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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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 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
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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

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

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Arcana Coelestia #10540

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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10540. 'And now, take off your finery' means the nature of their external which is such that it is without anything Divine. This is clear from the meaning of 'finery', when the Church is the subject, as holy truth or that which is Divine in external things, dealt with above in 10536; and from the meaning of 'taking it off' as shedding it, thus being without it. The fact that that which is Divine in external things or holy truth is meant by 'finery' is clear from the following places: In Ezekiel,

I clothed you with embroidered cloth, and shod you with badger; and I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. And I adorned you with finery, and put bracelets onto your hands and a chain onto your neck. And I put a jewel onto your nose, and earrings on your ears, and a crown of glory onto your head. Thus were you adorned with gold and silver; and your garments were fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate fine flour, [honey,] and oil; therefore you became extremely beautiful, and attained to a kingdom. For this reason your fame 1 went out among the nations, regarding your beauty; for this was made perfect by My finery which I had put on you. Ezekiel 16:10-14.

[2] This refers to Jerusalem and means the Church which had been established by the Lord after the Flood and was succeeded by the Israelite and Jewish Church. The character of the latter is also described in the same chapter; but the character of that previous Ancient Church is described in the verses just quoted, its holy truths being described by the adornments spoken of there. Anyone may see that things such as have to do with the Church are meant by those specifically mentioned, and that each one means something particular. What other purpose does such a description of Jerusalem serve?

[3] Yet which aspect of the Church is meant by each one becomes clear solely from the internal sense. For this sense shows what exactly in the spiritual world corresponds to each item in the description. The following is made clear by that sense,

'Embroidered cloth' means true factual knowledge, 9688.

'Fine linen' means intellectual truth from the Divine, 5319, 9469, 9596, 9744.

'Bracelets' means the power of truths, 3103, 3105.

'A neck-chain' means the flowing in of truth derived from good, and the consequent joining together of interior things and exterior ones, 5320.

'A nose-jewel' means the perception of truth, and 'earrings' obedience to truths, 4551, 10402.

'A crown of glory' means spiritual good, or the good of truth, good being meant by 'a crown', 9930, and that which is spiritual by 'glory', 9815.

'Gold and silver' means goodness and truth in general, 113, 1551, 1552, 5658, 6914, 6917, 9874.

'Fine flour, honey, and oil' means truths and forms of good, external and internal ones, truth from good being meant by 'fine flour', 9995, external good by 'honey', 10530, and internal good by 'oil', 886, 4582, 4638, 9474, 9780, 10254, 10261.

'Beauty' means the outward form taken by truth derived from good, 3080, 3821, 4985, 5199.

And 'Jerusalem', about which those things are said, means the Church, see 402, 2117, 3654. From all this it is evident what 'finery' means, namely holy truth in its entirety.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552)

[4] All the finery of the daughters of Zion which is itemized in Isaiah has a like meaning,

On that day the Lord will take away the finery of the anklets, and of the networks, and of the crescents, and of the perfume containers 2 , and of the chainlets, and of the bracts 3 , and the tiaras, and the garters, and the sashes, and the perfume boxes 4 , and the charms; the rings, and the nose-jewels, the changes of clothes, and the robes, and the veils, and the pin-cases, the mirrors, and the muslin, and the turbans, and the linen garments. And it will happen, that instead of fragrance there will be rottenness, and instead of a girdle, a falling apart, and instead of well-set hair 5 , baldness, and instead of a robe, a girding of sackcloth, burning instead of beauty. Your people will fall by the sword, and [so will] your strength in war. Isaiah 3:18-25.

Those who confine themselves to the literal sense inevitably think that all these items with which the daughters of Zion are said to be adorned must be understood literally, and that it was because of that finery and the pride and arrogance it would create that the people of that kingdom would perish, since it says, your people will fall by the sword, and your strength in war. But those who raise their minds to some extent above the literal statement can see that such things should not be understood literally.

[5] From various places in the Word they can see that 'the daughters of Zion' should not be taken to mean the daughters of Zion but such things as are aspects of the Church, which are also meant by the daughters of Jerusalem, the daughters of Israel, the daughters of Judah, and many other daughters. Regarding 'daughters', that they mean the Church and aspects of the Church, see 6729, 9055(end). Since therefore the Church and aspects of the Church are meant by 'the daughters of Zion' it follows that all their finery itemized in this chapter of Isaiah mean the Church's truths and forms of good, and that each item means some specific truth or form of good. For nothing that appears in the Word, not even one small expression, is devoid of meaning.

[6] And because that Church will be bereaved of its truths and forms of good, meant by all that finery, the prophecy goes on to say that instead of fragrance there will be rottenness, instead of a girdle a falling apart, instead of well-set hair baldness, instead of a robe a girding of sackcloth, burning instead of beauty, and also that the people will fall by the sword, as will [their] strength in war. For 'fragrance' or 'spice' means the perception of Divine Truth, 10199, 10291, and 'rottenness' the deprivation of it; 'a girdle' means a bond holding truths and forms of good in connection with one another, 9341(end), 9828, 9837, 'a falling apart instead of it' the disintegration and diffusion of them; 'well-set hair' means true factual knowledge, 2831 6 , 'baldness' being deprived of an intelligent understanding of truth and of a wise discernment of good, 9960; 'burning' means the destruction of these by the evils of self-love, 1297, 2446, 7852, 9055, 9141, 'beauty' the outward form that truth springing from good takes within the Church, thus the perfection of it, 3080, 3821, 4985, 5199; and 'the sword' by which the people will fall means falsity destroying truth and good, 2799, 4499, 6353, 7102, 8294. Having no 'strength in war' means having no resistance to evil and falsity, for 'war' is spiritual conflict, and temptation, 1659, 1664, 2686, 8273, 8295, 10455.

From all this it is now evident that 'finery' in general means the Divine Truth which the Church possesses.

[7] The like is meant by 'finery' in the second Book of Samuel,

O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in twice-dyed pleasantly 7 , who put gold finery on your clothing. 2 Samuel 1:24.

These words appear in David's lamentation over Saul, which he entitled in verse 18 of that chapter, To teach the children of Judah the bow. 'The bow' in this verse means doctrine consisting of truth engaged in conflict against falsities of evil, 2686, 2709, 6422. This being so, 'daughters of Israel' means the Church's affections for truth, 2362, 3963, 6729, 6775, 6788, 8994; 'being clothed in twice-dyed pleasantly' means being endued with the Church's interior truths, which spring from good, 4922, 9468; 'putting gold finery on clothing' means giving truths that spring from good a beautiful appearance, good being meant by 'gold', see in the places referred to in 9874, and truth in general by 'clothing' or 'garment', in the places referred to above in 10536(end). The reason why David's lamentation over Saul has to do with doctrine consisting of truth, meant by 'the bow', engaged in conflict against falsity of evil is that 'the king' or the royal office held by Saul means Divine Truth in respect of protection and of judgement, 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 5068, 6148.

(References: 2 Samuel 1:18)

[8] The like is meant by 'finery' in other places: In David,

Give to Jehovah the glory of His name; bow down to Jehovah in the finery of holiness. Psalms 29:2.

'In the finery of holiness' means with the authentic truths of the Church. Similarly in Isaiah,

Your sons will make haste. Lift up your eyes round about, and see; they all gather together. I am the Living One, said Jehovah; you will put them all on as finery, and gird them round yourself like a bride. Isaiah 49:17-18.

These words too refer to Zion, by which the celestial Church is meant, 'sons' who 'will make haste' meaning this Church's truths. (For the meaning of 'sons' as truths, see 489, 491, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3373, 3704, 4257, 9807.) This explains why it says that Zion will put them all on as finery and gird them round herself like a bride; such can be said of the Church's truths, but not of the sons of Zion.

[9] Since almost everything in the Word also has a contrary meaning, so do those objects constituting finery. In the contrary sense they mean truths that have been falsified, as in Jeremiah,

You who have been laid waste, what will you do? If you clothe yourself in twice-dyed, if you adorn yourself with gold finery, if you widen your eyes with stibium 8 , in vain will you make yourself beautiful. Jeremiah 4:29, 30.

And in Hosea,

I will visit on her 9 the days of the baals to whom she burned incense, and put on her nose-jewel and her finery, and went after her lovers and forgot Me. Hosea 2:13.

And in other places.


1. literally, name

2. Probably worn around the neck

3. i.e. thin metal plates worn as jewelry

4. literally, houses of the soul

5. literally, instead of the work of plaited [hair]

6. The Latin here rendered literally the work of plaited [hair] and idiomatically well-set hair is opus implexum. In 2831 the second of these words applies to the branches of trees and is consequently rendered entangled.

7. literally, with pleasant things

8. literally, break open the eyes with stibium. Stibium was a cosmetic used for blackening the eyelids and eyebrows, thereby making the eyes look brighter or more open.

9. i.e. I will punish her for


(References: Exodus 33:5)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 10536, 10542

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 248

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 126, 242, 433

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