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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 #4503

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4503. 'The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city' means that all his descendants destroyed that doctrine. This is clear from the meaning of 'the sons of Jacob' as descendants from Jacob, dealt with above; from the meaning of 'plundering' as destroying; and from the meaning of 'the city' as the doctrine of the Church, dealt with above in 4500. Simeon and Levi's going away after they had killed every male in the city as well as Hamor and Shechem, and then Jacob's sons' coming upon the slain and plundering the city, involves an arcanum, the meaning of which is not evident except from the internal sense.

[2] That arcanum is this: After the truth and good of the Church which are represented by 'Simeon and Levi' were wiped out and falsity and evil took their place, further falsities and evils were added, which are meant in the contrary sense by the rest of Jacob's sons. Each son of Jacob represented some general aspect of faith and charity, as has been shown in 2129, 3858, 3913, 3926, 3939, 4060.

Which aspect is represented by each, see the following:

Reuben, 3861, 3866, 3870;
Judah, 3881;
Dan, 3921-3923;
Naphtali, 3927, 3928;
Gad, 3934, 3935;
Asher, 3938, 3939;
Issachar, 3956, 3957;
Zebulun, 3960, 3961.

These general aspects of faith and charity which those sons represented become falsities and evils of that kind once the truth and good of the Church have been wiped out and those further falsities and evils have been added to them; for falsities and evils are constantly on the increase within the Church once it has been perverted and wiped out. It is these added falsities and evils that are meant by the reference to Jacob's sons coming upon the slain and plundering the city after Simeon and Levi had killed every male in the city as well as Hamor and Shechem, and had taken Dinah and gone away.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3927-3928, 3934-3935, 3938-3939, 3956-3957)


[3] That 'the slain' in the Word means truths and goods which have been wiped out may be seen from the following places: In Isaiah,

You are cast out from your sepulchre like an abominable branch, a garment of the killed - slain with the sword - who go down to the stones of the pit like a dead body trodden underfoot. Isaiah 14:19.

This refers to Babel. 'Those slain with the sword' stands for those who have profaned the truths of the Church. In the same prophet,

So that their slain are cast out and the stench of their dead bodies rises up. Isaiah 34:3.

This refers to the falsities and evils which infest the Church, 'the slain' standing for these.

[4] In Ezekiel,

The violent of the nations will draw the sword against the beauty of your wisdom, and they will profane your loveliness. They will bring you down into the pit and you will die the deaths of those slain in the midst of the seas. Ezekiel 28:7-8.

This refers to the prince of Tyre who means the leading cognitions of truth and good. 'Dying the deaths of those slain in the midst of the seas' stands for those who use facts to hatch falsities and in consequence defile the truths of the Church.

[5] In the same prophet,

They also will go down with them into hell, to those slain with the sword. You will be made to go down with the trees of Eden into the nether world, in the midst of the uncircumcised you will lie with those slain with the sword. Ezekiel 31:17-18.

In the same prophet,

Go down and lie with the uncircumcised; they will fall in the midst of those slain with the sword; the chief of the powerful ones will speak to him in the midst of hell. Ezekiel 32:19-21.

This refers to Pharaoh and Egypt. 'Those slain with the sword' stands for those who by their use of knowledge become insane; by their use of it they destroy all belief in the truth known to the Church.

[6] In David,

I have been reckoned with them going down to the pit; I have become as a man with no strength, neglected among the dead, like the slain lying in the sepulchre whom you remember no more and who have been cut off by your hand.

'The slain' in hell - those in the pit and 'in the sepulchre' - stands for those who have destroyed the truths and goods residing with them by means of falsities and evils. Anyone can recognize that these are not in hell merely because they have been slain with the sword.

(References: Psalms 88:4-5)


[7] In Isaiah,

A city of tumults, an exultant city, [your slain] have not been slain with the sword, and they have not been killed in war. All who have been found in you have been bound together in chains. They have fled from far away. Isaiah 22:2-3.

This refers to the illusions resulting from the evidence of the senses which do not enable the truths of the Church to be seen. It refers therefore to people subject to negative doubt, and these are called 'slain but not with the sword'.

[8] In Ezekiel,

I am bringing a sword upon you and destroying your high places; and your altars will be destroyed, and your statues will be broken; and I will cause your slain to lie before your idols. When the slain have fallen in the midst of you, you will know that I am Jehovah. Then you will acknowledge, when the slain are in the midst of their idols, around their altar. Ezekiel 6:3-4, 7, 13.

'The slain' stands for those who are governed by falsities of doctrine.

[9] In the same prophet,

Defile the house, and fill the courts with the slain. They went forth and smote in the city. Ezekiel 9:7.

This is a prophetic vision. 'Defiling the house and filling the courts with the slain' stands for profaning goods and truths. In the same prophet,

You have multiplied your slain in this city, and have filled its streets with the slain. Therefore said the Lord Jehovih, Your slain whom you have placed in the midst of it, they are the flesh, and that is the pot; and he will lead you out from the midst of it. Ezekiel 11:6-7.

[10] Because 'the slain' meant those who have annihilated the truths of the Church by means of falsities and evils, therefore also in the representative Church those who touched one who had been slain were unclean. Such persons are referred to in Moses as follows,

Everyone who has touched on the surface of the field one slain with the sword, or one dead, or a human bone, or a sepulchre will be unclean for seven days. Numbers 19:16, 18.

Inquiry was therefore made and atonement effected by means of a heifer. In the same author,

If one is found slain, lying in the field, and it is not known who smote him, then the elders of the city and the judges shall come out and they shall measure [the distance] to the cities which are around the one slain. It shall be, that in the city nearest to the one slain the elders of that city shall take a heifer by means of which no work has been done, which has not pulled in the yoke, and they shall bring it down to the river or valley, and there they shall break the heifer's neck. And they shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck has been broken and shall say, Our hands have not shed blood, and our eyes have not seen it. Expiate Your people Israel, O Jehovah, and do not set innocent blood in the midst of Your people; and the blood shall be expiated for them. Deuteronomy 21:1-8.

[11] These laws were laid down because one who has been slain means the perversion, destruction, and profanation of the truth of the Church by means of falsity and evil, as is evident from each detail in the internal sense. The expression 'one slain, lying in the field' is used because 'the field' means the Church, see 2971, 3310, 3766. 'A heifer by means of which no work has been done' means the innocence of the external man which is present within ignorance. Without a clear knowledge of these things meant in the internal sense everyone will be surprised that a procedure such as this for making expiation should ever have been ordained.

(References: Genesis 34:27)


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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4515, 4728, 5037, 5461, 5482, 5512, 5538, 5622, 5626, 5665, 6238, 6352, 6716, 6767, 7041, 7231, 8080, 8159, 8408, 8902, 9262, 9293, 9320, 9642, 10396, 10485, 10566

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 248


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 28, 39, 229, 281, 304, 315, 365, 433, 443, 444

Other New Christian Commentary

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