532. As all numbers in the Word signify things and states, and the composite numbers derive their signification from the simple numbers of which they are composed, and the simple numbers are chiefly two, three, five, and seven, it is important to show what these numbers signify in the word, and here what "three" signifies because it is said, "Woe, woe, woe, from the voices of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"
(That all numbers in the Word signify somewhat of thing and state may be above, n. 203, 429; and that the greater and composite numbers have a similar signification as the simple numbers from which they arise by multiplication, and that the simple numbers are two, three, five, and seven, may also be seen above, n. 430.)
Revelation 8:13; The Apocalypse Explained 203, 429, 430)
 That "three" signifies in the Word what is full and complete, and thence an entire period, greater or less, from beginning to end, can be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:
Within three years, as the years of an hireling, the glory of Moab shall grow vile with all that great multitude; and the remnant shall be very small and not strong (Isaiah 16:14).
"Moab" means those who are in falsities from evil; "his glory" and "his great multitude" mean such falsities; the "three years within which his glory shall grow vile" signify what is complete and finished; therefore it is said, "then the remnant shall be very small," which signifies that it shall be no more; "three years" are mentioned, by which is meant what is finished, thus from beginning to end. It is to be known that "three years" has a similar signification as "three months," "three weeks," "three days," and "three hours," since in the spiritual sense, times signify states, and "three times," whether greater or less, a full state.
 In the same:
Like as my servant Isaiah hath gone naked and barefoot three years, a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Cush, so shall the king of Assyria lead the captivity of Egypt and the crowd of Cush that is to be carried away, boys and old men, naked and barefoot (Isaiah 20:3, 4).
By "Egypt" and "Cush," Egypt and Cush are not meant, but "Egypt" means the external or natural in respect to knowledge, and "Cush" the external or natural in respect to worship, and when this natural has no internal spiritual, it also has no truth or good, for all the truth and all the good belonging to the natural or external man is from influx through the spiritual man from the Lord; and when the natural or external man has no truth or good it is like, in respect to the things in it, a man "naked and barefoot." That there will then be only reasonings from falsities, and that these will destroy, is signified by "the king of Assyria shall lead the captivity of Egypt and the crowd of Cush that is to be carried away, naked and barefoot." That all innocence and all wisdom will perish is signified by "the boys and old men whom the king of Assyria shall lead away;" their total and complete destruction was represented by the prophet's going "three years naked and barefoot," "three years" signifying an entire period from beginning to end, consequently total destruction.
 In Hosea:
Jehovah after two days will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up (Hosea 6:2).
"To revive after two days, and to raise up on the third day," signifies to reform and restore the church; "on the third day" signifying full reformation and restoration, therefore it is said that then "He will raise up." Evidently neither two days nor the third day is meant.
 As the number three signified what is complete even to the end, that number was adopted and employed in the representative church, whenever something complete was to be represented, as can be seen from these things in the Word:
They were to go a journey of three days and sacrifice (Exodus 3:18; 5:3).
In the third month after going out from Egypt they came to Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:1).
They were commanded to be ready against the third day, for on the third day Jehovah would come down upon Mount Sinai (Exodus 19:11, 15, 16, 18).
For three days there was darkness in the land of Egypt (Exodus 10:22, 23).
For three years the fruits of the trees planted in the land of Canaan should be uncircumcised (Leviticus 19:23-25).
No part of the flesh of the sacrifice should be left to the third day (Leviticus 7:16-18; 19:6, 7).
The water of separation should be sprinkled upon the unclean on the third day and on the seventh day (Numbers 19:11-22).
They who touched any slain should be purified on the third day and on the seventh day (Numbers 31:19-25).
Joshua commanded the people that within three days they should pass over Jordan (Joshua 1:11; 3:2).
Jehovah called Samuel three times, and three times Samuel ran to Eli; and the third time Eli perceived that Jehovah had called Samuel (1 Samuel 3:1-8).
Jonathan said to David that he should hide himself in a field unto the third evening, and afterwards Jonathan should shoot three arrows to the side of the stone, and after that David bowed himself three times to the earth before Jonathan (1 Samuel 20:5, 12, 19, 20, 35, 36, 41).
Three things were offered to David, of which he should choose one, that a famine of seven years should come, or that he should flee three months before his foes, or that a pestilence should be in the land three days (2 Samuel 24:11-13).
Elijah measured himself upon the son of the widow three times (1 Kings 17:21).
Elijah told them to pour water upon the burnt offering and upon the wood three times, and they poured it three times (1 Kings 18:34).
Jonah was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights (Jon. Jonah 1:17; Matthew 12:40).
Daniel was mourning three weeks (Daniel 10:2-4).
The third year was the year of tithing (Deuteronomy 26:12).
The Lord said of the man who planted a vineyard, that he sent his servants three times, and afterwards his son (Mark 12:2, 4-6; Luke 20:12, 13).
The Lord said to Peter that before the cock crowed twice he would deny Him thrice (Matthew 26:34, 26:69-75 to the end; Luke 22:34, 57-61; John 13:38).
The Lord said three times to Peter, Lovest thou Me, and Feed My lambs and My sheep; and the third time Peter was grieved (John 21:15-17).
The Lord said that the kingdom of the heavens is like unto leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal, till it was all leavened (Matthew 13:33; Luke 13:21).
The Lord said, I perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I am perfected 1
(Luke 13:32, 33).
The Lord said that He would be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40).
He said that He would be raised up the third day (Matthew 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:18, 19; Luke 18:32, 33; 24:46).
He said that he would destroy the temple of God, and build it in three days (Matthew 26:61; 27:40; John 2:19, 20).
Jesus in Gethsemane prayed three times (Matthew 26:39, 42, 44).
Jesus was crucified at the third hour (Mark 15:25).
Then there was darkness over all the land three hours, from the sixth hour to the ninth, when He said, It is finished, and expired (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:33, 37; John 19:30).
The Lord rose again on the third day (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1).
1 Samuel 20:19-20, 20:35-36; Exodus 10:22-23, 19:15-16; John 2:19-20; Leviticus 19:6-7; Luke 13:32-33, 18:32-33, 20:12-13; Mark 12:2-6; Matthew 17:22-23, 20:18-19, Matthew 27:45, 27:50; Numbers 31:19-24)
 From this it can be seen that the number "three" signifies what is finished or complete to the end, consequently an entire period, greater or less, from beginning to end. From this simple number many composite numbers derive their significations, as 6, 9, 12, 60, 72, which, from three, signify all truths and goods in the complex; in like manner the numbers 30, 300, 3000; for, as said above in this article, the composite numbers derive their significations from the simple numbers of which they are composed. Moreover, it is to be known that in the Word the number "three" is predicated of truths, and "two" and "four" of goods; for the reason that "two" and "four" signify conjunction, while "three" signifies fullness, and spiritual conjunction is love, and all good is of love; while spiritual fullness is formed by truths. One who does not know that all numbers in the Word are significative, when the numbers "two and three" or "three and four" are mentioned in the Word, has no other thought or belief than that two or three, or a few, are meant, instead of all who are in good and truth, as in the following passages.
 In Isaiah:
There shall be left in it gleanings, as in the shaking of an olive-tree, two three berries in the top of the bough, four five in the branches of the fruitful one (Isaiah 17:6).
This treats of the vastation of the church, and is said of the few remaining who are in good and truth; comparison is made with the shaking of an olive-tree, because an "olive-tree" signifies the church in respect to the good of love, and "branches" the truths therefrom; "two three" signifies the few that are in good and in truths therefrom, "two" meaning good, and "three" truths; and "four five" signifies the few who are in good, "four" meaning those who are good, and "five" a few. Because "four five" signifies the few who are in good, it is said, "four five in the branches of the fruitful one," "a fruitful olive" signifying those in the church who are in good in respect to life. Because of this signification of these numbers, therefore it is said "two three," "four five," and not two and three, four and five.
 In Amos:
Two three cities wandered unto one city to drink waters, yet they were not satisfied (Amos 4:8).
This treats of the lack of truth at the end of the church, when those who desire truth from spiritual affection will not find any truth in the doctrines, wherever they may search, and therefore it is said, "two three cities wandered unto one city to drink waters, yet they were not satisfied;" "two three cities" signifying those who are in the affection of truth from good, "city" signifying the truth of doctrine; "to draw waters" signifies to learn truths; "to wander" signifies to search; and "not to be satisfied" signifies not to find truth which in itself is truth; it is said "two three cities," because "two three" signifies those who are in good and in truths therefrom.
 In Zechariah:
It shall come to pass in all the land, two parts therein shall be cut off, shall expire, but the third shall remain therein. Yet I will lead the third part through the fire, and will prove them (Zechariah 13:8, 9).
This, in like manner, treats of the vastation of the church in respect to good; that every good will perish is meant by "in all the land two parts therein shall be cut off and shall expire," "in all the land" meaning in all the church, and "two parts" signifying every good. That something of truth would remain, but scarcely any genuine truth, is signified by "the third part shall be left therein; yet I will lead the third part through the fire and will prove them," "the third part" signifying the remaining truths; these must be proved whether they be genuine, which is signified by "they shall be led through the fire;" "to prove by fire" means by affection which is of love; if truth is not in accord with this it is not genuine truth, "fire" in the Word signifying love. When the good of love perishes in the church, truth becomes not truth, because all truth derives its essence from good.
 This makes evident what is signified by the Lord's words in Matthew:
Where two and three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matthew 18:20).
Here two and three are not meant, but those who are in good and in truths therefrom; neither does the Lord's "name" mean His name, but all the good of love and truth of faith by which He is worshiped (see above, n. 102, 135).
The Apocalypse Explained 102, 135)
 This makes clear what is signified by the Lord's words in Luke:
From henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three (Luke 12:52).
This means that after the Lord's coming, when He has become known, and the interiors of the Word have been revealed by Him and with Him, both in the church in general and in the man of the church in particular, there will be dissension between good and truth and between truth and good; this is meant by "there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three;" "house" meaning the church in general, and in particular with the man of the church, "three" meaning truths, and "two" goods; its being said that "five shall be divided" signifies that there will be such dissension with those who are reformed, consequently it is added:
The father shall be divided against the son and the son against the father, the mother against the daughter and the daughter against the mother (Luke 12:53).
"Father" signifies the good of the church, "son" the truth of the church, "mother" the truth of the church, and "daughter" the good of the church. Who cannot see that the numbers five, two, and three, would not have been used here unless they had been significative? In the Word, when "two" and "three" follow, "five" signifies all such; but when "ten" or "twenty" precedes or follows, "five" signifies some and few.
 Like things are meant in the commandment of the Decalogue by:
The third and fourth generation (or sons, thirds and fourths) upon whom God is to visit the iniquity of the parents (Exodus 20:5; Numbers 14:18; Deuteronomy 5:9, 10).
"The third and fourth generation" signifies all who are in falsities from evil, "the third generation" those who are in the falsities of evil and "the fourth generation" those who are in the evils of falsity; "three" in the contrary sense signifying falsities, and "four" evils. Who does not see that it would be contrary to the Divine justice to visit the iniquity of the parents upon the sons even to the third and fourth generation? For the Lord teaches:
The soul that sinneth, it shall die; the son shall not bear the iniquity of the parent, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him (Ezekiel 18:20; Deuteronomy 24:16; 2 Kings 14:6).
This makes evident that "the third and fourth generation" does not mean the third and fourth generation, but that which these numbers signify. Like things are signified by "three and four transgressions" in Amos (Amos 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 13; 2:1, 4, 6). From this it can be seen how great arcana lie hidden in the Word merely in its numbers, which no one can know without the internal spiritual sense.
1. Latin "consumed," Greek "perfected."
Deuteronomy 5:9-10; Luke 12, 12:52-53; Matthew 27:45, Matthew 27:50; Numbers 31:19-24; Revelation 8:13)