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,...

"Day" describes a state in which we are turned toward the Lord, and are receiving light (which is truth) and heat (which is a desire...

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...

In the Bible, Egypt means knowledge and the love of knowledge. In a good sense that means knowledge of truth from the Lord through the...

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...

The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

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

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #865

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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865. These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits unto God and unto the Lamb. That this signifies those in the New Church who are received by the Lord, is evident from the signification of those who are redeemed by the Lord, as denoting those who receive instruction from the Word, especially respecting the Lord, and who live according to it; respecting which see above (n. 860). These are also called the redeemed of the Lord; and these are the redeemed who are regenerated by the Lord; and these are they who follow the Lord, that is, are led by Him, of whom we have just treated above. And the same appears from the signification of the first-fruits of God and the Lamb, as denoting those who have given themselves to the Lord, and are adopted by Him. That these are those who belong to the New Church, is evident from this consideration, that they are called the first-fruits to God and to the Lamb. For those who are received therein, acknowledge the Lord's Divine Human, and live according to His precepts. No others, are received in the New Church, called the New Jerusalem, because those who do not believe it, and so live, are not in agreement with the life of heaven, neither with the light there, nor with the heat; for the light there is Divine truth, from which come all intelligence and wisdom; and the heat there is Divine good, from which come all love and charity. All man's affection and thought therefrom is not only within him, and constitutes his life, but is also external to him, and constitutes the sphere of his life. This is why heaven is divided into societies according to the varieties of affections and thoughts therefrom. Unless therefore the affections and the thoughts therefrom are spiritual, and are formed solely from the acknowledgment of the Lord, and from a life according to His precepts, they cannot be admitted into any society of heaven, for they are repugnant thereto. This is the reason that those who do not acknowledge the Lord's Divine Human, and do not live according to His precepts in the Word, cannot be in association with the angels of heaven. That this is the case, has been made plain to me from much experience. There were some who had thought of the Lord only as of another man, and had lived in the faith of the present day, which is a faith of the thought merely, without any good of life. But because they believed that nothing more was necessary to life eternal than to be admitted into heaven, therefore, according to their wish, they were admitted into some society; but as soon as the light of heaven struck their eyes with its lustre, their sight and also their understanding began to be entirely obscured and became stupefied. And when the heat of heaven came upon them, they began to be tormented in a direful manner, and as to the head and limbs to writhe like serpents. Therefore they cast themselves downwards, swearing that to enter heaven was hell to them, unless they were in the light and heat of heaven; and that they did not know that every one has heaven from love and thence faith, or from a life according to the Lord's precepts in the Word, and from faith in the Lord, and not in any way from faith without the life of faith, which is charity.

(References: Revelation 14:4; The Apocalypse Explained 860)

[2] It shall now be stated in a few words what first-fruits in the Word signify. They signify the same as the first-begotten; but the latter term is used of animals, and first-fruits of vegetables. Thus the first-begotten are what are born first, and first-fruits are from the first things produced; and both signify the spiritual good first formed, which is essentially truth from good from the Lord. The origin of this is as follows. There are two minds in man, natural and spiritual. From the natural mind alone nothing but evil is produced, and the falsity therefrom; but as soon as the spiritual mind is opened, then good is produced, and the truth therefrom; this which is first produced is meant by the first-begotten and by the first-fruits. Now because nothing born and produced from the spiritual mind is from man but from the Lord, therefore those things were sanctified to Jehovah, that is, to the Lord, because they were His, and consequently holy. And because that which is born or produced first, signifies all the things that follow in a series - as a leader the people, and a shepherd the flock - therefore by the first-begotten and the first-fruits being given to the Lord was signified that all other things were also His.

[3] But in order that this may be more clearly understood, it must be known, that the merely natural mind is formed according to the idea or image of the world, but the spiritual mind according to the idea or image of heaven; and that the spiritual mind is opened to no one, except by the acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord, and by a life according to His precepts; and that previous to this, no good and truth are produced. But as soon as the spiritual mind is opened, then they are produced therefrom from the Lord. Therefore the first that is produced is called holy, and signifies that all things afterwards produced are also holy. From these things, it is evident that the opening of the womb or matrix signifies the opening of the spiritual mind. That this is the signification is seen also from correspondence; for the womb corresponds to the good of celestial love; concerning which correspondence see above (n. 710), and in the Arcana Coelestia 4918, 5050-5062).

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 710)

[4] Since the things now mentioned were signified by the first-fruits; and since the things of harvest, as wheat, barley, and the rest, signified the goods and truths of heaven and the church; also wool, and the clean and useful beasts, therefore, of the latter the first-begotten were given to the Lord, and of the former the first-fruits. And because the high priest represented the Lord as to His priesthood, which is the good of love, therefore they were given to that priest. And consequently everything produced from corn, wine, and oil was sanctified.

But concerning those first-fruits, see the statutes for the sons of Israel in the law of Moses; as, for example, the first of the fruits of all the corn, oil, wine, and the fruit of the tree; also of the fleece, and the first-begotten of the flock and the herd; and that they were given as holy to Jehovah, and by Jehovah to Aaron, and after him to the high priest.

(Exodus 22:18; Numbers 13:20; 15:17-22; 18:8-20; Deuteronomy 18:4; 26:1, to the end).

And concerning the feast of the first-fruits of harvest, and of the first-fruits of bread

(Exodus 23:14, 15, 16, 19, 26; Leviticus 23:9-15, 20-25 Numbers 28:26, to the end; and elsewhere).

From these things it is now evident, that by first-fruits to God and to the Lamb are meant those who will belong to the New Church, called the New Jerusalem, who acknowledge the Lord's Divine Human, and live a life of love, that is, a life according to the Lord's precepts in the Word. For in the case of these and no others is the spiritual mind opened; no others, therefore, are led of the Lord, or follow Him whithersoever He goeth.

That by God and the Lamb in the Apocalypse, is meant the Lord as to the Divine itself, and at the same time as to the Divine Human, may be seen above (n. 297, 314, 343, 460, 482).

(References: Deuteronomy 26; Exodus 22:29, 23:14-16; Numbers 28:26-31)

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   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 861

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Related New Christian Commentary

Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.