The Bible

 

Matthew 2 : Two Stories of Christmas

Study the Inner Meaning

        

1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child's life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

   Study the Inner Meaning

Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 2      

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 2.

After Jesus is Born

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1. And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came Magi from the east into Jerusalem,

2. Saying, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”

3. But having heard, Herod the king was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born.

5. And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus it is written by the prophet:

6. ‘And thou Bethlehem, [of] the land of Judah, art by no means the least among the governors of Judah, for out of thee shall come a Governor, who shall shepherd My people Israel.’”

7. Then Herod, privately calling the Magi, precisely inquired of them at what time the star appeared.

8. And sending them to Bethlehem, he said, “Go and search earnestly for the little Child; and when you have found [Him], report to me, so that I also may come and worship Him.”

9. And when they had heard the king they went [out]; and behold, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came [and] stood over where the little Child was.

10. And having seen the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

11. And coming into the house, they found the little Child with Mary His mother, and falling [down] they worshiped Him; and opening their treasures, they offered to Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed into their own country by another way.

13. And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph, saying, “Arise and take the little Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I tell thee; for Herod is about to seek the little Child to destroy Him.”

14. And when he arose, he took the little Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt,

15. And was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the Magi, was exceedingly wrathful, and sent out and slew all the boys that were in Bethlehem, and in all her borders , from two years and under, according to the time which he had precisely inquired of the Magi.

17. Then was fulfilled what was declared by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18. “A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation, and weeping, and much howling, Rachel weeping [for] her children; and she was not willing to be comforted, because they are not.”

19. And when Herod was dead, behold, the angel of the Lord, in a dream appears to Joseph in Egypt,

20. Saying, “Arise, take the little Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for they are dead who sought the soul of the little Child.”
---

Joseph’s struggle within himself — as to whether or not to accept Mary and the child — represents the spiritual battle which each of us must undergo in the course of our regeneration. It is one thing to receive the Lord in the understanding (represented by Joseph), but quite another to allow Him to order the things of our will — represented by the angel telling Joseph to take Mary as his wife. This is the fiercer battle which now begins “after Jesus is born.”

The antagonist is Herod, the king of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth. Comfortable and secure in his role as the supreme ruler of the land, Herod is deeply troubled by the report of the Wise Men who say, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?” Spiritually seen, Herod, as king of Israel, represents total self-absorption, our corrupt hereditary will, setting itself up as the ruler of our lives. This is our state after fourteen generations of captivity in Babylon — a state in which we are governed by our basest emotions: greed, control, anger, fear, hatred and jealousy. We can be sure that whenever we find ourselves in a state like this, Herod is sitting comfortably and securely on his throne. He is a tyrannical ruler, easily threatened, but not easily dethroned. His motivating force is to destroy the Lord in us — even at His birth — rather than relinquish his control over us.

God knows that we need divine protection from the wrath of Herod who represents our selfish desire to control. God therefore speaks to Joseph (as He does to us) in a dream, saying “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and remain there until I bring you word; for Herod is about to seek the young Child to destroy Him” (2:13).

Egypt, at that time, was a world center for education and learning. Medicine, mathematics, poetry and many other fields of study were flourishing. So Jesus’ flight into Egypt represents the need that all of us have for basic education, not just the standard three “R’s,” (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic) but the fourth “R” as well — the basics of religion.

Religious truth, especially the most basic, can help defend us against the onslaughts of Herod — the despot of our lower nature, a fierce tyrant who strives to murder everything that is true in us, even in its most innocent beginning. This is represented by Herod’s massacre of the male children in and around Bethlehem: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem, and in all its districts, from two years old and under” (2:16; emphasis added).

The name “Bethlehem,” comes from two Hebrew words: “Beth” meaning “house” and “lechem” meaning “bread.” Therefore, Bethlehem means “House of Bread” — a place of spiritual nourishment. In the context of this episode, Herod’s destruction of all the male children of Bethlehem, two years old and under, represents how evil inclinations can destroy our earliest impulses to learn truth. These earliest desires to acquire knowledge of truth are symbolized by the male babies of Bethlehem. Whenever we fall into states of cynicism and skepticism, refusing to learn or trust the simple teachings of the Word, whenever we find ourselves without desire to seek the truth, and whenever the distractions of the world lure us away from the quest for wisdom, we can know that “Herod” has risen up in our hearts. A massacre has begun. “Herod in us” is striving to murder the innocent and tender qualities that have been born in our heavenly Bethlehem.

But if we flee to and remain in Egypt (as Jesus does), we will be protected. It is the place where our instruction begins. This is a temporary, but essential part of our spiritual development; temporary because we must eventually return to the land of Canaan where the truth will be applied to our lives; and essential, because these basic, natural truths are the only means by which we can be prepared to receive the higher insights that will eventually flow in from above. 1

For most of us, the period of our instruction in basic truths can last for many years, well into adolescence and beyond. In fact, it never really ends. Throughout our lives we will continue to acquire knowledge, both worldly and spiritual. We will, as it were, “go down into Egypt.” And, as we do so, learning truth and putting it into our lives, we will begin to see how the literal teachings of scripture “open up” like parting clouds, revealing more and more of the interior truths they contain.

In Jesus’ own case, this process of acquiring basic truth was much more rapid. Although Matthew does not tell us how long Jesus remained in Egypt, we can safely assume He was still quite young when He left, for an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the soul of the young Child’s are dead” (2:20; emphasis added).

Growing up in Nazareth

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21. And he arose, [and] took the little Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22. And hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea instead of his father Herod, he feared to go thither; but being warned in a dream, he departed into the parts of Galilee.

23. And coming, He dwelt in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the prophets, that He should be called a Nazarene.
---

Eventually, Joseph, Mary, and the young Child decide to return to Judea. This represents the next step in our spiritual journey. Once we have learned the simple, basic, most literal truths of the Word (sojourning in Egypt), it is time to return to Judea. It is time to be further instructed, and to see what is more interiorly concealed within the letter of the Word. This is a necessary step in every person’s spiritual development. The letter of the Word serves as a literal history of people and places; it is an introduction to basic truth. It does not, however, reveal the full details of our spiritual journey, or provide the kind of discernment we need for the refinement of our souls. Not yet, but that will surely come when we are ready to receive further instruction.

Meanwhile, as the divine narrative continues, Joseph is “warned by God in a dream” that it is not yet time to return to their home. Though Herod is dead, his son is still in power. And so Mary, Joseph, and the young Child turn aside into the region of Galilee, into a city called Nazareth. This is yet another step on the journey of spiritual development. In the language of sacred scripture, it could be called, “growing up in Nazareth.

But what does it mean to “grow up in Nazareth”?

Nazareth of Galilee was a primitive region populated mostly by farmers, fishermen and uneducated tradespeople who knew very little about theology or the laws of the temple.

Unlike the well-educated (but misguided) religious leaders in Judea, the people of Galilee were not part of the religious establishment of the time. Although they had a strong belief in God, they were not familiar with the main doctrines taught by the religious leaders or the traditions of the temple authorities. And yet, a simple belief in God is often better than a more complicated belief system based on human reason rather than divine revelation. In this regard, the “learned world” often looks down upon people who believe in simplicity that there is a God, and that God is good. 2

The simple, hard-working, good people of Nazareth, therefore, symbolize the humility and simplicity we need to believe in God and live according to His teachings. It is remarkable that almost all the early disciples came from Galilee. It was not their theological training that made them receptive to the teachings of Jesus — for they had very little. In fact, it might be said that it was the absence of theological training — or to be more precise, the absence of false and misleading theology — that made them receptive to Jesus’ words. 3

Galilee, then, and the city of Nazareth which was in the region of Galilee, represent the simplicity of heart and the goodness of life that can receive God openly without skepticism or negativity. Because their religious principles are simple and uncomplicated — love God, love your neighbor — these people can receive Jesus’ teachings readily and with joy. All this is contained in the scriptural statement that Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, in the “land of the Gentiles.” 4 These words speak about a state in us “where Jesus grows up” — a state in which we are willing to receive basic truths simply, uncritically, and with joy.

As we shall see later in the narrative, the fact that Jesus grows up in Nazareth, in the land of the Gentiles, will be held against Him. The religious leaders will regard Him as poor and uneducated, untrained in their religious tenets, and therefore incapable of understanding or conveying spiritual truth to anyone. And yet, as this episode closes, we learn that His growing up in Nazareth is the fulfillment of prophecy, for we read, “And He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’” (2:23).

As we reflect on this miraculous moment in the early life of Jesus, it becomes evident that those simple, most basic truths we learn (Egypt) must be protected in a place of simple trust and unalloyed faith (Nazareth of Galilee). This is a necessary stage in which early truths from the letter of the Word can deepen and develop. It is why we feel a natural desire to protect the innocence of children from corrupting influences — Herod, and the son of Herod. And it is the same with each of us as we learn new truth from the letter of the Word, and allow it to grow up within us in a state of simple faith.

Footnotes:

1. Arcana Coelestia 1462:6: “That the Lord when an infant was brought into Egypt, signified the same that is here signified by Abram [instruction in truths from the letter of the Word]; and it took place for the additional reason that He might fulfill all the things that had been represented concerning Him. In the inmost sense the migration of Jacob and his sons into Egypt represented the first instruction of the Lord in knowledges from the Word.” See also Apocalypse Explained 654.

2. Apocalypse Explained 447:5: “Galilee signifies the establishment of the church with the Gentiles who are in the good of life and who receive truths.”

3. Arcana Coelestia 4760:4: “It is well-known that the learned have less belief than the simple in a life after death, and that in general they see Divine truths less clearly than the simple do. The reason is that they consult facts, of which they possess a greater abundance than others, with a negative attitude, and by this destroy in themselves any insight gained from a higher or more interior position. Once this has been destroyed they no longer see anything in the light of heaven but in the light of the world; for facts exist in the light of the world, and if they are not lit up by the light of heaven they bring darkness, however different it may seem to be to them. This was why the simple believed in the Lord but not the scribes and Pharisees, who were the learned in that nation.”

4. Apocalypse Explained 730: “Gentiles signify those who are in ignorance of truth, and yet are in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have a desire for truths.”

From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 113, 117, 1171, 1462, 1502, 1540, 2135, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 277, 503, 526, 913

Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture 23

True Christian Religion 205


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 72, 242, 324, 422, 433, 448, 449, ...

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 2, 41

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 4, 6, 9, 12, 14, 31, ...

Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Exodus 4:19, 22

Numbers 23:22, 24:17

Joshua 5:14

2 Samuel 2

1 Kings 11:40

1 Chronicles 2

Psalms 72:10, 78:71

Isaiah 11:1, 40:11, 60:6

Jeremiah 26:21, 31:15

Hosea 11:1

Jonah 4:6

Micah 5:1, 2

Bible Word Meanings

bethlehem
There is a strong relationship between Ephrath and Bethlehem in the Bible; they might be two different names for the same town, or it’s possible...

wise
At its heart, wisdom is love's imperative desire to take form. That's a tricky statement, but think of it this way: If you love someone,...

jews
It would be simple to think that when the Bible mentions "Jews" it is simply talking about the descendants of the tribe of Judah, the...

seen
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

star
'Stars' signify the knowledge of truth and good. 'Stars' are frequently mentioned in the Word, and always signify goods and truths, but in an opposite...

come
Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

worship
'Worship,' as in Revelation 13:12, signifies acknowledging something to be sacred in the church.

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

troubled
The Bible often talks of people being "troubled." The internal meaning is pretty straightforward; it indicates a state of spiritual turmoil, usually due to the...

chief priests
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:18, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

scribes
'The chief priests and scribes,' as in Matthew 20:18, signify the adulterations of good and the falsifications of truth.

christ
Christ is one of the names of the Lord. It derives from Greek, and means "the anointed one," a King or Messiah. Christ as King...

said
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...

written
If knowing what’s right were the same as doing what’s right, we would all be thin, healthy, hard-working, law-abiding, faithful to our spouses and free...

the least
'Tittle' or 'the least' in the Word represents heavenly things.

least
The idea of "least" is not addressed directly in Swedenborg, but a central idea is relatively clear from several references to Matthew 25:40: And the...

governor
"Rulers" or "governors" in the Bible represent the most basic, most essential true ideas that guide us in life, ideas that spring directly from the...

go
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...

saw
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

went before
To "go before" in the Bible means either to lead or to prepare, depending on context. When it is said of the Lord or things...

rejoiced
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

joy
Feelings of joy and rejoicing flow from our affections, not from our thoughts. Some people might argue that that's not true, that you can rejoice...

worshipped
'Worship,' as in Revelation 13:12, signifies acknowledging something to be sacred in the church.

opened
To open,' as in Revelation 9, signifies communication and conjunction.

treasures
'Treasure,' as in Matthew 13:44, signifies divine truth in the Word.

gifts
The gift which Abraham gave to the sons of the concubines which he had, as in Genesis 25:6, signifies lots in the Lord's spiritual kingdom....

and frankincense
'Perfumes, ointment, and frankincense,' as in Revelation 18:13, signify spiritual aspects of worship.

frankincense
Frankincense was one of the three gifts presented by the wise men, sometimes called the magi, to Jesus. The three gifts - gold, frankincense, and...

and myrrh
In Genesis 37:25, 'spices, resin, and myrrh' signify interior natural truths joined to good in the natural level. Among the ancients, they used things with...

myrrh
Myrrh is a perfume and medicine made from the resin from a genus of thorn trees. In the Word, is represents our early knowledges about...

own
In many cases, the spiritual meaning of "own," both as a verb and as an adjective, is relatively literal. When people are described as the...

way
These days we tend to think of "roads" as smooth swaths of pavement, and judge them by how fast we can drive cars on them....

angel
"Angels" in the Bible represent qualities of the Lord himself, or a variety of things that come directly from the Lord. On a lower level...

arise
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

seek
The meaning of "to seek" in the Bible is pretty straightforward, but there is a bit of nuance: Swedenborg tells us that in most cases...

might
'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

fulfilled
When the Lord said that all things which were written concerning him were fulfilled, he meant that all things were fulfilled in their inmost sense.

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

under
In the Bible, things that are lower down, or under, physically, generally represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases, the...

mourning
'Weeping and wailing,' as in Revelation 18:15, signifies grief of the soul and heart, and so it has reference to the understanding and the will.

galilee
when Galilee is mentioned in the Bible, it's referring to the "gentiles", to the spiritual states of people who were not in the Jewish church....

city
Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jeremiah 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

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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.


 Adoration of the Wise Men
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Adoration of the Wise Men
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Angels in the Christmas Story
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Behold, the Star
Article | Ages 15 - 17

 Birth of the Lord
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Childhood of Jesus
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Christmas Star
Gives directions for assembling four large triangles into a beautiful star. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Correspondences of Gold
Illustrations of three stories in the Word that mention gold. (Quotations are the King James translation.)
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Fall Down and Worship Him
Think about your day tomorrow, and prioritize your various activities by thinking about what the Lord wants you to do.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Five Christmas Scenes
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Flee to Egypt
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Flight into Egypt
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Flight into Egypt Silhouette
"Cut out the pieces to show the silhouettes of Mary and Joseph taking the young Child to Egypt, then assemble on a large piece of blue paper and add stars by using glitter or small star stickers. "
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Following the Star
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Follow the Star Dramatization
This simple dramatization of the story of the wise men following the star to find the baby Lord includes a script and an illustration of Mary, Joseph, and the young Child.
Activity | Ages 3 - 7

 Gifts for the Lord
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Gifts of Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Gifts of the Wise Men
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 His Star Still Shines
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Jesus' Childhood
People are born without a set purpose and develop a purpose as they learn and choose a pathway. Jesus was born with an identity and a purpose; He had to discover His identity and become true to it.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 Joy in the Coming of Our Lord
Like the star that led the wise men, the truth will lead us to the Lord and make us happy. But the real joy in our lives will be when we come to the Lord offering gifts to Him, as the wise men did.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Lacing Star
Print this star onto card stock, punch holes around the edge, then use yarn with sparkly (metallic) strands to “sew” around the edge of the star to make it sparkle.
Project | Ages 4 - 8

 Making Christmas Star Cookies
Ideas for decorating rolled cookies cut in the shape of stars. 
Project | Ages over 7

 Memory Verse: The Guiding Star
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Pop-up Crèche Card for Christmas
A lovely project to color and assemble. Designed by Eudora Sellner Walsh.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Quotes: Prophecies of the Advent
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: The Guiding Star
Teachings from the Lord's Word for Christmas about the guiding star.
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Unto Us a Child Is Born
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Quotes: Using Our Talents
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Scroll of Angelic Appearances in Christmas Story
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Show and Tell the Gifts of the Wise Men
Read about the three gifts in Matthew 2. Then show everyone some gold, frankincense and myrrh. Discuss ways we can give these symbolic gifts to the Lord.
Activity | All Ages

 Signs at Christmas
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Star of Wonder
Four ways to picture the star in the dark of night.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Star Out of Jacob
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Star Out of Jacob with Quote
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Stars
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 Story of the Wise Men Scene Boxes
Paint four sides of a box to show 4 different scenes from the story of the wise men.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Story of the Wisemen Stained Glass Windows
Make stained glass windows depicting the star of wonder, the three wise men following the star or the wise men presenting their gifts before the Lord.
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 Strange Gifts
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Christmas Star
As we think about stars at Christmas time, let us invite the Lord into our hearts and minds so that His Christmas star will light the way to heaven for us.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Flight into Egypt
Angels came to Joseph in a dream to help protect the baby Lord. Angels can help protect us too. Sample from the Jacob's Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 The Gold of the Wisemen
Gold stands for loving the Lord. This was the first gift that the wise men gave the Lord because it is essential for worshiping the Lord. You can give the Lord the gift of spiritual gold - the gift of love. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Guiding Star [salt crystal star]
Paint a beautiful guiding star and then use salt crystals on wet paint to make a starry sky for the background.
Project | Ages over 7

 The Innocence of Love
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord Come into the World
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 Lord Comes into the World (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Lord Comes into the World (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Lord Comes into the World (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Murder of the Innocents and the Flight into Egypt
Within each one of us the Lord’s wonderful Providence keeps what is most important safe from harm. In time, this protection makes it possible for us to prepare ourselves to become angels in heaven.
Worship Talk | Ages 15 - 17

 The Slaughter of the Innocents
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Star of Bethlehem
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Three Gifts of the Wise Men
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Visit of the Wise Men
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 Visit of the Wise Men (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Visit of the Wise Men (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Visit of the Wise Men (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Wise Men
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wise Men
Two project ideas for picturing the wise men.  
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 The Wise Men
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 The Wise Men
The wise men brought gifts to the baby Lord. How are we to search for the Lord? What gifts should we bring Him?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Wise Men
This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Wise Men
A story for young children with color illustrations.
Story | Ages 4 - 10

 The Wisemen Diorama
Print this project onto thick paper (such as cover stock). Then color the wise men, the camels, and the background scene of Bethlehem and assemble a diorama with the wise men looking at the star. 
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wisemen Present Gifts
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wisemen Rejoice to See the Star
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Wise Men Worship the Lord
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Christmas Initial Letters
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Christmas Scenes
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Kings from the East
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Three Wise Men
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Why Does God Let Bad Things Happen?
Lesson and activities comparing what the Lord wills to what He permits so that people can be free to make heavenly or hellish choices in their lives.
Religion Lesson | Ages over 15

 Why the Lord Was Taken into Egypt
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Wise Men Follow the Star
At the time of the Lord’s birth a beautiful star appeared in the night sky. It was a star of heavenly light and only people whose spiritual eyes had been opened could see it. Far away from Bethlehem, in the land to the east, this special star was seen by some wise men. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 2, for ages 7-8.
Religion Lesson | Ages 7 - 8

 Wise Men from the East
Presents a dramatic word-picture of the wise men's journey and a message for us all: If you wish to be wise, and to be made happy with an exceeding great joy, follow the Lord's star.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Wisemen See Star
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Wisemen's Gift Ornaments
Make ornaments for your tree by printing pictures of wise men's gifts on stiff paper (such as cover stock). Then color the gifts, cut them out, and display on your tree.
Project | Ages up to 10

Commentary

 

Exploring the Meaning of Matthew 2

     

By Rev. Dr. Ray Silverman

Chapter 2.

After Jesus is Born

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1. And when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came Magi from the east into Jerusalem,

2. Saying, “Where is He that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east, and are come to worship Him.”

3. But having heard, Herod the king was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.

4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where Christ should be born.

5. And they said unto him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for thus it is written by the prophet:

6. ‘And thou Bethlehem, [of] the land of Judah, art by no means the least among the governors of Judah, for out of thee shall come a Governor, who shall shepherd My people Israel.’”

7. Then Herod, privately calling the Magi, precisely inquired of them at what time the star appeared.

8. And sending them to Bethlehem, he said, “Go and search earnestly for the little Child; and when you have found [Him], report to me, so that I also may come and worship Him.”

9. And when they had heard the king they went [out]; and behold, the star which they saw in the east went before them, till it came [and] stood over where the little Child was.

10. And having seen the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy.

11. And coming into the house, they found the little Child with Mary His mother, and falling [down] they worshiped Him; and opening their treasures, they offered to Him gifts: gold, and frankincense, and myrrh.

12. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed into their own country by another way.

13. And when they had departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph, saying, “Arise and take the little Child and His mother, and flee into Egypt, and be there until I tell thee; for Herod is about to seek the little Child to destroy Him.”

14. And when he arose, he took the little Child and His mother by night, and departed into Egypt,

15. And was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.”

16. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the Magi, was exceedingly wrathful, and sent out and slew all the boys that were in Bethlehem, and in all her borders , from two years and under, according to the time which he had precisely inquired of the Magi.

17. Then was fulfilled what was declared by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18. “A voice was heard in Rama, lamentation, and weeping, and much howling, Rachel weeping [for] her children; and she was not willing to be comforted, because they are not.”

19. And when Herod was dead, behold, the angel of the Lord, in a dream appears to Joseph in Egypt,

20. Saying, “Arise, take the little Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for they are dead who sought the soul of the little Child.”
---

Joseph’s struggle within himself — as to whether or not to accept Mary and the child — represents the spiritual battle which each of us must undergo in the course of our regeneration. It is one thing to receive the Lord in the understanding (represented by Joseph), but quite another to allow Him to order the things of our will — represented by the angel telling Joseph to take Mary as his wife. This is the fiercer battle which now begins “after Jesus is born.”

The antagonist is Herod, the king of Judea at the time of Jesus’ birth. Comfortable and secure in his role as the supreme ruler of the land, Herod is deeply troubled by the report of the Wise Men who say, “Where is He who is born King of the Jews?” Spiritually seen, Herod, as king of Israel, represents total self-absorption, our corrupt hereditary will, setting itself up as the ruler of our lives. This is our state after fourteen generations of captivity in Babylon — a state in which we are governed by our basest emotions: greed, control, anger, fear, hatred and jealousy. We can be sure that whenever we find ourselves in a state like this, Herod is sitting comfortably and securely on his throne. He is a tyrannical ruler, easily threatened, but not easily dethroned. His motivating force is to destroy the Lord in us — even at His birth — rather than relinquish his control over us.

God knows that we need divine protection from the wrath of Herod who represents our selfish desire to control. God therefore speaks to Joseph (as He does to us) in a dream, saying “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and remain there until I bring you word; for Herod is about to seek the young Child to destroy Him” (2:13).

Egypt, at that time, was a world center for education and learning. Medicine, mathematics, poetry and many other fields of study were flourishing. So Jesus’ flight into Egypt represents the need that all of us have for basic education, not just the standard three “R’s,” (reading, ‘riting, and ‘rithmetic) but the fourth “R” as well — the basics of religion.

Religious truth, especially the most basic, can help defend us against the onslaughts of Herod — the despot of our lower nature, a fierce tyrant who strives to murder everything that is true in us, even in its most innocent beginning. This is represented by Herod’s massacre of the male children in and around Bethlehem: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem, and in all its districts, from two years old and under” (2:16; emphasis added).

The name “Bethlehem,” comes from two Hebrew words: “Beth” meaning “house” and “lechem” meaning “bread.” Therefore, Bethlehem means “House of Bread” — a place of spiritual nourishment. In the context of this episode, Herod’s destruction of all the male children of Bethlehem, two years old and under, represents how evil inclinations can destroy our earliest impulses to learn truth. These earliest desires to acquire knowledge of truth are symbolized by the male babies of Bethlehem. Whenever we fall into states of cynicism and skepticism, refusing to learn or trust the simple teachings of the Word, whenever we find ourselves without desire to seek the truth, and whenever the distractions of the world lure us away from the quest for wisdom, we can know that “Herod” has risen up in our hearts. A massacre has begun. “Herod in us” is striving to murder the innocent and tender qualities that have been born in our heavenly Bethlehem.

But if we flee to and remain in Egypt (as Jesus does), we will be protected. It is the place where our instruction begins. This is a temporary, but essential part of our spiritual development; temporary because we must eventually return to the land of Canaan where the truth will be applied to our lives; and essential, because these basic, natural truths are the only means by which we can be prepared to receive the higher insights that will eventually flow in from above. 1

For most of us, the period of our instruction in basic truths can last for many years, well into adolescence and beyond. In fact, it never really ends. Throughout our lives we will continue to acquire knowledge, both worldly and spiritual. We will, as it were, “go down into Egypt.” And, as we do so, learning truth and putting it into our lives, we will begin to see how the literal teachings of scripture “open up” like parting clouds, revealing more and more of the interior truths they contain.

In Jesus’ own case, this process of acquiring basic truth was much more rapid. Although Matthew does not tell us how long Jesus remained in Egypt, we can safely assume He was still quite young when He left, for an angel of the Lord came to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the soul of the young Child’s are dead” (2:20; emphasis added).

Growing up in Nazareth

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21. And he arose, [and] took the little Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22. And hearing that Archelaus reigned in Judea instead of his father Herod, he feared to go thither; but being warned in a dream, he departed into the parts of Galilee.

23. And coming, He dwelt in a city called Nazareth, so that it might be fulfilled which was declared by the prophets, that He should be called a Nazarene.
---

Eventually, Joseph, Mary, and the young Child decide to return to Judea. This represents the next step in our spiritual journey. Once we have learned the simple, basic, most literal truths of the Word (sojourning in Egypt), it is time to return to Judea. It is time to be further instructed, and to see what is more interiorly concealed within the letter of the Word. This is a necessary step in every person’s spiritual development. The letter of the Word serves as a literal history of people and places; it is an introduction to basic truth. It does not, however, reveal the full details of our spiritual journey, or provide the kind of discernment we need for the refinement of our souls. Not yet, but that will surely come when we are ready to receive further instruction.

Meanwhile, as the divine narrative continues, Joseph is “warned by God in a dream” that it is not yet time to return to their home. Though Herod is dead, his son is still in power. And so Mary, Joseph, and the young Child turn aside into the region of Galilee, into a city called Nazareth. This is yet another step on the journey of spiritual development. In the language of sacred scripture, it could be called, “growing up in Nazareth.

But what does it mean to “grow up in Nazareth”?

Nazareth of Galilee was a primitive region populated mostly by farmers, fishermen and uneducated tradespeople who knew very little about theology or the laws of the temple.

Unlike the well-educated (but misguided) religious leaders in Judea, the people of Galilee were not part of the religious establishment of the time. Although they had a strong belief in God, they were not familiar with the main doctrines taught by the religious leaders or the traditions of the temple authorities. And yet, a simple belief in God is often better than a more complicated belief system based on human reason rather than divine revelation. In this regard, the “learned world” often looks down upon people who believe in simplicity that there is a God, and that God is good. 2

The simple, hard-working, good people of Nazareth, therefore, symbolize the humility and simplicity we need to believe in God and live according to His teachings. It is remarkable that almost all the early disciples came from Galilee. It was not their theological training that made them receptive to the teachings of Jesus — for they had very little. In fact, it might be said that it was the absence of theological training — or to be more precise, the absence of false and misleading theology — that made them receptive to Jesus’ words. 3

Galilee, then, and the city of Nazareth which was in the region of Galilee, represent the simplicity of heart and the goodness of life that can receive God openly without skepticism or negativity. Because their religious principles are simple and uncomplicated — love God, love your neighbor — these people can receive Jesus’ teachings readily and with joy. All this is contained in the scriptural statement that Jesus grew up in Nazareth of Galilee, in the “land of the Gentiles.” 4 These words speak about a state in us “where Jesus grows up” — a state in which we are willing to receive basic truths simply, uncritically, and with joy.

As we shall see later in the narrative, the fact that Jesus grows up in Nazareth, in the land of the Gentiles, will be held against Him. The religious leaders will regard Him as poor and uneducated, untrained in their religious tenets, and therefore incapable of understanding or conveying spiritual truth to anyone. And yet, as this episode closes, we learn that His growing up in Nazareth is the fulfillment of prophecy, for we read, “And He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’” (2:23).

As we reflect on this miraculous moment in the early life of Jesus, it becomes evident that those simple, most basic truths we learn (Egypt) must be protected in a place of simple trust and unalloyed faith (Nazareth of Galilee). This is a necessary stage in which early truths from the letter of the Word can deepen and develop. It is why we feel a natural desire to protect the innocence of children from corrupting influences — Herod, and the son of Herod. And it is the same with each of us as we learn new truth from the letter of the Word, and allow it to grow up within us in a state of simple faith.

Footnotes:

1Arcana Coelestia 1462:6: “That the Lord when an infant was brought into Egypt, signified the same that is here signified by Abram [instruction in truths from the letter of the Word]; and it took place for the additional reason that He might fulfill all the things that had been represented concerning Him. In the inmost sense the migration of Jacob and his sons into Egypt represented the first instruction of the Lord in knowledges from the Word.” See also Apocalypse Explained 654.

2Apocalypse Explained 447:5: “Galilee signifies the establishment of the church with the Gentiles who are in the good of life and who receive truths.”

3Arcana Coelestia 4760:4: “It is well-known that the learned have less belief than the simple in a life after death, and that in general they see Divine truths less clearly than the simple do. The reason is that they consult facts, of which they possess a greater abundance than others, with a negative attitude, and by this destroy in themselves any insight gained from a higher or more interior position. Once this has been destroyed they no longer see anything in the light of heaven but in the light of the world; for facts exist in the light of the world, and if they are not lit up by the light of heaven they bring darkness, however different it may seem to be to them. This was why the simple believed in the Lord but not the scribes and Pharisees, who were the learned in that nation.”

4Apocalypse Explained 730: “Gentiles signify those who are in ignorance of truth, and yet are in the good of life according to their religious principle, from which they have a desire for truths.”

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #422

Study this Passage

        
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422. Verse 2. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, signifies the Divine love going forth from the Lord. This is evident from the signification of "angel," as being something Divine proceeding from the Lord; for "angel" in the Word means, in the nearest sense, an entire angelic society, but in a general sense "angel" signifies everyone who receives Divine truth in doctrine and life; while in the highest sense "angel" signifies something Divine proceeding from the Lord, and in particular Divine truth (respecting these significations of an angel see above, n. 90, 130, 200, 302, 307); here, therefore, "the angel ascending from the rising of the sun" signifies the Divine proceeding from the Lord's love; "the rising of the sun" or the "east" signifying the Lord's Divine love, and "to ascend therefrom" signifying to go forth and proceed; so here "the angel ascending from the rising of the sun" signifies the Divine love going forth from the Lord. The things that follow are also of the Divine love, namely, that the good be not harmed. "The rising of the sun" signifies the Lord's Divine love, because the Lord is the sun in the angelic heaven, and the Lord appears as a sun from His Divine love; where the Lord appears as a sun, there in heaven is the east, and as the sun is constantly there it is also constantly in its rising.

(References: Revelation 7:2; The Apocalypse Explained 90, 130, The Apocalypse Explained 200, The Apocalypse Explained 302, 307)


[2] In the spiritual world there are four quarters, namely, east, west, south, and north; and these quarters are all determined by the sun, which is the Lord; where this sun is, there is the east, opposite to it is the west, to the right the south, and to the left the north. In the eastern quarter angels who are in love to the Lord dwell, because they are under the nearest auspices of the Lord, for the Lord most nearly and directly flows into them from Divine love, and this is why "the rising of the sun" and the "east" signify in the Word the Lord's Divine love. (That the Lord appears in the angelic heaven as a sun, and that it is the Lord's Divine love that thus appears, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 116-125; consequently that the "sun" signifies in the Word the Divine love, see above, n. 401; that all the quarters in the spiritual world are determined from the east, where the Lord is as a sun, see in the work on Heaven and Hell 141; therefore that those who are in the good of love to the Lord dwell in the eastern quarter, n. 148-149.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 148-149, The Apocalypse Explained 401)


[3] The quarters, namely, the east, west, south, and north, are frequently mentioned in the Word, and he who knows nothing about the spiritual sense of the Word believes that this means the quarters of our solar world, and thus supposes that no arcana of heaven and the church are involved therein; and yet the quarters mentioned in the Word mean the quarters in the spiritual world; which are altogether different from the quarters in our world; for there all angels and spirits have their dwelling places in the quarters according to the quality of their good and truth; those who are in the good of love to the Lord dwelling there in the east and the west, and those who are in truths from that good dwelling in the south and north. They dwell in this manner because the Lord there is the sun, and from Him as the sun are all heat and light, or all good and truth. The heat there, which is spiritual heat or the good of love, inflows directly from the east into the west, and decreases according to reception by the angels, consequently according to the distances, for in the spiritual world all distance from the Lord is in the measure of the reception of good and truth from Him. This is why those who are in interior and thence in clear good of love dwell there in the east, and those who are in exterior and thence obscure good of love dwell in the west. The light, too, which is spiritual light, or Divine truth, flows directly from the east into the west; it also flows into either side, but with the difference, that the Divine truth that flows from the east into the west is in its essence the good of love, while that which flows into either side is in its essence truth from that good; consequently those who dwell in the south and in the north, which are the quarters at the sides, are in the light of truth; those in the south in the clear light of truth, and those in the north in an obscure light of truth; the light of truth is intelligence and wisdom. (But respecting these quarters more may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell 141-153.) These, therefore, are the quarters meant in the Word where quarters are mentioned, and they also signify such Divine things as exist in those quarters; namely, the "east" the good of love in clearness, the "west" the good of love in obscurity, the "south" truth from that good in clearness, and the "north" truth from that good in obscurity.

[4] Furthermore, there are quarters in the spiritual world which differ from those just mentioned, and are removed from them about thirty degrees; these are under the auspices of the Lord as a moon; for the Lord appears as a sun to those who are in love to Him, but as a moon to those who are in charity towards the neighbor and in faith therefrom (respecting this appearance, see also in the work on Heaven and Hell 118, 119, 122). In the eastern and western quarters there dwell those who are in the good of charity towards the neighbor; and in the southern and northern quarters those who are in truths from that good, which are called the truths of faith. These quarters are also sometimes meant in the Word, where these truths and this good are treated of.

(References: Heaven and Hell 118-119)


[5] From this it can be seen that one who knows nothing about the quarters of heaven, which have here been mentioned, cannot know the spiritual things of the Word in the passages where the quarters are mentioned, as in the following. In Isaiah:

I will bring in thy seed from the sunrise and bring thee together from the west; I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Hold not back; bring in My sons from far, and My daughters from the end of the earth (Isaiah 43:5, 6).

This treats of Jacob and Israel, and one who does not know that these quarters mean the spiritual things mentioned above, may believe the meaning to be that the sons of Israel and Jacob are to be gathered from every side; but "Jacob" and "Israel" mean the church, which consists of those who are in the good of love and in truths from that good, and their "seed" means all who are of that church. "I will bring in thy seed from the sunrise, and will bring thee together from the west," means that those who are in the good of love are to be brought in and gathered together; and "I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Hold not back," means that those who are in truths from that good are to be brought in and gathered together. That all who are in these truths and goods, even to those who are in ultimates shall be brought together, is signified by "bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the end of the earth;" "sons" meaning those who are in truths, and "daughters" those who are in goods; "from far," and "from the end of the earth," signifying those who are in the ultimate truths and goods of the church. These quarters have a like signification in the following passages. In David:

Jehovah will gather the redeemed out of the lands, from the sunrise and from the west, from the north and from the sea (Psalms 107:3).

In Moses:

Jehovah said to Jacob in a dream, Thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and shall spread itself towards the west and towards the east, and towards the north and towards the south (Genesis 28:14).

In Luke:

They shall come from the sunrise and from the west, and from the north and from the south, and shall recline in the kingdom of God (Luke 13:29).

(References: Isaiah 43:5-6)


[6] In many passages the words "from east to west," and not at the same time "from north and south," are mentioned, by which all who are in the good of love to the Lord and in the good of charity towards the neighbor are meant. Moreover, these quarters involve the two others, because all who are in good are also in truths, for good and truth everywhere act as one; these, therefore, are meant where "from east to west" is mentioned. In Matthew:

Many shall come from the east and even from the west, and shall recline at meat with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew 8:11).

In the passage above cited from Luke (13:29), it is said of those reclining at meat in the kingdom of the heavens that "they shall come from the east and the west, from the north and from the south;" here it is said only "from the east and from the west," because by these two quarters are meant the other two at the same time as has been said. The same is true of the following passages. In Malachi:

From the rising of the sun unto its going down My name is great among the nations (Malachi 1:11).

In David:

From the rising of the sun unto its going down the name of Jehovah is to be praised 1 (Psalms 113:3).

In Isaiah:

From the going down of the sun they shall fear the name of Jehovah, and His glory from the rising of the sun (Isaiah 59:19).

In the same:

That they may know from the rising of the sun and from its going down that there is none beside Me (Isaiah 45:6).

In David:

God, Jehovah God, speaketh, and shall call the earth from the rising of the sun unto its going down (Psalms 50:1).

In Zechariah:

Behold, I save My people from the land of the sunrise and from the land of the going down of the sun (Zechariah 8:7).

In these passages, "from the rising" and "from the going down" signify all who are in the goods and truths of heaven and of the church. Like things are signified by the quarters:

With reference to which the temple was measured (Ezekiel 42).

And with reference to which the land was to be given for an inheritance (Ezekiel 47:13, et seq .).

And should be distributed among the twelve tribes of Israel (Ezekiel 48).

Also with reference to which the sons of Israel were to measure the camp (Numbers 2).

And with reference to which they should go forward (Numbers 10).

And with reference to which the gates of the new city would be placed (Ezekiel 40; Revelation 21:13; and the same elsewhere).

(References: Ezekiel 40:1, 42:1, Ezekiel 48:1; Numbers 2:1, 10:1)


[7] The temple was to be measured with reference to the quarters (in Ezekiel), and the land was distributed with reference to the quarters (in Ezekiel and also in Joshua), likewise the sons of Israel encamped in reference to the quarters and went forward in the same order, for the reason that all things in the spiritual world are arranged in reference to the quarters, both in general and also in particular. In general, all angels and spirits have their dwelling places in accordance with the states of good and truth with them in corresponding quarters, as was said above; the same is true in particular; for in all assemblies, those who are present are allotted places in quarters that correspond to the states of their life; in like manner they are seated in their temples there, and in like manner also dwell in their houses: in a word, each and every thing there is arranged in accordance with the quarters of heaven; for the form of heaven is the same in every particular as it is in general. This makes evident what is signified by the arrangements in reference to quarters in the Word, also by the quarters in reference to which the tabernacle was built, and in reference to which the temple also was built by Solomon; besides other things.

[8] So much in respect to quarters in general. That the "east" signifies the Lord in respect to Divine love, and thus the Lord with those who receive the good of love to Him, can be seen from the following passages. In Ezekiel:

He brought me to the gate of the temple that looketh toward the east; and behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east; and His voice was like the voice of many waters; and the earth was enlightened by His glory. And the glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate whose face is toward the east. Then the spirit took me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of Jehovah filled the house (Ezekiel 43:1, 2, 4, 5).

This treats of the building of a new temple, which signifies a new church to be established by the Lord; and because introduction is effected through the good of love to the Lord and through the truth from that good, there was seen "a gate that looked towards the east, and the God of Israel coming from the way of the east;" "gate" signifying introduction and entrance; "the God of Israel" meaning the Lord; the "east" the good of love from Him to Him, and "glory" the truth from that good; for the Lord enters into heaven and so into the church from His Divine love, which in the heavens appears as a sun (as was said above); from this is all Divine good there as well as all Divine truth. That there was seen "the glory of Jehovah entering into the house by the way of the gate whose face is towards the east," and that "the glory of Jehovah filled the house," have a like signification; "house" or "temple" signifying heaven and the church. "Glory" in the Word signifies Divine truth proceeding from the Lord; "the glory of the God of Israel" Divine truth illustrating those who are in the Lord's spiritual kingdom, and "the glory of Jehovah" Divine truth illustrating those who are in the Lord's celestial kingdom. Divine truth is called "glory" because it is the light of heaven, and from that light come all the splendor, magnificence, and glory there, for in the heavens whatever appears before the eyes is from that light; it is therefore added, "the earth was enlightened by His glory," "the earth" meaning the church. The influx of this light towards the lower parts on every side is signified by "His voice was like the voice of many waters; "voice" signifying influx, and "waters" truths.

(References: Ezekiel 43:1-5, 43:4-5)


[9] In the same:

Afterwards He brought me back by the way of the gate of the outer sanctuary that looketh towards the east; and it was shut. But Jehovah the God of Israel shall enter in by it (Ezekiel 44:1, 2).

In the same:

The gate of the inner court that looketh toward the east shall be shut the six days of work; but on the day of the Sabbath it shall be opened (Ezekiel 46:1).

Here, too, "the gate that looketh towards the east" signifies the introduction by the Lord into heaven and into the church through the good of love proceeding from Him; this therefore is meant by "the east;" and that this is done by the Lord is signified by "Jehovah the God of Israel shall enter by that gate;" that introduction is effected by worship of the Lord from that good is signified by "the gate shall be opened on the day of the Sabbath;" and that when there is no worship from that good introduction is not effected is signified by "that gate shall be shut the six days of work."

(References: Ezekiel 44:1-2)


[10] In the same:

And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and he stood at the entrance of the gate of the house of Jehovah on the east; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above (Ezekiel 10:19).

"The cherubim" signify the Lord in respect to Divine Providence, and in respect to protection that there be no approach except through the good of love (see above, n. 152, 277); and as the Lord is signified by "the cherubim," and from the Lord as a sun, where the east is, all good of love and all truth from that good proceed, so "the cherubim were seen to stand at the entrance of the gate of the house of Jehovah on the east, and the glory of the God of Israel over them above;" "the house of Jehovah," "the east," and "the glory of the God of Israel," having a similar signification here as above.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 152, The Apocalypse Explained 277)


[11] In Isaiah:

Who hath stirred up one from the sunrise, whom He hath called in righteousness to His train, He hath given the nations before him and made him to rule over kings? (Isaiah 41:2).

This treats of the Lord, who is said to have been "stirred up from the sunrise" because He was conceived from the Divine Itself, which in its essence is Divine love; it is from this that the Lord is the sun of the angelic heaven; "to call in righteousness" signifies to restore heaven and the church; for "the righteousness of the Lord" signifies in the Word that from His own power He saved the human race, and this was done by reducing all things in the heavens and hells to order. (See above, n. 293 what the rest signifies was explained above, n. 357.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 293, The Apocalypse Explained 357)


[12] In the second book of Samuel:

The spirit of Jehovah spake in me, the God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, As the light of the morning when the sun riseth, a morning without clouds; from the brightness after rain cometh grass out of the earth (2 Samuel 23:2-4).

"The God of Israel" and "the Rock of Israel" mean the Lord, and because He is the sun of the angelic heaven, and because all Divine truth which illustrates angels and men, and gives intelligence and works reformation, proceeds from Him as a sun and flows in, so it is said "as the light in the morning when the sun riseth, a morning without clouds; from the brightness after rain cometh grass out of the earth;" "the light in the morning when the sun riseth" signifying Divine truth from the Lord as a sun; "a morning without clouds" signifying the purity of that truth; "rain" its influx, and "grass out of the earth" the consequent intelligence and reformation; for these are signified by "grass" because grass springs out of the earth by the action of the sun of the world after rain, and intelligence is from the Lord as a sun through the influx of Divine truth.

[13] In Isaiah:

Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. And the nations shall walk to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (Isaiah 60:2, 3).

This is said of the Lord; and the Divine in Him is meant by "Jehovah shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee;" the Divine good of the Divine love is meant by "Jehovah shall arise upon thee," and Divine truth from that good by "His glory shall be seen upon thee;" "nations" signify those who are in good, and "kings" those who are in truths from good; of the former it is said "they shall walk to thy light," which signifies a life according to Divine truth; and of the latter, "they shall walk to the brightness of thy rising," which signifies a life of intelligence from Divine good; "to walk" signifying to live; "light" Divine truth, and "the brightness of rising" Divine truth from Divine good, whence is intelligence.

(References: Isaiah 60:2-3)


[14] In Ezekiel:

Then the cherubim lifted up their wings, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. And the glory of Jehovah went up over the midst of the city, and stood over the mountain on the east of the city (Ezekiel 11:22, 23).

"The cherubim" signify the Lord in respect to Divine Providence and protection, and "the glory of the God of Israel" signifies Divine truth proceeding from the Lord (as above). And because Divine truth, which is light, proceeds from the Lord as a sun in the angelic heaven, "the glory of Jehovah was seen to go up over the midst of the city, and to stand over the mountain on the east of the city," for Jerusalem is the city that is meant, and it signifies the church in respect to doctrine; and because the doctrine of the church is from Divine truth, the glory of Jehovah was seen "to go up over the midst of the city," and because all Divine truth proceeds from the Lord as a sun, and there the east is, the glory was seen "to stand over the mountain on the east of the city;" the mountain on the east of the city was the Mount of Olives. That "the Mount of Olives" signifies the Lord's Divine love, and on that account the Lord was accustomed to tarry on that mountain, may be seen above n. 405; and that the Mount of Olives was before Jerusalem on the east may be seen in Zechariah (Zechariah 14:4).

(References: Ezekiel 11:22-23; The Apocalypse Explained 405)


[15] In Ezekiel:

He brought me back to the entrance of the house; where behold, waters going out from under the threshold of the house towards the east, the front of the house being east, and the waters coming down from under, from the right side of the house, at the south of the altar. And he brought me out by the way of the gate northward, and led me round by the outer way to the outer gate, by the way that looketh eastward; and behold, waters running from the right side. He said to me, These waters go forth toward the eastern boundary, and go down into the plain, and come towards the sea, being sent forth into the sea that the waters may be healed; whence it cometh to pass that every living soul that creeps, whithersoever the brooks come, liveth; whence there is exceeding much fish. And by the brook upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, cometh up every tree for food, whose leaf falleth not, nor does its fruit come to an end (Ezekiel 47:1, 2, 8, 9, 12).

This describes a new church to be established by the Lord in the heavens and on the earth, when everything Divine shall proceed from the Lord's Divine Human; for before the Lord's coming the Divine proceeded from His Divine that He calls "the Father," but after the church had become vastated, this did not reach to the ultimates. Here "house" signifies the church, its "gate" entrance and introduction, the "east" the Lord where His Divine love appears as a sun, and "the waters going out" Divine truth proceeding from that sun. The "plain" and the "sea" signify the ultimates of the church, that is, where those are who are in ultimate truths and goods, to whom the Divine did not reach before, because they are natural and sensual, and but little spiritual. That "the waters of the sea were healed by the flowing in of the brook from the east" signifies that after the Lord's coming even these had life from the Divine; "exceeding much fish" signifies the abundance of cognitions and knowledges, which in such also acquire spiritual life; the fructification of good and the multiplication of truth are signified by "on the bank of the brook every tree for food cometh up, whose leaf falleth not off, and its fruit does not come to an end." From this it can be seen what the particulars here signify in series, and that "the east," from which they all are, signifies the Lord and His Divine love.

(References: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 47:8-9)


[16] The like is signified in Zechariah:

And it shall come to pass in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; part of them to the eastern sea (Zechariah 14:8).

This, too, treats of the Lord. "In that day" signifies His coming, and the "eastern sea" signifies the last limit toward the east in the spiritual world, at which there was no reception of Divine truth before the Lord's coming, but where there was reception when Divine truth proceeded from His Divine Human. That the ultimates in the spiritual world are like seas may be seen above n. 342; and that there are dry places and wastes there may be seen in Joel (Joel 2:20).

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 342)


[17] Because in heaven, where the angels are, the Lord appears as a sun, and is there the east:

So Aaron, when he made expiation for himself and his house, sprinkled of the blood of the bullock before the mercy-seat eastward (Leviticus 16:14, 15);

So Moses and Aaron and his sons pitched their camp before the Tent of the meeting towards the east (Numbers 3:38);

Also the tribe of Judah (Numbers 2:3).

"Moses, Aaron and his sons," and "the tribe of Judah," represented the Lord in respect to Divine good and Divine truth proceeding from Divine love; for this reason their camp was towards the east. So, too, the ancients in their adorations turned their faces to the rising of the sun; and so built their temples that the front parts, where the adytum was, should look towards the east, which from the old custom is still done at the present day. Moreover, the whole angelic heaven is turned to the Lord as a sun, thus constantly to the east; furthermore, all the interiors of the angels in the heavens are turned in that direction, and for this reason the angels of heaven turn their faces to the Lord. (Respecting this turning see many things worthy of mention in the work Heaven and Hell 17, 123, 142-144, 272)

(References: Leviticus 16:14-15)


[18] Because the Lord is the east it is said in Matthew:

As the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of man be (Matthew 24:27).

Since "the rising of the sun" signifies in reference to men the good of love, proceeding from the Lord as a sun, received by them, it is said in the book of Judges:

Let all Thine enemies perish, O Jehovah; but let them that love Him be as the rising of the sun in his might (Judges 5:31).

This is in the prophetic song of Deborah and Barak; and of those who love Jehovah, who are those that are in the good of love to the Lord, it is said, "Let them be as the rising of the sun in his might."

[19] In Moses:

Joseph shall have of the firstfruits of the mountains of the east, and of the precious things of the hills of an age (Deuteronomy 33:15).

"Joseph" in the representative sense signifies the Lord's spiritual kingdom, therefore it is said of him that he shall have "of the firstfruits of the mountains of the east, and of the precious things of the hills of an age;" "the firstfruits of the mountains of the east" signify the genuine goods of love to the Lord, and thence of charity towards the neighbor; "the mountains of the east" meaning the good of love to the Lord, and "firstfruits" genuine and primary goods; "the hills of an age" mean the goods of charity towards the neighbor; when these are genuine they are called "precious things." (The rest of the blessing of Joseph may be seen explained above, n. 405.)

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 405)


[20] In ancient times there was a church in many kingdoms of Asia, as in the land of Canaan, in Syria and Assyria, in Arabia, Ethiopia, Egypt, Chaldea, in Tyre and Sidon, and elsewhere; but the church with them was a representative church, for in all the particulars of their worship, and in every one of their statutes, spiritual and celestial things, which are the internals of the church, were represented, and in the highest sense the Lord Himself was represented. These representatives in worship and statutes remained with many even to the Lord's coming, and thence there was a knowledge of His coming; as can be seen from the predictions of Balaam, who was from Syria, and who prophesied of the Lord in these words:

I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not nigh; there shall arise a Star out of Jacob, and a Scepter shall rise out of Israel (Numbers 24:17).

That this knowledge was afterwards preserved is evident from this, that certain wise men from the east, when the Lord was born saw a star from the east, which they followed, which is thus described in Matthew:

In the days of Herod the king wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, where is He that is born King of the Jews? for we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him; and lo, the star which they saw in the east went before them till it came and stood over where the young child was (Matthew 2:1, 2, 9).

The star appeared to those from the east because the Lord is the east; and because they had knowledge respecting the Lord's coming from representatives that were with them, the star appeared and went before them, first to Jerusalem, which represented the church itself in respect to doctrine and in respect to the Word, and from there to the place where the infant Lord lay. Moreover, a "star" signifies the knowledges of good and truth, and in the highest sense the knowledge respecting the Lord. (That "stars" signify in the Word the knowledges of good and truth, see above, n. 72, 179, 402.) And because the Orientals had such knowledges they were called "sons of the east." That those from Arabia were so called is evident in Jeremiah (Jeremiah 49:28). Also "sons of the east" signify in the Word the knowledges of good and truth; "Kedar," that is, Arabia, has a similar signification. That Job was one of the sons of the east is evident from Job 1:3).

(References: Matthew 2:1-2; The Apocalypse Explained 72, The Apocalypse Explained 179, The Apocalypse Explained 402)


[21] As most things in the Word have also a contrary sense, so does "the east," and in that sense it signifies the love of self, because this love is the opposite of love to the Lord. In this sense the east is mentioned in Ezekiel 8:16, and in Isaiah (Isaiah 2:6). That "the east" signifies the Lord in respect to Divine love, and thus the good of love to Him, can be more fully seen from what was shown above respecting the sun (n. 401; and the morning, n. 176; for where the sun is in the angelic heaven there is the east; and as the morning is where the sun rises, and there the sun is always in its rising and never setting, so "morning" has a like signification.

Footnotes:

1. The photolithograph has "great," but we find "to be praised" in n. 401, and Apocalypse Revealed 809.

(References: Ezekiel 43:1-5; The Apocalypse Explained 176, The Apocalypse Explained 401)

  
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