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Arcana Coelestia #1925

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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1925. 'The angel of Jehovah found her' means thought in the interior man, that is to say, thought residing with the Lord. This becomes clear from the representation and meaning of 'the angel of Jehovah'. Mention is made several times in the Word of 'the angel of Jehovah', and in every case when used in the good sense it represents and means some essential quality with the Lord and from the Lord. Which one it represents and means however becomes clear from the train of thought. They were indeed angels who were sent to men and women, and who also spoke through the prophets. Yet what they spoke did not originate in those angels but was something imparted through them. In fact their state at the time was such that they knew no other than that they were Jehovah, that is, the Lord. But as soon as they had finished speaking they returned to their previous state and spoke as they normally did from themselves.

[2] This was the case with the angels who uttered the Word of the Lord, as I have been given to know from much similar experience in the next life, experience that will be presented in the Lord's Divine mercy further on. This is the reason why angels were sometimes called Jehovah, as is quite clear from the angel that appeared in the bramble-bush to Moses, concerning whom the following is recorded,

The angel of Jehovah appeared to Moses in a flame of fire from the middle of the bramble-bush. Jehovah saw that he turned aside to see, and God called to him from the middle of the bramble-bush God said to Moses, I am who I am. And God said again to Moses, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, Jehovah the God of your fathers has sent me to you. Exodus 3:2, 4, 14-15.

From these verses it is evident that it was an angel who appeared to Moses as a flame in the bramble- bush and that he spoke as Jehovah, because the Lord or Jehovah was speaking through him.

(References: Exodus 3:11, 3:15)

[3] So that man may be spoken to by means of articulated sounds heard in the natural world, the Lord employs angels as His ministers by filling them with the Divine and by rendering unconscious all that is their own, so that for the time being they know no other than that they themselves are Jehovah. In this way the Divine of Jehovah which belongs in highest things comes down into the lowest constituting the natural world in which man sees and hears. It was similar in the case of the angel who spoke to Gideon, of whom the following is said in the Book of Judges,

The angel of Jehovah appeared to Gideon and said to him, Jehovah is with you, O mighty man of strength. And Gideon said to him, Forgive me for asking, 1 O my Lord; why has all this befallen us? And Jehovah looked on him and said, Go in this might of yours. And Jehovah said to him, Surely I will be with you. Judges 6:12-14, 16.

And further on,

Gideon saw that he was the angel of Jehovah, and Gideon said, Alas, Lord Jehovih! Inasmuch as I have seen the angel of Jehovah face to face. 2 And Jehovah said to him, Peace be to you; do not fear. Judges 6:22-23.

Here similarly it was an angel, but his state was such at that time that he knew no other than that he was Jehovah, or the Lord. Elsewhere in the Book of Judges,

The angel of Jehovah went up from Gilgal to Bochim, and he said, I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. I said, I will not break my covenant with you, even for ever. Judges 2:1.

Here similarly the angel speaks in the name of Jehovah, declaring that he brought them out of the land of Egypt, though in fact it was not the angel who led them out but Jehovah, as is stated many times elsewhere.

(References: Judges 6:12, 6:14)

[4] From this it may become clear how angels spoke through the prophets - that it was the Lord Himself who spoke, yet through angels, and that the angels spoke nothing at all from themselves. That the Word comes from the Lord is clear from many places, as also in Matthew,

To fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin will be with child and give birth to a son. Matthew 1:22-23.

And there are other places besides this. It is because the Lord speaks through angels when He speaks to man that the Lord is also called an angel in various places in the Word. In these instances 'angel' means, as stated, some essential quality residing with the Lord and deriving from Him, as is the case here where it is the Lord's interior thought. This also is the reason why in this chapter the angel is named Jehovah and also God, as in verse 13, 'And Hagar called the name of Jehovah who was speaking to her, You are a God who sees me'.

[5] In other places 'angels' is used in a similar way to mean some specific attribute that is the Lord's, as in John,

The seven stars are the angels of the seven Churches. Revelation 1:20.

There are no angels of Churches, but by 'angels' is meant that which constitutes the Church, and thus which is the Lord's in regard to the Churches. In the same book,

I saw the wall of the Holy Jerusalem, great and high, having twelve gates, and above the gates twelve angels, and names written which are those of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. Revelation 21:12.

Here 'twelve angels' has the same meaning as 'the twelve tribes', namely all things of faith, and so the Lord from whom faith and all that belongs to it is derived. In the same book,

I saw an angel flying in mid-heaven, having an eternal gospel. Revelation 14:6.

Here 'an angel' means the gospel that is the Lord's alone.

[6] In Isaiah,

The angel of His presence 3 saved them; 4 in His love and in His pity He redeemed them, and lifted them up and carried them all the days of eternity. Isaiah 63:9.

Here 'the angel of His presence" is used to mean the Lord's mercy towards the entire human race in redeeming it. Similarly in Jacob's blessing of the sons of Joseph,

May the angel who has redeemed me from every evil bless the boys. Genesis 48:16.

Here also the redemption, which is the Lord's, is meant by 'the angel'. In Malachi,

Suddenly there will come to His temple the Lord whom you are seeking, and the angel of the covenant in whom you delight. Malachi 3:1.

Here it is plainly evident that the Lord is meant by 'the angel'. The expression 'the angel of the covenant' is used here because of His Coming into the world. In Exodus it is plainer still that 'an angel' means the Lord,

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way, and to bring you to the place which I have prepared. He will not tolerate your transgression, for My name is within him. Exodus 23:20-21.

From this it is now clear that 'an angel' in the Word is used to mean the Lord; but just what aspect of the Lord is evident from the train of thought in the internal sense.


1. literally, In me or On me

2. literally, faces to faces

3. literally, faces

4. The Latin means us but the Hebrew means them which Swedenborg has in other places where he quotes this verse.


(References: Genesis 16:7)

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Arcana Coelestia 1935, 2319, 2692, 2821, 3039, 3701, 3858, 4060, 4085, 4235, 4809, 5313, 5585, 6280, 8192, 9166, 9167, 9229, 9820, 10299, 10508, 10528

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 307

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 401

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 How Angels See God
Angels love God above everything and hold Him as the center and source of their lives, seeing Him as the Sun of heaven.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #5585

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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5585. 'Saying, You will not see my face' means that no compassion will show itself. This is clear from the meaning of 'face', when used in reference to a person, as his interiors, that is to say, his affections and consequent thoughts, dealt with in 358, 1999, 2434, 3527, 3573, 4066, 4796, 4797, 5102. But when used in reference to the Lord, for the Lord is represented in the highest sense by 'Joseph', 'face' means mercy and compassion, and therefore 'not seeing his face' means a lack of mercy or absence of compassion. Not that the Lord lacks any compassion, for He is pure mercy; but when the intermediary that effects the joining to Him is not present it does seem to a person as though there is no compassion in the Lord. The reason for this is that if no intermediary effecting the joining together is present, no acceptance of good takes place. And if there is no acceptance of good, evil is present instead. If at this time the person calls out to the Lord because evil prompts him to do so, thus for selfish reasons in defiance of anyone else's needs, he is not heard, in which case it seems as though no compassion shows itself.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4796-4797)

[2] As regards 'Jehovah's (or the Lord's) face' meaning mercy, this is evident from the Word; for understood properly 'Jehovah's (or the Lord's) face' is Divine love itself, and being Divine love it is the face of mercy since mercy is the expression of love towards the human race set in such miseries. The truth that 'Jehovah's (or the Lord's) face' is Divine Love may be seen from the Lord's face when He was transfigured in the presence of Peter, James, and John; that is, when He displayed His Divinity to them,

His face shone like the sun. Matthew 17:2.

It has been shown already that 'the sun' is Divine Love, see 30-38, 1521, 1529-1531, 2441, 2495, 3636, 3643, 4060, 4321 (end), 4696. The Lord's actual Divinity had never previously appeared in any face; but His Divine Human had so appeared, through which, seemingly within which, Divine Love - which in relation to the human race is Divine Mercy - showed itself. This Divine Mercy within the Divine Human is called 'the angel of His face' in Isaiah,

I will cause the mercies of Jehovah to be remembered. He has rewarded 1 them according to His mercies, and according to the abundance of His mercies; and He became their Saviour. And the angel of His face saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them. Isaiah 63:7-9.

The expression 'the angel' is used because 'angels' in the Word means in the internal sense some attribute of the Lord, 1925, 2821, 4085, in this case His mercy, which is why the phrase 'the angel of His face' is used.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3038)

[3] 'Jehovah's (or the Lord's) face' is not only mercy but also peace and goodness since these are attributes of mercy, as may also be seen from the following places: In the Blessing,

Jehovah make His face shine upon you and be merciful to you. Jehovah lift up His face upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:25-26.

Here it is quite evident that 'making His face shine' means showing mercy, and 'lifting up His face' means granting His peace. In David,

God be merciful to us and bless us, and make His face shine upon us. Psalms 67:1.

Here also 'face' stands for mercy. In the same author,

Turn us back, O God, and make Your face shine, that we may be saved. Psalms 80:3, 7, 19.

Here the meaning is similar. In the same author,

Deliver me from the hand of my enemies and my pursuers. Make Your face shine upon Your servant. Psalms 31:15-16.

Likewise in Psalms 119:134-135. In Daniel,

Hear, our God, the prayer of Your servant, and his supplications, and make Your face shine upon Your sanctuary that has been made desolate. Daniel 9:17.

Here also 'making His face shine' stands for showing mercy.

(References: Psalms 67:2)

[4] In David,

Many are saying, Who will cause us to see good? Lift up the light of Your face upon us. Psalms 4:6-7.

'Lifting up the light of His face' stands for His imparting good because of His mercy. In Hosea,

Let them seek My face; when they are in distress, in the morning let them seek Me. Hosea 5:15.

In David,

Seek My face! Your face, O Jehovah, will I seek. Psalms 27:8-9.

In the same author,

Seek Jehovah and His strength; seek His face continually. Psalms 105:4.

'Seeking Jehovah's face' stands for seeking His mercy. In the same author,

I, in righteousness, shall see Your face. Psalms 17:15.

And in Matthew,

See that you do not despise any of these tiny ones; for I say to you that their angels in heaven always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. Matthew 18:10.

'Seeing God's face' stands for the enjoyment of peace and good because of His mercy.

[5] But the contrary of this is the hiding or concealment and also the turning away of the face, by which showing no compassion is meant, as in Isaiah,

In an overflowing of My anger I hid My face from you for a moment; but with eternal mercy I will have mercy on you. Isaiah 54:8.

'An overflowing of anger' stands for temptation in which, because the Lord does not seem to show mercy, the words 'I hid My face from you for a moment' are used. In Ezekiel,

I will turn My face away from them. Ezekiel 7:22.

In David,

How long, O Jehovah, will You forget me [as if] for ever? How long will You hide Your face from me? Psalms 13:1

In the same author,

Do not hide Your face from me; do not cast aside Your servant in anger. Psalms 17:8, 9.

In the same author,

Why, O Jehovah, do You abandon my soul? Why do You hide Your face from me? Psalms 88:14.

In the same author,

Make haste, answer me, O Jehovah. MY spirit is consumed. Do not hide Your face from me, lest I become like those going down into the pit. Cause me to hear Your mercy in the morning. Psalms 143:7-8.

And in Moses,

My anger will flare up against this people on that day, so that I forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they will be devoured. I will certainly hide My face on that day, because of all the evil which they have done. Deuteronomy 31:17-18.

'Anger flaring up' stands for turning oneself away, 5034, and 'hiding one's face' for not showing any compassion.

(References: Psalms 27:9)

[6] These actions are attributed to Jehovah or the Lord, for the reason that although He is never angry and never turns away or hides His face He is said to do so because that is how it seems to someone under the influence of evil. For the person under the influence of evil turns himself away and hides the Lord's face from himself; that is, he removes His mercy from himself. The fact that it is the evils present with a person that do this is also clear from the Word, as in Micah,

Jehovah will hide His face from them at that time, inasmuch as they have rendered their deeds evil. Micah 3:4.

In Ezekiel,

Because they transgressed against Me, therefore I hid My face from them. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions I have dealt with them and have hidden My face from them. Ezekiel 39:23-24.

In particular in Isaiah,

Your iniquities are what separate you from your God, and your sins what cause. His face to hide from you. Isaiah 59:2.

From these and many other places one may see the internal sense, which shows itself in various places and is discovered by one who is looking for it.


1. Reading retribuit (has rewarded), which Swedenborg has in his rough draft and also in 221, for retribuet (will reward)


(References: Ezekiel 39:28-29; Genesis 43:3)

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Arcana Coelestia 5592, 5706, 5816, 6037, 6263, 7599, 8867, 8925, 9212, 9293, 9297, 9306, 9545, 9546, 9936, 10019, 10433

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 196

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 64, 74, 401

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Related New Christian Commentary

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