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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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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 #2686

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2686. That 'a bow' is the doctrine of faith is clear from its meaning. In the Word, wherever wars are the subject and wherever wars are mentioned, none but spiritual wars are meant in the internal sense, 1664. There were also in the Ancient Word 1 books that were entitled The Wars of Jehovah, as is clear in Moses, in Numbers 21:14-16. These, which were written in the prophetical style, possessed an internal sense and had as their subject the Lord's conflicts and temptations, and also the Church's conflicts and temptations, and those of members of the Church. This is evident from the fact that some things were selected by Moses from those books, as well as from other books of that Church which were called The Books of the Utterers of Prophecies, 2 referred to in Numbers 21:27-30, where almost the same words occur as in Jeremiah; compare Numbers 21:28 with Jeremiah 48:45. From this it may also be concluded that the Ancient Church had writings, historical and also prophetical, which were Divine and inspired and which in the internal sense had the Lord and His kingdom as their subject, and that for those people these writings were the Word as the historical and the prophetical books are for us, which in the sense of the letter have to do with the Jews and Israelites but in the internal sense with the Lord and with the things which are His.

(References: John 1:49)

[2] As in the Word, and also in the books of the Ancient Church, 'war' meant spiritual warfare, so all weapons such as the sword, spear, buckler, shield, arrows, shafts, and bows meant such things specifically as belong to the warfare that is meant in the spiritual sense. What is meant specifically by particular kinds of weapons will in the Lord's Divine mercy be stated elsewhere. Here the meaning of 'the bow', namely the doctrine of truth, will be shown, and how this meaning is derived from arrows, shafts, or darts, which mean the things of doctrine from which and with which those in particular who are spiritual fight, who in former times were therefore called 'archers'.

[3] That 'the bow' means the doctrine of truth becomes clear from the following places: In Isaiah,

The arrows of Jehovah are sharp, and all His bows are bent. His horses' hoofs are considered as flint, and His wheels as the whirlwind. Isaiah 5:28.

This refers to the truths of doctrine. 'arrows' are spiritual truths, 'bows' doctrine, 'horses' hoofs' natural truths, 'wheels' their doctrine. It is because such things are meant by them that those objects are attributed to Jehovah, to whom they cannot be attributed except in the spiritual sense, otherwise they would be words that are empty and not appropriate. In Jeremiah,

The Lord has bent His bow like an enemy, He has stood with His right hand like a foe, and has slain all things pleasant to the eye in the tent of the daughter of Zion, He has poured out His anger like fire. Lamentations 2:4.

'Bow' stands for the doctrine of truth, which is seen by those immersed in falsities as a foe and hostile. No other kind of bow can be spoken of in reference to the Lord. In Habakkuk,

O Jehovah, You ride on Your horses, Your chariots are salvation, Your bow will be made quite bare. Habakkuk 3:8-9.

Here also 'bow' means the doctrine of good and truth. In Moses,

The archers will exasperate him and shoot at him and hate him. He will sit in the strength of his bow, and the arms of his hands will be made strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob; from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel. Genesis 49:23-24.

This refers to Joseph, 'bow' standing for the doctrine of good and truth.

[4] In John,

I saw, and behold, a white horse, and he who sat on it had a bow; to him a crown was given. Revelation 6:2.

'A white horse' stands for wisdom, 'he who sat on it' for the Word, as is made explicit in Revelation 19:13, where the white horse is referred to again. And because 'he who sat on it' is the Word it is clear that 'a bow' means the doctrine of truth. In Isaiah,

Who stirred up righteousness from the east, called him to be His follower, gave nations before Him, and caused Him to have dominion over kings? He made them as dust to His sword, as driven stubble to His bow. Isaiah 41:2.

This refers to the Lord, 'sword' standing for truth, 'bow' for doctrine derived from Him. In the same prophet,

I will set a sign among them, and I will send survivors from them to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan. Isaiah 66:19.

'Those who draw the bow' stands for teachers of doctrine. For what Tarshish means, see 1156; Lud, 1195, 1231; Tubal, 1151; Javan, 1152, 1153, 1155.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1152-1153)

[5] In Jeremiah, At the noise of the horseman and of him who wields the bow the whole city takes to flight. They have entered clouds and climbed up on rocks. The whole city has been forsaken. Jeremiah 4:29.

'The horseman' stands for those who declare the truth, 'the bow' for the doctrine of truth, which they flee from or fear who are immersed in falsities. In the same prophet,

Set yourselves in array against Babylon round about; O all you who bend the bow, shoot at her, spare no arrow, for she has sinned against Jehovah. Jeremiah 50:14, 29; 51:2-3.

Here 'those who shoot and bend the bow' stands for declarers and teachers of the doctrine of truth.

[6] In Zechariah,

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be cut off, and He will speak peace to the nations. Zechariah 9:10.

'Ephraim' stands for the Church's understanding of truth, 'bow' for doctrine. In Samuel,

David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan, his son, and told [them] to teach the children of Judah the bow. 2 Samuel 1:17-18.

Here 'the bow' is not the subject but doctrinal matters regarding faith. In Ezekiel,

The Lord Jehovih has said, This is the day of which I have spoken, and those who dwell in the cities of Israel will go out, and they will make fires of and burn the weapons, both shield and buckler, bow and arrows, both hand-staff and spear; and they will make a fire of them for seven years. Ezekiel 39:8-9.

The weapons mentioned here are all weapons for spiritual war. 'Bow and arrows' stands for doctrine and its truths. Furthermore when truths themselves separated from goods are represented visually in the next life they are seen as arrows.

[7] Just as 'the bow' means the doctrine of truth, so in the contrary sense it means the doctrine of falsity. In the Word things like these nearly always have a contrary sense, as stated and shown in various places; as in Jeremiah,

Behold, a people coming from the land in the north, and a mighty nation will be stirred up from the furthest parts of the earth. They lay hold on bow and spear; it is cruel and they will have no pity. Their voice will roar like the sea, they will ride upon horses, every one set in array as a man for battle, against you, O daughter of Zion! Jeremiah 6:22-23.

Here 'bow' stands for the doctrine of falsity. In the same prophet,

Behold, a people coming from the north, a mighty nation, and many kings will be stirred up from the furthest parts of the earth. They have hold of bow and spear; they are cruel and have no pity. Jeremiah 50:41-42.

Here the meaning is similar. In the same prophet,

They bend their tongue; their bow is a bow of lies and not used for truth. They grow strong in the land, for they have gone on from evil to evil and do not know Me. Jeremiah 9:2-3.

'A bow', it is quite evident, means the doctrine of falsity, for it is said that 'they bend their tongue, their bow is a bow of lies and not for truth'.

(References: Jeremiah 9:3)

[8] In the same prophet,

Jehovah Zebaoth has said, Behold, I am breaking the bow of Elam, the chief of its might. Jeremiah 49:35.

In David,

Come, behold the works of Jehovah who makes desolations in the earth, making wars cease even to the end of the earth, He breaks the bow, shatters the spear, and burns the chariots 3 with fire. Psalms 46:8-9.

In the same author,

In Judah God is known, in Israel His name is great, and in Salem will His tabernacle be, and His dwelling-place in Zion. There He broke the bow's fiery darts, the shield and the sword, and war. Psalms 76:1-3.

In the same author;

Behold, the wicked bend the bow, they prepare their shafts upon the string to shoot in the darkness at the upright in heart. Psalms 11:2.

Here 'bow and shafts' plainly stands for matters of doctrine concerning falsity.


1. The text has Church, but the Latin is clearly Word.

2. or The Books of Prophetic Utterances. But see 2897.

3. literally, carts or wagons


(References: Genesis 21:16; Psalms 46:9)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 2709, 2799, 3309, 3432, 3448, 3499, 4964, 5354, 6306, 6422, 6423, 6656, 7351, 7729, 8096, 8215, 8273, 8800, 8813, 8902, 9141, 9182, 9293, 9396, 9468, 9930, 9942, 9954, 10217, 10540, 10632

The White Horse 6

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 255, 261

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 131, 195, 238, 242, 278, 375

Other New Christian Commentary

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