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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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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 #4876

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4876. 'And your rod which is in your hand' means through the power of this, that is, of this truth. This is clear from the meaning of 'a rod' as power, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'the hand' too as power, dealt with in 876, 3091, 3387, 3563. The phrase 'which is in your hand' is used because the power of that truth, namely lowest truth, is meant, like that present with the semblance of religion among the Jewish nation, meant here by 'Judah'. Regarding the attribution of power to truth, see 3091, 3563. Frequent mention is made in the Word of 'a rod', yet surprisingly few at the present day know that something in the spiritual world was represented by it, as for instance when Moses was commanded, every time a miracle was performed, to lift up his rod and so it was accomplished. The existence of such knowledge even among gentiles may be recognized from their myths in which rods are assigned to magicians. The reason 'a rod' means power is that it is a support, for it gives support to the hand and arm, and through these to the whole body. This being so, a rod takes on the meaning of the part to which it immediately gives support, namely that of the hand and the arm, both of which mean in the Word the power of truth. Also, the hand and arm correspond to that power in the Grand Man, as will be seen at the ends of chapters.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 878)

[2] That 'a rod' represented power is evident, as has been stated, from what is recorded about Moses,

He was commanded to take a rod and use it to perform miracles; so he took the rod of God in his hand. Exodus 4:17, 20.

When the waters in Egypt were struck with the rod, they turned to blood.

Exodus 7:15, 19.

When the rod was stretched out over the streams, frogs came forth. Exodus 8:5-15.

When the dust was struck by the use of the rod, it turned into lice. Exodus 8:16-20.

When the rod was stretched out towards heaven, hail fell. Exodus 9:23.

When the rod was stretched out over the earth, locusts came forth. Exodus 10:3-21.

Since 'the hand', which means power, comes first, while 'a rod' is merely its instrument, the following references to 'the hand' also occur:

The miracles happened when Moses' hand was stretched out. Exodus 10:12-13. When he stretched out his hand towards heaven, thick darkness came over the land of Egypt. Exodus 10:21-22. When he stretched out his hand over the Sea Suph, an east wind made the sea dry land; and when again he stretched out his hand, the waters returned. Exodus 14:21, 26-27.

(References: Exodus 7:19-20, 8:1-11, Exodus 8:5-20, Exodus 10:3-20)

[3] Reference is in addition made to the rod being used to strike the rock at Horeb, after which water flowed out, Exodus 17:5-6; Numbers 20:7-10. Also, when Joshua was about to fight against Amalek,

Moses said to Joshua, Choose men for us, and go out, fight with Amalek; tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill, with God's rod in my hand. And it happened, that when Moses lifted up his hand, Israel prevailed, and when he let down his hand Amalek prevailed. Exodus 17:9-11.

From these references it is quite plain that 'a rod', like the hand, represented power, and in the highest sense the Lord's Divine almighty power. It is also evident that at that time representatives constituted the external features of the Church, and that its internal features - which were spiritual and celestial realities such as exist in heaven - corresponded to those external ones, which owed their efficacy to that correspondence. From this it is also evident how crazy those people are who believe that power had been infused into and therefore dwelt in Moses' rod or hand.

(References: Exodus 17:9, 17:11; Numbers 20:7-11)

[4] The meaning in the spiritual sense of 'a rod' as power is also evident from many places in the Prophets, as in Isaiah,

Behold, the Lord Jehovah Zebaoth is taking away from Jerusalem rod and stay, the whole rod of bread, and the whole rod of water. Isaiah 3:1.

'The rod of bread' stands for the support and power provided by the good of love, 'the rod of water' for the support and power provided by the truth of faith. For 'bread' means the good of love, see 276, 680, 2165, 2177, 3464, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4211, 4217, 4735; and 'water' the truth of faith' 28, 680, 739, 2702, 3058, 3424. 'The rod of bread' is used with a similar meaning in Ezekiel 4:16; 5:16; 14:13; Psalms 105:16.

[5] In addition to this, in Isaiah,

The Lord, Jehovih Zebaoth, said, Do not be afraid - O My people, inhabitant of Zion - of Asshur, who will smite you with a stick and will lift up the rod over you in the way of Egypt. Jehovah will lift up the scourge against him, as when Midian was smitten in the rock of Oreb, and his rod will be over the sea, which he will lift up in the way of Egypt. Isaiah 10:24, 26.

Here 'the rod' stands for power provided by reasoning and knowledge, like that which those people possess who, with ideas based on factual knowledge, reason against the truths of faith and pervert these or else treat them as worthless. This is what is meant by 'the stick with which Asshur will smite' and by 'the rod which he will lift up in the way of Egypt'. For 'Asshur' means reasoning, see 1186, and 'Egypt' knowledge, 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165)

[6] Similarly in Zechariah,

The pride of Asshur will be thrown down, and the rod of Egypt will depart. Zechariah 10:11.

In Isaiah,

You relied on the rod of a bruised reed, on Egypt, which, when anyone leans on it, goes into his hand and pierces it. Isaiah 36:6.

'Egypt' stands for factual knowledge, as above; and power in spiritual things which is received from that knowledge is meant by 'the rod of a bruised reed'. By 'the hand which it enters and pierces' is meant power received from the Word. In the same prophet,

Jehovah has broken the rod of the wicked, the stick of those who have dominion. Isaiah 14:5

'The rod' and 'the stick' plainly stand for power.

[7] In Jeremiah,

Grieve, all regions surrounding Moab; say, How is the rod of strength, the rod of beauty, broken! Jeremiah 48:17.

'The rod of strength' stands for power received from good, and 'the rod of beauty' for power received from truth.

[8] In Hosea,

My people enquire of their piece of wood, and their rod gives them a reply, for the spirit of whoredom has led them astray. Hosea 4:12.

'Inquiring of a piece of wood' stands for consulting evils, 'the rod gives reply' for the fact that falsity results from these, its power being derived from the evil to which they give support. 'The spirit of whoredom' stands for the life of falsity resulting from evil. In David,

Even when I walk in the valley of the shadow I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your stick and Your rod comfort me. Psalms 23:4.

'Your stick and your rod' stands for Divine truth and good, which have power. In the same author,

The rod of the wicked will not rest on the lot of the righteous. Psalms 125:3.

[9] In the same author,

You will break them in pieces with a stick of iron, you will dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. Psalms 2:9.

'A stick of iron' stands for the power of spiritual truth within the natural, for all natural truth that has spiritual truth present within it possesses power. 'Iron' means natural truth, 425, 426. Similarly in John,

He who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations to rule 1 them untie a stick of iron as when earthen pots are broken in pieces. Revelation 2:26-27. (Also Revelation 12:5; 19:15.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 425-426)

[10] Because 'a rod' represented the power of truth, that is, the power of good expressed by means of truth, kings therefore had sceptres; and those sceptres were shaped like short rods. For kings represent the Lord as regards truth, while kingship itself means Divine Truth, 1672, 1728, 2015, 2069, 3670, 4581. The sceptre means the power which is theirs not by virtue of their high position but of truth which must reign. Nor must this be any other kind of truth than that which is grounded in good, and so is primarily Divine Truth, and among Christians is the Lord, the source of all Divine Truth.


1. literally, pasture


(References: Exodus 8:5-20, Exodus 10:3-22; Genesis 38:18)

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Arcana Coelestia 4936, 6371, 6947, 7011, 7026, 7292, 7309, 7417, 8182, 8579, 8599, 8904, 9028, 9034, 9141, 9643, 9942

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 31, 176, 433

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