The Bible


Exodus 23:14-19 : The Three Annual Festivals

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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 drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 329, 412, 661, 725, 865

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 12:10, 15, 13:3, 4, 22:28, 34:17, 18

Leviticus 23:6, 9, 10, 17, 34, 39

Numbers 15:21, 18:12, 13, 28:26

Deuteronomy 14:21, 16:1, 26:10

1 Kings 9:25

Nehemiah 10:36

Psalms 42:3

Proverbs 3:9

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

Micah 6:6

Luke 2:41

Bible Word Meanings

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...

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.

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,...

The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

To command is to give an order that something must be done, and is directed to an individual, or a group. It is an imperative,...

'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...

'Mizraim' signifies the same thing as Egypt.

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 harvest' symbolizes the state of the church with respect to Divine truth. The reason is that a harvest yields the grain used to make...

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...

To gather, as in Genesis 6:21, refers to those things which are in the memory of man, where they are gathered. It also implies that...

To gather, as in Genesis 6:21, refers to those things which are in the memory of man, where they are gathered. It also implies that...

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...

In most cases, a "master" in the Bible refers to truth: knowledge, an understanding of the situation at hand, an understanding of the Lord's wishes,...

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...

Leaven' signifies evil and falsity, which should not be mixed with good and true things. In Leviticus 2:11, it says, 'no meat offering which ye...

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...

In the Word, "beginning" doesn't just mean the beginning of something in time. In the inner sense, it means the initial phase of a spiritual...

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.

When the Bible speaks of "Jehovah," it is representing love itself, the inmost love that is the essence of the Lord. That divine love is...

'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...

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      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

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 #725

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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725. "A son, a male" signifies the doctrine of truth for the church which is called "the New Jerusalem," because "son" signifies truth (as has been shown just above), and "a son, a male" signifies the truth of doctrine from the Word, consequently the doctrine of genuine truth which is for the church. It means the doctrine for the church which is called the New Jerusalem, because "the woman that brought forth a son, a male" means that church (as has also been shown above). The doctrine of truth which is for the church is also signified by "male" in the following passages. In Moses:

God created man into His image, into the image of God created He him. Male and female created He them (Genesis 1:27).

Male and female created He them, and blessed them, and called their name Man, in the day when they were created (Genesis 5:2).

What is involved in the things that are related in the first chapters of Genesis respecting the creation of heaven and earth, paradise, and eating from the tree of knowledge, no one can know except from the spiritual sense, for these historical things are made-up historicals, and yet they are holy, because every least particular is inwardly or in its bosom spiritual.

(References: Revelation 12:5, 18:16-17)

[2] It describes the establishment of the Most Ancient Church, which surpassed all the churches on this earth; its establishment is meant by the creation of heaven and earth, its intelligence and wisdom by the garden in Eden, and its decline and fall by eating from the tree of knowledge. From this it is clear that "Man," who is called "Adam and Eve," means that church, for it is said "male and female created He them, and called their name Man;" and as that church is meant by the two, it follows that "the male" means its truth, and "the female" its good, so too, "male" means doctrine, and "female," the life, since the doctrine of truth is also the doctrine of love and charity, thus the doctrine of life; and the life of good is also the life of love and charity, thus the life of doctrine, that is, life according to doctrine. These two are meant by "male [and female]," and these taken together and conjoined in marriage are called "Man" [Homo], and also constitute the church, which is meant by "Man," as has been said above. So, again, Adam is from a word that means ground, and ground from its reception of seeds signifies the church in respect to the truths of doctrine, for in the Word seeds signify truths; while Eve is from a word that means life, as it is said:

Because she was to be the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20).

These two, doctrine and life, when taken together and joined as it were in marriage, are called "Man," and also constitute the church, because man is man from the understanding of truth and from the will of good, consequently from the doctrine of life, since this is of the understanding, and from the life of doctrine, because this is of the will. It is similar with the church, for the church is in man, and is the man himself.

[3] That these two, which are signified by "male and female," are not to be two but one, the Lord teaches in the Gospels:

Jesus said, Have ye not read that He who made them from the beginning of creation made them male and female, and they twain shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no more twain, but one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6, 8).

This, like every particular of the Word, must be understood not only naturally, but also spiritually, and unless it is also understood spiritually no one can know what is signified by "male and female [or husband and wife] shall be no more twain but one flesh" (as it is also said in Genesis 2:24). Here, as above, "male and female" signify in the spiritual sense truth and good, consequently the doctrine of truth, which is the doctrine of life, and the life of truth, which is the life of doctrine; these must be not two but one, since truth does not become truth with man without the good of life, nor does good become good with anyone without the truth of doctrine, for good becomes spiritual good only by means of truths, and spiritual good is good, but natural good without it is not good. When these are one, then truth is of good and good is of truth, and this one is meant by "one flesh." It is similar with doctrine and life; these also constitute one man of the church when the doctrine of life and the life of doctrine are conjoined with him, for doctrine teaches how one must live and do, and life lives the doctrine and does it. From this it can also be seen that "a son, a male" signifies the doctrine of love and charity, consequently the doctrine of life.

[4] Since the truth of doctrine or the doctrine of truth is signified by the "male," the law was given:

That every male opening the womb should be holy to Jehovah (Exodus 13:12, 15; Deuteronomy 15:19; Luke 2:23).

For from the marriage of truth and good, which, as has been said above, is meant in the spiritual sense by the marriage of man and woman, truths and goods are born, consequently these are signified in that sense by "sons and daughters," truths by "sons," and goods by "daughters;" and as every man is reformed and regenerated by means of truths, for without truths man does not know what is good, or what is the nature of good, thus does not know the way to heaven, so truth, which is what is first born from the marriage of truth and good, was sanctified to Jehovah. This truth first born is also the doctrine of truth, for that which is first is the all in what follows, thus is in all truth, and all truth is doctrine. But it must be carefully noted that "the firstborn" signifies the truth that is of the good of charity, consequently it signifies the good of charity in its form and in its quality, and therefore truth. For truth is the form of good and the quality of good. This is signified by "the firstborn," because from the good of love, which is signified by the womb and the infant in it, nothing else can be born but the good of charity; and this good does not become good until it has been formed and qualified, that is, until it is in the form in which it has its quality, and its form is called truth, and yet it is good in form.

[5] From what has now been said it can be seen why it was commanded:

That every male should appear three times in the year before the face of the Lord Jehovah (Exodus 23:17; 34:23; Deuteronomy 16:16);

namely, at the three feasts, which signified everything of regeneration, from its first to its last; and as everything of regeneration is effected by the truths of doctrine that are made by the Lord to be of the life, so all males, by whom truths were signified, were to present themselves before the Lord that they might be made clean by Him and afterwards be led by Him. Moreover, "three times in the year" signifies continually, and "the face of Jehovah" the Divine love, by which man is led. And this was done because "Jerusalem" signified the church in respect to doctrine, and thence also the doctrine of the church.

[6] Because "burnt-offerings and sacrifices" signified celestial and spiritual things, "burnt-offerings" celestial things, and "sacrifices" spiritual things, the law was given:

That burnt-offerings should be of males without blemish, either from the flock or from the herd; but sacrifices might be either of males or females (Leviticus 1:2, 3; 3:1, 6).

The reasons were that celestial things are such as are of the love to the Lord, thus of the marriage of good and truth, but spiritual things are such as are of charity towards the neighbor, thus not of marriage but of the blood relationship of truth with good; and truths and goods in blood relationship are like sisters and brothers, but in marriage truths and goods are like husband and wife. This is why the burnt-offerings were "of males without blemish," which signify genuine truths from the Word, or from doctrine out of the Word, which have been conjoined to the good of love to the Lord, which good was signified by "the altar and its fire." The sacrifices were "either of males or females," because "males" signified truths, and "females" goods, conjoined not by marriage but by blood relationship; and as both of these, like brothers and sisters, are of one parent, worship was equally well pleasing from truths and from goods, that is, from males and from females.

(References: Leviticus 1:2-3)

[7] As all spiritual nourishment is from truths that are from good, the law was also given:

That the male among the priests might eat the holy things (Leviticus 6:18, 29; 7:6).

This was the law because "males" signify the truths of doctrine, which are doctrinals, as above, and "priests" the goods of love, which are the goods of life, and "their eating of the holy things" that belonged to Aaron and his sons signified spiritual nourishment.

[8] In Moses:

When thou draw near unto a city to fight against it, thou shalt invite it to peace; if it does not accept, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword, but the women, the little ones, the beasts, and the prey thou shalt take (Deuteronomy 20:10-14).

Every male in a city that did not accept peace should be smitten with the edge of the sword, but not the women, little ones, and beasts, because "city" signifies doctrine, and "a city of the nations in the land of Canaan" the doctrine of falsity, likewise the males of that city; and "not to accept peace" signifies not to agree with the truths and goods of the church, which were signified by "the sons of Israel;" "the edge of the sword," with which the males should be smitten, signifies truth destroying falsity. And because falsities alone fight against truths and goods and destroy them, but not evils without falsities, "the women, little ones, and beasts," which, with the nations, signified evils, were not smitten, since evils can be subdued, amended, and reformed by means of truths.

[9] In Jeremiah:

Cursed be the man who brought glad tidings to his father, saying, A son, a male is born to thee, in gladdening he hath made him glad; let that man be as the cities that Jehovah overthrew (Jeremiah 20:15, 16).

This is said of those who are in the devastated church, in which nothing but falsities rule and are accepted; therefore "cursed be the man who brought glad tidings to his father, saying, A male is born to thee," signifies one who acknowledges falsity and proclaims it as truth, thus the doctrine of falsity in place of the doctrine of truth; "in gladdening he hath made him glad" signifies the accepting from affection of falsity; "let that man be as the cities that Jehovah overthrew" signifies that it shall be with the doctrines that are from mere falsities, which the Lord exterminated from the church, and as with the cities of the Canaanitish nation that He destroyed; the comparison is with cities because "cities" signify doctrines.

(References: Jeremiah 20:15-16)

[10] In Ezekiel:

Thou didst take the vessels of thine adorning, of My gold and of My silver which I had given to thee, and madest for thee images of a male with which thou didst commit whoredom (Ezekiel 16:17).

This is said of "the abominations of Jerusalem," which signify the falsifications and adulterations of the Word, which are made by applications to the cupidities of corporeal and earthly loves; "vessels of adorning from the gold and silver of the Lord" signify the knowledges of good and truth, which are the goods and truths of the sense of the letter of the Word; these are called "vessels" because they contain in them spiritual truths and goods, and are called "vessels of adorning" because they are the appearances and thus forms of things interior; the things that are of "gold" signify those that are from good, and those of "silver" those that are from truth; "thou madest for thee images of a male, with which thou didst commit whoredom," signifies falsities appearing as truths of doctrine, but which are falsified; "the images of a male" meaning the appearances of truth, which nevertheless are falsities, and "to commit whoredom" meaning to falsify.

[11] In Malachi:

Cursed be the defrauder in whose flock is a male and he voweth and sacrificeth to the Lord a corrupted thing (Malachi 1:14).

"A male in the flock" signifies the genuine truth of doctrine from the Word; "a corrupted thing" signifies what is falsified; and "to vow and sacrifice" signifies to worship, thus from things falsified when truth is known; that this worship being fraudulent is infernal is signified by "cursed be the defrauder." From what has now been shown from the Word respecting the signification of "male" and of "sons," it can be seen that "the son, a male that was brought forth by the woman arrayed with the sun, and upon whose head was a crown of twelve stars," signifies the doctrine of truth, thus the doctrine of love and charity for the church which is called the New Jerusalem (which is treated of in the twenty-first chapter of this book).

(References: Revelation 12:5, Revelation 18:16-17)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 723, 758

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.