From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)


[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)


[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9374, 9378, 9379, 9382, 9386, 9429, 9504, 9779, 9806, 9828, 9954, 10027, 10090, 10215, 10251, 10337, 10355, 10375, 10396, 10397, 10400, 10432, 10450, 10460, 10468, 10528, 10549, 10551, 10635, 10636, 10641, 10690


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 19, 64, 66, 83, 130, 355, 375, 701, 710, 735, 746

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1

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.


 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
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


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

The Bible

John 1:19-30

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

Full Chapter   John 2 →

19 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou?

20 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.

21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.

22 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thyself?

23 He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.

24 And they which were sent were of the Pharisees.

25 And they asked him, and said unto him, Why baptizest thou then, if thou be not that Christ, nor Elias, neither that prophet?

26 John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not;

27 He it is, who coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe's latchet I am not worthy to unloose.

28 These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.

Full Chapter   John 2 →

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From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

Arcana Coelestia 1748, 2534, 2708, 3704, 3994, 4727, 5323, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 378

The Lord 15, 37

True Christian Religion 689, 690, 825

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 283


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 314, 778, 805

An Invitation to the New Church 5

Scriptural Confirmations 2, 14, 88

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


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Deuteronomy 18:15, 18

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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.


 Baptism and Discipleship
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A brief overview of the four gospels of the New Testament and an introduction to the Gospel of John.
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Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
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Like Genesis, the Gospel of John begins with creation. While Genesis describes the creation of natural light, John describes a second creation into spiritual light.
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 The Word Made Flesh (6-8 years)
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The Bible

Genesis 18

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← Genesis 17   Genesis 19 →

1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

3 And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:

4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:

5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.

6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.

7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.

8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

9 And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent.

10 And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.

11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.

12 Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?

13 And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old?

14 Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

15 Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.

16 And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.

17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

18 Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?

19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

20 And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

21 I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.

22 And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

23 And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

25 That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?

26 And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.

27 And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:

28 Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

29 And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.

30 And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

31 And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

32 And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

33 And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.

← Genesis 17   Genesis 19 →

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Other references to this chapter:

Arcana Coelestia 468, 1420, 1616, 2072, 2142, 2143, 2144, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 658

True Christian Religion 755


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 340, 397, 1153

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 49

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 6:12, 11:5, 12:3, 7, 13:13, 18, 17:16, 17, 19, 22, 24, 19:1, 3, 13, 27, 21:2, 6, 24:1, 32, 36, 32:1, 33:3, 35:2, 42:6, 43:24, 44:18

Exodus 32:11

Numbers 16:22

Deuteronomy 4:9, 10

Joshua 5:13, 13:1

Judges 6:18, 19, 20, 39, 13:3, 19:5, 21

1 Samuel 28:24

2 Samuel 24:17

2 Kings 4:16, 27

1 Chronicles 16:33

2 Chronicles 14:3, 19:7

Job 34:10, 12

Psalms 7:12, 25:14, 44:22, 50:6, 75:3, 78:5, 119:60

Isaiah 3:9, 65:8

Jeremiah 5:1, 32:17

Amos 3:7

Jonah 1:2

Zechariah 8:6

Matthew 11:23, 13:29, 19:26

Romans 3:5, 4:13, 9:9

1 Corinthians 11:3

Galatians 3:8

1 Timothy 4

Hebrews 6:10, 11:11, 12:23, 13:1, 2

James 5:16

1 Peter 3:6

Jude 1:7

Revelation 18:5

Word/Phrase Explanations

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

sat
If you think about sitting, it seems fair to say that where you're sitting is more important than that you're sitting. Sitting in a movie...

Tent
'Tent' is used in the Word to signify the celestial and holy aspects of love, because in ancient time they performed holy worship in their...

Door
In a general sense, doors in the Bible represent the initial desires for good and concepts of truth that introduce people to new levels of...

Heat
Heat, as mentioned in Revelation 16:9, signifies the lust of evils which are contained in self-love and the delights of it.

lift
The idea of "lifting" is used in a number of different ways in the Bible. In general, it means connecting with a higher spiritual state...

eyes
It’s common to say “I see” when we understand something. And indeed, “seeing” in the Bible represents grasping and understanding spiritual things. So it makes...

Three men
'The three men' who appeared to Abraham, as in Genesis 18:2, signify the essential divine, the divine human, and the holy proceeding.

three
The Writings talk about many aspects of life using the philosophical terms "end," "cause" and "effect." The "end" is someone’s goal or purpose, the ultimate...

men
"Man" is a tricky word to discuss, because the Hebrew of the Old Testament uses six different words that are generally translated as "man," with...

meet
In natural language, to "meet" someone can be positive or negative: it can be a welcoming and greeting, or it can be "meeting" them in...

bowed
To bow in prayer is common in most religious practices, so it's not surprising that “to bow” in the Bible represents humility and worship in...

ground
In Zechariah 8:12, 'the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground her increase,' signifies that the spiritual affection of truth produces the good of...

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

my lord
Characters in the Bible will often address others using the term “my lord,” and it seems to be no more than an expression of respect....

Pass
'To pass,' as in Genesis 31:52, signifies flowing in. 'To pass the night,' as in Genesis 24:54, signifies having peace. 'To pass through,' as in...

servant
“Servant” literally means “a person who serves another,"" and its meaning is similar in reference to the spiritual meaninngs of the Bible. Our lives in...

water
Water was obviously of tremendous importance in Biblical times (and every other time). It is the basis of life, the essential ingredient in all drinks,...

wash
It does not take a great leap of imagination to see that “washing” in the Bible represents purification. Washing dirt from the skin is symbolic...

feet
Our feet are the lowest and most utilitarian parts of our bodies, and in the Bible they represent the lowest and most utilitarian part of...

rest
'To slumber' and 'sleep' denotes the state of a person who is not in truths, as in Jeremiah 51:39, 57, Psalm 8:3 and 76:5, and...

under
Generally speaking things that are seen as lower physically in the Bible represent things that are lower or more external spiritually. In some cases this...

tree
In general, plants in the Bible represent facts, thoughts and ideas – intellectual things. This makes sense: Plants are rooted in place, but can grow...

bread
The word “bread” is used two ways in the Bible. In some cases it means actual bread; in others it stands for food in general....

hearts
The heart means love. A good heart means love to the Lord and to the neighbor while a hard or stony heart means the love...

come
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “come” in the Bible is highly dependent on context – its meaning is determined largely by...

abraham
Abraham (or Abram, as he is named in the beginning of his story) is one of the major characters in the story of the sacred...

Sarah
'Sarah' denotes truth joined to good. Sarai was called 'Sarah' so she would represent the divine intellectual principle by adding the 'H' from the name...

Make
'To make,' as in Hosea 8:11, refers to good. In the opposite sense it refers to evil. To make heaven, and earth, and the sea,...

Quickly
'Quickly' signifies certain and full, because 'time' signifies state and so 'quickly' and 'speedily' mean a current state of affection and thought, or what is...

measures
The Bible uses a somewhat dizzying array of unfamiliar measurement, leaving translators a choice between being accurate and confusing or inaccurate and clear. Since they...

Fine
A fine signifies amendment, because inflicted for that end.

Meal
'Meal and farina' signifies the truth of faith, or truth from good.

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...

Herd
'A herd,' as mentioned in Genesis 32:7, denotes exterior or natural good, and also not good things.

Tender and good
'Tender and good' denote the celestial natural.

tender
'Weak eyed' relates to the understanding.

good
It seems rather circular to say that “good” in the Bible represents good, but in a general sense it’s true! The case is this: The...

young
'The son of a cow' signifies the celestial natural level and natural exterior good.

man
The relationship between men and women is deep and nuanced, and one entire book of the Writings – Conjugial Love or Love in Marriage –...

Butter
Butter (Isa. 7:14, 16) signifies the Lord's celestial principle, and honey that is derived from thence. Butter of the herd (Deut. 32:13) signifies the celestial...

milk
Water represents true ideas about day-to-day life, and other drinks and liquids in general represent different forms of truth. Milk is a drink that contains...

before
In most cases, the meaning of "before" is pretty straightforward, both as a way of assessing relative time, and in its use meaning "in someone's...

eat
When we eat, our bodies break down the food and get from it both energy and materials for building and repairing the body. The process...

wife
The Hebrew of the Old Testament has six different common words which are generally translated as "wife," which largely overlap but have different nuances. Swedenborg...

life
In John 14:6, 'the way is doctrine,' 'the truth' is every thing pertaining to doctrine, and 'the life' is the essential good which is the...

son
Marriages in the Bible represent the union we all can have between the desire for good and the understanding of truth (or an understanding of...

heard
Thanks to modern science, we now understand that hearing actually happens in the brain, not the ears. The ears collect vibrations in the air and...

Behind
Behind, or after, (Gen. 16:13), signifies within or above, or an interior or superior principle.

old
Swedenborg tells us that space and time in the physical world correspond to states of life in the spiritual world. So when the Bible talks...

well
A pit,' or 'well which has no water,' as in Jeremiah 2:13, signifies doctrines which have no truths.

Age
“Age” is used in slightly different ways in natural language, and those differences are reflected in the word’s spiritual meanings. All the variations, though, reflect...

Women
'Women,' as in Genesis 45:19, signify the affections of truth. But in Genesis 31:50, 'women' signify affections of not genuine truth, so not of the...

pleasure
'To be satisfied with favor' signifies being filled with the good of love, and 'to be full with the blessings of the Lord' signifies being...

Surety
To be 'surety' for someone, signifies being joined to him, as in Genesis 43:9.

bear
Like many verbs, the spiritual meaning of "bearing" something depends greatly on context – what it is that's being borne, and why. It is further...

child
A child is a young boy or girl in the care of parents, older than a suckling or an infant, but not yet an adolescent....

time
Time is an aspect of the physical world, but according to Swedenborg is not an aspect of the spiritual world. The same is true of...

afraid
Fear of the unknown and fear of change are both common ideas, and together cover a broad spectrum of the fears we tend to have...

rose up
It is common in the Bible for people to "rise up," and it would be easy to pass over the phrase as simply describing a...

sodom
"Sodom" in the Bible represents the love of self and the love of ruling or dominating others springing from the love of self. This is...

Hide
'To hide themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains,' as mentioned in Revelation 6:15, signifies being in evils and in falsities...

seeing
The symbolic meaning of "seeing" is "understanding," which is obvious enough that it has become part of common language (think about it; you might see...

Mighty
Mighty,' as in Revelation 19:18, signify people who are educated about doctrine derived from the Word. By extension, 'mighty' signifies education or learning derived from...

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

earth
"Earth" in the Bible can mean a person or a group of like-minded people as in a church. But it refers specifically to the external...

blessed
The Lord is perfect love expressed as perfect wisdom. He created us so that He could love us, could give us love and wisdom of...

know
Like so many common verbs, the meaning of "know" in the Bible is varied and dependent on context. And in some cases – when it...

command
To command is to give an order that something must be done, and is directed to an individual, or a group. It is an imperative,...

keep
"Keeping" in the Bible generally has to do with controlling the actual actions of life, though in some cases it can mean holding something away...

Justice
'Justice' signifies both good and truth.

Judgment
Judgement' pertains to the Lord's divine human and holy proceeding. Judgment' has two sides, a principle of good, and a principle of truth. The faithful...

bring
As with common verbs in general, the meaning of “bring” is highly dependent on context, but in general it represents an introduction to a new...

cry
As with most common verbs, the spiritual meaning of “crying” or “crying out” (meaning a shout or wail, not weeping) is highly dependent on context....

sin
In the Word three terms are used to mean bad things that are done. These three are transgression, iniquity, and sin, and they are here...

go down
To go up and to go down: in the Word, mention is made of going up and going down when speaking of going from one...

go
In the physical world, the places we inhabit and the distances between them are physical realities, and we have to get our physical bodies through...

down
"Down" is used many different ways in natural language, and its spiritual meaning in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Phrases like "bowing down,"...

turned
Swedenborg says that the Lord is the sun of heaven, and like the natural sun of our world shines on everyone, good or evil. What...

drew
"Drawing" is used a number of different ways in the Bible, generally in the sense of pulling, leading or moving: People most commonly draw water,...

Near
'Near,' in the Word, signifies presence and conjunction. 'To be near' signifies being on internal levels. Near,' as in Genesis 19:20, signifies truth bordering upon...

righteous
The word "righteous" has taken on a bit of negative shading in modern language. That may be because we hear it most often as part...

Wicked
'The wicked' or 'unrighteous' denotes being not in truth of faith.

fifty
God rested on the seventh day of creation. That represents a state of holiness and tranquility that was preserved in the form of the sabbath....

City
In the ancient world cities were very nearly nations unto themselves – they existed within walls, with their own laws and customs, generally centered on...

Place
'A dry place,' as in Luke 11:24, signifies states of evil and falsity which are in the life of someone who does the work of...

Slay
'To slay' or 'to kill' in the Word, means destroying souls, which is spiritually killing.

judge
It’s easy to see the connection between judging and truth. In a court of law, the judge’s whole purpose is to find the truth. In...

Find
To not to be found any more, signifies not to rise again.

Dust and ashes
The dust and ashes mentioned in Genesis 18:27 signify the Lord's merely human principle from the mother, in respect to his essential divine principle.

dust
'Powder' or 'dust' refers to love of self and the world.

Ashes
Ashes as in Ezekiel 27:30 signify what is condemned; because fire from which they are derived signify infernal love. Ashes of the furnace (Exodus 9:8)...

lack
For something to “fail” in the Bible means there is not enough understanding of truth and desire for good for someone to attain a higher...

Five
Five also signifies all things of one part.

forty
'Forty' means completeness because 'four' means what is complete, as does 'ten.' Forty is the product of four and ten. Compound numbers have a meaning...

spake
Like "say," the word "speak" refers to thoughts and feelings moving from our more internal spiritual levels to our more external ones – and ultimately...

angry
Anger is an emotion so common to people that it requires no definition. However a couple of points of interest can be raised. 1) The...

Thirty
'Thirty' has a twofold significance because it is is the product of five and six, and also three and ten. From five multiplied by six,...

Twenty
'Twenty,' when referring to a quantity, signifies everything or fullness, because it is ten twice. 'Twenty,' as in Genesis 18:31, like all numbers occurring in...

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...

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.


 Abraham and Lot
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Abraham and Sarah's Family
The Lord promises Abraham many descendants.
Story | Ages 2 - 8

 Abraham and the Angels
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

 Abraham and the Angels, Birth of Isaac
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Isaac’s Birth Foretold
A lesson for younger children with discussion ideas and a project.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 The Appearing of the Angels to Abraham
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14


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