From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

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


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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #1672

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

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


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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #4844

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

4844. 'Remain a widow in your father's house' means the alienation of this Church from the Jewish Church. This becomes clear from the fact that Judah's wish was that by doing this she would go away and not return to him any more. He did, it is true, say that she should remain there until Shelah his son was grown up; nevertheless he had it in mind not to give her to Shelah his son, for he said to himself, 'In case he also dies, like his brothers'. He gave further proof of his intentions by his actions, as is evident from verse 14 - 'Tamar saw that Shelah had grown up, and she had not been given to him as a wife'. From all this it is evident that the words used here mean that he alienated her from himself. That is, the meaning in the internal sense is that he alienated the Church representative of spiritual and celestial things - the Church represented by 'Tamar', 4811, 4831 - from the Jewish Church represented by 'Judah'. The two could not be in agreement with each other because Judaism was not a representative Church, only a representative of the Church, 4307, 4500; for it acknowledged what was external but not that which was internal.

[2] 'A widow' also means the truth of the Church without its good; for in the representative sense 'a wife' means truth and 'a husband' good, 4823, 4843, and therefore 'a wife without a husband' means the truth of the Church without its good. This being so, when it is said in reference to Tamar that she should remain in the house of her father, the meaning is that the truth of the Church would be alienated, and also that it would not find acceptance in his house, even as the Jewish nation could not accept it because not good but evil was present among that nation.

[3] A widow is referred to many times in the Word; but anyone unacquainted with the internal sense inevitably thinks that 'a widow' means a widow. In the internal sense 'a widow' means the truth of the Church without good, that is, people who have truth that is without good but who nevertheless have a desire for good, who consequently love to be led by good; for 'e husband' means good which ought to take the lead. In the Ancient Church people like these were meant in the good sense by 'the widowed', whether they were women or men. For the Ancient Church distinguished the neighbour to whom charity was to be performed into many separate classes. Some were called the poor, some the wretched and afflicted, some the bound and in prison, some the blind and the lame, and others strangers, orphans, and widows. It performed different charitable works, whichever were appropriate to the character each class possessed. The teachings of that Church showed them what those works were, for that Church had no other teachings than these. Therefore whenever those living in those times either taught or wrote, they did so in conformity with these teachings, so that when they spoke of 'widows' they meant none but the kind of persons among whom truth existed without good but who nevertheless had a desire to be led to good.

[4] From this it is also evident that the teachings of the Ancient Church were ones that had to do with charity and the neighbour, and that all its religious knowledge and factual knowledge existed to enable people to know what was meant spiritually by external things. For the Church was representative of spiritual and celestial things, and therefore it was these spiritual and celestial things, represented and meant by that Church, that people came to know about through the Church's teachings and through its factual knowledge. But those teachings and factual knowledge have become at the present day completely wiped out, so completely indeed that there is no knowledge of their having existed. For their place has been taken by teachings to do with faith which, if widowed and separated from those to do with charity, have virtually nothing to teach. For teachings to do with charity show what good is, but those to do with faith show what truth is. Teaching what truth is without what good is amounts to walking like someone blind, it being good that is the teacher and leader, truth the one that is taught and led. Between the two kinds of teaching there is a vast difference, as great as that between light and darkness. If the darkness is not lightened by means of the light, that is, if truth is not lightened by good, or faith by charity, it is nothing but darkness. For this reason no one knows intuitively, nor consequently by perception, whether truth is the truth; he knows it only from what he was taught and what he absorbed in childhood and substantiated in adult years. This also explains why Churches are so much at variance with one another, one giving the name truth to that which another calls falsity, and are never in agreement.

[5] The meaning in the good sense of 'widows' as people who have truth existing without good but who nevertheless have a desire to be led by good may be seen from places in the Word where widows are mentioned, as in David,

Jehovah who executes judgement for the oppressed, who gives bread to the starving, Jehovah who sets the bound free; Jehovah who opens the blind [eyes]; Jehovah who lifts up the bowed down; Jehovah who loves the righteous; Jehovah who guards sojourners, upholds the orphan and the widow. Psalms 146:7-9.

This refers, in the internal sense, to those whom the Lord furnishes with truths and leads to good. But some of them are called the oppressed, some the starving, while others are called the bound, the blind, the bowed down, sojourners, orphans and widows, each name appropriate to the character of the ones to whom it is applied. No one however can know what each particular nature is except from the internal sense; but the teachings of the Ancient Church showed what any particular nature was. Here, as in many other places, sojourner, orphan, and widow are referred to jointly because 'a sojourner' means those who wish to be furnished with the truths of faith, 1463, 4444, 'an orphan' those with whom good exists without truth but who have a desire to be led to good by means of truth, and 'a widow' those with whom truth exists without good and who have a desire to be led to truth by means of good. These three are referred to jointly here and elsewhere in the Word because in the internal sense they form a single group, for all three together mean those who wish to be taught and to be led to good and truth.

[6] In the same author,

A father of the orphans, and a judge of the widows, is God in the habitation of His holiness. Psalms 68:5.

'The orphans' stands for those with whom, like young children, the good that goes with innocence is present but no truth as yet. The Lord is said to be 'a father' of these because He leads them like a father; He leads them by means of truth into good, that is to say, into the good constituting life or wisdom. 'The widows' stands for those who as adults know the truth but are not as yet doing good. The Lord is said to be 'a judge' of these because He leads them; He leads them by means of good into truth, that is to say, into the truth constituting intelligence. For by 'a judge' a leader is meant. Good without truth, meant by 'an orphan', is made into good filled with wisdom by means of teaching about truth; and truth without good, meant by 'a widow', is made into truth filled with intelligence by means of a life of good.

[7] In Isaiah,

Woe to those decreeing decrees of iniquity, to turn aside the poor from judgement and to carry off into judgement the wretched of My people, so that widows may be their spoil and so that they may make orphans their prey. Isaiah 10:1-2.

Here 'the poor', 'the wretched', 'widows', and 'orphans' do not mean those who are literally so but those who are spiritually such. Now because in the Jewish Church, as in the Ancient, everything was representative, so also was doing good to orphans and widows, for doing good to these represented in heaven charity towards those who are orphans and widows in the spiritual sense.

[8] In Jeremiah,

Do judgement and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor; and do not defraud the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow, and do not use force, and do not shed innocent blood in this place. Jeremiah 22:3.

Here also 'the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow' means those who are spiritually such. In the spiritual world or heaven they do not know who a sojourner, orphan, or widow is, for the condition of such persons there is not the same as what it had been in the world. When therefore these words are read by man, angels perceive the spiritual or internal meaning they possess.

[9] Similarly in Ezekiel,

Behold, the princes of Israel, each according to his power, 1 have in you been intent on shedding blood; in you they have treated father and mother with contempt; in you they have dealt with the sojourner by means of oppression; in you they have defrauded the orphan and the widow. Ezekiel 22:6-7.

Also in Malachi,

I will draw near to you to judgement, and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against those who swear falsely, and against oppressors of the hireling in his wages, of the widow and the orphan, and [against] those who turn aside the sojourner, and do not fear Me. Malachi 3:5.

Similarly in Moses,

You shall not press down a sojourner or oppress him. You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you do indeed afflict him, and if he indeed cries out to Me, I will surely hear his cry, and My anger will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, so that your wives become widows, and your children orphans. Exodus 22:21-24.

[10] This, like every other commandment, judgement, and statute in the Jewish Church, was representative. Also, members of that Church were tied down to things of an external nature so that they would observe that command, and by means of their observance of it they represented the inner spirit of charity, even though they themselves had no charity, that is, they did not act from any inner affection. An inner spirit flowed from an affection to furnish with truths those who were without knowledge, and to lead those people to good by means of truths. If they had done this, members of the Jewish Church would have been doing good, in a spiritual sense, to the sojourner, orphan, and widow. But so that what was external might be kept going for the sake of what it represented, the curses declared on Mount Ebal included 'turning aside the judgement of the sojourner, the orphan, and the widow', Deuteronomy 27:19. 'Turning aside the judgement of these' stands for doing the reverse, that is, leading through teaching and life to falsity and evil. Also, because taking goods and truths away from others, and then making them one's own so as to enhance one's own position and gain, was included among curses, the Lord therefore said,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees! for you devour widows' houses, and for a presence you make long prayers; on account of this you will receive greater condemnation. 2 Matthew 23:14; Luke 20:47.

'Devouring widows' houses' stands for taking truths away from those who have a desire for them, and teaching them falsities.

[11] To leave for the sojourner, orphan, and widow that which remained in fields, olivegroves, and vineyards, Deuteronomy 24:19-22, was likewise representative. So too was the command that when they had finished paying the tithes of their produce in the third year, the people should give to the sojourner, orphan, and widow, so that they ate within their gates and were satisfied, Deuteronomy 26:12-13. It being the Lord alone who teaches a person and leads him to good and truth, it is said in Jeremiah,

Leave your orphans, I will keep them alive; and the widows will trust in Me. Jeremiah 49:10-11.

And in Moses,

Jehovah executes judgement for the orphan and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him bread and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:18.

'Bread' stands for the good of love, 2165, 2177, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735, and 'clothing' for the truth of faith, 4545, 4763.

(References: Deuteronomy 26:12; Jeremiah 49:11)


[12] It is recorded in 1 Kings 17:1-17 that Elijah was sent, when there was a famine because there was no rain in the land, to a widow in Zarephath. He asked her for a little cake, which she had to make for him first and give it to him; after that she was to make one for herself and her son. When she did so her jar of meal was not used up and her cruse of oil did not run dry. All this was representative, like everything else recorded about Elijah, and in general throughout the Word. 'A famine in the land because there was no rain' represented truth laid waste within the Church, 1460, 3364; 'a widow in Zarephath' those outside the Church who have a desire for truth; 'a cake which she had to make for him first' the good of love to the Lord, 2177, whom, from the very little she had, she was to love above herself and her son. 'The jar of meal' means truth derived from good, 2177, and 'the cruse of oil' charity and love, 886, 3728, 4582. 'Elijah' represents the Word, by means of which such things are effected, 2762.

(References: 1 Kings 17:1-13, 17:1-16, 17:9-16)


[13] The same is also meant, in the internal sense, by the Lord's words in Luke,

No prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, while there was a great famine over the whole land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them, except to a woman - a widow - in Zarephath of Sidon. Luke 4:24-26.

That is, he was sent to those outside the Church who had a desire for truth. But 'widows' within the Church that had been laid waste, to whom Elijah was not sent, are those with whom no truth exists because no good does so; for where there is no good neither is there any truth. However much among those people truth seems to outward appearance like truth it is nothing more so to speak than a shell without any nut in it.

[14] Those among whom this kind of truth exists, also those among whom falsity exists, are meant by 'widows' in the contrary sense, as in Isaiah,

Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, the branch and the bulrush in one day. The old and the honourable in face is the head, and the prophet, the teacher of a lie, the tail. Therefore the Lord will not rejoice over its young men, and He will not have compassion on its orphans and its widows. Isaiah 9:14-15, 17.

In Jeremiah,

I will winnow them with a winnowing-fork in the gates of the land; I will bereave, I will destroy My people; they have not turned from their ways. Their widows are increased to Me more than the sand of the seas. I will bring to them, against the mother of the young men, one who lays waste at midday. She who bore seven languishes; she has breathed her last. Her sun is going down while it is still day. Jeremiah 15:7-9.

In the same prophet,

Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, our houses to foreigners. We have become orphans with no father; our mothers are widows. Lamentations 5:2-3.

(References: Isaiah 9:14, 9:16-17)


[15] Because 'widows' meant those with whom no truth existed because no good did so, it was therefore shameful for Churches to be called widows, even those Churches governed by falsities springing from evil, as in John,

In her heart she said, A queen I sit, and I am no widow, and shall not see mourning. On account of this in one day will her plagues come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be burned with fire. Revelation 18:7-8.

This refers to Babel. A similar reference to Babel occurs in Isaiah,

Hear this, you lover of pleasures, sitting securely, saying in her heart, I am, and there is no one else like me; a widow I shall not sit, nor shall I know loss of children. But these two things will come to you in a moment in one day - loss of children and widowhood. Isaiah 47:8-9.

[16] From these quotations one may now see what is meant by 'a widow' in the internal sense of the Word. One may see that since 'a widow' represented and consequently meant the truth of the Church without its good - for 'a wife' meant truth and 'a husband' good - priests in the Ancient Churches, in which every single thing was representative, were therefore forbidden to marry any widow who was not a priest's widow, as the following in Moses declares,

The high priest shall take a wife in her virginity; a widow or a woman that has been put away or one defiled or a prostitute, these he shall not take, but a virgin of his own people shall he take as his wife. Leviticus 21:13-15.

And in the references to a new temple and a new priesthood in Ezekiel,

Priests the Levites shall not take as wives for themselves a widow or a woman that has been put away, but virgins from the seed of the house of Israel; but a widow who is the widow of a priest may they take. Ezekiel 44:22.

For 'the virgins' whom they were to marry represented and consequently meant the affection for truth, and 'the widow of a priest' the affection for truth from good, since 'e priest' in the representative sense is the good of the Church. For this reason also any widow [who was the daughter] of a priest and who had no children was allowed to eat some of the offerings or holy things, Leviticus 22:12-13.

(References: Leviticus 21:13-14)


[17] Those who belonged to the Ancient Church knew this meaning of 'a widow' from the teachings of the Church, for among them these teachings had to do with love and charity, which included countless matters which at the present day have become completely wiped out. From them they knew which particular kind of charitable act they were required to perform - that is, which service they ought to render towards the neighbour - for those who were called 'widows', for those who were called 'orphans', for those who were called 'sojourners', and so on. From their religious knowledge of truth and from factual knowledge they had a discernment and a knowledge of what the ritual observances of their Church represented and meant. The learned among them knew what it was that things on earth and in this world represented, for they recognized that the whole natural creation was a theatre representative of the heavenly kingdom, 2758, 2989, 2999, 3483. Such knowledge raised their minds up to heavenly things, and the teachings of their Church led the way to life. But after the Church turned aside from charity to faith, more so after it separated faith from charity, and made faith without charity and the works of charity the bringer of salvation, their minds could no longer be raised up by means of religious knowledge to heavenly things, nor be led by any means of the teachings of the Church to life. Indeed the decline has been so great that in the end scarcely anyone believes in a life after death, and scarcely anyone knows anything about heaven. Also, there is no belief at all in the existence of a spiritual sense of the Word which is not visible in the letter. In this way people's minds have become closed.


-----
Footnotes:

1. literally, arm

2. literally, more abundant judgement

-----

(References: Genesis 38:11)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4846, 4848, 4852, 4858, 4884, 5212, 5213, 6592, 7041, 8588, 8788, 8886, 8928, 8932, 9166, 9198, 9320, 9380, 9409, 10396, 10490

Heaven and Hell 356

The Last Judgment 39

The White Horse 8, 12, 13

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51, 106, 107, 121, 248, 257, 261, 262


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 433

Other New Christian Commentary
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.


 Elijah and Ahab
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


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


Translate: