The Bible


Luke 1:26-38 : The Annunciation to Mary


Study the Inner Meaning

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 2798, 2921, 3305, 3421, 5313, 9229, 10248

Apocalypse Revealed 56, 173, 294, 373, 481, 504, 520, ...

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 44, 120

Conjugial Love 82

The Lord 19, 29, 40, 42

True Christian Religion 82, 88, 92, 93, 98, 111, 112, ...

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 253, 328, 376, 677, 815, 852, 1069, ...

On the Athanasian Creed 30, 38, 216

Canons of the New Church 17, 39, 40, 43

De Domino 38

Justification 10, 13

Spiritual Experiences 4332

Marriage 82, 88, 92, 93, 98, 111, 112

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 13

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  Spiritual Topics:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Judges 5:24, 6:12, 16

Ruth 3:11

2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16, 23:5

1 Chronicles 17:12

Psalms 2:7, 45:7, 132:11

Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, 49:1, 5

Jeremiah 23:5

Daniel 2:44, 7:14

Obadiah 1:21

Micah 4:7

Word/Phrase Explanations

Like most numbers in the Bible, "six" can have various meanings depending on context, but has a couple that are primary. When used in relation...

"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

Gabriel signifies an angelic society in heaven that is made up of people who teach from the Word, particularly about the Lord’s advent.

Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

Galilee was the northernmost province of Biblical Judea, a hilly area relatively remote from the center of Jewish culture in Jerusalem and bordered by foreigners...

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...

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...

Fear not
Fear not, as in Revelation 1:17; Daniel 10:5, 12; Matthew 17:5, 7; 28:10, etc., signifies resuscitation to life, and at the same time adoration from...

Father, son, mother, and daughter, as in Luke 12:51, 53: By father against son, and by son against the father, is understood evil against truth,...

It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

'Highest' denotes the 'inmost,' because interior things, with person who is in space, appear as higher things, and exterior things as lower. But when the...

'Upon' or 'over' signifies being within.

Jacob is told twice that his name will now be Israel. The first time is when he wrestles with an angel on his journey to...

“Age” is used in slightly different ways in natural language, and those differences are reflected in the word’s spiritual meanings. All the variations, though, reflect...

In the most general sense, a kingdom in the Bible represents a church. In a more specific sense, a kingdom represents a church in regards...

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

'The seven spirits' in Matthew 12:45 signify all falsities of evil, and as a result, a total extinction of goodness and truth. 'The seven spirits'...

Son of God
The Lord, in some places, calls Himself 'the son of God,' at other times, 'the son of man (ἄνθρωπος).' This is always according to 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.

 Angel Appears to Joseph
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel Appears to Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel Appears to Zacharias
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angelic Appearances at the Time of the Advent
A sermon about the angel Gabriel's appearances to different people and how this pictures aspects of the preparation we must do for the Lord's birth in our own lives. 
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Angel with Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angel with Zacharias
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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

 Blessings: Good Tidings of Great Joy
Blessings to say at mealtime.
Activity | Ages over 7

 Call His Name Jesus
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Christmas Joy and Happiness
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Elizabeth Greets Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 His Name Is John
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 His Name Will Be Called: The Development of the Lord in Our Lives
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

 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Mary and Elizabeth
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Mary's Song of Praise
Mary's song of praise, often called the Magnificat, in a color border.
Picture | Ages over 15

 Mary Visits Elizabeth
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Naming John the Baptist
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Our Savior
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Picture of the Angel Gabriel
Project | Ages up to 10

 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: Good Tidings of Great Joy
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

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

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

 The Angel Appearing to Mary
Use oil pastels and watercolors to show the angel Gabriel appearing to Mary.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

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

 The Angel Appears to Mary
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Angel Appears to Mary Mobile
Make a simple mobile to show the angel Gabriel coming to tell Mary that she would give birth to a Son and should name Him Jesus.
Project | Ages 3 - 8

 The Angel's Promise to Mary
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Annunciation
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Birth of John
Zacharias and Elizabeth were very good people who wanted a child very much. The Lord answered their prayers. John was born to help prepare people to learn from the Lord. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Introductory Level, for ages 5-6.
Religion Lesson | Ages 5 - 6

 The Birth of John the Baptist
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 Birth of John the Baptist
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Magnificat
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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

 The Mother of the Lord
Imagine what it must have been like to suddenly see an angel and be told such great news.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Name Mary
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 The Savior
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Spread of the Lord's Word
We can be like the shepherds and others who have spread the good news as we learn about the Lord and find ways to tell people. Maybe this Christmas you can share your enjoyment of the story of the Lord’s birth with a friend or neighbor. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 5, for ages 10-11.
Religion Lesson | Ages 10 - 11

 Understanding the Virgin Birth
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Zacharias and the Angel
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Zacharias’s Dumbness
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Zacharias Sees Angel
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14



You Shall Bear a Son      

By Rev. Eric Carswell

The Annunciation, 1898, Philadelphia Museum of Art.
By Henry Ossawa Tanner -, Public Domain,

"The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35

What amazing words these must have been to Mary, a young woman, when she first heard them. Just minutes before she had probably been engaged in some mundane task of daily life in her mother's home, perhaps grinding flour or baking bread, maybe weaving or spinning wool into yarn. If she was like most young women who are shortly to be married, her mind would have been turned to her future life with Joseph, what their home would be like, the children they would have and the life that they would lead together. Happy images of the future would have filled her thoughts. She would have had her hopes, dreams and expectations--images of how her life would be as the future wife of Joseph.

Suddenly with the appearance of the angel Gabriel, her visions of the future contained a new and dramatically different element. The angel told her that she was highly favored and blessed among women, that the Lord was with her and that she would soon conceive and bring forth a son whose name would be Jesus. This child would be given the throne of Mary's ancient forebear, King David, and reign forever.

Mary voiced the question of how this would take place. She knew the order of natural conception and knew that the angel's message did not fit into this order. In explanation the angel Gabriel told her of the greatest miracle of all time saying, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

We are called to believe that miracles do occur. Some people are troubled by the idea of miracles based on their picture of cause and effect in this world. They have accepted that the only causes are natural ones, the laws of physics and so on. For such a person the idea of Jesus being born without a natural father is fantastic beyond belief.

But we are called to believe that miracles have and do occur. There are forces that attack this belief. We have grown up in a culture that has a strong sense of natural order. Science today is capable of explaining so many events that previously were mysteries. It is capable of explaining them by means of fundamental laws of nature. For some this sense of natural law can become so strong that the Lord's active presence within creation vanishes. For some there is no Divine intervention within this system. All is fixed and moves along with changes taking place by mere random accident. But it could be noted that according to natural law most changes result in more chaos, not less chaos. Changes tend toward the break down of a higher order into a lower one.

Think of the example of a person quickly typing out a document on a computer. You would expect that errors would be introduced into the typing. What is the likelihood that the errors would improve the original document? It’s possible, but rather unexpected. But the argument for pure natural evolution is that given enough time and the forces of natural selection life as we now know it has developed. Asserting that human life came about purely by random accidents starting with the genetic code of the most primitive life millions of years ago seems akin to saying that given enough time and enough typed copies a simple child’s nursery rhyme could evolve into a Shakespearean play without any plan or higher thought being involved.

We are called to believe that miracles do occur. However, the Writings for the New Church have taught us that we are not to expect to see the miracles of the Old and New Testaments performed today in the same way they were performed in the time those books were written. We read:

The reason miracles are not done at this day, as before, is that miracles compel, and take away free will in spiritual things; and from being spiritual, they make a person natural. All in the Christian world . . . can become spiritual; and they become spiritual solely from the Lord through the Word; and the faculty for this would perish if they were brought to believe through miracles. (True Christian Religion 501)

Partially based on statements such as this, a person can come to a pattern of thinking that does not believe in the Lord’s ability to affect things for good in a miraculous way even today. A person could believe in God, but still tend to view the progression of his or her life as following laws of a machine-like system. Anything that does not fit into this fixed system is believed to be a miracle that would take away spiritual freedom--the very freedom that the Lord was born into the world to reestablish.

Perhaps, though, it is too easy for us to become too limited in our view. So limited that we block out a sight of the miracles that can occur within our own lives without taking away our spiritual freedom. Perhaps it is too easy for this limited point of view to block out a sense of the Lord's presence, a sense of the Holy Spirit's presence. How does the Lord reach out to touch our lives?

What of Mary's life? The events surrounding the first Christmas were a major intervention within her life. The same is true of her husband to be, Joseph. Both of them could have denied the possibility of a miraculous conception and this state of denial would have been far more damaging than that of Zacharias's. Could the Lord's birth ever have taken place if Mary was not willing to accept the angel's words? Her firstborn was to have a continuing effect throughout her whole life. His presence was not without many events that brought a sense of awe and wonder to both Mary and Joseph. We know of at least one event that showed that raising Jesus was not always easy. At age 12, they spent three anxious days searching for Him, only to find Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of teachers, listening and asking questions.

In addition to the way in which Jesus' birth and life intervened in Joseph and Mary's life, think of the way His presence affected the disciples. Many of them were happily going about their daily jobs when they were called to leave all behind and follow Him. While this intervention sometimes involved something of the miraculous, it also involved an element of free will. Just as Joseph and Mary could have resisted the words of the angel announcing that the Lord would be born, so also the disciples could have heard the Lord call them to follow and shook their heads and returned to their work. There were many, many others who were influenced in this same way. Many others who heard the Lord's words calling to them and had their lives profoundly influenced by what He said.

The Lord comes to each of us in our lives many times each day. While we may not have anything occur in our lives that an objective observer would call miraculous, it is not true that our lives will follow some pre-established route, set by our inborn nature and directed by compelling experience of the natural world. The Lord's first birth represents the way in which He comes in any age to anyone who will receive Him. Just as the words of the angel Gabriel would have been a dramatic intervention within the happy normalcy of the future that Mary would have envisioned, so also the Lord can come to us announcing the conception of a future for us that is far different from the one our natural mind would envision. The Lord comes to us offering and promising a far different set of reactions to daily events from the ones we presently have--a different perspective, a far greater patience in some areas and a stronger resolve and commitment in others. He comes to us bringing light to areas of thoughts that we had resigned ourselves to being in deep darkness and bringing warmth to much that we might otherwise have done from need or duty.

The angel Gabriel was sent to a virgin, whose name was Mary. Ancient prophecies had promised that the Messiah would be born as the child of a young woman. Several hundred years after this prophecy was given, a Greek version of the Old Testament called the Septuagint, introduced a new element of the miraculous by using a word in this prophecy that was not the general one for a young woman, but rather the distinctive Greek term for "virgin." When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, the gospel of Matthew records that he quoted this prophecy according to the way it is presented in the Septuagint. The Writings for the New Church make it quite clear that this seemingly added idea is correct and even essential in our understanding of the Lord's advent.

There are two distinct reasons for the importance of a belief in the virgin birth. One reason has to do with the essential need for Jesus to be born with a natural mother but without a natural father if He was going to become our Savior and Redeemer. It was crucial for the work of Jesus that He not derive from His birth any of the internal evils that are passed on through the soul provided by the natural father in any natural conception. His soul and life came directly from the infinite God. His developing mind and life were the ever more perfect manifestation in human form of the Father and creator, our Lord and God. But it was important that He take on a natural mind at first empty of any experience and knowledge as you and I were born with. It was important that He take on the hereditary inclinations to evil that birth to a natural mother brought to His life.

The second reason for believing in the virgin birth exists because of the representation of the term virgin and what this says about how the Lord comes to us in our lives. We are told that a virgin represents someone who willing to have his or her life affected by truth. In this story, Mary represents a state of mind in each of our lives that is not controlled by self interest nor committed to a determined course of action. It is a state of mind that is open to new possibilities.

The Lord comes to us to each of us bringing the promise of a new conception of life just as the angel Gabriel came to the virgin Mary. He comes promising a rebirth or regeneration of life that is radically different from the one we come by naturally. It is not to the hustle and bustle of established life that He appears, but rather to those states of mind that, like the virgin Mary, look forward to something new and different and most importantly are willing to receive the conception of this new life. The life that comes to us naturally, apart from any presence of the Lord, is like a child conceived of a human father and mother. Without the Lord's presence, this life cannot have any other basis than self-interest and worldly concern. Experience may teach us to broaden this self-interest and to temper these concerns, but apart from the Lord's advent within our lives they will never rise above this level. The Lord is born within each of our lives within the states of mind that are willing to be affected by what the Word teaches--by the states of mind that are willing to rise above the prompting of our natural inclinations to be self-serving and natural in our interests, thoughts and actions. He is born within the states of mind that are willing to turn outward to recognize and serve the needs of those around us. He is born within the states of mind that are willing to recognize that natural things exist to serve the needs of mankind and creation as a whole and have their proper uses as well as their abuses.

Our preparation for the celebration of Christmas, more than any other event of the season, tends to turn people outward to others. It is a time that can help us to recognize the community of caring people that we live in. And it is a time that can remind us that many are in need--there are many people who can use our help. This help may be a matter of providing food, clothing and shelter for those have not been able to or have not yet come to be provident enough to provide them for themselves. It can be a matter of giving a hand to someone who could use some help with a job, sharing some burden with them. Christmas is a time when we give gifts that symbolize and love and friendship for others. The most lasting gifts are those that we give when we recognize the spiritual needs of others—when we recognize that, by our words and actions, we can help the Lord bring loving warmth to another person's life. We, by our words and actions, can bring the light of greater understanding to another person's life. We have the capability of helping others receive far greater blessings in life than they might otherwise. Our preparation for and celebration of Christmas can remind us of how a truly Christian life is one of wisely giving and of serving. The state of mind that receives this reminder is the one imaged by the virgin, Mary.

The Lord comes to each of us in our lives, just as the angel Gabriel came to Mary. He comes telling of events that can take place, if we are willing, which far exceed anything we might picture ourselves. He promises us a new life, born within our own, but not taking its source from us. He promises the presence of the Holy Spirit within this new life. He comes with a miraculous intervention in the natural course of events. The words of the angel Gabriel to Mary are also words to us with the promise of a new life that will profoundly affect what we care about, think and do each day throughout the year. These words are the promise of a new life for each of us.

After the close of this service you are invited to take the sacrament of the Holy Supper. This act of worship represents our desire to receive the Lord’s gifts of love and wisdom within our lives, represented by our eating of the bread and drinking of the wine. There is a powerful reminder of the words of the angel Gabriel in The True Christian Religion description of this sacrament

...the Holy Supper for those who approach it worthily is a kind of guarantee and seal put on their adoption as sons of God ... the Lord is then present and introduces into heaven those who are born of Him, that is, who are regenerated. (True Christian Religion 728)

As the angel Gabriel said to Mary, so the Lord would say to us, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God."

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1573; Isaiah 7:1-15; Luke 1:26-38)

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #3305

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3305. 'And he called his name Jacob' means the doctrine of natural truth. This is clear from the meaning of 'calling the name' or calling by name as the essential nature, dealt with just above in 3302. The essential nature represented by 'Jacob' is the doctrine of natural truth, as becomes clear from the representation of Esau as good constituting the life of natural truth, 3300, and from very many places in the Word where he is mentioned. There are two elements which constitute the natural, as there are two which constitute the rational, and indeed which constitute the whole person - the first being that of life, the second that of doctrine. The element of life belongs to the will, that of doctrine to the understanding. The former is called good, but the latter truth. It is that good which is represented by Esau, but this truth by Jacob; or what amounts to the same, it is good constituting the life of natural truth that is represented by Esau, and the doctrine of natural truth that is represented by Jacob. Whether you speak of the good constituting the life of natural truth and of the doctrine of natural truth, or of those in whom such doctrine and life are present, it amounts to the same, for the good constituting the life and the doctrine of truth cannot exist apart from their subject. Without their subject they are mere abstractions, yet they nevertheless have regard to the person in whom they exist. Consequently Jacob here means people who possess the doctrine of natural truth.

(References: Psalms 8:3-4, 76:5-6, Psalms 89:17-18)

[2] Those who confine themselves to the sense of the letter suppose that in the Word Jacob is used to mean every one of those people descended from Jacob, and for that reason they apply to those people everything that has been stated about Jacob either as history or as prophecy. But the Word is Divine in that first and foremost every single thing within it has regard not just to one particular nation or people but to the whole human race, namely to everyone present, past, and future. More than that, it has reference to the Lord's kingdom in heaven; and in the highest sense to the Lord Himself. This is what makes it a Divine Word. If it were concerned with merely one particular nation it would be human only and would have nothing more of the Divine within it than the existence among that nation of holy worship. The fact that such worship did not exist among the people called 'Jacob' may be known to anyone. For this reason also it is evident that 'Jacob' is not used in the Word to mean Jacob, nor 'Israel' to mean Israel - for almost everywhere in prophetical parts, when Jacob is referred to, Israel is mentioned too. And no one can know what is meant specifically by the first or what by the second except from that sense which lies more deeply and conceals the arcana of heaven within itself.

[3] In the internal sense therefore 'Jacob' means the doctrine of natural truth, or what amounts to the same, people who possess that doctrine, no matter what nation they belong to; and in the highest sense 'Jacob' is used to mean the Lord, as becomes clear from the following places: In Luke,

The angel said to Mary, You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, so that He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. Luke 1:31-33.

Everyone recognizes that here 'the house of Jacob' was not used to mean the Jewish nation or people, for the Lord's kingdom included not merely that people but all throughout the world who have faith in Him, and from faith have charity. From this it is clear that when the angel used the name Jacob he did not mean the people of Jacob. Nor consequently are those people meant anywhere else. Nor are the references to the seed of Jacob, the sons of Jacob, the land of Jacob, the inheritance of Jacob, the king of Jacob, and the God of Jacob, which occur so many times in the Old Testament Word, meant literally.

(References: Luke 1:30-33)

[4] It is similar with the name Israel, as in Matthew,

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, Rise, take the Boy and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I tell you. He rose and took the Boy and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt, so that what had been said by the prophet might be fulfilled, when he said, Out of Egypt have I called My Son. Matthew 2:13-15.

In the prophet this promise is stated as follows,

When Israel was a boy I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. Hosea 11:1.

Here it is quite evident that 'Israel' is the Lord. From the sense of the letter however nothing more may be known beyond the fact that 'the boy Israel' means the immediate descendants of Jacob who came into Egypt and at a later time were summoned from there. It is similar in other places where the names Jacob and Israel occur, although it is not apparent from the sense of the letter, as in Isaiah,

Hear, O Jacob my servant, and Israel whom I have chosen, Thus said Jehovah who made you and formed you from the womb, who helps you, Fear not, O my servant Jacob, and Jeshurun whom I have chosen, for I will pour out waters upon thirsty land, and rivers upon the dry. I will pour out My spirit upon your seed, and My blessing upon your sons. This one will say, I am Jehovah's, and another will call himself by the name of Jacob, and he will write with his hand, Jehovah's, and surname himself by the name of Israel. Isaiah 44:1-3, 5.

Here 'Jacob' and 'Israel' plainly stand for the Lord, and 'the seed' and 'the sons of Jacob' for those having faith in Him.

(References: Matthew 2:13, 2:15)

[5] In the prophecy concerning Israel's sons, in Moses,

Joseph will sit in the strength of his bow, and the arms of his hands will be made strong by the hands of the mighty Jacob; from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel. Genesis 49:24.

Here also 'the mighty Jacob' and 'the Stone of Israel' plainly stand for the Lord. In Isaiah,

My glory will I not give to another. Hearken to Me, O Jacob, and O Israel whom I called: I am the same; I am the first; I am also the last. Isaiah 48:11-12.

Here again 'Jacob' and 'Israel' are the Lord. In Ezekiel,

I will take the stick of Joseph which is in the hand of Ephraim and of the tribes of Israel his companions, and I will add them to it, to the stick of Judah, and make them into one stick, that they may be one in My hand. I will take the children of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and will gather them from all around and bring them on to their own land. And I will make them into one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king to them all, and they will no longer be two nations, nor will they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. At that time they will dwell in the land which I gave to Jacob my servant, in which your fathers dwelt. They will dwell in it, they, and their sons, and their sons' sons even for ever. David My servant will be their prince for ever. I will make with them a covenant of peace; it will be an eternal covenant with them. I will bless 1 them, and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst for evermore. Thus will My dwelling-place be with them, and I will be their God. and they will be My people, so that the nations may know that I Jehovah sanctify Israel, to be My sanctuary in their midst for evermore. Ezekiel 37:19, 21-22, 24-28.

Here again it is quite clear that 'Joseph', 'Ephraim', 'Judah', 'Israel', 'Jacob', and 'David' are not used to mean those persons, but in the highest sense Divine spiritual things within the Lord and which exist in the Lord's kingdom and in His Church. Anyone may know that David will not be, as is said, their king and prince for ever, but that 'David' is used to mean the Lord, 1888. Anyone may also know that Israel will not be gathered together from where they have been scattered, or that they will be sanctified, or, as is said, that the sanctuary will be set in their midst, but that, as is well known, 'Israel' in the representative sense means all those who have faith.

[6] In Micah,

I will surely gather Jacob, all of you, I will surely assemble the remnant of Israel; I will put them together, like the sheep of Bozrah. Micah 2:12.

Here the meaning is similar. In Isaiah,

Those who are to come Jacob will cause to take root. Israel will blossom and flower, and the face of the earth will be filled with produce. Isaiah 27:6.

Here also the meaning is similar. In the same prophet,

Thus said Jehovah, who redeemed Abraham, to the house of Jacob, Jacob will no more be ashamed, and no more will his face grow pale. For when he sees his male children, the work of My hands, in his midst they will sanctify My name, and they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and will fear the God of Israel. And those who err in spirit will know understanding. Isaiah 29:22-24.

In the same prophet,

Jehovah said to His anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him, and I will ungird the loins of kings, to open doors before him, and gates may not be closed: I will go before you and make straight the crooked places; I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut asunder the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of concealed places, and the secret wealth of hoarded objects, that you may know that it is I, Jehovah, who called you by your name, the God of Israel. For the sake of My servant Jacob, and of Israel My chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you when you did not know Me. Isaiah 45:1-4.

This also clearly refers to the Lord. In Micah,

In the latter days the mountain of the house of Jehovah will be established at the head of the mountains. Many nations will come and say, Come and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us about His ways, and we will go in His paths. For out of Zion will go forth teaching, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. Micah 4:1-2.

In David,

Jehovah loves the gates of Zion more than all the dwelling-places of Jacob. Glorious things are spoken in you, O city of God. Psalms 87:1-3.

In Jeremiah,

They will serve Jehovah their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them. And do not fear, O My servant Jacob, and do not be dismayed, O Israel, for behold, I am saving you from afar. Jeremiah 30:9-10.

In Isaiah,

Listen to Me, O islands, and hearken, O peoples from afar. Jehovah called me from the womb, from my mother's body 2 He remembered my name. And He said to me, You are My servant Israel in whom I will be rendered glorious. Isaiah 49:1, 3.

In the same prophet,

Then will you take delight in Jehovah and I will convey you over the high places of the earth, and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob. Isaiah 58:14.

In the same prophet,

I will bring forth seed from Jacob, and from Judah the heir of My mountain, so mat My chosen ones may possess it, and My servants may dwell there. Isaiah 65:9.

(References: Psalms 87:2-3)

[7] In all these places 'Jacob' and 'Israel' are used in the highest sense to mean the Lord, and in the representative sense the Lord's spiritual kingdom, and the Church which is the Church by virtue of the doctrine of truth and the life of good - 'Jacob' meaning those who are in the external aspects of that Church, and 'Israel' those who are in the internal. These and very many other places show that nowhere is 'Jacob' used to mean Jacob, or 'Israel' to mean Israel, any more than when the names 'Isaac' and 'Abraham' are used Isaac or Abraham is meant, as in Matthew,

Many will come from the east and from the west and will recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 8:11.

In Luke,

You will see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God. Luke 13:28.

And in the same gospel,

Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom. Luke 16:22.

For in heaven angels have no knowledge at all of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Angels there perceive nothing else from those words when read by man than the Lord as regards the Divine and the Divine Human. When man reads about reclining with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob they perceive nothing else than being with the Lord; and when about being in Abraham's bosom nothing else than resting in the Lord. Such wording has been used however because mankind at that time was so far removed from things of an internal nature that it neither knew nor wished to know anything other than this, that everything in the Word was to be taken literally. And when the Lord spoke to them in that literal manner He did so in order that they might receive faith, and also at the same time in order that the internal sense might be contained within what He said, by means of which mankind was joined to Himself. This being so one may see what is meant in the Old Testament Word by 'the God of Jacob' and by 'the Holy One of Israel', namely the Lord Himself. For places where 'the God of Jacob' means the Lord, see 2 Samuel 23:1; Isaiah 2:3; 41:21; Micah 4:2; Psalms 20:1; 46:7; 75:9; 76:6; 81:1, 4; 84:8; 94:7; 114:7; 132:2; 146:5; and for places where 'the Holy One of Israel' means the Lord, Isaiah 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19; 30:11-12, 15; 31:1; 37:23; 41:14, 16, 20; 43:3, 14; 45:11; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7; 54:5; 55:5; 60:9, 14; Jeremiah 50:29; Ezekiel 39:7; Psalms 71:22; 78:41; 89:18.


1. literally, give

2. literally, viscera


(References: Genesis 25:26; Luke 16:20)

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Arcana Coelestia 3311, 3314, 3316, 3319, 3322, 3324, 3325, 3332, 3412, 3439, 3509, 3525, 3527, 3546, 3654, 3659, 3703, 3704, 3708, 3880, 3969, 4290, 4428, 4520, 4538, 4667, 5348, 5401, 5595, 5603, 5611, 5632, 5663, 5965, 6001, 6012, 6019, 6089, ...

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 118, 721

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