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Show references from Swedenborg's unpublished works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 #9301

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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9301. '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. This is clear from the meaning of 'cooking' as joining together, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 8496; from the meaning of 'a kid' as the good of innocence, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 3519, 4871; and from the meaning of 'milk' as the truth of innocence, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 2184, 3183, so that 'mother's milk' is the truth of earlier innocence. From these meanings it is evident that 'you shall not cook a kid in its mother's milk' means that the good of innocence of a later state must not be joined to the truth of innocence of an earlier state. This is the heavenly arcanum from which that law springs; for all the laws and all the judgements and statutes which were given to the children of Israel contain heavenly arcana, to which they also correspond. But how this arcanum should be understood - that the good of innocence belonging to a later state must not be joined to the truth of innocence belonging to an earlier state - must be stated briefly. The innocence belonging to an earlier state is the innocence that exists with young children and older ones, but the innocence belonging to a later state is the innocence that exists with grown up and elderly people who are governed by the good of love to the Lord. The innocence that exists with young children and older ones is external and resides in thorough ignorance, whereas the innocence of elderly people is internal and resides in wisdom. Regarding the difference between the two, see Arcana Coelestia 2305, 2306, 3183, 3494, 1 Arcana Coelestia 4797.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2305-2306)


[2] The innocence which resides in wisdom consists in a person's knowing, acknowledging, and believing that all by himself he cannot understand anything at all or will anything at all, and therefore in his refusal to try and understand or will anything all by himself, only in the power of the Lord; and also this, that whatever he thinks he understands all by himself is false, and whatever he thinks he wills all by himself is evil. This state of life is that of the innocence of a later state, which is that of all in the third heaven, called the heaven of innocence. This is why they are filled with wisdom, for what they understand and what they will comes from the Lord. But the innocence which resides in ignorance, such as that present with young children and older ones, consists in believing that everything they know and think, and also everything they will, is theirs within them, and that therefore everything they say and do comes from themselves. They have no idea that these are illusions. The truths that go with this innocence are based for the most part on the illusions of the outward senses, which however must be dispelled as a person advances towards wisdom. From this brief explanation it may be recognized 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. The Latin reads Arcana Coelestia 3495. Possibly Arcana Coelestia 3494, 3994, 3995 is intended.

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(References: Exodus 23:19)

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