The Bible


Genesis 1



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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From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #9340

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9340. 'And I will set your boundary from the Sea Suph even to the Sea of the Philistines' means the full range of truths from factual ones to interior truths of faith. This is clear from the meaning of 'setting the boundary from one place to another', when it refers to spiritual truths, as the full range; from the meaning of 'the Sea Suph' as truths on the levels of the senses and of factual knowledge, which are the lowest levels of the human mind (the Sea Suph was the final boundary of the land of Egypt, and 'Egypt' means factual knowledge in both senses, that is, true factual knowledge and false, 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 2588, 4749, 4964, 4966, 5700, 6004, 6015, 6125, 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692, 6750, 7779 (end), 7926, 8146, 8148; in this instance true factual knowledge is meant since the subject is the full range of spiritual matters of faith among the children of Israel, who represented the spiritual Church, 4286, 4598, 6426, 6637, 6862, 6868, 7035, 7062, 7198, 7201, 7215, 7223, 8805); and from the meaning of 'the Sea of the Philistines' as interior truths of faith. The reason why these truths are meant by 'the Sea of the Philistines' is that the sea where Tyre and Sidon lay was the boundary of the land of Philistia, and 'Tyre and Sidon' means cognitions or knowledge of truth and good, 1201, while 'the land of Philistia' means the knowledge of interior matters of faith, 1197, 2504, 2726, 3463.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165)

[2] Since 'the land of Canaan' represented the Lord's kingdom, which is heaven and the Church, all places in the land therefore meant such things as form part of the Lord's kingdom, or heaven and the Church, which things are called celestial and spiritual, and are connected with the good of love to the Lord and the truths of faith in Him. For this reason the seas and rivers which were boundaries meant the final limits there, and therefore 'from sea to sea' or 'from river to river' meant the full range of those things, as may be seen in 1585, 1866, 4116, 4240, 6516. From all this it becomes clear that 'the boundary from the Sea Suph even to the Sea of the Philistines' means the range of spiritual things, which are matters of truth, from external ones to internal, thus truths ranging from factual ones to interior truths of faith. But the range of celestial things, which are aspects of the good of love, is described next by the words 'from the wilderness even to the River'. The fact that places belonging to the land of Canaan, including seas and rivers, mean such things in the Word, has been shown in explanations everywhere.

[3] What the full range of truths from factual ones to interior truths of faith is must be stated briefly. Truths which exist in the external man are called factual ones, but truths which exist in the internal man are called interior truths of faith. Factual truths reside in a person's memory, and when they are brought out from there they pass into the person's immediate awareness. But interior truths of faith are truths of life itself which are inscribed on the internal man, but few of which show up in the memory. These however are matters which will in the Lord's Divine mercy be spoken of more fully elsewhere. Factual truths and interior truths of faith were meant in Genesis 1:6-7 by the waters under the expanse and the waters above the expanse, 24; for the first chapter of Genesis deals in the internal sense with the new creation or the regeneration of a member of the celestial Church.

(References: Genesis 1:1)

[4] The reason why 'Philistia', which also bordered on the land of Canaan as far as Tyre and Sidon, meant the interior truths of faith was that there also the representative Ancient Church had existed, as is evident from the remnants of Divine worship among them which are alluded to in historical sections and prophetical parts of the Word in which the Philistines and the land of Philistia are the subject, such as - in the prophetical parts - Jeremiah 25:20; Jeremiah 47:1-end; Ezekiel 16:27, 57; 25:15-16; Amos 1:8; Zephaniah 2:5; Zechariah 9:6; Psalms 56:1; 1 60:8; 83:7; 108:9. The situation with the Philistines was the same as it was with all the nations in the land of Canaan, in that they represented the Church's forms of good and its truths, and also evils and falsities. When the representative Ancient Church existed among them they represented celestial things which were aspects of good and spiritual things which were matters of truth. But when they fell away from true representative worship they began to represent devilish things which were aspects of evil and hellish things which were matters of falsity. This is the reason why 'Philistia', like all the other nations belonging to the land of Canaan in the Word, means either forms of good and truths, or else evils and falsities.

[5] The fact that interior truths of faith are meant by 'the Philistines' is clear in David,

Glorious things are to be spoken in you, O city of God. I will mention Rahab and Babel among those who know Me; also Philistia and Tyre, with Ethiopia. The latter was born here. 2 Psalms 87:3-4.

'The city of God' means teachings presenting the truth of faith that are drawn from the Word, 402, 2268, 2449, 2712, 2943, 3216, 4492, 4493, 5297; 'Tyre' means cognitions or knowledge of truth and good, 1201, and so does 'Ethiopia', 116, 117. From this it is evident that 'Philistia' means knowledge of the truths of faith.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4492-4493)

[6] In Amos,

Are you not like the children of the Ethiopians to Me, O children of Israel? Did I not cause Israel to come up from the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir? Amos 9:7.

This refers to the corruption and destruction of the Church after it had been established. 'The children of the Ethiopians' here are those in possession of cognitions of goodness and truth, which they use to substantiate evils and falsities, 1163, 1164. 'The children of Israel from the land of Egypt' are those who had been brought to spiritual truths and forms of good by means of factual truths, 'the children of Israel' being people in possession of spiritual truths and forms of good, thus in the abstract sense spiritual truths and forms of good, see 5414, 5801, 5803, 5806, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833, 5879, 5951, 7957, 8234, and 'the land of Egypt' being factual truth, as shown above. The same is meant by 'the Philistines from Caphtor' and by 'the Syrians from Kir', to whom they are therefore likened. 'The Philistines from Caphtor' are people who had been brought to interior truths by means of exterior ones, but who perverted them and used them to substantiate falsities and evils, 1197, 1198, 3412, 3413, 3762, 8093, 8096, 8099, 8313, whereas 'the Syrians from Kir' are those who were in possession of cognitions of goodness and truth, which they likewise perverted, 1232, 1234, 3051, 3249, 3664, 3680, 4112.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1163-1164, Arcana Coelestia 1197-1198, 3412-3413)

[7] In Jeremiah,

... because of the day that is coming to lay waste all the Philistines, to cut off from Tyre and Sidon every helper that is left, for Jehovah is laying waste the Philistines, the remnants of the island of Caphtor. Jeremiah 47:4.

The subject in Jeremiah 47 is the laying waste of the Church's truths of faith, interior truths of faith being meant by 'the Philistines' and exterior truths by 'the remnants of the island of Caphtor'.

[8] In Joel,

What have you to do with Me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the borders of Philistia? Swiftly I will return your recompense upon your own head, inasmuch as you have taken My silver and My gold, and My good and desirable treasures you have carried into your temples. Joel 3:4-5.

'All the borders of Philistia' stands for all the interior and the exterior truths of faith; 'carrying silver and gold, and good and desirable treasures into their temples' stands for perverting truths and forms of good, and profaning them by putting them together with evils and falsities. For the meaning of 'silver and gold' as truths and forms of good, see 1551, 2954, 5658, 6112, 6914, 6917, 8932.

(References: Joel 3:4, 3:6)

[9] In Obadiah,

At that time those in the south will be the heirs of the mountain of Esau, and of the plain of the Philistines, and they will become the heirs of the field of Ephraim; but Benjamin [will be the heir] of Gilead. Obad. verse 19.

This refers to the establishment of the Church; but spiritual things are implied by the names. 'Those in the south' are people who dwell in the light of truth, 1458, 3195, 3708, 5672, 5962; 'the mountain of Esau' is the good of love, 3300, 3322, 3494, 3504, 3576; 'the plain of the Philistines' is the truth of faith, 'the plain' being also that which constitutes matters of doctrine about faith, 2418; 'Ephraim' is the Church's power of understanding, 3969, 5354, 6222, 6234, 6238, 6267; 'Benjamin' is the Church's spiritual-celestial truth, 3969, 4592, 5686, 5689, 6440; and 'Gilead' is the corresponding exterior good, 4117, 4124, 4747.

(References: Obadiah 1:19)

[10] In Isaiah,

He will gather the outcasts of Israel, and will assemble the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. They will fly down onto the shoulder of the Philistines towards the sea, together they will plunder the sons of the east. Isaiah 11:12, 14.

Here 'Israel' and 'Judah' are not used to mean Israel and Judah; rather, 'Israel' means those who are governed by the good of faith, and 'Judah' those who are governed by the good of love. 'Flying down onto the shoulder of the Philistines' stands for receiving and taking into possession interior truths of faith; and 'plundering the sons of the east' stands for receiving and taking into possession interior forms of the good of faith, for 'the sons of the east' are people who are governed by forms of the good of faith and with whom cognitions or knowledge of good exists, 3249. 3762. For the meaning of 'plundering' as receiving and taking into possession, see what has been shown in 6914, 6917, regarding the plundering of the Egyptians by the children of Israel.

[11] Since 'the land of Philistia' meant knowledge of the interior truths of faith, and since Abraham and Isaac represented the Lord, and the sojourning of these two in places meant instruction received by the Lord in the truths and forms of the good of faith and love, which belong to God's wisdom, therefore - to provide a figurative representation of this - Abraham was commanded to sojourn in Philistia, Genesis 20:1-end, and so too was Isaac, Genesis 26:1-24. Therefore also Abimelech king of the Philistines made a covenant with Abraham, Genesis 21:22-end, and also with Isaac, Genesis 26:26-end. Regarding all this, see the explanations to those chapters.


1. i.e. in the superscription or heading of this Psalm

2. i.e. in the city of God, see 1164:7.

(References: Exodus 23:31; Genesis 20, 21:22-24, 21:22-34, 26:26-35)

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



God Will Comfort You


By Rev. William Woofenden

"As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." Isaiah 66:13

Additional Readings: Isaiah 66, Psalm 86, Psalm 87, John 14:15-31

The Lord said, "All power is given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matthew 28:18). All things are in His hand, and the means for accomplishing all things are in His hand. All nature speaks of the wisdom and power which the Almighty God displays in His control of things material. He holds the stars in their courses; He provides for every created thing. The whole universe is created that it may meet every possible need of man.

There is also the spiritual world. "In the beginning God. created the heaven and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). The spiritual world is a much vaster realm established by the Lord for man, to meet his higher needs. In the beginning men were in close connection with the Lord and with the heavens, but in process of time they departed from the laws established by the Lord, and so they are not in the condition in which the Lord first created them.

The Lord always provides for all things in His universe. When men departed from the way of life He provided that there should be the means whereby His laws might be reestablished among them. When the first spiritual development—the Adamic Church 1 —came to its end, a change was made in the mental structure of man and a written Word was given him, that he might again order his life according to Divine laws. This is the forerunner of many provisions that the Lord has made to meet the needs of His children. He continually provides distinct means for salvation, for "comfort" in every possible state in the life of man.

Were man in mental and spiritual integrity, as in the most ancient times, enlightenment and power from the Lord could flow directly into him without restraint, blessing him in every way, both naturally and spiritually. But as it is, man is weakened by evil and is under its influence. So life from the Lord has to come to him hedged in by precautionary measures, lest it slay him. The way to the tree of life is guarded by the letter of the Word, through the marvelous care and mercy of the Lord.

In that wonderful work The Divine Providence the laws by which the Lord secretly operates are revealed to us. We must be led in freedom to learn of the Lord and to follow Him. There is no experience through which we may pass which is not provided for. Belief in God is inseparable from a belief in His providence. But a correct understanding of His nature is needed. For by His providence is meant the influence which He exerts over the affairs of men—His active government of the universe.

To feel that the Lord is merely a Creator, One who originally made the world and then ceased to have anything to do with it, is to deny Him all participation in human affairs and all interest in those whom He has created. Such a denial removes Him so far off as to make any personal relationship with Him impossible. If He does not watch over and provide for us, our prayers and praises amount to nothing and might as well cease altogether. To come into a living relationship with the Lord we need to have a true understanding of Him. We cannot worship one about whom we know nothing, and a wrong idea of God is destructive of any intelligent or helpful relationship with Him.

Our text begins "As one whom his mother comforteth." The picture is one of a child who is sick or in distress. As the child is shielded from responsibilities too heavy for him, so the Lord in His tender mercy adapts His truth to the minds of His children. To those who are not far advanced He gives the lower truths, clothing them with such appearances as they need, while to those who have gone further He gives knowledge of Himself in more definite outlines and in larger measure. So it is in all things.

The latter part of our text reads "Ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem." It is in the New Church, which is here called Jerusalem, that the Lord has gathered together all the means of comfort. It is in the doctrine of the New Church that the Lord comforteth man as a mother comforteth.

Sometimes adversities overtake us, and life seems bitter, and the question arises "What are we living for?" This is an age old question. Philosophers beginning with Socrates have tried to answer it. Stoic and Epicurean have given their answers. Nirvana is the answer of the Hindu. All these, though they have afforded some comfort, are in reality but idle dreams. It is in the doctrines of the New Jerusalem that we find the reality. "What are we living for" is a question which finds its answer in the teachings of the New Church and in them only.

When disaster or bereavement comes, none of the systems of philosophy devised by men, with their glittering phrases and mental gymnastics, give any real comfort. But in Jerusalem ye shall be comforted.

If one has lost a little child the Lord says, "Let the little ones come unto me and forbid them not" (Matthew 19:14) To those who are strong and prosperous He says, "Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain" (Psalms 127:1). To the student the Lord says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10). Whatever be our state or station, the Lord will comfort us in Jerusalem.

And it is written, "In that day shall Jehovah be one, and his name one in all the earth" (Zechariah 14:9). In Jerusalem we are taught to see the Lord as the center of all things, in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks, the center for every variety of character, for the seven candlesticks are the seven churches.

From Divine love through Divine wisdom the universe was made and all that is therein. We live because God loves us and desires objects on whom His love can be bestowed and who can know the happiness of loving Him in return. From and by His love and wisdom he always cares for us, for no event or circumstance can be overlooked by Him. To the merely natural man the world may at times seem harsh and cruel and God a hard taskmaster. But the truth is that "the Lord, is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works." Not a sparrow can fall to the ground without His knowledge. Even the hairs of our heads are numbered. Nothing can take place without Divine permission: "the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain" (Psalm 76:10).

The Lord looks beyond the things of time to eternity. The one great fact of our existence which no one can deny is that sooner or later the earthly life of every man comes to an end. This is part of the Divine plan. When we know that the Lord is Love and Wisdom itself and trust Him, we are enabled to see that all untoward and unwelcome events come to us only for the purpose of furthering our eternal happiness. Then all sickness, sorrow, and disappointment, from whatever cause they may arise, are fully accounted for by the knowledge that the Lord’s providence in all that it does looks to the infinite and eternal. We may not clearly perceive the reasons for our particular trials and afflictions, but there is comfort in the certainty that we should never have been subjected to them unless our Heavenly Father saw that they could contribute something toward making us better and happier to eternity.

The Divine omnipotence—the power of infinite love and wisdom—is always about us. It can never fail us in least things or greatest. Knowledge and acknowledgment of this fact is a part of genuine belief. And wherever true knowledge of the Lord exists, it serves as the basis for a living trust, bringing us into that vital relation to the Lord which is the purpose of our creation. Of this new light which has been given us for our salvation the prophet writes: "Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem" (Isaiah 52:9).


1. The Adamic church (the church that Adam stands for, in Genesis) is also called the Most Ancient Church; Swedenborg describes it as the first real church on this earth -- not a church in the sense of a building or an organized congregation, but a church in the sense of a group of people with a commonly held set of spiritual beliefs and practices.