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Arcana Coelestia #9372

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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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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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The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1


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Apocalypse Explained 27, 126, 236


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Arcana Coelestia #3862

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3862. In 3858 above it was shown that 'the twelve tribes' meant all things forming part of truth and good, or of faith and love. In this present paragraph, now that the sons of Jacob individually after whom the tribes were named are the subject, a second arcanum is to be brought to light, namely the meaning which each son carries. In heaven all celestial and spiritual warmth, or love and charity, is in its external form felt as the glow from the sun, and in heaven all celestial and spiritual light, or faith, is in its external form seen as the light from the sun. Also that celestial and spiritual warmth holds wisdom within itself, and the light from that source holds intelligence, and they do so because they flow from the Lord, who is the Sun of heaven, see 1053, 1521-1533, 1619-1632, 2441, 2495, 2776, 3138, 3167, 3190, 3195, 3222, 3223, 3338, 3339, 3341, 3413, 3485, 3636, 3643.

These paragraphs show that all good is a product of the warmth which flows from the Lord as the Sun, and that all truth is a product of the light from that source. They also show that all affections which go with love or good are variations of that celestial and spiritual warmth flowing from the Lord, and that this is the origin of changes of state. They show too that all thoughts which go with truth or faith are variations of that celestial and spiritual light which flows from the Lord, and that this is the origin of intelligence. All angels in heaven are bathed in that warmth and light. Their affections and thoughts have no other source, nor are they anything else. This is evident from the different forms of communication employed by the angels, in that because those forms of communication have their origin in heavenly warmth and light, they consist of variations and modifications of heavenly light containing heavenly warmth, and are therefore indescribable and so varying and complete as to be quite beyond one's comprehension, 3342, 3344, 3345.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3222-3223, 3338-3339, 3344-3345)


[2] So that these things might be manifested in a representative way in the world names were given to each of the sons of Jacob which meant the universal divisions of good and truth, or of love and faith, and so the universal manifestations of variation in celestial and spiritual warmth and of variation in light from that source. What determines the intensity of the flame and the brightness from it is the actual order of those universal manifestations. When love comes first in such order, everything which follows within genuine order from that love is flaming, but when faith comes first everything which follows within genuine order is full of light, yet with all the differences that the things which follow entail. If however they do not follow according to genuine order everything is obscure, and in ever differing ways. But this order and resulting differences will in the Lord's Divine mercy be discussed later on. This then is how the Lord gave answers by means of the Urim and Thummim and how according to the state of the actual thing in question they received answers by means of lights and their flashes from the precious and transparent stones on which the names of the twelve tribes had been inscribed. For as has been stated, inscribed on the names were the universal divisions of love and faith which exist in the Lord's kingdom and so the universal manifestations of flame and light by which those divisions of love and faith are represented in heaven.

[3] First therefore let evidence from the Word be presented to confirm that the order of the names in which the tribes are mentioned varies in the Word, and that each variation of their order is determined by the particular state of the subject under discussion there. And from such evidence one may see that the answers from the Lord given by means of the Urim and Thummim were radiations of light determined by the particular states of the thing - such variations being due to the order of all that was involved. For the entire light of heaven is made to vary by the different states which that thing passes through, and those states are made to vary by the order in which good and truth come. But which aspect of truth or good is meant by each name will be evident from the explanation that is being given. That is to say, Reuben means faith from the Lord; Simeon faith possessed by the will which is received from the Lord; Levi spiritual love, which is charity; Judah the Divinity of love, and the Lord's heavenly kingdom. What the other eight mean will be stated in the next chapter. Described here is the order in which they were born, which was as follows: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin - see verses 32-35 of the present chapter, and then Genesis 30:6, 8, 11, 13, 18, 20, 24; 35:18. This order is determined by the state of the subject that is being dealt with at this point, which is that of the regeneration of man, for this starts with the truth of faith, meant by 'Reuben', progresses from this towards the willing of truth, meant by 'Simeon', and from this to charity, meant by 'Levi', and so on to the Lord, who is meant in the highest sense by 'Judah'. The progression of spiritual conception and birth, or regeneration, from what is external to what is internal has been stated immediately above in 3860; that is, the progression is from the truth of faith to the good of love.

[4] Before Jacob came to Isaac his father in Mamre, or Kiriath Arba, his sons are mentioned in Genesis 35:23-26 in the following order: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher. In this case those by Leah and Rachel come first, and those by the servant-girls last, this being determined by the state of the subject dealt with at that point. They are listed in yet another order when they travelled and came into Egypt, in Genesis 46:9-19; in another when before his death they were blessed by Jacob, who by then was Israel, in Genesis 49:3-27; and in another again when blessed by Moses, in Deuteronomy 33:6-24. And when they encamped around the Tent of Meeting they did so in the following order: To the east Judah, Issachar, Zebulun; to the south Reuben, Simeon, Gad; to the west Ephraim, Manasseh, Benjamin; to the north Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Numbers 2:1-end. In what order they stood on Mount Gerizim to bless the people, or on Mount Ebal to curse them, see Deuteronomy 27:12-13. When the princes chosen from each tribe were sent to spy out the land they are listed in Numbers 13:4-16 in the following order: Reuben, Simeon, Judah, Issachar, Ephraim, Benjamin, Zebulun, Joseph or Manasseh, Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Gad. But there is a different order to the princes who were to divide the land for inheritance, Numbers 34:19-29. In what order the lot fell when it was cast, at the time that the land was divided for inheritance, see Chapters 13 - 19 of Joshua.

(References: Exodus 28:21; Joshua 14:1, 15:1, 16:1, 17:1, 18:1; Numbers 2)


[5] When the boundaries of the new or holy land which the tribes were to inherit are referred to in Ezekiel the tribes are mentioned in the following order: Dan, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah, Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulun, Gad. All are described from the corner pointing east to the corner pointing to the sea or west, except Gad which was situated at the south corner pointing towards the south, Ezekiel 48:1-7, 23-26. And where the gates of the new or holy city are referred to they are mentioned in the following order: Facing north the three gates of Reuben, Judah, and Levi; facing east the three gates of Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan; facing south the three gates of Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun; facing west the three gates of Gad, Asher, and Naphtali, Ezekiel 48:31-34. For the order of those sealed, twelve thousand from each tribe, see Revelation 7:5-8. In all these places the listing of the tribes depends completely on the state of the subject dealt with, to which the order corresponds. That particular state is evident from what comes before and after.

(References: Ezekiel 48:2-8)


[6] The order of the precious stones in the Urim and Thummim is mentioned and described in the Word, but which tribes individual stones corresponded to is not mentioned. For those stones represented all things belonging to the light shed by heavenly flame, that is, all aspects of truth originating in good, or of faith originating in charity. And because they represented these things heavenly light itself shone through them in a miraculous way in accordance with the state of the subject concerning which a question was asked and an answer was given. Flashing and bright light stood for a positive answer concerning good and truth, which light was accompanied by variations of the stones' colours according with the differences of the state of good and truth, as in heaven where all celestial and spiritual things are expressed by means of lights and their differences, and in a way beyond description and completely incomprehensible to man. For as has been shown frequently, heavenly light includes life from the Lord, and so includes wisdom and intelligence. Consequently the differences in light include everything that constitutes the life, that is, everything that constitutes wisdom and intelligence, while the differences in flaming, flashing, and shining include everything that constitutes the life of good and the life of truth received from good, that is, of love to the Lord and of faith derived from that love. Such then were the Urim and Thummim which were on the breastplate of the ephod and were over Aaron's heart. The nature of them is also evident from the fact that the terms Urim and Thummim mean lights and perfections, and that the breastplate in which they were set is called the breastplate of judgement, because judgement consists in intelligence and wisdom, 2235. The reason it was worn over Aaron's heart was that 'the heart' means Divine love, see 3635 and the section at the end of the present chapter. For this reason also those precious stones were placed in settings of gold, for 'gold' in the internal sense means good which is an attribute of love, 113, 1551, 1552, and 'precious stone' truth which shines through from good, 114.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552)


[7] The Urim and Thummim are spoken of in Moses as follows,

You shall make the breastplate of judgement, the work of designing, like the work of the ephod you shall make it; out of gold, violet, and purple, and twice-dyed scarlet, and of fine-twined linen you shall make it. It shall be square when doubled. And you shall set within it stone-settings, four rows of stones shall there be. There shall be sockets of gold in their settings. And the stones shall be according to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names. The engravings of a signet, each one according to its name, there shall be for the twelve tribes. Exodus 28:15-21; 39:8-14.

Which stones had to be set in each row is also specified in those chapters. And further,

The breastplate shall not come away from the ephod. And Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgement over his heart when he goes into the holy place, for a remembrance before Jehovah continually. And you shall put into the breastplate of judgement the Urim and Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron's heart when he goes in before Jehovah. And Aaron shall bear the judgement of the sons of Israel over his heart before Jehovah continually. Exodus 28:28-30; Leviticus 8:7-8.

The fact that Jehovah or the Lord was inquired of and gave answers by means of the Urim is seen in Moses,

Jehovah said to Moses, Take Joshua the son of Nun. You shall place some of your glory on him, so that all the congregation of the children of Israel may be obedient. He shall stand before Eleazar the priest, and he shall inquire for him in the judgement of the Urim before Jehovah. Numbers 27:18, 20-21.

And in Samuel,

Saul inquired of Jehovah, but Jehovah did not answer him by dreams, or by the Urim, or by prophets. 1 Samuel 28:6.

(References: Exodus 28:15-17, 28:20; Genesis 29:32)

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Arcana Coelestia 3928, 3969, 3993, 4060, 4236, 4603, 4922, 5044, 5313, 5319, 5403, 5440, 5514, 5704, 6335, 6337, 6640, 7231, 7973, 8753, 9338, 9405, 9407, 9429, 9548, 9571, 9642, 9684, 9863, 9905

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 49, 121, 248


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 39, 330, 364, 431, 433, 434

Other New Christian Commentary

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Ideal vs Real – The Ideal


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Urim and thummim


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg

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