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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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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

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 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?
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 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
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By Joe David

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This mural of Elijah being Fed by Ravens is from Haukipudas Church, or Haukiputaan kirkko, in Finland.

Elijah (referred to as Elias in the New Testament) was the renowned prophet sent to the split kingdoms of Israel and Judah. His first appearance is in Chapter 17 of I Kings where he comes to speak to Ahab, king of Israel. He contends with Ahab, and Ahab’s wife Jezebel, and later Ahab’s son Ahaziah. These contentions have passed down to us in many well known stories. In II Kings, Chapter 2, Elijah is carried up to heaven in a chariot of fire, and his mantle is given to Elisha, his disciple and successor.

Elijah represents the Lord as He comes to us in the Word, that is, the way we think about the Lord when we read the Word (especially the prophetic parts of the Word). Elijah has a similar representation as John the Baptist.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5247 [6], 6752, 9372 [2])

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Arcana Coelestia #5247

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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5247. And he shaved. That this signifies rejection and change as to what is of the exterior natural, is evident from the signification of “shaving the head and the beard,” as being to reject such things as are of the exterior natural; for the “hair” that was shaved off signifies this natural (see n. 3301). The hair both of the head and of the beard corresponds in the Grand Man to the exterior natural; and therefore sensuous men (that is, they who have believed nothing but what is natural, and have not been willing to understand that there is anything more interior or purer than what they could apprehend by the senses) in the other life when in the light of heaven, they appear hairy, so much so that the face is scarcely anything but beard. Such hairy faces have often been seen by me. But they who have been rational, that is, spiritual men, in whom the natural has been rightly subordinated, appear becomingly furnished with hair. Nay, from the hair in the other life may be known the quality of spirits in respect to the natural. The reason why spirits appear with hair is that in the other life spirits appear altogether as do men on earth. Hence it is that the angels spoken of in the Word as being seen are sometimes described even in respect to their hair.

[2] From what has now been said it is evident what is signified by “shaving,” as in Ezekiel:

The priests, the Levites, the sons of Zadok, shall put off their garments wherein they minister and lay them in the bedchambers of holiness, and they shall put on other garments, neither shall they sanctify the people in their garments, and they shall not shave their heads and let down their hair, in polling they shall poll their heads (Ezekiel 44:19-20);

this is said of the new temple and the new priesthood, that is, of the new church; and the “putting on of other garments” signifies holy truths; their “not shaving their heads nor letting down their hair, but in polling to poll their heads” signifies not rejecting the natural, but accommodating it so that it may be in accord, thus making it subordinate. Everyone who believes the Word to be holy can see that these and the rest of the things said in the prophet about the new earth, the new city, the new temple, and new priesthood, will not be at all as is stated in the letter there; as that the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, will minister therein, and will then put off the garments of their ministry and put on other garments, and will poll their heads; but that all and everyone of these things signify such things as belong to a new church.

[3] Neither would the statutes have been commanded in regard to the high priest, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, in the following passages from Moses, if they had not contained holy things within:

The priest chief of his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil has been poured, and he hath filled his hand to put on the garments, shall not shave his head, and shall not tear his garments (Leviticus 21:10).

The sons of Aaron shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave the corner of their beard; they shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God (Leviticus 21:5-6).

Thus shalt thou purify the Levites. Sprinkle the waters of expiation upon them, and they shall make to pass a razor over their flesh, and they shall wash their garments; and they shall be pure (Numbers 8:7).

What is there that is holy or that is of the church in these things-that the high priest should not shave his head nor tear his garments; that the sons of Aaron should not make baldness upon their head nor shave the corner of their beard, and that the Levites when being purified should be shaved with a razor upon their flesh? But to have the external or natural man subordinate to the internal or spiritual, and thus to have both subordinate to the Divine, this is a holy thing, and is what the angels perceive when these passages of the Word are being read by man.

[4] So also it was with the Nazirite, who was holy unto Jehovah:

If any man should by chance die very suddenly beside him, and he hath defiled the head of his Naziriteship; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. And when the days of his Naziriteship are fulfilled, the Nazirite shall shave the head of his Naziriteship at the door of the tent of meeting; and shall take the hair of his head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of peace-offerings (Numbers 6:9, 13, 18);

what the Nazirite was, and what holiness he represented, may be seen above (n. 3301). That holiness should abide in his hair can never be comprehended unless it is known what “hair” is by correspondence, thus to what holiness the hair of the Nazirite corresponded. In like manner it cannot be comprehended how Samson had strength from his hair, of which he speaks thus to Delilah:

There hath not come up a razor upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite of God from my mother’s womb; if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And Delilah called a man, who shaved off the seven locks of his head and his strength went from upon him. And afterward when the hair of his head began to grow after it was shaved off, strength returned to him (Judges 16:17, 19, 22);

who without knowledge derived from correspondence can know that the Lord as to the Divine natural was represented by the Nazirite, and that the Naziriteship had no other meaning, and that Samson’s strength was from this representative?

(References: Numbers 6:8-19)

[5] One who does not know, and especially who does not believe, that there is an internal sense in the Word, and that the sense of the letter is representative of the things in the internal sense, will scarcely acknowledge that there is anything holy in these things; when yet that which is most holy is in them. If a man does not know, and especially if he does not believe that the Word possesses an internal sense which is holy, neither can he know what the following passages bear in their bosom, as in Jeremiah:

Truth is perished and is cut off from their mouth. Cut off the hair of thy Naziriteship, and cast it away (Jeremiah 7:28-29).

In Isaiah:

In that day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired in the passages of the river, through the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet; and shall also consume the beard (Isaiah 7:20).

In Micah:

Make thee bald, and shave thee on account of the sons of thy deliciousnesses, enlarge thy baldness as the eagle, because they have migrated from thee (Micah 1:16).

Nor can he know what holiness is involved in that which is related of Elijah, in that he was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of skin about his loins (2 Kings 1:8); nor why the children who called Elisha bald were torn by she-bears out of the wood (2 Kings 2:23-24).

[6] By Elijah and by Elisha was represented the Lord as to the Word, thus by them was represented the Word, specifically the prophetic Word, as may be seen in what is prefaced to the eighteenth chapter of Genesis and at n. 2762. The “hairiness” and the “girdle of skin” signified the literal sense, a “hairy man” this sense in respect to truths, and a “girdle of skin” about the loins this sense in respect to goods. For the literal sense of the Word is its natural sense, because it is from the things in the world; and the internal sense is the spiritual sense, because it is from the things in heaven. These two senses are circumstanced as are the internal and external of man; and because there is no internal without an external, for the external is the ultimate of order in which the internal subsists, therefore it was a reproach against the Word to call Elisha bald, implying that it is devoid of an external, thus that the Word has no sense that is adapted to the apprehension of man.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)

[7] From all this it is evident that all the details of the Word are holy; but the holiness therein is not apparent to the understanding, except that of one who knows its internal sense; nevertheless by influx from heaven it comes to the perception of him who believes the Word to be holy. This influx is effected through the internal sense in which the angels are; and although this sense is not understood by the man, still it affects him, because the affection of the angels who are in it is communicated. From this it is plain also that the Word has been given to man in order that he may have communication with heaven, and that the Divine truth which is in heaven may affect him by means of the influx.

(References: Genesis 41:14; Numbers 6:8-19)

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Arcana Coelestia 5321, 5569, 5570, 5620, 5922, 6432, 6437, 6752, 7643, 9198, 9372, 9407, 9429, 9828, 9836, 9954, 9960, 9995, 10528

The White Horse 2

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 19, 64, 66, 83, 196, 375, 395, 401

Other New Christian Commentary

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