The Bible

Exodus 23:14-19 : The Three Annual Festivals

Study the Inner Meaning

14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.

15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:)

16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.

17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.

18 Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread; neither shall the fat of my sacrifice remain until the morning.

19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.

Study the Inner Meaning

Main explanation(s) from Swedenborg's works:

Arcana Coelestia 9285, 9286, 9287, 9288, 9289, 9290, 9291 ...

Commentary on this text:

Stories:

Other references by Swedenborg to this text:

Arcana Coelestia 1001, 2342, 2405, 2788, 3519, 4262, 7906 ...

Apocalypse Revealed 623, 939

Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works


Commentary

Three Feasts

A loaf of homemade bread.

The Children of Israel were told to keep three feasts each year - the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of first fruits, and the feast of ingathering. Should we still do that?

In Exodus 23:14-16, Moses receives the instructions about these feasts. Those three verses in Exodus comprise our brief story. Their inner meaning is explained in Arcana Coelestia 9286-9296.

There are three feasts. In the Word, the number three represents a completeness, a sense of things being covered from beginning to end. Our thankfulness to the Lord is supposed to keep going - to endure.

The first feast, of unleavened bread, stands for worship, for our thankfulness for the Lord's action in our minds to get rid of false ideas. That enables us to start to receive good loves.

The second feast, of first fruits, relates to the planting of true ideas in that "soil" of initial loves for doing good.

The third feast, of harvest, or ingathering, stands for the time when, by applying our true ideas, we receive real good - loves of the neighbor and of the Lord - that become the middle of our lives. This is the state of rebirth, where we have - by working through the year (our lives), and enduring in thankfulness, allowed the Lord to get rid of our false ideas, and push our evil loves to the periphery, so that good can work, and be fruitful.

These feasts, then, represent the progress of our spiritual lives. In some manner, we need to keep them.

From Swedenborg's Works

Apocalypse Explained #329

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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329. Because it is said, "Thou hast redeemed us to God in thy blood," and this is understood within the church entirely according to the sense of the letter, and not according to any spiritual sense, I wish also to show, that by blood is not meant blood, or the Lord's passion upon the cross, but the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and the reception thereof by man; consequently, that by, "Thou hast redeemed us in thy blood," is denoted that He has delivered and freed from hell those who acknowledge Him, and receive Divine truth from Him (as has been said above, n. 328). In illustration of this point I desire to adduce the following. Because all things that were commanded, in the Israelitish church, were representatives of celestial and spiritual things, and not the least thing was otherwise, therefore it was also commanded, when the paschal supper was first instituted,

That they should take of the blood, and sprinkle it on the two side-posts and on the upper door-post, upon the houses wherein they should eat the paschal lamb; "and the blood shall be for you for a sign upon the houses where you are, and when I shall see the blood, I will pass over you, nor shall there be any plague upon you from the destroyer, when I shall pass through the land of Egypt."

And further:

"Ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two sideposts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. And Jehovah will pass through to smite the Egyptian; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side-posts, Jehovah will pass over the door, and will not suffer the smiter to come into your houses to smite you (Exod. xii. 7, 13, 22, 23).

He who does not know that there is any spiritual sense in the Word, believes that by blood is here meant the Lord's blood upon the cross; but this is not at all understood in heaven. But by the paschal supper here the angels there understand the same as by the Holy Supper instituted by the Lord, in which instead of the paschal lamb there are bread and wine; and then the Lord said that the bread was His flesh and that the wine was His blood; and any one knows, or may know, that bread and wine are what nourish the body, the bread as meat and the wine as drink, and that in the Word, which in its inmost is spiritual, those things also must be spiritually understood.

(References: Exodus 12:7, 12:13, 12:22-23; Revelation 5:9; The Apocalypse Explained 328)


[2] Thus bread means all spiritual meat, and wine all spiritual drink; spiritual meat is all the good that is communicated and imparted to man by the Lord, and spiritual drink is all the truth that is communicated and imparted to him by the Lord; these two, namely, good and truth, or love and faith, make a man spiritual; it is said, or love and faith, because all good is of love, and all truth of faith. Hence it is evident that by bread is meant the Divine good of the Lord's Divine love, and as to man, that [good] received by him; and that by wine is meant the Divine truth proceeding from the Divine good of the Lord's Divine love, and as to man, that [truth] received by him. Because the Lord says that His flesh is bread, and His blood is wine, it is evident that by the Lord's flesh is meant the Divine good of His Divine love, and that by eating it, is meant to receive it, to appropriate to oneself, and thus to be conjoined with the Lord; and that by the Lord's blood is meant the Divine truth proceeding from the Divine good of His Divine love, and that by drinking it is meant to receive that [truth], to appropriate to oneself, and thus to be conjoined with the Lord.

[3] Spiritual nourishment also is from the good and truth which proceed from the Lord, as all the nourishment of the body is from meat and drink; hence also is their correspondence, which is such, that where anything of meat, or that serves, for meat, is named in the Word, good is meant, and where anything of drink is named, or what serves for drink, truth is meant. From these considerations it is evident, that by the blood from the Paschal lamb, which the sons of Israel were commanded to sprinkle upon the two posts, and upon the lintel of their houses, is meant the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; this also on being received in faith and life, protects man against the evils which rise up out of hell, for the Lord is with man in His Divine truth, for it is of the Lord Himself with him, yea, it is Himself with him. Who that thinks from sound reason cannot see that the Lord is not in His blood with any one, but in His Divine, which is the good of love and the good of faith received by man? What, however, each particular there signifies, namely, what the two posts and the lintel, what the destroyer and smiter, and what Egypt, and what many other things in that chapter, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, where they are explained.

[4] From these observations it is clear now, without further explanation, what is signified by the Lord's words when He instituted the Holy Supper:

"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, brake, and gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and having given thanks, he gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. I say unto you that I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I shall drink it with you in the kingdom of God" (Matt. xxvi. 26-29; Mark xiv. 22-25; Luke xxii. 15-20).

Because by wine is meant Divine truth nourishing spiritual life, therefore the Lord says to them, "I say unto you that I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I shall drink it new with you in the kingdom of God." Hence it is evident that what is meant is [something] spiritual, for He says, that He would drink with them, and that in the kingdom of God, or in heaven, and also that He would eat with them of the Paschal lamb there (Luke xxii. 16).

(References: Luke 22:16, Luke 22:15-20; Mark 14:22-25; Matthew 26:26-29)


[5] From what has been said above it is also clear what is signified by these words of the Lord:

"The bread that I will give is my flesh. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye shall have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him. This is the bread which came down from heaven" (John vi. 51-58).

That the Lord's flesh is Divine good and His blood Divine truth, both of them from Him, is evident from this fact, that those are the things that nourish the soul; hence it is said, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."

And because a man by the Divine good and truth is conjoined to the Lord, therefore it is also said, "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood, shall have eternal life," and also, "He abideth in me and I in him." The reason why the Lord thus spoke, namely, why He said His flesh and His blood, and not His Divine good and His Divine truth, is, that the sense of the letter of the Word might be composed of such things as correspond to spiritual things, in which the angels are; hence the conjunction of the men of the church by means of the Word with them, which could not be otherwise effected (see the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 252, 258-262; and the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 303-310).

(References: Heaven and Hell 303-310; John 6:51-58, 6:50-58; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 252, 258-262)


[6] Because blood signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and by the reception thereof by man conjunction with the Lord is effected, therefore the blood is called the blood of the covenant, for covenant signifies conjunction. The blood is called the blood of the covenant by the Lord when He instituted the Holy Supper; for He said,

"Drink ye all of it, for this is my blood of the new covenant" or testament (Matt. xxvi. 28; Mark xiv. 24; Luke xxii. 20).

It is also called the blood of the covenant in Moses; where these [passages occur]:

"Moses came" from Mount Sinai "and told the people all the words of Jehovah, and all the judgments. And Moses wrote all the words of Jehovah, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the mount. And he sent youths of the sons of Israel, and offered burnt-offerings, and sacrificed bullocks as sacrifices of peace unto Jehovah. And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the ears of the people; and they said, All that Jehovah hath said will we do and hear. And he took the blood, and sprinkled it upon the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which Jehovah hath concluded with you upon all these words. And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as the work of a sapphire stone, and as the substance of heaven for purity" (Exod. xxiv. 3-8, 10).

That blood here signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord and received by man, and thence conjunction, is evident, for half of it was sprinkled upon the altar, and half upon the people; for by the altar was signified all worship that is from the good of love, and by the people, those who perform worship, and receive the good of love by means of truths; for all reception of Divine good is effected by means of truths made truths of life, and conjunction thence is by the good in those truths. That there is conjunction by the good in those truths, or by truths made truths of life, and that blood was a representative thereof, is quite clear from the words here, for this was done when Moses descended from mount Sinai, whence the Law was promulgated, and also the statutes and judgments which were to be observed; and it is said that Moses wrote all those words of Jehovah, and read them in the ears of the people, who said, "All that Jehovah hath said will we do and hear," which they said twice, as may be seen in verses 3 and 7.

(References: Exodus 24:3-10, 24:2-3, 24:3-11, 24:7, 24:3, 24:3-8, 24:10; Luke 22:20; Mark 14:24; Matthew 26:27-28)


[7] Words or truths become truths of life by doing them; and because Moses wrote those words, he called them "the Book of the Covenant," by which is signified that there is conjunction by its means. By the law promulgated by Jehovah from mount Sinai, and by the statutes and judgments which were also commanded at that time, is signified all Divine truth, or Divine truth in its whole compass. Hence it is that these things are called "the Book of the Covenant," and the ark in which that book was placed, the "Ark of the Covenant," covenant signifying conjunction. Because the Divine truth, by which there is conjunction, proceeds from the Lord, therefore also the Lord was seen by them and under the feet as the work of sapphire stone. That He was so seen under the feet signifies that the Divine truth is such in ultimates. The Divine truth in ultimates is the Divine truth in the sense of the letter of the Word; the work of sapphire stone signifies the transparency thereof from Divine truth in the internal or spiritual sense; the God of Israel is the Lord. (That the sapphire stone signifies transparency from internal truths, may be seen, n. 9407; and that the God of Israel is the Lord as to the Divine Human, may be seen above, n. 328.) Hence now it is evident, that a covenant or conjunction is made by Divine truth, and that the blood sprinkled upon the altar, and half thereof upon the people, was a representative of it, because blood signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and received by man, as has been said above. (That a covenant signifies conjunction may be seen, n. 665, 666, 1023, 1038, 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, 6804, 8767, 8778, 9396, 10,632. That the law, in a strict sense, signifies the ten precepts of the Decalogue, and, in a broad sense, the whole Word, thus all Divine truth, n. 2606, 3382, 6752, 7463, 9417. That mount Sinai thence signifies heaven where the Lord is, from whom is Divine truth, or from whom is the law, in both the strict and broad sense, n. 8399, 8753, 8793, 8805, 9420; and that the altar was the principal representative of the Lord, and of the worship of Him from the good of love, n. 921, 2777, 2811, 4489, 4541, 8935, 8940, 9388, 9389, 9714, 9963, 9964, 10,123, 10,151, 10,242, 10,245, 10,642.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 665-666, Arcana Coelestia 921, Arcana Coelestia 1023, 1038, Arcana Coelestia 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, Arcana Coelestia 2606, 2777, Arcana Coelestia 2811, Arcana Coelestia 3382, Arcana Coelestia 4489, 4541, Arcana Coelestia 6752, 6804, Arcana Coelestia 7463, Arcana Coelestia 8399, Arcana Coelestia 8753, 8767, 8778, 8793, 8805, 8935, Arcana Coelestia 8940, Arcana Coelestia 9388-9389, Arcana Coelestia 9396, 9407, 9417, 9420, Arcana Coelestia 9714, 9963-9964, Arcana Coelestia 10123, Arcana Coelestia 10151, 10242, 10245, Arcana Coelestia 10632, Arcana Coelestia 10642; The Apocalypse Explained 328)


[8] Because blood signifies the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, and received by man, whence there is conjunction, therefore, all things representative of things Divine proceeding from the Lord, which are also called celestial and spiritual, were consecrated by oil and by blood, and were then called holy. The reason why they were consecrated by oil and blood, that they might represent, was because by oil was signified the Divine good of the Divine love, and by blood the Divine truth thence proceeding, for truth proceeds from good. That consecrations and sanctifications were made by oil, will be seen in the following pages, under the proper article; here only those passages shall be mentioned, which relate to blood; as:

When Aaron and his sons were sanctified, that blood was sprinkled upon the horns of the altar and round about the altar; and upon Aaron and his sons, and upon their garments (Exod. xxix. 12, 16, 21; Lev. viii. 24).

That blood was sprinkled seven times before the veil which was upon the ark, and upon the horns of the altar of incense (Lev. iv. 6, 7, 17, 18).

That before Aaron entered within the veil to the mercy-seat, he should sacrifice, and burn incense, and should sprinkle the blood with the finger on the mercy-seat seven times towards the east (Lev. xvi. 12-15).

That the blood of the burnt-offering and of the sacrifice should be sprinkled upon the altar, around the altar, and at the bottom of the altar (Lev. i. 5, 11, 15; iii. 2, 8, 13; iv. 25, 30, 34; v. 9; viii. 15, 24; xvii. 6; Num. xviii. 17; Deut. xii. 27).

That the blood should be sprinkled upon the horns of the altar, and thus the altar should be purified (Exod. xxx. 10; Lev. xvi. 18, 19).

The reason why the blood from the burnt-offerings and sacrifices was sprinkled, and poured out upon the altar, around the altar, or at the foundation thereof was, because the altar with the burnt-offerings and sacrifices upon it represented and thence signified all worship from the good of love and the truths thence; and because truths proceed from good, therefore the blood was sprinkled on, and poured out, around the altar, for around signifies proceeding.

(References: Deuteronomy 12:27; Exodus 29:20-21, 29:12, 29:16, 29:21, Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 1:5, 1:15, 1:11, Leviticus 3:8, 3:13, 3:2, 4:6-7, 4:17-18, 4:30, 4:34, 4:25, 5:9, Leviticus 8:24, 8:15, 16:12-15, Leviticus 16:18-19, Leviticus 17:6, 21:12-15; Numbers 18:17)


[9] But these things may be more evident from what has been shown concerning burnt-offerings and sacrifices in the Arcana Coelestia, as from the following: That burnt-offerings and sacrifices signified all things of worship from the good of love, and the truths thence, n. 923, 6905, 8680, 8936, 10,042. That therefore burnt-offerings and sacrifices were called bread, n. 2165, because bread signifies every thing that nourishes spiritual life, n. 2165, 3478, 4976, 5147, 5915, 6118, 8410, 8418, 9323, 10,686. That burnt-offerings and sacrifices signified Divine, celestial, and spiritual things, which are the internals of the church, from which are all things of worship, n. 2180, 2805, 2807, 2830, 3519, with a variation according to the variety of worship, n. 2805, 6905, 8936. That, therefore, there were many kinds of burnt-offerings and sacrifices, and in them various processes, and also various animals of which they consisted, n. 2830, 9391, 9990. That the various things which they specifically signified, may be known from the particulars of the process unfolded by the internal sense, n. 10,042. That in the rituals and processes of the sacrifices are contained mysteries of heaven, n. 10,057. That in general there are contained [in them] arcana of the glorification of the Lord's Human, and in a respective sense arcana of man's regeneration and his purification from evils and falsities, n. 9990, 10,022, 10,042, 10,053, 10,057. What was signified by the meat-offerings, which were bread and cakes, which also were offered in sacrifice, n. 10,079; what by the drink-offering, which was wine, n. 4581, 10,137.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 923, Arcana Coelestia 2165, 2180, Arcana Coelestia 2805, 2807, Arcana Coelestia 2830, Arcana Coelestia 3478, Arcana Coelestia 3519, Arcana Coelestia 4581, Arcana Coelestia 4976, Arcana Coelestia 5147, Arcana Coelestia 5915, Arcana Coelestia 6118, Arcana Coelestia 6905, Arcana Coelestia 8410, 8418, 8680, Arcana Coelestia 8936, Arcana Coelestia 9323, Arcana Coelestia 9391, Arcana Coelestia 9990, Arcana Coelestia 10022, Arcana Coelestia 10042, 10053, 10057, 10079, Arcana Coelestia 10137, Arcana Coelestia 10686)


[10] These things being understood, it can be known from them that by the blood of the sacrifice also elsewhere in the Word is signified Divine truth; as in Ezekiel:

"Say to the bird of every wing, and to the beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come; gather yourselves from every side to my sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh, and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth. And ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood even to drunkenness, of my sacrifice which I sacrifice for you. And ye shall be satiated at my table with horse, with chariot, with every man of war: So will I give my glory among the nations" (xxxix. 17-21).

The restoration of the church is the subject here treated of, and by Israel and Jacob are meant all who belong to the church, concerning whom therefore these things are said. By a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel are signified all things of their worship; by flesh and by fat is signified the good of love, and by blood truth from that good, from which worship the abundance of both is described by their eating flesh and fat to satiety, and drinking blood even to drunkenness, and this from the sacrifice; wherefore it is also said, they shall be satiated at my table with horse, chariot, and every man of war; for by horse is signified the understanding of truth, by chariot doctrine, and by a man of war truth fighting against falsity and destroying it. Who cannot see that by the blood here mentioned, is not meant blood, as that they should drink the blood of the princes of the earth, and that they should drink blood even to drunkenness from the sacrifice? The princes of the earth signify the principal truths of the church; hence their blood signifies spiritual nourishment from those truths. Because such things are signified, therefore, in this chapter, it is also said lastly concerning Israel, by whom is signified the church:

"Then will I not hide my faces any longer from them for I will pour out my spirit upon Israel" (verse 29).

The reason why it is said, say to the bird of every wing and to the beast of the field, is because by the bird of every wing is signified spiritual truth in its whole compass, and by the beast of the field the affection of good. (That by birds in the Word are signified things spiritual, see n. 745, 776, 866, 988, 991, 3219, 5149, 7441; in like manner by wings, n. 8764, 9514. That by beasts are signified affections, and by the beasts of the field the affections of good, n. 2180, 3218, 3519, 5198, 9090, 9280, 10,609; and that hence both birds and beasts were used in sacrifices, n. 1823, 3519, 7523, 9280.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 745, 776, 866, Arcana Coelestia 988, 991, Arcana Coelestia 1823, Arcana Coelestia 2180, Arcana Coelestia 3218, 3219, Arcana Coelestia 3519, Arcana Coelestia 5149, 5198, Arcana Coelestia 7441, Arcana Coelestia 7523, Arcana Coelestia 9090, 9280, Arcana Coelestia 9514, Arcana Coelestia 10609; Ezekiel 39:17-21, Ezekiel 39:17-22, 39:29)


[11] In confirmation that the beast of the field and the fowl signify such things, I will adduce here only one passage from the Word:

"In that day will I make a covenant for them with the beast of the field, and with the bird of the heavens, and with the creeping thing of the ground; and the bow and the sword and the battle will I break off from the earth. And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; and I will betroth thee unto me in justice and in judgment, and in mercy and in compassions, and I will betroth thee unto me in truth" (Hosea ii. 18, 19, 20).

Here, by making a covenant with the beast of the field, and with the bird of the heavens, is signified with the affections of good and with spiritual truths, for with these the Lord is conjoined to man, the Lord being in these things with him; hence it is called a covenant with them, covenant denoting conjunction. That beasts signify the affections of good, and birds things spiritual, will be fully shown in the following pages under their proper articles.

(References: Hosea 2:18-20)


[12] Because the fat in sacrifices signified Divine good, and the blood Divine truth, both from the Lord, and both received by man, effected conjunction, the posterity of Jacob, or the Jews and Israelites, were therefore forbidden to eat any fat or any blood (see Lev. iii. 17; vii. 23-27; xvii. 11-14; Deut. xii. 16, 23-25; xv. 23). The reason of this was, because that nation was not in any good of love, nor in any truth of good, but in the falsities of evil; and to eat fat and blood signified with them the mingling of truth from good with falsity from evil, which is profanation; hence also it is evident that by blood is signified the Divine truth. That fat or fatness in the Word signifies the good of love, may be seen, n. 353, 5943, 6409, 10,033. And that the Jews and Israelites were solely in externals and not in internals, and, consequently, not in spiritual truths and goods, but in falsities of evil; and that all things of their worship were externals separated from things internal, and that still by things external they could represent the internal things of worship, may be seen in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 248.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 353, Arcana Coelestia 5943, Arcana Coelestia 6409, Arcana Coelestia 10033; Deuteronomy 12:16, Deuteronomy 12:17, 12:23-25, 15:23; Leviticus 3:17, Leviticus 7:23-27, Leviticus 17:11-14; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 248)


[13] Because the blood in the sacrifices signified Divine truth, therefore also it was forbidden them

to sacrifice upon what was leavened the blood of the sacrifice (Exod. xxiii. 18; xxxiv. 25).

For by leaven is signified falsity, and by what was leavened truth falsified (see n. 2342, 7906, 8051, 9992).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2342, Arcana Coelestia 7906, Arcana Coelestia 8051, Arcana Coelestia 9992; Exodus 23:18, Exodus 34:25)


[14] The reason why the Lord's flesh signifies the Divine good of the Divine love, and why His blood signifies the Divine truth proceeding from that good, is, because there are two things which proceed from the Lord's Divine Human, namely, Divine good and Divine truth, hence the latter is His blood, and the former is His flesh. That which proceeds is the Divine-celestial and the Divine-spiritual, which constitute the heavens in general and in particular. (But this will better appear from what has been shown in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, under the following articles, namely, that the Divine of the Lord makes heaven, n. 7-12; that the Divine of the Lord in heaven is love to Him, and charity towards the neighbour, n. 13-19; that hence the whole heaven in the whole and in part has reference to one man, n. 59-77; that this is from the Lord's Divine Human, n. 78-87; and moreover from what [has been] shown concerning the sun in heaven, and concerning the light and heat thence, and that the heat is the Divine good, and the light the Divine truth, both proceeding from the Lord, n. 116-140. From all these considerations it may in some degree be comprehended, whence it is that the Divine proceeding is meant by flesh and blood, namely, the Divine good by flesh and the Divine truth by blood.)

(References: The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 7-12, 13-19, 59-77, 78-87, 116-140)


[15] There are also two things with man which constitute his spiritual life, namely, the good of love and the truth of faith; the will is the receptacle of the good of love with him, and the understanding is the receptacle of the truth of faith with him. All things of the mind, that is, of the will and understanding, have a correspondence with all things of the body, wherefore, the latter are moved at the command of the former. The correspondence of the will is in general with the flesh, and the correspondence of the understanding is with the blood; hence it is that man's voluntary proprium is meant in the Word by flesh, and the intellectual proprium by blood; as in Matthew:

"Jesus said to Simon, Blessed art thou, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee" (xvi. 17).

These things are adduced, that it may be known that in the Word things voluntary and intellectual, thus spiritual, are meant by flesh and blood, where they are said of man, and things Divine where they are said of the Lord. But these observations are intended for those whose minds can be elevated above natural ideas and can see causes.

(References: Matthew 16:17)


[16] This also is what is signified by the blood and water which issued out of the Lord's side concerning which it is thus written in John:

"One of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came thereout blood and water. And he that saw testifieth, and his testimony is sure; he knoweth that he saith true things, that ye also might believe" (xix. 34, 35).

These things were done that they might signify the Lord's conjunction with the human race by means of the Divine truth proceeding from the Divine good of His love. Breast signifies Divine love; blood and water signify Divine truth proceeding; blood the Divine truth which is for the spiritual man, and water the Divine truth which is for the natural [man]; for all things related in the Word concerning the Lord's passion are also significative (see above, n. 83, 195 at end). And because those things signify His love, and man's salvation by the Divine truth proceeding from Him, therefore the evangelist also says: "He that saw testifieth, and his testimony is sure; he knoweth that he saith true things, that ye also might believe."

(References: John 19:34-35; The Apocalypse Explained 83, 195)


[17] To what has been already adduced, I desire to add the following passages from the Word. In Zechariah:

"Exult greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold, thy King cometh. And he shall speak peace unto the nations; and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. As for thee, also, by the blood of thy covenant I will send forth thy bound ones out of the pit wherein is no water" (ix. 9-11).

These things are spoken concerning the Lord, and the establishment of the church among the nations by Him. By the blood of the covenant is here meant the Divine truth, by which conjunction of the Lord [shall be effected], with those who shall be of His church, as stated above; wherefore it is also said, "I will send forth thy bound ones out of the pit wherein is no water," for by those are signified the nations that are in falsities from ignorance; the pit in which there is no water signifies where there is no truth, and to send them forth thence, signifies to liberate them from them. That by water is signified the truth of the church, may be seen above, n. 71; and that by the bound in the pit are signified those who are in falsities from ignorance, and, nevertheless, in the desire of knowing truths, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, n. 4728, 4744, 5038, 6854, 7950.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4728, 4744, Arcana Coelestia 5038, Arcana Coelestia 6854, Arcana Coelestia 7950; The Apocalypse Explained 71; Zechariah 9:9-11)


[18] In David:

God "shall save the souls of the needy; he shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence; and precious shall their blood be in his eyes. And he shall live, and he shall give him of the gold of Sheba; and shall pray for him continually; all the day shall he bless him. Upon the top of the mountains his fruit shall be shaken" (Ps. lxxii. 13-16).

The needy are here treated of, by whom are signified those who desire truths from a spiritual affection. Concerning these it is said, that from deceit and violence He shall redeem their soul; by which is signified their liberation from evils and falsities, which destroy the goods of love and the truths of faith. That their reception of Divine truth is acceptable and grateful to the Lord, is signified by, their blood shall be precious in His eyes; blood here denoting the Divine truth received. Their reformation is described by these words: "He shall live, and he shall give him of the gold of Sheba; and shall pray for him continually; all the day shall he bless him." The gold of Sheba denotes the good of charity; to pray for them continually signifies that they shall be continually withheld from falsities, and kept in truths; and He shall bless him, signifies that they shall be continually in the good of charity and faith; wherefore it is also said, "Upon the top of the mountains his fruit shall be shaken," the top of the mountains signifying heaven, whence they have the good of love from the Lord, which is the fruit.

(References: Psalms 72:13-16)


[19] In Moses:

"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; who shall bind to the vine his ass's foal, and to the noble vine the son of his she-ass, whilst he washeth his garments in wine, and his covering in the blood of grapes" (Gen. xlix. 10, 11).

In this prophetical declaration the Lord is treated of, concerning whom it is said, "He shall bind to the vine his ass's foal, and to the noble vine the son of his she-ass, he shall wash his garments in wine, and his covering in the blood of grapes"; and by a vine is signified the church, and by wine and the blood of grapes is signified the Divine truth. What the other things signify may be seen in the explanation of those words in the Arcana Coelestia. The same is meant by the blood of grapes in Deut. xxxii. 14; where the subject treated of is the Ancient Church reformed by the Divine truth.

(References: Deuteronomy 32:14; Genesis 49:10-11)


[20] From what has been shown in this and the preceding article, it is evident to those who acknowledge the spiritual sense of the Word, that by, "Thou hast redeemed us to God in thy blood," is meant conjunction with the Divine by the acknowledgment of the Lord, and by the reception of Divine truth from Him; and that the same is meant by blood in the twelfth chapter of this prophetical book, where it is said:

That Michael and his angels overcame the dragon by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony (verse 11).

It is said, the blood of the Lamb, and the word of the testimony, because the blood of the Lamb signifies the reception of Divine truth from the Lord, and the word of the testimony the acknowledgment of His Divine Human.

(References: Revelation 12:11)


[21] That blood signifies the Divine truth is still further evident from its opposite sense, in which blood signifies violence offered to the Divine truth by the falsities of evil, and its destruction thereby; and because opposites also show what is signified in the genuine sense, therefore I desire to adduce some passages in which blood and bloods signify that. It is to be observed that most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, and that from that sense it may be known what is signified in the genuine sense; let these therefore serve for illustration. In the Apocalypse:

"The second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man; and every living animal in the sea died. And the third angel poured out his vial into the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood" (xvi. 3, 4).

And elsewhere:

The two witnesses "have power over the waters, to turn them into blood" (Apoc. xi. 6).

In Isaiah:

"The waters of Nimrim shall be desolations; and the waters of Dimon are full of blood" (xv. 6, 9).

In David:

"He sent darkness, and made it dark. He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish" (Ps. cv. 28, 29).

From these passages from the opposite it appears what blood signifies; for blood, in the genuine sense, signifies the Divine truth, and with the recipients truth from good; hence, in the opposite sense, it signifies violence offered to the Divine truth, and with those who do that, falsity from evil. This opposite signification appears from this circumstance, that the waters of the sea, the rivers, and fountains, are said to be turned into blood; for by waters are signified truths, wherefore by blood there falsities which destroy truths. By the living animal in the sea, and by the fish, are signified true scientifics; thus by their dying and being slain by blood are signified those truths also destroyed. That by waters are signified truths, may be seen above, n. 71; and that by fish are signified the true scientifics of the natural man, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, n. 40, 991.

(References: Isaiah 15:6, 15:9; Psalms 105:28-29; Revelation 11:6, Revelation 16:3-4; The Apocalypse Explained 40, 71, The Apocalypse Explained 991)


[22] Again, in the Apocalypse:

"I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, and the whole moon became [as] blood" (vi. 12).

In Joel:

"I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth; blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great day of Jehovah come" (ii. 30, 31).

Here also from the opposite it is known, that blood signifies violence offered to the Divine truth; for by the sun in the Word is signified the Divine Celestial, which is the Divine good, and by the moon is signified the Divine Spiritual, which is the Divine truth; therefore it is said that the moon shall be turned into blood. That the moon has this signification may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 118, 119.

(References: Heaven and Hell 118-119; Joel 2:30-31; Revelation 6:12)


[23] In Isaiah:

"He who walketh in justice, and speaketh righteousness, who stoppeth his ear lest he hear bloods, and shutteth his eyes lest he see evil" (xxxiii. 15).

To stop the ear lest he hear bloods, denotes lest he hear falsities from evil.

In David:

"Thou wilt destroy them that speak a lie; a man of bloods and deceit Jehovah abominates" (Ps. v. 6).

The man of bloods and deceit [is used] for those who are in falsities from evil, and therefore it is said, "Thou wilt destroy them that speak lies"; lies in the Word signifying falsities.

In Isaiah:

"And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy unto him, every one that is written to life in Jerusalem. When the Lord shall have washed the excrement of the daughters of Zion, and shall have washed away the bloods of Jerusalem out of the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of cleansing" (iv. 3, 4).

Because by Jerusalem is signified the church as to doctrine, it is therefore said, When He shall have washed away its bloods out of the midst thereof, by which, therefore, are signified the falsities of evil. By the spirit of judgment is signified the Divine truth, and because this purifies, it is said by the spirit of cleansing.

(References: Isaiah 3:3-4, Isaiah 4:3-4, Isaiah 33:15; Psalms 5:6)


[24] In Ezekiel:

"In the day wherein thou wast born, I passed by beside thee, and I saw thee trodden under foot in thy bloods, and I said to thee, In thy bloods, live; yea, I said to thee, In thy bloods, live; I have washed thee; and I have washed away thy bloods from upon thee, and I have anointed thee with oil" (xvi. 5, 6, 9, 22, 36, 38).

The subject here treated of is Jerusalem, by which is signified the church as to the doctrine of truth, first here concerning the falsities of evil in which it was before it was reformed, and afterwards concerning its reformation. The falsities of evil are signified by its being seen trodden under foot in bloods; and its reformation by His having washed, and washed away the bloods, and anointed with oil. To wash signifies to purify by truths; to wash away bloods signifies to remove the falsities of evil; and to anoint with oil signifies to gift with the good of love.

(References: Ezekiel 16:36, 16:38, 16:5-6, 16:9, 16:22)


[25] In Lamentations:

"For the sins of the prophets" of Jerusalem, "and the iniquities of her priests; that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of her. They have wandered blind in the streets, they are polluted with blood, the things that they cannot they touch with their garments" (iv. 13, 14).

By the prophets of Jerusalem are signified those who will teach the truths of doctrine, and by the priests those who will lead by truths to good; here, in the opposite sense, because it is said for their sins. By shedding the blood of the just is signified to falsify truths and to adulterate goods; therefore it is said, "They have wandered blind in the streets, they are polluted with blood, the things that they cannot they touch with their garments." To wander blind in the streets, signifies not to see truths at all, streets denoting truths; polluted with blood, signifies to be wholly in falsities; by its being said, the things that they cannot they touch with [their] garments, signifies that what they cannot pervert they falsify, garments denoting the truths that invest interior things, which truths are the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word.

In Isaiah:

"All the crowd shall be confounded by the earthquake, and the garment is polluted with bloods" (ix. 5).

The earthquake signifies the perversion of the church by the falsification of truth, and the garment polluted with bloods signifies the falsification of the sense of the letter of the Word.

(References: Isaiah 9:5; Lamentations 4:13-14)


[26] In Jeremiah:

"Wickedness hast thou taught for thy ways, in the wings also is found the blood of innocent souls, in the act of digging through I found them not, but in all these" (ii. 34).

Here by the blood found in the wings is signified the same as above by, the things that they cannot they touch with their garments, wings being garments. That he did not find them in the act of digging through, but in all of them, signifies that the truths themselves they dared not destroy, but that they falsified the truths of the sense of the letter, wings signifying those truths.

(References: Jeremiah 2:33-34)


[27] In Isaiah:

"Your hands are full of bloods" (i. 15).

In the same:

"For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue hath meditated perverseness. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity" (lix. 3, 7).

Their hands being defiled with blood, and their fingers with iniquity, signifies that in all things belonging to them there is falsity and evil of falsity; the hands and the fingers signify power, and hence everything that they have in which there is power. Because these things are signified, therefore it is also said, your lips have spoken lies, and your tongue hath meditated perverseness; lies denoting falsities, and perverseness denoting the evil of falsity. That their feet make haste to shed innocent blood, signifies to destroy the good of love and charity, this being signified by shedding innocent blood; the good of innocence is that from which are all the good and truth of heaven and the church (as may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 276-283). From these considerations it is evident what is signified, in the general sense, by bloods in the plural, namely, the violence offered both to the truths and the goods of the Word and of the church. Because by shedding innocent blood is signified to destroy the good of love and charity, therefore, every kind of precaution was taken lest innocent blood should be shed, and if it was shed, that the land might be expiated (Deut. xix. 10, 13; xxi. 1-9); for the land signifies the church.

(References: Deuteronomy 19:10, 19:13, 21:1-9; Heaven and Hell 276-283; Isaiah 1:15, Isaiah 59:7, 59:3)


[28] In Isaiah:

"Jehovah goeth forth out of his place to visit the iniquity of the earth; then shall the earth disclose her bloods, and shall no more cover her slain" (xxvi. 21).

By the bloods that the earth shall disclose, are signified all the falsities and evils that have destroyed the truths and goods of the church, the earth denoting the church where those things are; by the slain are signified those who have perished by them. That the slain signify those who have perished by falsities and evils, may be seen, n. 315.

In the Apocalypse:

In Babylon "was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth" (xviii. 24).

The blood of prophets and of saints means truths and goods extinguished; and the slain those who have perished by falsities and evils, as mentioned just above.

(References: Isaiah 26:21; Revelation 18:24; The Apocalypse Explained 315)


[29] The same is meant by:

"The blood of the prophets which was shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel even to the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom they slew between the temple and the altar" (Matt. xxiii. 30, 34, 35; Luke xi. 50,51).

In the spiritual sense, by Abel are meant those who are in the good of charity, and, apart from person, that good itself; and by Cain those who make faith alone the only means of salvation, and the good of charity of no account, and thence reject and slay it; and by Zacharias are meant those who are in truths of doctrine, and, apart from person, the truth itself of doctrine; hence by the blood of both is signified the extinction of all good and truth; by their slaying him between the temple and the altar, is signified, in the spiritual sense, every kind of rejection of the Lord; for the temple signifies the Lord as to Divine truth, and the altar Him as to Divine good, and, between them, signifies both together. (That Abel, in a representative sense, denotes the good of charity, may be seen, n. 342, 354, 1179, 3325; and that Cain denotes faith alone, separate from charity, n. 340, 347, 1179, 3325. That a prophet signifies the doctrine of truth, n. 2534, 7269. That the temple signifies the Lord as to Divine truth, and the altar Him as to Divine good, and, in the respective sense, the Lord's kingdom and church as to those, n. 2777, 3720, 9714, 10,642. That between both signifies where there is the marriage of the Divine good and the Divine truth, n. 10,001, 10,025.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 340, 342, 347, Arcana Coelestia 354, Arcana Coelestia 1179, Arcana Coelestia 2534, Arcana Coelestia 2777, Arcana Coelestia 3325, Arcana Coelestia 3720, Arcana Coelestia 7269, Arcana Coelestia 9714, Arcana Coelestia 10001, Arcana Coelestia 10025, Arcana Coelestia 10642; Luke 11:50-51; Matthew 23:30, 23:34-35)


[30] In the Word, it is often said of those condemned to death, that their bloods were upon them, and thereby, in the spiritual sense, is meant that damnation was upon them on account of the falsities and evils by which they have destroyed the truths and goods of the church; for by bloods in general are signified all falsities of doctrine, of life, and of worship, from which are the evils that destroy the church. These evils are in part recounted in Ezekiel (xviii. 10-13). These are also signified by bloods, in John:

"As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name; which were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (i. 12, 13).

By the Lord's name are meant all the truths and goods by which He is to be worshipped; by bloods are meant all falsities and evils that destroy; by the will of the flesh, and by the will of man, are signified all evils of love and falsities of faith; for flesh signifies man's voluntary proprium from which is all evil, and man (vir) signifies man's intellectual proprium from which is all falsity, the will denoting where those things are; to be born of God, is to be regenerated by the truths of faith, and by a life according to them.

(References: Exodus 24:3-10, Exodus 29:21; Ezekiel 18:10-13, Ezekiel 39:17-22; Isaiah 3:3-4; John 1:12-13, 6:50-58; Leviticus 16:12-15; Revelation 5:9)

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