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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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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

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1

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 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?
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 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.
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Arcana Coelestia #1672

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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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


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

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Arcana Coelestia #6125

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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6125. 'In exchange for horses' means factual knowledge supplied from the understanding. This is clear from the meaning of 'horses' as ideas forming the understanding, dealt with in 2760-2762, 3217, 5321; and since they are spoken of in connection with Egypt, which means factual knowledge, 'horses' here are factual knowledge supplied from the understanding. But what factual knowledge supplied from the understanding is must be stated. There is an understanding part and there is a will part in the human mind, and these are situated not only in his internal man but also in his external. The human understanding is developing and growing from early childhood through to manhood, and it consists in a discernment of things gained from experience and formal knowledge, also a discernment of causes from effects as well as of consequences from a chain of causes. Thus the understanding part consists in a comprehension and perception of such things as are part of everyday life, public and private. An inflowing of light from heaven brings it into existence, and for that reason everyone's understanding is capable of being made more perfect. Understanding is given to everyone in accordance with his effort to make use of what he knows, in accordance with the life he leads, and in accordance with his individual character; no one lacks it provided he is of sound mind. A person is given it to the end that he may have freedom of choice, that is, have the freedom to choose good or evil. Unless he possesses an understanding like the one just described, he has no power of his own to make that choice; thus nothing could possibly be made his own.

[2] In addition to this it should be recognized that the understanding part of a person's mind is that which receives what is spiritual, so that it is the recipient of spiritual truth and good. For no good at all, that is, no charity, nor any truth at all, that is, any faith, can be instilled into anyone if he does not have that understanding part; but they are instilled in the measure that he does have it. This also explains why a person is not regenerated by the Lord until adult life when he does possess an understanding. Till then the good of love and the truth of faith fall like seed into utterly infertile soil. But once a person has been regenerated his understanding serves the function of enabling him to see and perceive what good is and from this what truth is. For the understanding converts things belonging to the superior light of heaven into those belonging to the inferior light of the natural world, as a consequence of which the former are then seen within the latter in the same way as a person's inner affections are seen in his face when it lacks all pretence. And because the understanding serves that function, many places in the Word where the spiritual side of the Church is referred to refer also to its power of understanding, a matter which will in the Lord's Divine mercy be dealt with elsewhere.

[3] From all this one may now see what is meant by factual knowledge supplied from the understanding, namely known facts which lend support to the things a person grasps and perceives with his understanding, whether those things are bad or good. Such facts are what are meant in the Word by 'horses from Egypt', as in Isaiah,

Woe to those who go down into Egypt for help, and rely on horses and trust in chariots because they are many, and on horsemen because they are extremely strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel and do not seek Jehovah. For Egypt is man (homo), not God; and his horses are flesh, not spirit. Isaiah 31:1, 3.

'Horses from Egypt' stands for factual knowledge supplied from a perverted understanding.

[4] In Ezekiel,

He rebelled against him by sending his ambassadors to Egypt, that ha might give him horses and many people. Will he prosper? Will he who does this be rescued? Ezekiel 17:15.

'Horses from Egypt' again stands for factual knowledge supplied from a perverted understanding, which knowledge is resorted to in matters of faith, though there is no belief in the Word, that is, in the Lord, apart from what that knowledge provides. Thus no belief ever comes to exist, for within a perverted understanding a negative attitude reigns.

[5] The destruction which such factual knowledge underwent is represented by the drowning of Pharaoh's horses and chariots in the Sea Suph; and since that knowledge is meant by 'horses' and false matters of doctrine by 'chariots', his horses and chariots are mentioned so many times in the description of that event, see Exodus 14:17-18, 27, 26, 28. And the Song of Moses and Miriam consequently contains these words,

Pharaoh's horse went, also his chariot, also his horsemen, into the sea; but Jehovah made the waters of the sea come back over them. Sing to Jehovah, for He has highly exalted Himself; He has thrown the horse and its rider into the sea. Exodus 15:19, 21.

(References: Exodus 14:23, Exodus 15:1)


[6] Similar factual knowledge is also meant by the things required before-hand for a king over Israel, in Moses,

If they desire a king, from among their brothers shall a king be set over them. Only let him not multiply horses for himself nor lead the people back into Egypt in order to multiply horses. Deuteronomy 17:15-16.

'A king' represented the Lord as regards Divine Truth, 1672, 1728, 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670, 4575, 4581, 4789, 4966, 5044, 5068, thus as regards intelligence since this comes, when it is genuine, from Divine Truth. The need for intelligence to be acquired through the Word, which is Divine Truth, and not through factual knowledge taken from one's own understanding is meant by the injunction that the king should not multiply horses or lead the people back into Egypt in order to multiply horses.

(References: Exodus 15:1; Genesis 47:17)

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Arcana Coelestia 6400, 6534, 6638, 6750, 7297, 7503, 7729, 8029, 8185, 8265, 8409, 8806, 8904, 9057, 9293, 9340, 9391, 9396, 9688, 9818, 10283, 10437, 10458

The Last Judgment 39

The White Horse 1

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 35, 121


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 281


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