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 (Whitehead translation)      

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750. And they loved not their soul, even unto death, signifies the faithful who have endured temptations for the sake of these truths, and who have regarded the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of heaven. This is evident from the signification of "not to love the soul," as being to regard the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of heaven (of which presently); and from the signification of "even unto death," as being to endure temptations; for those who are in the combats of temptation regard the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of heaven, and consequently regard the death of their 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 is only for some years, is as nothing compared with the life in heaven, which is eternal life; yea, there is no ratio between the time of man's life in the world and the life in heaven that will continue to eternity. Think if you can whether there can be any ratio between a hundred thousand years and eternity, and you will find there is none. These with many other thoughts flow in from heaven with those who endure spiritual temptations, therefore "they love not their soul (that is, their life in the world), even unto death."

(References: Revelation 12:11)

[2] What is meant by "soul" is but little known in the world, because scholars have put forth several theories about the seat of the soul in the body, as also about its essence, and its influx into and operation in the body, and from notions drawn therefrom, about its immortality. From this it has come to be believed that the soul is a cogitative something, in its essence ethereal, and when separated from the body has no organs of motion or sense as it had in the world, until it is again conjoined with the body, which they say will take place at the time of the Last Judgment. As so unsuitable an idea of the soul of man has been accepted in the learned world it is important to illustrate from the Word what is meant by the soul. In general, the soul means the man, and in particular the life of man; and as there are in every man three degrees of life, there are also as many degrees of the soul. But as the whole life of man resides in his two faculties that are called will and understanding, on which account these 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 affection, which is of love, and the soul of the understanding is thought therefrom. But in the Word, the "soul" means properly the life of man's understanding, which is thought, and the "heart" the life of the will, which is affection. And as 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, so in the lowest natural sense the life of respiration is meant by "soul;" consequently the dying are said to give up the soul or spirit, also that they have no more animation, or that no breath from the mouth is perceived. That such is the meaning of "soul" in the Word can be seen from passages where it is mentioned.

[3] 1. That in general "soul" signifies man is evident from the following passages. In Moses:

Abram took every soul that 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 from 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 carcass, or of that which is torn, shall be unclean until the even (Leviticus 17:15).

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

If a man hath stolen a soul from his brethren and hath made gain of him (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 in place of man.

[4] 2. That in particular "soul" signifies the life of the body is evident 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; rest, eat, drink and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou unwise one, this night they shall require thy soul of thee (Luke 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 who sought thy soul (Exodus 4:19).

And elsewhere:

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

He that falleth away to the Chaldeans shall live, and his soul shall be to him for a spoil (Jeremiah 21:9).

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

Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a man to afflict his soul? (Isaiah 58:5)

Reuben said to his brethren respecting 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 1 shalt not take the mill or the millstone 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 went away 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. Likewise the Lord said of the life of His body in the Gospels:

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 one than this, that one 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] 3. That "soul" signifies the life of man's spirit, which is called his spiritual life, is evident from the following passages. In the Gospels:

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

Whoever wisheth to find his soul shall lose it, and whoever 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 that hateth his soul in this world shall keep it unto the life eternal (John 12:25).

Jesus said, Whosoever will come after Him, 2 let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him. For he that will save his soul shall lose it, but he that would lose his soul for His sake shall find it. For what doth it profit a man if he should gain the whole world but should lose his soul? Or what 3 shall a man give as a sufficient price for the redemption of his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26; Mark 8:35-37; Luke 9:24, 25)

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

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

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

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

And elsewhere:

The foundations shall be broken, all that make gain from the pools of the soul (Isaiah 19:9, 10).

We get our bread with the peril of our souls, because of the sword of the desert (Lamentations 5:9).

They have digged 4 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 that grieveth I will fill (Jeremiah 31:25).

Woe to them that sew pillows under all the joints of My hands, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls. Will ye hunt the souls of My people, that ye may make souls alive for yourselves? Thou hast profaned Me with My people, to slay the souls that should not die, and to make alive the souls that should not 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 the deep mire (Psalms 69:1, 2).

They afflicted my foot 5 with a fetter, my soul came to the earth 6 (Psalms 105:18).

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

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

To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine (Psalms 33:19).

Deliver me not up to the soul of my adversaries (Psalms 27:12; 41:2).

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

Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, nor wilt thou give thine Holy One to see corruption (Psalms 16:10).

The man who feareth Jehovah, him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose; his soul shall lodge in good (Psalms 25:12, 13).

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

He shall save the souls of the needy, He shall redeem their souls from deceit and violence (Psalms 72:13, 14).

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

Let every soul praise Jah (Psalms 150:6).

They will ask food for their soul (Psalms 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 8:34-37; Psalms 25:12-13, Psalms 69:1-2, 72:13-14)

[6] 4. Since man has two faculties of life, namely, a faculty to understand and a faculty to will, and these two faculties constitute the spiritual life of man, it can be seen from certain passages cited above, as also from the following, that "soul" signifies that faculty that 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 might (Deuteronomy 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 26:16).

And in the Gospels:

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 all the soul" means with all the will and all the understanding, also with all the love and all the faith, for "heart" signifies the love and the will, and "soul" signifies the faith and the understanding. "Heart" signifies these two, the love and the will, because a man's love is of his will; and "soul" signifies the two, namely, faith and understanding, because faith is of the understanding. This is the signification of "heart and soul" because the heart of man corresponds to the good of love that belongs to his will, and the soul [or breath] of the lungs corresponds to the truth of faith that belongs to man's understanding. "With all the might 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 Jehovah's anger; they shall not satisfy their soul, neither fill their bowels (Ezekiel 7:19).

Here, too, "soul" stands for the understanding of truth, which is said "not to be satisfied" when there is no truth in the church, and "bowels" stand for the will of good, and are said "not to be filled" when there is no good in the church. Because "silver" from correspondence signifies truth, and in the contrary sense falsity, and "gold" signifies good, and in the contrary sense evil, it is said, "their silver and their gold shall not be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah's anger;" "silver and gold" meaning what is not true and what is not good, and also what is false and evil, and "day of anger" meaning the day of judgment.

[8] In Isaiah:

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

"The light of Israel," and "His Holy One," which shall be for a fire and a flame, mean the Lord in relation to the Last Judgment; "fire and flame" signify the destruction of those who are in the falsities of evil; "the glory of the forest and of Carmel that the fire and flame shall burn and consume" signifies the truth and the good of truth of the church, which shall be destroyed because they have been turned into falsities and the evils of falsity; "from the soul even to the flesh" signifies even from its understanding to its will, "soul" meaning 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 (Isaiah 32:6).

Here, again, the soul signifies the man in respect to the understanding of good and truth, "the soul of the hungry" the understanding of good, and "drink for the soul of the thirsty" the understanding of truth. That a man who is in the falsities of evil will endeavor to deprive a man who is in truth from good of that truth 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 make war against Mount Zion (Isaiah 29:8).

This is said of those who are in falsities from evil and yet think them to be truths from good; the falsities from evil combating against the goods of the church are signified by "the multitude of all nations that make war against Mount Zion;" "multitude" is predicated of truths, "nations" signify evils, and "Mount Zion" signifies the church in respect to the good of love. Believing evils to be good when they are the 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 an erroneous opinion and belief, and "to be hungry and as if he were eating" signifying as it were a desire 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. Like things are said of 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 drinking while he dreams" signifies an opinion and belief that it is true; "but when he awaketh behold he is faint, and his soul hath appetite," signifies that still it is not true but false; "soul" here signifying the belief in falsity from truth not being understood; for evil and falsity, like good and truth, pertain to faith and understanding when they are of the thought alone. For a man can think so as to understand and thus believe that evil is good, and that falsity is truth. Such are all those who are in the falsities of doctrine, and have faith merely in masters and books, and do not consider whether what they are taught is false and evil, believing it to be true and good because it can be confirmed, not knowing that falsity and evil can be confirmed just as well as truth and good.

[11] In the same:

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

"To draw out the soul to the hungry and to satisfy the afflicted soul" signifies to teach one who desires it what is good and what is true; "the hungry" signifies one who desires good, and "the afflicted" one who desires truth, and "to draw out the soul" signifies to teach good and truth, that is, from the understanding, doctrine and faith. That to those who are in ignorance and yet have a desire there shall be given an understanding of truth and good, is signified by "thy light shall arise in darkness and thy thick darkness be as the noonday;" "darkness" and "thick darkness" meaning ignorance of truth and good, and "light" and "noonday" meaning the understanding of good and truth.

[12] In Lamentations:

All the people groan, they seek bread, they have given their desirable things for food, to restore the soul. The comforter who restoreth my soul is far from me; my sons are made waste because the enemy hath prevailed. My priests and my elders have expired in the city, for they sought food for themselves with which to restore their soul (Lamentations 1:11, 16, 19).

This is said of a church in which there is no longer any truth and good of doctrine, consequently the men of the church who desire these lack them; the lack of good and truth in doctrine, and the desire for them 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 restore the soul;" lack is signified by their "groaning;" desire for good by "seeking bread;" desire for truth by "giving their desirable things for food;" and the nourishment of the faith and understanding by "restoring their soul;" that there is no nourishment of faith and understanding because there are no longer any truths on account of the evils of life is signified by "the comforter who restoreth my soul is far from me, my sons are made waste because the enemy hath prevailed," "sons made waste" signifying that there are no longer any truths, and "the enemy that hath prevailed" signifying evil from hell, thus the evil of life. That there are no longer any that teach good and truth is signified by "my priests and my elders have expired in the city;" "priests" signifying those who teach good, and "elders" those who teach truths, and "city" doctrine, and "to expire" that these no longer exist. That they have no spiritual nourishment is signified by "for they sought food for themselves with which to restore their soul."

[13] In Lamentations:

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

This has a similar signification as the preceding passage, namely, that the church is so desolated by the lack of good and truth in doctrine that spiritual life in it 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 from lack 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 "they faint as one pierced in the broad ways of the city;" "one pierced" signifying one who perishes by falsities, and "the broad ways of the city," truth of doctrine.

[14] In Jonah:

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

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

Mine eye wasteth away with vexation, and my belly (Psalms 31:9).

In the same:

My 7 soul is bowed down to the dust, our belly cleaveth to the earth (Psalms 44:25).

This also describes the state of temptations. The "eye" signifies the understanding, the "soul" the belief in truth and the understanding of truth, and the "belly" the belief in good and the understanding of good. This is the signification of "belly" because the belly receives food, and "food" and "bread" signify good that nourishes, here the understanding and faith. The lack of these in temptation is signified by "wasting away with vexation," and "bowing down to the dust," and "cleaving to the earth."

[15] In Moses:

They said, Now is our soul dried up, there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes (Numbers 11:6).

Because "manna" signifies spiritual nourishment, and it is the faith and understanding, or the intelligence of man, that is spiritually nourished, and because the sons of Israel had no natural nourishment, which yet they desired, so they said, "Our soul is dried up, there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes;" "the soul dried up" signifies the life of faith and of the understanding failing when there was not at the same time any natural nourishment; "there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes" signifies that there was nothing except spiritual nourishment; and because they loathed this, the flesh of quails, or selav, was given to them, and the flesh of these signifies natural nourishment.

[16] In the first book of Samuel:

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

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

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 nourishment, and the body more than the raiment? (Matthew 6:25; Luke 12:22, 23)

Although this is said of the life of the body, still it signifies 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 "to eat," "to drink," and "food" signify spiritual nourishment, which is the nourishment of faith together with the nourishment of the understanding, from which comes intelligence in spiritual things; therefore it is said, "Be not ye anxious for your soul what ye shall eat and what ye shall drink; is not the soul more than nourishment?" "To eat" means to perceive good intellectually and thus spiritually; "to drink" means to perceive truth intellectually and thus spiritually; and "nourishment" means good and truth from which is nutrition. "To clothe the body" and "raiment" signify truth investing the good of love and of the will; "raiment" signifies 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:

My soul, I lie in the midst of lions, the sons of man are set on fire (Psalms 57:4).

Here, too, "the soul" signifies spiritual life, which is the life of faith, and thus the life of the understanding, for the understanding is formed from truths and consists of them, the same as faith. As this is the signification of "the soul," and the vastation of truth is here treated of, it is said, "I lie in the midst of lions;" "lions" signifying the falsities that destroy the truths of the church; also it is said, "the sons of man are set on fire;" "sons of man" 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 (Jeremiah 4:30).

"Lovers" mean those who are in the love of evil; "to seek the soul" signifies to wish to destroy the belief in truth and the understanding of truth by the falsities of evil. In Ezekiel:

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

This is said of Tyre, which signifies the church in respect to the knowledges of truth and good; "to trade" signifies the acquisition and communication of these; "Javan and Tubal" signify external representative worship; and "the soul of man" signifies the knowledge [scientia] of truth in the natural man, and "the vessels of brass" the knowledge of good in the natural man. The knowledge [scientia] of natural truth is signified also by "the souls of men" in Revelation 18:13; "the souls of men" mean properly slaves or servants, which also signify in the spiritual sense the true knowledges [vera scientifica] of the natural man that are serviceable to the spiritual.

[19] 5. Since the life of faith and also the life of man's understanding is from Divine truth, therefore Divine truth also is signified by "soul;" as can be seen from the following passages. In Jeremiah:

I will plant them in this land in verity, with My whole heart and with My whole soul (Jeremiah 32:41).

As there are two things that proceed from the Lord, Divine good and Divine truth, and as these, when received by the angels of heaven and the men of the church, constitute the heavenly life with them, so it is clear what is signified by "planting them with the whole heart and with 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 (Jeremiah 51:14; Amos 6:8).

Jehovah is said "to swear by His soul" when He confirms by His Divine truth, for "to swear" signifies to confirm, and "the soul of Jehovah" Divine truth. In David:

Jehovah proveth the righteous; the wicked and him that loveth violence His soul hateth (Psalms 11:5).

Here, also, "the soul of Jehovah" signifies Divine truth, for "the violent" in the Word signifies one who offers violence to Divine truth; and because this is done by the falsities of evil 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 given My spirit upon Him (Isaiah 42:1).

This is said of the Lord, who is meant by "the chosen of Jehovah;" and as "the spirit of Jehovah" that was given upon Him signifies the Divine proceeding, so "the soul of Jehovah" that was well pleased in Him signifies Divine truth; for the Lord was in that Divine in respect to His Human in the world. In Jeremiah:

Jehovah said, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My soul would not be towards this people (Jeremiah 15:1).

"Moses and Samuel" in the representative sense signify the Word; and as the Word is Divine truth, and "people" mean here the sons of Israel, who had no Divine truth that was not falsified and adulterated, it is said, "My soul would not be towards this people."

[22] In the same:

Shall not My soul take vengeance? (Jeremiah 5:9, 29)

Here, again, "the soul of Jehovah" means Divine truth; when by 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" meaning the Lord in relation to Divine truth. In the same:

Receive chastisement, O Jerusalem, lest my soul be torn away from thee, and I reduce thee to wasteness (Jeremiah 6:8).

"Jerusalem" signifies the church in respect to doctrine; "to receive chastisement" signifies to receive discipline; "lest my soul be torn away from thee" signifies lest Divine truth depart from them; and "to reduce to wasteness" signifies lest the church be desolated in respect to all truth.

[23] In Isaiah:

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

"The soul that Jehovah gives to the people upon the earth" signifies Divine truth from the Lord to those who will be of His church; "the spirit that Jehovah will give to them that walk upon the earth" signifies life according to Divine truth; "to walk" signifying to live.

[24] 6. Since "soul," in reference to the Lord, signifies Divine truth, so it signifies spiritual life from truth. In Moses:

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

As the ultimate life of man, which is the life of his body, consists in the blood, it is said that "the soul of all flesh," that is, the life thereof, "is its blood;" but as there is a spiritual sense in every least particular of the Word, and in that sense "blood" signifies the truth of doctrine from the Word, therefore this too is signified by "the soul of flesh." That "blood" signifies the 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, the sons of Israel were forbidden to eat blood; therefore the blood of the burnt-offerings and sacrifices was sprinkled about the altar, and by the blood sanctifications and also consecrations were effected; so likewise the covenant of the God of Israel, that is, of the Lord, with the people was entered into by blood; and furthermore, the Lord has entered into a new covenant with the church of 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 Divine truth proceeding from the Lord that conjoins. From this it is clear why blood is called "soul."

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

[25] It was because of this signification of blood that from the most ancient time it was forbidden to eat blood, as can be seen in Moses:

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

Here, too, it is said that "the blood is the soul of the flesh;" and it was forbidden to eat it 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 it off from the midst of his people; for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; therefore I have given it upon the altar to expiate for your souls, for it is the blood itself that expiateth 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 because all worship of the Lord is performed by means of Divine truth, it is said, "for the soul of the flesh is in the blood, therefore I have given it upon the altar," "to give the blood upon the altar" signifying worship from Divine truth. And as all deliverance from evils and falsities, which is expiation, is effected by Divine truth and by a life according to it, it is said, "to expiate your souls, for it is the blood itself that expiateth 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 man his brother will I require the soul of man (Genesis 9:5).

Here "blood" and also "soul" mean the spiritual life of man, which is a life according to Divine truth, as can be seen from this, that whoever extinguishes that life perishes in eternal death, for that life is not extinguished but by one who is in infernal evil and falsity. (But this may be seen explained in the Arcana Coelestia.)

(References: Genesis 9:7)

[27] 7. That "living soul" signifies life in general can be seen from passages where beasts, birds, creeping things, and fishes, are called "living souls." As in the following:

God said, Let the waters bring forth the creeping thing, the living soul. God created great whales, and every living soul that creepeth which the waters brought forth (Genesis 1:20, 21).

God said, Let the earth bring forth the living soul according to 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 shall come, shall live; whence there is much fish (Ezekiel 47:9)

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

In the spiritual sense all animals signify the things belonging to the natural man, and its life; and as the life of the natural man, which is life in ultimates, signifies life in the whole complex, so they are called "living souls."

(References: Genesis 1:20-21)

[28] From this it can now be seen what "soul" signifies in the Word, namely, the life of man both natural and spiritual, thus the life both of his body and of his spirit. This also makes evident how perverted is the idea of the soul of man that is entertained, first by the learned, and from them by the common people, namely, that it is a sort 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 loosed from man by death it is without a body and without such sensory and motor parts as belong to a body, but that these will be added to it at the day of the Last Judgment; also that in the meantime it is a something flitting in the ether, or is abiding in a somewhere, awaiting its additional part, which is the body. Such is now the world's idea of the soul of man; although in the Word "soul" has no such meaning, but means instead the life of man, which has no existence separate from the body, but only in the body; for the body is the external form of that life that 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 Divine proceeding from the Lord constitutes the life of all, therefore that life is signified by "soul" in the celestial sense. Because the Divine proceeding, wherever it comes, forms an image of the Lord, thus it so forms angels and spirits that they may be human forms according to reception; thence it now follows that the soul that lives after death must mean the spirit of man, which is a man with both a soul and a body, a soul that rules over the body, and a body by which the soul effects its will in the world in which it is.


1. The Hebrew has "he," as found in Arcana Coelestia 4335, 10303.

2. The Greek has "Me."

3. The Latin has "which."

4. The Latin has "foverunt" for "foderunt."

5. The Hebrew has "his foot," as also found in Arcana Coelestia 448.

6. The Hebrew has "into the Iron," as also found in 448.

7. The Hebrew has "our," as also found in 622.


(References: Deuteronomy 24:6-7; Genesis 9:7; Isaiah 38:13; Leviticus 17:14-15; Revelation 12:11)

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