Commentary

 

The Betrothal      

By Rev. Dr. Andrew M. T. Dibb

Mary, By Henry Ossawa Tanner - http://www.classicartrepro.com/artistsb.iml?artist=427, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4864395

The Betrothal
A Christmas Doctrinal Class by Rev. Andrew M.T. Dibb

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
(Luke 1:26-27)

So begins the wonderful story of the Lord's conception in the Gospel of Luke. The scene is familiar to each of us: Mary is at home, when suddenly she sees the angel Gabriel and hears his words of great joy:

"Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!" (Luke 1:28)

An angel is a messenger of the Lord. In the Word angels came to bring wisdom and comfort, hope and the good news, the “euangellion” or Gospel, to those to whom the Lord wanted His presence revealed. This Gospel is the teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ was born into this world, that He made it possible for all people to be saved and brought into His kingdom. Thus the angel Gabriel came in excitement to Mary to inform her that she was the Lord’s choice as His natural mother.

When Mary saw the angel Gabriel, she didn't know that he was the human form of an entire society of angels. Nor did she know that his greatest love is to tell people about the Lord, especially that He would be born into the world to save the human race from spiritual bondage.

The scene of the angel Gabriel announcing to Mary that she would conceive and bear a son, and call His name Jesus, is one of the most poignant in the Word. Mary was a simple person, living in Galilee far away from the centre of worship at Jerusalem. She was neither highly educated nor socially well connected, except that she descended from Israel’s greatest king, David. There is a beautiful innocence in Mary’s simplicity. The last thing she expected in life was to see an angel. The image we have of Mary is of a demure young maiden, a virgin in every sense, for, as she said to the angel, 'I do not know a man'. Her state of life was that of a young woman about to embark on her married life to Joseph, but still living at home with her parents. The marriage had not yet been celebrated.

It is central to the Christmas story that Mary was betrothed to Joseph when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. This fact is mentioned in the lesson we read in the Gospel of Luke, where it is plainly stated that she was a 'virgin betrothed'. In Matthew we are again told that Mary was 'betrothed to Joseph'. This means that she had been promised as a wife to Joseph. In our culture, we would say that they were engaged to be married.

There are several good reasons why Mary should have been in this state when she conceived the Lord:
- In the Jewish Church of that time betrothal was considered marriage, although the marriage had not yet been consummated. This meant that the people around her considered Mary a woman, and it also meant that her mind was focusing on the upcoming marriage and future life as a wife and a mother.
- She was expected, during this period of betrothal, to remain in a state of order. She was not free to come into romantic contact with any other man, and she certainly was not permitted to have sexual intercourse with any man, including her husband to be.

The angel appeared to her in this state precisely for that reason - the child who was to be conceived needed to be conceived in a state of virginity, and there could be no question down the ages that Jesus was the son of an ordinary man. This is why Mary protested that she could not conceive because she 'had not known a man'.

There is a very good reason for this: the doctrines tell us that the human soul is transmitted as the living principle of the masculine seed. That soul, or internal human is passed from father to child, is an image of the father's own soul - although the life in it is from the Divine Itself. When a child is conceived, that human soul can receive life from the Lord, and, using the life in it, begins to draw from the mother the various substances needed to form the human body. When the child is born, he or she becomes an individual, drawing life from the Lord, and potential spiritual things from both mother and father, and the body from the mother. Thus there is a complete mixing of parents in the birth of a child.

When the angel Gabriel came to Mary, he announced the birth of the Lord. It was to be a miracle of all miracles, for according to prophecy a virgin would conceive and bear a son. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. His soul was Divine, given to Him by the Father, or, put another way, the soul within Jesus was not limited and finite as our souls are, but infinite and eternal, and capable of overcoming the powers of hell and saving the human race.

Here's an excerpt from Swedenborg's work, Arcana Coelestia 1999: "But the Lord's Internal was Jehovah Himself, since He was conceived from Jehovah, who cannot be divided or become the relative of another, like a son who has been conceived from a human father. For unlike the human, the Divine is not capable of being divided but is and remains one and the same. To this Internal the Lord united the Human Essence. Moreover because the Lord's Internal was Jehovah it was not, like man's internal, a recipient form of life, but life itself. Through that union His Human Essence as well became life itself. Hence the Lord's frequent declaration that He is Life, as in John,

As the Father has Life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have Life in Himself. John 5:26."

Yet even a soul such as that, if it is to live and walk amongst the people of this earth, must be clothed in a body. The Lord always operates within the boundaries of the order of creation - and order dictates that a soul must be clothed with a material body.

At first the father’s soul is clothed with human elements, for it begins as a reproduction of the father’s own soul, then,

"during its descent, … the soul is enveloped by elements of a type that have to do with the father's natural love. This is the source from which hereditary evil springs." (Conjugial Love 245)

And so the Lord needed an orderly environment in which to be born. Mary was chosen as His mother because, according to the Lord's all-seeing wisdom, He saw that she would be willing to carry this child, and she would be able to nurture Him in such a way that He would grow up prepared for the great work ahead of Him.

Yet Mary had to be in a state of order herself. In ancient Israel, to bear a child meant that she had to be married, and yet to preserve the honesty of the conception and ensure that the soul was Divine, not human, she had to be in the state before actual physical union with Joseph had taken place - otherwise the Lord could have been Joseph's son. So she had to be betrothed, and no motive should be found as a basis for accusations against the Virgin Birth.

It was partly for this reason that when Joseph heard that she was carrying a child he decided to put her away. Effectively this meant he planned to divorce her. According to the law of Moses, a betrothed woman carrying a child had broken the rules. Ideally speaking, the man responsible should be put to death. Joseph had no idea who the man was, but assumed that there was one. He was, however, a kind man, and so decided not 'to make her a public example', but to put her away privately.

It was at this juncture that the angel Gabriel came to Joseph in a dream, and soothed his fears. 'The child she is carrying,' the angel said, 'is conceived by the Holy Spirit.' Now Joseph understood, and the state of betrothal could continue, and order could be maintained so that the Lord could be born into this world with the full appearance of two loving parents, bound together in marriage after an orderly betrothal.

We now need to expand our vision of the Lord's life in this world. The conception of the Lord was but the first step in his development. He had to be born and grow up. His mind and body had to develop as does our own. The home of Mary and Joseph was needed to provide a stable and orderly environment for Him where He could live and grow, undergoing not only physical and mental development, but also the very processes by which His Divine soul could become present within His natural mind.

In picking these two people to be his 'parents' in the natural world, the Lord was able to provide for the future as well. The Word does not tell us anything about the marriage relationship between Joseph and Mary. We know that Joseph was obedient to the angel when he was told to take Mary and the infant Lord down to Egypt to escape Herod's cruelty. We know that each year they travelled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. We know that had other children, whom likewise they loved and nurtured. But that is about all we know.

The book, Conjugial Love, by Emanuel Swedenborg, however, gives us some insights into the kind of orderly relationship they had. They begin in the concept of Betrothal, for betrothal is introductory to marriage. The kinds of preparation people make for their marriages determine a great deal the course their marriage will follow. The fact that Mary in her betrothed state had 'not known a man' indicates that she took the responsibilities of that state serious. Similarly, the fact that Joseph immediately knew that he was not the father of the child Mary carried indicates a similar seriousness about the state of betrothal. They were both innocent of any wrongdoing, and were obviously committed to building a life together based on the firm foundation of proper preparation.

Their betrothal prepared them for their future life together as man and wife, and, thus as the Lord's parents on earth. Betrothal is a preparation for marriage. It is a time when the minds and spirits of the two partners begin to grow together.

The teachings of the New Church tell us that true marriage, or conjugial love as it is often called, is a meeting and union of two minds. A true marriage is one in which the couple recognises the essential differences between masculinity and femininity, and rejoices in those differences without any attempt to dominate the other. In order for a couple to come into a true appreciation of each other, they need to put aside physical love to foster and nurture spiritual love. This is why Mary and Joseph lived apart during this stage of their relationship, and why they refrained from sexual activity, for in that way they made it possible for their minds to soar, and be united at the highest levels of idealism.

The book Conjugial Love tells us that in this state the mind of each partner is opened by his or her spiritual love. They are able to reach higher levels of love and commitment to each other as they foster the growth of mutual understanding unencumbered by physical things. The passage describing this development, then, goes on to describe how when a couple marry their love descends from the mind to the body. It is worth reflecting on the statement that

"It needs to be known that the quality of conjugial love as it comes down is determined by the height to which it climbs. If it reaches the heights it comes down chaste, but if it does not, it comes down as unchaste." (Conjugial Love 302).

With Mary and Joseph we can but only assume that their love reached its heights during their betrothal, and that their marriage was one of purity and chastity. Chastity in this sense means a marriage love between two people that has been cleansed of all impurities. In such a state the husband and wife enjoy the full pleasures of marriage, beginning on the spiritual level with a full meeting of minds, and descends into the body, where their love is consummated.

A marriage of this kind provides the most wonderful environment, for the love between the husband and wife provides a state of tranquillity and peace in which children can be reared. This is the kind of environment the Lord chose to be born into. He knew that during his life in this world He would have to face the most terrible of temptations. He knew that He would have to battle against hell continuously, and face the disbelief of the people around Him. His first thirty-three years were a preparation for this work lying before Him. And so He chose to be born to a couple who were in a state of order, who because of that order, were willing to receive Him into their lives, to nurture Him as if He was their own.

There is a message in this for us. Each one of us wants the Lord to be born into our own lives, and He is willing to come to us. "Behold,' He says, 'I stand at the door and knock'. Yet He can only enter into us to the degree that we bring our lives into order. Mary and Joseph clung to their betrothal - they committed themselves and stood fast. That is what the Lord wants us to do: to commit ourselves to Him, to live according to His Word in every detail of our lives, especially in our relationships with others, in our preparation for marriage, and in our marriages themselves. As we do, then He enters into us, establishes His presence there, and lifts us up to heaven.
AMEN

Lessons:
Deuteronomy 22:25-29
Isaiah 7:14-16
Luke 1:26-38
Conjugial Love 302

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Doctrine of the Lord #19

Doctrine of the Lord (Rogers translation)      

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19. In Relation to His Divine Humanity the Lord Is Called the Son of God, and in Relation to the Word the Son of Man

People in the church know no other than that the Son of God is the second person in the Godhead, distinct from the person of the Father. This has led to the belief that the Son of God was born from eternity.

Because this notion has been universally accepted and has to do with God, no opportunity or consent has been granted for thinking about it with any understanding, not even about what being born from eternity implies. For someone who thinks about this intellectually inevitably says to himself, “This surpasses understanding. But still I say it because others say it, and I believe it because others believe it.”

Be it known, however, that there is no Son from eternity, but that there is a Lord from eternity. When people know who the Lord is, and what the Son is, they may also be able to think intellectually about a triune God, and not before.

[2] The Lord’s humanity, conceived of Jehovah as the Father and born of the virgin Mary , is the Son of God, and this is clearly apparent from the following verses.

In Luke:

...the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Having come in, the angel said to her, “Hail, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

When she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered how great a greeting this was.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, ...you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest....

However, Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I do not know a man?”

And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, the Holy One who is born (of you) will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:26-35)

It says here “you will conceive and bear a Son;” “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest.” And furthermore, “The Holy One who is born (of you) will be called the Son of God.” This makes apparent that the humanity conceived of God and born of the virgin Mary is what is called the Son of God.

[3] In Isaiah:

...the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name God-With-Us. (Isaiah 7:14)

It is apparent that the Son born of the virgin and conceived of God is the one who is called “God-With-Us, ” thus who is the Son of God. The reality of this is confirmed in Matthew 1:22-23.

(References: Matthew 1:23)


[4] Again in Isaiah:

...unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; the government will be upon His shoulder. And He will call His name Wonderful, Counselor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

So, too, here, for He is called a Child born to us, a Son given to us, who is not a Son from eternity, but a Son born in the world. This is apparent as well from the prophet’s declarations in verse 7 of the same chapter, and from the declaration of the angel Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:32-33), where similar words are found.

(References: Isaiah 9:6)


[5] In Psalms:

I will declare a decree, “Jehovah has said..., ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You....” ...Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way....” (Psalms 2:7, 12)

Neither is a Son from eternity meant here, but a Son born in the world, for it is prophetic of the Lord to come. That is why it is called a decree which Jehovah declared to David. “Today” does not mean from eternity, but in time.

[6] Again in Psalms:

I will set His hand on the sea.... He shall cry to Me, “You are my Father.... ...I will make him My firstborn....” (Psalms 89:25-27)

The subject of this Psalm throughout is the Lord to come. Therefore it is He who will call Jehovah His Father and who will be His firstborn, thus who is the Son of God.

[7] It is the same elsewhere, as where the Lord is called a rod from the stem of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1), an offshoot of David (Jeremiah 23:5-6), the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), the only begotten (John 1:18), a priest forever and the Lord (Psalms 110:4-5).

(References: Isaiah 11:1-2, 11:10; Jeremiah 23:5)


[8] People in the Jewish Church interpreted the Son of God to be the Messiah they were waiting for, whom they knew would be born in Bethlehem.

That they interpreted the Son of God to be the Messiah is apparent from the following passages.

In John:

(Peter said:) “We believe and acknowledge that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (John 6:69)

Again in John:

“...You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27)

In Matthew, the chief priest asked Jesus if He were the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said, “I am.” (Matthew 26:63-64, Mark 14:62)

In John:

These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.... (John 20:31)

See also Mark 1:1.

(References: John 1:41; Mark 14:61-62)


[9] “Christ” is a Greek word and means “anointed, ” as does “Messiah” in Hebrew. John says, therefore, “We have found the Messiah, which means, if you translate it, the Christ.” (John 1:42) And in another place, “The woman said..., ‘I know that Messiah is coming, who is called Christ.’ ” (John 4:25)

The Law and the Prophets, or in other words the entire Word of the Old Testament, has as its subject the Lord, as we showed in the first section, and consequently the Son of God to come can only mean the humanity that the Lord took on in the world.

1[0] It follows from this that that humanity was meant by the Son when the Lord was baptized and Jehovah from heaven said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Luke 3:22); for it was His humanity that was baptized. And when He was transfigured, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:35)

See also elsewhere, as Matthew 8:29, 14:33, 27:43, 54; Mark 3:11, 15:39; John 1:34, 49, 3:18, 5:25, 10:36, 11:4.

(References: John 1:41)


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Apocalypse Revealed 24, 44, 472, 543, 642, 819


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Related New Christian Commentary

Published by the General Church of the New Jerusalem, 1100 Cathedral Road, Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania 19009, U.S.A. A translation of Doctrina Novae Hierosolymae de Domino, by Emanuel Swedenborg, 1688-1772. Translated from the Original Latin by N. Bruce Rogers. ISBN 9780945003687, Library of Congress Control Number: 2013954074.

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Isaiah 11:10

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10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

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Explanation of Isaiah 11      

By Rev. John H. Smithson

THE EXPLANATION of Isaiah Chapter 11

(Note: Rev. Smithson's translation of the Isaiah text is appended below the explanation)

1. AND there shall come forth a Shoot from the trunk of Jesse; and a Sprout from his roots shall become fruitful:

VERSE 1. The Lord, as to His Humanity born of the virgin and glorified in the world, is here called "a Shoot from the trunk of Jesse", also "a Sprout from his roots"; and in other passages He is called:

"a Germ of justice"; (Jeremiah 23:5)

"The Seed of the woman"; (Genesis 3:15)

"The only-Begotten"; (John 1:18)

"A Priest for ever, and the Lord." (Psalm 110:4-5)

Here no Son from eternity is meant, but a Son that was to be born in the world; for these passages contain prophecies concerning the coming of the Lord. Doctrine of the Lord 19. See also True Christian Religion 101.

2. And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him; the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and might; the spirit of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah;

Verse 2. In many passages in the Word mention is made of "spirit", and, when predicated of man, by "spirit" is signified divine Truth received in the life, thus his spiritual life, but when predicated of the Lord, by "Spirit" is understood the Divine Principle which proceeds from Him, which, with a general expression, is called Divine Truth. But inasmuch as few at this day know what is understood by "spirit", in the Word, it may be expedient, first, to show from passages thence adduced, that "spirit", when predicated of man, signifies divine Truth received in the life, thus his spiritual life.

Now as there are two things which constitute the spiritual life of man, namely, the Good of love and the Truth of faith, therefore in many passages of the Word mention is made of "the heart and spirit", as likewise "the heart and soul"; and by the "heart" is signified the Good of love, and by the "spirit", the Truth of faith; the latter is likewise signified by "soul", for thereby in the Word is understood man's spirit. That by "spirit", when predicated of man, is signified Truth received in the life, appears from the following passages.

Thus in Ezekiel -

"Make you a new heart and a new spirit: wherefore will you die, O house of Israel?" (Ezekiel 18:31)

Again,

"I will give unto you a new heart, and a new spirit will I give in the midst of you." (Ezekiel 36:26)

And in David,

"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in the midst of me. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, God doth not despise." (Psalm 51:10, 17)

In these passages heart signifies the Good of love, and "spirit" the Truth of faith, from whence man has spiritual life; for there are two things which constitute all the, spiritual life of man, namely, Good and Truth, from these two united in man, constitute his spiritual life. When it is known what is signified by the "spirit" appertaining to man, it may be known what " Spirit " signifies when it is predicated of Jehovah, or the Lord; to whom are attributed all things appertaining to man, as a face, eyes, ears, arms, hands, as also a heart and a soul thus, also a spirit, which in the Word is called the "Spirit of God", the Spirit of Jehovah, the "spirit of His nostrils", the "spirit of His mouth, the "Spirit of Truth, the "Spirit of Holiness", and the Holy Spirit, whereby is understood Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, as may appear from many passages in the Word.

The reason that Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord is the "Spirit" of God, is, because all the life which men have is derived from thence as also the heavenly life appertaining to those who receive that Divine Truth in faith and life, that this is the "Spirit of God", the Lord Himself teaches in John,

"The words which I speak unto you are spirit and are life; (John 6:63) and in Isaiah 11:1, 2. Apocalypse Explained 183. See also Arcana Coelestia 2826, 9818.

"Verses 2. 3. The Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him, etc. - These words also relate to the Lord, and thereby is described the Divine Truth, in which and from which is all wisdom and intelligence. The Divine Truth which was in the Lord, when He was in the world, and which, after the glorification of His Human, proceeds from Him, is understood by "the Spirit of Jehovah which shall rest upon Him."

That thence He had Divine Wisdom and Divine Power is understood by "the spirit of wisdom and intelligence" and by the spirit of counsel and might"; that thence He had Omniscience and essential sanctity in worship, is understood by "the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah"; and whereas "fear" signifies the holy principle of worship from divine Truth, it is therefore added, whence "this offering of incense was in the fear of Jehovah"; for to "offer incense" signifies worship from the Divine-Spiritual [principle], which is Divine Truth, concerning which (see above, Apocalypse Explained 324, 491) it is said, "the spirit of wisdom and intelligence, of knowledge and of fear"; and by "spirit" is understood the Divine Proceeding; by the "spirit of wisdom", the Divine-Celestial, which is the Divine Proceeding received by the angels of the inmost or third heaven; by the "spirit of intelligence" is meant the Divine-Spiritual, which is the Divine Proceeding received by the angels of the middle or second heaven; by the "spirit of science" [or knowledgeJ is meant the Divine-Natural, which is the Divine Proceeding received by the angels of the ultimate or first heaven; and by the "spirit of the fear of Jehovah" is understood all the holiness of worship from those divine principles. Apocalypse Explained 696.

3. And His offering of incense shall be in the fear of Jehovah: He shall not judge according to the sight of His eyes; nor shall He reprove according to the hearing of His ears:

Verse 3. "Incense" signifies those things appertaining to worship, which are performed from spiritual good, or from the good of charity, and thence are gratefully perceived. Apocalypse Explained 324, 325, 492.

The reason why "incense" signifies worship from spiritual Good, is, because the principal worship in the Jewish church consisted in the offering of sacrifices and incense; wherefore there were two altars, one for sacrifices and the other for incense. The latter altar was within the tabernacle, and was called the "golden altar", but the former was without the tabernacle, and was called the "altar of burnt-offerings." The reason was, because there are two kinds of goods from which all "worship is performed, celestial Good and spiritual Good. Celestial Good is the Good of love to the Lord, and spiritual Good is the Good of love to our neighbour. Worship by sacrifices was worship from celestial Good, and worship by incense was worship from spiritual Good. Apocalypse Revealed 277.

In the fear of Jehovah. - What is signified in the Word by "fearing God", may be manifest from very many passages therein, understood according to the internal sense. the "fear of God", according to that sense, signifies worship, and indeed worship either grounded in fear, or in the good of faith, or in the good of love. The "fear of God" signifies worship grounded in fear or dread, when the subject treated of is concerning the non-regenerate, as in Exodus 20:19, 20; Deuteronomy 5:22, 24, 20; where the "fear of God" signifies worship grounded in fear, in respect to them as being of such a nature. For they who are principled in external worship without internal, are led by fear to the observance of the law, and to compliance with its precepts, but still they, do not come into internal worship, or into holy fear, unless they are in the good of life, and know and believe what internal worship is. So in Deuteronomy 28:58-60; where to "fear the honourable and terrible name of JEHOVAH GOD", is to worship from a principle of fear or dread, to inspire which into a people of such a nature and quality as the Jews were, all evils, even to curses, were attributed to Jehovah. So in Jeremiah 2:19; Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:2-5. In these passages also to "fear God" implies worship from fear or dread, because it is fear which drives them to compliance. Arcana Coelestia 2826.

But spiritual fear is holy fear, which is in all spiritual love, variously, according to the quality of the love, and its quantity. In this fear the spiritual man is principled; he likewise knows that the Lord does not do evil to anyone, still less does He destroy anyone as to "body and soul in hell", (Luke 12:5) but that He does good to all, and that He is willing to lift up everyone as to body and soul to Himself into heaven. Hence the fear of the spiritual man, lest by evils of life and by false principles of doctrine he should avert the Divine in himself, and thereby injure it. But natural fear, or the fear of the unregenerate natural man, is dread, alarm, and terror on account of dangers, punishments, and thus on account of hell; which fear is in every corporeal love, variously also, according to the quality of the love and according to its quantity. The natural man who is subject to that fear, knows no other than that the Lord does evil to the wicked, that He condemns them, casts them into hell, and punishes them; hence it is that they fear, and are afraid of the Lord. In this fear were the generality of the Jewish and Israelitish nation, by reason that they were natural men. Apocalypse Explained 696.

4. But with justice shall He judge the poor, and with equity shall He plead for the miserable of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.

Verse 4. He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, etc. - By the "rod of the mouth of Jehovah" is signified Divine Truth, or the Word, in the natural sense; and by the "spirit of His lips" is signified Divine Truth, or the Word, in the spiritual sense, - both destroying the false of evil in the church, which is signified by "smiting the earth, and slaying the wicked." Apocalypse Explained 727. See also Arcana Coelestia 1286.

5. And justice shall be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His reins.

Verse 5. Justice shall be the girdle of His loins, etc. - A "girdle", in the Word, signifies a common bond whereby all things are kept in their order and connection, as in Isaiah 11:5. As a "girdle" signifies a bond conjoining the goods and truths of the church, therefore when the church among the children of Israel was destroyed, Jeremiah the prophet was commanded to "buy himself a girdle, and put it upon his loins, and then to hide it in a hole of a rock beside the Euphrates; and at the end of days, when he took it, behold, it was rotten and profitable for nothing"; (Jeremiah 13:1-7) by which was represented that at that time there was no good in the church, and thence truths were dissipated. The same is signified by a "girdle" in other passages, as in Isaiah:

"Instead of a girdle there shall be a rent." (Isaiah 3:24) Apocalypse Revealed 46.

Verses 5, 6. Justice shall be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His reins; - the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, etc. - These things are said concerning the Lord, and concerning His kingdom and the state of innocence and peace therein. That they are said concerning the Lord, is evident from the first verse of the chapter, where it is said that "a Shoot shall come forth from the trunk of Jesse, and a Sprout shall grow from his roots." That "justice shall be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His reins", signifies that the Divine Good, proceeding from the Divine Love of the Lord, shall conjoin those in heaven and in the church who are principled in love to Him, and that Divine Truth proceeding from Him shall conjoin those in heaven and in the church who are principled in love towards their neighbour; by "justice", when predicated of the Lord, is understood the Divine Good, and by His" loins" are understood those who are principled in love to Him: by "truth" is understood the Divine Truth, and by His "reins" are understood those who are principled in love towards their neighbour; and by "girdle" is signified conjunction with them in heaven and in the church. Wherefore "he shall dwell " signifies a state of peace, which takes place when nothing of evil from hell is feared, because it cannot do hurt; "the wolf with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid", signifies that no evil and false shall hurt those who are in innocence and in charity from the Lord; by the "wolf" is signified the evil which is opposite to innocence, and attempts to destroy it; and by the "leopard" is understood the false which is opposed to charity, and, which, by reasonings in favour of faith alone, attempts to destroy charity; by the "lamb is signified innocence, and by the the "kid" charity; "the calf also, and the young lion, and the fatling together", signify that the infernal false shall not hurt the innocence of the natural man, nor any good affection thereof; the "calf" signifying the innocence of the natural man , the "fatling or ox", the affection of the natural man, and the "lion", the infernal false, as to the potency and cupidity of destroying divine Truth; and a "little child shall lead them", signifies the state of innocence and love to the Lord in which they will be; a "little child" or boy signifying innocence, and, at the same time, love to the Lord; for love to the Lord makes one with innocence, inasmuch as they who are in that love are also in innocence, as is the case with those who are in the third heaven, who thence also appear before the eyes of others as infants and children. Apocalypse Explained 780. See also Arcana Coelestia 3021, 9828.

6. And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

Verses 6, 8, 9, 10. - In this passage is described the state of peace and happiness in the heavens. and in the church, after the Lord had come into the world: and since a state of peace and Innocence is described, mention is made of "a lamb, a kid, a calf, and also of a little child, a suckling, and a weaned child", and by them all is signified the good of innocence; - the inmost good of innocence by a "lamb"; the interior good of innocence by a "kid"; and the exterior good of innocence by a "calf."

In like manner by "a child, a suckling, and a weaned child."

The "mountain of holiness" denotes heaven and the church, where the good of innocence prevails.

The "nations" are they who are in that good.

The "Root of Jesse" is the Lord, from whom that good is derived. The good of love from Him to them, which is called celestial good, is the good of innocence.

That a "lamb" denotes the good of innocence in general, and specifically the inmost good of innocence, is manifest from this consideration, that it is named in the first place; also from this, that the Lord Himself is called a "Lamb."

That a "kid" denotes the interior good of innocence, see Arcana Coelestia 3519, 4871;

that a "calf" is the exterior good of innocence, n. 9391;

that a "child" is innocence, n. 5236; in like manner "a suckling or infant, and a weaned child", Arcana Coelestia 3494, 5608;

that the "mountain of holiness" denotes whence the good of love to the Lord is, Arcana Coelestia 6135, 8758;

that "nations" signify [in a good sense] those "who are in that good, Arcana Coelestia 1416, 6005.

That the good of love to the Lord 'which is called celestial good, is the good of innocence, is manifest from those who are in the inmost heaven, who because they are in that good appear naked, and as infants by reason that nakedness, in a good sense, corresponds to innocence, see Arcana Coelestia 9277. Arcana Coelestia 10132.

7. And the cow and the bear shall feed; together shall their young ones lie down: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

Verse 7. By the "cow and the bear feeding, and their young lying down together", is signified that the power and lust of the natural man of falsifying the truths of the Word, shall not hurt the good of the natural man and the affection thereof; the "cow" denoting the affection of good and truth appertaining to the natural man, and the "bear", the power and lust of the natural man to falsify the truths of the literal sense of the Word; "the lion shall eat straw like the ox, "signifies that the infernal false, which is ardent to destroy the truths of the church, shall not hurt the affection of good appertaining to the natural man, either with man in himself or with men amongst each other, and that neither shall it hurt the Word:

"straw" signifying the Word in the letter, which is perverted by the infernal also, but caunot be perverted by those who are in truths from good. Apocalypse Explained 781.

8. And the suckling shall play upon the hole of the viper; and upon the den of the basilisk shall the weaned child lay his hand.

Verse 8. This passage cannot be understood unless it be known from the things which appear in the spiritual world what is understood by the "hole of the viper", and the "den of the basilisk."

It was observed above, (Chapter 2:19, the Exposition.) that the entrances to the hills appear as holes in rocks, and as gaps opening to dens such as belong to "wild beasts in the forests; and it is further to be observed, that they who inhabit" those places, when they are viewed in the light of heaven, appear as monsters of various kinds, and also as wild beasts. They who are in the hells inhabited by such as act craftily against innocence appear as "vipers", and they who do the same against the good of love appear as "basilisks", and as a "suckling" or infant signifies the good of innocence, therefore it is said "the suckling shall play upon the hole of the viper", and as a "weaned child", or an infant ceasing to suck, signifies the good of love, therefore it is said that he shall "lay his hand upon the den of the basilisk."

Hence the signification of this passage is, that they who are in the good of innocence and in the good of love to the Lord, shall not be in any fear on account of evils and falsities, which are from hell, because they are protected by the Lord. That by the "suckling and infant", in the Word, is signified the good of innocence, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia 430, 3183; what is signified by "vipers", and other poisonous serpents" may be seen in 9013. Apocalypse Explained 410.

9. They shall not hurt, nor destroy, in all the mountain of My holiness: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.

Verse 9. The earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea. - Inasmuch as it is not yet known that "waters" in the Word signify the truths of faith and the knowledges of Truth, perhaps by reason of its appearing so remote, I am desirous here briefly to show that such things are understood by "waters" in the Word, which also is necessary, because without the knowledge of the signification of "waters", it cannot be known what is signified by baptism, nor what by the washing in the Israelitish church, of which mention is so frequently made. "Waters" signify the truths of faith, because "bread" signifies the good of love. The reason why "waters" and "bread" have such a signification, is, because the things which appertain to spiritual nourishment are expressed, in the sense of the letter, by such things as appertain to natural nourishment; for "waters" and "bread", by which are meant all drink and all food in general, nourish the body and the truths of faith and the good of love, nourish the soul, This is also from correspondence, for when "bread" and "water" are read in the Word, the angels, as being spiritual, understand those things which nourish them, which are the goods of love, and the truths of faith. But some passages shall be here adduced, from whence it may be known that "waters" signify the truths of faith, likewise the knowledges of truth; as in Isaiah:

"Then shall you draw waters with gladness from the fountains of salvation." (Isaiah 12:3)

Again,

"He who walks in justice, and speaks uprightly, bread shall be given him, and faithful waters." (Isaiah 33:15, 16)

Again,

"The poor and the needy seek water, but there is none: their tongue faints for thirst; I will open rivers upon hills, and will place fountains in the midst of valleys, the desert into a lake of waters, and the dry land into springs of waters; that they may see, and know, and attend, and understand." (Isaiah 41:17, 18, 20)

Again,

"I will pour out waters upon the thirsty, and floods upon the dry; I will pour out My spirit upon your seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring." (Isaiah 44:3)

I know that some will wonder why "waters" are mentioned in the Word, and not the truths of faith, when nevertheless the Word is to teach man concerning his spiritual life, and if the truths of faith had been mentioned instead of "waters", man would have known that the "waters" of baptism and of washings do not contribute anything to his purification from evils and falsities, but it is to be observed that the Word, to be divine and at the same time profitable to heaven and the church, must be altogether natural in the letter, for unless it were natural in the letter, it would not be the medium to effect conjunction of heaven with the church; for it would be as a house without a foundation, and as a soul without a body, for the ultimates include all the interiors, and are their foundations, as may be seen above, n. 41; man also is in ultimates, and heaven has its foundation upon the church in him. Hence then it is that such is the style of the Word; wherefore when man thinks spiritually from natural things, "which are in the sense of the letter of the Word, he is conjoined with heaven, with which he would not otherwise be conjoined." Apocalypse Explained 71.

10. And it shall be in that day, that the Root of Jesse shall stand for a standard to the peoples; unto Him shall the nations seek: and His resting-place shall be glorious.

11. And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again the second time put forth His hand to recover the remnant of His people that remains, from Assyria, and from Egypt; and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Eiam; and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

Verse 10. The Lord, as to the Human, is called the "Root of David" on this account, because all divine Truth is from Him, as all things also exist and subsist from their root; hence also it is, that He is called the "Root of Jesse", where Jesse is put for David, because he was his father. Apocalypse Explained 310.

What a "standard" specifically signifies, see below, Chapter 13:2, the Exposition.

The verses from 1 to 10 describe the state of the regenerate man, who acknowledges the Lord and worships Him alone, showing that he has power over everything evil and false from hell, and that he is in the enjoyment of heavenly peace and happiness. True Christian Religion 354.

Verse 11. The Lord shall recover the remnant of His people from Assyria, Egypt, etc. - The "remnant of Assyria" are those who are not destroyed by reasoning from falsities against the truths of the church. (Arcana Coelestia 5897)

The "remnant from Egypt" are those who, at the period of judgment, are not destroyed by the misapplication for selfish ends of the scientifics of the Word and the Church. (Arcana Coelestia 3322, 4749)

The "remnants from Pathros and from Cush" are such as have not employed the knowledges of what is Good and True to confirm what is evil and false. (Arcana Coelestia 1163)

The "remnant from Elam" are those who have somewhat of faith grounded in charity still remaining. (Arcana Coelestia 1228, 1685)

The "remnant of Shinar " are such as have an external worship in which there is not a profane principle. (Arcana Coelestia 1183, 1292)

The "remnant from Hamath" are those who, although in external idolatries, have nevertheless somewhat of sincerity in their internals. (1205)

The "remnant from the islands of the sea" signify distinct kinds of worship, and such as are comparatively remote from internal worship, or such as pertain to the nations out of the church. Arcana Coelestia 1158.

The "outcasts of Israel whom the Lord shall gather" are those who have remains of spiritual love, or charity to the neighbour; and the "dispersed of Judah" are those who have remains of celestial love, or of love to the Lord. Apocalypse Explained 483.

[These" remnants", at the time of judgment in the world of spirits, can be saved, and after instruction in the truths of the Word, can be raised up into heaven; and of those upon earth who are in similar states to these "remnants" the Lord can form a New Church.]

12. And He shall lift up a standard to the nations; and He shall gather the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah shall He collect from the four wings of the earth.

Verses 12, 13, 15, 16. The subject here treated of in the sense of the letter is concerning the bringing back of the Israelites and Jews out of captivity; but in the internal sense it has relation to the New Church in general, and to every individual in particular who is regenerated or becomes a church.

The "outcasts of Israel" denote their truths; the "dispersed of Judah" denote their goods; "Ephraim" denotes their intellectual principle, in that it will no longer be repugnant; "Egypt" denotes scientifics, and "Ashur" reasoning grounded therein, which they have perverted; the "expelled", the "dispersed", the "remains", and the "left" [or residue] denote the truths and goods which survive; that "Ephraim" is the intellectual principle, was shown above; (Chapter vii. Exposition.)

That "Egypt" is the scientific, may be seen in Arcana Coelestia 1164, 1165; that "Ashur" is reasoning, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 119, 1180, also above, (Chapter 7:18, 19) and that "remains" are goods and truths from the Lord stored up in the interior man, see Arcana Coelestia 468, 530. Arcana Coelestia 3564. See also above, Chapter 1:9, the Exposition.

Verses 12, 14. He shall gather the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah; - they shall fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines towards the sea, etc. - By "Israel" and by "Judah " are not meant Israel and Judah, but by "Israel" those who are in the good of faith, and by "Judah" those who are in the good of love. To "fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines" signifies to receive and to take into possession the interior truths of faith. To "spoil the soils of the east", is to receive and to take into possession the interior goods of faith: for the "sons of the east" are those who are the goods of faith and in the knowledges of good. (See Arcana Coelestia 3249, 3762)

That to "spoil" denotes to receive and to take into possession, see what was shown concerning" the spoiling of the Egyptians by the sons of Israel", in Arcana Coelestia 6914, 0917. Inasmuch as by the "land of Philistia" was signified [in a good sense] the science of the interior truths of faith, and by "Abraham " and "Isaac" was represented the Lord, and by their "sojourning", the instruction of the Lord in the truths and goods of faith and love, which are of divine Wisdom, therefore for the sake of that figure Abraham was ordered to "sojourn in Philistia"; (see Genesis 20:1, to the end.) and also Isaac; (Genesis 24:26, to the end.) on which subject see the explanations of those chapters. Arcana Coelestia 9340.

13. And the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not distress Ephraim.

Verses 13-16. The envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not distress Ephraim, etc. And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria; as it was unto Israel, in the day of his coming up from the land of Egypt. In this passage it is impossible to see anything divine, unless it be known what is signified by each particular name, notwithstanding that the subject here treated of is concerning the coming of the Lord, and what shall come to pass at that time, as plainly appears from verses 1 to 10; without the help, therefore, of the spiritual sense, how is it possible for anyone to discern the genuine signification of these words in their order, as denoting that they who through ignorance are principled in falsities and do not suffer themselves to be seduced by evils, will come to the Lord, and that the Word will then be understood by the church, and that falsities will then be no longer hurtful to them. Sacred Scripture 15.

These things are said concerning the salvation of the nations, which are also signified by the "outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah"; for it is said that the Lord "will set up a standard to the nations." By the "outcasts of Israel" are understood those who are not in truths, but in the desire of learning them: by the "dispersed of Judah", those who are in the good of life, find therefore in love to the Lord. For they who love to do good, love the Lord, for the Lord is in that good, because it is from Him.

By "Ephraim" is here understood the intellectual principle, or the understanding in concord with the good of love. That the one is not discordant with the other is understood by the "envy of Ephraim. shall depart", and by "Ephraim not envying Judah", and by "Judah not distressing Ephraim." That they will be separated from those who separate faith from charity is signified by their "flying upon the shoulder of the Philistines [who dwell] towards the sea." The "Philistines towards the sea" are those who separate faith from charity, or from the good of life. The sea is the ultimate where heaven terminates, and to "fly on the shoulder" is to reject, and thus to separate them from themselves. Apocalypse Explained 433.

14. But they shall fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines towards the sea; together shall they spoil he sons of the east: on Edom and Moab they shall lay their hand; and the sons of Ammon shall obey them.

Verse 14. On Edom and Moab they shall lay their hand; and the sons of Ammon shall obey them. - "Edom" and also "Esau" signify, in a bad sense, those who from the evil of self-love despise and reject truths. Arcana Coelestia 3322. "Moab" denotes those who adulterate goods; "the sons of Ammon "those who falsify truths. Arcana Coelestia 2468.

[By these nations obeying those gathered as remnants by the Lord (in verses 11 and 12), is meant that the evils and falsities signified, in a bad sense, by "Edom, Moab, and Ammon", will be subject to them, and thus subdued. For the enemies of the church, and, consequently, of the regenerate states of its members, are chiefly those 1, who despise and reject its truths (Edom); 2, those who adulterate its goods (Moab); and 3, those who falsify its truths (Ammon). Because the evils and falsities which principally devastate a church may be brought under these three general heads.]

15. And Jehovah shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and He shall shake His hand over the river with His mighty wind: and He shall strike it into seven streams, and make them pass over it in shoes.

16. And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria; as it was unto Israel, in the day of his coming up from the land of Egypt.

Verses 15, 16. Jehovah shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian· sea, etc. - By these words is signified that all falsities and false reasonings will be dissipated before those who are, from the Lord, in truths from good, and that they will pass, as it were, through the midst of such falsities in safety. Thus it happens in the spiritual world to those who are protected by the Lord. A similar thing is here understood as by the drying up of the Red Sea [SuphJ before the sons of Israel. They who, under the Lord's protection, will thus pass over are understood by the "remnant of the people that shall be left from Assyria"; for by the "left from Assyria", those are understood who have not perished by reasonings from falsities. Apocalypse Explained 509.

[That by "tongue", in a bad sense, and especially by " the tongue of the Egyptian sea", when opposed to those who are in truths from the Lord, is signified false doctrine, and, in general, falsities of every kind arising from the perverse application by reasonings of scientifics and knowledges signified by "Egypt"; see above, Chapter 3:8, 11, the Exposition.] .

[To "strike the river into seven streams", denotes utter dissipation of the falsities thereby signified; for "seven" signifies what is full and entire, (Arcana Coelestia 10127) "With a mighty wind", signifies a medium of destruction; see Arcana Coelestia 7679.]

And make them pass over it in shoes. - "Shoes" denote the ultimate or the last sensual and corporeal principle of man; in respect to the regenerate [as in this case], that principle renewed and regenerated. The internal of the natural principle or degree, is signified by the "feet", the middle by the "soles", and the lowest or ultimate by the "shoes." Hence it "was a custom to take the shoes from off the feet. when the Lord in holy worship was approached, (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15) to signify that the Lord and the things of His Word and kingdom should not be thought of from merely sensual and corporeal ideas, but that the mind in acts of worship and in meditation on heavenly subjects, should rise above what is sensual and corporeal, By the "shoes" which were put on the feet of the prodigal son, after his return to his father's house, is signified the conjunction of Truth and Good in the external or natural man, thus a renewed or regenerated natural principle, by which a man is enabled, from the Lord, to "trample upon serpents and scorpions", (Luke 10:19) or to pass over evils and falsities unhurt. Arcana Coelestia 1748, 6844, 7864. See also Apocalypse Explained 219.

---
Isaiah Chapter 11

1. AND there shall come forth a Shoot from the trunk of Jesse; and a Sprout from his roots shall become fruitful:

2. And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon Him; the spirit of wisdom and understanding; the spirit of counsel and might; the spirit of knowledge and the fear of Jehovah;

3. And His offering of incense shall be in the fear of Jehovah: He shall not judge according to the sight of His eyes; nor shall He reprove according to the hearing of His ears:

4. But with justice shall He judge the poor, and with equity shall He plead for the miserable of the earth: and He shall smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips shall He slay the wicked.

5. And justice shall be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His reins.

6. And the wolf shall dwell with the lamb; and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

7. And the cow and the bear shall feed; together shall their young ones lie down: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

8. And the suckling shall play upon the hole of the viper; and upon the den of the basilisk shall the weaned child lay his hand.

9. They shall not hurt, nor destroy, in all the mountain of My holiness: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.

10. And it shall be in that day, that the Root of Jesse shall stand for a standard to the peoples; unto Him shall the nations seek: and His resting-place shall be glorious.

11. And it shall be in that day, that the Lord shall again the second time put forth His hand to recover the remnant of His people that remains, from Assyria, and from Egypt; and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Eiam; and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.

12. And He shall lift up a standard to the nations; and He shall gather the outcasts of Israel, and the dispersed of Judah shall He collect from the four wings of the earth.

13. And the envy of Ephraim shall depart, and the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off: Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not distress Ephraim.

14. But they shall fly upon the shoulder of the Philistines towards the sea; together shall they spoil he sons of the east: on Edom and Moab they shall lay their hand; and the sons of Ammon shall obey them.

15. And Jehovah shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and He shall shake His hand over the river with His mighty wind: and He shall strike it into seven streams, and make them pass over it in shoes.

16. And there shall be a highway for the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria; as it was unto Israel, in the day of his coming up from the land of Egypt.

From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

The Inner Meaning of the Prophets and Psalms 11


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 1259, 2468, 4594, 8624, 9256, 10132

Apocalypse Revealed 483, 704

Doctrine of the Lord 4, 6, 19

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 15, 86

True Christian Religion 251, 354, 789


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 175, 310, 331, 406, 706

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 60

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Hop to Similar Bible Verses

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Isaiah 2:2, 3, 42:4

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Bible Word Meanings

day
The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

root
'A root,' as in Malachi 4:1, signifies charity. The dried up root,' as in Hosea 9:16, 17, signifies charity which could not bear fruit.

Root of Jesse
'The root of David' or 'Jesse' signifies the Lord regarding divine good united to divine truth in His humanity.

jesse
'The root of David' or 'Jesse' signifies the Lord regarding divine good united to divine truth in His humanity.

stand
'To sit before Jehovah' is to be with Him, and so, it also means willing and acting from Him. 'To stand before Him,' is to...

ensign
'A sign' is mentioned in the Word in reference to the future, which constitutes revelation. This also refers to truth, when it constitutes testification. It...

people
The Bible generally uses two different terms for large groups: “people” and “nation.” When it uses the term “nation,” it is talking about a group...

gentiles
'The time of the heathen,' as mentioned in Ezekiel 30:3, signifies the heathen, or wickedness.

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...

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