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Arcana Coelestia #251

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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251. The reason why the “serpent” means all evil in general, and specifically the love of self, is that all evil has had its rise from that sensuous part of the mind, and also from that memory-knowledge [scientifico], which at first were signified by the “serpent;” and therefore it here denotes evil of every kind, and specifically the love of self, or hatred against the neighbor and the Lord, which is the same thing. As this evil or hatred was various, consisting of numerous genera and still more numerous species, it is described in the Word by various kinds of serpents, as “snakes” “cockatrices” “asps” “adders” “fiery serpents” “serpents that fly” and “that creep” and “vipers” according to the differences of the poison, which is hatred. Thus we read in Isaiah:

Rejoice not thou, whole Philistia, because the rod which smiteth thee is broken, for out of the serpent’s root shall go forth a cockatrice, and his fruit shall be a flying fire-serpent (Isaiah 14:29).The “serpent’s root” denotes that part of the mind, or that principle, which is connected with the senses and with memory-knowledge [est sensuale et scientificum]; the “cockatrice” denotes evil originating in the falsity thence derived; and the “flying fire-serpent” the cupidity that comes from the love of self. By the same Prophet also similar things are elsewhere thus described:

They hatch cockatrice’s eggs, and weave the spider’s web; he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and when it is crushed there cometh out a viper (Isaiah 59:5).

The serpent described here in Genesis is called in the Revelation the “great and red dragon” and the “old serpent” and also the “devil and satan” that “deceives the whole world” (Revelation 12:3, 9; 20:2), where, and also in other places, by the “devil” is not meant any particular devil who is prince over the others, but the whole crew of evil spirits, and evil itself.

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Arcana Coelestia 6398, 6949

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The Bible


Revelation 12:3

King James Version         

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3 And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Apocalypse Revealed 536, 537, 538, 539, 540

Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 251, 257, 2584, 2832, 3300, 5268, 10071, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 10, 101, 270, 305, 438, 473, 532

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 76

Conjugial Love 79

Divine Providence 310

The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 44

Doctrine of Life 61

Doctrine of Faith 58

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 316, 364, 555, 559, 577, 675, 706, ...

Scriptural Confirmations 4, 32

Related New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:

Bible Word Meanings

"Air" in the Bible represents thought, but in a very general way – more like our capacity to perceive ideas and the way we tend...

Seven heads
'The seven heads of the dragon, and of the beast rising out of the sea,' as mentioned in Revelation 12:3, and 8:3, signify insanity arising...

Most places in Swedenborg identify “ten” as representing “all,” or in some cases “many” or “much.” The Ten Commandments represent all the guidance we get...

'Over' or 'upon' in the Word, signifies being within, because the highest part in successive order becomes inmost in simultaneous order. This is why the...

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.

 A Great Wonder in Heaven
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Angels War with the Dragon
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Banner: Michael Fighting the Dragon
Make this banner as a New Church Day decoration for your home.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

 Behold, the Great Red Dragon! (sheet music)
Song | Ages 4 - 14

 Behold the Great Red Dragon Song with Hand Motions
Song | Ages 3 - 10

 Celebrating New Church Day
The story of the woman clothed with the sun pictures the birth of the New Church into the world.
Story | Ages 2 - 7

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

 Costume Suggestions for Dramatizing Revelation 12
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Crown of Stars
Suggests several ways to make a crown of stars.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Crown of Twelve Stars Snowflake Pattern
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Dramatize the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Egg Carton Dragon Puppets
Younger children might enjoy making one of the dragon's heads from an egg carton. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Given Two Wings of a Great Eagle
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 How to Make a Dragon Piñata
Make a dragon piñata and fill it with small wrapped candies and/or little toys. Let children of all ages take turns "fighting" the dragon, using a wooden sword (or heavy stick). 
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Make a Dragon with Wooden Beads
Use pipe cleaners and wooden beads to make a red dragon with 7 heads. 
Project | Ages 6 - 10

 Make a Sun Cake
Serve this special cake to your family at a New Church Day celebration! 
Project | Ages over 4

 Memory Verse: Visions in Heaven
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Michael and His Angels Fight the Dragon
Color picture of Revelation 12.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 Michael Fights the Dragon
Color picture of the great red dragon and Michael from Revelation 12.
Picture | All Ages

 Michael Fights the Dragon
Color, cut out and assemble this complex project showing Michael protecting the woman clothed with sun from the dragon.
Project | Ages 7 - 17

 Michael's Army Faces the Dragon's Army
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Michael's Shield
Make a shield that can represent Michael fighting against evil and false ideas. A smaller shield could also be worn as a badge.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Michael Striking the Dragon
A dramatic image of Michael fighting the great red dragon.
Coloring Page | Ages 6 - 12

 Michael—The Great Prince
The name Michael is actually a question, meaning, literally, “Who is like God?” The answer to this question can help us fight against the dragon.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 New Church Day
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 New Church Day Felt Puppets
Make finger puppets such as the ones pictured here as a gift for young children.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 New Church Day Representation
Suggests ways to use a doll to make a display of picture the woman clothed with the sun
Project | Ages 4 - 17

 Picture the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Use crayons and watercolors (wax resist method) to show the woman clothed with the sun.
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 Quotes: Visions in Heaven
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Spiritual Warfare
Article | Ages over 15

Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Beauty of the New Church
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Birth of the New Church
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Coming of the New Church
Prophecies helped prepare people for the Lord’s birth on earth, and prophecies would also help prepare the way for His second coming. The Lord called His disciple, John, to serve as a revelator, opening his spiritual eyes and telling him: “Write the things which you have seen...and the things which will take place after this” (Revelation 1:17-19). Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 6, for ages 11-12.
Religion Lesson | Ages 11 - 12

 The Great Red Dragon
Color picture of the great red dragon sweeping the stars from the sky with his tail.
Picture | Ages up to 14

 The Great Red Dragon
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Meaning of the Woman Clothed with the Sun
Of all the books of the Word, the book of Revelation is perhaps the least understood. The Heavenly Doctrine, revealed through Emanuel Swedenborg provides the key to unlock Revelation.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Number Seven in the Word Crossword Puzzle
Discover stories that include the number seven in the Word.
Activity | Ages 9 - 13

 The Number Twelve in the Word Crossword Puzzle
Discover times when the number twelve appears throughout the Word.
Activity | Ages 9 - 13

 The Woman and the Dragon
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 Woman and the Dragon (3-5 years)
Project | Ages 4 - 6

 The Woman and the Dragon (6-8 years)
Project | Ages 7 - 10

 The Woman and the Dragon (9-11 years)
Project | Ages 11 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun and Her Baby
Have you ever seen a newborn baby? When they first come into the world they are helpless. Someone older and wiser must watch over them and feed them.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun and Her Child
Color picture of the woman surrounded by the sun, standing on the moon and holding her child up to God.
Picture | All Ages

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun and Her Child
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun is Given Eagles' Wings
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman Clothed with the Sun, Michael and the Dragon
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 The Woman Flees into the Wilderness
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman, Michael, and the Dragon Stained Glass Window
Instructions for making a "stained glass window" with waxed paper, glue, and colored tissue paper.
Project | Ages 4 - 17

 The Woman with Her Son
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 The Woman with Sun, Moon and Stars
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Vision of Woman Clothed with the Sun
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Visions of Heaven
While the disciple John was on the isle of Patmos, he saw special visions that showed him how a New Church—a new kind of Christianity—would begin.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 When Am I Like…?
An activity to help us think about when we are like the woman, Michael, or the dragon.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Wings of an Eagle
Explore ways that we can develop a spiritual perspective on what is good and true - the wings of an eagle.
Activity | Ages over 15

 Woman Clothed with Sun Stained Glass Window
Beautiful "stained glass" window of the woman clothed with the sun, to color and display.
Project | Ages 4 - 17

 Woman Clothed with the Sun
The Woman would not have been able to fight against the dragon by herself, but the Lord was ready to help. He sent His guardian angels to protect the Woman and her precious Baby. Sample from the Jacob’s Ladder Program, Level 1, for ages 6-7.
Religion Lesson | Ages 6 - 7

 Woman Clothed with the Sun Candle Holder
Make a beautiful stand to put in front of a candle or on a window sill so that the woman clothed with the sun is lit up from behind.
Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Yes, There Are Dragons
Article | Ages 15 - 17

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #675

Apocalypse Explained (Whitehead translation)      

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675. And the tenth part of the city fell, signifies that no truths of doctrine any longer existed with those who remained. This is evident from the signification of "ten," as being all persons and all things, also many persons and many things, and of "the tenth part," as being all and much (of which presently); also from the signification of "city," as being doctrine and also the truth of doctrine, for a doctrine, that it may be a doctrine of the church, must consist of truths from the Word (that a "city" signifies doctrine see above, n. 223. It is evident also from the signification of "to fall," as being to be separated, consequently to have no existence; to be separated and to have no existence is predicated of truths of doctrine when "to fall" is predicated of a city.

(References: Revelation 11:13; The Apocalypse Explained 223)

[2] For every particular thing has allotted to it its analogous and proper expression, according to the correspondence of the subject in the natural sense with the subject in the spiritual sense; and here the subject in the natural sense is a city, while the subject in the spiritual sense is the truth of doctrine. That no truths existed with those that remained follows from what has been said in the preceding article, namely, that when the good are taken away from a society in which the good and the evil have been together, and are carried up into heaven, no truths of doctrine any longer remain with the evil, because they are then deprived of their communication with the good which enabled them as to the external to be as it were in truths, and thence to speak about truths from doctrine.

[3] For in the spiritual world there is a communication of the affections and thence of the thoughts, and from such communication one is held by another, thus all in the same society mutually, in a like affection and accordingly in a like good; thus are the evil also held by the good. But these evil were such as were able in external form to put on an appearance of sanctity, of piety, of intelligence, of zeal for the church and its doctrine, also in the life an appearance of being just and sincere from the heart, and yet interiorly in themselves they possessed nothing of such good. Such were the evil, with whom there could no longer exist any truths of doctrine, after the good were taken away, who are meant by "the two witnesses" that went up by command into heaven.

[4] It is to be known that there were in the spiritual world many societies formed of such, and that these societies taken together are meant by "the first heaven" which passed away (Revelation 21:1). (Respecting these societies or that heaven, many things are related in the small work on The Last Judgment.) In these societies were such evil persons as have been described, and the good associated with them; and so long as these were conjoined in one society the evil appeared in externals like the good; but when they had been separated, then the external good in them, which was only simulated and hypocritical, was separated, and their interiors were laid open, which were infernal, filled with mere evils and falsities therefrom. Such a separation and such a consequent state existed in the spiritual world a little before the Last Judgment; this, therefore, is the state that is here described; for the last time of the church, when the universal judgment is at hand, is here treated of.

[5] That "ten" signifies all persons and all things, also many persons and many things, can be seen from the passages in the Word where that number occurs. As in Moses:

Jehovah hath commanded unto you His covenant which He covenanted 1 you to do, the ten words which He wrote upon two tables of stone (Deuteronomy 4:13).

And again:

Jehovah wrote upon the tables according to the former writing, the ten words which Jehovah spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire (Deuteronomy 10:4).

There were "ten words" or "ten commandments" constituting the Decalogue, because "ten" signifies all things, therefore "the ten words" mean the law in its whole complex.

(References: Luke 19:15-21)

[6] As "ten" signifies all persons:

The Lord compared the kingdom of the heavens to ten virgins having lamps with which to go forth to meet the bridegroom, of whom five were prudent and five foolish (Matthew 25:1, 2, et seq.). "The ten virgins" to whom the kingdom of the heavens is likened signify all who are of the church, for "ten" signifies all, and "virgins" the church; but "five" signifies some, or some part, for some of the church were prudent and some foolish. Such is the signification of the number "five" in the Word. "Lamps" signify the knowledges of truth and good, here from the Word, also the truths of doctrine and of faith; "oil" signifies the good of love and of charity; the "bridegroom" means the Lord, and the "wedding" means heaven and the church, which are called a "wedding" from the marriage of good and truth; and as where there is not this marriage there is neither heaven nor the church, therefore those are called "foolish" who know the truths of faith and have no good of love, while those who have the good of love are called "prudent;" for, as has been said, "lamps" here mean the truths of faith, and "oil" the good of love. "Virgins" signify the church, because "virgin" and "daughter" in the Word signify the affection of good and truth, and it is because of that affection that the church is a church. This is why "the virgin and daughter of Zion," "the virgin and daughter of Jerusalem," "the virgin and daughter of Israel" and "of Judah," are mentioned in so many passages, these everywhere meaning the church.

(References: Matthew 25:1-2)

[7] As "ten" signifies all as also many:

The Lord said of the nobleman who went into a far country, that he called his ten servants and gave them ten pounds [minas] to trade with; and after they had traded, one said that his pound had gained ten pounds; to him he said, Thou shalt have authority over ten cities; and the second said, Thy pound hath made five pounds; to him he said, Be thou over five cities; and of the third, who laid up his pound in a napkin, and did not trade, he said, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds (Luke 19:12-14, 16-20, 24).

Here, too, the numbers "ten" and "five" are employed because "ten" signifies all persons and all things, and "five" some persons and some things. "The ten servants" whom the nobleman going into a far country called to him, mean all who are in the world, and in particular, all who are of the church; for the "nobleman" means the Lord, and "going into a far country" means the Lord's departure out of the world and His then seeming to be absent; "the ten pounds that he gave to the ten servants to trade with" signify all the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, with the ability to perceive them; for a "pound" [mina], which was silver and was money, signifies the knowledges of truth and the ability to perceive; and "to trade" signifies by means of these to acquire intelligence and wisdom; those who acquire much are meant by the servant who from a pound gained ten pounds; and those who acquire some are meant by him who from a pound gained five pounds; the "cities which are said to be given them" signify the truths of doctrine, and "to possess them" signifies intelligence and wisdom, and life and happiness therefrom. Thence it is clear what is signified by "ten cities" and by "five cities." As those who acquire nothing of intelligence are like the "foolish virgins" (of whom just above), and as these possess truths in the memory only and not in the life, after their departure from this world they are deprived of truths, while those who possess truths both in the memory and in the life enrich themselves in intelligence to eternity, so it is said that "they should take away the pound from him who gained nothing with it, and should give it to him who had ten pounds."

(References: Luke 19:12-13, 19:15-21)

[8] It is similar with those:

To whom talents were given, to one five, to another two, and to a third one; the first of whom from his five talents gained another five; and the second from two talents gained other two; and the third laid away his talent in the earth, of whom the Lord said, Take from him that hath not traded and gained, and give to him that hath ten talents, for unto everyone that hath shall be given that he may abound, and from him that hath not even that which he hath shall be taken away (Matthew 25:14-30).

Here, too, "five" and "ten" also signify something and much; thus, that the first from some knowledges of truth and good acquired much wisdom. It is taken away from him who has acquired nothing of intelligence and is given to him who has much, because when man after death becomes a spirit he carries with him all things, and every single thing that he has drawn from the Word and from the doctrine of the church. But those who through these have acquired nothing of intelligence are interiorly evil, and therefore misuse the truths and goods of heaven and the church, which they possess in the memory only, in exercising dominion over the simple good who are in the lowest heaven, and in doing evil to them. This is why these truths and goods are taken away from them and are given to those who have many, since these do not misuse them, but from them perform uses.

[9] Those who do not acquire spiritual intelligence in the world through the knowledges of truth and good from the Word are evil, as can be seen from this, that all are born into evils of every kind, and these evils are removed only by means of Divine truths from the Word, that is, by applying truths to uses, and thus receiving them in the life. So to those who have gained it is said:

Good and faithful servants, ye have been faithful over a few things, I will set you over many things; enter ye into the joy of your Lord (verses 2 Matthew 25:21, 23);

and to him who had gained nothing:

Cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness, there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth (verse 30).

(References: Matthew 25:30)

[10] Because "ten" signifies all and much, therefore that number is used by the Lord also in other passages, where all and much must be understood. As in Luke:

Of the woman having ten drachmas, if she lose one, doth she not light a candle and sweep the house and seek carefully till she find it? (Luke 15:8)

"Ten" here signifies much. This is said of a "woman," and that "she would light a candle and sweep the house" because of the spiritual sense in every particular of the Word. In that sense a "woman" signifies the church in respect to the affection of truth, thus also the affection of truth itself which belongs to the church; the "drachma" signifies truth; "to lose the drachma" signifies to lose one of the truths or the knowledges of truth; "to light a candle" signifies self-examination from affection; "to sweep the house" signifies to traverse the whole mind and to examine every particular where the truth lies hidden. This is the spiritual sense of these words. "A hundred" has the same signification as "ten," namely, much; therefore a similar parable speaks of:

A hundred sheep, if one is lost (Matthew 18:12, 13; Luke 15:3-7).

(References: Matthew 18:12-13)

[11] "Ten" signifies all and much also in the following passages. In Isaiah:

Many houses great and fair 2 shall become a waste without inhabitant; for ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath (Isaiah 5:9, 10).

This is said of the desolation of truth with those who are of the church. "Many houses which shall become a waste" signify the men of the church, and in particular, such in respect to truths from good; "great and fair," that is, houses, signifies the affection of good and the understanding of truth, for "great" is predicated of good and its affection, and "fair" is predicated of truth and its intelligence; "ten acres of vineyard shall yield one bath" signifies that in all things of the church with man there is scarcely any truth from good, for a "bath" has also a similar signification as wine, namely, truth from good; therefore "ten acres of vineyard" signify all things of the church with man.

(References: Isaiah 5:9-10)

[12] In Moses:

If ye will go contrary to Me I will break for you the staff of bread, that ten women may bake your bread in one oven, and I will bring back your bread by weight (Leviticus 26:23, 26).

"To break the staff of bread" signifies to deprive of spiritual food, and thus of spiritual nourishment, for "bread" means everything that nourishes the soul, and in particular the good of love; therefore "ten women shall bake your bread in one oven" signifies that in all things of the church with man there is so little of good and truth as to be scarcely anything; "ten women" signify all things of the church; "bread" signifies good and truth that nourish the soul; and "oven" signifies where spiritual food is prepared, thus the man with whom it is; "to bring back the bread by weight" signifies the lack and want of such things as spiritually nourish.

[13] In Zechariah:

Many peoples and numerous nations shall come to seek Jehovah of Hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the faces of Jehovah. In those days ten men out of all the tongues of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a man, a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you (Zechariah 8:22, 23).

This is said of the calling together of the Gentiles and their admission to the church by the Lord; and "ten men out of all tongues" signify all from whatever religion, namely those "who come to seek Jehovah of Hosts in Jerusalem," that is, who wish to be admitted to the church and to confess the Lord, therefore "ten men" mean all such, and "the tongues of the nations" mean their religious principles. But this with the rest of the passage may be seen explained above n. 433, where it is shown that "Jerusalem" does not mean Jerusalem, nor "Jew" any Jew.

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 433; Zechariah 8:22-23)

[14] In Amos:

Jehovah said, I hate the pride of Jacob and his palaces; therefore I will shut up the city and the fullness thereof; if there remain ten men in one house they shall die (Amos 6:8, 9).

"The pride of Jacob and his palaces which Jehovah hates," signify the love of falsity and belief in it with those who are of the church, "pride" meaning the love of falsity, and "palaces" the falsities themselves, which are called "palaces" because they belong to the proud, and because the falsities of such are embellished in external form so as to appear magnificent, although they are most vile, like huts full of rubbish and filth; "to shut up the city and the fullness thereof" signifies to condemn the doctrine, because it is full of the falsities of evil, and is possessed by them, "city" meaning doctrine, and "fullness" the falsities of evil; therefore "if there remain ten men in one house they shall die" signifies that all the truths of good with everyone shall perish, "ten men" meaning all truths, "house" man in respect to good, and "to die" to perish.

(References: Amos 6:8-9)

[15] In Zechariah:

The prophet saw a flying roll, the length thereof twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits; this is the malediction that goeth forth over the faces of the whole land (Zechariah 5:2, 3).

"The flying roll," which meant "the malediction that goeth forth over the faces of the whole land," was twenty cubits in length and ten in breadth because "twenty" and "ten" signify all, here all good changed into evil and all truth into falsity; "twenty" is predicated of good and everything of it, and "ten" of truth and everything of it; moreover, "length" also signifies good, and "breadth" truth (see above, n. 355, 627, 629, and in the work on Heaven and Hell 197).

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 355, The Apocalypse Explained 627, 629; Zechariah 5:2-3)

[16] As "ten" signifies all things and many things, so "ten times" signifies so many times and always, in the following passages. In Daniel:

Among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah; 3 in every word of the wisdom of intelligence which the king sought of them, he found them ten times better than all the astrologers and diviners that were in all his kingdom (Daniel 1:19, 20).

In Moses:

All the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, and who have tempted Me these ten times, they shall not see the land (Numbers 14:21-23).

And in Job:

Ten times ye have dishonored Me, ye are not ashamed, ye harden yourselves (Job 19:3).

"Ten times" in these passages signifies at all times or always, and so many times.

(References: Acts of the Apostles 19:3; Daniel 1:19-20)

[17] In Daniel and in Revelation horns are attributed to the beasts, to some ten, to some seven, and to some three, and the "horns" of these beasts signify the power of falsity against truth, and of evil against good, and "ten horns," the highest power. In Daniel:

The fourth beast coming up out of the sea had ten horns; as to the ten horns out of this kingdom shall ten kings arise (Daniel 7:7, 20, 24).

"The ten horns" of the beast here signify the highest power of falsity against truth; "ten kings" signify falsities in the whole complex, and "kingdom" signifies that church perverted. In Revelation:

The dragon had seven heads and ten horns, and upon the heads seven diadems (Revelation 12:3).


The beast coming up out of the sea had seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten diadems (Revelation 13:1).

And again:

The woman sitting upon the scarlet beast, full of names of blasphemy, had seven heads and ten horns; the ten horns that thou sawest are ten kings which have not yet received a kingdom; yet they shall receive power as kings one hour with the beast (Revelation 17:3, 7, 12).

What is signified there in particular will be seen in the explanations further on.

[18] As "ten" signifies all persons and all things, it follows that "the tenth part" signifies everything. It is from this that "tenths" and "tithings" derived their origin, and these signified that everything was holy and blessed when the tenth part of the threshing floor and of the wine press, or of the corn and wine, was given to the Levites; likewise for the Levites when the tenth part was again tithed and given to Aaron. Of these it is thus written in the Word:

Tithing thou shalt tithe all the increase of thy seed that is brought forth in the field year by year (Deuteronomy 14:22).

Say unto the Levites, that the tenths must be given to them for an inheritance, and that they must offer up a heave offering of them to Jehovah, a tenth of the tenths, and this from the corn of the threshing floor and from the fullness of the wine vat; and the tenth of the tenth they must give to Aaron the priest (Numbers 18:24-28).

[19] That the "tenth" signified a blessing in all things, thus that everything was holy and blessed, is evident in Malachi:

Bring ye all the tithes to the house of treasure, that there may be food in My house; then prove ye Me in this, if I will not open you the windows of heaven and pour you out a blessing until there be no room for more (Malachi 3:10).

"To open the windows and pour out a blessing" signifies the inflowing Divine from which is intelligence and life eternal; the like as is signified by "rain" above n. 644; and this also is properly meant by the "blessing" that would be given if the tithes were brought; so "tithes" here signify that everything was thus blest. That all things might be blest that Abraham took from his enemies, it is said:

That he gave to Melchizedek, who was king in Salem and at the same time priest to God Most High, tithes of all (Genesis 14:18, 19).

Jacob likewise promised and vowed:

That if he returned in peace unto his father's house everything that Jehovah gave him tithing should be tithed (Genesis 28:21, 22).

From these passages, as well as others, it can be seen what is signified in the Word by "ten" and "the tenth part."

(References: Genesis 14:18-19, Genesis 14:18-20, 28:21-22; The Apocalypse Explained 644)

[20] The reason that "ten" signifies all things is derived from heaven itself; for heaven in the whole and every part answers to a man, and is therefore called the Greatest Man. All the forces of life of this Greatest Man or heaven close in the two hands and the two feet, and the hands close in ten fingers, and the feet in ten toes; for this reason, all things of man in respect to power and support are lastly gathered into ten fingers and toes, so these signify all things of man; moreover, ultimates signify in the Word all.


1. The Hebrew has "He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded," as found in Arcana Coelestia 1288, 6804, 9396.

2. The Hebrew here has "good," as also found in Arcana Coelestia 1488.

3. The Latin here has "Ananiah."


(References: Genesis 14:18-20; Luke 19:12-13, Luke 19:15-21; Revelation 11:13)

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From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 672, 687, 716, 777, 849, 1069

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.