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:


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Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works


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 #9298

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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9298. '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. This is clear from the meaning of 'sacrificing' and 'sacrifice' as worship of the Lord, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 922, 923, 2180, 2805, 2807, 2830, 3519, 6905, 8680, 8936; from the meaning of 'something made with yeast' as something falsified and falsity arising from evil, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 2342, 7906, 8051, 8058; and from the meaning of 'blood' as truth derived from good, thus the Church's truth, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 4735, 6978, 7317, 7326, 7846, 7850, 7877, 9127. From these meanings it is evident that '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. What falsity arising from evil and falsity not arising from evil are, see Arcana Coelestia 1679, 2408, 4729, 6359, 7272, 8298, 9258.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 922-923)

[2] The reason why truths derived from good, which are the Church's truths, must not be mingled together with falsities arising from evil is that they are in total disagreement. They are opposites, which causes them to clash, as a result of which either good perishes or evil is put to flight; for good comes from heaven, that is, from the Lord by way of heaven, and evil from hell. Truths may, it is true, exist with the evil, and also falsities with the good; but truths present with the evil are not mingled together with falsities arising from evil present with them as long as they reside solely in the memory, serving as the means to evil. As long as this is so the truths are devoid of life. But if the truths are falsified to lend support to evil, which is also brought about by perverse interpretation, they are mingled together. This leads to the profanation of truth, the nature of which, see Arcana Coelestia 1008, 1010, 1059, 1327, 1328, 2051, 2426, 3398, 3399, 3402, 3489, 4601, 6348, 6595, 6959, 6963, 6971, 8394, 8943, 9188.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1327-1328, 3398-3399, 4289, 6959-6960)

[3] The fact that accompanying a sacrifice with something made with yeast was forbidden is evident from the following law regarding a minchah, which was burned on the altar together with a sacrifice, the words of that law in Moses being,

Every minchah which you bring to Jehovah shall be made without yeast; no yeast nor any honey shall be used along with the fire-offering you burn to Jehovah. Leviticus 2:11.

From all that has been said it is clear that the profanation of truth is meant by this law. It also explains why the words 'the blood of [My] sacrifice' are used and not simply 'the sacrifice'; for 'the blood' is truth derived from good.

(References: Exodus 23:18; Leviticus 2:2)

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