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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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Arcana Coelestia #4060

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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4060. Therefore the words quoted above [in 4056] mean the state of the Church at that time as regards good, that is, as regards charity towards the neighbour and love to the Lord. This is clear from the internal sense of these words, which is as follows:

But immediately after the affliction of those days means the state of the Church as regards the truth of faith, which is dealt with in the verses immediately before this. In the Word desolation of truth is called 'affliction' in various places - 'days' being states, see 23, 487, 488, 493, 893, 2788, 3462, 3785. From this it is evident that these words mean that once faith no longer exists neither will any charity exist. For faith leads to charity because it teaches what charity is, and charity acquires its particular character from the truths of faith. The truths of faith however receive their essence and life from charity, as has been shown many times in previous volumes.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 487-488)

[2] The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light means love to the Lord, which is 'the sun', and charity towards the neighbour, which is 'the moon'. 'Being darkened' and 'not giving light' mean that that love and charity will not be in evidence and so will disappear. For 'the sun' means the celestial kind of love and 'the moon' the spiritual kind; that is, 'the sun' means love to the Lord, and 'the moon' charity towards the neighbour which comes through faith, see 1053, 1529, 1530, 2120, 2441, 2495. The reason why the sun and the moon have these meanings is that the Lord is seen in the next life as a sun by those in heaven who are governed by love to Him and are called celestial, and as a moon by those who are governed by charity towards the neighbour and are referred to as spiritual, see 1053, 1521, 1529-1531, 3636, 3643.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1529-1530)

[3] The sun and the moon in heaven, or the Lord, are never darkened, nor do they lose their light but are shining unceasingly. Thus in heaven there is no darkening or loss of light in the love which celestial angels have for the Lord or in the charity which spiritual angels show towards the neighbour. Nor on earth is there any in people with whom angels are present, that is, in people who are governed by love and charity. But those who are not governed by any love or charity, only by self-love and love of the world, and consequently by feelings of hatred and revenge, bring that kind of obscurity to themselves. It is like the sun of this world which is shining constantly; yet when clouds intervene the sun is not visible, see 2441.

[4] And the stars will fall from heaven means that cognitions of good and truth will perish. When mentioned in the Word 'stars' have no other meaning than those cognitions, 1808, 2849.

And the powers of the heavens will be shaken means the foundations of the Church which are said to be shaken and jolted when those cognitions perish. This is because the Church on earth is heaven's foundation; for the influx of good and truth from the Lord through the heavens culminates ultimately in the goods and truths present with the member of the Church. Consequently when the state of the member of the Church is so perverse that he no longer allows good or truth to flow into him 'the powers of the heavens' are in that case said 'to be shaken'. That being so, the Lord always provides for some vestige of the Church to be left. And when the old Church perishes a new one is established.

[5] And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven means the manifestation of Divine truth - 'sign' meaning a manifestation, 'the Son of Man' the Lord as regards Divine truth, see 2803, 2813, 3704. This manifestation, or this 'sign', is what the disciples asked for when they said to the Lord,

Tell us, when will those things take place; what especially will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age? Matthew 24:3.

For they knew from the Word that when the age drew to a close the Lord would come, and they knew from the Lord that He would be coming again, by which they understood the Lord's coming a second time into the world since they were not yet aware of the fact that the Lord had come as often as the Church had been brought to ruin. Not that any of these comings had been a coming in person, as was the case when, through birth in the world, He took on the Human and made this Divine. Rather, those comings had been made through appearances or manifestations of Himself, such as when He appeared in Mamre to Abraham, in the bush to Moses, on Mount Sinai to the Israelites, and to Joshua when he entered the land of Canaan. There were other comings of a less visible nature, such as those at times when inspiration was received and the Word was given by means of it, and later on through the Word itself. For the Word has the Lord present within it; every detail there comes from Him and has reference to Him, as may be recognized from what has been shown many times up to now. This is the kind of appearance that is meant here by 'the sign of the Son of Man' and is the subject in the present verse under consideration.

(References: Exodus 3:2, Exodus 19:18; Genesis 18:1)

[6] And then all the tribes of the earth will mourn means that all in whom the good of love and the truth of faith dwell will experience grief. This is what is meant by 'mourning', see Zechariah 12:10-14; and 'the tribes' means all aspects of good and truth, that is, of love and faith, 3858, 3926, and so consequently those in whom these things dwell. The phrase 'the tribes of the earth' is used because those inside the Church are meant - 'the earth' being the Church, see 662, 1066, 1067, 1262, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2928,

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1066-1067, Arcana Coelestia 3355)

[7] And they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory means that at that time a revelation of the internal sense of the Word - the sense in which the Lord is present - will take place. 'The Son of Man' means Divine truth within the Word, 2803, 2813, 3704, 'the clouds' the literal sense. 'Power' has reference to the good and 'glory' to the truth present there. For this meaning of 'seeing the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven', see Preface to Genesis 18. This is the kind of coming of the Lord that is meant here, not a literal manifestation of Him in clouds. Next follows a reference to the establishment of a new Church, which takes place once the old has been brought to ruin and cast aside.

[8] He will send out His angels with a trumpet and a loud voice means election - not by visible angels, still less by trumpets and by loud voices, but by an influx of holy good and of holy truth from the Lord through angels, so that the expression 'angels' in the Word means something essentially the Lord's, 1925, 2821, 3039. In this instance it means things which come from the Lord and have reference to the Lord. 'A trumpet and a loud voice' means the proclamation of the Gospel, as in other places in the Word.

[9] And they will gather the elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other end of them means the establishment of a new Church, 'the elect' being people in whom the good of love and faith dwell, 3755 (end), 3900, 'the four winds' from which they will be gathered being all states of good and truth, 3708, and 'one end of the heavens to the other' the internal and the external features of the Church. These are the considerations that are meant by these words spoken by the Lord.

Genesis 31
1. And he 1 heard the words of Laban's sons, saying, Jacob has taken all that belonged to our father, and from what belonged to our father he has gained all this wealth.
2. And Jacob saw Laban's face, and behold, he was not at all friendly towards him as before. 2
3. And Jehovah said to Jacob, Return to the land of your fathers, and to [the place of] your nativity, and I will be with you.
4. And Jacob sent and called Rachel and Leah to the field, to his flock.
5. And he said to them, I see your father's face, that it is not at all friendly towards me as before; 3 and the God of my father has been with me.
6. And you yourselves know that with all my strength I have served your father.
7. And your father has deceived me, and has changed my wages in ten ways, and God has not allowed him to do evil to me.
8. If he said thus: The speckled will be your wages, then all the flocks bore speckled. And if he said thus: The variegated will be your wages, then all the flocks bore variegated.
9. And God has taken away your father's cattle and given them to me.
10. And it happened, when the flock came on heat, that I lifted up my eyes and saw in a dream, and behold, the he-goats mounting the flock were variegated, speckled, and mottled.
11. And the angel of God said to me in the dream, Jacob. And I said, Behold, here I am.
12. And he said, Lift up now your eyes, and see all the he-goats mounting the flock, variegated, speckled, and mottled; for I have seen everything that Laban is doing to you.
13. I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now rise up, go out of this land, and return to the land of your nativity.
14. And Rachel answered, and Leah, and they said to him, Is there still any portion and inheritance for us in our father's house?
15. Are we not considered strangers by him, for he has sold us, and also completely consumed our money? 4
16. For all the riches which God has snatched from our father belong to us and to our sons; and now do everything that God has told you.
17. And Jacob rose up, and set his sons and his womenfolk on camels.
18. And he brought away all his cattle and all his substance which he had gathered, the cattle 5 he had purchased, which he had gathered in Paddan Aram, to come to Isaac his father, to the land of Canaan.
19. And Laban had gone to shear his flock, and Rachel stole the teraphim which belonged to her father.
20. And Jacob stole the heart 6 of Laban the Aramean by not giving him any indication that he was fleeing.
21. And he fled with all that he had; and he rose up, and crossed the river; and he set his face towards mount Gilead.
22. And it was told to Laban on the third day that Jacob had fled.
23. And he took his brothers with him and pursued him for seven days; 5 and he caught up with him on mount Gilead.
24. And God came to Laban the Aramean in a dream by night, and said to him, Take care not to speak to Jacob either good or evil. !
25. And Laban overtook Jacob, and Jacob pitched his tent in the mountain, and Laban pitched with his brothers in mount Gilead.
26. And Laban said to Jacob, What have you done, that you have stolen my heart, 6 and carried away my daughters like captives taken with the sword?
27. Why was it that you concealed your flight, and stole from me, and gave me no indication; for I might have sent you away with gladness and with songs, and with drums and with harps?
28. And you have not allowed me to kiss my sons and my daughters; now you have acted foolishly in what you have done.
29. Let my hand be for God to do you evil! And the God of your father spoke to me last night, saying, Beware of speaking to Jacob either good or evil.
30. And now you have surely gone because you longed greatly for your father's house. But why did you steal my gods?
31. And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid; for I said, Perhaps you will take your daughters from me by force.
32. Anyone with whom you find your gods shall not live in the presence of our brothers. Examine for yourself what is with me, and take them to yourself. And Jacob did not know that Rachel had stolen them.
33. And Laban came into Jacob's tent, and into Leah's tent, and into the tent of both servant-girls, and did not find them. And he went out of Leah's tent and came into Rachel's tent.
34. And Rachel had taken the teraphim and put them in the camel's straw, and sat on them. And Laban felt around all the tent and did not find them.
35. And she said to her father, Let there not be any anger in my Lord's eyes, for I cannot rise up before you, for the way of women is upon me. And he searched and did not find the teraphim.
36. And Jacob was incensed and wrangled with Laban; and Jacob answered and said to Laban, What is my transgression, what is my sin, that you have hotly pursued after me?
37. Because you have felt around all my vessels, what have you found belonging to all the vessels of your house? Put it here in front of my brothers and your brothers, and let them decide between the two of us.
38. These twenty years I have been with you; your sheep and your she-goats have not miscarried, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock.
39. That which was torn [by beasts] I did not bring to you; I myself bore the loss of it; from my hand you required it - that stolen by day and that stolen by night.
40. This is how I was: By day the heat consumed me, and the cold by night; and my sleep was banished from my eyes.
41. These twenty years I have served you in your house - fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock; and you have changed my wages in ten ways.
42. Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Dread of Isaac, had been with me, you would now have sent me away empty-handed. My affliction and the tiredness of my hands 8 God has seen, and has given judgement last night.
43. And Laban answered and said to Jacob, The daughters are my daughters, and the sons are my sons, and the flock is my flock, and all that you see is mine. And for my daughters, what am I to do for them today, or for their sons whom they have borne?
44. And now come, let us make a covenant, I and you, and let it be a witness between me and you.
45. And Jacob took a stone and erected it as a pillar.
46. And Jacob said to his brothers, Gather stones; and they took stones and made a heap; and they ate there upon the heap.
47. And Laban called it Jegar Sahadutha; and Jacob called it Galeed.
48. And Laban said, This heap is a witness between me and you today; therefore he called its name Galeed -
49. And Mizpah, for he said, Let Jehovah watch between me and you, for we are going to be hidden from each other. 9
50. If you afflict my daughters, and if you take wives (femina) besides my daughters, after we have parted from each other 10 - see, God is witness between me and you.
51. And Laban said to Jacob, Behold this heap, and behold the pillar which I have erected between me and you.
52. This heap is a witness, and the pillar is a witness, that I will not pass beyond this heap to you, and that you will not pass beyond this heap and this pillar to me, to do harm.
53. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor judge 11 between us, the God of their father. And Jacob swore by the Dread of his father Isaac.
54. And Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his brothers to eat bread; and they ate bread and stayed the night in the mountain.
55. And in the morning Laban rose up early, and kissed his sons and his daughters, and blessed them; and Laban went and resumed to his place.


1. i.e. Jacob

2. literally, not at all with him as yesterday three days ago (an ancient way of describing the day before yesterday)

3. literally, not at all towards me as yesterday three days ago

4. or silver

5. literally, acquisition

6. i.e. he deceived or outwitted Laban

7. literally, pursued him a way of seven days

8. literally, palms

9. literally, a man from his companion

10. literally, no man being with us

11. The verb rendered may judge here is plural.


(References: Arcana Coelestia 3755-3900; Exodus 19:18; Genesis 18:1)

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Arcana Coelestia 4229, 4236, 4288, 4300, 4391, 4493, 4503, 4535, 4592, 4696, 4697, 4735, 4779, 4918, 5044, 5313, 5403, 5440, 5514, 5585, 6000, 6015, 6240, 6335, 6397, 6417, 6446, 6534, 6640, 6693, 6700, 6752, 6832, 6895, 7173, 7233, 7830, 7833, ...

The White Horse 11

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 49, 121, 246, 248, 260, 310

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 39, 63, 64, 163, 208, 229, 253, 270, 272, 330, 365, 418, 433

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

The Bible


Genesis 18

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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.

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   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...

The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

Mamre was an Amorite who lived in the land of Canaan, in the area called Hebron in what would much later be the kingdom of...

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

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...

The expression 'even to this day' or 'today' sometimes appears in the Word, as in Genesis 19:37-38, 22:14, 26:33, 32:32, 35:20, and 47:26. In a...

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...

'Pairs of hands, eyes, etc.' relate to the will and understanding, or to good and truth. The right side to the will or good, and...

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...

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.

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...

To bow, as in Genesis 18:2 signifies to humble.

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...

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....

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...

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

'Waters' signify truths in the natural self, and in the opposite sense, falsities. 'Waters' signify particularly the spiritual parts of a person, or the intellectual...

'Washing of the hands' was an ancient declaration of innocence, and signifies purification from evils and falsities, as in Psalms 73:13 and Matthew 27:24.

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...

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...

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

Just as natural food feeds the natural body, so spiritual food feeds the spiritual body. And since our spiritual body is the expression of what...

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...

According to Swedenborg, time and space don’t exist in spiritual reality; they are purely natural things that exist only on the physical plane. This means...

‘To grieve at heart’ is in reference to love, and ‘to repent,’ to wisdom, as in Genesis 6:6.

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

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...

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

'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.

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...

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

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...

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...

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...

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...

It is because of a celestial and angelic proprium, or selfhood, that the church is called 'a woman,' 'a wife,' 'a bride,' 'a virgin,' and...

Everyone knows the phrase "the natural order of things." It means that everything is in its proper place, occupying the niche it is meant to...

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...

'A son,' as in Genesis 5:28, signifies the rise of a new church. 'Son,' as in Genesis 24:3, signifies the Lord’s rationality regarding good. 'A...

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

'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...

The fearful signify people who have no faith.

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' signifies the evil of self-love, and 'Gomorrah,' the falsity derived from it.

The word "great" is used in the Bible to represent a state with a strong degree of love and affection, of the desire for good;...

'Might' denotes the forces or power of truth.

'Nations' signify people who are in the good of love and charity from the Lord. Two nations in the womb,' as in Genesis 25:23, signify...

'Lands' of different nations are used in the Word to signify the different kinds of love prevalent in the inhabitants.

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...

In a general sense, men represent things of the intellect – facts, ideas, knowledge, everything from the deepest truths to the most pernicious falsities about...

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,...

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....

A "house" is essentially a container - for a person, for a family, for several families or even for a large group with shared interests...

"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...

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...

'Justice' signifies both good and truth.

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...

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...

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

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...

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...

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...

"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,"...

Coming (Gen. 41:14) denotes communication by influx.

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...

“The eyes are the windows of the soul.” That’s a sentiment with roots somewhere in murky antiquity, but one that has become hopelessly cliché because...

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

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....

Cities of the mountain and cities of the plain (Jer. 33:13) signify doctrines of charity and faith.

'A room' or 'place' denotes state.

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

He is said to be 'just' in a spiritual sense, who lives according to divine laws. They on the right hand being called 'just,' as...

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...

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

To "answer" generally indicates a state of spiritual receptivity. Ultimately this means being receptive to the Lord, who is constantly trying to pour true ideas...

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

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.

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')...

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 also signifies all things of one part.

'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...

'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,' 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...

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