From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)

[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)

[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)

[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9374, 9378, 9379, 9382, 9386, 9429, 9504, 9779, 9806, 9828, 9954, 10027, 10090, 10215, 10251, 10337, 10355, 10375, 10396, 10397, 10400, 10432, 10450, 10460, 10468, 10528, 10549, 10551, 10635, 10636, 10641, 10690

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.

 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

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

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

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #1672

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

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.

From Swedenborg's Works


Arcana Coelestia #1071

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

1071. That 'he drank wine' means that he wished to probe into matters of faith is clear from the meaning of 'wine'. 'A vineyard' or 'a vine', as has been shown, is the spiritual Church, or member of the spiritual Church. The grape, clusters, and bunches are its fruit, and these mean charity and what belongs to charity. Wine however means faith deriving from charity, and all things that belong to faith. Thus 'grape means the celestial aspect of that Church, and 'wine' the spiritual. The celestial, as often stated already, comprises the will, while the spiritual comprises the understanding. That 'he drank of the wine' means that he wished to probe into matters of faith, and to do so indeed by means of reasonings, is clear from the reason given why 'he was drunk', that is, sank into errors. Indeed the member of this Church did not possess any perception at all as the member of the Most Ancient Church had done. Instead he had to acquire knowledge of what good and truth were by learning about them from doctrinal matters concerning faith which had been gathered together and preserved from the perception that had existed in the Most Ancient Church. And these matters of doctrine constituted the Word of the Ancient Church. As with the Word, doctrinal matters concerning faith were in many instances such that, without perception, they could not be believed; for spiritual and celestial things infinitely transcend human comprehension, and this is why reasoning enters in. But the person who refuses to believe those things until he comprehends them is never able to believe, as often shown already. See what appears in 128, 130, 195, 196, 215, 232, 233.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 128-130, 195-196, 232-233)

[2] That 'grapes in the Word means charity and what belongs to charity, and that 'wine' means both faith deriving from charity and also matters of faith, becomes clear from the following places: In Isaiah,

My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. 1 He looked for it to yield grapes, and it yielded wild grapes. Isaiah 5:1-2, 4.

Here 'grapes' stands for charity and the fruits of charity. In Jeremiah,

I will surely gather them, says Jehovah; there will be no grapes on the vine nor figs on the fig tree. Jer, 8:13.

'Vine' stands for the spiritual Church, 'grapes' for charity. In Hosea,

Like grapes in the wilderness I found Israel, like the first fruit on the fig tree, in the beginning, I saw your fathers. Hosea 9:10.

'Israel' stands for the Ancient Church, 'grape' for the fact that they were endowed with charity. These words are used in the contrary sense when 'Israel' stands for the sons of Jacob. In Micah,

There was no cluster to eat; my soul desired the first fruit. The holy man has perished from the earth, and there is none upright among men. Micah 7:1-2.

'Cluster' stands for charity or that which is holy, 'first fruit' for faith or that which is upright.

(References: Jeremiah 7:13; Micah 7:1)

[3] In Isaiah,

Thus said Jehovah, As the new wine is found in the cluster, and one says, Do not destroy it, for there is a blessing in it. Isaiah 65:8.

'Cluster' stands for charity, 'new wine' for goods that stem from charity, and truths deriving from these. In Moses,

He washes his clothing in wine, and His garment in the blood of grapes. Genesis 49:11.

This is a prophecy concerning the Lord. 'Wine' stands for that which is spiritual deriving from what is celestial, 'blood of grapes' for the celestial in respect to spiritual Churches. So 'grapes' stands for charity itself, 'wine' for faith itself. In John,

The angel said, Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the earth, for its grapes have ripened. Revelation 14:18.

This refers to the last times when there is no faith, that is, when there is no charity. For no faith exists other than that which inheres in charity, and in essence is charity itself. Consequently when it is said that there is no longer any faith, as in the last times, it means that there is no charity.

[4] As 'grapes' means charity, so 'wine' means faith deriving from charity, for wine is obtained from grapes. In addition to these and previous quotations concerning the vineyard and the vine, the following also make the point clear: In Isaiah,

Gladness and exaltation have been taken away from Carmel, and in the vineyards there is no singing, no joyful noise. No treader treads out wine in the presses; I have made the hedad 2 to cease. Isaiah 16:10.

This stands for the fact that the spiritual Church, meant by 'Carmel', has been vastated, 'none treading wine in the presses' for the fact that no longer are there any people who possess faith. In the same prophet,

The inhabitants of the earth will be scorched and few men left. The new wine will mourn, the vine will languish; they will not drink wine with singing, strong drink will be bitter to those drinking it; there will be an outcry in the streets over wine. Isaiah 24:6-7, 9, 11.

The vastated spiritual Church being the subject, 'wine' stands for truths of faith that are considered valueless. In Jeremiah,

They will say to their mothers, Where is corn and wine? when they faint like one who has been run through in the streets of the city. Lamentations 2:12.

'Where is corn and wine?' means, Where is love and faith? 'Streets of the city' means truths here, as elsewhere in the Word. 'Those who have been run through in them' means that they do not know what the truths of faith are.

[5] In Amos,

I will bring again the captivity of My people Israel, and they will build the ruined cities and inhabit them. And they will plant vineyards and drink their wine. Amos 9:14.

This refers to the spiritual Church, meant by Israel, to which 'planting vineyards and drinking wine' is attributed when it becomes a Church such as derives faith from charity. In Zephaniah,

They will build houses but not inhabit them, and they will plant vineyards but not drink their wine. Zephaniah 1:13; Amos 5:11.

Here 'vineyard' and 'wine' stand for the contrary situation when the spiritual Church has been vastated. In Zechariah,

They will be like a mighty man of Ephraim, and their heart will rejoice as from wine, and their sons will see it and rejoice. Zechariah 10:7.

This refers to the house of Judah, that it would be such by virtue of the goods and truths of faith. In John the command not to do harm to oil and wine, Revelation 6:6, stands for doing no harm to what is celestial and spiritual, that is, to things of love and faith.

[6] In the Jewish Church, since 'wine' meant faith in the Lord, the libation of wine in the sacrifices also represented faith, as in Numbers 15:1-15; 28:11-15, 18-end; Numbers 29:7-end; Numbers 29:Leviticus 23:12-13; Exodus 29:40. Hence the following is said in Hosea,

Threshing-floor and winepress will not feed them, and new wine will be deceptive in her. They will not dwell in Jehovah's land, but Ephraim will return to Egypt, and in Assyria they will eat what is unclean: They will not pour libations of wine to Jehovah, they will not be pleasing to Him. Hosea 9:1-4.

This refers to Israel, or the spiritual Church, and to those people in it who pervert and defile holy things and the truths of faith by wishing to probe into them by means of knowledge and reasonings. 'Egypt' is knowledge, 'Assyria' reasoning, and 'Ephraim' one who engages in reasoning.


1. literally, on a horn of a son of oil

2. A Hebrew word which is a shout of exaltation.


(References: Genesis 9:21; Hosea 9:2-4; Numbers 15:2-15, 28:18-31, 29:7-39)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 1727, 2341, 2466, 2851, 2967, 3168, 3570, 3580, 4958, 5077, 9139, 9144, 9320, 10031, 10137

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 219

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 252, 376

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