The Bible


Ezekiel 10

English: Webster's Bible         

Study the Inner Meaning

← Previous   Next →

1 Then I looked, and behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.

2 And he spoke to the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thy hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And he entered in my sight.

3 Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court.

4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshhold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory.

5 And the sound of the cherubim's wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh.

6 And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubim; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels.

7 And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim, to the fire that was between the cherubim, and took of it, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out.

8 And there appeared in the cherubim the form of a man's hand under their wings.

9 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the color of a beryl stone.

10 And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel.

11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked, they followed it; they turned not as they went.

12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes on every side, even the wheels that they four had.

13 As for the wheels, it was cried to them in my hearing, O wheel.

14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

15 And the cherubim were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Kebar.

16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them.

17 When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them.

18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshhold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.

19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east-gate of the LORD'S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above.

20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Kebar; and I knew that they were the cherubim.

21 Every one had four faces each, and every one four wings; and the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings.

22 And the likeness of their faces was the same faces which I saw by the river of Kebar, their appearances and themselves: they went every one straight forward.

← Previous   Next →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 9457, 9509

Apocalypse Revealed 36, 322, 945

Conjugial Love 26

The Lord 52

Sacred Scripture 97

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 133

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 308, 908, 1992, 2921, 3901, 5313, 5922, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 14, 48, 239, 240, 245, 332, 487, ...

Divine Providence 134

The Lord 39

True Christian Religion 93, 157, 260

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 152, 179, 208, 220, 253, 277, ...

Spiritual Experiences 255

Marriage 93

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 25:18

1 Kings 7:30, 8:10, 11

2 Kings 25:9

Psalms 18:11, 99:1

Ezekiel 1:1, 8:6, 9:2, 3, 11:1, 28:14, 43:1, 3, 5, 44:4

Revelation 4:2, 7, 8, 8:5

Word/Phrase Explanations

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

The head is the part of us that is highest, which means in a representative sense that it is what is closest to the Lord....

Sapphire stone
A sapphire stone is the quality of the literal sense of the Word, when the internal sense is perceived in it.

'Precious stones,' in application to the Word, symbolizes the Divine truth of the Word in its literal sense which the Divine truth in its spiritual...

Stones in the Bible in general represent truths, or things we know concerning the Lord and what He wants from us and for us in...

'The Lord's throne' signifies, in general, the whole heaven, and specifically, the spiritual heaven, and by extension, divine truth proceeding, and so, everything of heaven...

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

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...

In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

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...

A Cherub has as its first definition in the dictionary, “A winged heavenly creature.” Cherubim is the plural of cherub. In the Word, the words...

Coals of fire being scattered over the cities (Ezek. 10:1, 7), signify that men were to be left to their wild lusts, rather than they...

Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

All changes of place in the Bible represent changes in spiritual state. “Entering” – usually used as entering someone’s house or “going in unto” someone...

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...

'To stand,' and 'come forth' as in Daniel 7:10, refers to truth. In Genesis 24:13, it signifies a state of conjunction of divine truth with...

'Side' signifies good or spiritual love.

A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

In Isaiah 19:1, "Jehovah rides upon a light cloud, and comes into Egypt", signifies the visitation of the natural man from spiritual-natural Divine Truth, for...

The court of the tabernacle (Exodus 27:9), etc., signifies the external of heaven, or the first, which is also called the ultimate heaven.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

'To satiate' relates to the extent of a person's will, for good or evil.

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...

'Wings' signify spiritual truths. 'Wings,' when related to the Lord, signify the divine spiritual. In the opposite sense, 'wings' relate to falsities and rationalizations from...

'To hearken to father and mother,' as mentioned in Genesis 28:7, signifies obedience from affection. 'To hearken,' as mentioned in Genesis 30:22, signifies providence. See...

'Shaddai,' as in Genesis 43:14, signifies temptation, and consolation after temptation. This is because the ancients called the one and only God by various names...

Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

To command is to give an order that something must be done, and is directed to an individual, or a group. It is an imperative,...

'Wheels,' as in Exodus 14:25, signify the power of proceeding and divine intelligence. 'Wheels,' as in Isaiah 5:28, signify the doctrine of natural truth. 'Wheels,'...

The hand in the Bible represents power, which is easy to understand, so to reach out or stretch out the hand means to exercise power,...

In Genesis 27:22, 'voice' relates to truth, and 'hand,' to good.

'To put' has reference to order, arrangement, application, and influx.

Scientists believe that one of the most crucial developments in the evolution of humans was bipedalism – walking on two legs. That left our hands...

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

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...

'Beryl,' as in Daniel 10:6, signifies the good of charity and faith. Beryl is a sparkling precious stone.

'Middle' denotes what is primary, principal, or inmost.

Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

'Pairs of hands, eyes, etc.' relate to the will and understanding, or to good and truth. The right side to the will or good, and...

Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

Every one
The phrase “Every one,” where it occurs in Genesis 20:7, signifies every thing or all things.

“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...

'Three' denotes fullness, and 'a third,' not full.

'A lion' signifies the good of celestial love and the truth from that good.

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

Eagle wings, referred to in Daniel 7:3, signify rational principles grounded in man's proprium.

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

To look,' as in Genesis 18:22, signifies thinking, because seeing denotes understanding. Look not back behind thee,' as in Genesis 19:17, means that Lot, who...

'Rivers' signify truths in abundance serving the rational self, and so, the understanding, for the purpose of doctrine and life. 'Rivers' or 'floods' signify temptations....

The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

"Gates" in ancient times had a significance that does not hold in the modern world. Cities then were enclosed by walls for protection; gates in...

The Lord is love itself, expressed in the form of wisdom itself. Love, then, is His essence, His inmost. Wisdom - the loving understanding of...

'Israel,' in Jeremiah 23:8, signifies the spiritual natural church. The children of Israel dispersed all the literal sense of the Word by falsities. 'The children...

In a general sense, men represent things of the intellect – facts, ideas, knowledge, everything from the deepest truths to the most pernicious falsities about...

four wings
By the four wings, as of a fowl, on the back of the third beast, signifies confirmations of falsity.

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #594

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous   Next →

594. Encompassed with a cloud.- That this signifies the ultimate of the Word, is evident from the signification of being encompassed, as denoting what is outside of one, for that which is around is also outside, since it is beyond in the circumference; in this case therefore it denotes the ultimate; and from the signification of a cloud, as denoting Divine Truth in the ultimates, consequently the Word in the sense of the letter. This signification of cloud is evident from appearances in the spiritual world; also from the Word, where clouds are mentioned. From appearances in the spiritual world, as follows; the whole angelic heaven consists solely of the Divine Truth which proceeds from the Lord, the reception of which makes angels. In the highest heaven this truth appears like the pure aura which is called ether; in the lower heaven, as less pure, almost like the atmosphere, which is called air; in the lowest heaven it appears like a thin watery element, upon which vapour rests like a cloud. Such is the appearance of Divine Truth according to degrees in descent. A similar appearance is seen when the angels of the higher heavens speak concerning Divine truths, their discourse, in such case, appearing to the sight of those who are in the lowest heaven under the aspect of a cloud, which flies hither and thither, while the more intelligent among them know from its motion, brightness, and form, what the angels of the higher heavens are mutually discoursing about. The reason why a cloud signifies Divine Truth in ultimates is therefore evident. Because many expressions in the Word are chosen from appearances in the spiritual world, and consequently have a similar signification, therefore this is the case also with respect to clouds.

(References: Revelation 10:1)

[2] That a cloud signifies in the Word the sense of the letter, which is Divine Truth in ultimates, is evident from the following passages.

Thus in Matthew:

"Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain, and was transfigured before them; and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. While Peter "was yet speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and, behold, a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, hear ye him" (xvii. 1-10; Mark ix. 1-11).

And in Luke:

While "Peter was thus speaking, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them; and they feared as they entered the cloud. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son; hear ye him" (ix. 34, 35).

The Lord in this transfiguration also represented the Divine Truth, which is the Word. For the Lord, when He was in the world, made His Human Divine Truth, and when He departed out of the world, He made His Human Divine Good by union with the Divine itself, which was in Him from conception. That the Lord made His Human Divine Truth when He was in the world, and afterwards Divine Good, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 303, 304, 305, 306), and that the Lord is the Word (n. 263). For this reason all the circumstances of the transfiguration of the Lord, signify Divine Truth proceeding from the Divine Good of the Lord. The Divine Good of the Divine Love, which was in Him, and from which was the Divine Truth in His Human, was represented by His face shining as the sun, for the face represents the interiors, therefore these shine forth through the face, and the sun signifies the Divine Love; see above (n. 401:3, 424:1-10). The Divine Truth was represented by the Lord's garments which were like the light. Garments in the Word signify truths, and the garments of the Lord the Divine Truth; see above (n. 64, 271, 395); on this account also they appeared like the light; for Divine Truth is the cause of light in the angelic heaven, and is therefore signified by light in the Word; concerning which more may be seen in Heaven and Hell (n. 126-140). Because the Word, which is the Divine Truth, was represented, therefore Moses and Elias were seen speaking with him, Moses and Elias signifying the Word, Moses the historical, and Elias the prophetical Word; but the Word in the letter was represented by the cloud which overshadowed the disciples, and into which they entered. For the disciples, in the Word, represented the church, which, at that time and afterwards, was only in truths from the sense of the letter. And because revelation and responses are given by means of the Divine Truth in ultimates, as stated in the article above, and this truth is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, therefore a voice was heard out of the cloud, saying, "This is my beloved Son, hear ye him," denoting that He is the Divine Truth, or the Word.

(References: Heaven and Hell 126-140; Luke 9:34-35; Mark 9:1-10, 9:1-11; Matthew 17:1-10, 17:1-5; The Apocalypse Explained 64, The Apocalypse Explained 271, 395, 401, 412; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 263, 303-306)

[3] He who does not know that a cloud in the spiritual sense of the Word means the Word in the letter, cannot know the interior truth involved in these words; That in the consummation of the age "they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory" (Matt. xxiv. 30; Mark xiii. 26; xiv. 61, 62; Luke xxi. 27).

And in the Apocalypse:

"Behold," Jesus Christ "cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him" (i. 7).

And again:

"And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man" (xiv. 14).

And in Daniel:

"I saw in visions of the night, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of the heavens" (vii. 13).

He who is ignorant of the fact that clouds signify the truths of the Word in the sense of the letter, cannot but suppose that in the consummation of the age, that is, in the end of the church, the Lord will come in the clouds of heaven, and manifest himself to the world. But it is well known that since the giving of the Word, the Lord manifests Himself by means of that alone, for the Word, which is the Divine Truth, is the Lord Himself in heaven and in the church. From this it is first evident, that the manifestation there predicted signifies His manifestation in the Word; and the manifestation of the Lord in the Word was accomplished by His opening and revealing its internal or spiritual sense, for in this sense is the Divine Truth itself, such as it is in heaven, and the Divine Truth in heaven is the Lord Himself there. It is now therefore evident that by the Lord's coming in the clouds of heaven with glory, is signified the revelation of Him in the sense of the letter of the Word from its spiritual sense. The clouds of heaven signify those things that are of the sense of the letter, and glory those that are of the spiritual sense, as may be seen in Heaven and Hell (n. 1); and the revelation itself of the spiritual sense, in the White Horse; the Son of man also signifies the Lord as to Divine Truth, as may be seen above (n. 63, 151).

(References: Daniel 7:13; Heaven and Hell 1; Luke 21:27; Mark 13:26, 14:61-62, 14:62; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7, Revelation 14:14; The Apocalypse Explained 63, The Apocalypse Explained 151)

[4] That a cloud signifies the Divine Truth in ultimates, consequently the Word in the sense of the letter, is still further evident from the following passages.

Thus in Isaiah:

"Behold, Jehovah rideth upon a light cloud, and cometh into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt are put in commotion before Him, and the heart of the Egyptian melteth in the midst of him " (xix. 1).

By Egypt in these words is not meant Egypt, but the natural man separated from the spiritual, which is then in falsities and evils, and by means of these perverts all the truths and goods of the church. That those falsities and evils destroy it, when truth from good flows in from the Lord, is described by these words of the prophet understood in the internal sense. Jehovah riding upon a light cloud, signifies the Lord enlightening the understanding with truths, to ride, when used in reference to Jehovah, or the Lord, denoting to enlighten the understanding, and a light cloud denoting truth; that then the idols of Egypt are put in commotion, and the heart of the Egyptian melteth, signifies, that the evils and falsities of the natural man separated from the spiritual, then destroy him, idols denoting falsities, the heart denoting evils, and Egypt, the natural man.

(References: Isaiah 19:1)

[5] So in Moses:

"There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth in heaven and in his magnificence upon the clouds, the dwelling-place of the God of antiquity, and underneath (are) the arms of the world" (Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27).

Here also by riding in the heaven on the clouds, is signified to enlighten the understanding by the influx of spiritual truth into natural truth, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word. Because the Divine Truth in the heavens is spiritual, and the Divine Truth in the earths (terris) is natural, and the latter is enlightened by the former, therefore it is said, "and in his magnificence upon the clouds." "The dwelling-place of the God of antiquity," denotes the Divine Truth with the angels, while the expression "the arms of the world" denotes truths with men; the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word are meant by the arms of the world, for that sense is the very strength of Divine Truth, arms signifying strength. That the strength of Divine Truth is in the sense of the letter of the Word may be seen in the article above.

(References: Deuteronomy 33:26-27)

[6] So in David:

God "rode upon a cherub, and did fly; yea he was carried upon the wings of the wind. He made darkness his hiding-place; his pavilion round about him, darkness of waters, clouds of the heavens. At the brightness before him the clouds passed" (Psalm xviii. 10-12).

Here also the enlightenment of the Word is described, and thence the enlightenment of the church. Enlightenment by the influx of Divine Truth out of the heavens is signified by, he rode upon a cherub, and did fly. Divine truth in ultimates, which is enlightened, is signified by the wings of the wind, darkness of waters, and clouds of the heavens; the various degrees of the understanding which receives enlightenment are signified by those things. That the obscurities of the ultimate sense are consequently removed, is meant by, at the brightness before him the clouds passed.

(References: Psalms 18:10-12)

[7] So again:

"Sing unto God, praise his name; extol him that rideth upon the clouds" (Psalm lxviii. 4).

By Him that rideth upon the clouds, is here also meant the Lord as to enlightenment. Clouds denote truths in the ultimates, which are enlightened, and this enlightenment takes place by the influx of light, which is Divine Truth, out of the spiritual world or heaven.

(References: Ezekiel 10:3-4; Psalms 68:4)

[8] So in Nahum:

"The way of Jehovah is in storms and tempest, and the clouds are the dust of his feet" (i. 3).

Truth in ultimates, which is the truth of the sense of the letter of the Word, is called the clouds, the dust of the feet of Jehovah, because it is the natural and lowest [truth], in which the Divine Truth in heaven, which is spiritual, terminates, and upon which also it subsists. Divine Truth in ultimates, because little understood unless it be enlightened out of heaven, and therefore a ground of disputation and controversy, is meant by the storm and the tempest, in which is the way of Jehovah, spiritual storm and tempest denoting disputation concerning the genuine sense [of the Word], which nevertheless the Lord enlightens by influx in the case of those who desire the truth.

(References: Nahum 1:3)

[9] So in David:

"His seed shall be for ever, and his throne as the sun before thee. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in the clouds" (lxxxix. 36, 37).

These things are said of the Lord, and by the seed which shall endure for ever, is signified the Divine Truth from Him. His throne which shall be as the sun, and as the moon, signifies heaven and the church, as to the good of love, and as to the truth of faith; throne signifies heaven and the church, "as the sun" signifies as to the good of love, and "as the moon" signifies as to the truth of faith. A faithful witness in the clouds, signifies that He is the Divine Truth; for "witness," when used in reference to the Lord, signifies that which goes forth from Him, and this bears witness concerning Him because it is of Him.

(References: Psalms 89:36-37)

[10] Again:

Jehovah "layeth his chambers in the waters; who maketh the clouds his chariot; who walketh upon the wings of the wind" (Psalm civ. 3).

These few words are descriptive of heaven and the church, and at the same time of doctrine from the Word. Jehovah layeth his chambers in the waters, signifies that the Lord forms heaven and the church from Divine Truths; waters signify Divine Truths, the chambers of Jehovah signify the heavens and the church, and to lay, signifies to form. Who maketh the clouds his chariot, signifies doctrine from ultimate Divine Truths, clouds denoting ultimate Divine Truths, such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word, and a chariot denoting doctrine; this is said because everything of the doctrine of the church must be formed from, and confirmed by the sense of the letter of the Word. Who walketh upon the wings of the wind, signifies life communicated to doctrine from spiritual influx, to walk signifying to live, and, when used in reference to the Lord, life itself, the wings of the wind denoting the spiritual things of the Word. That waters signify truths, maybe seen above (n. 71, 483, 518, 537, 538).

(References: Psalms 104:3; The Apocalypse Explained 71, The Apocalypse Explained 483, The Apocalypse Explained 518, The Apocalypse Explained 537-538)

[11] So in Isaiah:

"I will lay" my vineyard "waste; I will even command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it" (v. 5, 6).

These words mean that then there shall be no understanding of Divine Truth or the Word in the church; the vineyard denotes the church, clouds denote the Word in the letter, and by their raining no rain, is meant that there shall be no understanding of Divine Truth from the Word.

(References: Isaiah 5:6)

[12] Again, in David:

Jehovah, "who covereth the heavens with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains" (Psalm cxlvii. 8).

To cover the heavens with clouds, signifies to defend and keep together the spiritual things of the Word which are in the heavens, by natural truths such as are in the sense of the letter of the Word. Who prepareth rain for the earth, signifies instruction thence for the church; who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains, signifies nourishment by means of it for those who are in the good of love.

(References: Psalms 147:8)

[13] The same is signified by the following words in Isaiah:

"Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds pour down with justice; let the earth open, and bring forth salvation" (xlv. 8).

And in Judges:

"Jehovah, when thou wentest out of Seir, when thou marchedest out of the field of Edom, the earth trembled, and the heavens also dropped, the clouds also dropped waters" (v. 4).

Going forth out of Seir, and marching out of the field of Edom, signifies in reference to Jehovah, the enlightenment of the Gentiles by the Lord, when He assumed the Human. By the earth trembling, is signified the completely changed state of the church at that time. By the heavens dropping, and the clouds dropping waters, are signified instruction, influx, and the perception of Divine Truth; to drop signifies instruction and influx, water denotes truths, the heavens denote the interior things of truth, and clouds, the exterior, such as they are in the sense of the letter of the Word.

(References: Isaiah 45:8; Judges 5:4)

[14] Again, in David:

"The clouds dropped waters; the skies uttered a voice, thy darts also went forth" (Ps. lxxvii. 17).

By the clouds dropping waters, is signified that genuine truths are from the sense of the letter of the Word; by the skies uttering a voice is signified influx from the heavens; by thy darts also went forth, are signified Divine Truths therefrom.

So in Job:

God "bindeth up the waters in his clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them. He spreadeth his cloud upon" his throne (xxvi. 8, 9).

Here, also, clouds denote ultimate truths in order, and because these contain in themselves and include spiritual truths, so that they may not be dissipated, this is expressed and signified by God binding up the waters in His clouds, and by the cloud not being rent. Because exterior truths which are called natural, also encompass and enclose interior truths, which are called spiritual, and are proper to the angels of the heavens, this fact is expressed and signified by, "He spreadeth his cloud upon his throne."

(References: Acts of the Apostles 26:8-9; Job 26:8-9; Psalms 77:17)

[15] And in Isaiah:

"Jehovah said, I will take my rest, and I will behold in my dwelling-place as a clear heat upon light, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest" (xviii. 4).

A cloud of dew signifies truth fructifying from good.

Again, in the same prophet:

"Jehovah will create upon every dwelling-place of Mount Zion, and upon all her assemblies, a cloud by day, and the smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory shall be a covering" (iv. 5).

Here the dwelling-place of Mount Zion signifies the good of the celestial church, and her assemblies signify the truths of that good; its defence, lest it should be injured from too much light or from too much shade, is signified by the cloud by day, and the smoke and shining of a flaming fire by night. And since all spiritual good and truth are preserved by natural good and truth from being injured, it is therefore said that upon all the glory shall be a covering, glory denoting spiritual good and truth.

(References: Isaiah 4:5, Isaiah 18:4)

[16] The same is signified by, "The cloud upon the tabernacle by day and the fire by night" (Exod. xl. 36-38; Num. ix. 15-17 to end; x. 11, 12, 34; xiv. 14; Deut. i. 33). Also by Jehovah going before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, and by night in a pillar of fire (Exod. xiii. 21), and by the pillar of a cloud that stood between the camp of the sons of Israel and the camp of the Egyptians (Exod. xiv. 19-21).

And in David:

God led them in a cloud by day, and all the night in the light of fire (Psalm lxxviii. 14).

And again:

"Egypt was glad when they departed; for the fear of them fell upon them. He spread a cloud for a covering; and fire to give them light in the night" (Psalm cv. 38, 39).

The reason why a cloud was upon the tabernacle by day, and a fire by night, was, that the tabernacle represented heaven and the church, the cloud, the presence of the Lord by means of Divine Truth, and the fire, His presence by means of Divine Good, which is called the good of faith, each ultimate in order, therefore they were as coverings for the tabernacle; on this account it is said in the passages adduced above from David and Isaiah: "Over all the glory shall be a covering and, "be spread a cloud for a covering."

The same is signified by the cloud which covered Mount Horeb, and into which Moses entered; also by the cloud in which Jehovah descended on Mount Sinai, and by the pillar of a cloud which stood at the door of the tent of Moses (Exod. xxiv. 15-17, 18; xix. 16, 18; xxxiv. 5; xxxiii. 9, 10).

(References: Deuteronomy 1:33; Exodus 13:21, 14:19-21, Exodus 19:9, 19:16, 19:18, 24:15-18, 33:9-10, 34:5, 40:36-38; Numbers 9:15-23, 10:11-12, 10:34, 14:14; Psalms 78:14, Psalms 105:38-39)

[17] This is also the signification of the cloud in the following passages in Ezekiel:

"I looked, and behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it" (i. 4).

And again:

"The cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. Then the glory of Jehovah went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of Jehovah's glory" (x. 3, 4).

The cherubim here signify the Lord's care, that he may not be approached except through the good of love; hence cherubim signify the heavens, particularly, the inmost or third heaven, because the angels of that heaven receive Divine Truth in the good of love, therefore it is Divine Truth that defends, which, in its essence, is the good of love. This Divine Truth, as it descends out of the inmost heaven into the lower heavens, and at length into the world where men are, from being pure becomes gradually denser. This is the reason why it appears in the lowest degree like a cloud, which signifies the Divine Truth accommodated to the apprehension of the angels in the lowest heaven, who are spiritual-natural, and, lastly, to the apprehension of men in the natural world. And because the Divine Truth in this degree is similar to the Divine Truth as it is in the sense of the letter of the Word, therefore a cloud signifies the Word as to the sense of the letter. This Divine Truth is that which filled the court like a cloud, and lastly the house, at the right side of which the cherubim stood. And because this Divine Truth is interiorly spiritual, and shines from celestial light, therefore it is called glory, and it is said that the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of Jehovah. Hence also it is said in Job:

"When" "God causeth the light of his cloud to shine?" (xxxvi. 15).

(References: Ezekiel 1:4, 10:3-4; Job 37:15)

[18] Since the higher heavens appear to the eyes of those who are in the lower heavens as though covered over with a thin bright cloud, because the lower angels cannot behold the higher or interior Divine except according to their quality, therefore also the Divine Truth in the higher heavens, or what is the same thing, the higher heavens themselves, are in some passages of the Word meant by clouds. For whether we say Divine Truth, or the heavens, it is the same thing, since the heavens are heavens from the Divine Truth, and the angels there are angels from the reception of it. In this sense clouds are mentioned in Isaiah:

Lucifer, "thou saidst in thine heart, I will ascend above the heights of the cloud; I will become like the Most High" (xiv. 14).

And in Jeremiah:

"Forsake" Babylon, "and let us go everyone into his own land; for her judgment hath reached unto the heavens, and she hath lifted up herself even to the clouds" (li. 9).

And in David:

"Ascribe ye strength unto God; over Israel is his majesty, and his strength is in the clouds" (Psalm lxviii. 34).

In these passages clouds signify the same thing as the waters above the firmament (Gen. i. 7), and the waters above the heavens (Psalm cxlviii. 4); for clouds are formed of water. That waters signify Divine Truth, may be seen above (n. 7, 483, 518).

(References: Genesis 1:7; Isaiah 14:13-14, Isaiah 14:14; Jeremiah 51:9; Psalms 68:34, Psalms 148:4; The Apocalypse Explained 71, The Apocalypse Explained 483, The Apocalypse Explained 518)

[19] Since there are clouds of a thinner and brighter quality, and also of a denser and darker kind, and because the thinner and brighter appear beneath the heavens, but the denser and darker about many of the hells, it is therefore evident that, in the opposite sense, clouds also signify the falsities of evil, which are contrary to truths from good; as in the following passages.

Thus in Ezekiel:

As for Egypt, "a cloud shall cover her, and her daughters shall go into captivity" (xxx. 18).

Again, in the same prophet:

He shall ascend, "like a cloud to cover the land" (xxxviii. 9).

And again:

The sheep "scattered in the day of cloud and thick darkness" (xxxiv. 12).

Hence also the last judgment, when those who are in falsities of evil are about to perish, is called "A day of cloud and obscurity" (Joel ii. 2; Zephaniah i. 15). The signification of "the cloud, and thick darkness," which appeared to the sons of Israel when the law was given from Mount Sinai, is similar (Deut. iv. 11, 12, 15; v. 22, 26). For although Jehovah, that is, the Lord, descended upon that mountain in a bright cloud, yet it appeared before the eyes of the people, who were in falsities of evil, like a gloomy cloud; see the Arcana Coelestia (n. 1861, 6832, 8814, 8819, 9434, 10,551).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1861, 6832, 8814, 8819, 9434, 10551; Deuteronomy 4:11-12, 4:15, 5:22-26; Exodus 19:9; Ezekiel 30:18, 34:12, 38:9; Isaiah 14:14; Joel 2:2; Matthew 17:1-5; Revelation 10:1; Zephaniah 1:15)

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 592, 609, 670, 700, 820, 821, 870, 905, 937, 955, 1029

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.

 The Transfiguration
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

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