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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

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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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 #9828

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9828. 'And a belt' means a common bond to ensure that everything has the same end in view. This is clear from the meaning of 'a belt' or girdle as a common bond; for it gathers together, encloses, holds in connection within itself, and strengthens everything within, which without it would fall apart and drift away. The reason why it is a common bond whose purpose is to ensure that everything has the same end in view is that in the spiritual world the end in view holds sway, so much so that everything there should be called an end. For the Lord's kingdom, which is a spiritual world, is a kingdom of useful services, and such services there are ends in view, so that it is a kingdom of ends. But the ends there follow one another in various order, and they also stand in association with one another. The ends which follow one another are called middle ends, but those which stand in association with one another are called associate ends. All these ends have been so linked together and made subordinate to one another that without exception they have one end in view. This end is the Lord; and in heaven, among those who accept it, it is a love of and faith in Him. Love there is the end in view of all the powers of the will there, and faith is the end in view of all the powers of thought, which are those of the understanding.

[2] When every single thing has the same end in view all things are then held in uninterrupted connection and make one; for everything is then under the eye, government, and providence of the One who, acting in accord with the laws of subordination and association, turns everyone towards Himself, and thereby joins them to Himself. At the same time He turns all to face their companions, and thereby joins them to one another. This explains why the faces of all who are in heaven are kept turned towards the Lord, who is the Sun there, and so is the centre point in front of everyone's eyes; and the marvel is that He is there in whatever direction angels turn round to face, 3638. And since the Lord is present within the good of mutual love and within the good of charity towards the neighbour - for all are loved by Him, and are joined to one another by Him through love - their regard for their companions, which that love gives them, also serves to turn them towards the Lord.

[3] Those things therefore on last and lowest levels, gathering others together and enclosing them so they may be held, every single one, in such connection, were represented by belts or girdles, which in the spiritual world are nothing other than the forms of good and the truths present on lowest or outermost levels which enclose more internal ones. Celestial forms of good on lowest or outermost levels were represented by girdles that went around the loins, and spiritual forms of good and truths on those levels by girdles that went around the thighs and also around the breast.

[4] Such things are meant by 'girdles around the loins' in the following places: In Jeremiah,

Jehovah said to the prophet, Buy yourself a linen girdle, and place it over your loins; but you are not to pass it through water. I therefore bought a girdle, and placed it over my loins. Then the word of Jehovah came to me, saying, Take the girdle, and go away to the Euphrates, and hide it in the cleft of a rock. At the end of many days I went away to the Euphrates, and took the girdle, and behold, it was ruined; it was profitable for nothing. Then Jehovah said, This people is evil, refusing to hear My words; and they have gone after other gods. Therefore they will be just like this girdle that is profitable for nothing. Jeremiah 13:1-12.

'A linen girdle' here is used to mean in the spiritual sense the Church's good, which encloses the truths there and holds them in connection within itself. The non-existence of the Church's good at that time, and the consequent dispersal of its truths, are the reason for its being said that the girdle was not to be passed through water; for 'water' means truth that purifies and thereby restores. 'The cleft of a rock' in which it was hidden is falsified truth; 'the Euphrates' is the full extent and boundary of the celestial realities that belong to good on its lowest level. Anyone unacquainted with the essential nature of the Word may think that the passage is no more than a comparison of the people and their ruination with a girdle and its ruination. But in the Word all comparisons and metaphorical ways of speaking are real correspondences, 3579, 8989. Unless each detail in this description were of a correspondential nature the prophet would never have been told not to pass the girdle through water, or to place it over his loins, or to go to the Euphrates and hide it there in the cleft of a rock. The reason why it says that the girdle should be placed over his loins is that by 'the loins', because of their correspondence, is meant the good of celestial love, 3021, 4280, 5050-5062. A girdle placed over the loins accordingly means being joined to the Lord through the good of love, the Word serving as the intermediary.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 8959; Jeremiah 13:1-10)


[5] The meaning of 'a girdle' as good that acts as a boundary and holds things together is also evident in Isaiah,

There will come forth a shoot from the trunk of Jesse. Righteousness will be the girdle of His loins, and truth the girdle of His thighs. Isaiah 11:1, 5.

This refers to the Lord. 'Righteousness' that will be 'the girdle of His loins' is the good of His love, which protects heaven and the Church. The requirement stated in Exodus 12:11 that when the children of Israel ate the Passover their loins were to be girded means that all things should be present in their proper order, made ready to receive good from the Lord and to take action, 7863. This explains why those who have been made ready are said to be 'girded', as is also said of the seven angels in the Book of Revelation,

Out of the temple came the seven angels having the seven plagues, clothed in linen, white and splendid, and girded around their breasts with golden girdles. Revelation 15:6.

[6] It is said of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8 that he was a hairy man and wore a girdle of skin around his loins. Much the same is said of John,

John had a garment of camel hair and a skin girdle around his waist. Matthew 3:4.

The reason why Elijah and John were clothed and girded in this way was that both men represented the Word, and therefore their clothes mean the Word in its external sense, which is the natural sense. For 'hair' means the natural, 3301, 5247, 5569-5573, and 'camels' general facts within the natural, 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145. And 'skin' means the external, 3540, so that 'a girdle of skin' means that which collects together, encloses, and holds in connection the things within itself. For the representation of Elijah as the Word, see Preface to Genesis 18, and 2762, 5247 (end), and John the Baptist similarly, 9372.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[7] Since truths and forms of good are dissolved and dispersed by wicked deeds it says of Joab that after he had tricked and killed Abner he put the blood of war on his girdle that was on his loins, 1 Kings 2:5. This means that he dispersed and destroyed such truths and forms of good. This accounts for its being said, when truths have been dispersed and destroyed, that instead of a girdle there will be a falling apart, and instead of well-set hair, baldness, Isaiah 3:24. This refers to the daughters of Zion, by whom forms of good belonging to the celestial Church are meant. 'Instead of a girdle, a falling apart' stands for the dispersal of celestial good.

[8] It is also said in Ezekiel of Oholibah, who is Jerusalem, that when she looked at men portrayed on the wall, images of Chaldeans portrayed in vermilion, girded with girdles on their loins, she fell in love with them, Ezekiel 23:14-16. Here truths which have been rendered profane are meant, for 'the Chaldeans' are those who outwardly claim to believe in truths but inwardly repudiate them, and in so doing render them profane. 'Men portrayed on the wall' are the appearances of truth in outward things, as in like manner are 'images portrayed in vermilion'. 'Girdles' with which their loins were girded are the forms of good which they fake to induce belief in their truths.

[9] From all this it may now be clear what it was that girdles gathering garments into one served to mean in the representative Church. Yet the natural man can scarcely be brought to believe that such things were meant, because he finds it difficult to put aside the natural idea of a girdle, and in general of garments, and instead adopt a spiritual idea, which is that of good holding truths in connection within itself. For the natural level on which a person sees things holds the mind down on that level, and it is not removed from there unless the sight of the understanding is able to be raised right up into the light of heaven and the person is for this reason able to think on a level virtually divorced from natural things. When this happens to a person spiritual ideas of the truth of faith and of the good of love, which the merely natural man cannot understand, enter in.

(References: Exodus 28:4)

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Arcana Coelestia 9837, 9857, 9864, 9895, 9905, 9944, 9948, 9996, 10005, 10014, 10028, 10044, 10107, 10199, 10208, 10540, 10547

Heaven and Hell 86

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 47, 279, 307


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 41, 66, 195, 328, 346, 365, 395, 417, 822, 952

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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