The Bible


Amos 4:9

Norwegian: Det Norsk Bibelselskap (1930)         

Study the Inner Meaning

← Previous    Full Chapter    Next →

9 Jeg har slått eder med kornbrand og rust; gresshoppene åt op eders mange haver og vingårder og fikentrær og oljetrær; men I har ikke omvendt eder til mig, sier Herren.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Amos 4      

By Helen Kennedy

In chapter 4 of the Book of Amos, verses 1-3 talk about people who pervert the truths of the church. They will fall into falsities in outermost things.

Fish are lower things, so it follows that fishhooks (verse 2) would mean being caught and held fast in natural or lower things.

Verses 4-6 talk about things of worship such as tithes and sacrifices. These look similar to genuine worship, but are only in outermost things. We can tell because ‘teeth’ (verse 6) represent ultimates or outermost things (Secrets of Heaven 6380), so it follows that “cleanness of teeth” would mean outermost things that look good but only imitate genuine worship. The Lord exhorts, “Yet you have not returned to me.”

Verses 7-8. Some things true will remain, when the rest are false, in consequence of which truths will have no power. This can be seen where the Lord says, “I made it rain on one city; I withheld rain from another city... where it did not rain the part withered.” Again the Lord exhorts, “Yet you have not returned to me.”

Verse 9. Afterward all things of the church are falsified, shown in how blight attacked the gardens, vineyards, fig tree and olive trees. The last three represent spiritual, natural and celestial things, or all the things of spiritual life. “Yet you have not returned to me,” says the Lord.

Verses 10-11. The Lord explains the devastating things he allowed to happen: plague in Egypt, death of young men by swords, stench in the camps, Sodom and Gomorrah. This is because they are profaned by sensual knowledges - profanation meaning the mixing of good and evil together (Secrets of Heaven 1001:2).

This extends to all things of the church, the church being the Lord’s kingdom on earth (Secrets of Heaven 768:3).

With profanation “as soon as any idea of what is holy arises, the idea of what is profane joins immediately to it” (Secrets of Heaven 301).

Now there is hardly anything left. “Yet you have not returned to Me,” says the Lord again.

Verses 12-13. Because people adamantly remain in their profane ways, they are warned, “Prepare to meet your God!”. This is the God powerful and mighty, “who forms mountains, and creates the wind,” and even more close to home, “Who declares to man what his thought is.” As intimately a knowing as that is, the Lord’s love for all humanity is contained in His exhortations for them to turn themselves to Him.

See, for example, Luke 6:44-45, and True Christian Religion 373.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 204

Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 1069, 9277, 9331, 10261

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 403, 638, 919

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

5 Mosebok 28:42

Esaias 9:12

Jeremias 5:3

Hoseas 11:5

Joel 1:4

Amos 7:1

Haggai 2:17

Word/Phrase Explanations

'A vine' signifies spiritual good and truth. 'A vine' or 'vineyard' signifies the church where the Word, and the Lord in it, is known, or...

The Writings tell us that the fig tree represents the "natural human," which is our outward life in the world, and the thoughts and feelings...

There are many instances in the Bible which describe people turning back, looking back or going back. In most cases it is a negative, sometimes...

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...

The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #1453

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

1453. As regards 'Bethel being towards the sea and Ai towards the east, 1 ' meaning that His state was still obscure, that is to say, so far as cognitions of celestial and spiritual things were concerned, it is one thing to be governed by celestial things, another to be governed by the cognitions of celestial things. Infants and children are governed, more so than adults, by celestial things because of the presence in them of love towards their parents and of love for one another, as well as of innocence. But adults are governed, more so than infants and children, by the cognitions of those celestial things, very many adults not being governed at all by the celestial things of love. Until a person is taught the things of love and faith, he dwells in an obscure state, that is, so far as cognitions are concerned. That state is described here by the statement 'Bethel' was 'towards the sea', that is, 'towards the west', and 'Ai towards the east' 'Bethel', as stated already, means cognitions of celestial things, but 'Ai' the cognitions of worldly things. The former are said to be 'towards the west' when they are in obscurity, for in the Word 'the west' means that which is obscure, while the latter are said to be 'towards the east' when they are in brightness; for in comparison with the west the east is brightness. There is no need to confirm that west and east have these meanings, as they may be evident to anyone without confirmation.

[2] That 'Bethel' means the cognitions of celestial things however may become clear from other places where Bethel is mentioned in the Word, as in the next chapter,

Abram went according to his journeys from the south even to Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the start, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar that he had made there. Genesis 13:3-4.

Here 'according to his journeys from the south towards Bethel' means advancing into the light of cognitions, and this is why no reference is made in this case to 'Bethel towards the west and Ai towards the east'. When Jacob saw the stairway he said,

This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And he called the name of this place Bethel. Genesis 28:17, 19.

Here similarly 'Bethel' means knowledge of celestial things, for a person is a 'Bethel', that is, a 'House of God', and a 'Gate of heaven', when he is governed by the celestial things that have been present as cognitions. While a person is being regenerated he is undergoing introduction, which is effected by means of cognitions of spiritual and celestial things; but once he has been regenerated that introduction has been completed, and he is now governed by the celestial and spiritual things that have been present as cognitions. Further on it is said,

God said to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there; make there an altar to the God who appeared to you. Genesis 35:1, 6-7.

[3] Here similarly 'Bethel' means cognitions.

The presence of the Ark of Jehovah in Bethel, and the visits to that place by the children of Israel to inquire of Jehovah, Judges 20:18, 26-27; 1 Samuel 7:16, 10:3, have similar meanings. So also has the reference to the king of Assyria sending one of the priests whom he had deported from Samaria, who resided in Bethel and was teaching them how to fear Jehovah, 2 Kings 17:27-28.

In Amos,

Amaziah said to Amos, O seer, go, flee to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there. And do not prophesy any more in Bethel, for this is the king's sanctuary and this is a house of the kingdom. Amos 7:12-13.

[4] After Jeroboam had profaned Bethel, 1 Kings 12:32; 13:1-8; 2 Kings 23:15, Bethel had a contrary representation, as in Hosea 10:15; Amos 3:14-15; 5:5-7. As regards 'Ai' meaning cognitions of worldly things however this too may be confirmed from historical and prophetical parts of the Word, in Joshua 7:2; 8:1-28; Jeremiah 49:3-4.


1. literally, Bethel from the sea (an idiom for from the west) and Ai from the east


(References: Amos 4:4-7, 4:5-7; Genesis 12:8; Joshua 8:1-29)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 1555, 1557, 3030, 4539

Heaven and Hell 356

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51

Other New Christian Commentary

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