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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 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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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 #9391

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9391. 'And they offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings - young bulls - to Jehovah' means a representative sign of worship of the Lord springing from good, and from truth rooted in good. This is clear from the representation of 'burnt offerings and sacrifices' as worship of the Lord in general, dealt with in 922, 6905, 8936, worship of the Lord springing from the good of love being meant specifically by 'burnt offerings' and worship of Him springing from the truth of faith rooted in good by 'sacrifices', 8680; and from the meaning of 'young bulls' as the good of innocence and charity in the external or natural man, dealt with below. The beasts or animals that were sacrificed were signs of the nature of the goodness and truth from which worship sprang, 922, 1823, 2180, 3519; gentle and useful beasts mean celestial realities which are aspects of the good of love and spiritual realities which are aspects of the truth of faith, and this was why they were used in sacrifices, see 9280. The reason why 'a young bull' means the good of innocence and charity in the external or natural man is that members of the herd were signs of the affections for goodness and truth present in the external or natural man, while members of the flock were signs of the affections for goodness and truth present in the internal or spiritual man, 2566, 5913, 6048, 8937, 9135. Members of the flock were lambs, she-goats, sheep, rams, and he-goats; and those of the herd were bulls or oxen, young bulls or oxen, and calves. Lambs and sheep were signs of the good of innocence and charity present in the internal or spiritual man; consequently calves and young bulls, being of a more tender age than fully-grown bulls, were signs of a like good in the external or natural man.

[2] The fact that 'young bulls' and 'calves' have this meaning is clear from places in the Word where they are mentioned, for example in Ezekiel,

The feet of the four living creatures were straight feet, and the hollows of their feet were like the hollow of a calf's foot. 1 And they sparkled like a kind of burnished bronze. Ezekiel 1:7.

This refers to the cherubs whom 'the four living creatures' describe. 'The cherubs' are the Lord's protection and providence, guarding against access to Him except through good, see 9277 (end). External or natural good was represented by 'straight feet' 2 and by 'the hollows of feet that were like the hollow of a calf's foot'; for 'the feet' means the things which belong to the natural man, 'straight feet' those which are aspects of good, and 'the hollows of the feet' those which are last and lowest in the natural man. For the meaning of 'the feet' as these things, see 2162, 3147, 3761, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952, 5327, 5328; and for that of the heels, soles, and hollows of the feet, also hoofs, as the last and lowest things in the natural man, 4938, 7729. The reason why the hollows of their feet 'sparkled like a kind of burnished bronze' is that 'bronze' means natural good, 425, 1551, and 'bronze sparkling as if burnished' means good shining with the light of heaven, which is God's truth radiating from the Lord. From this it is evident that 'a calf' means the good of the external or natural man.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 5327-5328)


[3] Similarly in John,

Around the throne were four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. And the first living creature was like a lion; but the second living creature was like a calf; the third living creature however had a face like a human being; lastly the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. Revelation 4:6-7.

Here also 'four living creatures', who are cherubs, means the Lord's protection and providence, guarding against anyone's gaining access except through the good of love. Actual protection is achieved by means of truth and the good arising from it, and by means of good and the truth deriving from it. Truth and the good arising from it, in the outward form, are meant by 'a lion' and 'a calf'; and good and the truth deriving from it, in the inward form, are meant by 'the face of a human being' and 'a flying eagle'. 'A lion' means truth from good in its power, see 6367, and therefore 'a calf' means the actual good arising from it.

[4] In Hosea,

Turn back to Jehovah, say to Him, Take away all iniquity and accept that which is good, and we will render the young bulls 3 of our lips. Hosea 14:2.

No one can know what 'rendering the young bulls of the lips' refers to unless he knows what is meant by 'young bulls' and what by 'the lips'. It is evident that the praise (confessio) and thanksgiving which flow from a heart that is good are meant, for it says, 'Turn back to Jehovah, and say to Him, Accept that which is good', and then 'we will render the young bulls of our lips', which stands for offering Jehovah praise and thanksgiving which flow from the forms of good taught by doctrine. For things connected with doctrine are meant by 'the lips', 1286, 1288.

[5] In Amos,

You bring near a reign of violence. 4 They lie on beds of ivory, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the midst of the fattening stall. Amos 6:3-4.

These words describe those who abound in cognitions or knowledge of goodness and truth and yet lead an evil life. 'Eating lambs from the flock' means learning forms of the good of innocence which belong to the internal or spiritual man and making them one's own; 'eating calves from the midst of the fattening stall' stands for learning forms of the good of innocence which belong to the external or natural man and making them one's own. For the meaning of 'eating' as making one's own, see 3168, 3513 (end), 3596, 3832, 4745; and for the meaning of 'lambs' as forms of the good of innocence, 3994, 3519, 7840. Since 'lambs' means interior forms of the good of innocence, it follows that 'calves from the midst of the fattening stall' means exterior forms of the good of innocence; for on account of the heavenly marriage it is normal for the Word, especially the prophetical part, to deal with truth whenever it does so with good, 9263, 9314, and also to speak about external things whenever it does so about internal ones. Also 'the fattening stall' and 'fat' mean the good of interior love, 5943.

[6] Likewise in Malachi,

To you, fearers of My name, the Sun of Righteousness will arise, and healing in His wings, that you may go out and grow, like calves of the fattening stall. Malachi 4:2.

In Luke, the father said, referring to the prodigal son who had come back penitent in heart,

Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet. Furthermore bring the fatted calf and kill it, that we may eat and be glad. Luke 15:22-23.

Anyone who understands nothing more than the literal sense does not believe that deeper things lie hidden in any of this. But in actual fact every one of the details embodies some heavenly idea, such as the details that they were to put the best robe on him, put a ring on his hand and shoes on his feet, and bring out the fatted calf and kill it, in order that they might eat and be glad. 'The prodigal son' means those who have squandered heavenly riches, which are cognitions or knowledge of goodness and truth; 'his return to his father, and confession that he was not worthy to be called his son' means a penitent heart and self-abasement; 'the best robe' which was to be put on him means general truths, 4545, 5248, 5319, 5954, 6914, 6917, 9093, 9212, 9216; and 'the fatted calf' means general forms of good in keeping with those truths. The like is meant by 'calves' and 'young bulls' elsewhere, as in Isaiah 11:6; Ezekiel 39:18; Psalms 29:6; 69:31; as well as those used in burnt offerings and sacrifices, Exodus 29:11-12ff; Leviticus 4:3ff, 13ff; 8:15ff; 9:2; 16:3; 23:18; Numbers 8:8ff; 15:24ff; 28:19-20; Judges 6:25-29; 1 Samuel 1:25; 16:2; 1 Kings 18:23-26, 33.

(References: Exodus 29:11-14; Judges 6:25-28; Leviticus 4:3-12, 4:13-21, 8:14-17, 8:14; Numbers 8:8-12, 15:24-26, 23:29-30)


[7] The reason why the children of Israel made the golden calf for themselves and worshipped it in place of Jehovah, Exodus 32:1-end, was that Egyptian idolatry persisted in their heart even though they professed belief in Jehovah with their lips. Chief among the idols in Egypt were heifers and calves made of gold. This was because 'a heifer' was a sign of truth on the level of factual knowledge, which is the truth the natural man possesses, while 'a calf' was a sign of good on the same level, which is the good the natural man possesses; and also because gold meant good. Visible images symbolizing this good and that truth which the natural man possesses took the form in that land of calves and heifers made of gold. But when the representative signs of heavenly things there were turned into things belonging to idolatrous practices and finally into those belonging to the practice of magic, the actual representative images there, as in other places, became idols and started to be objects that were worshipped. This was how the forms of idolatry among the people of old and all the magic of Egypt arose.

[8] For the Ancient Church, which came next after the Most Ancient, was a representative Church, all of whose worship consisted in rituals, statutes, judgements, and commandments, which represented Divine and heavenly realities, which are the interior things of the Church. The Church after the Flood was spread throughout a large part of the Asiatic world, and existed also in Egypt. But in Egypt this Church's factual knowledge was developed more fully. Consequently those people excelled all others in knowledge of correspondences and representations, as becomes clear from the hieroglyphics, from the magic and idols there, as well as from the various things mentioned in the Word regarding Egypt. All this being so, 'Egypt' in the Word means factual knowledge in general, in respect both of truth and of good; and it also means the natural, since factual knowledge belongs to the natural man. Such knowledge was also meant by 'a heifer' and 'a calf'.

[9] The Ancient Church, which was a representative Church, was spread throughout a large number of kingdoms, and existed also in Egypt, see 1238, 2385, 7097.

The Church's factual knowledge was more fully developed especially in Egypt, and therefore 'Egypt' in the Word means factual knowledge in both senses, 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 4749, 4964, 4966, 5700, 5702, 6004, 6015, 6125, 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692, 6693, 6750, 7779 (end), 7926.

And since truth on the level of factual knowledge and its good are the natural man's truth and good, 'Egypt' in the Word also means the natural, 4967, 5079, 5080, 5095, 5160, 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301, 6004, 6015, 6147, 6252.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165, Arcana Coelestia 5079-5080, Arcana Coelestia 6692-6693)


[10] From all this it is now evident that heifers and calves belonged among the chief idols of Egypt. And they did so because heifers and calves were signs of truth on the level of factual knowledge and its good, which belong to the natural man, even as Egypt itself was a sign of them, so that Egypt and a calf had the same meaning. This accounts for the following that is said regarding Egypt in Jeremiah,

A very beautiful heifer was Egypt; destruction has come from the north. And her hired servants in the midst of her are like calves of the fattening stall. 5 Jeremiah 46:20-21.

'A heifer' is truth on the level of factual knowledge, which belongs to the natural man. 'Hired servants' who are 'calves' are those who do good for the sake of gain, 8002. 'Calves' are accordingly that kind of good which is not in itself good, only delight such as exists with the natural man separated from the spiritual man. This delight, which is in itself idolatrous, is what the children of Jacob indulged in, as they were allowed to reveal and prove in their adoration of the calf, Exodus 32:1-end.

[11] What they did then is also described as follows in David,

They made a calf in Horeb and bowed down to the molded image; and they changed the glory into the effigy of the ox that eats the plant. 6 Psalms 106:19-20.

'Making a calf in Horeb and bowing down to the molded image' means idolatrous worship, which consists of rituals, statutes, judgements, and commandments, but solely in their outward form and not at the same time in their inward form. That nation was restricted to external things devoid of anything internal, see 9320 (end), 9373, 9377, 9380, 9381, and so was idolatrous at heart, 3732 (end), 4208, 4281, 4825, 5998, 7401, 8301, 8871, 8882. 'They changed the glory into the effigy of the ox that eats the plant' means that they forsook the inward things of the Word and the Church and cultivated the outward, which is no more than lifeless factual knowledge. For 'the glory' is the inward aspect of the Word and the Church, see Preface to Genesis 18, and 5922, 8267, 8427; 'the effigy of the ox' is a semblance of good in outward form, since 'the effigy' means a semblance, thus a lifeless imitation, while 'the ox' means good in the natural, thus in outward form, 2566, 2781, 9135; and 'eating the plant' means making it one's own only on the level of factual knowledge, since 'eating' means making one's own, 3168, 3513 (end), 3596, 4745, while 'the plant' means factual knowledge, 7571.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135, Arcana Coelestia 9134, 9382)


[12] Because such things were meant by 'the golden calf' which was worshipped by the children of Israel in place of Jehovah, Moses disposed of it in the following manner,

I took your sin which you had made, the calf, and burnt it in the fire, and crushed it by grinding it right down until it was fine as dust; and I threw its dust into the brook descending out of the mountain. Deuteronomy 9:21.

No one knows why the golden calf was treated in this manner unless he knows what being burned in the fire, crushed, ground down, and made fine as dust means, and what the brook descending out of the mountain, into which the dust was thrown, means. It describes the state of those who venerate external things but nothing internal, that is to say, they are people immersed in the evils of self-love and love of the world, and in consequent falsities so far as things from God are concerned, thus so far as the Word is concerned. For 'the fire' in which the image was burned means the evil of self-love and love of the world, 1297, 1861, 2446, 5071, 5215, 6314, 6832, 7324, 7575; 'the dust' into which it was crushed is consequent falsity substantiated from the literal sense of the Word; and 'the brook' coming out of Mount Sinai is God's truth, thus the Word in the letter since this descends out of that truth. Those with whom external things are devoid of anything internal explain the Word to suit their own loves; and, as was so with the Israelites and Jews in former times and still is so at the present day, they see within it earthly and not at all heavenly things.

[13] Much the same as all this was also represented by Jeroboam's calves at Bethel and Dan, 1_Kings 12:26-end; 1_Kings 12:2 Kings 17:16, spoken of as follows in Hosea,

They have made a king, and not by Me; they have made princes, and I did not know. Their silver and their gold they have made into idols for themselves, that they may be cut off. Your calf has deserted [you], O Samaria. For from Israel is this also. A smith has made it, and it is not God; for the calf of Samaria will be broken to 7 pieces. Hosea 8:4-6.

This refers to the perverted understanding and the distorted explanation of the Word by those with whom external things are devoid of anything internal; for they keep to the literal sense of the Word, which they twist around to suit their own loves and ideas conceived from it. 'Making a king, and not by Me', and 'making princes, and I did not know' means hatching out truth and the leading aspects of truth, and doing so in the inferior light that is one's own, not with God's help; for 'a king' in the internal sense means truth, 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4581, 4966, 5044, 5068, 6148, and 'princes' leading aspects of truth, 1482, 2089, 5044.

(References: 1 Kings 12:26-33)


[14] 'Making their silver and their gold into idols' means perverting knowledge of truth and good obtained from the literal sense of the Word to suit their own desires, while still venerating that knowledge as being holy; even so it is devoid of life because it comes from their self-intelligence. For 'silver' is truth and 'gold' is good which come from God, and for this reason belong to the Word, 1551, 2954, 5658, 6914, 6917, 8932; and 'idols' are religious teachings which are a product of self-intelligence, and which are venerated as being holy, but in fact have no life in them, 8941. From all this it is evident that 'a king' and 'princes', also 'silver' and 'gold', mean falsities arising from evil; for things that arise from the self or proprium arise from evil and consequently are falsities, even though outwardly they look like truths because they have been taken from the literal sense of the Word. From this it is evident what is meant by 'the calf of Samaria which the smith has made and which will be broken to pieces', namely good present in the natural man but not at the same time in the spiritual man, thus what is not good since it has been applied to evil. 'A smith has made it, and it is not God' means that it is a product of the self and does not come from God; and 'being broken to pieces' means being reduced to nothing.

[15] Like things are meant by 'calves' in Hosea,

They sin more and more, and make for themselves a molten image from their silver, idols by their own intelligence, completely the work of craftsmen, saying to them, Those who offer human sacrifice 8 will kiss the calves. Hosea 13:2.

From all this it is now evident what 'calf' and 'young bull' mean in the following places: In Isaiah,

The unicorns will come down with them, and the young bulls with the powerful ones; and their land will become drunk with blood, and their dust will be made fat with fatness. Isaiah 34:7.

In the same prophet,

The fortified city will be solitary, a habitation forsaken and left like a wilderness; there the calf will feed, and there it will lie down and consume its branches. Its harvest will wither. Isaiah 27:10-11.

In Jeremiah,

From the cry of Heshbon even to Elealeh, as far as Jahaz they uttered their voice, from Zoar even to Horonaim, a three year old heifer, for the waters of Nimrim also will become desolations. Jeremiah 48:34.

In Isaiah,

My heart cries out upon Moab, his fugitives flee even to Zoar, a three year old heifer, for at the ascent of Luhith he will go up weeping. Isaiah 15:5.

In Hosea,

Ephraim is a trained heifer, loving to thresh [grain]. Hosea 10:11.

In David,

Rebuke the wild animals of the reeds, the congregation of the strong ones, among the calves of the peoples, trampling on the fragments of silver. They have scattered the peoples; they desire wars. Psalms 68:30.

(References: Isaiah 27:10)


[16] This refers to the arrogance of those who wish to enter into the mysteries of faith on the basis of factual knowledge, refusing to accept anything at all apart from what they themselves deduce on that basis. Since they see nothing in the superior light of heaven which comes from the Lord, only in the inferior light of the natural world which begins in the self, they seize on shadows instead of light, on illusions instead of realities, in general on falsity instead of truth. Since these people's thinking is insane, because it relies solely on the lowest level of knowledge, they are called 'wild animals of the reeds'; since their reasoning is fierce they are called 'the congregation of the strong ones'; and since they dispel truths that still remain and are spread around among the forms of good of those governed by the Church's truths, they are said 'to trample on the fragments of silver among the calves of the peoples', and in addition 'to scatter the peoples', that is, the Church itself together with its truths. The longing to attack and destroy these truths is meant by 'desiring wars'. From all this it is again evident that 'calves' are forms of good.

[17] In Zechariah 12:4 it says, 'Every horse of the peoples I will strike with blindness'; and 'horse of the peoples' means the ability to understand truths which exists with everyone who belongs to the Church, since 'a horse' means the power of understanding truth, 2761. But in Psalms 68:30 quoted above it speaks of 'trampling on the fragments of silver' and 'scattering the peoples among the calves of the peoples'. 'Trampling on' and 'scattering' mean casting down and dispelling, 258; 'silver' means truth, 1551, 2954, 5658, 6112, 6914, 6917, 7999, 8932; and 'the peoples' means those belonging to the Church who are governed by truths, 2928, 7207, thus also the Church's truths, 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581, so that 'the calves of the peoples' means the forms of good governing the will of those who belong to the Church.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1259-1260)


[18] Further evidence that forms of good are meant by 'calves' is clear in Jeremiah,

I will give the men who transgressed My covenant, who did not keep the terms of the covenant which they made before Me, that of the calf which they cut in two in order that they might pass between its parts - the princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the royal ministers and the priests, and all the people of the land who passed between the parts of the calf - I will give them into the hand of their enemies, that their dead bodies may be food for the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth. Jeremiah 34:18-20.

No one can know what 'the covenant of the calf' and what 'passing between its parts' describe unless he knows what is meant by 'a covenant', 'a calf', and 'cutting it into two parts', and also what is meant by 'the princes of Judah and of Jerusalem, the royal ministers and the priests, and the people of the land'. Plainly some heavenly arcanum is meant. Nevertheless that arcanum comes into the open and can be understood when it is known that 'a covenant' means being joined together, 'a calf' means good, 'a calf cut into two parts' means good emanating from the Lord on one hand and good received by a person on the other; that 'the princes of Judah and of Jerusalem, and the royal ministers and the priests, and the people of the land' are the truths and forms of good which the Church has from the Word; and that 'passing between the parts' means being joined together. Once all this is known it becomes evident that the internal sense of these words in Jeremiah is this: With that nation good emanating from the Lord was not at all joined to but stood apart from good received by a person through the Word, and therefore through the Church's truths and forms of good. The reason for this was that they were restricted to external things, devoid of anything internal.

[19] The same thing is implied by the covenant of the calf with Abram, referred to as follows in the Book of Genesis,

Jehovah said to Abram, Take for Me 9 a three year old heifer, and a three year old she-goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtle dove and a fledgling. And he took for himself all these, and parted each of them down the middle and laid each part opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut apart. And birds of prey came down on the carcasses, and Abram drove them away. And as the sun was going down a deep sleep came over Abram, and, behold, a dread of a great darkness was coming over him. On that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram. Genesis 15:9-12, 18.

'A dread of great darkness coming over Abram' was a sign of the state of the Jewish nation, that they were in greatest darkness so far as truths and forms of good which the Church has from the Word were concerned. They were in such darkness because they were restricted to external things devoid of anything internal, as a consequence of which their worship was idolatrous. For the worship of anyone restricted to external things devoid of anything internal is idolatrous, because his heart and soul when he engages in worship is not in heaven but in the world. Nor does he respect the holy things of the Word from any heavenly love present in him, only an earthly love. This state of that nation is what the prophet described by 'the covenant of the calf which they cut into two parts, between which they passed'.

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Footnotes:

1. literally, The feet of the four living creatures [were] a straight foot, and the hollow of their feet [was] like the hollow of a calf's foot.

2. The Latin here (pedem dextrum) means right foot; but to judge from the actual quotation of Ezek:1:7, pedem rectum is intended, which can mean right foot rather than straight foot.

3. i.e. praises or sacrifices of praise

4. literally, You attract a habitation of violence

5. i.e. mercenaries who are like fat bulls

6. i.e. grass or herbage

7. literally, will become or will be made into

8. literally, Those sacrificing a human being

9. The Latin means you but the Hebrew means Me.

-----

(References: Exodus 24:5)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9412, 9688, 9755, 9780, 9781, 9818, 9990, 10021, 10023, 10122, 10129, 10132, 10137, 10156, 10210, 10227, 10283, 10284, 10292, 10400, 10407, 10421, 10437, 10546

The White Horse 12

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51, 221, 261


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 195, 235, 240, 329, 386, 388, 701

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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