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Ezekiel 16:58

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58 Thou hast borne thy lewdness and thy abominations, saith the LORD.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 139

Other references to this verse:

Apocalypse Revealed 350, 880

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 100

The Lord 64

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 1045

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

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From Swedenborg's Works


The Lord #64

The Lord (Dole translation)      

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64. The reason Jerusalem in the Word means the church in regard to its teachings is that that was the only place in the land of Canaan where the Temple was, where the altar was, where sacrifices were performed, and therefore where there was actual worship of God. That was also why the three annual feasts were celebrated there and why every male in the whole land was commanded to go there. This is why Jerusalem means the church in regard to worship and therefore also the church in regard to its teachings, since worship is defined by teachings and carried out in accord with them. It is also because the Lord was in Jerusalem and taught in its Temple and afterward glorified his human nature there.

Moreover, in the Word as spiritually understood a city means a body of teaching, so a holy city means a body of teaching based on divine truth that comes from the Lord. 1

[2] We can also see that Jerusalem means a church in regard to its teachings from other passages in the Word, such as this in Isaiah:

For Zion’s sake I will not be silent and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest until her justice goes forth like radiance and her salvation burns like a lamp. Then the nations will see your justice and all monarchs will see your glory, and a new name will be given you that the mouth of Jehovah will utter. And you will be a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah and a diadem of the kingdom in the hand of your God. Jehovah will be well pleased with you and your land will be married. Behold, your salvation will come. See, his reward is with him. And they will call them a holy people, the redeemed of Jehovah; and you will be called a city sought out, not deserted. (Isaiah 62:1-4, 11-12)

This whole chapter is about the Lord’s Coming and about the new church that he is about to establish. This is the new church meant by the Jerusalem that will be given a new name that the mouth of Jehovah will utter and that will be a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah and a diadem of the kingdom in the hand of God, with which Jehovah will be well pleased, and which will be called a city sought out, not deserted. This cannot mean the Jerusalem where Jews were living when the Lord came, because this was the opposite in all respects, more properly called “Sodom, ” as it is in Revelation 11:8, Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:46, 48.

[3] Another passage from Isaiah:

Behold, I am creating a new heaven and a new earth; the former ones will not be remembered. Be glad and rejoice forever in what I am creating. Behold, I am going to create Jerusalem as a rejoicing and her people as a gladness, so that I may rejoice over Jerusalem and be glad about my people. Then the wolf and the lamb will feed together; they will do no evil in all my holy mountain. (Isaiah 65:17-19, 25)

This chapter too is about the Lord’s Coming and the church that he is going to establish-a church that was not established among people in Jerusalem but among people who were outside it. This church, then, is meant by the Jerusalem that would be a rejoicing for the Lord and whose people will be a gladness for him, and where the wolf and the lamb will feed together, and where they will do no evil.

Here it is also saying, as it does in the Book of Revelation, that the Lord is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, meaning much the same thing; and it also says that he is going to create Jerusalem.

[4] Another passage from Isaiah:

Wake up! Wake up! Put on your strength, O Zion. Put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, holy city. No more will the uncircumcised or the unclean come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, and sit [in a higher place], Jerusalem. The people will acknowledge my name on that day, because I am the one saying “Here I am!” Jehovah has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem. (Isaiah 52:1-2, 6, 9)

This chapter too is about the Lord’s Coming and the church that he is going to establish. So the Jerusalem into which the uncircumcised or the unclean will no longer come, and which the Lord will redeem, means the church; and Jerusalem the holy city means the church’s teachings that come from the Lord.

[5] In Zephaniah:

Rejoice, O daughter of Zion! Be glad with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The King of Israel is in your midst. Do not fear evil anymore. He will be glad over you with joy; he will rest in your love; he will rejoice over you with singing. I will give you a name and praise among all the peoples of the earth. (Zephaniah 3:14-17, 20)

Again, this is about the Lord and the church from him, the church over which the King of Israel (who is the Lord) will rejoice with singing and be glad with joy, in whose love he will be at rest, and to whom he will give a name and praise among all the peoples of the earth.

(References: Zephaniah 3:14-15, 3:17)

[6] In Isaiah:

Thus says Jehovah your Redeemer and your Maker, who says to Jerusalem, “You will be inhabited,” and to the cities of Judah, “You will be built.” (Isaiah 44:24, 26)

And in Daniel:

Know and understand: from [the time] the word goes forth that Jerusalem must be restored and built until [the time of] Messiah the Leader will be seven weeks. (Daniel 9:25)

We can see that here too Jerusalem means the church because this latter was restored and built up by the Lord, but Jerusalem, the capital city of the Jews, was not.

(References: Isaiah 44:24-26)

[7] Jerusalem means the church that comes from the Lord also in the following passages. In Zechariah:

Thus says Jehovah: “I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the city of truth, and the mountain of Jehovah Sabaoth will be called the holy mountain.” (Zechariah 8:3; see also 8:20-23)

In Joel:

Then you will know that I am Jehovah your God, dwelling on Zion, my holy mountain. Jerusalem will be holy. And on that day it will happen that the mountains will drip with new wine and the hills will flow with milk; and Jerusalem will abide from generation to generation. (Joel 3:17-21)

In Isaiah:

On that day the branch of Jehovah will be beautiful and glorious. And it will happen that those remaining in Zion and those left in Jerusalem will be called holy-all who are written as alive in Jerusalem. (Isaiah 4:2-3)

In Micah:

At the very last of days the mountain of the house of Jehovah will be established on the top of the mountains. Teaching will go forth from Zion and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. To you the former kingdom will come, the kingdom of the daughter of Jerusalem. (Micah 4:1-2, 8)

In Jeremiah:

At that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah, and all nations will gather at Jerusalem because of the name of Jehovah. They will no longer follow the stubbornness of their own evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17)

In Isaiah:

Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts! Your eyes will see Jerusalem as a peaceful abode and as a tabernacle that will not be taken down; its tent pegs will never be removed and not one of its cords will be torn away. (Isaiah 33:20)

There are other passages elsewhere, such as Isaiah 24:23; 37:32; 66:10-14; Zechariah 12:3, 6, 9-10; 14:8, 11-12, 21; Malachi 3:2, 4; Psalms 122:1-7; 137:4-6.

(References: Joel 3:17-18, 3:17-20, 3:20; Malachi 3:1; Psalms 137:5-6; Zechariah 12:6-10, 12:8-9, 12:8-10, 12:10, 14:12)

[8] As for Jerusalem in these passages meaning the church that the Lord was going to establish and that has in fact been established, and not the Jerusalem in the land of Canaan that was inhabited by Jews, this too we can tell from the places in the Word where this latter city is described as totally lost and as destined for destruction, passages such as Jeremiah 5:1; 6:6-7; 7:17-18, and following; 8:6-8, and following; 9:10-11, 13, and following; 13:9-10, 14; 14:16; Lamentations 1:8-9, 17; Ezekiel 4:1; 5:9; 12:18-19; 15:6-8; 16:1-63; 23:1-49; Matthew 23:37, 39; Luke 19:41-44; 21:20-22; 23:28-30; and in many other places.


1. [Swedenborg’s Footnote] A city in the Word means the teachings of a church and of a religion: see Arcana Coelestia 402, 2712, 2943, 3216, 4492-4493. The gate of a city means the teachings through which we come into the church: 2943, 4477. That is why the elders sat in the gate of the city and gave judgment: 2943. Going out of the gate means departing from the teachings: 4492-4493. Representations of cities and palaces appear in heaven when angels are discussing specific teachings: 3216.


(References: Ezekiel 4, 5:9-17, 16:1-23, 16, 23; Isaiah 44:24-26; Jeremiah 7:17, 7:20, 8:5-6, 8:5-7, 9:11-12, 9:14; Lamentations 1:15; Matthew 23:33, 23:37-39)

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Inbound References:

Divine Providence 264

Sacred Scripture 10

The Last Judgment (Continuation) 12

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