From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9374, 9378, 9379, 9382, 9386, 9429, 9504, 9779, 9806, 9828, 9954, 10027, 10090, 10215, 10251, 10337, 10355, 10375, 10396, 10397, 10400, 10432, 10450, 10460, 10468, 10528, 10549, 10551, 10635, 10636, 10641, 10690


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 19, 64, 66, 83, 130, 355, 375, 701, 710, 735, 746

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3


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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #1672

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 1723, 2015, 2466, 2504, 2509, 2567, 2761, 2781, 2826, 2830, 2832, 2851, 2906, 3009, 3105, 3353, 3355, 3365, 3488, 3703, 3708, 3863, 4402, 4575, 4691, 4728, 4763, 4876, 5023, 5038, 5044, 5313, 5321, 5323, 5619, 6015, 6125, 6148, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 27, 126, 236


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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #9960

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

9960. 'To cover their naked flesh' means to prevent inner desires of that love from appearing when they are foul and hellish. This is clear from the meaning of 'covering' as preventing them from appearing; and from the meaning of the genital organs and loins, which 'naked flesh' is used to mean here, as inner desires of conjugial love. For when 'undergarment' means things composing the external level of that love, 9959, 'flesh' which they cover means those on its internal levels. Conjugial love is meant by 'the loins', see 3021, 4280, 4575, also by 'the genital organs', 4462, 5050-5062, and the good of love by 'flesh', 3813, 7850, 9127; but since most things in the Word can also have a contrary meaning, so can the loins, genital organs, and flesh. In that contrary sense they mean evil, foul, and hellish desires of that love, 3813, 5059. The fact that here they mean evil, foul, and hellish desires is evident from the consideration that the words 'to cover their naked flesh' are used, 'naked flesh' here being that which is the opposite of the good of conjugial love, namely delight that is adulterous and for that reason hellish, which will be spoken of below.

[2] As regards 'nakedness', it derives its meaning from the parts of the body that appear naked, just as garments derive theirs from the parts of the body they clothe, 9827. 'Nakedness' has one meaning therefore when it applies to the head, which is baldness; another meaning when it applies to the whole body; and yet another when it applies to the loins and genital organs. When nakedness applies to the head, which is baldness, it means the deprivation of an intelligent understanding of truth and of a wise discernment of good; when it applies to the whole body it means the deprivation of truths that belong to faith; but when it applies to the loins and genital organs it means the deprivation of the good of love.

[3] 1. When nakedness applies to the head, which is baldness, it means the deprivation of an intelligent understanding of truth and of a wise discernment of good This is clear in Isaiah,

On that day the Lord by means of the king of Asshur will shave the head and the hair of the feet, and will consume the beard. Isaiah 7:20.

'Shaving the head' stands for depriving of the internal truths of the Church, 'shaving the hair of the feet and consuming the beard' for depriving of its external truths, and 'by means of the king of Asshur' for by means of reasonings based on falsities. It is evident to anyone that no head, hairs of the feet, or beard was going to be shaved by means of the king of Asshur, and that those words must have some other meaning. 'The head' means more internal things that belong to wisdom and intelligence, see 6292, 6436, 9166, 9656; 'the king of Asshur' means reasoning, 119, 1186; 'hair' means the external truth of the Church, 3301, 5247, 5569-5573; 'the feet' too means external or natural things, 2162, 3147, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952, 9406; and 'the beard' means items of knowledge on sensory levels, that is, truths on last and lowest levels, as is clear from places in the Word mentioning 'the beard'.

[4] In the same prophet,

On all heads there is baldness; every beard is shaved off. Isaiah 15:2.

Here the meaning is similar. In Jeremiah,

Baldness will come upon Gaza. How long will you cut yourself? Jeremiah 47:5.

In Ezekiel,

On all faces there will be shame, and on all heads baldness. They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will become an abomination. Ezekiel 7:18-19.

'On all heads baldness' stands for the deprivation of an intelligent understanding of truth and of a wise discernment of good. Since this is meant it also says 'they will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will become an abomination'; for 'silver' means truth that belongs to intelligence, and 'gold' good that belongs to wisdom, 1551, 5658, 6914, 6917, 8932. The fact that baldness on all heads should not be understood literally, that they would not literally throw silver into the streets, and that gold would not literally become an abomination, is self-evident.

[5] In Moses,

Moses said to Aaron, and to Eleazar and Ithamar his sons, You shall not shave your heads and you shall not rip apart the seams of your garments, lest you die and He is angry with the whole congregation. Leviticus 10:6.

And in Ezekiel,

The priests, the Levites, shall not shave their head and shall not let their hair grow long. Ezekiel 44:20.

Since Aaron and his sons represented the Lord in respect of Divine Good and in respect of Divine Truth, 9806, 9807, and since 'a shaved head' and 'garments ripped apart at the seams' meant the deprivation of that Good and Truth, they were forbidden to shave their heads or so rip apart their garments. It also says 'lest you die and He is angry with the whole congregation', meaning that as a consequence what was representative of the Lord in respect of Divine Good and in respect of Divine Truth, and so what was representative of the Church, would be destroyed.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 9806-9807)


[6] Since mourning represented spiritual mourning, which is mourning because of the deprivation of the Church's truth and good, those in mourning made themselves bald, as in Jeremiah,

They will not lament for them, nor will they make themselves bald 1 because of them. Jeremiah 16:6.

In Amos,

I will turn your feasts into mourning, and cause baldness to come up over every head; and I will make it as the mourning for an only-begotten son. Amos 8:10.

And in Micah,

Make yourself bald, 2 and shave your head for the sons of your delight; extend your baldness like an eagle, for they have departed from you. Micah 1:16.

'The sons of delight' are God's truths, and their 'departure' is the deprivation of them, 'sons' meaning truths, see 9807.

[7] 2. When nakedness applies to the whole body it means the deprivation of the truths of faith

This is clear in John,

To the angel of the Church of the Laodiceans write, Because you say, I am rich and in need of nothing - when you do not know that you are wretched and miserable, and needy, and blind, and naked - I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified in fire, and white garments that you may put on, that the shame of your nakedness may not be manifested. Revelation 3:14, 17-18.

'The angel of the Church' is God's truth there. 'Saying it is rich' means that it is in possession of cognitions or knowledge of truth and good. 'Wretched, needy, blind, and naked' means being nevertheless devoid of truths implanted in life, thus being devoid of good. 'Buying gold purified in fire' means acquiring good to itself, 'white garments' authentic truths of faith springing from good. From this it is evident what 'that the shame of nakedness may not be manifested' means.

[8] In the same book,

Behold, I am coming like a thief; blessed is he who is awake and keeps his garments, so that he may not walk naked and they see his shame. Revelation 16:15.

Here the meaning is similar. In the same book,

They will hate the prostitute, and make her devastated and naked. Revelation 17:16.

'The prostitute' stands for those who falsify God's truths. 'Making her naked' plainly stands for depriving of those truths; for the words 'devastated' and 'naked' are used, and 'devastating' means depriving of truths.

[9] Nakedness also means having no knowledge of truth and putting on clothes being taught it, in Isaiah,

When you see the naked and cover him, your light will break forth like the dawn. Isaiah 58:7-8.

And in Matthew,

The King will say to those who are on the right, I was naked and you clothed Me. And He said to those on the left, I was naked and you did not clothe Me. Matthew 25:36, 38, 43-44.

'Naked' here stands for those who have no truths and still desire truths, also those who acknowledge that no good or truth at all exists within them, see 4956, 4958.

(References: Matthew 25:34, 25:41, 25:43)


[10] 3. When nakedness applies to the loins and genital organs it means the deprivation of the good of love

This is clear in Isaiah,

O virgin daughter of Babel, take a mill and grind flour, uncover your hair, bare your feet, uncover your thigh, pass through the rivers. Let your nakedness be uncovered, also let your reproach be seen. Isaiah 47:1-3.

'Daughter of Babel' means the Church or semblance of the Church, where holiness resides outwardly but profanity inwardly. The profanity residing inwardly is such that people have themselves and the world in mind, thus domination and abundant riches as their end in view, holy things being regarded as means to that end. 'Taking a mill and grinding flour' means producing teachings out of such matters as will serve as means to the end, 7780. 'Uncovering the hair, baring the feet, and uncovering the thigh' means prostituting without any shame or fear things that are outwardly and inwardly holy, so that 'uncovering nakedness' means causing foul and hellish things, which are the ends, to appear.

(References: Isaiah 47:2-3)


[11] In Jeremiah,

Jerusalem sinned grievously; those who honoured her despise her, because they see her nakedness, her uncleanness in her skirts. Lamentations 1:8-9.

'Jerusalem' stands for the Church, in this instance for a Church that is steeped in falsities arising from evil. 'Seeing her nakedness' stands for beholding foul and hellish loves; 'uncleanness in her skirts' stands for such loves on most external levels, 'skirts' or 'hem' meaning most external levels, see 9917. In Nahum,

I will uncover your skirts upon your face, 3 and I will show the nations your nakedness and the kingdoms your shame. Nahum 3:5.

'Uncovering skirts' stands for taking away outward things in order that more internal ones may appear. 'Nakedness' which will be shown to the nations and 'shame' to the kingdoms mean hellish kinds of love, which are self-love and love of the world, which defile the more internal things.

[12] In Ezekiel,

You reached full beauty, your breasts were formed and your hair had grown; [but] you were naked and bare. With all your abominations and your acts of whoredom you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, and were downtrodden in your blood. Your nakedness has been uncovered through your whoredoms with your lovers. Ezekiel 16:7, 22, 36.

In the same prophet,

I will give you into the hand [of those] whom you hate, that they may deal with you out of hatred; and let them leave you naked and bare, and let the nakedness of your whoredoms be uncovered. Ezekiel 23:28-29.

In Hosea,

Contend with your mother, that she may remove her whoredoms from her sight, 4 and her adulteries from between her breasts, lest perhaps I strip her naked, and present her as on the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. I will return and take back My grain, My new wine, My wool, and My flax, which [I gave her] to cover her nakedness; and I will uncover her foulness in the eyes of her lovers. Hosea 2:2-3, 9-10.

[13] The words in the preceding as well as in this present quotation refer to Jerusalem, which is also called 'mother'; and by it the Church is meant. Its perversity is described by 'the whoredoms', 'the adulteries', and 'the uncovering of nakedness', which are nothing other than the foul and hellish kinds of love - that is, self-love and love of the world, when they are ends in view - from which all evils and derivative falsities gush out. Falsifications of truth therefore and adulterations of good are described in the Word by acts of whoredom and adultery, and are also actually called whoredoms and adulteries there, see 8904. And from this it is evident what 'nakedness' and 'uncovering of nakedness' are used to mean. Since reference is being made to the Church's truths when falsified and to its forms of good when adulterated, the verses quoted declare 'I will make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst'. 'A wilderness' is that which is devoid of forms of good, 'a dry land' that which is devoid of truths, and 'thirst' the deprivation of all matters of faith.

[14] It also declares that [the Lord] would take back His grain, His new wine, His wool, and His flax, with which He had covered her nakedness, because 'grain' means the spiritual Church's more internal good, 'new wine' its more internal truth, 'wool' its more external good, and 'flax' its more external truth. All who read these things with a power of reason that is to some degree enlightened, who believe that no expression used in the Word is meaningless, and that the Word is altogether holy in every part because it is Divine, can see that flax, wool, new wine, and grain are not meant literally.

[15] In Jeremiah,

O daughter of Edom, to you also the cup will pass, you will be made drunk and naked. Lamentations 4:21.

In Habakkuk,

Woe to him who gives drink to his companion, 5 making him drunk, and looking on their nakedness! You will be sated with shame rather than glory. Drink, you also - that your foreskin may be revealed. Habakkuk 2:15-16.

And in Ezekiel,

They have shed blood in you; they have uncovered their father's nakedness in you. Ezekiel 22:9-10.

What these statements mean no one can know unless he knows what the meaning is of 'the cup', 'drinking', 'being made drunk', 'being made naked', 'looking on their nakedness, and uncovering them', and also 'foreskin'. All these, it is self-evident, should be understood spiritually. 'Drinking' understood spiritually is receiving instruction in truths, or in the contrary sense in falsities, that is, absorbing them, 3069, 3168, 3772, 8562, 9412; and from this it is clear what 'the cup' that is drunk from means, 5120. 'Being made drunk' means becoming insane as a result, and 'being made naked' becoming completely destitute of them. 'Uncovering nakedness' means uncovering the evils of self-love and love of the world, which are hellish evils. 'Uncovering their father's nakedness' means uncovering those evils when they have a hereditary origin and are present in the will. 'Revealing the foreskin' means defiling them, 'the foreskin' meaning the defilement of heavenly forms of good by those two kinds of love, see 2056, 3412, 4462, 7045. 'Circumcision' therefore means purification from them, 2039, 2632.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2036)


[16] All this makes clear what the meaning is of Noah's drunkenness and the consequent uncovering of his nakedness, described as follows in Genesis,

Noah drank of the wine, and was drunk, and was uncovered in the middle of his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and pointed it out to his two brothers. And Shem and Japheth took a garment and both of them put it on a shoulder, and went backwards and covered their father's nakedness; and their faces were backwards, and they did not see their father's nakedness. Genesis 9:21-23.

This describes members of the Ancient Church, whom Noah represents. 'The wine' which he drank and which made him drunk is the falsity which that Church was at the start imbued with. His lying as a result 'uncovered in the middle of the tent' means evils owing to the lack of truth in worship. 'The garment' with which Shem and Japheth covered his nakedness is the truth of faith, by means of which those evils were covered and corrected. An implanting of the truth and good of faith in the understanding part of the mind is described by their putting a garment on a shoulder, going backwards, and turning their faces away backwards; for this is exactly how it is with the truths and forms of the good of faith present with a member of the spiritual Church. 'Shem and Japheth' means those belonging to the spiritual Church, who received the truths of faith within good, which is charity; but 'Canaan' means those who did not receive the truths of faith in good or charity.

[17] Noah represents members of the Ancient Church at the start, who were such as has been described, see 736, 773, 788, 1126.

Shem is those belonging to the internal spiritual Church, and Japheth those belonging to the external, 1062, 1127, 1140, 1141, 1150.

Canaan represented those whose faith was separated from charity, or what amounts to the same thing, whose worship was external separated from anything internal, so that in particular he represented the Jewish nation, 1093, 1140, 1141, 1167.

With members of the spiritual Church the truth and good of faith are implanted in the understanding part of the mind, 9596.

'The wine' that made Noah drunk means falsity, 6377.

'The tent' in which he lay uncovered means the holiness of worship, 2145, 2152, 3312, 4128, 4391.

'The garment' with which they covered their father's nakedness means the truth of faith, 5954, 9212, 9216.

His actual nakedness means the evil occupying the will part of his mind. That evil is covered by means of the truths of faith, and when it is being covered truths look away backwards.

The presence of such arcana, embodied in these details of the story, is evident from the internal sense. And the fact that these arcana are arcana which have to do with the Church may be seen from the consideration that Shem and Japheth simply because they covered their father's nakedness were blessed, and all their descendants too, and that Canaan was cursed and all his descendants simply because their father had pointed it out to his brothers.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1102, 1140-1141)


[18] Because the interiors of the Jewish and Israelite nation were foul, for they were steeped in self-love and love of the world more than all the other nations, and since conjugial love is meant by 'the genital organs and loins' and this love is fundamental to and so embraces all celestial and spiritual forms of love, precautions had to be taken to prevent the nakedness of those parts of Aaron's or his sons' bodies from being in any way visible when they were engaged in holy worship. This is the reason for its being said that linen undergarments should be made for them to cover their naked flesh, from the loins even to the thighs; and in another place for the declaration that they were not to go up by steps to the altar, in order that their nakedness should not be revealed on it, Exodus 20:26.

The interiors of the Jewish and Israelite nation were foul, and when they were engaged in worship those interiors were closed off, see the places referred to in 9320 (end), 9380.

Conjugial love is meant by 'the genital organs and loins', 3021, 4280, 4462, 4575, 5050-5062.

Conjugial love is fundamental to all celestial and spiritual forms of love, and therefore these forms of love are understood as well by it, 686, 2739, 3021, 4280, 5054.

From all this it is now clear what 'nakedness' means, in particular nakedness of the bodily parts devoted to procreation, when people's interiors are foul.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2734; Exodus 20:23)


[19] But when the interiors are chaste 'nakedness' means innocence. It does so because conjugial love is meant, and innocence is the indispensable element of truly conjugial love.

Truly conjugial love belongs to innocence, see 2736.

Therefore 'nakedness' in that sense means innocence, 165, 8375.

For the same reason angels of the inmost heaven, who are called celestial angels, appear naked, 165, 2306, 2736.

Since the Most Ancient Church, described in the opening chapters of Genesis and meant in the internal sense by Man or Adam and his wife, was a celestial Church, it says in Genesis 2:25 that both were naked, and they were not ashamed. But when that Church fell, which came about through eating from the tree of knowledge, by which reasoning about Divine matters that was based on factual knowledge was meant, it says that they knew that they were naked, and sewed fig leaves together for themselves and made themselves girdles, thus that they covered their nakedness. It also says that when Jehovah called to him the man said that he was afraid because he was naked, and further on that Jehovah God made for them tunics of skin and clothed them, Genesis 3:6-11, 21.

[20] By 'fig leaves' from which they made themselves girdles, and also by 'tunics of skin' truths and forms of good belonging to the external man should be understood. The reason why their state after the fall is so described is that from being internal people they became external. Their internal is meant by 'paradise', for paradise is the intelligence and wisdom of the internal man, and the closing of their internal by being cast out of paradise.

'Leaf' means natural truth, which is factual knowledge, see 885. 'Fig' means natural good or the external man's good, 217, 4231, 5113. 'Tunic of skin' too means the external man's truth and good, 294-296. 'Skin' means what is external, 3540.

(References: Exodus 28:42; Isaiah 47:2-3)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous   Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 9962, 9965, 10199, 10402, 10479, 10540

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 107


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 187, 235, 240, 375, 417

Other New Christian Commentary

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


Translate: