundred and forty-four, as well as a hundred and forty-four thousand, signify the same as twelve, for a hundred and forty-four is the result of twelve, multiplied into itself, and 144,000 of 12,000 multiplied into twelve.*

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5291, 5335, Arcana Coelestia 5708, Arcana Coelestia 7973; Revelation 7:4)


[2] There are simple numbers whose signification is higher than others, and from these the larger numbers derive their significations, namely, the numbers two, three, five, and seven. Two signifies union, and is used in reference to good; three signifies what is full, and is used in reference to truths; five signifies much and some, and seven signifies what is holy. From the number two the numbers 4, 8, 16, 400, 800, 1600, 4000, 8000, 16,000 result, and these have the same signification as two, because they result from this simple number multiplied into itself, and then multiplied into 10. From the number three result 6, 12, 24, 72, 144, 1440, 144,000, and these also have the same signification as three, because they arise from this simple number by multiplication. From the number five arise 10, 50, 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, and these also have the same signification as the number five, because they are the result of multiplication. From the number seven arise 14, 70, 700, 7000, 70,000, and these results have a similar signification. Because the number three signifies what is full, and full denotes all, therefore from this the number twelve derives its signification of all things and all persons. The reason why it is used of truths from good is, because it is the result of three multiplied into four, and three is used of truths and four of good, as stated above.

[3] He who does not know that the number twelve signifies all things, and that the numbers which arise from it by multiplication have a similar signification, and that each tribe signifies something that is a universal and an essential of the church, merely knows that only 12,000 out of every tribe of Israel were sealed, and that these therefore were received, or were to be received into heaven, when yet by the 12,000 are not meant 12,000, nor by the tribes named there the tribes of Israel; but by 12,000 are meant all, and by the tribes of Israel, those who are in truths from good, and therefore all who form the church of the Lord in whatever part of the earth they may be. Every one who thinks intelligently may understand that such things are signified; for where are those tribes now, and where were they when John wrote this? Were they not, except the tribe of Judah, dispersed throughout a large part of the globe? And where is known to no one. And yet it is said that they were to be sealed, in order that they might be introduced by the Lord into heaven, and be with Him, as is clear in the Apocalypse (chap. xiv. 1, 3, 4). Besides, it is well known that eleven of the tribes there named were banished from the land of Canaan because of their idolatries and other abominations; similarly the Jewish nation, whose character is described in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 248). It is evident therefore that 12,000 does not mean 12,000, nor do tribes mean the tribes of Israel, but all who are in truths from good, thus all who are of the church of the Lord. This will be further seen from the signification of each tribe in the spiritual sense; for each tribe signifies something that is a universal or an essential of the church, in which those are who belong to the church. The universal of each has reference also to truths from good, and these are manifold. For all who are in the heavens differ from one another in regard to good, and therefore in regard to truth, because every living truth in a man and in an angel is from good, and is according to it. Besides, all those who are of the church of the Lord are in truths from good, for those who are in truths and not in good, are not of the church; since as was just stated, every living truth in a man and in an angel is from good. Concerning this see above (n. 6, 59, 136, 242, 286, 292); and in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 11-27). That goods and truths thence are of infinite variety, may be seen in Heaven and Hell (n. 56, 71, 405, 418, 486, 588), and in the small work The Last Judgment (n. 13); also in Arcana Coelestia (n. 684, 690, 3241, 3267, 3470, 3519, 3744-3746, 3804, 3986, 4067, 4149, 4263, 5598, 6917, 7236, 7833, 7836, 9002. The reason why goods and the truths from them are of infinite variety, is because every angel, and every man in whom is the church, is his own good, and consequently his own truth; therefore the whole heaven is arranged according to the affections that pertain to love to the Lord, and to charity towards the neighbour, and faith thence; and all good pertains to those affections.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 684, 690, 3241, 3267, 3470, 3519, 3744-3746, 3804, 3986, 4067, 4149, 4263, Arcana Coelestia 5598, Arcana Coelestia 6917, 7236, 7833, 7836, Arcana Coelestia 9002; Heaven and Hell 56, 71, 405, 418, 486, 585; Revelation 14:1, Revelation 14:3-4; The Apocalypse Explained 6, The Apocalypse Explained 59, 136, The Apocalypse Explained 242, The Apocalypse Explained 286, 292; The Last Judgment 13; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 11-27, The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 248)


[4] That the number 144,000, or the number 12,000 multiplied into twelve, signifies all truths from good, in regard to their classes and species in their entirety, is evident from the use of the number 144 - which results from twelve multiplied into twelve - in other parts of the Apocalypse, where the city, New Jerusalem, is described by measurements in numbers. Concerning the dimensions of its wall, it is said,

"He measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel" (Apoc. xxi. 17).

The city Jerusalem here signifies the New Church to be established by the Lord, and its doctrine; therefore, all the things mentioned, as the wall, the gates, and the foundations, mean such things as relate to the church consequently spiritual things. And because the church and its doctrine are described in the sense of the letter by the city Jerusalem, and a city admits of measurement, therefore the spiritual things of that church are described by measurements in numbers, and its wall by the number 144, or twelve multiplied into twelve, by which number are signified truths from good in their whole extent, for a wall signifies truths defending against falsities and evils. That this number has such a signification, is plain from the statement that the measure of 144 cubits is the measure of a man, that is of an angel

No one can understand what this involves, unless it be known that measure, in the spiritual sense, has the same signification as number, namely, the quality of the thing treated of; and that man signifies the reception of truth from spiritual affection, that is, from good and intelligence thence. The signification of "an angel" is similar. For a man is an angel when he is in truths from good; he also becomes an angel after death. The number 144,000 has the same signification. For a larger or smaller number, if from the same origin, has a similar signification, a larger number being used when a great multitude is concerned, or when it embraces many classes at the same time, as in the case of 144,000, which embraces all the classes of truth from good, signified by twelve thousand sealed out of every tribe; and as is the case with the measure of the wall, which is said to be 144 cubits, because it includes both the gates and the foundations, which are twelve in number.

(References: Revelation 21:17)


[5] Concerning the gates and the foundations of the New Jerusalem, it is said, "Having a wall great and high, having twelve gates, and above the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes [of the sons] of Israel. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." And the foundations consisted of twelve precious stones (Apocalypse xxi. [12, 14,] 19-21). Will not he who knows that the New Jerusalem means a new church, be able to see that the number twelve so frequently mentioned means that chief and primary thing from which the church exists? And the chief and primary constituent of the church is truth from good, for everything pertaining to the church is from that, since truth pertains to its doctrine and good to life according to doctrine. But the particular signification of the gates and the foundations will be given in the explanation of that chapter.

(References: Revelation 21:12, Revelation 21:19-21)


[6] Because that number signifies all things, and is used in reference to truths from good, and the New Jerusalem signifies a new church, therefore the dimensions of the city itself are also stated in the following words by the same number multiplied,

"And the city lieth four square, and the length is as large as the breadth; and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs the length and the breadth and the height of it are equal" (Apoc. xxi. 16).

What is signified in the spiritual sense by length, breadth and height, will be also explained hereafter. The City, in that sense, means the doctrine of the church; and by 12,000 [furlongs] are meant all its truths from good.

(References: Revelation 21:16)


[7] The number twelve is also used of the fruits of the trees which were about the river in the following words, "In the midst of the street of it, and on this side of the river and on that side, was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, and yielding its fruit every month" (Apoc. xxii. 2). Since truths of doctrine are signified by the streets of the city, since intelligence is signified by the river going forth thence, perception of truth from good from the Lord by the tree of life, and good from which are truths by fruits, it is therefore clear that twelve signifies truths from good, by means of which there is intelligence and from which the church exists.

(References: Revelation 21:2, Revelation 22:2)


[8] Because a representative church was to be established with the sons of Jacob, it was therefore provided by the Lord that he should have twelve sons (see Gen. xxix. 32-35; xxx. 1-25; xxxv. 22-26), in order that collectively they might represent all things of the church, and individually something in particular; consequently twelve tribes sprang from them (Gen. xlix. 28), and these also signify all things of the church, while each tribe signifies some essential of the church. It is therefore said in what now follows that there were 12,000 sealed out of every tribe, by whom are signified all those who are in that essential of the church, or all those who are in that kind of truth from good; for truth from good makes the church with all, truth being of doctrine, and good of life, as stated above. What truth from good is, and its quality, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 24).

(References: Genesis 29:32-35, 30:1-24, 30:1-25, 35:22-26, 49:28; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 24)


[9] Because the twelve tribes named after the twelve sons of Jacob represented the church, and everything belonging to it, therefore the number twelve, on account of such signification, was used in connection with various subjects. For example, it is said that the princes of Israel were twelve in number (Numb. i. 44); that these twelve princes brought to the dedication of the altar twelve silver chargers, twelve silver bowls, twelve golden spoons, twelve bullocks, twelve rams, twelve lambs, and twelve goats (vii. 84, 87). By each of the things which they brought are signified such things as relate to truths from good. So also twelve men were sent to explore the land of Canaan (Deut. i. 23); for the land of Canaan signifies the church. Also twelve precious stones were set in the breast-plate of judgment, or in the Urim and Thummim (Exodus xxviii. 21; xxxix. 14); precious stones signify truths from good. Again, twelve cakes were placed upon the table in two rows, which were called the bread of faces (Lev. xxiv. 5, 6); the bread signifies the good of love, and the table its reception, so also truth in general, because this is the recipient of good. Again, Moses built an altar under Mount Sinai, and erected twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel (Exod. xxiv. 4); for the altar signifies the good of the church, and the pillars, its truths; therefore by the altar and the twelve pillars are signified all truths from good, by means of which the church exists.

(References: Deuteronomy 1:23; Exodus 24:4, 28:21, 39:14; Leviticus 24:5-6; Numbers 1:44, 7:84, 7:87)


[10] So also twelve men carried twelve stones out of the midst of the Jordan, and set them up in Gilgal, that they might be for a memorial among the sons of Israel. Twelve stones were also placed in the midst of the Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests stood who bare the ark of the covenant (Josh. iv. 1-9, 20). The Jordan in the Word signifies introduction into the church; the stones carried thence, and those [set up] in the midst of the river, signify the truths of the church, by means of which introduction takes place. Elijah also took twelve stones, and built an altar (1 Kings xviii. 31, 32); for an altar signifies the good of the church, and stones signify its truths.

(References: 1 Kings 18:31-32; Joshua 4:1-9, 4:20)


[11] So again,

Moses chose twelve thousand of the sons of Israel, to fight against Midian under the command of Phinehas, and they returned with great spoil, without the loss of a single man (Numb. xxxi. 5, 6, 49).

Midian signifies those who are in the knowledges of truth, but still not in a life agreeable to them, and therefore twelve thousand were sent against him; the great spoil taken from them, has the same signification as the raiment, the silver, and gold, which the sons of Israel took from the Egyptians (Exod. iii. 22; xii. 35, 36); and similarly the unjust mammon, of which the Lord told His disciples to make to themselves friends (Luke xvi. 9), which means the knowledges of truth, which they possess in doctrine and not in life.

(References: 1 Kings 18:31-32; Exodus 3:22, 12:35-36; Luke 16:9; Numbers 31:5-6, 31:49)


[12] Solomon also placed the brazen sea which he made, upon twelve oxen (1 Kings vii. 25, 44). The brazen sea signifies truth from good; the water in it, truth; and the brass of which the sea was made, good; while the twelve oxen signify all goods and the truths thence upon which they are founded. Also Solomon made a throne of ivory, with six steps up to it, and twelve lions standing upon them on both sides (1 Kings x. 18-20). The throne of Solomon signified judgment, this being from truths that are from good; it also represented Divine Truth from Divine Good. Lions signify the truths of heaven and of the church in their power; and twelve, all, as may be seen above (n. 253:6, 7).

(References: 1 Kings 7:25, 7:44, 10:18-20; The Apocalypse Explained 253)


[13] It is said concerning Ishmael, that he should be blessed and should increase, and that twelve princes should be born of him (Gen. xvii. 20; xxv. 16). This was said of Ishmael, because he signified the external church with all its truths from good. It is said of Elisha that he was found by Elijah ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he among the twelve; and that then he cast his mantle upon him (1 Kings xix. 19). This was done and said because Elijah and Elisha represented the Lord as to the Word, in which are all truths from good; therefore when that representation was transferred from Elijah to Elisha, signified by his casting his mantle upon him, Elisha was seen ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself among the twelve, which signifies the formation of the church by means of truths from good from the Word, as may be seen above (n. 395:4).

It is said in the Apocalypse that "a woman was seen clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars" (xii. 1).

This was seen because a woman signifies the church, and stars signify cognitions of truth; the good of these is signified by a crown, and intelligence by the head.

(References: 1 Kings 19:19; Genesis 17:20, 25:16; Revelation 12:1; The Apocalypse Explained 395)


[14] The twelve apostles of the Lord, also, have a similar representation to that of the twelve tribes of Israel; collectively they represented the church, and individually, some essential of the church; for this reason they were twelve in number. From these considerations it is evident whence and why it is said that the New Jerusalem, by which are signified the church and its doctrines, had twelve gates, and above the gates twelve angels, and names written, which are those of the twelve tribes of Israel; that the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Apoc. xxi. 12, 14). Here by twelve angels, twelve tribes, and twelve apostles, are not meant angels, tribes and apostles, but all things of the church. Also, it is said that the apostles shall sit upon twelve thrones, and shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. xix. 28; Luke xxii. 30). This does not mean that the apostles shall sit upon twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel, but that the Lord alone shall judge everyone by means of the Divine Truth from the Divine Good, as may be seen above (n. 9, 206, 253:6, 270, 297, 333).

(References: Luke 22:30; Matthew 19:28; Revelation 21:12, 21:14; The Apocalypse Explained 9, The Apocalypse Explained 206, The Apocalypse Explained 253, 270, The Apocalypse Explained 297, 333)


[15] He who does not know that twelve signifies all things, cannot know the interior truth signified by the twelve baskets of fragments that remained over from the five loaves and the two fishes, with which the Lord fed five thousand men, besides women and children (Matt. xiv. 15-21; Mark vi. 37-44; Luke ix. 12-17; John vi. 9-13); in these places every particular, even to the very numbers, is significative. The five thousand men, besides women and children, signify all those of the church who are in truths from good; the men, those in truths; and the women and children, those who are in good; the loaves signify the goods, and the fishes the truths of the natural man; and by their eating and being filled is signified spiritual nourishment from the Lord; the twelve baskets of fragments signify the cognitions of truth and good thence in perfect abundance and fulness.

(References: John 6:9-13; Luke 9:12-17; Mark 6:37-44; Matthew 14:15-21)


[16] Because twelve signifies all things, and is used in reference to truths from good, which make the church, therefore the Lord, when He was twelve years old, left [His] father and mother, and tarried in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them and asking them questions (Luke ii. 42-46); by which is meant the initiation and introduction of His Human into all things of heaven and of the church. Therefore also when found He said, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (verse 49). Since the number twelve signifies all things, and is used in reference to truths from good, therefore the Lord said, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not" (John xi. 9). Day signifies enlightenment in truths from good, and the twelve hours of the day signify all things of truth from good, and walking signifies to live. Therefore these words, in the spiritual sense, signify that he who lives in any kind of truth that is from good is in enlightenment, and does not wander into falsities. Because twelve signifies all things therefore the Lord said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He shall cause to assist Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt. xxvi. 53). The twelve legions of angels mean the whole heaven, and more than these signify the Divine Omnipotence.

From these things the signification of a hundred and forty-four thousand out of every tribe is now evident, namely, all who are in truths from good. The twelve thousand out of every tribe mean all who are in that kind of truth from good which is signified by the particular tribe mentioned. Therefore neither twelve thousand are meant nor those who were of the tribes of Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Napthali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. Moreover, it should be understood that all these, or the hundred and forty-four thousand, mean those who were taken up into heaven before the Last Judgment. But by those afterwards mentioned from verse 9 to the end of this chapter, are meant those who were reserved by the Lord until the Last Judgment, and who were then first taken up into heaven; concerning, these see above (n. 391:1, 392:3, 394, 397). For those who were in truths from good were all received into heaven before the Judgment; but those who were in good, and not yet in truths, were reserved, and in the meantime instructed and prepared for heaven. We shall speak further of these in the following pages. Those taken up into heaven before the Judgment, are also meant by those of whom it is said in the Apocalypse, chapter xiv. 1: "The Lamb standing on the mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads." It is further said of these, that "no man could learn that song, but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were bought from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women, for they are virgins bought from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and unto the Lamb" (verses 3, 4). The same are also meant by those who are of the first resurrection; and the rest those who are of the second resurrection (Apoc. xx. 4-6).

* The text in the photolithograpy copy is "ac 144,000 ex 12,000 in 12,000;" and further on we find "quo numerus 144,000 seu numerus 12,000 in se multiplicati significet," etc. There is an obvious error here, and we have accordingly followed the editor of the American Latin edition, who has "ac 144,000 ex 12,000 in 12."

(References: John 11:9; Luke 2:42-43, 2:42, 2:46, 2:49; Matthew 26:53; Revelation 14:1, Revelation 14:3-4, Revelation 20:4-6)


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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 428, 433, 434, 453, 506, 532, 548, 555, 574, 625, 657, 658, 709, 724, 727, 803, 841, 847, 851, 859, 872, 924

Other New Christian Commentary

Five thousand men 1

twelve baskets of fragments 1

Labor, patience, endurance 1

Twelve legions of angels 1


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


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