The Bible

Matthew 2:1-12 : The Story 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
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

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

Apocalypse Revealed 277, 913

Sacred Scripture 23

True Christian Religion 205

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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, ...

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  Spiritual Topics:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Numbers 24:17

Joshua 5:14

2 Samuel 2

1 Chronicles 11:2

Psalms 72:10, 78:71

Isaiah 40:11, 60:6

Jonah 4:6

Micah 5:1

Word/Phrase Explanations

In a general sense, being "born" in the Bible represents one spiritual state producing another, usually some form of love or affection producing or "giving...

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...

"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

The human mind is composed of two parts, a will and an understanding, a seat of loves and affections, and a seat of wisdom and...

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

wise men
'Wise men,' as in Matthew 23:34, signify the good of doctrine. 'The wise' signify people who teach the Word. 'They that be wise' signify being...

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,...

"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

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...

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...

The star which went before them [the wise men] meant knowledge coming from heaven, since stars in the Word mean pieces of knowledge. –De Verbo...

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

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...

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...

On July 3, 1863, 12,500 Confederate troops attacked their Union foes during the Battle of Gettysburg, a turning point in the American Civil War. The...

chief priests
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:17, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

Priests' represent the Lord regarding His divine good. When they do not acknowledge the Lord, they lose their signification of the Lord.

The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

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...

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...

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 idea of a "prophet" is very closely tied to the idea of the Bible itself, since the Bible was largely written by prophets. At...

Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

land of
'The land of Rameses,' as in Genesis 47:11, signifies the inmost of the spiritual principle in the natural mind.

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

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...

"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...

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

To call someone or summon someone in the Bible represents a desire for conjunction between higher and lower states of life. For instance, imagine someone...

Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

'Being sent' everywhere signifies, in an internal sense, going forth, as in John 17:8. In similar manner, it is said of the holy of the...

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...

'To search,' as in Revelation 2:23, signifies seeing.

'The son of a cow' signifies the celestial natural level and natural exterior good.

young child
'Tender of age' denotes the state of truths newly received not yet genuine.

A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

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...

'Word,' as in Psalms 119:6-17, stands for doctrine in general. 'The Word,' as in Psalms 147:18, signifies divine good united with divine truth. 'Word,' as...

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...

In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

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...

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

In general, mothers in the Bible represent the Lord's church on earth, or the church among those who know and follow the Lord. In some...

Like other common verbs, the meaning of "fall" is highly dependent on context in regular language, and is highly dependent on context in a spiritual...

"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

In Jeremiah 20:4-5, 'wealth,' 'labor,' 'precious things,' and 'all the treasures of the kings of Judah' signify the knowledges of faith.

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...

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

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

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

A dream, as in Genesis 20:3,signifies being somewhat obscure.

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...

Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

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...

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

 Correspondences of Gold
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

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 (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


Departing into Our Own Country Another Way

The wise men are warned in a dream, not to return to Herod.

As the Christmas season winds down, there is with most of us a mix of emotions – some gratitude, some sadness, perhaps a little wistfulness, a blend of inspired, happy memories and much food for thought. In addition there is the hope and promise of a new year with all its important possibilities for natural and spiritual growth. Where will we be a year from now, and what will we have learned? How will we feel, and who will be sharing their feelings with us? Why will we make the particular decisions that take us into the next new year?

In Psalm 20, David offers a beautiful prayer of blessing for all who trust in the Lord:

"May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble; may the name of the God of Jacob defend you; may He send you help from the sanctuary, and strengthen you out of Zion; may He remember all your offerings, and accept your burnt sacrifice. Selah. May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose... May the Lord fulfill all your petitions." (Psalms 20:1-5).

The prayer, of course, does not stop there, but goes on to acknowledge the power of the Lord and our need to trust Him if we are to receive these blessings. So as we read in the Heavenly Doctrines, the whole Psalm really is about redemption and salvation by the Lord. He is the one who provides for all our needs, and He has done so, at least initially, by coming into the world to bring the hells under control, to restore order in the heavens, and to establish His church on earth (True Christian Religion 84).

The fact is, the Lord HAS answered us in the day of trouble; the name, that is, the pure love and wisdom of the God of Jacob HAS defended us. He HAS sent us help from the sanctuary of heaven so that the desires of our hearts could be granted, our petitions fulfilled. The theme of the 20th Psalm is carried further in the 37th Psalm,

"Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart." (Psalms 37:1-4).

It's not as if the Lord will give us anything we want, but if we want what He wants, and we take delight in that, He will bring it to pass, as He actually gives us the desires that fill our hearts. In the Christmas story we read of many whose inmost desires were fulfilled by the Lord's coming: Zacharias and Elizabeth were given a son in their old age; Mary was granted to be the mother of the Lord; the shepherds the wise men, Simeon and Anna all saw the fulfillment of ancient prophecies in their lives. But then what? How did these characters respond to these events in the days and years afterward? What became of them and what did they DO as a result of their extraordinary experiences?

It's at least interesting that hardly anything is said about any of them after the Lord's birth. But what little is said shows the impact it had on them. Simeon in his old age declared that his whole life had been fulfilled, saying, "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word" (Luke 2:29). Anna, although very old as well, "spoke of Him to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38). Mary appears from time to time as a background figure in her role as mother, but, significantly, she is only quoted twice in all the Gospels after the birth story (Matt. 12:46, John 2:5), and on both occasions she seems bewildered by the whole experience – although she followed Jesus all the way to the cross (John 19:26). Zacharias and Elizabeth simply drop out of the picture. As for the shepherds, after they visited the infant Lord at the manger they "returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen," but that's all we know.

It's only in the story of the wise men who came from the east to Jerusalem and then to Bethlehem to worship this Child that we are given any slight indication of how this event really affected their lives. And although it is slight it is important, for in the few words that are said, with an appreciation of their spiritual implications, we can see the most vital issue of the Lord's birth coming to life in simple human terms: – "Then, being warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."

What a simple sentence this is, but how full of meaning! Every word is expressive, every phrase instructive. It is something we can easily remember and reflect on as we, like the wise men, return to our normal lives after the very special events of this season. And it is something that may give us encouragement as we ponder the questions posed a few minutes ago: Where are we going in our lives? How are we getting there? Why? And who's going with us?

There has been a lot of scholarly speculation about who the wise men were and where they came from, and what exactly led them to Bethlehem. There was a television program years ago about astronomical research into the star and the Magi, who were supposed to have been Babylonian astrologers, taking note of a unique alignment of planets in the night sky.

The Writings tell us that they were students of the ancient Word, men who knew and understood the spiritual meaning of the prophecies foretelling the Advent thousands of years before it took place. The star represented their knowledge, indeed their insights about this. They may or may not have been studying the night sky and they may or may not have had royal status. But what we do know is that they found the Messiah, and it changed their lives, for "being warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."

Let's consider this statement phrase by phrase: – first, that they were warned in a dream. Most translations say they were Divinely warned, or warned by God, but there's no such reference in the original Greek. They were simply warned in a dream. The "warning" part is a big Greek word derived from a root that has to do with the practical uses of life, including the transaction of business, particularly the consulting and deliberation that has to do with business. So it is a word with a very pragmatic focus, and when it refers to someone being acted on, rather than someone taking action, it carries the sense of warning, caution, or advice given after very careful thought.

So how do you suppose the wise men were warned? Did God suddenly appear to them in a blaze of light and tell them what to do? No. The word suggests a lot of deep thought and careful reflection. These men were wise because they used their heads. They knew the teachings of the ancient Word and they spent serious time reflecting on their meaning. So they were able to be enlightened in the practical business of their daily lives.

The same principle applies to us. We're not likely to be jolted out of some complacent passivity by a lightning bolt of revelation saying "Do this," or "Don't do that." We, too, if we want to be wise, need to dedicate real time and effort to the study of Divine revelation. Then the Lord can teach us without imposing on our freedom, and lead us according to our own determination.

But we read that the wise men were warned "in a dream." What does this mean? Well, dreams normally occur at night, when we are asleep, and this represents a state of obscurity, a state of mind in which we don't have much clarity or control. But to be warned in a dream is to be enlightened; it is to get a clear, purposeful message in an otherwise obscure, confusing state. It is, perhaps, like seeing a lighthouse through a fog at sea. And as in the case of a lighthouse the wise men were not especially told what to DO, but what to avoid, what NOT to do. This makes perfect sense in our own lives, too, because when we are in states of darkness or obscurity the first and most important thing we can do is to step away from what is harmful or disorderly, or as the Writings put it, shun evils as sins against the Lord. Only when we do that are we in a position to receive anything genuinely good from Him without corrupting it in one way or another.

So what was the warning to the wise men? Of course! "...that they should not return to Herod," the epitome of self-love and the love of the world. Now this is interesting. The wise men were wise because of their dedication to the Word. But they had come to a place – Jerusalem – which at that time represented a religion corrupted by evils and falsities. And it's not hard to see how this represents at least some of the temptations any wise person might encounter on his – or her – journey to find the Lord, for despite the wisdom we all have we are all born into natural and selfish loves, and if we're not careful these loves will drag us down. Sure, they guide us to the Lord, but not for HIS sake. They always want to know "What's in it for ME?" or "What am I going to get out of it?" That said, it's worth noting that while they were in the sphere of such loves and the falsities that went with them the wise men couldn't even see the star. But when they left Herod and continued to Bethlehem the star appeared again. Surely this experience taught them a valuable lesson, and it shows us, too, how self-interest or love of the world can corrupt our thinking.

So when we come to see the Lord, and really appreciate all that He stands for, like the wise men we cannot turn back. We cannot go back to the selfish attitudes or any of the old falsities represented by the place where Herod ruled. Rather, as we read, the wise men "departed into their own country another way," and so must we.

Here again, a single word carries a lot of nuances: in the original Greek "depart" is based on a root meaning to lift up or hold high. From this we get the sense of upholding or continuing, that is, carrying on in a certain way. It also suggests strength and endurance, as when someone holds up or holds out for something. With all this in mind the word in this case describes not only the return of the wise men but actually their continuation in the strength of their profound experience. Their perseverance. Their determination.

This is important as we think about what can happen in our own lives. When we see the Lord for ourselves in any particular situation; when we see His love, His wisdom, or what He wants for us, and we recognize that and acknowledge it, then we have a special responsibility to apply it in our daily lives, that is, to uphold it and continue in it with real determination. In fact, it is very dangerous for us not to do this, since we run the risk of profanation, which is a permanent, inseparable mingling of goodness and truth with evil and falsity in our minds, leading to an impossibly conflicted life. So, just as the wise men risked being killed if they went back to Herod, our own spiritual lives are threatened if we go back to the loves of self and the world after we have come to see the Lord in our lives. "No one having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).

But the Word goes on to say. "They departed into their own country...." This, too, is an important concept because the Greek word for country here really means any particular place, use, function or position that is properly our own. Of course it means "country," too, but the point is that we can easily relate to the phrase when we know its whole meaning as describing the opportunities and responsibilities the Lord has given each one of us according to our individual skills, insights and loves. Like the wise men we can go back to our jobs, our functions, our uses, our personal relationships; we can go back to whatever positions we hold in life and carry on – but completely changed and with a whole new perspective.

So we read that the wise men went back "another way." And we too must go back "another way." Now of course a way literally is a road or path, but it is also a spiritual life determined by our understanding of what is true and good. So it has to do with what we call doctrine, our way of thinking about what the Lord presents to us. And the truth is, when we come to see the Lord in our lives, and all the potential that He represents, we begin to think differently about everything. We speak differently, we make our daily decisions differently, we live differently; we go in strength and confidence, and with determination into our own country another way. In fact, if the vision of the Lord in His Divine Humanity does not change our lives, especially our inner lives, our attitudes and thought processes, we are in real danger. But if it does, and being warned in a dream that we should not return to Herod, we return instead to our proper places, our special uses, inspired and determined more than ever to live according to the truths of His Word, then surely in this and in every New Year He will answer us in the day of trouble, He will defend us, He will help us and strengthen us; He will remember our offerings and our sacrifices. He will give us the desires of our hearts; He will fulfill all our purpose, and He will, as David said, fulfill all our petitions.

(References: True Christian Religion 571)

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #242

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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242. To buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be enriched. That this signifies to procure to themselves genuine good from the Lord that they may receive the truths of faith, is evident from the signification of buying, as denoting to procure and appropriate to themselves (concerning which see Arcana Coelestia, n. 4397, 5374, 5397, 5406, 5410, 5426); and from the signification of gold tried in the fire, as denoting genuine good, thus good from the Lord, which will be explained in what follows; also from the signification of that thou mayest be enriched as denoting to be enabled to receive the truths of faith. The reason why this is signified by being rich is, that riches and wealth signify the knowledges of truth and good, and the rich those who are in intelligence therefrom; in the present case, those who are in faith, because the subject here treated of is those who hold the doctrine of faith alone. Hence it is clear that by to buy of me gold tried in the fire that thou mayest be rich, is signified to procure to themselves genuine good from the Lord that they may receive the truths of faith.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4397, Arcana Coelestia 5374, 5397, 5406, 5410, 5426; Revelation 3:18)

[2] We shall first explain how this is to be understood. That truth which in itself is truth is not possible, except from good, thus that faith which is faith in itself is not possible, except from charity, has been frequently stated above; for truth, which is truth in itself, is not possible, except spiritual life be in it, and spiritual life is in it only when it is formed from the good of charity; for truth is the form of good, and good is the being (esse) of truth; thus also good is the life of truth, and good is from no other source than the Lord. And when good is from the Lord, then truth, which is from good, looks primarily to the Lord, and also to the neighbour and his good; for the Lord flows in with good, and from good forms truth, which is the truth of faith, and causes the spiritual sight of man to look to Him and to the neighbour. (That this is the case, may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 145, 251; namely, that the Lord beholds angels and men in the forehead, and they behold the Lord through the eyes; the reason is, that the forehead corresponds to the good of love, and the eye to the understanding thence enlightened, consequently to the truths of faith. And also in the same work, n. 17, 123, 124, 142-144, 510, it is shown, that in the spiritual world all are turned to their own loves; and those who have acknowledged the Lord and believed in Him, are turned to Him, and hence they receive good from Him, and by good, enlightenment as to truths.) From these considerations it is plain that the genuine good signified by gold tried in the fire is from the Lord alone.

(References: Heaven and Hell 145, 251; The Apocalypse Explained 17, The Apocalypse Explained 123-124, The Apocalypse Explained 142-144, The Apocalypse Explained 510)

[3] Because in what is written to the angel of this church, the subject treated of is those who live according to the doctrine of faith alone; and because those who have confirmed themselves in that doctrine, and were, in the world, thence called learned, could connect falsities with truths, and induce an appearance that the doctrine was true, it was therefore granted me to converse with some of them in the other life; and because that conversation may serve for illustration, I wish to adduce it. Those learned ones, from the opinion which they held in the world, supposed that faith without charity was possible, and that man is justified by that faith alone. Their discourse was very ingenious; they said that faith was possible without charity, because it is prior to charity, and that by means of it man is in good. "Who," said they, "cannot believe that God is, that the Word is divine, and things of a similar kind, which, unless they were believed, could not be accepted and thought of by man?" They therefore concluded that faith is possible without charity, because it precedes, or is prior to it; and, such being the case, that it is saving, because a man cannot do good of himself; therefore, unless that faith saved, all men would perish. Nor was the presence of God with man possible without faith, and if it were not possible, evil would reign, and no one would possess any good; these things, they said, were meant by justification by faith alone.

But it was shown them that there could be no faith unless it existed with charity; and that what they called faith was only the knowledges first acquired by every man, as that God is, and that the Word is divine, and so on; and that those knowledges are not in man, but in the medium of access to him, which is his memory, until they are in his will; but that, in proportion as they are in his will, in the same proportion they are in the man himself; for the will is the man himself; and in proportion as they are in the will, in the same proportion they are in his sight, which is faith. The knowledges themselves, which precede, and, to the natural sight, appear to be believed, do not previously become knowledges of faith. This is why the seeing of knowledges, which is supposed to be faith, recedes from man successively as he begins to think evil from willing evil, and also recedes from him after death, when he becomes a spirit, if the knowledges have not been implanted in his life, that is, in his will or love.

[4] This may be illustrated by a comparison with those stomachs of birds and terrestrial animals, which are called ruminant stomachs; into these they first collect their food, and afterwards by degrees take it out thence and eat it, and so nourish the blood, whence it becomes incorporated into their life. To those stomachs man's memory corresponds, which he enjoys in the place of them, because he is spiritual. Into this he first collects spiritual foods, which consist of knowledges, and afterwards takes them out, as it were, by ruminating, that is, by thinking and willing, and appropriates them to himself, and thus makes them part of his life. From this comparison, trifling as it may appear, it is obvious that, unless knowledges are implanted in the life, by thinking and willing them, and thence by doing them, they are like foods which remain unmasticated in the ruminant stomachs, where they either become putrid, or are vomited out. Moreover, the circle of man's life is to know, to understand, to will, and to do; for the spiritual life of man commences from knowing, thence it is continued into understanding, afterwards into willing, and lastly into doing. From this it is also evident, that knowledges in the memory are only in the entrance to the life, and that they are not fully in the man until they are in his deeds; also, that they are more fully in his deeds the more fully they are in his understanding and will.

[5] It was further shown that the faith of knowledges before it becomes the faith of life, is merely historical faith, the quality of which is well known to be this, that a thing is believed because another has said it; this, before it becomes the man's, is an alien faith, or the faith of another with him. Another quality of such faith is that it is a belief in things unknown; for it is said that such things are to be believed, although they are not understood, indeed that they are not to be looked into by the understanding, although such is the nature of spiritual faith that truths themselves are seen in it, and so are believed. In heaven, no one believes any truth unless he sees or has seen it; for there they say, "Who can believe that a thing is so unless he sees it? Perhaps it may be false"; and none but the evil can believe what is false, for the evil, from evil, see falsities, whereas the good, from good, see truths; and because good is from the Lord, the seeing of truth from good is also from the Lord. The reason why the angels see truths is because the light of heaven, in which they are, is the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; hence all in the world also, who have that light, enjoy the sight of truth (concerning the light of heaven, and that such is its nature and quality, see in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 126-140).

(References: Heaven and Hell 126-140)

[6] It was afterwards shown that charity and faith act as one, and enter together into man, so that in proportion as man is in charity in the same proportion he is in faith, because faith as to its essence is charity, just as truth as to its essence is good; for good, when it exists in visible manifestation, or in form, is truth; thus charity is faith, for good belongs to charity, and truth to faith. The one also loves the other, and conjoins itself to it, therefore one is not possible unless together with the other. This was illustrated by the thought of man, which belongs to his understanding, and by the affection, which belongs to his will. To think without affection is impossible, for the very essence of thought is affection or love. A man may indeed think all those things that he knows from the doctrine of the church, but from a natural affection, which is the affection or love of glory, fame, honour or gain; but this affection does not cause the thought to be spiritual, this being effected only by charity, which is spiritual affection itself. This affection, when it conjoins itself with knowledges, becomes faith, and afterwards, in proportion as man is in that affection, in the same proportion he sees in thought the things which belong to his faith, which are called truths, and acknowledges them because they are from his spirit itself, thus from his spiritual life itself: this also is what is called enlightenment. This is why no one can be enlightened from the Word unless he has the spiritual affection of truth. There is indeed something like enlightenment given to those who have confirmed themselves in such things as pertain to the doctrine of faith alone, and justification thereby; but it is a fatuous enlightenment, because they can confirm falsities equally with truths, as is the case with all heresies, both with those which prevail amongst the Jews and with those with the Papists. A similar light is also given, after such confirmations, to those who are called naturalists, who deny God, the divinity of the Word, and everything belonging to the church. The case is the same with those who have confirmed themselves in faith alone, and justification thereby. (That the light of confirmation is natural and not spiritual light, which is possible also with the evil, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 8780.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 8780)

[7] But let us return to the faith which, as to essence, is charity. That faith is continually perfected by those things that confirm for from spiritual light more truths are always seen, and these all conjoin themselves with the good of charity, and perfect it; hence a man has intelligence and wisdom, which at length becomes angelic. Moreover, those who are only in the knowledges of faith, and not in a life according to them, believe that a man can easily receive faith, if not in this world, yet in the other, saying to themselves, "When I hear and see that a thing is so, cannot I then believe it?" But they are greatly deceived; for those who have not received spiritual faith in the world, if they should afterwards hear of it, and see it a thousand times, can never receive it. The reason is, that this faith is not in the man, but out of him. That this is the case, is clearly evident from this, that all those who come from the world are first received by angels and good spirits, and are instructed by every means; indeed, many things are shown them even to the life and to the sight, but still they do not receive them; therefore they withdraw themselves from the angels and good spirits, and go to those who are destitute of faith. It was, moreover, told them that, if faith could be received by knowing and thinking only, it would be received by all, by the evil and the good alike, and thus no one would be condemned. (That charity, which is spiritual affection, can never be imparted to any one unless he knows truths, explores himself according to them, receives them, and lives a new life agreeably to them, may be seen above, n. 239.)

[8] It therefore follows that the life of faith is charity, and that there is nothing of life in faith, except in proportion as charity is therein; and also that in proportion as charity is in faith, in the same proportion man is led by the Lord; but that in proportion as charity is not in faith, in the same proportion man is led of himself; and he who is led of himself, and not by the Lord, cannot think what is good, still less can he will and do good which is good in itself. For from man's proprium nothing but evil proceeds; for when he thinks what is good, and wills and does good from proprium, it is only for the sake of himself and for the sake of the world, which are the ends for which he acts, and the ends are the loves which lead him; and man cannot be withdrawn or raised up from his proprium, unless he looks to the Lord as to the things of his life; by this he is conjoined with heaven, and spiritual affection is thence imparted to him by the Lord.

When these observations had been made, it was given to those with whom I discoursed on this subject to be in spiritual light, this light being such that truths can be seen in it as clearly as objects in the world are seen in its light; and then those who were in the doctrine of faith alone and justification thereby, could not but declare that the case was so. But as soon as that light was taken away from them and they were brought back into their own natural light, they could see only that the sight of knowledges is saving faith, and hence that the falsities which they had made of their faith were truths. Falsities become matters of the faith when evils are of the life.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 239)

[9] But to return to the explanation of the words of this passage, which are, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be enriched." By these words is signified that they should procure to themselves from the Lord genuine good, in order that they may receive truths; it now remains to be shown that gold in the Word signifies the good of love. This is evident from the following passages. In Malachi:

"Behold, I send my angel, who shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to his temple, and the angel of the covenant whom ye desire; he shall sit refining and purifying silver, and shall purify the sons of Levi; he shall refine them as gold and silver, that they may bring to Jehovah a meat-offering in justice" (iii. 1-3).

These things are spoken of the Lord's advent. It is here said that Jehovah would send His angel who should prepare the way before Him; and by the angel is meant John the Baptist, as is well known. By before me, or before Jehovah is meant the Lord's Divine Itself; by the temple to which He should come is meant His Divine Human. This is also called the angel of the covenant, because the conjunction of men and angels with the Divine Itself is by means of it; for covenant denotes conjunction. By the silver which he shall sit refining and purifying is meant truth from good. By the sons of Levi are meant all who are in the good of charity and thence in the truth of faith; it is therefore said that He should refine them as gold and silver; this is because gold signifies good, and silver truth therefrom. By offering unto Jehovah an offering in justice is meant the worship of the Lord from the good of charity. (That temple signifies the Divine Human of the Lord, may be seen above, n. 220: that covenant signifies conjunction, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia, n. 665, 666, 1023, 1038, 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, 6804, 8767, 8778, 9396, 10,632; that silver signifies truth from good, n. 1551, 1552, 2954, 5658; that a meat-offering signifies the good of love and charity, n. 4581, 9992, 9993, 9994, 10,079, 10,137; that justice is said of good, n. 2235, 9857.) Hence to bring an offering in justice signifies worship from the good of love.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 665-666, 1023, 1038, Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552, Arcana Coelestia 1864, Arcana Coelestia 1996, 2003, 2021, Arcana Coelestia 2235, Arcana Coelestia 2954, Arcana Coelestia 4581, Arcana Coelestia 5658, Arcana Coelestia 6804, Arcana Coelestia 8767, 8778, Arcana Coelestia 9396, Arcana Coelestia 9857, Arcana Coelestia 9992-9994, Arcana Coelestia 10079, 10137, Arcana Coelestia 10632; Malachi 3:1-3; The Apocalypse Explained 220)

[10] In Zechariah:

"Two parts in all the land shall be cut off, they shall expire, but the third shall be left in it; nevertheless I will bring the third through the fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will try them as gold is tried" (xiii. 8, 9).

Here, by all the land is not meant all the land, but the whole church; nor by the third part is a third part meant, but some who are therein. By its being brought through the fire, and refined as silver is refined, and tried as gold is tried, is signified their being purified from evils and falsities in order that good and truth may be implanted. (That land in the Word signifies the church, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 662, 1066, 1068, 1262, 1413, 1607, 2928, 3355, 4447, 4535, 5577, 6516, 9325, 9643; that a third part signifies some, n. 2788.) There are in the above passages comparisons of silver and gold with truth and good; but in the Word all things serving for comparisons also correspond, and thence signify, as may be seen, n. 3579, 8989. Because gold tried in the fire signifies the good of love purified from evils, it was therefore commanded

that the gold and silver taken from the Midianites should pass through the fire, and thus be purified (Numb. xxxi. 22, 23).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 662, Arcana Coelestia 1066, 1068, Arcana Coelestia 1262, 1413, Arcana Coelestia 1607, Arcana Coelestia 2788, Arcana Coelestia 2928, Arcana Coelestia 3355, Arcana Coelestia 3579, Arcana Coelestia 4447, 4535, Arcana Coelestia 5577, Arcana Coelestia 6516, Arcana Coelestia 8989, Arcana Coelestia 9325, Arcana Coelestia 9643; Numbers 31:22-23; Zechariah 13:8-9)

[11] That gold signifies the good of love and charity is more fully evident from the following passages. In Hosea:

"Israel hath forsaken good: the enemy pursueth him: of their silver and their gold they have made to themselves idols" (viii. 3, 4).

By making to themselves idols of their silver and their gold is signified that they turned truth and good into falsities and evils, as is evident from its being said, "Israel hath forsaken good: the enemy pursueth him." The enemy denotes falsity from evil and evil from falsity.

(References: Hosea 8:3-4)

[12] In Joel:

"What have ye to do with me, O Tyre and Zidon? My silver and my gold have ye taken, and the desirable things of my goods have ye brought into your temples, and the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem ye have sold to the sons of the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their borders" (iii. 4-6).

Here by Tyre and Zidon are meant those within the church who are in the knowledges of truth and good, and, in this case, those who have perverted them and applied them to falsities and to the evils thereof. This is signified by, ye have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples the desirable things of My goods. Silver signifies truth, gold good, and the desirable things of my goods signify derived truths and goods, which are knowledges from the Word in the sense of the letter. To carry these into their temples signifies to turn them into profane worship. By their selling the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem to the Grecians is meant that they changed all the truths of good into falsities of evil. By removing them far from their borders is meant far from truths themselves. (That by Tyre and Zidon are meant those within the church who have the knowledges of truth and good, may be seen in Arcana, Coelestia, n. 1201; that by the sons of Judah and sons of Jerusalem are meant all the truths of good, because by sons are signified truths, n. 1729, 1733, 2159, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3373, 3704, 7499, 8897, 9807; by Judah, the celestial church, n. 3654, 6364; by Jerusalem, the church where there is genuine doctrine, n. 3654, 9166. That by the Grecians are meant falsities, because the Grecians signify the nations that are in falsities, may be seen above, n. 50.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1201, Arcana Coelestia 1729, 1733, Arcana Coelestia 2159, Arcana Coelestia 2623, Arcana Coelestia 2803, 2813, Arcana Coelestia 3373, Arcana Coelestia 3654, 3704, Arcana Coelestia 6364, Arcana Coelestia 7499, Arcana Coelestia 8897, Arcana Coelestia 9166, Arcana Coelestia 9807; Joel 3:4-6; The Apocalypse Explained 50)

[13] In Ezekiel:

"The traders of Sheba and Raamah, by the chief of all spices, and by every precious stone and gold they have carried on their tradings" (xxvii. 22).

And again:

"In thy wisdom and thy intelligence thou hast made to thyself wealth, and hast made gold and silver in thy treasuries. Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, and gold" (xxviii 4, 13).

The subject treated in these two passages is also Tyre, by which, as was said above, are meant those within the church who are in the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good. By her tradings are meant those knowledges themselves. By Sheba and Raamah also are meant those who possess those knowledges, see Arcana Coelestia, n. 1171, 3240. By spices are signified truths that are grateful because derived from good, see n. 4748, 5621, 9474, 9475, 10,199, 10,254. By precious stones are signified truths that are beautiful because from good, see n. 9863, 9865, 9868, 9873, 9905. And by the garden of Eden is signified intelligence and wisdom therefrom, see n. 100, 108, 1588, 2702, 3220. Because, now, by those things are signified the knowledges of truth and of good, and because by gold and silver are signified the goods and truths themselves, and because all intelligence and wisdom are procured by means of these, therefore it is said, "In thy wisdom and thy intelligence thou hast made to thyself wealth, gold and silver in thy treasuries."

(References: Arcana Coelestia 100, 108, Arcana Coelestia 1171, Arcana Coelestia 1588, Arcana Coelestia 2702, Arcana Coelestia 3220, Arcana Coelestia 3240, Arcana Coelestia 4748, Arcana Coelestia 5621, Arcana Coelestia 9474-9475, Arcana Coelestia 9863, 9865, 9868, 9873, 9905, Arcana Coelestia 10199, 10254; Ezekiel 27:22, 28:4, 28:13)

[14] In Lamentations:

"How is the gold become dim! how is the best fine gold changed! the stones of holiness are poured out at the head of every street. The sons of Zion are estimated equal to pure gold; how are they reputed as bottles of earthenware, the work of the hands of the potter!" (iv. 1, 2).

The vastation of the church is here treated of. The gold which is become dim, and the best fine gold which is changed, signify the goods of the church; the stones of holiness which are poured out at the top of every street, signify that the truths thence derived are falsified; the sons of Zion who were estimated equal to fine gold, signify the truths of the former church; bottles of earthenware, the work of the hands of the potter, signify evils of life derived from falsities of doctrine, which are from man's own intelligence.

(References: Lamentations 4:1-2)

[15] In Ezekiel:

"I decked thee also with ornaments, and I put bracelets upon thy hands, and a necklace on thy neck. Thus wast thou decked with gold and silver; and thy raiment was of fine linen, and silk, and broidered work. Thou hast also taken the vessels of thine adorning from my gold and from my silver which I gave to thee, and hast made thee images with which thou hast committed whoredom" (xvi. 11, 13, 17).

The subject here treated of is Jerusalem, which signifies the church as to doctrine, as said above. The ornaments with which she was decked signify, in general, all truths from good and intelligence therefrom (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 10,536, 10,540). Bracelets upon the hands signify specifically truths from good (see n. 3103, 3105); a necklace upon the neck signifies the conjunction of interior goods and truths with exterior goods and truths, or of those which are spiritual with those which are natural (see n. 5320); fine linen signifies genuine truth, and silk the same resplendent from interior goods (see n. 5319, 9469); broidered work signifies the Scientific (Scientificum) of the natural man (see n. 9688); the images with which she committed whoredom are the fallacies of the senses, which to those who are in falsities appear like truths; to commit whoredom with them is to draw false conclusions by means of them. (That to commit whoredom signifies to imbue with falsities, may be seen above, n. 141.) From these considerations it is clear that the subject treated of in this chapter is the church, as to its quality when it was first established by the Lord, and what its quality became afterwards.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3103, 3105, Arcana Coelestia 5319, 5320, Arcana Coelestia 9469, Arcana Coelestia 9688, Arcana Coelestia 10536, 10540; Ezekiel 16:11, 16:13, 16:17-18, 16:17; The Apocalypse Explained 141)

[16] In Isaiah:

"Behold, I stir up against them the Medes, who shall not regard silver, and shall not delight in gold, whose bows shall strike the young men, their eye shall not spare the sons" (xiii. 17, 18).

By the Medes are meant those who are against the goods and truths of the church; therefore it is said of them, they shall not regard silver, nor delight in gold. Silver denotes the truth of the church, and gold its good. Their bows signify the doctrinals of falsity fighting against truths and goods (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 2686, 2709): the young men whom they shall strike signify those who are intelligent from truths (see n. 7668); the sons whom they shall not spare signify truths themselves.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2686, Arcana Coelestia 2709, Arcana Coelestia 7668; Isaiah 13:17-18)

[17] In the same:

"The troop of camels shall cover thee; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of Jehovah. The isles shall trust in me, and the ships of Tarshish, to bring thy sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them" (lx. 6, 9).

The subject here treated of is the Lord's Advent, and by a troop of camels are meant all those who are in the knowledges of truth and good (see Arcana Coelestia, 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145). By Sheba, whence they shall come, is meant where those very knowledges are (see n. 1171, 3240); by the gold and incense which they shall bring are meant goods and truths derived from good, which are thence grateful; by gold the goods, and by incense those truths (see n. 9993, 10,177, 10,296); by the isles which shall trust in Him are meant the nations which are in Divine worship, but more remote from the truths of the church (see n. 1158); by ships of Tarshish are meant general knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good in which are contained many particular ones (n. 1977, 6385); by the sons whom they shall bring from far are meant truths more remote; sons denote truths, as above, and from far denotes which are more remote (see in. 1613, 9487); by their silver and gold with them are signified the knowledges of truth and good with them.

The like is signified by

the wise men who came from the east to the place where Christ was born, who offered "gifts, gold, frankincense, and myrrh" (Matthew ii. 11).

They offered those things because they signified goods and truths interior and exterior, which are gifts pleasing to God.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1158, 1171, Arcana Coelestia 1613, Arcana Coelestia 1977, Arcana Coelestia 3048, 3071, Arcana Coelestia 3143, 3145, Arcana Coelestia 3240, Arcana Coelestia 6385, Arcana Coelestia 9487, Arcana Coelestia 9993, Arcana Coelestia 10177, Arcana Coelestia 10296; Isaiah 60:6, 60:9; Matthew 2:11)

[18] In David:

"All kings shall bow down before him; all nations shall serve him. He shall preserve the souls of the poor, and they shall live; and he shall give them of the gold of Sheba" (lxxii. 11, 13, 15).

Here also the Lord's Advent is treated of. By the kings who, shall bow down before Him, and by the nations who shall serve Him, are meant all who are in truths from good; (that kings signify those who are in truths, may be seen above, n. 31; and that nations signify those who are in good, may be seen also above, n. 175); by the poor whom he shall preserve are meant those who are not in the knowledges of good and truth, but yet desire them (as may be seen also above, n. 238). By the gold of Sheba, of which He shall give them, is signified the good of love into which the Lord shall lead them by means of knowledges; (what is signified by Sheba may be seen just above).

(References: Psalms 72:11, 72:13, 72:15; The Apocalypse Explained 31, The Apocalypse Explained 175, The Apocalypse Explained 238)

[19] In Haggai:

"And I will rouse up all nations, that they may come, the choice of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than that of the former" (ii. 7-9).

These things also are said concerning the Lord's advent. By nations are meant those who are in good and thence in truths; by house is meant the church (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 3720); by the glory with which it shall be filled is meant Divine truth (see n. 4809, 5922, 8267, 8427, 9429); by the silver is mine, and the gold is mine, is meant truth and good, which are from the Lord alone.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3720, Arcana Coelestia 4809, Arcana Coelestia 5922, Arcana Coelestia 8267, 8427, Arcana Coelestia 9429; Haggai 2:7-9)

[20] In Zechariah:

"The wealth of all nations round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver and apparel in great abundance" (xiv. 14).

By the wealth of all nations are meant knowledges, wherever they are, even with the evil; by gold, silver and apparel in great abundance are meant goods and truths, both spiritual and natural. The same was signified by the

gold, silver and raiment which the Israelites borrowed of the Egyptians, when they departed from them (Exod. iii. 22; xi. 2, 3; xii. 35, 36).

The reason why such a thing took place, and what it involves, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia (n. 6914, 6917), where it is shown that it was in order that it might be represented that from the evil are taken away the things which they have, and that they are given to the good, according to the Lord's words in Matt. xxv. 28, 29; and in Luke xix. 24, 26; and that they should make to themselves friends of the unrighteous mammon, according to the Lord's words in Luke xvi. 9. By the unrighteous mammon are meant the knowledges of truth and good with those who do not rightly possess them, these being those who do not apply them to the uses of life.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6914, 6917; Exodus 3:22, 11:2-3, 12:35-36; Luke 16:9, 19:24, 19:26; Matthew 25:28-29; Zechariah 14:14)

[21] In David:

"Kings' daughters are among thy precious ones; on thy right hand doth stand the queen in the best gold of Ophir: the king's daughter is all glorious within her clothing is embroidered with gold" (xlv. 9, 13).

This passage treats of the Lord. By the king's daughter is meant the church which is in the affection of truth, and which is described by kings' daughters being among her precious ones: by whom are meant the affections of truths themselves. By the queen standing at his right hand in the best gold of Ophir is meant the Lord's celestial kingdom, which is in the good of love; by her clothing being embroidered with gold is meant that truths are from good.

(References: Psalms 45:9, 45:13)

[22] In Matthew:

Jesus said to the disciples whom He sent forth to preach the gospel, that they should not provide gold, or silver, or brass in their purses (x. 9);

by which was represented that they should have nothing of good and truth from themselves, but from the Lord alone, and that all things would be given them freely. Because gold signified the good of love,

Therefore the table upon which was placed the showbread was overlaid with gold (Exod. xxv. 23, 24).

Also the altar of incense, which was thence called the golden altar (Exod. xxx. 3).

And on the same account the candlestick was made of pure gold (Exod. xxv. 31-38).

As were also the cherubim (Exod. xxv. 18);

And for the same reason the ark was covered within and without with gold (Exod. xxv. 11).

The same was the case with many other things in the temple of Jerusalem; for the tent in which were the ark, the cherubim, the table upon which was the showbread, the altar of incense, and the candlestick represented heaven, and so did the temple; and hence the gold therein signified the good of love, and the silver truth from good.

(References: Exodus 25:11, 25:17-18, 25:18, 25:23-24, 25:31, Exodus 25:31-38, 25:38, 30:3; Matthew 10:9)

[23] Because the most holy thing of heaven was represented by the gold in the temple,

Therefore, when Belshazzar drank wine out of the vessels of gold brought out of that temple, and at the same time praised the gods of gold, of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and stone, there appeared written on the wall, Numbered, weighed, divided; and in that night he was slain (Dan. v. 2, and following, verses);

for by this the profanation of good was signified.

(References: Daniel 5:2)

[24] Moreover by gold, in an opposite sense, in the Word is signified the evil of the love of self, and by silver the falsity therefrom, as in Moses:

The silver and gold of the nations they shall not covet, because they are abominations, nor shall they bring them into their houses, but they shall be accursed, because they were to be abominated and detested (Deut. vii. 25, 26).

But concerning this signification of gold and silver we shall speak hereafter.

(References: Deuteronomy 7:25-26; Exodus 25:31-38; Ezekiel 16:17; Revelation 3:18)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 226, 272, 277, 324, 340, 430, 444, 701, 907, 1043, 1120, 1141

   Parallel Passages:

Spiritual Experiences 5945

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