The Bible


Genesis 12:1-8 : To a land that I will show you


Study the Inner Meaning

1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:

2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:

3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.

5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.

7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.

8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 1407, 1408, 1409, 1410, 1411, 1412, 1413, ...

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 413

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 440, 482, 796, 921, 1025, 1401, 1403, ...

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 340, 750

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 49

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

  Spiritual Topics:

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Bible Word Meanings

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...

As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

Abram and Nahor taking to themselves wives, Sarah and Milcah (Gen 11:29), signifies marriages of evil with falsity in idolatrous worship. Abram, Nahor, and Haran,...

Generally in the Bible a "country" means a political subdivision ruled by a king, or sometimes a tribe with a territory ruled by a king...

Father in the Word means what is most interior, and in those things that are following the Lord's order, it means what is good. In...

A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

Land' in the Word, denotes the church, for the things which signify the church also signify the things relating to the church, for these constitute...

'Shew' signifies instruction to the life.

The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

'A nation,' as in Genesis 21:18, signifies the spiritual church which should receive the good of faith. Nation from afar,' as in Jeremiah 5:17, signifies...

The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

Families (Gen 8:19) signify goodnesses and truths arranged in man by the Lord, according to order. Families have respect to truths. (Nahum 3:4)

The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

Five also signifies all things of one part.

'Old waste places' signify the celestial aspects of faith.

'Haran,' as mentioned in Genesis 11:28, signifies inward idolatrous worship. 'Haran,' as mentioned in Genesis 12:5, signifies an obscure state. 'Haran,' as mentioned in Genesis...

It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

There are two ways "brother" is used in the Bible, ways that are still reflected in modern language. One denotes an actual blood relationship; the...

A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

The nature of the soul is a deep and complicated topic, but it can be summarized as "spiritual life," who we are in terms of...

In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

Land of Canaan
The land of Canaan' in the Word, means love, and consequently, the will of the celestial self.

Canaan signifies a worship in things external without internals, which arose out of the internal church corrupted, called Ham. Thus it is that Ham is...

As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

'A dry place,' as in Luke 11:24, signifies states of evil and falsity which are in the life of someone who does the work of...

In Genesis 12:6, 'Abram’s passing through the land unto the place Shechem' signifies a new state of the Lord when the celestial aspects of love...

'Moreh' signifies the earliest moment of the Lord's perception.

'A seed' signifies love, and everyone who has love, as in Genesis 12:7. 8:15, 16. 'A seed' signifies faith grounded in charity. 'A seed' signifies...

Like other common verbs, the meaning of "give" in the Bible is affected by context: who is giving what to whom? In general, though, giving...

wrought (also entwined or entwisted) is predicated of the natural scientific principle, and in Isaiah 45:13, of divine natural truth.

The first altar mentioned in the Word was built by Noah after he came out of the ark. On that altar, he sacrificed clean animals...

As with many verbs, the meaning of "remove" in the Bible varies a good bit depending on context. It generally involves a separation of spiritual...

The Writings tell us that the Lord's love is the sun of heaven, and it is natural for us to look above ourselves to the...

When Jacob had his famous dream, of a staircase leading to heaven, he named the place "Bethel," which is Hebrew for "the house of God."...

'The tabernacle' has almost the same meaning as 'temple,' that is, in the highest sense, the Lord’s divine humanity, and in a relative sense, heaven...

Hai, or Ai, signifies light derived from worldly things.

'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

name of the lord
Names in the Bible are not simply names; they represent the qualities of the people who bear them. So the various names of the Lord...

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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.

 Abraham and Lot
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Abraham and Sarah's Family
The Lord promises Abraham many descendants.
Story | Ages 2 - 8

 Abraham Leaves for the Promised Land
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 God’s Covenant with Abram
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Call of Abram
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 The Call of Abram
Family lessons provide a worship talk and a variety of activities for children and teens..
Religion Lesson | Ages 4 - 17

 The Call of Abram
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Call of Abram
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord’s State at Birth
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Tower of Babel
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 You Shall Be a Blessing
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14



Finding Jesus in the Life of Abraham, Part 1 of 3: Beginnings      

By Rev. Joel C. Glenn

Flight of a Honeybee, a 2010 photo by Jennifer Stein. See her work at All rights are reserved by the author.

Finding Jesus in the Life of Abraham, Part 1: Beginnings

A Sermon by Pastor Joel Christian Glenn
30 April 2017

We all know that the Word, or the Bible, is about God. That’s not hard to believe. But shortly after His resurrection Jesus pushed this idea to another level. When He appeared to two disciples on the way to Emmaus, it says, “Beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27). From this we can gather that all of the Scriptures are not just about God, but are about Jesus Himself. That’s a concept that is harder to grasp. Yes, there are the prophecies that are clearly about Jesus. But what about, say the story of Creation? Or the Exodus from slavery in Egypt? The many kings of Israel, both good and evil? Or all the many lists of laws and genealogies, are even those about Jesus?

The truth of the matter is that the whole of the Word is not just about Jesus, it is Jesus. Listen to these verses from the opening of the Gospel of John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-4, 14)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. That is a clear reference to Jesus Christ. Jesus is the eternal Word, the Word that is also embodied in the Word of God, our Old and New Testaments.

If you feel that it is hard to grasp how Jesus and the Word are one and the same, you are not alone. It is difficult to comprehend how a living, breathing, person and an apparently lifeless slab of paper can be one and the same. The Writings for the New Church acknowledge this difficulty and offer a way around it. This is from the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture:

Few understand how the Lord is the Word, for it is generally supposed that the Lord, by means of the Word, can enlighten and teach people, and yet He cannot, on this account, be called the Word.

So as we’ve said, it makes sense that the Word is about the Lord, and it is the Lord’s way of teaching us, but that doesn’t mean He is the Word. The passage however continues:

It should be known, however, that every person is his own love, and consequently his own good and his own truth. A person is a person for no other reason than this, and there is nothing else in him that is a person. For the same reason that a person is his own good and his own truth, angels and spirits also are people; and for all good and truth proceeding from the Lord, is in its own form, a person. But the Lord is Divine Good itself and Divine Truth itself; thus He is Personhood Itself, from whom every person is a person. (Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 100)

There is a lot going on in that passage. What it all boils down to is a definition of humanity that transcends having a physical body, a definition that helps us see how a book and a person can be one and the same. As the passage said, a person is a person because of his loves, and therefore because of all his good and truth that stem from that love. In short, you are what you love, and what you love makes you human. Think of it this way: if we were to transplant your brain from your body into someone else’s, and this new person loved the same things you love and in the exact same way, and so behaved as you would behave, wouldn’t we say that it is still you, even though the body is completely different? Take that a step further and think of death. Even your brain will die, but your spirit, your spirit in which resides everything of your love, will carry on. Even though there will no longer be a shred of “you” left on this earth, you will still live on. So that’s what makes a person a person: the mind, especially the love within the mind.

If a person is a person because of what he or she loves and so thinks from that love, then anything that reveals our love or our thought reveals us. We know this instinctively from other books we encounter. Have you ever read a book that you loved immensely, and felt that in some way you were connected to the author, as if you understood each other even though you’d never met? I’m not just talking about biographies either. You can read a book that never once refers directly to its author and yet still feel connected. That can happen because the book is a kind of extension of the author, since it reveals the authors loves and ideas.

We now come to the Word. The Word, more than any other book on earth, reveals the mind of its Author. This is so deeply the case that we say that the Word is one and the same with its author, the Lord. Yet unlike with some books that engross us, the Word can feel like a tangled mess that reveals little about the true character of God, much less the inner workings of the mind of Jesus. I have here two images that can help us understand this. On one side there is a brain scan. On the other, an open copy of the Word. At first glance these pictures have little to do with each other. But think about what this brain scan really is. To you and I and most other people it reveals little. But to a trained doctor it would reveal a great deal about what is going on in a person’s mind at a given time. It is a snapshot into someone’s inner life, but one that we can only read if we have the proper training to understand it.

On the other hand we have a copy of the Word. As with the brain scan it reveals what is going on in someone’s mind at a given point. In this case it is the mind of the Lord that is being revealed. And like the brain scan, even though any particular story we might open up to reveals the Lord’s mind, we need the proper training to understand it. If we read this document correctly than we will discover the loving mind of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Every page, every sentence, contains insight into how He thinks and what it is that He loves and cares about. The purpose then of exploring the stories of the Word in light of how they reflect the life and mind of Jesus Christ is that we will then be better equipped to follow His example, not only following the path He set with His words and actions, but going deeper to follow the path He set in His mind.

With this in mind, over the next three weeks we will be looking to the story of Abraham. Even though Abraham lived thousands of years before Jesus was even born, his life perfectly reflects the inner life that Jesus experienced. When we can see this connection we will be better able to not only understand the Lord, but to understand how to model our lives on His. This week we will spend a short time getting a glimpse of how this works. Over the next two weeks we will go deeper into the story of Abraham and into the mind of Jesus. We begin with the first inkling that Abraham had that God had chosen him for a special purpose. As a side note, early on Abraham was known as Abram:

Now the LORD had said to Abram:
“Get out of your country,
From your family
And from your father’s house,
To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation;
I will bless you
And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you;
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran….

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South. (Genesis 12:1-4, 7-9)

Prior to the moment described here Abraham did not know of Jehovah in the slightest. He was in fact an idol-worshipper like most people of His day. Yet when he heard the call from the Lord he responded and moved with his family and everything he owned into a new land. This moment may not seem significant but it is the beginning of the epic saga of the Children of Israel, and the land to which the Lord sent Abraham would one day become the Kingdom of Israel. What began as the simple travels of one man from a faraway country into the heart of the Holy Land would lead to momentous things in the future. What we see here is simply the seed being planted, but a seed that would grow to become a great nation, a nation of which the Lord said it would become a blessing for all the nations of the earth. That is the reason that God called Abraham in the first place.

What can this simple beginning tell us about the mind of Jesus? Like the Kingdom of Israel, the great works that Jesus would do needed a beginning: a seed had to be planted that would grow into something greater. That seed was planted in Jesus early childhood. Just as Abraham was called to enter into the heart of what would become the earthly Kingdom of Israel, Jesus from the very beginning was brought to the heart of His own heavenly Kingdom. That heart, the heart and soul of heaven, is childlike innocence and love. Now as with Abraham, the journey does not end there: for Abraham, many centuries would pass before his people were a great nation. And for the Lord it would take years of temptation and struggle before He could fulfill His mission. But all of it, every last bit, stemmed from that first seed planted in childhood.

It might seem odd to think that everything the Lord needed to face the hells, to put them in their place, and to conquer them was established while He was still a little boy, but it is so. It is in fact the case for each of us that something essential to our life is planted within before we are even aware. Listen to this passage from the Teachings of the New Church that speaks to how powerful our childhoods are for our later lives:

The Lord had first of all to be endowed from infancy with the heavenly things of love - the heavenly things of love consisting in love towards Jehovah and love towards the neighbour, and in innocence itself present in those loves. From these, as from the very sources of life, flows every single thing, for all other things are simply derivatives. These heavenly things are implanted in a person primarily in the state of infancy through to childhood. (Secrets of Heaven 1450)

As a child Jesus received deep stores of love and innocence. This took place before He could even talk or conceptualize these things in His mind. They were simply blessings of love that would remain with Him for the rest of His life, and indeed, to eternity.

This stage of the Lord’s life was not trivial. Without these perfectly innocent and heavenly remains sitting at the core of His being He never would have been able to face the onslaught of hell later in life. That which would later give Him strength in temptation, even on the Cross itself, had been received in childhood innocence and stored away, hidden, until such time as it would be needed. Every loving word and parable, every miracle, every demon cast out and every sickness made well, all flowed from the fountain of love, a fountain established in His youth. We all know the power of little children and their heavenly innocence. There was never a moment that that innocence of infancy dissipated. We don’t often think of the fact that while that innocence recedes and is hidden, it never leaves us.

We all have those same heavenly remnants left over from our childhood. Before we were born the Lord was with us in the womb. He has blessed us, as Jesus was blessed, so that now we have all the innocence and power of a child. As does every human being you will meet. The boss who frustrates you to no end, the spouse that drives you crazy, the acquaintance you can’t stand, all were once little children that would have been beautiful to hold and love, that were beautiful and were held and were loved. None of that goes away. It is always there, part of you, making you who you are. And any time you make an effort to show true love, you are only able to do so because love was once the only thing you knew.

So what do we do with this information? Abraham heard the call of God and left his home to dwell in a new land. Jesus felt a call from deep within His soul and left his own desires to accept the heavenly love that was welling like a fountain within Him. Can we follow the example of both Abraham and Jesus? Will you answer the call? Will you remember when times are hard that once in this life all you knew was love? That deep within your heart beats the love and innocence of childhood? That every human you ever meet has that same source of love and innocence within them? And finally will you use that love to become a blessing to those around you? Jesus answered this call. He continues to answer this call. And He calls on us to do the same. Will you answer? Amen.
(Read the next sermon in this 3-part series, about Bargaining)

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #750

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

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750. And they loved not their life (anima), even unto death.- That this signifies the faithful who endured temptations because of those truths, and esteemed the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of heaven, is evident from the signification of, not to love the soul, as denoting to regard the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of heaven (concerning which we shall speak presently); and from the signification of, even unto death, as denoting to suffer temptations. For those who are in combats of temptations consider the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of heaven, consequently, they regard the death of the body as of no account in comparison with the life of the soul, as is evident from those who suffered martyrdom. The reason is, that they know that life in the world, which lasts only for a few years, is nothing compared with the life in heaven, which is eternal life; in fact, there is no comparison at all between the time of man's life in the world, and the life in heaven which will endure to eternity. Let any one consider, whether there can be any comparison between a hundred thousand years and eternity, and he will find that there cannot be. These and many other thoughts flow in from heaven with those who endure spiritual temptations, therefore they love not their life, that is, their life in the world, even unto death.

(References: Revelation 12:11)

[2] What is meant by life (or soul = anima) is little known in the world, because the learned have invented many theories about the seat of the soul in the body, also about its essence, and its influx into and operation in the body, and from the notions drawn therefrom about its immortality. In consequence of this it has come to be a matter of belief that the soul is a cogitative something, ethereal in its essence, and that, when separated from the body, it has no organs of motion or of sense, as it had in the world [and will not have] until again united with the body, which they say will take place at the time of the Last Judgment. As, in consequence of this, such an inconsistent idea concerning the soul of man has been accepted in the learned world, it is of importance to make clear from the Word what is meant by the soul. By the soul (anima), in general, is meant man, and specifically, the life of man; and as in every man there are three degrees of life, there are also as many degrees of the soul. But because the entire life of man resides in these two faculties, which are called will and understanding - on which account they are sometimes in the Word called lives in the plural - and as the soul means the life, it follows that there is a soul of the will, and a soul of the understanding, and that the soul of the will is the affection which is of love, and the soul of the understanding is thought therefrom. But in the Word, soul correctly means the life of man's understanding, which is thought, and the heart means the life of the will, which is affection. And because the respiration of the lungs corresponds to the life of the understanding which is thought, and the pulsation of the heart corresponds to the life of the will which is affection, therefore the soul, in the lowest natural sense, means the life of respiration; consequently it is usual to say of those who are about to die, that they give up the soul or spirit, also that they have no longer any animation, or that no breathing from the mouth is sensibly perceived.

That such is the meaning of soul in the Word, is evident from the passages where it is mentioned.

[3] (I.) That soul (anima) in general signifies man, is clear from the following passages.

In Moses:

"Abram took every soul which they had gotten in Haran; and they departed into the land of Canaan" (Genesis 12:5).

"The king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the souls, and take the substance to thyself" (Genesis 14:21).

"All the souls of the sons and daughters of Leah were thirty and three" (Genesis 46:15).

"The sons of Joseph were two souls, every soul of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt, seventy" (Genesis 46:27).

"Every soul which hath eaten of a carcase, or of that which is torn, shall be unclean until the evening" (Leviticus 17:15).

"Of the cities of the people thou shalt not keep any soul alive" (Deuteronomy 20:16).

"If a man steal the soul of his brethren, and make gain thereof" (Deuteronomy 24:7).

"The soul that eateth fat and blood shall be cut off" (Leviticus 7:27).

"The soul that is not circumcised shall be cut off from his people" (Genesis 17:14); and elsewhere.

In these passages soul is used instead of man.

[4] (II.) That the soul specifically signifies the life of the body is clear from these passages.

In Luke:

The rich man thought with himself, "I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast many goods laid up for many years, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry; but God said unto him, Thou foolish one, this night they shall require thy soul of thee" (12:19, 20).

In Moses:

"When the soul" of Rachel "was departing she called his name Benoni" (Genesis 35:18).

"All the men are dead which sought thy soul" (Exodus 4:19); and elsewhere.

"By the hand of them that seek thy soul" (Jeremiah 19:7, 9; 34:21).

"He who departeth to the Chaldeans shall live, and his soul shall be to him for spoil" (Jeremiah 21:9).

"I will give thy soul for a prey" (Jeremiah 45:5).

"Is this the fast which I choose; a day for a man to afflict his soul" (Isaiah 58:5).

Reuben said to his brethren concerning Joseph, "Let us not smite him in the soul" (Genesis 37:21).

"Soul for soul, eye for eye, tooth for tooth" (Deuteronomy 19:21).

"Thou shalt not take the mill or the upper mill stone for a pledge, for he receiveth the soul for a pledge" (Deuteronomy 24:6)

"Samson said, Let my soul die with the Philistines" (Judges 16:30).

Jezebel said to Elijah that tomorrow she would make his soul as the soul of one of them; and Elijah "departed for his soul" (1 Kings 19:2, 3).

Peter said, "I will lay down my soul for thee; Jesus answered, Wilt thou lay down thy soul for me? verily I say The cock shall not crow till thou hast denied me thrice" (John, 13:37, 38).

In these passages soul is used for the life of the body. The Lord spoke in a similar manner concerning the life of His body; "As the son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his soul a redemption for many" (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).

So elsewhere,

"Behold, I love thee; therefore I will give a man for thee, and peoples for thy soul" (Isaiah 43:4).

Jesus said, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his soul for his friends" (John 15:13).

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd layeth down his soul for the sheep. I lay down my soul, and I will take it again; no man taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself; I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" (John 10:11, 12, 15, 17, 18).

(References: 1 Kings 19:2-3; John 10:11-12, 10:17-18, 13:37-38; Luke 12:19-20)

[5] (III.) That "soul" signifies the life of man's spirit, which is called his spiritual life, is plain from the following passages.

In the Evangelists:

Jesus said, "Fear not them who can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell (gehenna)" (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4, 5).

"Whosoever would find his soul shall lose it; and whosoever would lose his soul" for Jesus' sake, "shall find it" (Matthew 10:39; Luke 17:33).

"He that loveth his soul shall lose it; but he who hateth his soul in this world shall keep it unto the life eternal" (John 12:25).

Jesus said, "Whosoever would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. He that would save his soul shall lose it, but he that would lose his soul for my sake shall find it. What doth it profit a man, if he should gain the whole world, but lose his soul; or what shall a man give as a sufficient price for the redemption of his soul" (Matthew 16:24-26; Mark 8:34-37; Luke 9:24, 25).

Jesus said, "I have come not to destroy souls, but to save them" (Luke 9:56).

Mary said unto Elizabeth, "My soul doth magnify the Lord" (Luke 1:46).

"Simeon said unto Mary," concerning the infant Jesus, "A sword shall also pierce through thine own soul, that the thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:35).

Jesus said concerning the last times, "In patience possess ye your souls" (Luke 21:19):

and elsewhere

"The foundations shall be broken, all those making gain with pools of the soul" (Isaiah 19:10).

"With the peril of our souls we get our bread, because of the sword of the wilderness" (Lamentations 5:9).

"They have digged a pit for my soul" (Jeremiah 18:20).

"Their soul shall be as a watered garden" (Jeremiah 31:12).

"I will water the wearied soul, and every soul which grieveth I will fill" (Jeremiah 31:25).

"Woe to them that sew pillows under all the joints of mine hands, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls. Will ye hunt the souls of my people that ye may preserve your souls alive? Thou hast profaned me with my people, to slay the souls that ought not to die, and to keep alive the souls that ought not to live" (Ezekiel 13:18, 19).

"Behold, all souls are mine, as the soul of the father, so the soul of the son, they are mine; the soul that sinneth it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4, 20).

"I will go away for the bitterness of my soul" (Isaiah 38:15).

"The waters compassed me about even to the soul" (Jonah 2:5).

"The waters came even unto the soul; I was sunk in deep mire" (Psalm 69:1, 2).

"They hurt my foot with a fetter, my soul came to the earth" (Psalm 105:18).

"Bring my soul out of prison" (Psalm 142:7).

"Thou hast delivered my soul from death" (Psalm 56:13).

"To rescue their soul from death, and to make them alive in famine" (Psalm 33:19).

"Deliver me not up to the soul of my foes" (Psalm 27:12; 41:2).

"I afflicted my soul with fasting; let them not say in their heart, Ah, for his soul" (Psalm 35:13, 25).

"Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (in inferno), 1 neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:10).

"The man who feareth Jehovah, him shall he teach the way that he shall choose; his soul shall pass the night in good "(Psalm 25:12, 13).

"The clean in hands and the pure in heart, who doth not lift up his soul to vanity" (Psalm 24:4).

"He shall save the souls of the needy, he will redeem their soul from deceit and violence" (Psalm 72:13, 14).

"Bless Jehovah, O my soul" (Psalm 103:1, 22).

"Let every soul praise Jah" (Psalm 150:6).

"They will ask food for their soul" (Psalm 78:18).

"Jehovah breathed into man's nostrils the breath of lives, and man became a living soul" (Genesis 2:7).

In these passages "soul" is used for the life of man's spirit, which is called his spiritual life.

(References: Ezekiel 13:18-19; Isaiah 19:9-10, 38:13; Luke 9:23-25, 9:24-25, 12:4-5; Mark 8:35-37; Psalms 25:12-13, Psalms 69:1-2, 72:13-14)

[6] (IV.) Since man has two faculties of life, namely, the faculty of understanding and the faculty of willing, and both these faculties constitute the spiritual life of man, it is evident from some of the passages quoted above, and also from the following, that "soul" signifies that faculty which is called the life of man's understanding.

As in Moses:

"Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, and with all thy strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 26:16).

And in the Evangelists:

Jesus said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30, 33; Luke 10:27).

To love Jehovah God with all the heart and with all the soul, means with all the will and all the understanding, also with all the love and all the faith; for the heart signifies the love and the will, and the soul signifies faith and understanding. The heart signifies these two, namely, the love and the will, because a man's love is of his will; and the soul signifies these two, faith and understanding, because faith is of the understanding. This signification of heart and soul is derived from correspondence, because the heart of man corresponds to the good of love, which is of his will, and the breath (anima) of the lungs corresponds to the truth of faith, which belongs to man's understanding. With all the strength and with all the mind, signifies above all things.

[7] In Ezekiel:

"Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the anger of Jehovah; they shall not satisfy their soul, neither shall they fill their bowels" (7:19).

Here also soul is put for the understanding of truth, which is said not to be satisfied when there is no truth in the church, and the bowels denote the will of good, which are said not to be filled when there is no good in the church. Because silver, from correspondence, signifies truth, and in the opposite sense falsity, and gold signifies good, and in the opposite sense evil, it is therefore said, "Their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of the anger of Jehovah," the silver and gold there denoting what is not true and what is not good, also what is false and evil, and the day of anger denotes the day of judgment.

[8] In Isaiah:

"The light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for a flame, which shall burn up and consume the glory of his forest and Carmel; it shall consume from the soul even to the flesh" (10:17, 18).

The light of Israel and His Holy One, which shall be for a fire and a flame, mean the Lord as to a last judgment; fire and flame signify the destruction of those who are in falsities of evil; by the glory of the forest and Carmel, which the fire and flame shall burn and consume, are signified truth and the good of truth pertaining to the church, which shall be destroyed because they have been turned into falsities and evils of falsity. From the soul even to the flesh, signifies even from its understanding to its will, soul denoting the understanding of truth, and flesh the will of good.

(References: Isaiah 10:17-18; Psalms 25:12-13)

[9] In the same:

"The fool speaketh foolishness, to make empty the soul of the hungry, and he will cause the drink of the thirsty to fail" (32:6).

Here also the soul signifies man as to the understanding of good and truth, the soul of the hungry the understanding of good, and the drink of the thirsty the understanding of truth. That a man who is in falsities of evil will endeavour to deprive of that truth one who is in truth from good, is signified by "The fool speaketh foolishness, to make empty the soul," and to cause it to fail.

[10] In the same:

"It shall be as when a hungry man dreameth as if he were eating, but when he awaketh, his soul is empty; and when a thirsty man dreameth as if he were drinking, but when he awaketh, behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite; so shall be the multitude of all nations that fight against Mount Zion" (Isaiah 29:8).

These things are said of those who are in falsities from evil, and yet suppose them to be truths from good; the falsities of evil fighting against the goods of the church are signified by "the multitude of all nations fighting against Mount Zion"; multitude is used in reference to truths, nations signify evils, and Mount Zion signifies the church as to the good of love. The belief that evils are good, when yet they are evils of falsity, is signified by "It shall be as when a hungry man dreameth as if he were eating, but when he awaketh, his soul is empty"; a hungry man dreaming as if he were eating signifies an erroneous opinion and belief about good, to dream signifying such erroneous opinion and belief, and to be hungry and as if he were eating, signifying a kind of desire as it were for good that will give nourishment. But when he awaketh, signifies when it is discovered what good is; his soul is empty, signifies that there is no understanding of good. Similar things are said concerning truth, which are signified by "when a thirsty man dreameth as if he were drinking" but when he awaketh, behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite"; to be thirsty and as if he were drinking whilst he dreameth, signifying an opinion and belief that it is truth; but when he awaketh, behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite, signifies that still it is not truth but falsity, soul here signifying belief in falsity, because truth is not understood; for both evil and falsity as well as good and truth, pertain to faith and understanding when they are of the thought alone. For a man is able to so think as to understand and thus believe that evil is good, and falsity truth. Such are all those who are in falsities of doctrine, and have faith merely in their masters and books, and do not consider whether the things which are taught may not consist of falsities and evils, believing them to be truths and goods because they can be proved, not knowing that falsity and evil may be proved equally as truth and good.

[11] In the same:

"If thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul, thy light shall arise in darkness, and thy thick darkness shall be as the noon-day" (Isaiah 58:10).

To draw out the soul to the hungry, and to satisfy the afflicted soul, signifies to teach him who desires it what is good and what is true; the hungry signify those who desire good, and the afflicted those who desire truth, while to draw out the soul signifies to teach good and truth, that is from understanding, doctrine and faith. That to those who are in ignorance, and yet are in the desire for them, there shall be given the understanding of truth and good, is signified by "thy light shall arise in darkness, and thy thick darkness shall be as the noon-day," darkness and thick darkness denoting ignorance of truth and good, while the light and the noon-day denote the understanding of these.

[12] In Lamentations:

"All the people groan, they seek bread, they have given their desirable things for food to refresh the soul. He is far from me the comforter that refresheth my soul, my sons are become desolate, because the enemy hath prevailed. My priests and my elders expired in the city, because they sought food for themselves with which they might refresh their souls" (1:11, 16, 19).

This is said of a church where there is no longer any truth and good of doctrine, whence the men of the church who desire these are lacking. The deficiency of good and truth in doctrine, and a desire for them in order to nourish the life of faith and of the understanding, is signified by "All the people groan, they seek bread, they have given their desirable things for food to refresh the soul"; deficiency is signified by their groaning, the desire for good by seeking bread, the desire for truth by giving their desirable things for food, while the nourishment of faith and understanding is signified by refreshing the soul. That there is no nourishment of faith and understanding, because there are no longer any truths through evils of life, is signified by "He is far from me the comforter that refresheth my soul, my sons are become desolate, because the enemy hath prevailed," the sons being desolate signifying that there are no longer any truths, and the enemy that hath prevailed signifying evil from hell, thus evil of the life. That there are no longer any who teach good and truth is signified by "My priests and my elders expired in the city," priests signifying those who teach good, elders those who teach truths, and city doctrine, while to expire denotes that these no longer exist. That they have no spiritual nourishment is signified by "because they sought food for themselves with which they might refresh their souls."

[13] In Lamentations:

"They say to their mothers, Where is the corn and the wine? when they faint as one thrust through in the streets of the city, when their soul is poured out upon their mother's bosom" (2:12).

The signification of these words is similar to that of the preceding, namely, that such is the desolation of the church from the want of good and truth in doctrine, that spiritual life therein faints and perishes. Mothers signify the truths of the church; they say to them, Where is the corn and the wine? signifies, where is now the good of doctrine and its truth. Their soul is poured out upon their mother's bosom, signifies the fainting and perishing of spiritual life because of the desolation arising from deficiency of truths. Because the soul means the life of faith and of the understanding of good and truth, which is the spiritual life of man, it is said that they faint as one thrust through in the street of the city, one thrust through signifying those who perish through falsities, and the street of the city truth of doctrine.

[14] In Jonah:

"When my soul fainted upon me" (2:7).

This treats of temptations; and that his soul fainted upon him signifies that truth fainted (or ceased) in faith and understanding.

In David:

"Mine eye wasteth away with indignation, my soul and my belly" (Psalm 31:9).

In the same:

"My soul is bowed down to the dust, our belly cleaveth to the earth" (Psalm 44:25).

A state of temptations is also described by these words. The eye signifies the understanding, the soul, the belief in and understanding of truth, and the belly, the belief in and understanding of good. The reason why this is the signification of belly is, that the belly receives the food, and food and bread signify good that nourishes, here understanding and faith. The deficiency of these in temptation is signified by wasting away with indignation, bowing down to the dust, and cleaving to the earth.

[15] In Moses:

"They said, Now is our soul dried up, there is nothing but manna before our eyes" (Numbers 11:6).

Because manna signifies spiritual nourishment, and it is faith and understanding, that is, man's intelligence, which is spiritually nourished, and because the sons of Israel had no natural nourishment, and yet desired it, therefore they said, "Our soul is dried up, there is nothing but manna before our eyes." The soul dried up signifies the life of faith and of the understanding failing when there was at the same time no natural nourishment; there is nothing but manna before our eyes, signifies that there was only spiritual nourishment; and because they loathed this, the flesh of quails, or selav, 2 was given to them, and the flesh of these signifies natural nourishment.

[16] And in the First Book of Samuel:

Hannah said unto, Eli, "I have poured out my soul before Jehovah" (1:15).

To pour out the soul before Jehovah signifies to declare the thoughts of her mind and heart.

In the Evangelists:

"Be ye not anxious for your soul what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink, nor for your body what ye shall put on; is not the soul more than food, and the body more than raiment?" (Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:22, 23).

Although these words are spoken of the life of the body, they nevertheless signify such things as pertain to the life of the spirit, for all things of the sense of the letter of the Word, which is natural, contain within them an internal sense, which is spiritual. In this sense, eating, drinking, and food signify spiritual nourishment, which is the nourishment of faith, together with that of the understanding, from which comes intelligence in spiritual things; it is therefore said, "Be not anxious for your soul what ye shall eat, and what ye shall drink; is not the soul more than food?" To eat denotes to perceive good intellectually and thus spiritually; to drink, to perceive truth intellectually and thus spiritually; and food denotes the good and truth which are the source of [spiritual] nourishment. By clothing the body and by raiment is signified truth investing the good of love and of the will, raiment signifying such truth, and the body the good of love which is the good of the will.

(References: Luke 12:19-20, 12:22-23)

[17] In David:

"O my soul, I lie in the midst of lions, the sons of man are set on fire" (Psalm 57:4).

Here too soul signifies spiritual life, which is the life of faith, thus also the life of the understanding; for the understanding is formed from truths, and consists of them, as also faith. Because these things are signified by the soul, and the vastation of truth is the subject here treated of, it is therefore said, "I lie in the midst of lions," lions signifying falsities destroying the truths of the church. It is also said, "The sons of men are set on fire," the sons of men signifying the truths of doctrine and of the church, and when these are taken possession of by corporeal love and thereby perish, they are said to be set on fire.

In Moses:

Abraham spake with the sons of Heth, "If it be with your soul that I bury my dead" (Genesis 23:8).

Soul here signifies thought from truth. But these words are explained in the Arcana Coelestia 2930).

[18] In Jeremiah:

"Thy lovers will abhor thee, they will seek thy soul" (4:30).

Lovers mean those who are in the love of evil; to seek the soul signifies to desire to destroy belief in and the understanding of truth, by means of the falsities of evil.

In Ezekiel:

"Javan and Tubal traded with the soul of man and vessels of brass" (27:13).

This is said of Tyre, which signifies the church as to the knowledges of truth and good. Trading signifies the acquisition and communication of these; Javan and Tubal signify external representative worship, and the soul of man signifies knowledge (scientia) of truth in the natural man, and vessels of brass signify knowledge of good in the natural man; knowledge of natural truth (veri naturalis) is also signified by "souls of men" in the Apocalypse (18:13). The souls of men (animoe hominum) mean strictly slaves or servants, which also, in the spiritual sense, signify truths scientific (vera scientifica) of the natural man, that are serviceable to the spiritual.

[19] (V.) Since the life of faith, and also the life of man's understanding is from Divine Truth, therefore Divine Truth is also signified by soul, as is evident in the following passages:

In Jeremiah:

"I will plant them in this land in verity, in my whole heart and in my whole soul" (32:41).

As there are two things that proceed from the Lord, Divine Good and Divine Truth, and these, when received by the angels of heaven and the men of the church, make heavenly life in them, therefore it is evident what is signified by planting them in the whole heart and in the whole soul, namely, in His Divine Good and in His Divine Truth; for the heart signifies the Divine Good of the Divine Love, and the soul Divine Truth.

[20] In the same:

"Jehovah hath sworn by His soul" (51:14; Amos 6:8).

Jehovah is said to swear by His soul when He confirms by means of His Divine Truth, for to swear signifies to confirm, and the soul of Jehovah Divine Truth.

In David:

"Jehovah trieth the just; the wicked, and him that loveth violence, his soul hateth" (Psalm 11:5).

Here also the soul of Jehovah signifies Divine Truth, for the violent in the Word signifies one who does violence to Divine Truth; and because this is done by falsities of evil, therefore this is signified by the wicked and him that loveth violence.

[21] In Isaiah:

"My chosen in whom my soul is well pleased, I have put my Spirit upon him" (42:1).

This is said of the Lord, who is meant by the chosen of Jehovah; and as the Spirit of Jehovah, which was put upon Him, signifies the proceeding Divine, therefore the soul of Jehovah, which was well pleased in Him, signifies Divine Truth, for the Lord was in that Divine Truth as to His Human in the world.

In Jeremiah:

"Jehovah said, Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, my soul [could] not [be] toward this people" (15:1).

Moses and Samuel, in the representative sense, signify the Word; and as the Word is Divine Truth, and the people there mentioned mean the sons of Israel, who had no Divine Truth but what was falsified and adulterated, it is said, "My soul could not be toward this people."

[22] In the same:

"Shall not my soul take vengeance" (5:9, 29).

Here also the soul of Jehovah means Divine Truth; and when from this the Lord executes judgment, it is said that His soul takes vengeance. The Son of man who is to execute judgment has a similar signification, the Son of man also denoting the Lord, as to Divine Truth.

In the same:

"Receive chastisement, O Jerusalem, lest my soul be alienated from thee, and I reduce thee to wasteness" (6:8):

Jerusalem signifies the church as to doctrine, to receive chastisement, signifies to receive discipline; lest my soul be alienated from thee, signifies lest Divine Truth should depart from them; and to reduce to wasteness, signifies lest the church should be desolated as to all truth.

[23] In Isaiah:

"Jehovah that giveth soul to the people upon the earth, and spirit to them that walk therein" (42:5).

The soul which Jehovah giveth to the people upon the earth, signifies Divine Truth from the Lord to those who will be of His church. The spirit which Jehovah will give to them that walk upon the earth, signifies life according to Divine Truth, to walk signifying to live.

[24] (VI.) Since soul (anima) in reference to the Lord signifies Divine Truth, therefore it signifies spiritual life from truth.

In Moses:

"The soul of all flesh is the blood" (Leviticus 17:14).

As the ultimate life of man, which is the life of his body, consists in the blood, it is therefore said that "the soul of all flesh," that is to say, the life thereof, is its blood; but because there is a spiritual sense in every detail of the Word, and as in that sense blood signifies truth of doctrine from the Word, therefore this also is signified by the soul of flesh. That blood signifies truth of doctrine from the Word, which is Divine Truth, may be seen above (n. 328, 329, 476). Because this is the signification of blood, therefore the sons of Israel were forbidden to eat blood, and therefore the blood of the burnt-offerings and sacrifices was sprinkled about the altar; and sanctifications and also inaugurations were performed by blood, also the covenant of the God of Israel, that is, of the Lord with the people was entered into by blood. The case is also the same with the new covenant entered into by the Lord with the church at this day. This is why the blood of the Lord is called the blood of the covenant, that is, of conjunction with the Lord, and it is so called because it is the Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord that conjoins. From these things it is now clear why blood is called soul.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 328, 329, 476)

[25] Because of this signification of blood, it was forbidden, from the most ancient times, to eat blood, as is evident in Moses:

"Every creeping thing that liveth, to you it shall be for food, but the flesh with the soul thereof, the blood thereof, ye shall not eat" (Genesis 9:3, 4).

Here also it is said that the blood is the soul of the flesh, and it was forbidden to eat, because eating blood signified the profanation of truth.

In the same:

"Whosoever shall eat any blood, I will set my faces against the soul that eateth blood, that I may cut off that soul from the midst of its people; for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; therefore I have given it upon the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood itself that maketh atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:10, 11).

Because soul, like blood, signifies truth from the Word, which is Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, and as all worship of the Lord is performed by means of Divine Truth, it is therefore said, "For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, therefore have I given it upon the altar," to give the blood upon the altar signifying worship from Divine Truth. And since all liberation from evils and falsities, which is atonement (expiatio), is effected by means of Divine Truth and by a life according to it, it is therefore said, "to make atonement for your souls," for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul.

(References: Genesis 9:3-4; Leviticus 17:10-11)

[26] In the same:

"Surely the blood of your souls will I require, at the hand of every wild beast will I require it, especially at the hand of man, at the hand of a man's brother will I require the soul of man" (Genesis 9:7).

That blood, and also soul, here mean the spiritual life of man, which is a life according to Divine Truth, is evident from this, that whoever extinguishes that life perishes in eternal death, for that life can be extinguished only by one who is in infernal evil and falsity. But this may be seen explained in the Arcana Coelestia.

(References: Genesis 9:5)

[27] (VII). That living soul (anima vivens) signifies life in general is evident from passages where beasts, birds, reptiles, and fish are called living souls; as in the following:

"God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving thing, the living soul. God created the great sea monsters (ceti magni), and every living soul that creepeth, which the waters brought forth abundantly" (Genesis 1:20, 21).

"God said, Let the earth bring forth the living soul, after its kind, beast and wild beast" (Genesis 1:24).

"Jehovah brought unto the man every beast of the field, and every bird of the heavens, to see what he would call it; and whatsoever the man called it, the living soul, that was its name" (Genesis 2:19).

"Every living soul that swimmeth, whithersoever the rivers come, shall live; whence there shall be much fish" (Ezekiel 47:9).

And in the Apocalypse:

"Every living soul in the sea died" (16:3).

All animals, in the spiritual sense, signify things that belong to the natural man and its life; and as the life of the natural man, which is life in ultimates, signifies life in its whole extent, therefore they are called living souls.

(References: Genesis 1:20-21)

[28] From these things it is now evident that soul (anima) in the Word signifies the life of man both natural and spiritual, thus the life both of his body and spirit. It may thus be seen how inconsistent is the idea concerning man's soul, entertained in the first place by the learned, and then by the common people, that it is a kind of indivisible entity having its seat in some part of the body, either in the brain, or in the heart, or elsewhere, and that when it is set free from man by death, it is destitute of a body, and possesses none of those powers of sense and motion that belong to the body, but that these will be added to it at the day of the Last Judgment. Then also, that in the meantime it is something or other flitting about in the ether, or dwelling in some place or other awaiting its accessory part, which is the body.

Such is the idea entertained in the world concerning man's soul, although nothing of the kind is meant in the Word by soul (anima), which there signifies the life of man, and this cannot exist apart from a body, but only in a body; for the body is the external form of that life which is called the soul, giving effect to its will and pleasure in both worlds, the natural, in which men live, and the spiritual, in which spirits and angels live. And as the proceeding Divine from the Lord constitutes the life of all, therefore this is signified by soul in the celestial sense. Because the proceeding Divine, wherever it comes, forms an image of the Lord, that is, so forms angels and spirits that they become human forms according to their receptivity, therefore it now follows that the soul that lives after death must mean man's spirit, which is a man with both a soul and body, with a soul which governs the body, and with a body by means of which it gives effect to its will in the world in which it is.


1. Heb. Sheol.
2. The Hebrew word for quails.


(References: Deuteronomy 24:6-7; Isaiah 38:13; Leviticus 17:14-15; Revelation 12:11)

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