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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 #4535

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4535. The preliminary sections of previous chapters - Chapter 26 onwards - explained what the Lord foretold about His Coming or THE CLOSE OF THE AGE. Frequently in those sections it has been shown that His Coming or the Close of the Age means the last period of the Church, which in the Word is called the Last Judgement. Those who do not look beyond the literal sense cannot know of the Last Judgement as anything else than the destruction of the world, the particular source for such an idea being the Book of Revelation. There it is said that [John] saw 'a new heaven and a new earth, for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away; and there was no more sea', and in addition that he saw 'the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven', Revelation 21:1-2. Prophetical utterances in Isaiah, where similar predictions occur, are also a source of the same idea,

Behold, I am creating new heavens and a new earth; therefore the former things will not be remembered or come to mind. 1 Be glad and rejoice for ever in the things I am creating; behold, I will create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. Isaiah 65:17-18; 66:22.

[2] Those who do not look beyond the literal sense cannot conceive of anything else than this - that the whole sky together with this planet will be annihilated, and then the dead - for the first time - will rise again and dwell in the new heaven and on the new earth. But these places in the Word should not be understood in that way, as may be recognized from other places in the Word where the heavens and the earth are referred to. Those who have any belief in an internal sense can see plainly that 'a new heaven' and 'a new earth' are used to mean a new Church which takes over when the previous one passes away, 1733, 1850, 3355 (end), and that 'heaven' is the internal aspect of that new Church and 'earth' the external aspect of it.

[3] This last period of the previous Church and the first of the new one are also called the Close of the Age, about which the Lord has spoken in Matthew 24. They are called also His Coming, for at that time the Lord departs from the previous Church and comes to the new. The description of that period as the Close of the Age may also be seen from other places in the Word, as in Isaiah,

On that day a remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the God of power. For though your people Israel will be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of it will return. The close has been determined, overflowing with righteousness, for the Lord Jehovih Zebaoth is bringing the whole earth to its close and to its determined end. Isaiah 10:20-23.

In the same prophet,

Now do not be derisive, lest your punishments increase, for a close and a cutting off I have heard from the Lord Jehovih Zebaoth over the whole earth. Isaiah 28:22.

In Jeremiah,

Thus said Jehovah, The whole earth will be a waste, yet I will not bring it to a close. Jeremiah 4:27.

In Zephaniah,

I will bring men into distress, and they will go as the blind, because they have sinned against Jehovah; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. For Jehovah will bring to a close, indeed to a hasty one, all the inhabitants of the earth. Zephaniah 1:17-18.

From each detail stated here it is evident that 'a close' means the last period of the Church and 'the earth' the Church itself.

(References: Isaiah 10:21-23)

[4] The reason why 'the earth (or land)' means the Church is that the land of Canaan was the land where the Church had existed since most ancient times, and later on where among the descendants of Jacob a representative of the Church existed. When this land is said to have been 'brought to a close' it is not the nation dwelling there that is meant but the holiness of worship which existed with the nation where the Church was. For the Word is spiritual; but the actual land is not spiritual, nor is the nation dwelling in it, only that which constitutes the Church there. For evidence that the land of Canaan was the land where the Church had existed from most ancient times, see 567, 3686, 4447, 4454, 4516, 4517; and this explains why 'the land' or 'the earth' in the Word means the Church, 566, 662, 1066, 1067, 1262, 3355, 4447. From all this one may see what is meant in Isaiah by 'bringing the whole earth to a close', and in Zephaniah by 'bringing all the inhabitants of the earth to a hasty one'. It is well known that the Jewish nation which inhabited that land was not 'brought to a close' but that the holiness of worship among them was.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1066-1067, 4516-4517)

[5] This meaning of 'the close' is even clearer in Daniel,

Seventy weeks have been decreed concerning your people and your holy city to bring transgression to a close and to seal up sins and to atone for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up vision and prophet, and to anoint the Most Holy Place. In the middle of the week he will cause sacrifice and offering to cease. At length upon the bird of desolations will come desolation; until a close and a cutting off will it drop upon the devastation. Daniel 9:24, 27.

[6] From this one may now see that the close of the age - about which the disciples were asking when they said to the Lord 'What will be the sign of Your coming and of the close of the age?' Matthew 24:3 - does not mean anything else than the final period of the Church. The same is also meant by the Lord's words, which are the very last in the same gospel,

Jesus said to the disciples, Teaching them to observe 2 all things whatever I have commanded you; and behold, I am with you at all times 3 even to the close of the age. Matthew 28:20.

The reason why the Lord said that He would be with the disciples even to the close of the age is that the Lord's twelve disciples are similar in meaning to the twelve tribes of Israel. That is to say, they mean all things of love and faith, and therefore all things of the Church, see 3354, 3488, 3858, as do the twelve tribes, 3858, 3926, 3939, 4060. The fact that the Church reaches its close when no charity exists there any longer, nor consequently any faith, has been shown several times already; and that within the Church at the present day, called the Christian Church, scarcely any trace of charity or consequently of faith survives there; and that the close of the age is accordingly now at hand, will in the Lord's Divine mercy be shown further on.


1. literally, come up upon the heart

2. Reading servare (to observe) for the imperative servate (observe)

3. literally, I am with you all the days

Genesis 35
1. And God said to Jacob, Rise up, go up to Bethel and settle there, and make there an altar to the God who appeared to you when you fled from before Esau your brother.
2. And Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, Remove the gods of the foreigner which are in the midst of you, and be purified, and change your garments.
3. And let us rise up and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar to the God who answered me on the day of my distress, and was with me in the way that I went. 1
4. And they gave to Jacob all the gods of the foreigner which were in their hand, and the jewels which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
5. And they travelled on; and the terror of God was on the cities which were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
6. And Jacob came to Luz which is in the land of Canaan - that is, Bethel - he and all the people who were with him.
7. And he built an altar there, and called the place El Bethel, for there the gods were revealed to him, when he was fleeing from before his brother.
8. And Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died, and was buried below Bethel under an oak; and its name was called Allon Bacuth.
9. And God was seen by Jacob again, when he was coming from Paddan Aram; and He blessed him.
10. And God said to him, Your name is Jacob; your name will no longer be called Jacob, but indeed Israel will be your name; and He called his name Israel.
11. And God said to him, I am God Shaddai, be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations will be from you, and kings will go out from your loins.
12. And the land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and to your seed after you I will give the land.
13. And God went up from over him in the place where He talked to him.
14. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked to him, a stone pillar, and poured out a drink-offering onto it, and poured oil onto it.
15. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke to him, Bethel.
16. And they travelled on from Bethel, and there was still a stretch of land to go to Ephrath; and Rachel gave birth, and suffered severely' in giving birth.
17. And it happened in her suffering severely, 2 in giving birth, that the midwife said to her, Do not be afraid, for this also is a son for you.
18. And it happened as her soul was departing, when she was about to die, that she called his name Ben-oni; and his father called him Benjamin.
19. And Rachel died, and was buried on the way to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem.
20. And Jacob set up a pillar over her grave; this is the pillar of Rachel's grave even to this day.
21. And Israel travelled on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
22. And it happened while Israel was residing in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it. And the sons of Jacob were twelve.
23. The sons of Leah: Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun.
24. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
25. And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's servant-girl: Dan and Naphtali.
26. And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's servant-girl: Gad and Asher. These are the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
27. And Jacob came to Isaac his father, to Mamre, Kiriath Arba, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
28. And the days of Issac were a hundred and eighty years.
29. And Isaac breathed his last, and died, and was gathered to his peoples, old and full of days. And Esau and Jacob his sons buried him.

1. literally, walked

2. literally, hard things


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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4600, 5044, 5136, 5313, 5360, 5373, 5433, 5577, 6304, 6649, 6693, 6796, 7108, 7297, 7351, 7547, 7598, 8011, 8043, 8211, 8650, 8732, 8891, 8902, 8904, 9042, 9166, 9198, 9262, 9325, 9336, 9408, 9420, 9596, 9666, 9818, 10373, 10545

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 121, 246

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 9, 29, 36, 175, 242

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