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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 #5954

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5954. 'And to them all he gave each one changes of garments' means truths brought in touch with good. This is clear from the meaning of 'garments' as truths, dealt with below, so that 'changes of garments' are truths that are new, and truths are made new when they are brought in touch with good, for then they receive life. The subject is the joining of the natural man to the spiritual, or the external man to the internal. When the joining together is effected the truths undergo change and are made new since they receive life from the good that flows into them, see just above in 5951. 'Changing one's garments' was representative of the need to put on holy truths, and this is also the origin of 'changes of garments', see 4545.

[2] The reason why in the Word truths are meant by 'garments' is that truths clothe good in almost the same way as blood vessels contain blood or fibres contain spirit. 'A garment' also has truth as its meaning because spirits, and angels too, are seen wearing garments; and each spirit or angel is attired in a way that accords with the truths that reside with him. Those seen wearing white garments are spirits or angels whose truths of faith act as paths to good, whereas those seen wearing brightly shining garments are ones whose truths of faith radiate from good. For it is good radiated through truth that produces the shining brightness, see 5248.

[3] The wearing of garments by spirits and angels is also evident from the Word where mention is made of angels that have been seen, as in Matthew,

The appearance of the angel sitting at the Lord's tomb was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. Matthew 28:3.

In John,

On the thrones I saw twenty-four elders seated, clad in white garments. Revelation 4:4.

In the same book,

He who sat on the white horse was clothed in a garment dyed with blood, and His name is called the Word of God. His armies in heaven were following Him on white horses, clothed in linen, white and clean. Revelation 19:11, 13-14.

'Garments white as snow' and 'white linen' mean holy truths, for whiteness' and 'brightness' have reference to truths, 3301, 3993, 4007, 5319, for the reason that they are very nearly as bright as light, and the light which radiates from the Lord is Divine Truth. This explains why, when the Lord was transfigured, His garments looked like the light, as described in Matthew,

When Jesus was transfigured His face shone like the sun, and His garments became like the light. Matthew 17:2.

It is well known in the Church that 'the light' is Divine Truth; but its comparison to a garment is clear in David,

Jehovah covers Himself with light, as if with a garment. Psalms 104:2.

[4] The fact that 'garments' are truths is evident from many places in the Word, as in Matthew,

When the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man (homo) who was not wearing a wedding garment. And he said to him, Friend, how did you come in here not having a wedding garment? Therefore he was cast out into outer darkness. Matthew 22:11-13.

Who exactly are meant by the one 'not wearing a wedding garment', see 2132. In Isaiah,

Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion, put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for no more may there come in to you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Isaiah 52:1.

'Beautiful garments' stands for truths that spring from good.

[5] In Ezekiel,

I clothed you with embroidered cloth, and shed you with badger, and I swathed you in fine linen and covered you with silk. Your garments were fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth You ate fine flour, honey, and oil. Ezekiel 16:10, 13.

This refers to Jerusalem, by which is meant at this point the spiritual Ancient Church, which was established by the Lord after the celestial Most Ancient Church breathed its last. The truths bestowed on that Church are described as 'garments'. 'Embroidered cloth' is factual knowledge. When such knowledge is genuine it also manifests itself in the next life as embroidered cloth and as lace, as I have also been allowed to see. 'Fine linen' and 'silk' are truths springing from good; but in heaven those fabrics are utterly bright and transparent because they are in the light there.

[6] In the same prophet,

Fine linen with embroidered work from Egypt was your sail, and violet and purple from the islands of Elishah was your covering. Ezekiel 27:7.

This refers to Tyre, by which the cognitions of truth and good are represented, 1201. When genuine ones, these are 'fine linen with embroidered work from Egypt'. Resulting good, which is the good of truth, is meant by 'violet' and 'purple'.

[7] In David,

All glorious is the king's daughter, in her clothing with gold interweavings; in embroidered robes she will be led to the king. Psalms 45:13-14.

'The king's daughter' stands for the affection for truth. 'Her clothing with gold interweavings' stands for truths that have good within them. 'Embroidered robes' stands for the lowest truths. In John,

You have a few names in Sardis, who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with Me in white ones, for they are worthy. He who conquers will be clad in white garments. Revelation 3:4-5.

'Not soiling one's garments' stands for not defiling truths with falsities.

[8] In the same book,

Blessed is he who is awake and keeps his garments, so that he may not walk naked, and men see his shame. Revelation 16:15.

'Garments' in a similar way stands for truths. Truths of faith drawn from the Word are what are meant, strictly speaking, by 'garments'. Anyone who has not acquired those truths from there - or who has not, as gentiles do, acquired truths or something like them from the religion to which he belongs - and applied them to life, is not in touch with good, no matter how much he may think that he is. For having no truths from the Word or from what his religion teaches he allows himself to be led by reasonings received as much from evil spirits as from good ones, and cannot thus be given protection by the angels. This is what is meant by being awake and keeping one's garments, so that one may not walk naked and men see one's shame.

[9] In Zechariah,

Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and so stood before the angel, who said to those standing before him, Remove the filthy garments from upon 1 him. But he said to him, See, I have caused your iniquity to pass away from you, by putting on you a change of garments. Zechariah 3:3-4.

'Filthy garments' stands for truths defiled by falsities deriving from evil. Once these were removed therefore and others were put on, the words 'See, I have caused your iniquity to pass away from you' are used. But anyone can recognize that iniquity does not pass away through a changing of garments, from which anyone may also deduce that a changing of garments was a representative act, as was also the washing of garments, which was commanded when people were purified, for example when they drew near Mount Sinai, Exodus 19:14, or when they were cleansed from impurities, Leviticus 11:25, 40; 14:8-9; Numbers 8:6-7; 19:21; 31:19-24.

[10] Cleansings from impurities are effected by means of the truths of faith since they teach what good is, what charity is, what the neighbour is, and what faith is. They also teach the existence of the Lord, heaven, and eternal life. Without truths to teach them people have no knowledge of these things or even of their existence. Who left to himself knows other than this, that the good which goes with self-love and love of the world is the only kind of good in a person? For both constitute the delight of his life. Can anyone know except from the truths of faith about the existence of another kind of good that can be imparted to a person, namely the good of love to God or the good of charity towards the neighbour? Can anyone know that those kinds of good have heavenly life within them, or that those kinds of good flow in from the Lord by way of heaven in the measure that the person ceases to love himself more than others and the world more than heaven? From all this it becomes clear that the purification which was represented by the washing of garments is effected by means of the truths of faith.


1. The Latin means before but the Hebrew means upon, which Swedenborg has in another place where he quotes this verse.


(References: Genesis 45:22)

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Arcana Coelestia 6377, 6524, 7442, 7967, 8459, 8789, 8904, 9093, 9158, 9212, 9372, 9391, 9477, 9572, 9595, 9688, 9780, 9806, 9814, 9822, 9952, 9959, 9960, 10002, 10049, 10083, 10208, 10227, 10229, 10237, 10238, 10252, 10258, 10536

Apocalypse Revealed 161

The White Horse 1

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 24, 121, 186, 209

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 9, 31, 64, 71, 187, 240

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