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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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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


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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 #3195

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3195. 'And was dwelling in the land of the south' means consequently in Divine light. This is clear from the meaning of 'dwelling' as living, dealt with in 1293, and from the fact that it has reference to good, 2268, 2451, 2712; and from the meaning of 'the land of the south' as Divine light. For 'the south' means light, indeed the light of intelligence, which is wisdom, 1458, but 'the land of the south' the place and state where that light exists. Thus the whole verse here 'Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, and was dwelling in the land of the south' means that Divine Rational Good, because it had been born from Divine Truth, was in Divine light.

[2] Light is mentioned many times in the Word, and in the internal sense it means truth springing from good. In the highest internal sense however 'light' means the Lord Himself since He is Good and Truth themselves. He Himself is also in actual fact the light in heaven, but this is infinitely brighter than the light on earth, see 1053, 1117, 1521-1533, 1619-1632. In that light spirits and angels behold one another, and by means of it all the glory that exists in heaven is clearly visible. In brightness that light seems to be much the same as the light in the world, but this is not the case, for it is not a natural light but a spiritual one. It holds wisdom within itself, so much so that it is nothing else than wisdom that shines in this manner before the eyes of those in heaven. Consequently the wiser the angels are, the brighter the light surrounding them, 2776. This light also enlightens the understanding of man, especially of one who is regenerate, but man does not discern it during his lifetime because the light of the world reigns at that time. Evil spirits too in the next life behold one another, and also behold many representatives which manifest themselves in the world of spirits. They do so indeed by the light of heaven. Yet it is an inferior light like that coming from a coal fire, for when the light of heaven reaches them it is turned into this inferior light.

[3] As for the source itself of light, this from eternity has existed from the Lord alone, for Divine Good itself and Divine Truth itself, the source of light, is the Lord. The Divine Human which existed from eternity, John 17:5, was that actual light. Because such light was unable any longer to influence the human race which had retreated so far from good and truth, and so from the light, and had cast itself into darkness, the Lord was therefore willing to be born and assume the Human itself. Indeed in so doing He was able to bring light not only to man's rational concepts but also to his natural ideas. For the Lord made Divine within Himself both the Rational and the Natural so that people who were in such gross darkness could have light.

[4] As regards the Lord's being 'the light', that is, Good and Truth themselves, and so the source of all intelligence and wisdom, and consequently of salvation, this becomes clear from many places in the Word, as in John,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. John came to bear witness to the light. He was not that light but [came] to bear witness to the light. He was the true light which enlightens every man coming into the world. John 1:1, 4, 7-9.

'The Word' was Divine Truth, and so the Lord Himself as regards the Divine Human, of which it is said that 'the Word was with God, and the Word was God'.

[5] In the same gospel,

This is the judgement, that light has come into the world, but men preferred darkness rather than light. John 3:19.

'Light' stands for Divine Truth. In the same gospel,

Jesus said, I am the light of the world. He who follows Me will not walk darkness but will have the light of life. John 8:12.

In the same gospel,

The light is with you for a brief while longer. Walk, as long as you have the light, lest the darkness overtakes you. As long as you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be sons of the light. John 12:35-36.

In the same gospel,

He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as light into the world in order that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness.

John 12:45-46.

In Luke,

My eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel. Luke 2:30-32.

This is Simeon's prophecy regarding the Lord which was made after

His birth.

(References: John 12:46)


[6] In Matthew,

The people sitting in darkness have seen a great light; and for those sitting in the region and shadow of death, the light has arisen. Matthew 4:16; Isaiah 9:2.

From all these places it is quite evident that as regards Divine Good and Truth within the Divine Human the Lord is called 'the light'. The same is also seen in prophetical parts of the Old Testament, as in Isaiah,

The light of Israel will be a fire, and his Holy One a flame. Isaiah 10:17.

In the same prophet,

I Jehovah have called You in righteousness, and I will give You for a covenant of the people, and a light of the nations. Isaiah 42:6.

In the same prophet,

I have given You as a light of the nations, that You may be My salvation right to the ends of the earth. Isaiah 49:6.

In the same prophet,

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of Jehovah has risen upon you. Nations will walk to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1, 3.

[7] All the light of heaven, consequently wisdom and intelligence, come from the Lord. This is taught in John,

The Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband, has no need of the sun or of the moon to shed light in it; the glory of God will give it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Revelation 21:2-3.

And further regarding the same city,

There will be no night there, nor do they need a lamp or light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. Revelation 22:5.

(References: Revelation 21:2, 21:23)


[8] Also in Isaiah,

The sun will no longer be to you a light by day, and for brightness the moon will not give light to you, but Jehovah will be to you an everlasting light, and your God will be your glory. Your sun will no longer go down and your moon will not be withdrawn, for Jehovah will be to you an everlasting light. Isaiah 60:19-20.

'The sun will no longer be a light by day, and for brightness the moon will not give its light' stands for the fact that it is not the things that belong to natural light but those that belong to spiritual light which are meant by 'Jehovah will be an everlasting light'. The name Jehovah used here and elsewhere in the Old Testament means the Lord, see 1343, 1736, 2156, 2329, 2921, 3023, 3035.

[9] His being the light of heaven was also disclosed to the three disciples Peter, James, and John - that is to say, at the Transfiguration when His face shone like the sun, and His garments became white as the light, Matthew 17:2. 'Face like the sun' meant Divine Good, 'garments as the light' Divine Truth. From this one may know what is meant by the words that occur in the blessing,

Jehovah make His face shine upon you and be merciful to you. Numbers 6:25.

'Jehovah's face' is mercy, peace, and good, see 222, 223; and as 'the sun' means Divine Love, the Lord's Divine Love is accordingly seen in the angelic heaven as the sun, 30-38, 1053, 1521, 1529-1531, 2441, 2495.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 222-223, Genesis 24:61-62)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 3261, 3373, 3438, 3679, 3693, 3704, 3708, 3862, 3885, 3969, 3993, 4742, 4922, 5319, 5668, 5672, 5704, 7719, 8644, 9103, 9199, 9212, 9340, 9399, 9405, 9429, 9467, 9548, 9571, 9684, 9905, 10227

Heaven and Hell 86

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 24, 25, 35, 49, 305, 307


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 31, 64

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.


 I Am the Light of the World
This sermon explores light and darkness, focusing on how the prophecy in Isaiah (9:2) can help us understand the nature of God, what He longs to do, and the kind of life to which He leads us.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18


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