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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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

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

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

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

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

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

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 John the Baptist
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Arcana Coelestia #1672

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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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Arcana Coelestia #1861

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1861. 'And behold, a smoking furnace' means grossest falsity, and 'a flaming torch' the heat of evil desires. This is clear from the meaning of 'a smoking furnace' as gross falsity, and from the meaning of 'a flaming torch' as the heat of evil desires. The expression 'a smoking furnace' is used because anyone, especially a member of the Church, who has some knowledge of the truth, and yet does not acknowledge it but at heart denies it, and leads a life pursuing things that are contrary to the truth, is seen as nothing other than a smoking furnace, he himself as 'the furnace', and the falsity arising from his hatred as 'the smoke'. Evil desires out of which falsities arise are seen as nothing other than torches of fire from such a furnace, as is also clear from the representatives in the next life which have been described from experience in 814, 1528. It is desires belonging to hatred, revenge, cruelty, and adultery - especially when mingled with deceit - that are seen as such and become such things.

[2] That in the Word such are meant by a furnace, smoke, and fire, becomes clear from the following places: In Isaiah,

Everyone is a hypocrite and wicked, and every mouth speaks folly. For wickedness burns like a fire, it consumes brier and thorn, and kindles the entangled boughs of the wood, and they surge up in an uprising of smoke. Through the wrath of Jehovah Zebaoth the earth has been darkened, and the people has become as fuel for the fire; a man will not spare his brother. Isaiah 9:17-19.

Here 'fire' stands for hatred, 'the rising up of smoke from it' for falsities of that kind. Hatred is described by the statement that 'a man will not spare his brother'. Such people, when looked at by angels, appear exactly like the things described here.

[3] In Joel,

I will give portents in the heavens and on earth, blood and fire, and columns of smote. The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah comes. Joel 2:30-31.

Here 'fire' stands for hatred, 'columns of smoke 'for falsities, 'sun' for charity, and 'moon' for faith.

[4] In Isaiah,

The land will become burning pitch. Night and day it will not be quenched; its smoke will go up eternally. Isaiah 34:9-10.

'Burning pitch' stands for dreadful evil desires, 'smoke' for falsities.

[5] In Malachi,

Behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace, and all the arrogant and every evil-doer will be stubble; and the day that is coming will burn them up; it will leave them neither root nor branch. Malachi 4:1.

'A burning furnace' stands for the same things as before. 'A root' stands for charity, 'a branch' for truth, which will not be left.

[6] In Hosea,

Ephraim has become guilty through Baal. It will be like chaff that is driven by the whirlwind from the threshing-floor, and like smoke from a chimney. Hosea 13:1, 3.

'Ephraim' stands for one with understanding who has become such.

[7] In Isaiah,

The strong will be as tow, and his work as a spark, and both of them will burn together, with none to quench them. Isaiah 1:31.

This stands for the fact that people governed by self-love - or what amounts to the same, by hatred against the neighbour - will be burnt up by their own evil desires. In John,

Babylon has become the dwelling-place of demons. Those cried out who saw the smoke of her burning. The smoke goes up for ever and ever. Revelation 18:2, 18; 19:3.

[8] In the same book,

He opened the pit of the abyss, from which there went up smoke out of the pit, like the smoke of a great furnace. And the sun was darkened, and the air, with the smoke of the pit. Revelation 9:2.

In the same book,

Out of the mouths of the horses there went forth fire, and smoke, and brimstone. By these a third part of mankind was killed - by the fire and by the smoke and by the brimstone which went forth out of their mouths. Revelation 9:17-18.

In the same book,

He who worships the beast will drink 1 from the wine of God's anger, poured unmixed as it is in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone. Revelation 14:9-10.

In the same book,

The fourth angel poured out his bowl into the sun, and it was allowed to scorch men with fire; therefore men were burned by the fierce heat, and they blasphemed the name of God. Revelation 16:8-9.

And it is in like manner said that

They were thrown into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. Revelation 19:20; 20:14-15; 21:8.

[9] In all of these places 'fire' stands for the evil desires, 'smoke' for the falsities, which will reign in the last times. These thing as they actually exist in the next life were seen by John following the opening of his interior sight. Similar things are also seen by spirits, and by souls after death. These references show what hell-fire is, that it is nothing other than hatred, revenge, and cruelty, or what amounts to the same, self-love, which passes into such a visible form. As long as a person is in his bodily life, no matter how different his outward appearance might seem to be, he cannot be seen by the angels, when they look at him closely, in any other way than this; that is, his hatred is not seen by them except as 'flaming torches' nor the falsities coming from it except as 'smoking furnaces'.

[10] Of this fire the Lord speaks in Matthew as follows,

Every tree not bearing good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire. Matthew 3:10; Luke 3:9.

'Good fruit' is used to mean charity, and anyone who deprives himself of this 'cuts himself down and casts himself into such a fire'. In the same gospel,

The Son of Man will send His angels, who will gather out of His kingdom all offences, and those who work iniquity, and will send them into the furnace of fire. Matthew 13:41-42, 50.

Here the meaning is similar. In the same gospel,

The king will say 2 to those on his left hand, Depart from me, O cursed ones, into eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Matthew 25:41.

Here the meaning is similar.

[11] Where it is said that they were to be sent into eternal fire, the Gehenna of fire, and that their worm does not die, and their fire is not quenched in Matthew 18:8-9; Mark 9:43-49, the meaning is similar. In Luke,

Send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. Luke 16:24.

Here the meaning is similar.

[12] People who have no knowledge of the arcana of the Lord's kingdom imagine that the Lord sends the wicked down into hell, that is, into the kind of fire which, as has been stated, is the manifestation of hatred. But the truth of the matter is altogether different, for it is the person himself, or the devil- spirit himself, who casts himself down. Yet because it appears as though the Lord casts down, it has been spoken of in the Word in that way - according to the appearance, indeed according to the illusions of the senses. This was especially necessary with the Jews, who were totally unwilling to accept anything if it did not coincide with their own sensory perceptions, no matter what illusions these might entail. This is why the sense of the letter, especially the prophetical sections, is full of such ideas, as in Jeremiah,

[13] Thus said Jehovah, Execute judgement in the morning, and deliver him who has been robbed from the hand of the oppressor, lest My wrath go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it because of the wickedness of their works. Jeremiah 21:12.

'Executing judgement' is declaring the truth. 'Delivering him who has been robbed from the hand of the oppressor' is doing a good work of charity. 'Fire' stands for the hellish punishment of those who do not do these things, that is, who pass their time clinging to falsity that is the product of hatred. In the sense of the letter such fire and anger are attributed to Jehovah, but in the internal sense it is quite the reverse.

[14] Similarly in Joel,

The day of Jehovah, fire devours before him, and behind him a flame burns. Joel 2:1, 3.

In David,

Smoke went up out of His nose, and fire out of His mouth devoured; glowing coals flamed forth from Him; and there was thick darkness under His feet. Psalms 18:8-9.

In Moses,

A fire has flared up in My anger, and will burn right down to the lowest hell, and will devour the land and its increase, and will set on fire the foundations of the mountains. Deuteronomy 32:22.

Here 'a fire' stands for the hatred, 'smoke' for the falsities, that reside with a person, which are attributed to Jehovah or the Lord for the reasons that have been stated. To the hells also it seems that Jehovah or the Lord does the things described, but quite the reverse is the case. It is they who do them because they dwell in the fires of hatred. From this it is evident how easily a person can sink into delusions if the internal sense of the Word is not known.

[15] It was similar with the smoke and fire which the people saw coming from Mount Sinai when the Law was given; for Jehovah or the Lord is seen by everyone according to his character and disposition. By celestial angels He is seen as the sun, by spiritual angels as the moon, by all who are good as light of varying delightfulness and loveliness; but by the evil as smoke and as devouring fire. And because the Jews had no charity at all when the Law was given, but self-love and love of the world reigned among them, and so nothing but evils and falsities, He was therefore seen by them as smoke and fire, while in the same instant He was seen by angels as the sun and heavenly light.

[16] The fact that He was seen thus by the Jews, because their character was such, is clear in Moses,

The glory of Jehovah dwelt over Mount Sinai. And the appearance of the glory of Jehovah was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain, before the eyes of the children of Israel. Exodus 24:16-17.

In the same book,

Mount Sinai was smoking, the whole of it, because Jehovah came down upon it in fire and its smoke went up like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. Exodus 19:18.

And elsewhere in the same author,

You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain while the mountain was burning with fire even to the heart of heaven, with darkness and cloud and thick darkness. And Jehovah spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. Deuteronomy 4:11-12; 5:22.

Also in the same,

When you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, and the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to Me and you said, Why should we die? For this great fire will devour us; if we hear the voice of Jehovah our God any more we shall die. Deuteronomy 5:23-25.

[17] The same would be the case if anyone else who spends his time hating and performing filthy deeds that are the product of hatred were to see the Lord. He would inevitably see Him from his own hatred and the filthy deeds that are the product of it. These things being the recipients of the rays of good and truth from Him, they would convert those rays into that type of fire, smoke, and thick darkness. The same places that have been quoted also show what' a smoking furnace' is, and what 'a burning torch' is, namely the grossest falsity and the filthiest evil which took possession of the Church in its last times.


1. Reading bibet (he will drink) for bibat (let him drink)

2. Reading dices (will say) for dicit (says)


(References: Genesis 15:17)

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Arcana Coelestia 2446, 2842, 2851, 3235, 3300, 3605, 4906, 5071, 7356, 7519, 7553, 7575, 7852, 8197, 8821, 8875, 9141, 9144, 9204, 9306, 9348, 9391, 9434, 10287

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 248

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 240, 382, 433, 539, 594, 701

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