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
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

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

Other references to this text:

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

Apocalypse Revealed 623, 939

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 329, 412, 661, 725, 865

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  Bible Study Videos:

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1 Kings 9:25

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Ezekiel 44:30, 46:9, 48:13, 14

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Word/Phrase Explanations

The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

There are two kinds of feasts mentioned in the Bible. Some were held to commemorate specific, one-time events, such as the feast Abraham held to...

feast of
'The feast of weeks' signifies the implanting of truth in good.

For something to be “unleavened” means that it's been made without yeast. Since yeast is what makes bread rise and take on its airy texture,...

Unleavened bread
'Unleavened bread' signifies the holiness of love, or the holy of holies, so, pure love. The baking of unleavened bread is purification.

The word “bread” is used two ways in the Bible. In some cases it means actual bread; in others it stands for food in general....

When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

The number 'seven' was considered holy, as is well known, because of the six days of creation, and the seventh, which is the celestial self,...

"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...

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...

'A month' has respect to the state of truth in a person. 'A month' signifies a full state. Month,' as in Genesis 29, signifies the...

The Passover, and the beginning of the Exodus from Egypt, happened during the month Abib, in the Hebrew calendar. Abib signifies the beginning of a...

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

In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

'No one,' or 'none' denotes the negative side of something.

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...

'A sickle,' as in Revelation 14, signifies the divine truth of the Word, because 'a harvest' signifies the state of the church regarding divine truth...

When we have a desire to be good people and to do good things, the natural first questions are "What does that mean?" "What should...

'Produce' denotes fruit derived from the good of charity, and truth of faith.

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

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

The internal meaning of “blood” is a little tricky, because Swedenborg gives two meanings that seem quite different. In most cases, Swedenborg links blood with...

Fat signifies the celestial principle. Fat things, full of marrow, signify goodnesses. Fat and blood signify interior goods and truths, and hence the Israelites, prior...

Morning comes with the rising of the sun, and the sun – which gives life to the earth with its warmth and light – represents...

the first
'Resurrection' signifies salvation and eternal life. 'The first,' mentioned in Revelation 20:5, 6, does not mean a first resurrection, but the essence and primary part...

Why would it be insulting for a man to refer to his married partner as his “first wife”? Because it implies there will be a...

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...

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...

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

house of the
'The house of the prison' denotes the vastation of falsity, and also falsity itself.

'To seethe' signifies destroying truths and goods by falsities.

'A kid' signifies the truth of the church. 'A kid,' as in Isaiah 11:6, signifies the genuine truth of the church and also innocence and...

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...

Water represents true ideas about day-to-day life, and other drinks and liquids in general represent different forms of truth. Milk is a drink that contains...

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.

 Feast of Ingathering
Color the pictures of the Children of Israel celebrating this feast, then attach the pictures together to display.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Memory Verse: Our Guardian Angels
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Quotes: The Lord's Fruitful Harvest
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Thanking the Lord
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Significance of Thanksgiving
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

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


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 #758

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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758. He persecuted the woman who brought forth the male child.- That this signifies that those who are meant by the dragon would from hatred and enmity reject and slander the church which is the New Jerusalem, because it holds the doctrine of life, is evident from the signification of persecuting, when said of those who are meant by the dragon, as denoting from hatred and enmity to reject and slander (concerning which we shall speak presently); from the signification of the woman, as denoting the church which is called the New Jerusalem (concerning which see above, n. 707, 721, 730); and from the signification of the male child, as denoting the doctrine of that church, which is the doctrine of life (concerning which see above, n. 724, 725). It is therefore plain that the dragon persecuting the woman who brought forth the male child signifies that those who are meant by the dragon will, from hatred and enmity, reject and slander the church, which is the New Jerusalem, because it holds the doctrine of life. That to persecute signifies here, from hatred and enmity to reject and slander, follows from what is previously said concerning the dragon, that he stood near the woman who was about to bring forth that he might devour her child; also that he fought with Michael and his angels; that when he was cast out unto the earth he had great anger; that from this anger, which signifies hatred, he persecuted the woman. That his anger signifies hatred may be seen above (n. 754). His hatred is further described, by his casting out of his mouth water as it were a flood after the woman, that it might swallow her up; and at last, when all attempts were in vain, by his going away full of anger, to make war with the rest of her seed.

(References: Revelation 12:13; The Apocalypse Explained 707, 721, 724-725, 730, The Apocalypse Explained 754)

[2] Those who are meant by the dragon have such an intense hatred against those who are signified by the woman, because those who are in faith separated from charity have such hatred against those who are in charity, and as those who are in such separated faith have conjunction with the hells, therefore their hatred is like that of the hells against the heavens. The source of this hatred shall here be briefly explained. All who are in the hells are in the loves of self and the world, but all who are in the heavens are in love to the Lord and towards the neighbour; and these loves are diametrically opposite. Those who are in the loves of self and the world love nothing but their own proprium; and man's proprium is nothing but evil. But those who are in love to the Lord and towards the neighbour do not love their proprium, for they love the Lord more than themselves, and the neighbour disinterestedly; they are also withheld from their proprium, and retained in the Lord's proprium, which is Divine. Moreover, all the delights of [a man's] life are delights of [his] loves. The delights of the loves of self and of the world are the delights of various kinds of hatred, but the delights of love to the Lord and of love towards the neighbour are the delights of various kinds of charity; and these are diametrically opposite to each other. And as those who are in the hells act in everything from the delights of their loves, which, as has been said, are the delights of various kinds of hatred, it is therefore evident why the dragon had such hatred against the woman; for by the dragon are meant those who are in the love of self, therefore he is called the great red dragon, the term "great red" being used in reference to that love. He is also called the devil and Satan, the devil signifying all evil which is from hell, and Satan all falsity therefrom; and evil is in hatred against good, and falsity is in hatred against truth. He is also called the old serpent, which means the Sensual, the ultimate of man's life, and in that Sensual all such hatred has its seat. Similar is the hatred of those who are in faith separated from charity against those who are in charity; and this hatred is not made manifest in this world, but in the spiritual world, when they become spirits. That this is a deadly hatred, and the essential delight of the life of evil spirits, may be seen above (n. 754); but that such delight is turned into what is direfully infernal, may be seen in Heaven and Hell (n. 485-490).

(References: Heaven and Hell 485-490; Revelation 12:13; The Apocalypse Explained 754)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 756, 767, 768

Other New Christian Commentary

Persecute 1

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