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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 329, 412, 661, 725, 865

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  Bible Study Videos:


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 Revealed #939

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)

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939. The fact that seeing the Lord's face does not mean seeing His face, but knowing and acknowledging Him as He is in respect to His Divine attributes, of which there are many, and that people conjoined with Him by love know Him and in that way see His face, can be seen from the following passages:

To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me... ...When you come to see the face of Jehovah... (Isaiah 1:11-12)

My heart said..., "Seek my face. Your face, Jehovah, I am seeking." (Psalms 27:8)

We will shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His face with confession. (Psalms 95:1-2)

My soul thirsts... for the living God. When shall I come to see the face of God? ...yet shall I confess to Him the salvation of His countenance. (Psalms 42:2, 5)

They shall not see My face empty-handed. (Exodus 23:15) come... to placate the face of Jehovah. (Zechariah 8:21-22, cf. Malachi 1:9)

Make Your face shine upon Your servant. (Psalms 31:16)

Who will show us any good? Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, Jehovah. (Psalms 4:6)

They shall walk, O Jehovah, in the light of Your countenance. (Psalms 89:15)

...O God, cause Your face to shine, that we may be saved! (Psalms 80:3, 7, 19)

God be merciful to us and bless us. May He cause His face to shine upon us. (Psalms 67:1)

Jehovah bless you and keep you; Jehovah make His face shine upon you and be merciful to you; Jehovah lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)

You hide them in the secret place of Your countenance... (Psalms 31:20)

You have set... our hidden secret in the light of Your countenance. (Psalms 90:8)

(Jehovah) said (to Moses), "My countenance will go... (Moses) said..., "If Your countenance does not go..., do not bring us down from here." (Exodus 33:14-15)

The bread on the table in the Tabernacle was called [literally] "the bread of faces" (Exodus 25:30, Numbers 4:7).

(References: Psalms 31:21, Psalms 102:1-2; Revelation 22:4)

[2] We are often told, too, that Jehovah hid His face or turned His face away, as in the following:

...for (their) wickedness I have hidden My face from (them). (Jeremiah 33:5, cf. Ezekiel 7:22)

Your sins have hidden (God's) face from you... (Isaiah 59:2)

The face of Jehovah... will no longer regard them. (Lamentations 4:16)

(Jehovah) will hide His face from them..., according as they have made their works evil. (Micah 3:4)

You hid Your face... (Psalms 30:7, cf. 44:24; 104:29)

I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them... I will surely hide My face... because of all the evil which they have done... (Deuteronomy 31:17-18)

And so on elsewhere, as in Isaiah 8:17; Ezekiel 39:23, 28-29; Deuteronomy 32:20.

(References: Ezekiel 39:23-24; Psalms 13:1, 22:24, 27:8-9, Psalms 69:17, 88:14, Psalms 102:2, 143:7)

[3] In an opposite sense, the face of Jehovah symbolizes anger and aversion, because an evil person turns away from the Lord, and when he turns away, it seems to him as though the Lord had turned away and was angry, as is clear from the following passages:

...I have set My face against this city for its evil... (Jeremiah 21:10, cf. 44:11)

I will set My face against that man and... devastate him... (Ezekiel 14:7-8)

I will set My face against them... and... fire shall devour them..., when I set My face against them. (Ezekiel 15:7)

...(he) who eats any blood, I will set My face against that soul... (Leviticus 17:10)

At the rebuke of Your countenance they perished. (Psalms 80:16)

The face of Jehovah is against those who do evil... (Psalms 34:16)

...I send an angel before you... Beware of his face..., for he will not endure your transgression. (Exodus 23:20-21)

Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee from Your countenance. (Numbers 10:35)

(I saw one sitting on the throne) from whose face the earth and heaven fled away. (Revelation 20:11)

That no one can see the Lord as He is in Himself, as we said above, is apparent from the following:

(Jehovah said to Moses,) "You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live." (Exodus 33:18-23)

That people nevertheless saw the Lord and lived, because He appeared by means of an angel, is apparent from Genesis 32:30, 1 Judges 13:22-23, 2 and elsewhere.


1. Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: "For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."

2. Manoah said to his wife, "We shall surely die, because we have seen God!" But his wife said to him, "If Jehovah had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have told us such things as these at this time."


(References: Revelation 22:4)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 932