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Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works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

Arcana Coelestia #9285

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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9285. Verses 14-19 Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year. You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread (seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; and My face shall not be seen empty-handed 1 ); and the feast of the harvest of the firstfruits of your labours, which you have sown in the field; and the feast of ingathering at the end 2 of the year, when you have gathered in [the fruit of] your labours from the field. Three times in the year all your males shall be seen at the face of the Lord Jehovah. You shall not sacrifice the blood of My sacrifice with anything made with yeast; 3 and the fat of My feast shall not remain through the night until morning. The first of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of Jehovah your God. You shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk.

'Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year' means enduring worship of the Lord and thanksgiving on account of deliverance from damnation. 'You shall keep the feast of unleavened bread' means worship and thanksgiving on account of purification from falsities. 'Seven days' means a holy state then. 'You shall eat unleavened bread' means making good purified from falsities their own. 'As I commanded you' means in keeping with the laws of order. 'At the appointed time of the month Abib' means from the beginning of a new state. 'For in it you came out of Egypt' means deliverance from molestation by falsities. 'And My face shall not be seen empty-handed' means the reception of good out of mercy, and thanksgiving. 'And the feast of the harvest of the firstfruits of your labours, which you have sown in the field' means worship of the Lord and thanksgiving on account of the implanting of truth in that good. 'And the feast of ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in [the fruit of] your labours from the field' means the worship of a thankful mind on account of the implanting of good after that, and so on account of regeneration and complete deliverance from damnation. 'Three times in the year all your males shall be seen at the face of the Lord Jehovah' means the Lord's constant appearance and presence in like manner in the truths of faith as well. 'You shall not sacrifice the blood of My sacrifice with anything made with yeast' means that worship of the Lord arising from the Church's truths must not be mingled together with falsities arising from evil. 'And the fat of My feast shall not remain through the night until morning' means the good of worship, which does not originate in the self but comes from the Lord and is always new. 'The first of the firstfruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of Jehovah your God' means that every truth of good and every good of truth is holy because it comes from the Lord alone. 'You shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk' means that the good of innocence belonging to a later state must not be joined to the truth of innocence belonging to an earlier state.

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Footnotes:

1. i.e. no one shall come without a gift of offering to the Lord
2. literally, the going out
3. literally, upon that which has been fermented (or made with yeast)

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