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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 #8989

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8989. 'And shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost' means a state in which strengthened and implanted truth [communicates] with spiritual good. This is clear from the meaning of 'the door' as the means by which truth is introduced into good, dealt with in 2356, 2385, at this point strengthened and implanted truth, meant by a Hebrew slave after servitude lasting six years, 8976, 8984, and since 'the door' is the means of introduction it is also the means of communication (for a door is the means by which one room communicates with another); and from the meaning of 'the doorpost' as that truth linked to good, since a doorpost stands between two rooms, linking one to the other. For the meaning of 'the doorpost' as the truth of the natural, see 7847. Who can fail to see that this symbolic act carried out when slaves stayed on contains an arcanum, indeed a Divine one? For Jehovah declared and commanded it from Mount Sinai. People who do not think there is anything holier and more Divine in the Word than that which is seen in the letter must be astonished that these and many more things contained in the present and following chapters were declared vocally by Jehovih. For in the letter they appear to be simply the kinds of matters that nations' civil laws deal with, as is the case with this law regarding slaves, which decrees that any of them who does not wish to go out of servitude should be brought to the door or to the doorpost, where his master should pierce his ear with an awl. In the sense of the letter this does not savour of what comes from God; even so, it is utterly Divine. But this is not evident unless made so by the internal sense. The internal sense is that those imbued with truths alone and not with complementary good, yet nevertheless with the delight in remembering forms of spiritual good, 8986, 8987, have some communication and link with spiritual good.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 898)

[2] This was represented by the law that the slave's ear should be pierced at the door or at the doorpost by his master; for the door is the means of communication, the doorpost is that which serves to link, the ear is obedience, and piercing it with an awl is a representative sign of the state in which he is to stay on. This is how these details are perceived by the angels present with a person who reads this command. The angels do not think of a door, of a doorpost, of an ear and the piercing of it, nor even of a slave, but instead they think of the communication and linking together mentioned above. For the understanding which angels have is of the latter kind of things, because they are in the light. And none except spiritual and heavenly matters occur to them, not natural and worldly ones such as the literal sense of the Word contains; for the literal sense of the Word is natural and worldly, whereas its internal sense is spiritual and heavenly. The former exists for men, the latter for angels; consequently the Word is the means through which heaven has communication with and is linked to mankind.

[3] To bring further out into the open the arcana contained in this procedure followed in the case of slaves staying on with their master, something must be said about why it is that 'the door' and 'the doorpost' mean the means of communication and of linking together. Angels and spirits possess dwelling-places, which are in appearance exactly like those in the world, 1116, 1626-1628, 1631, 4622. And - what is an arcanum - every single thing that appears in their dwelling-places is a sign of something spiritual; it also arises out of spiritual things which exist in heaven, and which are therefore present in their minds. Communication between truth and good is presented visually there as a door, and the linking together of them as a doorpost; and other things are presented as the actual rooms, porches, windows, and different kinds of adornment. Nobody at the present day, least of all one who is merely natural, is able to believe that these things are so, because they are not evident to people's physical senses; and yet it is clear from the Word that such things were seen by prophets when their inner eyes were opened to see into heaven. I too have discerned and seen the same things a thousand times. I have also on many occasions heard them say, when their thoughts were being communicated to me, that the doors of their rooms were open, or when they were not being communicated, that their doors were shut.

[4] This explains why 'doors' are mentioned in the Word in places where communication is the subject, as in Isaiah,

Go away, my people, enter your bed chambers, and shut your door behind you. Hide yourself, so to speak, for a little moment, until the anger passes over. Isaiah 26:20.

'Shutting the door behind oneself, until the anger passes over' stands for having no contact with evils, which are 'the anger', 3614, 5034, 5798, 6358, 6359, 6997, 8284, 8483. In Malachi,

Will He accept you favourably? 1 said Jehovah Zebaoth. Who even among you would rather shut the doors, and not kindle a light on My altar in vain? Malachi 1:9-10.

'Shutting doors' stands for not communicating with sacred or Divine things. In Zechariah,

Open your doors. O Lebanon, that fire may consume your cedars. Zechariah 11:1.

'Opening doors' stands for providing access or communication.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6358-6359)

[5] In David,

He commanded the skies from above, He threw open the doors of the heavens. Psalms 78:23.

'Throwing open the doors of the heavens' stands for providing communication with the truths and forms of good which come from the Lord in the heavens. In the same author,

I have chosen to stand at the door in the house of my God rather than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalms 84:10.

'Standing at the door' stands for communicating from the outside with good, which is 'the house of God', 3720. In the same author,

Lift up your heads, O gates, and be lifted up, O ancient doors, 2 so that the King of glory may come in. Psalms 24:7, 9.

'Ancient doors being lifted up' stands for opening and raising hearts to the Lord, who is 'the King of glory', and so providing communication, that is, enabling Him to flow in with the good of charity and the truth of faith. The Lord is called 'the King of glory', by virtue of the truth that radiates from good.

[6] In Isaiah,

Jehovah said to His anointed, to Cyrus - whose right hand I have grasped, to subdue nations before him, in order that I may ungird the loins of kings, to open doors before him, and gates may not be shut - I will go before you and make straight the crooked places. And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and the secret wealth of concealed places, that you may know that it is I, Jehovah, who called you by your name, the God of Israel. Isaiah 45:1-3.

This refers to the Lord in respect of His Human, He being 'Cyrus' in the representative sense. 'Opening doors before him' is providing access to the Divine itself, which is why even in respect of His Human He is called 'God', in this instance 'the God of Israel'

[7] In John,

Behold, I have set before you an open door which no one can shut; for you have a little strength, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name. Revelation 3:8.

'Setting an open door' stands for communication with heaven. In the same book,

After these things I saw, and behold, an open door in heaven. I heard, Come up here, in order that I may show you things which must take place after this. Revelation 4:1.

'A door' there plainly stands for communication, since a revelation which he was going to receive from heaven is the subject. From this it is also evident that communication is represented in heaven by a door, as stated above In the same book,

Behold, I stand at the door and knock If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. Revelation 3:20.

Here also 'the door' plainly stands for access to and communication with heaven where the Lord is, thus with the Lord.

[8] Similarly in Matthew,

The bridegroom came, and the virgins went in to the wedding feast and the door was shut. Eventually the remaining virgins came, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He replying said, Truly, I say to you, I do not know you. Matthew 25:10-12.

What these words mean in the internal sense, see 4635-4638, where it is shown that 'virgins' are those within the Church. 'Having oil in their lamps' refers to those who have the good of charity within the truths of faith, and 'not having oil in their lamps' to those who have the truths of faith and not the good of charity in them. The door is said to be shut to the latter because they do not communicate with heaven, that is, through heaven with the Lord. Communication with heaven and through heaven takes place through the good of charity and love, but not through truths that are called the truths of faith devoid of good within them. This is why the latter are called 'foolish virgins', while the former are called 'wise virgins'.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4635)

[9] In Luke,

Many will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the Householder has risen up and shut the door, then you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He replying will say to you, I do not know where you come from. Then you will begin to say, We ate in Your presence and we drank; and You taught in our streets. But He will say to you, I do not know where you come from; depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity! Luke 13:24-27.

Here also 'the door' plainly stands for access and communication, as above. Those to whom the door is shut and who knock on it but are not let in are people imbued with the truths of faith received from the Word but not with the good of charity. All this is meant by their eating with the Lord and drinking, and by their hearing the Lord teaching in their streets, when yet they do not live the life of faith, for 'workers of iniquity' are those who do not live that life.

[10] In John,

Truly, truly I say to you, He who does not enter by the door into the sheepfold but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me he will be saved. John 10:1-2, 9.

'Entering by the door' means passing through the truth of faith to the good of charity and love, thus to the Lord. For the Lord is Goodness itself, and the Truth that introduces too, thus also the door; for faith is received from Him.

[11] The use of 'the door' to mean the means of communication seems to be a metaphorical way of speaking, or a comparison. But in the Word they are not metaphors or comparisons; rather they are real correspondences. Even the comparisons made there involve the use of such things as are correspondential, as becomes clear from what has been stated regarding a door, namely that actual doors appear in heaven where angels and spirits reside, opening or shutting in accord with states of communication. So also with every other comparison.


1. literally, Will he accept faces from you?

2. literally, doors of the world


(References: Exodus 21:6)

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Arcana Coelestia 9086, 9272, 9686, 9763, 10001, 10108, 10445, 10549

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 69, 177, 242, 409, 411, 946

Other New Christian Commentary

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