The Bible

 

Matthew 2:1-12 : The Visit of the Wise Men

Study the Inner Meaning

        

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 2      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 2.

After Jesus is Born

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1. And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came Magi from the east into Jerusalem,

2. Saying, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”

3. But having heard, Herod the king was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born.

5. And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus it is written by the prophet:

6. ‘And thou Bethlehem, [of] the land of Judah, art by no means the least among the governors of Judah, for out of thee shall come a Governor, who shall shepherd My people Israel.’”

7. Then Herod, privately calling the Magi, precisely inquired of them at what time the star appeared.

8. And sending them to Bethlehem, he said, “Go and search earnestly for the little Child; and when you have found [Him], report to me, so that I also may come and worship Him.”

9. And when they had heard the king they went [out]; and behold, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came [and] stood over where the little Child was.

10. And having seen the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

11. And coming into the house, they found the little Child with Mary His mother, and falling [down] they worshiped Him; and opening their treasures, they offered to Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed into their own country by another way.

13. And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph, saying, “Arise and take the little Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I tell thee; for Herod is about to seek the little Child to destroy Him.”

14. And when he arose, he took the little Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt,

15. And was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the Magi, was exceedingly wrathful, and sent out and slew all the boys that were in Bethlehem, and in all her borders , from two years and under, according to the time which he had precisely inquired of the Magi.

17. Then was fulfilled what was declared by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18. “A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation, and weeping, and much howling, Rachel weeping [for] her children; and she was not willing to be comforted, because they are not.”

19. And when Herod was dead, behold, the angel of the Lord, in a dream appears to Joseph in Egypt,

20. Saying, “Arise, take the little Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for they are dead who sought the soul of the little Child.”
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Joseph’s struggle within himself — as to whether or not to accept Mary and the child — represents the spiritual battle which each of us must undergo in the course of our regeneration. It is one thing to receive the Lord in the understanding (represented by Joseph), but quite another to allow Him to order the things of our will — represented by the angel telling Joseph to take Mary as his wife. This is the fiercer battle which now begins “after Jesus is born.”

The antagonist is Herod, the king of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth. Comfortable and secure in his role as the supreme ruler of the land, Herod is deeply troubled by the report of the Wise Men who say, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?” Spiritually seen, Herod, as king of Israel, represents total self-absorption, our corrupt hereditary will, setting itself up as the ruler of our lives. This is our state after fourteen generations of captivity in Babylon — a state in which we are governed by our basest emotions: greed, control, anger, fear, hatred and jealousy. We can be sure that whenever we find ourselves in a state like this, Herod is sitting comfortably and securely on his throne. He is a tyrannical ruler, easily threatened, but not easily dethroned. His motivating force is to destroy the Lord in us — even at His birth — rather than relinquish his control over us.

God knows that we need divine protection from the wrath of Herod who represents our selfish desire to control. God therefore speaks to Joseph (as He does to us) in a dream, saying “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and remain there until I bring you word; for Herod is about to seek the young Child to destroy Him” (2:13).

Egypt, at that time, was a world center for education and learning. Medicine, mathematics, poetry and many other fields of study were flourishing. So Jesus’ flight into Egypt represents the need that all of us have for basic education, not just the standard three “R’s,” (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic) but the fourth “R” as well — the basics of religion.

Religious truth, especially the most basic, can help defend us against the onslaughts of Herod — the despot of our lower nature, a fierce tyrant who strives to murder everything that is true in us, even in its most innocent beginning. This is represented by Herod’s massacre of the male children in and around Bethlehem: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem, and in all its districts, from two years old and under” (2:16; emphasis added).

The name “Bethlehem,” comes from two Hebrew words: “Beth” meaning “house” and “lechem” meaning “bread.” Therefore, Bethlehem means “House of Bread” — a place of spiritual nourishment. In the context of this episode, Herod’s destruction of all the male children of Bethlehem, two years old and under, represents how evil inclinations can destroy our earliest impulses to learn truth. These earliest desires to acquire knowledge of truth are symbolized by the male babies of Bethlehem. Whenever we fall into states of cynicism and skepticism, refusing to learn or trust the simple teachings of the Word, whenever we find ourselves without desire to seek the truth, and whenever the distractions of the world lure us away from the quest for wisdom, we can know that “Herod” has risen up in our hearts. A massacre has begun. “Herod in us” is striving to murder the innocent and tender qualities that have been born in our heavenly Bethlehem.

But if we flee to and remain in Egypt (as Jesus does), we will be protected. It is the place where our instruction begins. This is a temporary, but essential part of our spiritual development; temporary because we must eventually return to the land of Canaan where the truth will be applied to our lives; and essential, because these basic, natural truths are the only means by which we can be prepared to receive the higher insights that will eventually flow in from above. 1

For most of us, the period of our instruction in basic truths can last for many years, well into adolescence and beyond. In fact, it never really ends. Throughout our lives we will continue to acquire knowledge, both worldly and spiritual. We will, as it were, “go down into Egypt.” And, as we do so, learning truth and putting it into our lives, we will begin to see how the literal teachings of scripture “open up” like parting clouds, revealing more and more of the interior truths they contain.

In Jesus’ own case, this process of acquiring basic truth was much more rapid. Although Matthew does not tell us how long Jesus remained in Egypt, we can safely assume He was still quite young when He left, for an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the soul of the young Child’s are dead” (2:20; emphasis added).

Growing up in Nazareth

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21. And he arose, [and] took the little Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22. And hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea instead of his father Herod, he feared to go thither; but being warned in a dream, he departed into the parts of Galilee.

23. And coming, He dwelt in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the prophets, that He should be called a Nazarene.
---

Eventually, Joseph, Mary, and the young Child decide to return to Judea. This represents the next step in our spiritual journey. Once we have learned the simple, basic, most literal truths of the Word (sojourning in Egypt), it is time to return to Judea. It is time to be further instructed, and to see what is more interiorly concealed within the letter of the Word. This is a necessary step in every person’s spiritual development. The letter of the Word serves as a literal history of people and places; it is an introduction to basic truth. It does not, however, reveal the full details of our spiritual journey, or provide the kind of discernment we need for the refinement of our souls. Not yet, but that will surely come when we are ready to receive further instruction.

Meanwhile, as the divine narrative continues, Joseph is “warned by God in a dream” that it is not yet time to return to their home. Though Herod is dead, his son is still in power. And so Mary, Joseph, and the young Child turn aside into the region of Galilee, into a city called Nazareth. This is yet another step on the journey of spiritual development. In the language of sacred scripture, it could be called, “growing up in Nazareth.

But what does it mean to “grow up in Nazareth”?

Nazareth of Galilee was a primitive region populated mostly by farmers, fishermen and uneducated tradespeople who knew very little about theology or the laws of the temple.

Unlike the well-educated (but misguided) religious leaders in Judea, the people of Galilee were not part of the religious establishment of the time. Although they had a strong belief in God, they were not familiar with the main doctrines taught by the religious leaders or the traditions of the temple authorities. And yet, a simple belief in God is often better than a more complicated belief system based on human reason rather than divine revelation. In this regard, the “learned world” often looks down upon people who believe in simplicity that there is a God, and that God is good. 2

The simple, hard-working, good people of Nazareth, therefore, symbolize the humility and simplicity we need to believe in God and live according to His teachings. It is remarkable that almost all the early disciples came from Galilee. It was not their theological training that made them receptive to the teachings of Jesus — for they had very little. In fact, it might be said that it was the absence of theological training — or to be more precise, the absence of false and misleading theology — that made them receptive to Jesus’ words. 3

Galilee, then, and the city of Nazareth which was in the region of Galilee, represent the simplicity of heart and the goodness of life that can receive God openly without skepticism or negativity. Because their religious principles are simple and uncomplicated — love God, love your neighbor — these people can receive Jesus’ teachings readily and with joy. All this is contained in the scriptural statement that Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, in the “land of the Gentiles.” 4 These words speak about a state in us “where Jesus grows up” — a state in which we are willing to receive basic truths simply, uncritically, and with joy.

As we shall see later in the narrative, the fact that Jesus grows up in Nazareth, in the land of the Gentiles, will be held against Him. The religious leaders will regard Him as poor and uneducated, untrained in their religious tenets, and therefore incapable of understanding or conveying spiritual truth to anyone. And yet, as this episode closes, we learn that His growing up in Nazareth is the fulfillment of prophecy, for we read, “And He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’” (2:23).

As we reflect on this miraculous moment in the early life of Jesus, it becomes evident that those simple, most basic truths we learn (Egypt) must be protected in a place of simple trust and unalloyed faith (Nazareth of Galilee). This is a necessary stage in which early truths from the letter of the Word can deepen and develop. It is why we feel a natural desire to protect the innocence of children from corrupting influences — Herod, and the son of Herod. And it is the same with each of us as we learn new truth from the letter of the Word, and allow it to grow up within us in a state of simple faith.

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Footnotes:

1. Arcana Coelestia 1462:6: “That the Lord when an infant was brought into Egypt, signified the same that is here signified by Abram [instruction in truths from the letter of the Word]; and it took place for the additional reason that He might fulfill all the things that had been represented concerning Him. In the inmost sense the migration of Jacob and his sons into Egypt represented the first instruction of the Lord in knowledges from the Word.” See also Apocalypse Explained 654.

2. Apocalypse Explained 447:5: “Galilee signifies the establishment of the church with the Gentiles who are in the good of life and who receive truths.”

3. Arcana Coelestia 4760:4: “It is well-known that the learned have less belief than the simple in a life after death, and that in general they see Divine truths less clearly than the simple do. The reason is that they consult facts, of which they possess a greater abundance than others, with a negative attitude, and by this destroy in themselves any insight gained from a higher or more interior position. Once this has been destroyed they no longer see anything in the light of heaven but in the light of the world; for facts exist in the light of the world, and if they are not lit up by the light of heaven they bring darkness, however different it may seem to be to them. This was why the simple believed in the Lord but not the scribes and Pharisees, who were the learned in that nation.”

4. Apocalypse Explained 730: “Gentiles signify those who are in ignorance of truth, and yet are in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have a desire for truths.”

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From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 113, 117, 1171, 2135, 3249, 3762, 4262, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 277, 913

Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 23

True Christian Religion 205


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 72, 242, 324, 422, 433, 449, 491, ...

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 2, 41

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 31, ...

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:



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Bible Word Meanings

bethlehem
There is a strong relationship between Ephrath and Bethlehem in the Bible; they might be two different names for the same town, or it’s possible...

wise
At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

jews
It would be simple to think that when the Bible mentions "Jews" it is simply talking about the descendants of the tribe of Judah, the...

seen
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...

star
'Stars' signify the knowledge of truth and good. 'Stars' are frequently mentioned in the Word, and always signify goods and truths, but in an opposite...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

worship
To adore, in the Word, signifies to acknowledge and believe.

heard
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...

troubled
The Bible often talks of people being "troubled." The internal meaning is pretty straightforward; it indicates a state of spiritual turmoil, usually due to the...

chief priests
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:18, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

scribes
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:18, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

christ
Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

said
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...

written
If knowing what’s right were the same as doing what’s right, we would all be thin, healthy, hard-working, law-abiding, faithful to our spouses and free...

the least
'Tittle' or 'the least' in the Word represents heavenly things.

least
The idea of "least" is not addressed directly in Swedenborg, but a central idea is relatively clear from several references to Matthew 25:40: And the...

governor
"Rulers" or "governors" in the Bible represent the most basic, most essential true ideas that guide us in life, ideas that spring directly from the...

go
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...

saw
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...

went before
To "go before" in the Bible means either to lead or to prepare, depending on context. When it is said of the Lord or things...

rejoiced
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

joy
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

worshipped
'Worship,' as in Revelation 13:12, signifies acknowledging something to be sacred in the church.

opened
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

treasures
'Treasure,' as in Matthew 13:44, signifies divine truth in the Word.

gifts
The gift which Abraham gave to the sons of the concubines which he had, as in Genesis 25:6, signifies lots in the Lord's spiritual kingdom....

and frankincense
'Perfumes, ointment, and frankincense,' as in Revelation 18:13, signify spiritual aspects of worship.

frankincense
Frankincense was one of the three gifts presented by the wise men, sometimes called the magi, to Jesus. The three gifts - gold, frankincense, and...

and myrrh
In Genesis 37:25, 'spices, resin, and myrrh' signify interior natural truths joined to good in the natural level. Among the ancients, they used things with...

myrrh
Myrrh is a perfume and medicine made from the resin from a genus of thorn trees. In the Word, is represents our early knowledges about...

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

way
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

Related Music

Brightest and Best, Morgan State Choir

Provided to YouTube by NAXOS of America. Brightest and Best · Morgan State University Choir. 49 Hidden Treasures from the African American Heritage Hymnal. ℗ 2005 GIA Publications, Inc. Released on: 2005-01-01 Conductor: James Abbington Choir: Morgan State University Choir Composer: John Harding Composer: Reginald Heber

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.


 Adoration of the Wise Men
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Adoration of the Wise Men
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Angels in the Christmas Story
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Behold, the Star
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Birth of the Lord
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Childhood of Jesus
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Christmas Star
Gives directions for assembling four large triangles into a beautiful star. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

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Illustrations of three stories in the Word that mention gold. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Fall Down and Worship Him
Think about your day tomorrow, and prioritize your various activities by thinking about what the Lord wants you to do.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Five Christmas Scenes
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Flee to Egypt
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Flight into Egypt
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Flight into Egypt Silhouette
"Cut out the pieces to show the silhouettes of Mary and Joseph taking the young Child to Egypt, then assemble on a large piece of blue paper and add stars by using glitter or small star stickers. "
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Following the Star
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Follow the Star Dramatization
This simple dramatization of the story of the wise men following the star to find the baby Lord includes a script and an illustration of Mary, Joseph, and the young Child.
Activity | Ages 3 - 7

 Gifts for the Lord
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Gifts of the Wise Men
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 His Star Still Shines
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Jesus' Childhood
People are born without a set purpose and develop a purpose as they learn and choose a pathway. Jesus was born with an identity and a purpose; He had to discover His identity and become true to it.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Joy in the Coming of Our Lord
Like the star that led the wise men, the truth will lead us to the Lord and make us happy. But the real joy in our lives will be when we come to the Lord offering gifts to Him, as the wise men did.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Lacing Star
Print this star onto card stock, punch holes around the edge, then use yarn with sparkly (metallic) strands to “sew” around the edge of the star to make it sparkle.
Project | Ages 4 - 8

 Making Christmas Star Cookies
Ideas for decorating rolled cookies cut in the shape of stars. 
Project | Ages over 7

 Memory Verse: The Guiding Star
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Pop-up Crèche Card for Christmas
A lovely project to color and assemble. Designed by Eudora Sellner Walsh.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Quotes: Prophecies of the Advent
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Guiding Star
Teachings from the Lord's Word for Christmas about the guiding star.
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Using Our Talents
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Scroll of Angelic Appearances in Christmas Story
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Show and Tell the Gifts of the Wise Men
Read about the three gifts in Matthew 2. Then show everyone some gold, frankincense and myrrh. Discuss ways we can give these symbolic gifts to the Lord.
Activity | All Ages

 Signs at Christmas
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Star of Wonder
Four ways to picture the star in the dark of night.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Star Out of Jacob
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Star Out of Jacob with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Story of the Wise Men Scene Boxes
Paint four sides of a box to show 4 different scenes from the story of the wise men.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Story of the Wisemen Stained Glass Windows
Make stained glass windows depicting the star of wonder, the three wise men following the star or the wise men presenting their gifts before the Lord.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Strange Gifts
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Christmas Star
As we think about stars at Christmas time, let us invite the Lord into our hearts and minds so that His Christmas star will light the way to heaven for us.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Flight into Egypt
Angels came to Joseph in a dream to help protect the baby Lord. Angels can help protect us too. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 The Gold of the Wisemen
Gold stands for loving the Lord. This was the first gift that the wise men gave the Lord because it is essential for worshiping the Lord. You can give the Lord the gift of spiritual gold - the gift of love. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Guiding Star [salt crystal star]
Paint a beautiful guiding star and then use salt crystals on wet paint to make a starry sky for the background.
Project | Ages over 7

 The Innocence of Love
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Come into the World
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

 The Lord Comes into the World (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord Comes into the World (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord Comes into the World (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Murder of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt
Within each one of us the Lord’s wonderful Providence keeps what is most important safe from harm. In time, this protection makes it possible for us to prepare ourselves to become angels in heaven.
Worship Talk | Ages 15 - 17

 The Slaughter of the Innocents
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Star of Bethlehem
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Three Gifts of the Wise Men
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Visit of the Wise Men
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

 The Visit of the Wise Men (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Visit of the Wise Men (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Visit of the Wise Men (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Wise Men
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wise Men
Two project ideas for picturing the wise men.  
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 The Wise Men
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Wise Men
The wise men brought gifts to the baby Lord. How are we to search for the Lord? What gifts should we bring Him?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Wise Men
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Wise Men
A story for young children with color illustrations.
Story | Ages 4 - 10

 The Wisemen Diorama
Print this project onto thick paper (such as cover stock). Then color the wise men, the camels, and the background scene of Bethlehem and assemble a diorama with the wise men looking at the star. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wisemen Present Gifts
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wisemen Rejoice to See the Star
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wise Men Worship the Lord
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Christmas Initial Letters
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Christmas Scenes
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Kings from the East
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Wise Men
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Lesson and activities comparing what the Lord wills to what He permits so that people can be free to make heavenly or hellish choices in their lives.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Why the Lord Was Taken into Egypt
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Wise Men Follow the Star
At the time of the Lord’s birth a beautiful star appeared in the night sky. It was a star of heavenly light and only people whose spiritual eyes had been opened could see it. Far away from Bethlehem, in the land to the east, this special star was seen by some wise men. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 2, for ages 7-8.
Religion Lesson | Ages 7 - 8

 Wise Men from the East
Presents a dramatic word-picture of the wise men's journey and a message for us all: If you wish to be wise, and to be made happy with an exceeding great joy, follow the Lord's star.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Wisemen See Star
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Wisemen's Gift Ornaments
Make ornaments for your tree by printing pictures of wise men's gifts on stiff paper (such as cover stock). Then color the gifts, cut them out, and display on your tree.
Project | Ages up to 10

Commentary

 

Christmas Gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh

     

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

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The Cambridge Singers and Orchestra, John Rutter, 2019

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Morgan State University Choir NAXOS of America

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Philadelphia Brass Ensemble, 2017

The Adoration of the Magi, a Design for Bas Relief.

In the Christmas story, the wise men bring gifts to the Lord: gold, frankincense and myrrh.

The gold is listed first, because it is the inmost - signifying good, e.g. the good that we do when we love the Lord and the neighbor.

The frankincense is next. It signifies rational truth, which is the set of true ideas that we know, not about external things like cars or cooking, but about what is really good, and what is really true.

These rational truths are built on earlier knowledges that we learn, before we have really made them our own. Those early knowledges about spiritual things - often learned in childhood - are represented by the myrrh.

In a way, these gifts are really a reciprocation. We can't actually give them to the Lord until the Lord has given them to us. We necessarily start out by learning and doing the Lord's law (myrrh). The Lord can then call up those memories to become rational truths (frankincense). Then, over time, and with effort, those truths can be transformed into good (gold). The wise men from the East had gone through this process of learning and becoming vessels that could receive truths and goods. They were able to perceive the Lord's birth, and find him, and bring gifts to him.

The Bible

 

Isaiah 60:6

Study the Inner Meaning

              

6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the LORD.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Explanation of Isaiah 60      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 60

(Note: Rev. Smithson's translation of the Isaiah text is appended below the explanation.)

1. ARISE, be you enlightened; for your light is come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen, upon you.

VERSES 1, 2, 3, 20. The advent of the Lord is here treated of. "Light" is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, and "His glory and the brightness of His rising" are all things which appear in that light concerning the Lord, and concerning Faith in Him and Love to Him, "Darkness which shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples", are the obscure things of faith and of love; for the establishment of the church among the Gentiles or nations is the subject treated of. Hence it follows that by the "light" and "glory" which shall arise, and which shall be seen, and according to which they shall walk, are divine Truths concerning the Lord, and concerning faith in Him and love to Him from Him. Arcana Coelestia 10574. See also Arcana Coelestia 5922.

In these verses the Lord is treated of, and the nations are said to "come unto Him", and to "acknowledge Him as their God"; and, what is wonderful, the nations or Gentiles adore one only God under a human form; wherefore when they hear concerning the Lord, they receive and acknowledge Him; nor can the New Church be established amongst others. Arcana Coelestia 9256.

2. For, behold! darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples: but upon You shall Jehovah arise, and His glory shall be seen upon You.

Verses 2, 3. These things are said concerning the Lord. The Divine in Him is understood by "Jehovah shall arise upon You, and His glory shall be seen upon You"; the Divine Good of the Divine Love by "Jehovah shall arise upon You, and the Divine Truth from that Good by "His glory shall be seen upon You." "Nations" signify those who are in Goods, and "kings" those who are in Truths from Good; concerning the former it is said, "they shall come or walk to Your light", whereby is signified a life according to Divine Truth; and concerning the latter, "they shall walk to the brightness of Your rising", whereby is signified the life of intelligence from Divine Good; to "walk" denoting to live; "light", the Divine Truth; and the "brightness of His rising", the Divine Truth from the Divine Good, whence intelligence is derived. Apocalypse Explained 422.

3. And the nations shall come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising.

Verses 3, 5, 11, 12, 6, 22. The Lord is here treated of. By the "nations" are understood all who are in the Good of Love to Him, and by "kings" all who are in Truths of Faith in Him; hence it is evident who are meant by "the nations who shall walk to Your light", and by "the host of the nations who shall be brought", and who by "the kings that shall walk to the brightness of Your rising"; and also what is understood by "You shalt suck the milk of the nations [or Gentiles], and the breast of kings"; "milk" is the delight from the Good of love, in like manner the "breasts", because from them is milk. The multiplication of Truth and the fructification of Good is described, in verse 22, by "a little one becoming a thousand, and a small one a strong nation"; but by "the nations which shall be devastated " are understood all who are in evils. Apocalypse Explained 175.

4. Lift up, thine eyes round about, and see; all of them are gathered together, they come unto you: your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side.

Verse 4. Your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side. - As to what is understood in the spiritual sense by these words, see above, Chapter 49:17, 22, 23, the Exposition.

5. Then shalt you behold, and shalt overflow [with joy]; and your heart shall be astonished, and dilated: when the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto you; when the wealth of the nations shall come unto you.

Verses 5, 6. When the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto You, etc. - These words treat of the Lord and of the divine, celestial, and spiritual things in His Natural [principle]. The "abundance of the sea" signifies the immense abundance of natural Truth; the "multitude of camels" denotes the abundance of common scientifics; "gold and frankincense" are Goods and Truths, which are "the praises of Jehovah"; "from Sheba" is from the celestial things of love and faith; as may be seen, n. Arcana Coelestia 113-117.

"The queen of Sheba coming to Solomon at Jerusalem, with very great riches, and with camels carrying spices; and very much gold, and precious stones", (1 Kings 10:1, 2) represented the wisdom and intelligence which the Lord [in the process of His glorification] acquired, who, in the internal sense, is "Solomon"; "the camels carrying spices, gold, and precious stones", signify those things which belong to wisdom and intelligence in the natural man. Arcana Coelestia 3048.

These words also treat of the Lord's spiritual kingdom. The "dromedaries of Midian and Ephah" signify doctrinals; the doctrinals of Good are "gold"; the doctrinals of Truth are "frankincense"; both are "the praises of Jehovah." Hence it may be seen what "Midian" and "Ephah" signify, namely, "Midian" signifies those who are in the Truths of Faith, and as "Ephah" (Genesis 25:4) was a son of Midian, derivations from the Truths of Faith are signified by him, [or by "the land of Ephah."] No one is admitted into the Lord's kingdom, but those who are in the Good of Faith; for the Good of Faith is the Good of life. The life of Faith remains, but not the doctrine or Truth of Faith, except so far as it forms one with the life; nevertheless, those who are in the Truth of Faith, that is, who profess Faith, and call it the essential [of religion], because they have been so taught to believe, and are, notwithstanding, in the Good of life; that is, who in heart are Christians, and not in mouth only, are in the spiritual kingdom of the Lord; for anyone can be easily persuaded to believe that Faith is the essential, when he has been thus taught by masters, and when in his juvenile age he has been imbued with that opinion, and because those who are esteemed most learned, and who are the heads of the church, thus teach. Arcana Coelestia 3242.

6. A multitude of camels shall cover you; the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all of them from Sheba shall come: gold and frankincense shall they bring; and they shall show forth the praises of Jehovah.

Verse 6. The advent of the Lord is here treated of.

By "the multitude of camels, and the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah"; are signified knowledges of Truth and of Good in abundance; "all from Sheba, who shall come", signifies from the knowledges of genuine Truth and Good; "Sheba" denoting such knowledges, as may be seen in Arcana Coelestia 1171, 3240.

By "the gold and frankincense which they shall bring", is signified worship from spiritual Good, which is derived from celestial Good, - "gold" signifying celestial Good, and "frankincense" spiritual Good; on account of such worship being meant, it is therefore said "They shall show forth the praises of Jehovah", by which is signified the preaching of the Gospel concerning the Lord, also the worship of Him. Apocalypse Explained 324.

Verses 6, 9. A multitude of camels shall cover you; - the islands shall trust in Me, etc.

- By "a multitude of camels" are understood all who are in the kuowledges of Truth and of Good, see Arcana Coelestia 3048, 3071; by "Sheba", whence they shall come, is understood where the knowledges themselves are, see Arcana Coelestia 1171, 3240; by "the gold and frankincense which they shall bring", are understood Goods and Truths derived from Good, which thence are grateful, - by "gold" the Goods, and by "frankincense" the Truths, see Arcana Coelestia 9993, 10177.

By "the islands which shall trust in Him", are understood the nations which are in divine worship, but more remote from the Truths of the church, see Arcana Coelestia 1158; by "the ships of Tarshish" are understood common knowledges of Truth and of Good, in which are contained many particular knowledges, see Arcana Coelestia 1977, 6385; by "the sons whom they shall bring from afar", are understood Truths more remote, see Arcana Coelestia 8613, 9487; "sons" denote Truths, as above, and "from afar" denotes which are more remote; by "their silver and their gold with them", are signified the knowledges of Truth and of Good which they possess.

Similar things are understood by what is written in Matthew, that "the wise men who came from the East to the place where the Lord was born, offered gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh"; (Matthew 2:11) they offered those things because they signified Goods and Truths; interior and exterior, which are gifts grateful to God. Apocalypse Explained 242.

7. All the cattle of Arabia shall be gathered unto you; unto you shall the rams of Nebaioth minister: they shall ascend with good pleasure on Mine altar; and I will glorify the house of My glory.

Verse 7. The subject here treated of is concerning the advent of the Lord, and these words have reference to 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 understood external Goods, and by "rams" internal Goods; and by "Arabia " and "Nebaioth" things spiritual. "They shall ascend with acceptance on Mine altar, and I will glorify the house of My glory", signifies the Divine Human of the Lord, in which these things will be; the "altar" denoting His Divine Human as to Divine Good, and the "house of glory" the same us to Divine Truth, That the Lord as to His Divine Human is here understood appears from the former part of this chapter, where it is said, "Jehovah shall arise upon You, and His glory shall be seen upon You"; as also by what follows, where the Lord is described as to the Divine Wisdom, with which He was to be filled as to His Humanity. Inasmuch as the "altar", in a supreme sense, signifies the Divine Human of the Lord, therefore it also signifies heaven and the church; for the angelic heaven, properly considered, is from the Divine which proceeds from the Divine Human of the Lord, whence it is that the angelic heaven in its whole complex is as one Man, and is, therefore, also called the Grand Man, concerning which see what is shown in the work concerning Heaven and Hell 59-86; and concerning the like circumstance with respect to the church, see n. 57 in the same work; and inasmuch as all worship is from the Lord, for it is the Divine which is communicated to man from the Lord, in which the Lord Himself is present, hence by the "altar" is 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 derived from that Good; for all worship is either from Love or from Faith, or from Good or from Truth. Worship from the Good of love is such as exists in the celestial kingdom of the Lord; and worship from Truths derived from that Good, which Truths are also called Truths of Faith, is such as exists ill the spiritual kingdom of the Lord; concerning which see also what is further shown in the same work, n. 20-28. Apocalypse Explained 391.

The cattle of Arabia. - In respect to "Arabia" and " Kedar", see Chapter 21:11, 13, 14, the Exposition.

Verses 7, 8. All the cattle of Arabia, - the rams of Nebaioth, etc. Who are these that fly like a cloud? and like doves to their windows? - The illustration of the nations by the Lord's coming is here treated of.

By "all the cattle of Arabia which shall be gathered together", are signified all the knowledges of Truth and of Good; by "the rams of Nebaioth which shall minister", are signified Truths, which lend the life by virtue of spiritual affection. By, "flying like a cloud, and like doves to their windows", is denoted the investigation and examination of the Truth, from the sense of the letter of the Word; hence also by "flying" is signified circumspection; for by a " cloud" is meant the sense of the letter of the Word, by "doves" the spiritual affection of Truth, and by "windows" the Truth in the light. That such a sense is contained in these words, may appear from the signification, in the spiritual sense, of "the cattle of Arabia", of "the rams of Nebaioth", of a "cloud", of "doves." and of "windows." Apocalypse Explained 28.

8. Who are these that fly like a cloud? and like doves to their windows?

9. Verily the islands shall trust in Me; and the ships of Tarshish among the first: to bring your sons from afar; their silver and their gold with them: to the name of Jehovah your God, and to the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you.

Verses 8, 9. These things are said concerning the Lord, and by them is signified that they who are in simple Truth and Good would receive and acknowledge Him, who are such as perceive the Truths of the Word in a natural manner, which is according to the sense of the letter, and do them. By the "islands" are signified those who are in this kind of perception of the Word; and by the "ships of Tarshish", in the beginning, are denoted the Goods which they bear and do; for "Tarshish" signifies the natural man as to knowledges of Good, inasmuch as in Tarshish was gold and silver, and the ships carried these things thence, (1 Kings 10:22) and in the beginning the "gold", by which is signified Good; and Truths being from Good, it is therefore also said, "To bring your sons from afar." And inasmuch as by "islands" and the "ships of Tarshish" are signified the knowledges of Truth and of Good appertaining to the natural man, it is therefore said, "Who are these that fly like a cloud? and like doves to their windows?"-"clouds" signifying the Truths of the sense of the letter of the Word, "doves" the Goods therein, and "windows" Truths from Good in light. That "ships" signify the knowledges of Truth and of Good from the Word, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 1977, 6385; and that "windows" signify Truths in light, and thence what is intellectual, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 655, 658, 3391. Apocalypse Explained 406.

10. And the sons of the alien shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister unto you: for in My wrath I smote you, but in My good pleasure have I had mercy on you.

Verse 10. "Strangers" and the "sons of the alien" denote those who do not acknowledge the Lord, and are unwilling to acknowledge Him, whether they be out of the church or within it, thus who are in evils, and in the falsities of evil; for those who do not acknowledge the Lord must needs be in evils and the falsities of evil, for from the Lord is every Good and every Truth of Good. That this is the signification of "strangers", in a bad sense, is abundantly evident from the Word. (See (Jeremiah 2:25; 51:51; see also above, Chapter 1:7, the Exposition.) But when "strangers" and the "sons of the alien" are said to "build up the walls of Jerusalem", and to be "the husbandmen and the vinedressers of the people of Israel", (Isaiah 61:5) they denote those in the church who are in mere externals of worship without internals, and who are, consequently, reduced to the performance of menial services in the church. (See Chapter 61:5, 6, the Exposition.) Arcana Coelestia 10287.

In My wrath I smote you, but in My good pleasure have I had mercy on you. - To "smite in wrath", signifies temptation; "in good pleasure to have mercy", signifies deliverance from a principle of love. Apocalypse Explained 205.

11. And your gates shall be open continually; by day and by night they shall not be shut: to bring unto you the wealth of the nations, and that their kings may be brought.

12. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly devastated.

Verses 11, 12, 18. The subject here treated of is concerning the Lord, and concerning the church about to be established by Him; and by the above particulars is described the perpetual admission of those who are in Good and thence in Truths.

By "the gates being open continually, and not shut by day and by night", is understood perpetual admission; by "the host of the nations [or Gentiles] are signified those who are in Good, and by "kings" those who are in Truths; and that all should serve the Lord, is understood by its being said that "the nation and the kingdom which will not serve You shall perish." That "nation" or "nations" signify those who are in Good, may be seen above, 11. 275; and that "kings signify those who are in Truths, n. 31. Apocalypse Explained 208.

13. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto you; the fir-tree, the pine, and the box together; to adorn the place of My sanctuary, and I will make the place of My feet glorious.

14. And the sons of them that afflicted you shall come bending before you; and all they that despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet: and they shall call you, The City of Jehovah; The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

Verse 13. The "glory of Lebanon", or the "cedar", is spiritual Good and Truth; the "fir-tree", the "pine", and the "Lox" are natural Goods and Truths which correspond. The "place of My sanctuary" is heaven and the church, and also the Word; the "place of My feet" is heaven, the church, and the Word in ultimates; that it is also the Word is, because heaven is heaven from the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord; in like manner the church; and the Divine Truth which makes the church and heaven is the Word. Hence it was that the inmost of the Tabernacle where the Ark was, in which the Law was deposited, was called the "Sanctuary"; the "Law" is the Word. Arcana Coelestia 9406.

See further as to the meaning of the "cedar", "fir-tree", "box", etc., Chapter 41:19, the Exposition.

I will make the place of My feet glorious. - By "the place of the feet" of the Lord, in the general sense, are understood all things of heaven and the church, inasmuch as the Lord as a Sun is above the heavens; but, in a particular sense, by "the place of His feet" is signified the church; for the church of the Lord is with men in the natural world, and the natural principle is the ultimate into which the Divine [sphere] closes, and upon which it as it were subsists. Hence it follows that the church on earth is also called "the footstool of the Lord"; as in Isaiah:

"The earth is the stool of My feet." (Isaiah 66:1)

See also Matthew 5:35. Apocalypse Explained 606.

15. Instead of your being forsaken and bated, so that no one passed through you, I will make you an eternal magnificence, a joy of perpetual generations.

Verses 15, 16. I will make you an eternal magnificence, etc. - Here "Zion" and "Jerusalem" are treated of, which are the celestial church, "Zion" its internal, and "Jerusalem " its external. To "suck the milk of the Gentiles", signifies the insinuation of celestial Good; to "suck the breast of kings", denotes the insinuation of celestial Truth. Everybody can see that there is a sense hidden in these words which does not appear in the letter, and that it is holy, because it is the divine Word; otherwise, what would be the meaning of "sucking the milk of, the Gentiles, and the breasts of kings"? The sense which is hidden, and which is holy, cannot possibly appear, unless it be known what is meant by "sucking", by "milk", by "Gentiles", by "breasts", and by "kings." Arcana Coelestia 6745.

16. And you shalt suck the milk of the nations; yea, you shalt suck the breast of kings: and you shalt know that I Jehovah am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

Verse 16. "Kings" denote Truths grounded in Good from the Lord, as may be seen above, n. 31; and "breasts" denote that Good, which is the Good of spiritual love. That the "breast" signifies the Good of spiritual love is from correspondence with heaven; for the whole heaven corresponds to all things of man, - the inmost or third heaven corresponds to the head, the middle or second to the breast, and the ultimate or first to the feet. On account of such, correspondence heaven is also called the Grand Man, and because the inmost or third heaven corresponds to the head, therefore by the "head" is signified the Good of celestial love, which is the Good of love to the Lord; the reason is, because that Good reigns in and makes that heaven; and because the middle or second heaven corresponds to the breast, therefore by the "breast" is signified the Good of spiritual love, which is the Good of neighbourly love, by reason that this Good reigns in and constitutes that heaven; and because the ultimate or first heaven corresponds to the feet, therefore by "feet" is signified the Good of natural love derived from spiritual, which is the Good of faith; the reason is, because that Good reigns in and constitutes that heaven. Apocalypse Explained 65.

Verses 16, 17. By "breasts" are signified the affections of what is Good and True, both because they belong to the province of conjugial love and because thereby infants are nourished hence it is that the "breasts" signify the conjunction of conjugial love with the love of infants. To "suck the breasts of kings", is to suck Good out of Truth, for by " "kings" are signified primary Truths. (See Arcana Coelestia 1672, 2015)

That by the milk of the nations [or Gentiles]", and by "the breast of lungs", something recondite, which is spiritual, is signified, must be evident; for otherwise they would be words without sense. That they signify what is good and True, is evident from those things which follow, namely:

"Instead of brass, I will bring gold; and instead of iron, I will bring silver"; for "brass" is natural Good, (Arcana Coelestia 425) "gold" is celestial Good; (Arcana Coelestia 113) "iron" is natural Truth and "silver" is spiritual Truth, (1551.) Arcana Coelestia 6432. See also 643, 1551.

17. Instead of brass, I will bring gold; and instead of iron, I will bring silver; and instead of wood, brass; and instead of stones, iron: and I will make your government peace, and your exactors righteousness.

18. Violence shall no more be heard in your land; nor devastation and destruction within your borders: but you shalt call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.

Verses. 17, 18. The subject treated of in this chapter is concerning the advent of the Lord, and the New Heaven and the New Church to be then established; and by the above words is understood that they shall be spiritual and not natural as before, namely, they who are conjoined to the Lord by the Good of love; and that there shall be no more dissension or disagreement between the internal or spiritual man, and the external or natural man. That they shall be spiritual, and not natural as before, is understood by "Instead of brass, I will bring gold; and instead of iron, I will bring silver; and instead of wood, brass; and instead of stones, iron"; "brass iron and stones " signifying things natural, and "gold, silver, and iron in the place thereof", denoting things spiritual - "gold" spiritual Good, "silver" the Truth of that Good, and "iron" spiritual-natural Truth. That the Lord will rule by the Good of love, is signified by "I will make your government peace, and thine exactors justice"; "government" denoting rule, "peace" the Lord, and "justice" Good from the Lord. That there will be then no more disagreement between the spiritual and the natural man, is signified by "violence shall no more be heard in the land, devastation and destruction [confractio] in your borders"; by violence is meant dissension: by"land, the internal spiritual man, inasmuch as in that man the church is, which, in general, is signified by "land." or "earth"; by "devastation and destruction which shall be no more", is denoted that there shall be no longer any evils and falsities; and by "in your borders", is signified in the natural man; for in the things appertaining to the natural man, spiritual things are terminated. The reason why "devastation" and "destruction" signify evils and falsities is, because evils devastate the natural man, and falsities destroy [or break him up]. Apocalypse Explained 305.

Verse 18. You shalt call your walls Salvation, etc. - That "walls" signify the Truths of Faith defending, see Chapter 26:1, the Exposition.

19. The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you: for Jehovah shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God shall be your glory.

Verses 19, 20. By the "sun" here is signified the love which is merely natural, and by the "moon" the natural lumen thence derived; but by the "sun" and "moon" last mentioned, is understood the Sun and Moon of the angelic heaven; and by that "Sun" is signified the Divine Love of the Lord, and by the "Moon" the Divine Truth. This may appear from its being first said, "The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you"; and afterwards, "Your Sun shall no more go down; neither shall your Moon withdraw itself." From these considerations it is now evident what the "sun" and "moon" signify in both senses. Apocalypse Explained 401.

By "the sun and the moon which shall shine no longer", is understood the love of self, and one's own intelligence; and by "the Sun and the Moon which shall set no more", are understood love from the Lord to the Lord, and intelligence and also faith from Him. Apocalypse Revealed 919.

20. Your sun shall no more go down; neither shall your moon withdraw itself: for Jehovah shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be fulfilled.

Verse 20. Treating concerning the Lord, and the New Heaven and the New Earth, that is, concerning the Church to be established by Him. That the Good of love to the Lord should not perish, nor the Good of charity towards their neighbour, in those who belong to that church, is understood by "Your Sun shall no more go down; neither shall your Moon withdraw itself:" for the Lord appears to those who are in the Good of love to Him as a Sun, and to those who are in Truths from the Good of charity towards their neighbour as a Moon; hence by "your Sun" is signified the Good of love to the Lord, and by "your Moon" the Good of charity, which, in its essence, is Truth from Good. That they shall be to eternity in Truths from the Good of love, and in Truths from the Good of charity, is understood by "Jehovah shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be fulfilled"; the "everlasting light" is said of those who are in the Good of love to the Lord, and the "fulfilment of the days of mourning" of those who are in the Good of charity towards their neighbour, or in Truths originating in that Good; for "mourning", in the ancient churches, represented grief all account of the loss or deprivation of Truth and of Good; that "they shall be fulfilled" signifies that they shall be ended, and that they shall be in Truths from Good. From these considerations it may appear what is signified, in the opposite sense, by "the sun being darkened at his rising", and by "the moon not causing her light to shine", as may be seen in Isaiah 13:10, the Exposition. Apocalypse Explained 401.

21. And your people shall be all just; for ever shall they possess the land: the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I maybe glorified.

Verse 21. As to "just" and also as to "justice", see Chapter 57:1, the Exposition.

The work of My hands. - All things which are done by the Lord are called "the works of His hands", which are properly His works, and in themselves are Goods and Truths, as in the above passage; see also Chap, Isaiah 64:8. But "the works of man's hands" are from his proprium, hence from what is evil and false, as may be manifest from this fact, that it was prohibited to "build an altar and a temple of hewn stones, or to move an iron tool upon them." (Exodus 20:25; Joshua 8:30, 31; 1 Kings 6:7) Apocalypse Revealed 457. See also above, as to "hewn stones", Chapter 9:10, the Exposition.

22. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I Jehovah will hasten it in its time.

Verse 22. By these words is signified the multiplication of Truths and the fructification of Goods. Apocalypse Explained 175.

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Isaiah Chapter 60.

1. ARISE, be you enlightened; for your light is come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen, upon you.

2. For, behold! darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples: but upon You shall Jehovah arise, and His glory shall be seen upon You.

3. And the nations shall come to Your light, and kings to the brightness of Your rising.

4. Lift up, thine eyes round about, and see; all of them are gathered together, they come unto you: your sons shall come from afar, and your daughters shall be nursed at your side.

5. Then shalt you behold, and shalt overflow [with joy]; and your heart shall be astonished, and dilated: when the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto you; when the wealth of the nations shall come unto you.

6. A multitude of camels shall cover you; the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all of them from Sheba shall come: gold and frankincense shall they bring; and they shall show forth the praises of Jehovah.

7. All the cattle of Arabia shall be gathered unto you; unto you shall the rams of Nebaioth minister: they shall ascend with good pleasure on Mine altar; and I will glorify the house of My glory.

8. Who are these that fly like a cloud? and like doves to their windows?

9. Verily the islands shall trust in Me; and the ships of Tarshish among the first: to bring your sons from afar; their silver and their gold with them: to the name of Jehovah your God, and to the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you.

10. And the sons of the alien shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister unto you: for in My wrath I smote you, but in My good pleasure have I had mercy on you.

11. And your gates shall be open continually; by day and by night they shall not be shut: to bring unto you the wealth of the nations, and that their kings may be brought.

12. For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly devastated.

13. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto you; the fir-tree, the pine, and the box together; to adorn the place of My sanctuary, and I will make the place of My feet glorious.

14. And the sons of them that afflicted you shall come bending before you; and all they that despised you shall bow themselves down at the soles of your feet: and they shall call you, The City of Jehovah; The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.

15. Instead of your being forsaken and bated, so that no one passed through you, I will make you an eternal magnificence, a joy of perpetual generations.

16. And you shalt suck the milk of the nations; yea, you shalt suck the breast of kings: and you shalt know that I Jehovah am your Saviour and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.

17. Instead of brass, I will bring gold; and instead of iron, I will bring silver; and instead of wood, brass; and instead of stones, iron: and I will make your government peace, and your exactors righteousness.

18. Violence shall no more be heard in your land; nor devastation and destruction within your borders: but you shalt call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.

19. The sun shall be no more your light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto you: for Jehovah shall be to you an everlasting light, and your God shall be your glory.

20. Your sun shall no more go down; neither shall your moon withdraw itself: for Jehovah shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of your mourning shall be fulfilled.

21. And your people shall be all just; for ever shall they possess the land: the branch of My planting, the work of My hands, that I maybe glorified.

22. A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I Jehovah will hasten it in its time.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 60


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 113, 117, 1171, 3048, 3242, 3268, 9881, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 277, 629, 913

True Christian Religion 780


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 242, 324, 491

Canons of the New Church 43

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 45

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Related Books  (see all)


Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 25:4

Deuteronomy 32:43

Psalms 67:4, 72:10

Jeremiah 6:20

Matthew 2:11

Bible Word Meanings

camels
A camel (Matt. 22:24) signifies scientific knowledge. Camels are confirming scientifics, and cattle are the knowledges of good and truth (Jer. 49:32.)

cover
The "high mountains being covered " (Gen. 7:19) signifies that all the good things of charity were extin­guished.

Dromedaries of Midian and Ephah
The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah (Isa. 60:6) signify doctrinals.

midian
'Midian' signifies people who are in falsity.

ephah
The Bible uses a somewhat dizzying array of unfamiliar measurement, leaving translators a choice between being accurate and confusing or inaccurate and clear. Since they...

Sheba
'Sheba, Havilah, Sabthah, Regmah, and Sabthecha,' the sons of Cush, as in Genesis 10:7, were several nations which were did not have internal worship, but...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

gold
Gold means good, and just as gold was the most precious metal known to ancient mankind so it represents the good of the highest and...

shew
'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

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...

lord
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...

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.


 Glory to God in the Highest
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Making and Using Candles at Christmastime
Here are several ways to make or decorate candles. Suggestions for incorporating candlelight into your Christmas celebration include saying evening prayers by candlelight throughout December and lighting the whole house by candlelight on Christmas Eve. 
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Quotes: Prophecies of the Advent
Teaching Support | Ages over 15


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