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Ezekiel 16:38

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38 And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 139

Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 8904

Apocalypse Revealed 350, 379, 880

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 100

Doctrine of the Lord 64

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 329, 1045

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Numbers 35:16, 17, 18, 21, 31

Deuteronomy 22:22, 24

Ezekiel 36:18

Bible Word Meanings

It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

The internal meaning of “blood” is a little tricky, because Swedenborg gives two meanings that seem quite different. In most cases, Swedenborg links blood with...

It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

Fury is a receding from good, and anger is a receding from truth.

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Revealed #379

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)      

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379. "And made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb." This symbolically means, and by truths have purified those religious beliefs from the falsities accompanying evil, and so have been reformed by the Lord.

Some evils are evils that accompany falsity, and some falsities are falsities that accompany evil. Evils that accompany falsity are found among people who, in accord with their religion, believe that evils do not condemn, provided they orally confess that they are sinners. And falsities that accompany evil are found among people who justify the evils they harbor.

As in no. 378 above, robes here symbolize general truths drawn from the Word, which constitute the people's religious beliefs. They are said to have made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb because the color white is predicated of truths (nos. 167, 231, 232), meaning therefore that they used truths to purify their falsities.

This symbolically means also that thus they were reformed by the Lord, because all who have fought against evils in the world and have believed in the Lord are, after their departure from the world, taught by the Lord and led by truths away from the falsities of their religion. And so they are reformed. That is because people who refrain from evils as being sins possess goodness of life, and goodness of life desires truths, and acknowledges and accepts them. But this is never the case with evil of life.

People believe that the blood of the Lamb here and elsewhere in the Word symbolizes the Lord's suffering of the cross. But the suffering of the cross was the final temptation or trial by which the Lord completely overcame the hells and fully glorified His humanity. By these two means He saved mankind (see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Lord, nos. 12-14, 15-17, and also no. 67 above). Moreover, because by His suffering of the cross the Lord fully glorified His humanity, which is to say, made it Divine, therefore nothing else can be meant by His flesh and blood but the Divinity in Him and emanating from Him - His flesh meaning the Divine goodness of His Divine love, and His blood meaning the Divine truth emanating from that goodness.

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 231-232; Exodus 12:22-23; Psalms 72:13-16; Revelation 7:14; Teachings about the Lord 12-14, 15-17)

[2] Blood is mentioned many times in the Word, and everywhere it symbolizes, in the spiritual sense, either the Lord's Divine truth, which is the same as the Divine truth of the Word, or in an opposite sense, the Divine truth of the Word falsified or profaned, as can be seen from the following passages.

First, that blood symbolizes the Lord's Divine truth or the Divine truth of the Word can be seen from these passages:

Blood was called the blood of the covenant, and a covenant conjoins, a conjunction that the Lord accomplishes by His Divine truth. So, for example, in Zechariah:

By the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the pit... (Zechariah 9:11)

After Moses read the Book of the Law in the hearing of the people, he sprinkled half the blood on the people and said,

This is the blood of the covenant which Jehovah has made with you in accordance with all these words. (Exodus 24:3-8)


(Jesus) took the cup..., and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. ...this is My blood, the blood of the new covenant... (Matthew 26:27-28, cf. Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20)

The blood of the new covenant or testament symbolizes nothing else than the Word, which is called a covenant or testament - the Old Covenant or Testament, and the New Covenant or Testament - thus symbolizing the Divine truth in it.

[3] Since blood has this symbolic meaning, the Lord therefore gave His disciples wine, saying, "This is My blood" - wine symbolizing Divine truth (no. 316). Wine is also on that account called "the blood of grapes" (Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14).

This is still further apparent from these words of the Lord:

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you will have no life in you... For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. (John 6:53-56).

It is clearly apparent that blood here means Divine truth, because the text says that he who drinks has life, and abides in the Lord, and the Lord in him. This is the effect of Divine truth and a life in accordance with it, and an effect confirmed by the Holy Supper, as everyone in the church may know.

(References: John 6:50-58)

[4] Since blood symbolizes the Lord's Divine truth, which is the same as the Divine truth of the Word, and this is the essence of the Old and New Covenants or Testaments, therefore blood was the holiest representative symbol in the Israelite Church, in which every single thing corresponded to something spiritual. So, for example, the people were to take some of the blood of the paschal lamb and put it on the doorposts and lintel of their houses to keep the plague from coming upon them (Exodus 12:7, 13, 22). The blood of the burnt offering was to be sprinkled on the altar, at the base of the altar, on Aaron and his sons, and on their vestments (Exodus 29:12, 16, 20-21).

(References: Deuteronomy 12:27; Leviticus 1:5, 1:11, 1:15, 3:2, 3:8, 3:13, 4:6-7, 4:17-18, 4:25, 4:30, 4:34, 5:9, 8:15, 8:24, 16:12-15, 17:6; Numbers 18:17)

[5] The blood of the Lamb has a like symbolism in the following verses in the book of Revelation:

...war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon... And they overcame it by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony... (Revelation 12:7, 11)

For no one can think that Michael and his angels overcame the dragon with anything other than the Lord's Divine truth in the Word. Angels in heaven, indeed, cannot think of any blood, nor do they think of the Lord's suffering, but of His Divine truth and resurrection. Consequently, when a person thinks about the Lord's blood, angels perceive His Divine truth, and when a person thinks about the Lord's suffering, they perceive His glorification, and then only His resurrection. I have been granted to know the reality of this by much experience.

[6] That blood symbolizes Divine truth is apparent also from these verses in the book of Psalms:

(God) will save the souls of the needy... Precious shall be their blood in His sight. And they shall live, and He will give them the gold of Sheba. (Psalms 72:13-15)

The blood, precious in the sight of God, stands for Divine truth among those people. The gold of Sheba is the resulting wisdom.

In Ezekiel:

Gather together... to My great sacrifice... on the mountains of Israel, that you may eat flesh and drink blood. You shall... drink the blood of the princes of the earth... You shall... drink blood till you are drunk at My sacrifice which I am sacrificing for you... (Thus) I will set My glory among the nations. (Ezekiel 39:17-21)

Blood here does not mean blood, because the statement is that they will drink the blood of the princes of the earth and that they will drink blood till they are drunk. But the true meaning of the word emerges when blood is understood to mean Divine truth. The subject there, too, is the Lord's church, which He would establish among gentiles.

(References: Ezekiel 39:17-22)

[7] Second, that blood symbolizes Divine truth can be clearly seen from its opposite meaning, in which it symbolizes the Divine truth of the Word falsified or profaned, as is apparent from these passages:

He who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil... (Isaiah 33:15)

You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; Jehovah abhors the bloody and deceitful man. (Psalms 5:6)

...everyone recorded for life in Jerusalem, when the Lord has... rinsed away (her) blood... from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of purification. (Isaiah 4:3-4)

...on the day you were born... I saw you trampled in your blood, and I said to you in your blood, "Live!" ...I washed you and rinsed away the blood upon you... (Ezekiel 16:5-6, 9, 22, 36, 38)

They wandered blind in the streets; they have defiled themselves with blood, and what they cannot touch, they touch with their garments. (Lamentations 4:13-14)

The garment is polluted with blood. (Isaiah 9:5)

Also on your skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent... (Jeremiah 2:34)

Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings... (Isaiah 1:15-16)

...your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken a lie... They make haste to shed innocent blood. (Isaiah 59:3, 7)

...Jehovah is coming out... to visit the iniquity... of the earth; then the earth will disclose her blood... (Isaiah 26:21) many as received Him, to them He gave the ability to be children of God..., who were born, not of blood... (John 1:12-13)

In (Babylon) was found the blood of prophets and saints... (Revelation 18:24)

...the sea... became as the blood of a dead man... ...the springs of water... became blood. (Revelation 16:3-4. Cf. Isaiah 15:9, Psalms 105:29)

The like is symbolized by the rivers, ponds, and pools of water in Egypt being turned into blood (Exodus 7:15-25).

...the moon (shall be turned) into blood, before the coming of the great... day of Jehovah. (Joel 2:31)

...the moon became... blood. (Revelation 6:12)

In these places and many others, blood symbolizes the truth of the Word falsified, and also profaned. But this can be seen more clearly when these passages in the Word are read in context.

So, then, since blood in an opposite sense symbolizes the truth of the Word falsified or profaned, it is apparent that blood in a true sense symbolizes the truth of the Word not falsified.

(References: Exodus 7:15, 7:25, Exodus 12:22-23; Ezekiel 39:17-22; Isaiah 15:6; Jeremiah 2:33-34; John 6:50-58; Psalms 72:13-16, 105:23; Revelation 7:14)

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Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 19, 121, 327, 332, 342, 399, 404, 492, 497, 555, 653, 681, 684, 730, 801, 825, 865

True Christian Religion 367, 635, 686

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True Christian Religion 706

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Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation.

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Revealed #492

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)      

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492. "Clothed in sackcloth." This symbolizes the grief experienced meanwhile over the truth's not being accepted.

Being clothed in sackcloth symbolizes grief over the destruction of truth in the church, for garments symbolize truths (nos. 166, 212, 328, 378, 379). Consequently to be clothed in sackcloth, which is not a garment, symbolizes grief over the lack of truth, and where there is no truth, there is no church.

The children of Israel represented grief in various ways, which, because of their correspondence, were symbolic. For example, they would put ash on their heads, roll around in the dust, sit on the ground for a long time in silence, shave themselves, beat their breasts and wail, rend their garments, and also clothe themselves in sackcloth, and so on. Each action symbolized some evil in the church among them for which they were being punished. Then, when they were being punished, they put on a representation of repentance in these ways, and because of their representation of repentance, and at the same time then of their humbling themselves, they were heard.

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 378-379; Psalms 135:7; Revelation 11:3)

[2] That putting on sackcloth represented grief over the destruction of truth in the church may be seen from the following passages:

The lion has come up from his thicket... He has gone forth from his place to make your land desolate... For this, clothe yourself with sackcloth, lament, wail. (Jeremiah 4:7-8)

O daughter of my people, gird yourself in sackcloth and roll about in ashes! ...For the destroyer will suddenly come upon us. (Jeremiah 6:26)

Woe to you, Chorazin (and) Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented... in sackcloth and ashes. (Matthew 11:21, Luke 10:13)

After the king of Nineveh heard the words of Jonah, he "laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes." Moreover, he proclaimed a fast and ordered that "man and beast be covered with sackcloth." (Jonah 3:5-8)

And so on elsewhere, as in Isaiah 3:24; 15:2-3; 22:12; 37:1-2; 50:3; Jeremiah 48:37-38; 49:3; Lamentations 2:10; Ezekiel 7:17-18; 27:31; Daniel 9:3; Joel 1:8, 13; Amos 8:10; Job 16:15-16; Psalms 30:11; Psalms 35:13; 69:10-11; 2 Samuel 3:31; 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 6:30; 19:1-2.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 16:15-16; Daniel 11:3; Jonah 3:5-6, 3:6-8, 3:8; Revelation 11:3)

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Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 485

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 88

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation.