From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
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 drafts, indexes & diaries:

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

   Swedenborg Research Tools

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.



Twelve and twenty-four      

By New Christian Bible Study Staff

← Previous   Next →

'Twelve' and 'twenty-four' signify everything, and refer to truths.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1925; The Apocalypse Explained 253)

From Swedenborg's Works


Apocalypse Explained #253

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous   Next →

253. (Verse 21) He that overcometh, to him will I grant to sit with me in my throne. That this signifies that he who endures to the end of life will be conjoined with heaven where the Lord is, is evident from the signification of overcoming as being to remain in the spiritual affection of truth even to the end of life (concerning which see above, n. 128), but in this case in a state of faith from charity, because that is the subject treated of. The reason why to overcome has such a signification is that a man, so long as he lives in the world, fights against the evils and falsities therefrom which pertain to him; and he who so fights, and remains in the faith of charity, even to the end of life, overcomes; and he who overcomes in the world overcomes to eternity, because a man is such after death as was his life in the world. And from the signification of to sit with me in My throne, as being to be conjoined with heaven where the Lord is; for by throne is signified heaven, and by sitting with the Lord is signified to be together with Him, thus to be conjoined to Him.

(References: Revelation 3:21; The Apocalypse Explained 128)

[2] In the Word mention is frequently made of a throne, and by it, when said of the Lord, is signified in general heaven, specifically the spiritual heaven, and in the abstract the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, because this constitutes heaven. Hence also a throne is predicated of judgment, since all judgment is effected from truths. That such is the signification of a throne in the Word is evident from the following passages.

In Isaiah:

"Jehovah said, the heavens are my throne" (Isaiah 66:1).

In David:

"Jehovah hath prepared his throne in the heavens" (Psalms 103:19).

In Matthew:

"He that sweareth by heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by him that sitteth thereon" (Matthew 23:22).

That by throne is here signified heaven is evident; for it is said that heaven is Jehovah's throne, that He hath prepared His throne in the heavens, and that he who sweareth by heaven sweareth by the throne of God. Not that Jehovah, or the Lord, there sits upon a throne, but that throne is said of His Divine in the heavens; and also it sometimes appears as a throne to those to whom it is granted to look into heaven. That the Lord was thus seen is evident in Isaiah:

"I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up, and his skirts filled the temple" (Isaiah 6:1).

Jehovah's skirts filling the temple signifies that the Divine truth proceeding from Him filled the ultimate of heaven and the church; for by the skirts of the Lord is signified in general the proceeding Divine, and specifically the Divine truth which is in the extremes of heaven and in the church (as may be seen above, n. 220).

(References: The Apocalypse Explained 220)

[3] In Ezekiel:

Above the expanse which was over the head of the cherubs, "as it were the appearance of a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne, and upon the likeness of the throne, a likeness as it were the appearance of a man upon it above" (Ezekiel 1:26; 10:1).

The reason why the throne appeared like a sapphire stone was, that a sapphire signified the Divine truth of the Lord proceeding from His Divine good, and hence spiritual truth pellucid from celestial good (as may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 9407, 9873). Thus the throne in this case signifies the whole heaven; for heaven is heaven from the Divine truth. (What cherubs signify, may be seen, n. 9277, end, 9673.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 9509)

[4] In the Apocalypse:

"Behold, a throne set in heaven, and one sat on the throne; there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices; before the throne, there was a sea of glass like unto crystal; round about the throne, were four animals full of eyes before and behind" (Revelation 4:2-6, 9, 10).

That heaven is here described as to Divine truth will be seen in the explanation of those words in the following chapter. The same is also signified in this passage:

"A pure river, clear as crystal, proceeded out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:1).

The reason why a pure river clear as crystal was seen proceeding out of the throne was that a river signifies Divine truth so also does crystal.

(References: Revelation 4:9-10)

[5] The same is signified in the Word by the throne of David, because by David in the prophetical parts of the Word is not meant David, but the Lord as to His royalty which is the Divine truth in the spiritual heaven, which is the second heaven.

Thus in Luke:

The angel said to Mary, "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David" (Luke 1:32).

And in Isaiah:

"Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, God, Hero, Father of Eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it in judgment and in justice, henceforth and even to eternity" (Isaiah 9:6, 7).

That David is not here meant, nor his throne upon which the Lord should sit, is plain, for the Lord's kingdom was not on earth but in heaven; therefore by the throne of David is meant heaven as to the Divine truth (as may be seen above, n. 205). The like is meant in the Psalms of David, where he speaks of his throne and of his kingdom; as in the whole of Psalm 89, where also it is said:

"I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever; and I will build up thy throne to generation and generation. Judgment and justice are the support, of thy throne; I will set his throne as the days of the heavens" (verses 3, 4, 14, 29).

That the Lord is there meant by David, may be seen above (n. 205.) The like is also signified by the throne of glory, where it is said of the Lord; for glory signifies Divine truth; as in Matthew:

"When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory" (Matthew 25:31).

(That glory signifies the Divine truth in heaven, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 4809, 5922, 8267, 8427, 9429, and above, n. 33.)

Hence it is clear what is signified by the throne of glory in Jeremiah:

"Do not disgrace the throne of thy glory" (Jeremiah 14:21, and Jeremiah 17:12); by which is signified that Divine truth should not be disgraced. The same is meant by Jerusalem being called the throne of Jehovah; for by Jerusalem is signified the church as to doctrine, and doctrine is Divine truth. Hence it is also clear how these words in Jeremiah are to be understood:

"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah, and all the nations shall be gathered together unto it" (Jeremiah 3:17).

In David:

"Jerusalem is builded; whither the tribes go up. And there are set the thrones for judgment, the thrones of the house of David" (Psalms 122:3-5).

In Ezekiel:

"The glory of Jehovah came into the house by the way of the gate whose face was toward the east; he said unto me, Son of man, behold the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the sons of Israel for ever" (Ezekiel 43:4, 7).

(That Jerusalem signifies the church as to doctrine, thus the Divine truth in the heavens and on earth, for this makes the church, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 3654, 9166, and above, n. 223.) Because all judgment is effected from truths, and judgment in the heavens from Divine truth, therefore a throne is also mentioned where the Lord is treated of as to judgment, as above in Matthew (25:31), and in David (Psalms 122:3-5); and moreover in David:

"O Jehovah, thou hast executed my judgment; thou sattest on the throne, a judge of justice; thou hast rebuked the nations, thou hast destroyed the wicked: Jehovah shall sit for ever; he will prepare his throne for judgment" (Psalms 9:4, 5, 7).

(References: Isaiah 9:6-7; Mark 12:2; Psalms 9:4-5, 89:1, 89:3-4; The Apocalypse Explained 33, The Apocalypse Explained 205, The Apocalypse Explained 223)

[6] It is also said in the Word throughout, that others shall sit upon thrones as well as the Lord; but still by such thrones are not meant thrones, but Divine truths. Thus in the first book of Samuel:

"He raiseth up the depressed out of the dust, and lifteth up the needy out of the dunghill, to set them among princes, and he will make them inherit the throne of glory" (1 Samuel 2:8).

In the Apocalypse:

The four-and-twenty elders who were before the throne of God, upon their thrones (Revelation 11:16).

In another place:

"I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them" (Revelation 20:4).

And in Matthew:

"Ye which have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28, and Luke 22:30).

By thrones are there meant Divine truths, according to, and from which all are to be judged. By twelve and by twenty-four are signified all, and they are said of truths; by elders and disciples are also signified Divine truths, as also by the tribes. When these things are known it will be evident what is meant by thrones in the passages here adduced; also by that which is now treated of: "He that overcometh, to him will I give to sit with me in my throne." (That twelve signifies all, and is predicated of truths may be seen, Arcana Coelestia 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913; that the same is signified by twenty-four, because that number is double the number twelve, and arises thence by multiplication, n. 5291, 5335, 5708, 7973. That by the elders of Israel are signified all those in the church who are in truths from good, n. 6524, 6525, 6890, 7912, 8578, 8585, 9376, 9404: similarly by the twelve disciples of the n. 2129, 3354, 3488, 3858, 6397; also by the twelve tribes, n. 3858, 3926, 4060, 6335, 7836, 7891).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2129-2130, 5921, 6524-6525; Psalms 9:4-5)

[7] From these considerations it is evident what was represented by the throne built by Solomon, concerning which it is thus written in the first book of the Kings:

"Solomon made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, and the head of the throne was round; and behind it were hands on the one side and on the other near the place of the seat, and two lions standing near the hands; and there were twelve lions standing upon the six steps, on the one side and on the other: there was not the like made in any kingdom" (1 Kings 10:18-20).

Here by ivory is signified the Divine truth in ultimates: by the head being round, the correspondent good; by the gold with which it was overlaid is signified Divine good from which is Divine truth. By the six steps are signified all things from first to last; by the hands is signified all power; by the lions are signified the truths of the church in their power: by twelve, all. Because throne, where it is said of the Lord, signifies heaven as to all Divine truth, so in an opposite sense it signifies hell as to all falsity. In this opposite sense, it is mentioned above (Revelation 2:13; Isaiah 14:9, 13, 47:1; Haggai 2:22; Daniel 7:9; Luke 1:52; and elsewhere).

(References: Isaiah 2:22; Mark 12:2)

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's drafts, indexes & diaries:

Apocalypse Explained 226, 267, 270, 289, 297, 313, 392, 430, 456, 460, 482, 608, 630, 687, 741, 851, 858, 867, 1013, 1209

   Swedenborg Research Tools

Related New Christian Commentary

Translation by Isaiah Tansley. Many thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.