391. I saw under the altar. That this signifies those who were reserved under heaven, is plain from the signification of seeing, as denoting to make manifest (as above, n. 351); and from the signification of altar, as denoting, in the proximate sense, worship from the good of love to the Lord; in the sense more interior, heaven and the church which are in that love; and, in the inmost sense, the Lord's Divine Human as to the Divine good of the Divine love. The reason why by under the altar are signified those who were reserved under heaven, is, that it is said that he saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the Word of God, and for the testimony which they held, and by them are meant those who were reserved under heaven until the Last Judgment. But as this is a circumstance not yet known in the world, I desire to tell how and when it happened. In the little work concerning the Last Judgment it has been shown, that before the Last Judgment took place, there was a resemblance of heaven, which is meant by the former heaven that passed away (Apoc. xxi. 1); and that this heaven consisted of those who were in external worship without internal, and who thence lived an external moral life, although they were merely natural and not spiritual. Those who constituted this heaven before the Last Judgment were seen above the earth, also upon mountains, hills, and rocks in the spiritual world, and thence they fancied themselves to be in heaven; but those who constituted this heaven, because they were only in an external moral life, and not at the same time in an internal spiritual one, were cast down; and when they were cast down, then all those who were reserved by the Lord, and concealed here and there, for the most part, in the lower earth, were raised up and transferred into the same places, that is, upon the mountains, hills, and rocks where the former had been; and from these a new heaven was formed. The latter who were reserved and then raised up, were from those in the world who had lived a life of charity, and who were in the spiritual affection of truth. The elevation of the latter into the place of the former was frequently seen by me. These are those meant by the souls of the slain seen under the altar; and because they were kept by the Lord in the lower earth, which earth is under heaven, hence by, "I saw under the altar," are signified those who were reserved under heaven; but these will be treated of specifically in the Apocalypse xx. 4, 5, 12, 13, where more must be related concerning them. In the meantime, concerning the former heaven which passed away, and concerning the new heaven which was formed by the Lord after the Last Judgment, see what is said in the small work upon the Last Judgment (n. 65-72). These few [remarks] may be a sufficient illustration for understanding what is said in the two following verses, namely, that
Those who were under the altar "Cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Lord, who art holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet a little time, until both their fellow-servants and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled."
Revelation 6:10-11, Revelation 20:4-5, 20:12-13, 21:1; The Apocalypse Explained 351; The Last Judgment 65-72)
 The reason why under the altar signifies under heaven, is that the altar, in the highest sense, signifies the Lord, and, in a relative sense, heaven and the church, inasmuch as the Lord is heaven and the church, for the all of heaven and the church, or the all of love and faith which make them, with angels and men, are from Him, and, consequently, are His; but, in a general sense, the altar signifies all worship of the Lord, and specifically representative worship, such as existed among the sons of Israel. The reason why the altar signifies all worship, is that the worship in that church principally consisted in offering burnt-offerings and sacrifices; for these were offered for every sin and guilt, also from the desire to please Jehovah, - such sacrifices were called eucharistic or free-will, - and also for cleansings of every kind. By burnt-offerings and sacrifices inaugurations were also effected into everything holy pertaining to the church, as is plain from the sacrifices at the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood, the consecration of the tabernacle of the congregation, and afterwards of the temple. And because the worship of Jehovah, that is of the Lord, principally consisted in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, therefore, they were offered also daily, namely, every morning and evening, which in one expression was called perpetual, besides [those offered] in great abundance on every feast; hence in the Word, perpetual signifies all representative worship. From these considerations it is evident that worship, and specifically the representative worship of that nation, principally consisted in burnt-offerings and sacrifices; hence it is that the altar upon which they were performed, and which contained them, signifies in the Word all worship in general. By worship is not meant external worship only, but also internal worship, and internal worship embraces every thing of love, and every thing of faith, consequently, every thing constituting the church or heaven with man, in a word, causing the Lord to be in him.
The reason why heaven was represented before John by an altar, is also that the whole Word was written by representatives, and by such representatives as existed with the sons of Israel; therefore, that the Word should be alike in both Testaments, similar things were seen by John and are recorded in this book, as also elsewhere, namely, that the altar of incense was seen, the incense itself with the censers, also the tabernacle, the ark, and other things of a like nature; but at this day such things never appear to any angel, nor to any man whose right is opened into heaven. The reason why an altar, the ark, and like things do not appear at the present day in heaven is, that sacrifices were unknown to the ancients, and that after the Lord's advent, they were entirely abolished. For they were begun by Eber, and were afterwards continued among his posterity, who were called Hebrews, and were tolerated among the sons of Israel who were descended from Eber, especially for this reason, that worship once begun and rooted in the mind, is not removed by the Lord, but is bent to signify what is holy in religion. (Concerning which see the Arcana Coelestia, n. 1343, 2180, 2818, 10,042.)
Arcana Coelestia 1343, Arcana Coelestia 2180, Arcana Coelestia 2818, Arcana Coelestia 10042)
 That an altar signifies, in the highest sense, the Lord's Divine Human as to the Divine good of the Divine love, and that, in a relative sense, it signifies heaven and the church, and in general all worship, and, specifically, representative worship, is quite clear from the following passages in the Word.
"Send out thy light and thy truth; let them lead me; let them lead me to the mountain of thy holiness, and to thy habitations; that I may approach unto the altar of God, even unto God" (Ps. xliii. 3, 4).
That by the altar of God is here meant the Lord as to the Divine Human, is plainly evident, for the way to heaven and to the Lord there, is the subject here treated of. The way to heaven is meant by, "send out thy light and truth; let them lead me"; light denoting enlightenment in which truths appear; heaven, into which it leads, is meant by, "let them lead me unto the mountain of holiness, and to thy habitations"; the mountain of holiness denoting heaven where the Lord's celestial kingdom is, in which the good of love rules. Habitations are spoken of that heaven, where the Lord's spiritual kingdom is, in which the truth from that good rules, and because both are meant, therefore it is said, that I may approach unto the altar of God, even unto God; and by the altar of God is meant where the Lord is in the good of love, and by God is meant where the Lord is in the truth from that good; for the Lord is called God from Divine truth, and Jehovah from Divine good. In the Jewish Church there were two things, which, in the highest sense, signified His Divine Human, namely, the altar and the temple; the altar, the Divine Human as to Divine good; the temple, as to Divine truth proceeding from that good. The reason why those two signified the Lord as to His Divine Human, was, that all things of worship in that church represented Divine things proceeding from the Lord, called celestial and spiritual, and the worship itself was principally performed upon the altar and in the temple, therefore by those two the Lord Himself was represented.
 That the temple represented His Divine Human He Himself teaches in clear terms in John:
"The Jews said, What sign showest thou that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. But he spake of the temple of his body" (ii. 18-23; likewise Matt. xxvi. 61, and elsewhere).
When the disciples showed Him the buildings of the temple, the Lord said,
that "A stone shall not be left upon a stone, that shall not be thrown down" (Matt. xxiv. 1, 2).
This signified that the Lord was altogether denied among them, on which account also the temple was utterly destroyed.
John 2:18-22, John 2:18-23; Matthew 24:1-2, 24:2, Matthew 26:61)
 That the altar also signified the Lord's Divine Human, may be concluded from the Lord's words in Matthew:
"Woe unto you, ye blind guides, because ye say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is guilty. Fools and blind! whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold? Likewise, whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty. Fools and blind! whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift? For he that sweareth by the altar, sweareth by it, and by everything thereon. And he that sweareth by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein. And he that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon" (xxiii, 16-22).
It is said that the temple sanctifieth the gold that is in it, and that the altar sanctifies the gift that is upon it; and thus that the temple and the altar, from which is all sanctification, were most holy. Therefore, by the temple and altar is signified the Lord as to the Divine Human, for from this proceeds everything holy of heaven and the church. Neither the temple nor the altar, unless this is meant, could sanctify anything; nor can worship itself, but the Lord alone to whom the worship [is directed], and from whom the good and truth of worship [proceed]; therefore it is said that the gift does not sanctify, but the altar. By the gift are meant the sacrifices which constituted the worship; and because the Jews did not understand this, but taught otherwise, therefore, they are called by the Lord fools and blind.
 Because this was signified by the altar, therefore, all who touched it were made holy, as is plain in Moses:
"Seven days shalt thou sanctify the altar; that the altar may be the holy of holies; whosoever toucheth the altar shall be sanctified" (Exod. xxix. 37).
By touching is signified to communicate, to transfer, and to receive (as may be seen, n. 10,130), here, the Divine which proceeds from the Lord; and because this was signified by touching, and those who touched were sanctified, it follows that the Lord Himself, in the highest sense, is signified by the altar, for there is nothing holy from any other source. All worship also is worship of the Lord, and from the Lord; and because worship in that church consisted principally in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, therefore also by the altar was signified the Divine itself, from which [are all things]; and this Divine is the Lord's Divine Human.
Arcana Coelestia 10130; Exodus 29:37)
 Hence also it was thus commanded: That the fire upon the altar should burn continually, and should never be put out (Lev. vi. 13); and that from that fire the lamps were lighted in the tabernacle of the congregation, and that from the same they took and burned in the censers; for by fire was signified the Divine love, which is in the Lord alone (see above, n. 68).
Leviticus 6:12-13, Leviticus 6:13; The Apocalypse Explained 68)
 Because the fire of the altar signifies the Divine love, therefore, the prophet Isaiah was sanctified by it:
"One of the seraphim flew unto me, in whose hand was a burning coal of fire, which he had taken from off the altar, and he touched my mouth, and said, This hath touched thy lips; therefore, thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin is expiated" (vi. 6, 7).
What these words signify in their series may be seen, when it is known that the altar signifies the Lord as to the Divine Human; and the fire upon it, the Divine good of His Divine love; that the mouth and lips of the prophet signify the doctrine of good and truth; and that to touch signifies to communicate. The iniquity which was taken away signifies falsity, and sin evil; for iniquity is said of a life of falsity, or of a life contrary to truths; and sin, of a life of evil, or of a life contrary to good.
 In Isaiah:
"All the cattle of Arabia shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee; they shall come up to my well-pleasing altar; thus will I adorn the house of my grace" (lx. 7).
The subject here treated of is the Lord's advent, and these words are said of the Lord Himself. By all the cattle of Arabia which shall be gathered together, and by the rams of Nebaioth, which shall minister, are signified all spiritual goods, external and internal. By cattle are signified external goods; and by rams, internal goods; and by Arabia and Nebaioth, things spiritual. "They shall come up to my well-pleasing altar, thus will I adorn the house of my grace," signifies the Lord's Divine Human, in which those things will be; the altar signifies His Divine Human as to Divine good, and the house of His grace signifies the same as to Divine truth. That the Lord as to the Divine Human is here meant, is plain from the preceding parts of this chapter, where it is said that upon thee Jehovah shall arise, and His glory shall be seen upon thee, as also from what follows, by which is described the Divine Wisdom with which the Lord as to His Human will be filled.
 Because by the altar, in the highest sense, is signified the Lord's Divine Human, therefore by the altar also is signified heaven and the church; for the angelic heaven, considered in itself, is from the Divine which proceeds from the Lord's Divine Human, whence it is that the angelic heaven in the aggregate is as one man; therefore also that heaven is called the greatest man (Maximus Homo). (Concerning this see what is shown in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 59-86; similarly the church, n. 57, in the same work.) And because all worship is from the Lord, for it is the Divine in which the Lord Himself is, which is communicated to man from the Lord, hence by the altar is also signified, in general, the all of worship which proceeds from the good of love; and by the temple, the worship which proceeds from the truths of that good; for all worship is either from love or from faith, either from good or from truth; worship from the good of love is such as exists in the Lord's celestial kingdom, and worship from truths from that good, which truths are also called truths of faith, is such as exists in the Lord's spiritual kingdom (concerning which see also in the same work, n. 20-28).
Heaven and Hell 20-28, 57, 59-86)
 From these considerations it is now evident what is signified by altar in the following passages. In David:
"How amiable are thy dwelling-places, O Jehovah of hosts! My soul hath desired, yea, it is consumed towards, the courts of Jehovah; my heart and my flesh cry out towards the living God. Yea, the bird hath found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, even thine altars, O Jehovah of hosts, my King and my God! Blessed are they that dwell in thy house" (Ps. lxxxiv. 1-4).
By altars here are meant the heavens, for it is said, "How amiable are thy dwelling-places. My soul hath desired, yea, it is consumed towards, the courts of Jehovah"; and afterwards it is said, "even thine altars, O Jehovah of hosts." By dwellings are meant the higher heavens, and by courts the lower heavens where there is entrance; which are also called altars, from worship; and because all worship is from the good of love by truths, it is therefore said, "even thine altars, O Jehovah of hosts, my King and my God"; for the Lord is called Jehovah from Divine good, and King and God from Divine truth; and because the heavens are meant, it is also said, "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house"; the house of Jehovah God denoting heaven in the aggregate. The reason why it is also said, "Yea, the bird hath found a house, and the swallow her nest," is, that a bird signifies spiritual truth, and a swallow natural truth, by means of which there is worship; and because all truth by means of which there is worship is from the good of love, there is therefore said previously, "my heart and my flesh cry out towards the living God"; heart and flesh signifying the good of love, and to cry out signifying worship from the delight of good.
 Heaven and the church are also meant by altar in these passages in the Apocalypse:
"There was given me a reed like unto a rod; and the angel stood and said unto me, Rise and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein" (xi. 1).
"I heard another angel out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments" (xvi. 7).
"I wash mine hands in innocency; and compass thine altar, O Jehovah, that I may make the voice of confession to be heard " (Ps. xxvi. 6, 7).
To wash the hands in innocency signifies to be purified from evils and falsities; to compass Thine altar, O Jehovah, signifies conjunction with the Lord by worship from the good of love, of which worship, because it is performed by means of truths from good, it is therefore added, "that I may make the voice of confession to be heard"; to make the voice of confession to be heard denoting worship from truths. The reason why to compass Thine altar, O Jehovah, signifies the Lord's conjunction by worship from the good of love, is, that Jehovah is predicated of the good of love, and to compass signifies to embrace in worship, consequently, to be conjoined.
Psalms 26:6-7; Revelation 11:1, 16:7)
 In Isaiah:
"In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt, speaking with the lips of Canaan, and swearing to Jehovah of hosts; every one of them shall be called Ir Heres. In that day there shall be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a statue to Jehovah in the border thereof" (xix. 18, 19).
By Egypt is signified the natural man and its Scientific; in that day, signifies the Lord's coming and the state of those who shall then be in true scientifics from the Lord; the five cities in the land of Egypt speaking with the lips of Canaan, signify several truths of doctrine, which the church maintains as genuine; five denoting several, cities denoting truths of doctrine, and the lips of Canaan the genuine doctrinals of the church. Swearing to Jehovah of hosts signifies confession of the Lord. Jehovah of hosts is mentioned here, and in many other passages of the Word, in which the Lord is meant as to all good and truth; for Zebaoth, in the original tongue, signifies armies, and armies, in the spiritual sense, signify all the goods and truths of heaven and the church (see n. 3448, 7236, 7988, 8019). This, therefore, is Jehovah Zebaoth, or Jehovah of hosts. "Every one of them shall be called Ir Heres," signifies doctrine shining from spiritual truths in the Natural. For Ir is a city, and a city signifies doctrine, Heres is a flashing, as that of the sun. "In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt," signifies that then there shall be worship of the Lord from the good of love by the true scientifics which are in the natural man. The "altar to Jehovah" signifies the worship of the Lord from the good of love; in the midst of the land of Egypt, signifies by the true scientifics which are in the natural man, true scientifics denoting also the knowledges from the sense of the letter of the Word; "and a statue at the border to Jehovah," signifies the worship of the Lord from the truths of faith; a statue signifying worship from the truths of faith, and the border of Egypt signifying the ultimate things; the ultimate things of the natural man are sensual things.
Arcana Coelestia 3448, Arcana Coelestia 7236, Arcana Coelestia 7988, 8019; Isaiah 19:18-19)
 In the same prophet:
"When he shall lay all the stones of the altar as stones of chalk dispersed; the groves and sun images shall not rise again" (xxvii. 9).
These things are said concerning Jacob and Israel, by whom the church is signified, here that which is to be destroyed; the destruction thereof as to the truths of worship is described by laying the stones of the altar as stones of chalk dispersed, the stones of the altar denoting the truths of worship, as stones of chalk dispersed, denoting as falsities not cohering; "the groves and sun images shall not rise again," signifies that there shall no longer be any worship from spiritual and natural truths, groves signifying worship from spiritual truths, and sun images worship from natural truths.
 In Lamentations:
"The Lord hath forsaken his altar; he hath abhorred his sanctuary; he hath shut up in the hands of the enemy the walls of her palaces" (ii. 7).
This is a lamentation over the vastation of all things of the church. That the church is vastated as to all goods, is signified by "The Lord hath forsaken his altar; "that it is vastated as to all truths, is signified by, "He hath abhorred his sanctuary," That sanctuary is said of the church as to truths, may be seen above (n. 204). That falsities and evils had entered into all things of the church, is signified by, "He hath shut up in the hands of the enemy the walls of her palaces the enemy signifying evil and falsity; to shut up in His hands, signifying that they had entered and taken possession; the walls of the palaces signifying all protecting truths; palaces denoting things of doctrine.
Lamentations 2:7; The Apocalypse Explained 204)
 In Isaiah:
"Whosoever keepeth the sabbath, and observeth my covenant; them will I bring upon the mountain of my holiness, and will make them joyful in the house of my prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be well-pleasing upon my altar" (lvi. 6, 7).
By the sabbath is signified the conjunction of the Lord with heaven and the church, thus with those who are therein; therefore by keeping the sabbath is signified to be in conjunction with the Lord; and by observing His covenant is signified conjunction by a life according to the Lord's precepts; a covenant, denoting, conjunction, and a life according to the precepts conjoins, whence the precepts of the decalogue were called a covenant. "I will bring them upon the mountain of holiness," signifies that He would impart to them the good of love, the mountain of holiness signifying that heaven in which the good of love to the Lord prevails, consequently, also the good of love according to its quality there. "I will make them joyful in the house of my prayer," signifies that He would impart to them spiritual truths, the house of prayer, or the temple, signifying the heaven where spiritual truths are, and thus also spiritual truths according to their quality there. "Their burnt-offerings and sacrifices shall be well-pleasing upon my altar," signifies acceptable worship from the good of love by means of spiritual truths, burnt-offerings signifying worship from the good of love, and sacrifices worship from truths from that good; truths from good are those called spiritual truths; upon the altar, signifies, in heaven and the church.
 In David:
"Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion; build thou the walls of Jerusalem. Then shalt thou be delighted with the sacrifices of justice, and in the burnt-offering; then shall they cause bullocks to ascend upon thine altar" (Ps. li. 18,19).
By Zion is meant the church that is in the good of love, and by Jerusalem the church that is in the truths of doctrine; hence by doing good in good pleasure unto Zion, and building the walls of Jerusalem, is signified to restore the church by leading it into the good of love and by instructing it in the truths of doctrine. Worship from the good of love in this case is signified by,
"Then shalt thou be delighted with the sacrifices of justice, and with burnt-offering"; justice being said of celestial good, and burnt-offering signifying love; and worship in such case, from the good of charity, is signified by, "then shall they cause bullocks to ascend upon thine altar," bullocks signifying natural-spiritual good, which good is the good of charity.
"God Jehovah who enlighteneth us; bind the feast with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. Thou art my God" (Ps. cxviii. 27, 28).
To enlighten signifies to enlighten in truths; by binding the feast with cords, even unto the horns of the altar, is signified to conjoin all things of worship, to bind with cords denoting to conjoin; the feast at the horns of the altar denoting all things of worship; horns denoting all things because [they are] ultimates; and feast and altar denoting worship. All things of worship are conjoined when externals [are conjoined] with internals, and when goods [are conjoined] with truths.
 In Luke:
"The blood of all the prophets shed from the foundation of the world, shall be required of this generation; from the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, slain between the altar and the temple" (xi. 50, 51).
By these words it is not meant that the blood of all the prophets from the foundation of the world, from the blood of Abel, shall be required of the Jewish nation, for blood is not required of any one but of him who sheds it; but by those words is meant, that by that nation all truth was falsified, and all good adulterated; for the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, signifies the falsification of all truth that was ever in the church, blood denoting falsification, prophets denoting truths of doctrine, and, "from the foundation of the world," denoting, that was ever in the church, the foundation of the world denoting the establishment of the church. "From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, slain between the altar and the temple," signifies the adulteration of all good, and thence the extinction of the worship of the Lord; the blood of Abel unto Zacharias, denoting the adulteration of all good; to be slain between the altar and the temple, denoting the extinction of all good and truth in worship; for altar signifies worship from good, and temple worship from truth, as has been shown above; between both, denotes, where there is conjunction; and where there is not conjunction there is neither good nor truth. The altar was outside the tent of assembly, and outside the temple. That therefore what was done between both signified communication and conjunction, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, n. 10,001, 10,025; and that Abel signifies the good of charity, n. 342, 374, 1179, 3325. That neither Abel nor Zacharias is here meant in the spiritual sense, is plain from the fact, that names in the Word signify things.
Arcana Coelestia 342, 374, Arcana Coelestia 1179, Arcana Coelestia 3325, Arcana Coelestia 10001, 10025; Luke 11:50-51)
 In Matthew:
Jesus said, "If thou offer thy gift upon the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave the gift before the altar, and go, first be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming offer thy gift" (v. 23, 24).
By offering a gift upon the altar, in the spiritual sense, is meant to worship God; and by worshipping God is meant worship both internal and external, namely, that which is of love and faith, and of the life thence; this is meant because worship in the Jewish Church principally consisted in offering sacrifices or gifts upon the altar; and the principal is taken for the whole. From these considerations it is evident what is meant, in the spiritual sense, by these words of the Lord, namely, that Divine worship primarily consists in charity towards the neighbour, and not in piety without it. To offer a gift upon the altar denotes worship from piety; and to be reconciled to a brother denotes worship from charity, and that the latter is truly worship, and that according to the quality of the latter, such is the former. (Concerning this subject, see the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 123-129; and the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 222, 224, 358-360, 529, 535; and above, n. 325.)
Heaven and Hell 222, 224, 358-360, 528-529, 535; Matthew 5:23-24; The Apocalypse Explained 325; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 123-129)
 That, "if thou offer thy gift upon the altar," signifies in the whole of worship, is evident from the Lord's words in Luke xvii. 4; [Matt. xviii. 22]; where it is said, that the brother or neighbour must be forgiven every time, seventy times seven there signifying continually. Because such things are signified by the altar, therefore, the altar was made either of wood, or of earth, or of whole stones, upon which iron had not been moved; it was also encompassed with brass. The reason of the altar being made of wood, was, because wood signified good; and similarly of earth, for earth signifies the same; the reason of its being of whole stones, was, because those stones signified truths formed from good, or good in form, and it was forbidden to prepare those stones by hammer, axe, or iron, lest anything of one's own intelligence should enter into the formation thereof; its being encompassed with brass signified that it represented good everywhere, for brass signifies good in externals.
Luke 17:4; Matthew 18:22)
 That the altar was made of wood is plain in Moses:
"Thou shalt make an altar of shittim-woods, five cubits long and broad; it shall be four-square. And thou shalt make the horns to it. And thou shalt make for it a grate of network of brass, the floor of it shall be hollow" (Exod. xxvii. 1-8).
And in Ezekiel:
"The altar was of wood three cubits high, and the length thereof two cubits; to which were corners, the length thereof, and the walls thereof, were of wood; then he said unto me, This is the table that is before Jehovah" (xli. 22).
The altar being made of wood, and overlaid with brass, was also for the sake of use, that it might be carried about, and removed from place to place in the wilderness, where the sons of Israel then were; likewise because wood signifies good, and shittim-wood, the good of justice, or of the Lord's merit. (That wood signifies good may be seen, n. 643, 3720, 8354; and that shittim-wood signifies the good of justice or merit, which is the Lord's alone, n. 9472, 9486, 9528, 9715, 10,178.) That the altar was also built of earth, and if of stones of whole stones, not hewn by any instrument of iron, appears also in Moses:
"An altar [of earth] thou shalt make unto me, that thou mayest sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and peace-offerings. If thou makest to me an altar of stones, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou lift up a tool upon it, thou wilt profane it" (Exod. xx. 24, 25; and elsewhere).
And in another place it is said:
If an altar of stones be built, no iron shall be used upon the stones (Deut. xxvii. 5, 6).
Arcana Coelestia 643, Arcana Coelestia 3720, Arcana Coelestia 8354, 9472, 9486, 9528, 9715, Arcana Coelestia 10178; Deuteronomy 27:5-6, 27:5; Exodus 20:24-25, 27:1-8; Ezekiel 41:22)
 Hitherto it has been shown what is signified by an altar in the genuine sense; whence it is evident what is signified by an altar in the opposite sense, namely, idolatrous worship or infernal worship, which has place only with those who indeed profess religion, but still love and thus worship themselves and the world above all things; and, when this is the case, they love evil and falsity; therefore by the altar, when said of such, is signified worship from evil; and by their statutes, worship from falsity, consequently, also hell. That this is signified by the altar, in the opposite sense, is plain from the following passages.
"At that day shall a man have respect to his Maker, and his eyes shall look to the Holy One of Israel. And he shall not have respect to altars, the work of his hands, and they shall [not] look to that which their fingers have made, either to the groves or the sun images" (xvii. 7. 8).
These words treat of the establishment of a new church by the Lord; that they shall then be led into the goods of life, and be informed in the truths of doctrine, is meant by a man at that day having respect to his Maker, and his eyes looking to the Holy One of Israel. The Lord is called Maker, from His leading into goods of life, for these make a man; and the Holy One of Israel, from His teaching the truths of doctrine; therefore it is also said, a man shall have respect, and his eyes shall look, a man being called man [homo] from the good of life, and eyes being said of the understanding of truth, thus of the truths of doctrine. That worship, then, is not from the love of self from which evils of life are, nor from man's own intelligence, from which are falsities of doctrine, is signified by his not having respect to altars, the work of his hands, and not looking to what his fingers have made. By the altars, the work of his hands, is meant worship from the love of self, from which are evils of life; and by what his fingers have made, is meant worship from man's own intelligence, from which are falsities of doctrine. By the groves and sun images, is signified a religious persuasion from falsities, and the evils thence; by groves, a religious persuasion from falsities; and by sun images, from the evils of falsity.
 In Jeremiah:
"The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, with the point of a diamond; it is written upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; as I remember their sons, their altars, and their groves, with the green tree upon the high hills" (xvii. 1, 2).
By these words is described the idolatrous worship of the Jewish nation, which was so deeply rooted that it could not be removed. That it was so deeply rooted that it could not be removed, is signified by the sin of Judah being written with a pen of iron, with the point of a diamond, graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of their altars; deeply rooted falsity is meant by its being written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond, and deeply rooted evil is meant by its being graven upon the table of the heart, and upon the horns of their altars. It is said upon the horns of the altars, because idolatrous worship is meant. By the sons whom He remembers, are signified the falsities of evil; by the altars, that worship from evil; by the groves with the green tree, that worship from falsity; upon the high hills, are signified the adulteration of good, and the falsification of truth. For at that time, when all things of worship were representatives of celestial and spiritual things, they had worship in groves, and upon hills; because trees, of which groves consist, signify knowledges (cognitions) and perceptions of truth and good, and this according to the species of the trees; and because hills signified the goods of charity, in which are the spiritual angels, who dwell upon hills in the spiritual world, hence it was that in ancient times worship was performed upon hills; but this was forbidden to the Jewish and Israelitish nation, lest they should profane the holy things represented; for that nation was only in externals as to worship, their internal being merely idolatrous. (That trees signify knowledges and perceptions of truth and good, according, to their species, may be seen, n. 2163, 2682, 2722, 2972, 7692; that hence the ancients worshipped in groves under trees, according to their significations, n. 2722, 4552; that this was forbidden to the Jewish and Israelitish nations, and the reason thereof, n. 2722; that hills signify the goods of charity, and the reason thereof, n. 6435, 10,438.)
Arcana Coelestia 2163, Arcana Coelestia 2682, 2722, Arcana Coelestia 2972, Arcana Coelestia 4552, Arcana Coelestia 6435, Arcana Coelestia 7692, Arcana Coelestia 10438; Jeremiah 17:1-2)
 In Hosea:
"Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit like unto himself; when his fruit is great he multiplieth altars; when his land is well they make goodly statues. Their heart is flattered, already are they desolated; he shall overturn their altars, he shall spoil their statues" (x. 1, 2).
Israel here signifies the church, which is called an empty vine, when there is no longer any truth in it; the worship thereof from evils is meant by the altars which he multiplies; and worship from falsities is meant by the goodly statues which he makes. That they do this in proportion as they abound, is signified by, when great is his fruit, and when his land is well. That worship from evils and falsities shall be destroyed, is signified by, "He shall overturn their altars, and shall spoil their statues." That statues signified worship from truths, and, in an opposite sense, worship from falsities, thus idolatrous [worship] may be seen, n. 3727, 4580, 10,643.
Arcana Coelestia 3727, Arcana Coelestia 4580, Arcana Coelestia 10643; Hosea 10:1-2)
 In Ezekiel:
"Thus said the Lord Jehovih to the mountains and to the hills; to the channels and to the valleys, I, bringing the sword upon you, will also destroy your high places; and your altars shall be destroyed; your sun images shall be broken; yea, I will make your slain to fall before your idols" (vi. 3, 4, 6, 13).
By the Lord Jehovih said to the mountains, hills, channels, and valleys, is not signified to all who dwell there, but to all idolaters, namely, those who instituted worship upon mountains and hills, and at channels and in valleys, which they did on account of the representations and thence the significations thereof. To bring upon them the sword, and to destroy the high places, and to destroy the altars, and to break the sun images, signifies to destroy all things of idolatrous worship by means of falsities and evils, for idolatrous worship destroys itself by those things; for the sword signifies falsities destroying; high places, idolatrous worship in general; altars, the same from evil loves, and the sun images, the same from falsities of doctrine. To make the slain fall before their idols, signifies the damnation of those who perish by falsities; the slain signify those who perish by falsities; idols signify the falsities of worship in general; and to fall signifies to be damned.
Ezekiel 6:3-4, 6:6, 6:13)
 In Hosea:
"Ephraim hath multiplied altars to sin, they were for him altars to sin" (viii. 11).
By Ephraim is signified the Intellectual of the church, here the Intellectual perverted; to multiply altars to sin, signifies to pervert worship by falsities; and to make altars to sin, signifies to pervert worship by evils; for in the Word, to multiply is said of truths, and, in the opposite sense, of falsities; and to make is predicated of good, and, in the opposite sense, of evil; hence it is that both are mentioned, and yet it is not a vain repetition.
 In the same:
"Samaria is slain, her king, is as the foam upon the faces of the waters; and the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed; the bramble and the thorn come up on their altars" (x. 8).
By Samaria was signified the spiritual church, or the church in which charity and faith make one; but after it became perverted, then by Samaria was signified the church in which charity is separated from faith, and the latter even pronounced to be the essential; therefore by it then was also signified where there is no longer any truth, because there is no good, but evil of life in place of good, and falsity of doctrine in place of truth. This is what is here signified by Samaria being cut off; the falsity of its doctrine is signified by her king being as the foam upon the faces of the waters, king signifying truth, and, in the opposite sense, as here, falsity. The foam upon the faces of the waters, signifies what is empty and separated from truths, waters denoting truths. By the high places of Aven shall be destroyed, is signified the destruction of the principles of falsity, and the reasonings thence, of those who are in that worship, which, viewed in itself, is interiorly idolatrous; for those who are in evil of life and falsities of doctrine, worship themselves and the world. By the bramble and the thorn shall come up on their altars, are signified truth falsified, and the evil thence in all their worship, altars denoting all worship.
 In Amos:
"In the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him, I will visit upon the altars of Bethel, that the horns of the altar may be cut off, and fall to the ground" (iii. 14).
By visiting the transgressions of Israel upon him, is signified their last state, in the spiritual sense, their state after death, when they are to be judged; it is said to visit, instead of to judge, because visitation always precedes judgment; by the altars of Bethel is signified worship from evil; by the horns of the altar is signified worship from falsities; thus by these are signified all things of worship, and that these should be destroyed, is signified by the horns shall be cut off and fall to the ground. Visitation is said to be made upon the altars of Bethel, because Jeroboam separated the Israelites from the Jews, and erected two altars, one in Bethel and another in Dan; and because by Bethel and Dan are signified the last things in the church; and the last things in the man of the church are called natural-sensual things, or natural-worldly and corporeal. These, therefore, are signified by Bethel and Dan; by Bethel, the ultimate of good, and by Dan the ultimate of truth; hence by those two altars is signified worship in ultimates or in the extremes, as is the quality of the worship with those who separate charity from faith, and acknowledge this alone as the means of salvation. Hence such persons think of religion in the Natural-Sensual; therefore they neither understand nor desire to understand the things that they profess to believe, asserting that the understanding must be under obedience to faith. And those who are such were represented by the Israelites separated from the Jews, or by Samaria separated from Jerusalem. Their worship also was represented by the altars in Bethel and Dan; which worship, so far as it is separated from charity, is no worship, for therein the mouth speaks without the understanding and the will, or without the mind; without the understanding, because they say that [their creed] ought to be believed, although they do not understand; and without the will, because they remove deeds or goods of charity.
 That such worship is no worship, is signified by these words in the first book of Kings:
"When Jeroboam stood by the altar in Bethel, the man of God cried to him, that the altar should be rent, and the ashes poured out; which also came to pass" (xiii. 1-5).
By the altar being rent and the ashes poured out, is signified that there was altogether no worship. That faith separated from charity is thence signified by Samaria, is, because the Jewish kingdom signified the celestial church, or the church which is in the good of love, and the Israelitish kingdom signified the spiritual church, which is in truths from that good. This was signified by the Jewish and Israelitish kingdom, when they were under one king, or when they were conjoined; but when they were separated, then, by the Israelitish kingdom was signified truth separated from good, or, what is the same, faith separated from charity. Moreover, worship is signified by the altar, because [it was signified] by the burnt-offerings and sacrifices that were offered upon it, in many other passages that are not adduced on account of their abundance; and because idolatrous worship was signified by the altars of the Gentiles, therefore it was commanded that they should be everywhere destroyed (see Deut. vii. 5; xii. 3; Judges ii. 2; and elsewhere).
1 Kings 12:26, 13:1-6, 13:1-5; Deuteronomy 7:5, 12:3; Judges 2:2)
 Hence it is evident that altars were in use among all the posterity of Eber, thus among all those who were called Hebrews, who, for the most part, were in the land of Canaan, and near round about it; likewise also in Syria, whence Abram [came]. That altars were in the land of Canaan, and near round about it, is plain from the altars here mentioned and destroyed, that they were in Syria is plain from the altars built by Balaam, who was from Syria (Num. xxiii. 1); and from the altar in Damascus (2 Kings xvi. 10-15); and from the fact that the Egyptians abominated the Hebrews because of their sacrifices (Exod. viii. 22); even so that they would not eat bread with them (Gen. xliii. 32). The reason was, that the Ancient Church, which was a representative church, and extended through a great part of the Asiatic world, was ignorant of sacrifices, and when they were instituted by Eber, looked upon them as to be abhorred, because they were desirous of appeasing God by the slaughter of different animals, and thus by blood. Among those who were of the Ancient Church, were also the Egyptians; but because they used representatives for magical purposes, that church was extinguished among them. The reason why they would not eat bread with them, [that is, with the Hebrews,] was, that at that time by dinners and by suppers was represented, and thence signified, spiritual association, which is association and conjunction by those things that pertain to the church; and by bread in general was signified all spiritual food, and thence by dining and supping all conjunction.
2 Kings 16:10-15; Exodus 8:26; Genesis 43:32; Numbers 23:1)
 That the Ancient Church was extended through a great part of the Asiatic world, namely, through Assyria, Mesopotamia, Syria, Ethiopia, Arabia, Lybia, Egypt, Philistia, even to Tyre and Zidon, through the land of Canaan, on this side and beyond Jordan, may be seen, n. 1238, 2385; that it was a representative church, n. 519, 521, 2896. Concerning the church instituted by Eber, which was called the Hebrew Church, see n. 1238, 1241, 1343, 4516, 4517. That sacrifices were first begun by Eber, and afterwards in use with his posterity, n. 1128, 1343, 2180, 10,042. That sacrifices were not commanded, but only permitted, shown from the Word; the reason why they are said to be commanded, n. 922, 2180, 2818; and because the Word was written in that nation, and the historical Word concerning that nation, altars and sacrifices required of necessity to be mentioned, and that Divine worship was signified by them, n. 10,453, 10,461, 10,603, 10,604.
Arcana Coelestia 519, 521, Arcana Coelestia 922, 1128, Arcana Coelestia 1238, 1341, Arcana Coelestia 1343, Arcana Coelestia 2180, Arcana Coelestia 2385, Arcana Coelestia 2818, 2896, Arcana Coelestia 4516-4517, Arcana Coelestia 10042, Arcana Coelestia 10453, 10461, 10603-10604; Deuteronomy 27:5; John 2:18-22; Leviticus 6:13; Matthew 24:2; Revelation 6:10-11)