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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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Inbound References:

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

heaven
"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...

ten
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...

upon
'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

 Stars
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 Revealed #532

Apocalypse Revealed (Rogers translation)      

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532. CHAPTER 12

1. Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.

2. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

3. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven jewels 1 on its heads.

4. Its tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.

5. She bore a male Child who would shepherd all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.

6. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they may feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

7. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and its angels fought,

8. but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.

9. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, which leads the whole world astray; it was cast to the earth, and its angels were cast out with it.

10. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, which accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

11. And they overcame it by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.

12. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that it has a short time."

13. Now when the dragon saw that it had been cast to the earth, it pursued the woman who gave birth to the male Child.

14. But the woman was given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she might be nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

15. So the serpent spewed water out of its mouth like a river after the woman, that it might cause her to be swept away by the river.

16. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon had spewed out of its mouth.

17. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and it went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

18. Then I stood on the sand of the sea. 2

-----
Footnotes:

1. The word translated as "jewels" here means diadems or crowns in the original Greek and Latin, but the writer's definition of the term elsewhere make plain that he regularly and consistently interpreted it to mean jewels or gems.

2. In most manuscripts, the Textus Receptus, the received text of the Greek New Testament, makes this verse part of the first verse of the next chapter (13:1), as do numerous translations into other languages. The Alexandrian text, however, and the text of Westcott and Hort, together with some translations, including those Latin versions consulted by the writer, make it verse 18 of the present chapter.

THE SPIRITUAL MEANING

The Contents of the Whole Chapter

The subject now is the New Church and its doctrine. The woman here means the New Church, and the child that she bore, its doctrine.

Dealt with also are people in today's church who, in accordance with their doctrine, believe in a trinity of Persons and a duality in the Person of Christ, and in justification by faith alone. These are meant by the dragon.

Depicted finally is these people's persecution of the New Church because of its doctrine, and the Lord's protection of it until it grows from being among few to being among many.

The Contents of the Individual Verses:

Verse ContentsSpiritual Meaning
1. Now a great sign appeared in heaven:A revelation from the Lord concerning His New Church in heaven and on earth and the difficulty of its doctrine's being accepted and the antagonism to it.
a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet,The Lord's New Church in heaven, which is the New Heaven, and the New Church to come on earth, which is the New Jerusalem.
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.Its wisdom and intelligence resulting from its concepts of Divine goodness and truth drawn from the Word.
2. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.The emerging doctrine of the New Church and the difficulty of its being accepted owing to the opposition to it by people meant by the dragon.
3. And another sign appeared in heaven:A revelation from the Lord concerning people antagonistic to the New Church and its doctrine.
behold, a great, fiery red dragonPeople in the Protestant Reformed Church who make God three entities and the Lord two, and who divorce charity from faith, making faith saving and not at the same time charity.
having seven headsIrrationality owing to their falsifying and profaning the Word's truths.
and ten horns,Much power.
and seven jewels 1 on its heads.All the Word's truths falsified and profaned.
4. Its tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth.By falsifying the Word's truths they exiled all spiritual concepts of goodness and truth from the church, and by appeals to falsity completely destroyed them.
And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.Those people meant by the dragon endeavor to snuff out the doctrine of the New Church at its first appearance.
5. She bore a male ChildThe doctrine of the New Church,
who would shepherd all nations with a rod of iron.which by truths drawn from the literal sense of the Word, together with rational arguments in accord with people's natural sight, will convince all those willing to be convinced whose worship is a lifeless worship owing to their divorcing faith from charity.
And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.The Lord's protection of the doctrine and its being guarded by angels in heaven.
6. Then the woman fled into the wilderness,The church being at first among few.
where she has a place prepared by God, that they may feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.The state of that church then, that in the meantime provision may be made for it to exist among more people, until it grows to its appointed state.
7. And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and its angels fought,The falsities of the previous church fighting against the truths of the New Church.
8. but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer.They were convicted of being caught up in falsities and evils, and yet they persisted in them, and therefore they were forcibly withdrawn from any conjunction with heaven and cast down.
9. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan,Those people now turned away from the Lord to themselves, and from heaven to the world, and so were caught up in the evils of their lusts and in falsities.
which leads the whole world astray;They pervert everything having to do with the church.
it was cast to the earth, and its angels were cast out with it.They were cast into the world of spirits, which is midway between heaven and hell, from which a direct conjunction is formed with people on earth.
10. Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ have come,The joy of angels in heaven that the Lord alone now reigns in heaven and the church, and that those people are saved who believe in Him.
for the accuser of our brethren, which accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.By the Last Judgment those were removed who stood in opposition to the doctrine of the New Church.
11. And they overcame it by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony,Victory gained by the Divine truth of the Word and acknowledgment of the Lord,
and they did not love their lives to the death.and they did not love themselves more than the Lord.
12. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!The new state of heaven, that the inhabitants are in the Lord and have the Lord in them.
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath,A lamentation over people in the church who are caught up in the falsities of their faith and thus in evil practices, because they are in league with followers of the dragon,
knowing that it has but a short time."because it knew that a new heaven had been formed, that a new church on earth was therefore imminent, and that it would then be cast into hell, along with its followers.
13. Now when the dragon saw that it had been cast to the earth, it pursued the woman who gave birth to the male Child.After they were cast down, followers of the dragon in the world of spirits immediately began to harass the New Church because of its doctrine.
14. But the woman was given two wings of the great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place,The Divine vigilance for that Church and protection while it was still among a few.
where she might be nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the face of the serpent.Because of the cunning of those leading astray, to provide vigilantly for the New Church to spread among more people, until it grows to its appointed state.
15. So the serpent spewed water out of its mouth like a river after the woman, that it might cause her to be swept away by the river.A multitude of reasonings flowing from falsities in order to destroy the church.
16. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the river which the dragon had spewed out of its mouth.The multitude of reasonings come to nothing in the face of the spiritual truths rationally understood that are advanced by the Michaels of whom the New Church is formed.
17. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and it went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.The hatred ignited in those people who believe themselves wise because of their arguments in support of the mystical union of the Divine and the human in the Lord and in support of justification by faith alone, against those who acknowledge the Lord alone as God of heaven and earth, and the Ten Commandments as law to be lived, and their attacking new converts with the intention of leading them astray.
18. Then I stood on the sand of the sea. 1 John's spiritual state now natural.



THE EXPOSITION

Now a great sign appeared in heaven. (12:1) This symbolizes a revelation from the Lord concerning His New Church in heaven and on earth and the difficulty of its doctrine's being accepted and the antagonism to it.

A sign from heaven means a revelation concerning things to come, and a great sign appearing in heaven means a revelation concerning the New Church, for the woman clothed with the sun, as described in this chapter, symbolizes that church. The male child that she bore symbolizes its doctrine. Her being in pain to give birth symbolizes the difficulty of that doctrine's being accepted. The dragon's attempting to devour the male child, and then persecuting the woman, symbolizes its antagonism. All this is the meaning of the great sign that appeared in heaven.

In the Word a sign is mentioned in relation to things to come, and it is then a revelation. It is mentioned in relation to truth, too, and it is then an attestation. And it is also mentioned in relation to the character of a state or object, and it is then an indicator.

A sign is mentioned in relation to things to come, and is then a revelation, in the following places:

Let them... declare to us what will happen..., that we may... know the latter end of them; or give us to hear things to come. Show signs for the future... (Isaiah 41:22-23)

(The disciples said to Jesus,) "What will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3, cf. Mark 13:4, Luke 21:7)

...there will be... signs from heaven... There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars. (Luke 21:11, 25)

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear... (Matthew 24:30)

(Hezekiah the king was told:) "This will be the sign... that Jehovah will do this thing... I will bring the shadow... on the sundial of Ahaz... backward." (Later Hezekiah said,) "What is the sign that I shall go up to the house of Jehovah?" (Isaiah 38:7-8, 22)

And so, too, elsewhere.

That a sign is mentioned in relation to truth and is then an attestation, and in relation to the character of a state and is then an indicator, is apparent from other passages in the Word.

1. In most manuscripts, the Textus Receptus, the received text of the Greek New Testament, makes this verse part of the first verse of the next chapter (13:1), as do numerous translations into other languages. The Alexandrian text, however, and the text of Westcott and Hort, together with some translations, including those Latin versions consulted by the writer, make it verse 18 of the present chapter.

-----

(References: Apocalypse Revealed 532, 533, 534, 535, 536, 537, 538, 539, 540, 541, 542, 543, 544, 545, 546, 547, 548, 549, 550, 551, 552, 553, 554, 555, 556, 557, 558, 559, 560, 561, 562, 563, 564, 565; Revelation 12:2, 12:3, 12:4, 12:5, 12:6, 12:7, 12:8, 12:9, 12:10, 12:11, 12:12, 12:13, 12:14, 12:15, 12:16, 12:17)

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Inbound References:

Apocalypse Revealed 532, 536, 656

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine 88


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Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Quotes: Visions in Heaven
Teaching Support | Ages over 15


Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation.


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