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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

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

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

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Make this banner as a New Church Day decoration for your home.
Project | Ages 11 - 17

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Song | Ages 4 - 14

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

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

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Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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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

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

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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

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Color picture of Revelation 12.
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Color picture of the great red dragon and Michael from Revelation 12.
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Project | Ages 4 - 10

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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
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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
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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
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 The Birth of the New Church
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 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)
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 The Woman Clothed with the Sun
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This lesson discusses a story from the Word and suggests projects and activities for young children.
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Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

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Instructions for making a "stained glass window" with waxed paper, glue, and colored tissue paper.
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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

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An activity to help us think about when we are like the woman, Michael, or the dragon.
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Activity | Ages over 15

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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.
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Project | Ages 7 - 14

 Yes, There Are Dragons
Article | Ages 15 - 17

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #2832

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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2832. 'By its horns' means with all its power as regards the truths of faith. This is clear from the meaning of 'horns'. Horns are mentioned in various places in the Word, in which places they mean the power of truth which springs from good, and in the contrary sense the power of falsity which springs from evil. In this place the meaning is that those who are spiritual, meant by 'the ram', were entangled in natural knowledge with all their power as regards truth, and that as a consequence they were bereft of the power to perceive truths. For the more anyone relies on natural facts and keeps his mind (animus et mens) fixed on these where truths of faith are concerned, the more he loses the light of truth; and when he loses this light he loses the life of truth as well. Anyone may recognize this, if he stops to reflect, from his experience of people who say they are unable to believe anything unless they grasp that it is so through sensory evidence or through factual knowledge. If you probe into what they are really like you will discover that they believe nothing at all, and what is more that to them nothing seems wiser than to ascribe every single thing to natural forces. There are also many who say that they believe even though they do not apprehend. But secretly within themselves these reason no less than others from sensory evidence and factual knowledge regarding the truths of faith whether the thing is so. These either possess a kind of persuasive belief infused into them from self-love and love of the world, or else they do not have any belief at all. Their true nature is evident from their life. Both groups of people are indeed within the Lord's spiritual Church, yet they are not of the Church. They are of the Church however when the life of good is present in them and they have faith in truths. But spiritual people have faith in no other truths than those which have been impressed on them from early childhood and which after that they have confirmed for themselves from doctrine or some other source. Such is the state of those who are spiritual, a state which is described here by 'a ram caught in the thicket by its horns' - see immediately above in 2831.

[2] A horn means the power of truth that springs from good.

This is clear from the following places: In David,

You are the splendour of their strength, and in Your good pleasure You will exalt our horn. For our shield belongs to Jehovah, and our king to the Holy One of Israel. My truth and My mercy will be with him, and in My name his horn will be exalted. And I will set his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers. Psalms 89:17-18, 24-25.

Here 'our horn' and 'his horn' plainly stand for the power of truth. The subject is the Lord's spiritual kingdom. 'Our king belongs to the Holy One of Israel' stands for the fact that Divine Truth is the Lord's 'a king' being truth, and the Lord's kingship Divine Truth, see 1672, 1728, 2015, 2069. 'Setting his hand on the sea, and his right hand on the rivers' stands for the fact that strength resides in knowledge and in cognitions of truth - 'hand' and 'right hand' being strength, 878, and 'sea' and 'river' knowledge and cognitions, 28, 2702. In the same author,

I will love You, O Jehovah, my strength. Jehovah is my rock (petra), and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my rock (rupee) in which I trust, a shield and the horn of salvation. Psalms 18:1-2; 2 Samuel 22:2-3.

'The horn of salvation' stands for truth as regards its power, and here 'strength', 'rock' (petra), 'fortress', 'God', 'rock' (rupee), and 'shield' all mean spiritually the power of truth.

(References: Psalms 89:24)


[3] In the same author,

In Zion I will make the horn of David to spring forth, I will make ready a lamp for My anointed. His enemies I will clothe with shame. Psalms 132:17-18.

This refers to the Lord, who is 'David', 1888. 'Horn' stands for the power of truth, 'a lamp' for the light of truth. In Samuel,

My heart has exulted in Jehovah, my horn has exalted itself in Jehovah. My mouth has been enlarged against my enemies because I have rejoiced in Your salvation. Jehovah will give strength to His king, and will exalt the horn of His anointed. 1 Samuel 2:1, 10.

In this prophecy of Hannah 'horn' stands for the power of truth.

[4] In Moses,

The firstborn of his cattle has honour, and his horns are unicorn horns. 1 With them he will thrust 2 the peoples together to the ends of the earth. Deuteronomy 33:17.

In this prophecy of Moses concerning Joseph 'unicorn horns' stands for the mighty power of truth, as is also evident from the statement that 'with them he will thrust the peoples to the ends of the earth'. Similarly in David,

You will exalt my horn like that of a unicorn. Psalms 92:10.

And in the same author,

O Jehovah, save me from the mouth of the lion, and from the unicorn horns 1 answer me. Psalms 22:21.

Divine truths, on account of their height, are called 'unicorn horns'. It is for this reason that mention is made so many times of a horn being exalted, for exaltation means power derived from what is interior. As regards what is internal being expressed as that which is high, see 1735, 2148.

[5] In Jeremiah,

The Lord has cut down in fierce anger the whole horn of Israel, He has drawn back His right hand from before the enemy. Lamentations 2:3.

'Cutting down the whole horn of Israel' stands for deprivation of truth which possesses power. This is also the meaning of 'drawing back the right hand from before the enemy'. In Ezekiel,

On that day I will make a horn grow up for the house of Israel, and I will give you an opening of the mouth in the midst of them. Ezekiel 29:21.

'Making a horn grow up for the house of Israel' stands for multiplying the truths of the spiritual Church, meant by Israel, 'an opening of the mouth' for the confession of those truths.

(References: Revelation 17:9)


[6] In Habakkuk,

God will come out of Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. His fame has covered the heavens, and the earth has been filled with His praise. And His brightness will be as the light; He has horns going out of His hand, and there the hiding-place of His strength will be. Habakkuk 3:3-4.

This refers to the Lord. 'Horns going out of His hand' and 'there the hiding-place of His strength will be', it is plain, stands for the power of truth. 'Mount Paran' is the Divine spiritual or Divine Truth of the Lord's Human - see 2714 - which is also 'the brightness' and 'the light'.

[7] The Divine Truth of the Lord's Human is described in John as follows,

I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, a Lamb standing as though it had been slain, having seven horns, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Revelation 5:6.

'Seven horns' stands for holy, or Divine, truths - 'seven' meaning that which is holy, see 716, 881. 'The seven spirits sent out into all the earth' are the holy proclaimings of those same truths.

[8] The horns of altars meant nothing other than truth which possessed power, being spoken of in Moses as follows,

You shall make horns on the four corners of the altar; its horns shall be of one piece with it. Exodus 27:2; 38:2.

In a similar way the altar of incense was to have them on it; and it is said that the horns were to be of one piece with it, Exodus 30:2; 37:25. For the altar was the chief representative of the Lord, and of worship of Him, see 921. 'The altar' was a representative of His Divine Good, 'the horns' representatives of His Divine Truth. The derivation of truth from good was represented by the horns being protrusions from it, that is, from the altar. For the consideration that no other truth exists except that which is derived from good, see 654, 1068, 3 1162, 1176, 2063, 2261, 2417. From all this it is evident that 'horns' in the genuine sense means the power of truth that springs from good.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2429)


[9] Truths springing from good were meant in the following instances:

When Aaron and his sons were being admitted into their function, they were to take some of the blood of the young bull and place it with their finger on the horns of the altar. Exodus 29:12; Leviticus 8:15.

Aaron was to make atonement once a year on the horns of the altar. Exodus 30:10.

When a priest sinned he was to offer a young bull, and to place some of the blood on the horns of the altar of incense. Leviticus 4:3, 7.

Also, when a prince sinned he was to offer a burnt offering, and the blood was to be sprinkled over the horns of the altar of burnt offering. Leviticus 4:22, 25.

The same had to be done if a person 4 sinned - Leviticus 4:27, 30, 34 - and also when the altar was to be ritually cleansed. Leviticus 16:18-19.

Truths springing from good were meant, for all consecrations, inaugurations, and cleansings were effected by means of truths, because truths lead towards good, 2830. That 'the horns of the altar' meant truths springing from good may also be seen in John,

The sixth angel sounded, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which stood before God. Revelation 9:13.

'The horns of the golden altar' plainly stands for truths that spring from good, for it was from the horns that the voice came. 'Gold' means good, 113, 1551, 1552, and 'the golden altar' more especially so.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552)


[10] In Amos,

On the day I visit Israel for his transgressions, I will visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar will be cut away and fall to the ground. Amos 3:14.

'The horns of the altar will be cut away' meant that in that place the representation of truth springing from good would remain no longer. 'Bethel' is Divine good, and is therefore called 'the king's sanctuary' and 'a house of the kingdom' in Amos 7:13. The practice of anointing kings with oil from a horn, 1 Samuel 16:1, 13; 1 Kings 1:39, in a similar way represented truth springing from good - 'oil' being the good, 886, 'horn' however the truth; the kingly office itself in the internal sense means truth such as this, 1782, 2015, which possesses power.

[11] A horn in the contrary sense means the power of falsity that springs from evil

This is clear from the following places: In Amos,

O you who rejoice in a thing of nought, saying, Have we not by our own strength acquired horns for ourselves? Amos 6:13.

'Home' here stands for the power of falsity. In Zechariah,

I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold, four horns! And I said to the angel who talked to me, What are these? And he said to me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. And Jehovah showed me four smiths, and I said, What are these coming to do? And He said, These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man raised his head, and these have come to terrify, to cast down the horns of the nations lifting up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it. Zechariah 1:18-21.

'Horns' stands for the power of falsity that lays waste the Church. In Ezekiel,

You push with side and shoulder, and butt with your horns all the weak [sheep] until you have scattered them abroad. Ezekiel 34:21.

This refers to shepherds who mislead by means of falsities. 'Horns' stands for the power of falsity, 'shoulder' for all the power they had, 1085. In Jeremiah,

Jehovah has destroyed and not spared; and He has caused the enemy to rejoice over you. He has exalted the horn of your foes. Lamentations 2:17.

In the same prophet,

The horn of Moab has been cut off and his arm broken. Jeremiah 48:25.

'Horn' here stands for powerful falsity.

[12] In David,

I said to the boastful, Do not boast; and to the wicked, Do not lift up the horn, do not lift up your horn on high, do not speak with a stiff neck. All the horns of the wicked I will cut away; the horns of the righteous will be exalted. Psalms 75:4-5, 10.

'The horns of the wicked' stands for the power of falsity that springs from evil, 'the horns of the righteous' for the power of truth that springs from good.

[13] In Daniel,

A fourth beast appeared, terrible and dreadful, exceedingly strong, which had iron teeth. It devoured, and broke in pieces, and trampled on the residue with its feet. It had ten horns. I was considering the horns, and behold, another little horn came up among them and three of the first horns were plucked up from before it. And behold, there were eyes in this horn like the eyes of a man (homo), and a mouth speaking great things. I looked then because of the sound of the great words that the horn was speaking. I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, and about the ten horns that were on its head, and about the other one that came up, and before which three of them fell, and about the same horn which had eyes, and a mouth speaking great things. As I looked this same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed over them until the Ancient of Days came and judgement was given to the saints. And he said, As for the fourth beast, it will be a fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all the kingdoms and will devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it in pieces. As for the ten horns, out of that same kingdom ten kings will arise, and another will arise after them, who will be different from the previous ones, and he will put down three kings. He will speak words against the Most High, and wear out the saints. After this the judgement will sit. Daniel 7:7-8, 11, 19-26.

This refers in the internal sense to the perverted state of the Church. The things mentioned here which Daniel saw - such as the beast, the iron teeth, the horn with eyes in it, and the horns that spoke; also the war these made with the saints, and [the king] speaking against the Most High - mean a state of falsity and of heresies inside the Church. For 'horns' means powerful and prevalent falsity, as may be seen merely from the consideration that 'eyes' - that is, the power of understanding, 2701 - are attributed to them, and that they spoke even against the Most High. By 'kingdoms' and 'kings' are not meant kingdoms and kings but doctrines that teach what is false, as may be seen from the meaning of them in the Word as doctrines teaching what is true, and in the contrary sense doctrines teaching what is false, see 1672, 2015, 2069, 2547.

[14] Elsewhere in Daniel when he saw a ram standing before the river, which had two horns, horns however which were high, yet one higher than the other, though the higher one had come up last,

I saw the ram butting 5 towards the west, and towards the north, and towards the south, so that no wild beast could stand before him, nor was there anyone to deliver out of his hand; therefore he did as he pleased and magnified himself. As I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west across the surface of the whole earth. This he-goat had a horn between his two eyes. He came to the two-horned ram 6 and ran at him in the fury of his might. He struck him and broke his two horns, and there was no strength in the ram to stand before him. After that the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly, but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and there came up four horns in its place. Shortly after, out of one of them there came forth a little horn, and it grew exceedingly towards the south, and towards the east, and towards the glorious [land]. And it grew even towards the host of heaven, and cast down to earth some of the host, and of the stars, and trampled on them. The ram with the two horns is the kings of Media and Persia, the he-goat the king of Greece. The four horns in place of the one are four kingdoms from that nation. Daniel 8:1-end.

This refers in the internal sense to the state of the spiritual Church, meant by 'the ram', 2830; it describes how the state of that Church gradually deteriorated and was perverted. 'The he-goat' is those who have faith separated from charity, or truth separated from good, who start to raise themselves up against what is good and at length against the Lord. 'The horns of the ram' are the truths, internal and external, of the spiritual Church, 'the horns of the he-goat' truths which degenerate gradually into falsities. By 'kingdoms' and 'kings' here are not meant kingdoms and kings but truths and falsities, as stated just above. For essentially the Word of the Lord does not have to do with worldly and earthly matters but with spiritual and celestial.

(References: Daniel 8)


[15] In John,

Another sign appeared in heaven, for behold, a great fiery-red dragon having seven heads, and ten horns, and on his heads seven jewels. With his tail he drew a third part of the stars of heaven and cast them down to the earth. Revelation 12:3-4.

And elsewhere in the same book,

I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, which had seven heads, and ten horns, and on its horns ten jewels, and on its heads a blasphemous name. It was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth, which had two horns like a lamb. Revelation 13:1-2, 7, 11.

Yet again in the same book,

I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast, full of blasphemous names. It had seven heads and ten horns. She was Babylon the great. The seven heads are seven mountains on which the woman is seated, and they are seven kings. The ten horns are ten kings. Revelation 17:3, 5, 7, 9-10, 12-13.

Here as in Daniel 'horns' clearly means the powers of falsity.

-----
Footnotes:

1. i.e. horns that are high and powerful, like the horn of a unicorn

2. literally, he will strike with the horn

3. The Latin is 1608.

4. literally, a soul

5. literally, striking with the horn

6. literally, to the ram, the lord of the horns

-----

(References: Genesis 22:13, 23:8; Revelation 17:9)


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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 3009, 3448, 4402, 4489, 4769, 7456, 7729, 9065, 9081, 9494, 9719, 9930, 10182

Heaven and Hell 356

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51


References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 176


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