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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

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1

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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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From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #1672

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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1672. And the kings that were with him. That this signifies the apparent truth which is of that good, is evident from the signification of “kings” in the Word. “Kings,” “kingdoms,” and “peoples,” in the historical and the prophetical parts of the Word, signify truths and the things which are of truths, as may be abundantly confirmed. In the Word an accurate distinction is made between a “people” and a “nation;” by a “people” are signified truths, and by a “nation” goods, as before shown (n. 1259, 1260). “Kings” are predicated of peoples, but not so much of nations. Before the sons of Israel sought for kings, they were a nation, and represented good, or the celestial; but after they desired a king, and received one, they became a people, and did not represent good or the celestial, but truth or the spiritual; which was the reason why this was imputed to them as a fault (see 1 Samuel 8:7-22, concerning which subject, of the Lord’s Divine mercy elsewhere). As Chedorlaomer is named here, and it is added, “the kings that were with him,” both good and truth are signified; by “Chedorlaomer,” good, and by “the kings,” truth. But what was the quality of the good and truth at the beginning of the Lord’s temptations has already been stated.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1259-1260, Genesis 14:5)

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Arcana Coelestia 1723, 2015, 2466, 2504, 2509, 2567, 2761, 2781, 2826, 2830, 2832, 2851, 2906, 3009, 3105, 3353, 3355, 3365, 3488, 3703, 3708, 3863, 4402, 4575, 4691, 4728, 4763, 4876, 5023, 5038, 5044, 5313, 5321, 5323, 5619, 6015, 6125, 6148, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 27, 126, 236


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Apocalypse Explained #236

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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236. (v. 17) Because thou sayest I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing. That this signifies their faith, that they believe themselves to be in truths more than others, is evident from the signification of thou sayest, as involving what is believed by them; and because those are here treated of who are in faith alone, therefore thou sayest signifies their faith. Moreover, to say, in the spiritual sense, signifies to think, because what is said goes out from the thought; and thought is spiritual, because it belongs to man's spirit, and saying and discourse therefrom are natural, because they belong to the body. It is from this that to say, in the Word, has significations, varying according to the subject treated of. And from the signification of I am rich, as being to possess the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good, and thence to be intelligent and wise, which will be seen in what follows. Also from the signification of and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing, as being to know all things, so that nothing is wanting.

(References: Revelation 3:17)


[2] That those who hold the doctrine of faith alone and justification thereby thus believe, or are of such a character, is not known to those who are not in that faith, although amongst them there are such; nevertheless it has been granted me to know by much experience that they are of such a character.

I have conversed with many who, in the world, believed themselves to be more intelligent and wise than others, from the fact of their knowing so many things concerning faith alone and justification thereby, and indeed such things as the simple were not acquainted with, which they also called interior things, and mysteries of doctrine; and they believed they knew and understood all things, so that they lacked nothing. Amongst these were many who had written concerning faith alone, and justification by that faith; but it was shown them that they knew nothing of truth, and that those who lived the life of faith, which is charity, and did not understand justification by faith alone were far more intelligent and wise than they. It was also shown them that the things which they knew were not truths but falsities, and that to know and think these is not to be intelligent and wise, because intelligence is concerned with truth, and wisdom with the life therefrom. The reason of this was also made known to them, namely, that they were in no spiritual affection of truth, but only in the natural affection of knowing those things which are taught by the learned, or their rulers, some for the sake of employment, others for the reputation for erudition; also that those who are in the latter and not in the former affection, believe that when they know those things they know everything, and especially those who have confirmed themselves in them by the sense of the letter of the Word, and have laboured by fallacies of reasoning to connect them with other falsities.

[3] I will state something here also from experience concerning these persons. Some spirits, who, when they lived as men in the world, were then believed by others to be learned men, were examined to see whether they knew what spiritual faith is. They said that they did know; therefore when communication with those who held that faith had been granted, they perceived that they had not faith, and did not know what faith is. Upon this it was asked them what they now believed concerning faith alone, on which the whole doctrine of their church is founded; but they were ashamed and struck dumb. There were also many from amongst the learned of the church, who were asked whether they knew what regeneration is. They answered that they knew it to be baptism, because the Lord declares that unless a man be born by water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God; but when it was shown them that baptism is not regeneration, but that by water and the Spirit are meant truths and a life according to them, and that no one can enter into heaven unless he is thereby regenerated, they retired, confessing their ignorance. Moreover, when asked about angels, heaven and hell, the life of man after death, and many other things, they were found to be quite ignorant respecting them, such things being all like thick darkness in their minds: they then confessed that they had, knew everything, but now they were convinced that they knew scarcely anything.

By knowing something, in the spiritual world, is meant to know something of truth; but to know falsities is to know nothing, because in such knowledge there is neither intelligence nor wisdom. It was afterwards told them that this state is meant by the words of the Lord,

"Thou sayest, I am rich, and become wealthy; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."

[4] The reason why the rich in the Word signify those who are in truths is, that spiritual riches mean nothing else; hence also in the Word, by riches are signified the knowledges of truth and good, and by the rich, those who are intelligent by their means. This is evident from the following passages. In Ezekiel:

"In thy wisdom and in thine intelligence thou hast made to thyself riches, gold and silver in thy treasures; by the multitude of thy wisdom thou hast multiplied to thyself riches" (xxviii. 4, 5).

These things are said to the prince of Tyre, by whom, in the spiritual sense, are meant those who are in the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth; by riches are meant those knowledges in general. By gold in thy treasures are meant the knowledges of good and truth. That knowledges are signified by these expressions is quite clear; for it is said, "In thy wisdom and in thine intelligence thou hast made to thyself riches; and by the multitude of thy wisdom thou hast multiplied to thyself riches."

(The reason why by the prince of Tyre are meant those who are in the knowledges of truth is, that prince signifies primary truths (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 1482, 2089, 5044), and Tyre the knowledges of truth, n. 1201: that by treasures are signified possessions of knowledges, may be seen n. 16941 4508, 10,227; and that by gold is signified good, and by silver truth, n. 1551, 1552, 2954, 5658.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1201, 1482, 1551-1552, Arcana Coelestia 1694, Arcana Coelestia 2089, 2954, Arcana Coelestia 4508, Arcana Coelestia 5044, Arcana Coelestia 5658, Arcana Coelestia 10227; Ezekiel 28:4-5)


[5] In Zechariah:

"Tyre collecteth silver as dust, and gold as the mire of the streets; behold the Lord shall impoverish her, and shall shake her wealth into the sea" (ix. 3, 4).

Here also by Tyre are signified those who procure to themselves knowledges, which are denoted by silver, gold and wealth.

In David:

The daughter of Tyre shall bring to thee a gift," the king's daughter; "the rich of the people shall flatter thy faces" (Ps. xlv. 12).

The church is here described as to the affection of truth, which is meant by the daughter of Tyre; for daughter denotes the church as to affection (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 3262, 3963, 6729, 9059); and king denotes truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3670, 4575, 4581, 4966, 6148). On this account it is said that the daughter of Tyre shall bring to thee a gift, and that the rich of the people shall flatter thy faces; the rich of the people are those who abound in truths.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1672, Arcana Coelestia 2015, 2069, Arcana Coelestia 3262, 3670, 3963, Arcana Coelestia 4575, 4581, 4966, Arcana Coelestia 6148, Arcana Coelestia 6729, 9059; Psalms 45:12, Psalms 45:12-13; Zechariah 9:3-4)


[6] In Hosea:

"Ephraim hath said, Truly I am rich; I have found me wealth; all my labours shall not find me iniquity which is sin; but yet I will speak to the prophets, and I will multiply visions" (xii. 8, 10).

By becoming rich and finding wealth is not meant being enriched in worldly, but in heavenly, riches and wealth, which are the knowledges of truth and good; for by Ephraim is meant the Intellectual of those who belong to the church, which is enlightened when the Word is read (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 5354, 6222, 6238, 6267). Hence it is said, "I will speak to the prophets, I will multiply visions." By prophets are signified truths of doctrine, and also by visions.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5354, Arcana Coelestia 6222, 6238, 6267; Hosea 12:8-10, Hosea 12:8, 12:10)


[7] In Jeremiah:

"I, Jehovah, giving to every man according to his ways, according to the fruits of his doings. As the partridge gathereth but bringeth not forth, he maketh riches but not with judgment; in the midst of his days he shall forsake them, in the end he shall become a fool" (xvii. 10, 11).

The subject here treated of is those who acquire knowledges (cognitiones) merely as knowledge, when yet the life is that to which they should be subservient. This is what is meant by gathering as a partridge and not bringing forth, by making riches but not with judgment, and by becoming a fool in the end. And because the knowledges of truth and good are intended to be subservient to the life, for this is perfected by them, therefore it is said that Jehovah gives to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruits of his doings.

(References: Jeremiah 17:10-11)


[8] In Luke:

"Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all his possessions, he cannot be my disciple" (xiv. 33).

He who does not understand that in the Word possessions denote knowledges from the Word, which are spiritual riches and wealth, may suppose that he ought to deprive himself of all wealth in order to be saved, although no such thing is meant by those words. By possessions are meant everything belonging to man's own intelligence, for no one can be wise from himself, but from the Lord alone; hence to forsake all his possessions, is to attribute nothing of wisdom and intelligence to himself; and he who does not do this, cannot be instructed by the Lord, that is, be His disciple.

(References: Luke 14:33)


[9] Those who do not know that by the rich are meant those who possess the knowledges of truth and good, thus who have the Word, and that by the poor are meant those who do not possess knowledges, yet desire them, cannot but suppose that by the rich man who was clothed in crimson and fine linen, and by the poor man who was laid at his gate (Luke xvi.) are meant the rich and the poor in the common sense of those words, when notwithstanding by the rich man is there meant the Jewish nation, which had the Word, in which all the knowledges of truth and good are contained; by the crimson with which he was clothed, is meant genuine good (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 9467), and by fine linen genuine truth (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 5319, 9469, 9596, 9744), and by the poor man who was laid at his gate are meant the nations which were outside the church, and had not the Word, and yet desired the truths and goods of heaven and the church. Hence also it is clear, that by the rich are meant those who have the Word, consequently who possess the knowledges of truth and good; for these are contained in the Word.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5319, Arcana Coelestia 9467, 9469, 9596, 9744; Luke 16:1, 16:20)


[10] As also in the prophecy of Elizabeth in Luke:

God "hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he hath sent empty away" (i. 53).

The hungry are those who desire knowledges; such were the Gentiles who received the Lord and doctrine from Him; but the rich are those who have knowledges, because they have the Word; such were the Jews, but still they were not willing to know truths therefrom, therefore they did not receive the Lord and doctrine from Him. The latter are the rich who were sent empty away; the former are the hungry who were filled with good things.

(References: Hosea 12:8-10; Luke 1:53; Psalms 45:12)

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References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 226, 237, 238, 338, 408, 652, 836

Other New Christian Commentary

Hatch 1

Possessions 1

Partridge 1


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