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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

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

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Arcana Coelestia #9688

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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9688. 'The work of an embroiderer' means things that belong to factual knowledge. This is clear from the meaning of 'the work of an embroiderer', or embroidery, as factual knowledge. A large number of places in the Word speak of that which has been embroidered and of embroidery, and in every case factual knowledge is meant by it. The reason for this goes back to representatives in the next life; there garments embroidered in various ways are seen, and by these garments truths on the level of factual knowledge are meant.

[2] Truths on the level of factual knowledge differ from those on the level of the understanding in the same way as outward things differ from inward ones, or as the natural level with a person differs from the spiritual. Facts serve the understanding as objects from which it may deduce truths; for the power of understanding is the internal or spiritual man's power of sight, and known facts are its objects in the external or natural man. These facts are meant by 'the work of an embroiderer' whereas that power of understanding is meant by 'the work of a designer', 9598, for designing is a function of the understanding, and embroidering a function of the knowledge and skill employed by the understanding. This explains why the objects within the dwelling-place, which were signs meaning inner realities, were the work of a designer, such as the curtains that formed it, verse 1, and the veil between the holy place and the holy of holies, verse 31. But the objects which were signs meaning outer realities were the work of an embroiderer, such as the screen in place of a tent door, and the screen in place of a gate of the court, Exodus 38:18, and also the girdle, Exodus 39:29, 'the girdle' being what is external linking everything internal, 'the court' being the lowest part of heaven, and 'the tent door' the place where there is an exit from the middle heaven into the lowest.

[3] The fact that 'embroidery' and that which has been 'embroidered' mean factual knowledge belonging to the external or natural man is clear from the following places in the Word: In Ezekiel,

Fine linen with embroidery from Egypt was your sail; violet and purple from the islands of Elishah was your covering. Syria was your merchant by reason of the multitude of your handiworks; [they exchanged for your wares] chrysoprase and purple, and embroidered work, and fine linen. The merchants of Sheba [came] with balls of violet and with embroidered work. Ezekiel 27:7, 16, 24.

This refers to Tyre, by which those in possession of cognitions or knowledge of truth and good are meant, and in the abstract sense those cognitions themselves, 1201. 'Fine linen with embroidery' means truth on the level of factual knowledge, for 'fine linen' means truth from a celestial origin, 5319, 9469, and 'embroidery' is factual knowledge. This also is the reason why it says that it came from Egypt - for 'Egypt' means factual knowledge, 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 2588, 4749, 4964, 4966, 5700, 5702, 6004, 6015, 6125, 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692, 6750, 7779 (end), 9391 - and also from Syria and from Sheba, since cognitions of truth and good are meant by 'Syria', 1232, 1234, 3051, 3249, 3664, 3680, 4112, and in like manner by 'Sheba', 1171, 3240. Cognitions of truth and good constitute the Church's factual knowledge. Anybody endowed with the ability to think intelligently and weigh things up can see that in these verses from Ezekiel one should not understand embroidery, fine linen, violet, or purple, but that these commodities mean things such as are worthy of mention in the Word, namely spiritual realities that belong to heaven and the Church.

(References: Ezekiel 27:20, 27:23-24)

[4] In the same prophet,

All the princes of the sea will step down from upon their thrones, and will cast away their robes and will strip off their embroidered garments. They will clothe themselves with tremblings. Ezekiel 26:16.

This too refers to Tyre. 'The princes of the sea' are the first and foremost known facts, which are called dogmas, 'princes' meaning things which are first and foremost, see 1482, 2089, 5044, and 'the sea' factual knowledge in general 28, 2850. 'Robes' are external truths, 'embroidered' are truths on the level of factual knowledge, which too are external ones. For the meaning of 'garments' as truths, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 5319, 5954, 6914, 6917, 6918, 9093, 9158, 9212, 9216.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6917-6918)

[5] In the same prophet,

I clothed you with embroidered cloth, and shod you with badger; I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. Thus were you adorned with gold and silver; and your garments were fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. But you took your embroidered garments and covered the images, with which you committed whoredom. 1 Ezekiel 16:10, 13, 18.

This refers to Jerusalem, by which the Church is meant. 'Embroidered garments' stands for truths on the level of factual knowledge. 'Covering the images, with which she committed whoredom' stands for giving strength to falsities, for 'committing whoredom' means perverting truths by bringing them into contact with falsities or with evils. Is there anyone who cannot see that since these verses describe Jerusalem 'fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth' are not used to mean fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth? Yet what they really mean the Christian world does not seek to know, because it supposes that heavenly and spiritual matters in the Word reside in its literal sense; the more internal contents of the Word it calls mystical, but has no interest in them.

(References: Ezekiel 16:16)

[6] In the same prophet,

A great eagle with great wings, with long pinions, full of feathers, 2 which had embroidery ... Ezekiel 17:3.

This refers to the house of Israel, which means the spiritual Church; and this Church is called 'an eagle' by virtue of its perception of truth, 3901, 8764, 'which had embroidery' standing for its possession of factual knowledge. In David,

All glorious is the king's daughter within, in her clothing with gold interweavings; in an embroidered [robe] she will be led to the king. Psalms 45:13-14.

'The king's daughter' stands for an affection for truth, 'an embroidered [robe]' for factual knowledge of truth. In the Book of Judges,

Will they not divide the spoil, ... the spoil of colours for Sisera, the spoil of colours of embroidered work, embroiderers' colour - on the necks of the spoil? 3 Judges 5:30.

In this verse, which is part of the Song of Deborah and Barak, 'embroidered [work]' stands for factual knowledge belonging to the natural man.


1. Here verse 18 of Ezekiel 16 has become confused with the preceding verse 17.

2. literally, A great eagle, great with wings, long with pinions, and full with feathers,

3. The meaning in the Hebrew of this verse is very obscure. The Latin rendering by Sebastian Schmidt, which Swedenborg relies on here, is literal and equally difficult to make sense of.


(References: Exodus 26:36; Ezekiel 27:20, Ezekiel 27:23-24)

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Arcana Coelestia 9755, 9766, 9780, 9825, 9835, 9858, 9915, 9942, 9945, 10111, 10150, 10332, 10540

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Apocalypse Explained 195, 242, 281

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