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Arcana Coelestia #9372

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9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)


[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)


[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

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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 #5433

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5433. 'You have come to see the nakedness of the land' means that nothing would please them more than to know for themselves that they are not truths. This is clear from the meaning of 'coming to see' as wishing to know that a thing is so, and therefore as nothing would give greater pleasure than to know it; from the meaning of 'the nakedness' as a lack of truths, thus that they are not truths, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'the land' as the Church (see 566, 662, 1067, 1262, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118 (end), 3355, 4447, 4535). So that 'the nakedness of the land' here means a lack of truths known to the Church. The reason 'the nakedness' means a deprivation or lack of truths is that 'clothes' in general means truths, while each specific type of garment means some particular kind of truth, see 2576, 3301, 4545, 4677, 4741, 4742, 4763, 5248, 5319, and therefore 'the nakedness' means a lack of truths, as will also be seen from the places below that are quoted from the Word.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2117-2118, 4741-4742)


[2] The implications of this may be seen from what has been stated immediately above in 5472, where it is said that people who do not learn truths for truth's own sake and for their life's sake, but for the sake of material gain, inevitably think that the truths known to the Church are not truths. The reason for this is that the affection for gain is an earthly affection, whereas the affection for truth is a spiritual one. One or the other must have dominion, for no one can serve two masters. Consequently where one affection exists the other does not, so that where the affection for truth is present the affection for gain is absent, and where the affection for gain is present the affection for truth is absent. This being so, if the affection for material gain has dominion, then inevitably nothing pleases the person more than to know that truths are not truths. Yet nothing else pleases him more than when others believe that truths are truths. If the internal man looks downwards, that is to say, towards earthly things and makes these everything, he cannot possibly look upwards and have anything there since earthly things completely swallow up and smother everything. The reason for this is that the angels from heaven who are present with a person cannot dwell among earthly things; they therefore depart, in which case spirits from hell draw near who, while they are present with a person, cannot dwell among heavenly things. As a consequence he then thinks that heavenly things are of no importance, while earthly ones are everything. And when that person thinks that earthly things are everything, he believes himself to be more learned and wiser than everybody else, in that he himself does not accept the truths known to the Church, and at the same time says that they exist for those who are simple. The affection that moves a person is therefore either an earthly affection or else a heavenly one, for he cannot have his being simultaneously with angels from heaven and with spirits from hell; for if he did he would be left hanging between heaven and hell. But when he is moved by an affection for truth for truth's own sake, that is, for the sake of the Lord's kingdom (where Divine Truth is present) and so for the Lord's sake, he is among angels. He does not in this case despise material gain insofar as it enables him to lead his life in the world. But such gain is not his end in view, only the useful purposes it serves which are seen by him as intermediate ends leading on to an ultimate heavenly one. This being so, his heart is by no means at all set on material gain.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5432)


[3] The fact that 'the nakedness' means a lack of truths may also be seen from other places in the Word, as in John,

To the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans write, Because you say, I am rich and have become wealthy, so that I have need of nothing - when you do not know that you are wretched and miserable, and needy, and blind, and naked.... Revelation 3:17.

Here being 'naked' stands for suffering from a scarcity of truth. In the same place,

I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified in the fire, and white garments to clothe you, and do not let the shame of your nakedness be manifested. Revelation 3:18.

'Buying gold' stands for acquiring good and making this one's own, 'that you may become wealthy' for acquiring it to the end that celestial and spiritual good may be present; 'white garments' stands for spiritual truths, 'the shame of nakedness' for the lack of any goodness or truth. For 'buying' means acquiring and making one's own, see 5374; 'gold' celestial and spiritual good, 1551, 1552; 'garments' truths, 1073, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 5319; while 'white' is attributed to truth because this comes from the light of heaven, 3301, 3993, 4007, 5319.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1551-1552)


[4] In the same book,

Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is he who is awake and keeps his garments, so that he may not walk naked. Revelation 16:15.

'He who keeps his garments' stands for the person who hangs on to truths. 'So that he may not walk naked' stands for so that he is not without truths. In Matthew,

The King will say to those at His right hand, I was naked and you clothed Me around, and to those at His left, I was naked and you did not clothe Me around. Matthew 25:36, 43.

'Naked' stands for the good who acknowledge that within themselves no good or truth at all exists, 4958.

(References: Matthew 25:34, Matthew 25:41)


[5] In Isaiah,

Is not this the fast, to break your bread for the hungry, and that you may bring afflicted outcasts to your house, when you see the naked and cover him? Isaiah 58:7.

Here the meaning is similar. In Jeremiah,

Jerusalem sinned grievously, therefore she became a menstruous woman; all who honoured her despised her, for they saw her nakedness. Lamentations 1:8.

Here 'nakedness' stands for a lack of truths. In Ezekiel,

You reached full beauty, your breasts were formed and your hair had grown; but you were naked and bare. I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. You did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare. Ezekiel 16:7-8, 22.

(References: Isaiah 58:6-7)


[6] This refers to Jerusalem, by which the Ancient Church is meant - what it was like when it was first established and what it came to be like after that. That is to say, initially it was lacking in truths, after which it was furnished with them, but finally it cast them aside. In the same prophet,

If a man is righteous, one who has executed judgement and righteousness, he gives his bread to the hungry and covers the naked with clothing. Ezekiel 18:5, 7.

'Covering the naked with clothing' stands for furnishing with truths those who desire truths. In Hosea,

Lest I strip her naked, present her as she was on the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a land of dryness, and slay her with thirst. Hosea 2:3.

'Stripping her naked' stands for leaving her without truths. In Nahum,

I will show the nations your nakedness, and the kingdoms your shame. Nahum 3:5.

'Showing the nations its nakedness' stands for its ugliness. All ugliness is a result of the absence of truths, all beauty a result of the presence of them, 4985, 5199.

(References: Genesis 42:9; Isaiah 58:6-7; Matthew 25:34, 25:41; Revelation 3:17-18)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 5434, 5439, 6432, 8946

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 107, 121


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 187, 235


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


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