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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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9372. And He said unto Moses. That this signifies that which concerns the Word in general, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word (of which below); and from the signification of “He said,” as involving those things which follow in this chapter, thus those which concern the Word (see n. 9370). (That Moses represents the Word, can be seen from what has been often shown before about Moses, as from the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 4859, 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805.) Here Moses represents the Word in general, because it is said of him in what follows, that he alone should come near unto Jehovah (verse 2); and also that, being called unto out of the midst of the cloud, he entered into it, and went up the mount (verses 16-18).

(References: Exodus 24:16, 24:18)


[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect to truth Divine, or in respect to the Word; but chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. That Moses does so, can be seen in the explications just cited above; that so do Elijah and Elisha, can be seen in the preface to Genesis 18; and n. 2762, 5247; and that John the Baptist does so is evident from the fact that he was “Elias who was to come.” He who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, cannot know what all those things infold and signify which are said about him in the New Testament; and therefore in order that this secret may stand open, and that at the same time it may appear that Elias, and also Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, signified the Word, some things may here be quoted which are spoken about John the Baptist; as in Matthew:

After the messengers of John had departed, Jesus began to speak concerning John, saying, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken by the wind? But what went ye out to see? a man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they that wear soft things are in kings’ houses. But what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, even more than a prophet. This is he of whom it is written, Behold I send Mine angel before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. Verily I say unto you, Among those who are born of women there hath not arisen a greater than John the Baptist; nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye are willing to believe, he is Elias who was to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matthew 11:7-15; and also Luke 7:24-28).

No one can know how these things are to be understood, unless he knows that this John represented the Lord as to the Word, and unless he also knows from the internal sense what is signified by “the wilderness” in which he was, also what by “a reed shaken by the wind,” and likewise by “soft raiment in kings’ houses;” and further what is signified by his being “more than a prophet,” and by “none among those who are born of women being greater than he, and nevertheless he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he,” and lastly by his being “Elias.” For without a deeper sense, all these words are uttered merely from some comparison, and not from anything of weight.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[3] But it is very different when by John is understood the Lord as to the Word, or the Word representatively. Then by “the wilderness of Judea in which John was” is signified the state in which the Word was at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely, that it was “in the wilderness,” that is, it was in obscurity so great that the Lord was not at all acknowledged, neither was anything known about His heavenly kingdom; when yet all the prophets prophesied about Him, and about His kingdom, that it was to endure forever. (That “a wilderness” denotes such obscurity, see n. 2708, 4736, 7313.) For this reason the Word is compared to “a reed shaken by the wind” when it is explained at pleasure; for in the internal sense “a reed” denotes truth in the ultimate, such as is the Word in the letter.

[4] That the Word in the ultimate, or in the letter, is crude and obscure in the sight of men; but that in the internal sense it is soft and shining, is signified by their “not seeing a man clothed in soft raiment, for behold those who wear soft things are in kings’ houses.” That such things are signified by these words, is plain from the signification of “raiment,” or “garments,” as being truths (n. 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093); and for this reason the angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining according to the truths from good with them (n. 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216). The same is evident from the signification of “kings’ houses,” as being the abodes of the angels, and in the universal sense, the heavens; for “houses” are so called from good (n. 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997); and “kings,” from truth (n. 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148). Therefore by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord, the angels are called “sons of the kingdom,” “sons of the king,” and also “kings.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 7996-7997)


[5] That the Word is more than any doctrine in the world, and more than any truth in the world, is signified by “what went ye out to see? a prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet;” and by, “there hath not arisen among those who are born of women a greater than John the Baptist;” for in the internal sense “a prophet” denotes doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); and “those who are born,” or are the sons, “of women” denote truths (n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257).

[6] That in the internal sense, or such as it is in heaven, the Word is in a degree above the Word in the external sense, or such as it is in the world, and such as John the Baptist taught, is signified by, “he that is less in the kingdom of the heavens is greater than he;” for as perceived in heaven the Word is of wisdom so great that it transcends all human apprehension. That the prophecies about the Lord and His coming, and that the representatives of the Lord and of His kingdom, ceased when the Lord came into the world, is signified by, “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” That the Word was represented by John, as by Elijah, is signified by his being “Elias who is to come.”

[7] The same is signified by these words in Matthew:

The disciples asked Jesus, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? He answered and said, Elias must needs first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, that Elias hath come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished. Even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them. And they understood that He spoke to them of John the Baptist (Matthew 17:10-13).

That “Elias hath come, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they wished” signifies that the Word has indeed taught them that the Lord is to come, but that still they did not wish to comprehend, interpreting it in favor of the rule of self, and thus extinguishing what is Divine in it. That they would do the same with the truth Divine itself, is signified by “even so shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” (That “the Son of man” denotes the Lord as to truth Divine, see n. 2803, 2813, 3704)

[8] From all this it is now evident what is meant by the prophecy about John in Malachi:

Behold I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Malachi 4:5).

Moreover, the Word in the ultimate, or such as it is in the external form in which it appears before man in the world, is described by the “clothing” and “food” of John the Baptist, in Matthew:

John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, had His clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:1, 4).

In like manner it is described by Elijah in the second book of Kings:

He was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins (2 Kings 1:8).

By “clothing,” or a “garment,” when said of the Word, is signified truth Divine there in the ultimate form; by “camel’s hair” are signified memory-truths such as appear there before a man in the world; by the “leathern girdle” is signified the external bond connecting and keeping in order all the interior things; by “food” is signified spiritual nourishment from the knowledges of truth and of good out of the Word; by “locusts” are signified ultimate or most general truths; and by “wild honey” their pleasantness.

[9] That such things are signified by “clothing” and “food” has its origin in the representatives of the other life, where all appear clothed according to truths from good, and where food also is represented according to the desires of acquiring knowledge and growing wise. From this it is that “clothing,” or a “garment,” denotes truth (as may be seen from the citations above; and that “food” or “meat” denotes spiritual nourishment, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; that “a girdle” denotes a bond which gathers up and holds together interior things, n. 9341; that “leather” denotes what is external, n. 3540; and thus “a leathern girdle” denotes an external bond; that “hairs” denote ultimate or most general truths, n. 3301, 5569-5573; that “a camel” denotes memory-knowledge in general, n. 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156; that “a locust” denotes nourishing truth in the extremes, n. 7643; and that “honey” denotes the pleasantness thereof, n. 5620, 6857, 8056). It is called “wild honey,” or “honey of the field,” because by “a field” is signified the church (n. 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295). He who does not know that such things are signified, cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were so clothed. And yet that these things signified something peculiar to these prophets, can be thought by everyone who thinks well about the Word.

[10] Because John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, therefore also when he spoke of the Lord, who was the Word itself, he said of himself that he was “not Elias, nor the prophet,” and that he was “not worthy to loose the latchet of the Lord’s shoe,” as in John:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory. The Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. And he confessed, and denied not, I am not the Christ. Therefore they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? But he said, I am not. Art thou the prophet? He answered, No. They said therefore unto him, Who art thou? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah the prophet. They said therefore, Why then baptizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, nor Elias, nor the prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; in the midst of you standeth one whom ye know not; He it is who is to come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. When he saw Jesus, he said, Behold the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, After me cometh a man who was before me; for he was before me (John 1:1, 14, 19-30).

From these words it is plain that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was Truth Divine itself, or the Word, he said that he himself was not anything, because the shadow disappears when the light itself appears, that is, the representative disappears when the original itself makes its appearance. (That the representatives had in view holy things, and the Lord Himself, and not at all the person that represented, see n. 665, 1097, 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806.) One who does not know that representatives vanish like shadows at the presence of light, cannot know why John denied that he was Elias and the prophet.

[11] From all this it can now be seen what is signified by Moses and Elias, who were seen in glory, and who spoke with the Lord when transfigured, of His departure which He should accomplish at Jerusalem (Luke 9:29-31); namely, that they signified the Word (“Moses” the historic Word, and “Elias” the prophetic Word), which in the internal sense throughout treats of the Lord, of His coming into the world, and of His departure out of the world; and therefore it is said that “Moses and Elias were seen in glory,” for “glory” denotes the internal sense of the Word, and the “cloud” its external sense (see the preface to Genesis 18, and n. 5922, 8427).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 24:1-2)

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Inbound References:

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


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
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 John the Baptist
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Arcana Coelestia #2015

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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2015. Kings shall go forth from thee. That this signifies that all truth is from Him, is evident from the signification of a “king,” in both the historical and the prophetic Word, as being truth (stated above, n. 1672, but not yet fully shown). From the signification of “nations” as being goods, and from the signification of “kings” as being truths, we can see the nature of the internal sense of the Word, and also how remote it is from the sense of the letter. He who reads the Word, especially the historical portion, has no other belief than that the nations there are nations, and the kings kings, and thus that nations and kings are treated of in the very Word itself. But the idea of nations, as well as that of kings, altogether perishes when it is received by the angels, and in their place there succeed good and truth. This cannot but appear as strange and indeed as a paradox, but still it is really so, and the truth of it may appear to everyone from considering that if, in the Word, nations were signified by “nations,” and kings by “kings,” then the Word of the Lord would involve scarcely anything more than any other history, or any other writing, and thus would be a merely worldly affair, when yet there is nothing in the Word that is not Divine, and therefore celestial and spiritual.

[2] Take as a single instance what is said in this verse, that Abraham should be made fruitful and should be made nations, and that kings should go forth from him-what is this but a merely worldly matter, and in no respect heavenly? For in these things there is only the glory of the world, which is nothing at all in heaven; but if this is the Word of the Lord, there must be in it the glory of heaven, and none of the world’s glory. Therefore the sense of the letter is altogether obliterated and vanishes when it passes into heaven; and it is so purified that nothing that is worldly is intermingled. For by “Abraham” is not meant Abraham, but the Lord; by his being “made fruitful” is not meant that his posterity should increase exceedingly, but that the good of the Lord’s Human Essence should increase to infinitude; by the “nations” are not meant nations, but goods; and by the “kings,” not kings but truths. Still the history according to the sense of the letter remains true; for it is true that it was so said to Abraham; also that he was made fruitful, and that nations and kings came from him.

[3] That “kings” signify truths, may be seen from the following passages.

In Isaiah:

The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee; thou shalt suck the milk of the nations, and the breast of kings shalt thou suck (Isaiah 60:10, 16);

what it is to “suck the milk of nations” and “the breast of kings,” is by no means plain from the letter, but it is from the internal sense, in which it signifies to be gifted with goods, and instructed in truths.

In Jeremiah:

There shall enter in by the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses (Jeremiah 17:25; 22:4);

to “ride in chariots and on horses” is a prophetical saying which signifies an abundance of intellectual things, as may appear from very many passages in the Prophets; and thus by “kings entering in by the gates of the city” is signified in the internal sense that they should be imbued with truths of faith. This is the heavenly sense of the Word, into which the worldly literal sense passes.

[4] Again, in the same Prophet:

Jehovah hath despised in the indignation of His anger the king and the priest; the gates of Zion have sunk into the earth; He hath destroyed and broken her bars; her king and her princes are among the nations; the law is not (Lam. 2:6, 9);

“the king” here denotes the truth of faith; “the priest” the good of charity; “Zion” the church which is being destroyed, and whose bars are being broken; hence “the king and the princes are among the nations,” that is, truth and the things which are of truth will be banished to such an extent that there will be no “law,” that is, nothing of the doctrine of faith.

In Isaiah:

Before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the ground shall be forsaken, which thou loathest in the presence of her two kings (Isaiah 7:16); where the Lord’s coming is treated of; the “ground which shall be forsaken” denotes faith, of which there would then be none, and the truths of which are the “kings that would be loathed.”

[5] In the same Prophet:

I will lift up My hand to the nations, and raise up My ensign to the peoples; and they shall bring thy sons in their bosom, and thy daughters shall be carried upon the shoulder; and kings shall be thy nourishers, and their queens those that give thee suck (Isaiah 49:22-23);

“the nations” and “the daughters” denote goods; and “the peoples” and “the sons” truths (as shown in Part First, where it may be seen that “nations” denote goods, n. 1259, 1260, 1416, 1849; and that “daughters” have a similar signification, n. 489-491; also that “peoples” denote truths, n. 1259, 1260; and “sons” likewise, n. 489, 491, 533, 1147). “Kings” therefore denote truths in general, by which they will be nourished, and their “queens” the goods from which they will be “suckled.” Whether you say goods and truths, or those who are in goods and truths, it is the same.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1259-1260)


[6] Again in the same Prophet:

He shall sprinkle many nations, upon him kings shall shut their mouth-for that which was [not] told them have they seen; and that which they did not hear have they understood (Isaiah 52:15),

where the Lord’s coming is spoken of; the “nations” denote those who are affected by goods, and “kings” those who are affected by truths.

In David:

Now, O ye kings, be intelligent; be instructed, ye judges of the earth; serve Jehovah with fear, and exult with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way (Psalms 2:10-12).

“Kings” denote those who are in truths; who also from their truths are often called “king’s sons;” “the Son” here denotes the Lord, who is here called “the Son” because He is the truth itself, and because all truth is from Him.

[7] In John:

They shall sing a new song, Worthy art Thou who takest the book, and openest the seals thereof; Thou hast made us unto our God kings and priests, that we may reign upon the earth (Revelation 5:9-10); where they who are in truths are called “kings.” The Lord also calls such persons “the sons of the kingdom,” in Matthew:

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the seed is the sons of the kingdom, and the tares are the sons of the evil one (Matthew 13:37-38).

In John:

The sixth angel poured out his vial upon the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the Kings that are from the sun rising might be prepared (Revelation 16:12).

That by the “Euphrates” is not meant the Euphrates, nor by “the kings from the sun-rising” any kings therefrom, is evident (what is meant by the “Euphrates” may be seen above, n. 120, 1585, 1866); so that “the way of the kings that are from the sun-rising” means the truths of faith that are from the goods of love.

[8] In the same:

The nations that are saved shall walk in the light of it, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it (Revelation 21:24); where “the nations” denote those who are in goods, and “the kings of the earth” those who are in truths, as may be inferred from the fact that these words are prophetic, and not historical. In the same:

With the great harlot that sitteth upon many waters the kings of the earth have committed whoredom, and have been made drunken with the wine of her whoredom (Revelation 17:1-2).

And again:

Babylon hath made all the nations drink of the wine of her whoredom, and the kings of the earth have committed whoredom with her (Revelation 18:3, 9); where in like manner it is evident that kings are not meant by “the kings of the earth;” for the falsification and adulteration of the doctrine of faith, that is, of truth, is treated of, and this is the “whoredom;” “the kings of the earth” denote the truths that are falsified and adulterated.

(References: Revelation 17:2)


[9] In the same:

The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, that have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority [potestas] as kings with the beast for one hour. These shall have one mind, and shall give their power and authority to the beast (Revelation 17:12-13).

That these “kings” are not kings, is evident to everyone; for if so it would be wholly unintelligible that the ten kings should receive authority as kings one hour. So too in another passage:

I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war with him that sat upon the horse, and with his army (Revelation 19:19).

That “he that sat upon the horse” is “the Word of God,” is openly stated in verse 13; and it is against this that the kings of the earth are said to have been gathered together. “The beast” denotes the goods of love, profaned; and “the kings” denote the truths of faith, adulterated; these are called “the kings of the earth,” because they are within the church. (That “the earth” is the church may be seen above, n. 662, 1066, 1067, 1262.) The “white horse” denotes the understanding of truth; and “he that sat upon the horse,” the Word. This meaning is still more manifest in Daniel (chapter 11), where the war between “the king of the south” and “the king of the north” is treated of; by which terms are signified the truths and falsities that had fought, the combats being described here also in an historical manner by this “war.”

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1066-1067; Daniel 11; Revelation 19:13)


[10] As “a king” signifies truth, it may be seen what is meant in the internal sense when the Lord is called a King and also a Priest; and also what it was in the Lord that was represented by kings, and what by priests. Kings represented His Divine truth, and priests His Divine good. All the laws of order by which the Lord governs the universe as King, are truths; but all the laws by which He governs the universe as Priest, and by which also He rules truths themselves, are goods; for government from truths alone would condemn everyone to hell; but government from goods lifts everyone out thence and uplifts him into heaven (see n. 1728). Because in the Lord’s case these two are conjoined, they were anciently represented by kingship conjoined with priesthood; as with Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and at the same time priest to God Most High (Genesis 14:18); and afterwards with the Jews, among whom the representative church was instituted in its own form, by judges and priests, and afterwards by kings.

[11] But as the kings represented truths, which ought not to have command, for the reason, as before said, that they condemn, therefore the desire to have kings was so displeasing as to call for rebuke, and the nature of truth as regarded in itself was described by the rights [jus] of the king (1 Samuel 8:11-18); and at an earlier day it was commanded by Moses (Deuteronomy 17:14-18) that they should choose genuine truth which is from good, and not spurious; and that they should not defile it by reasonings and memory-knowledges [scientifica]. This is what is involved in the directions concerning a king, given in Moses in the place just cited; which no one can possibly see from the sense of the letter, but yet is evident from the several points contained in the internal sense; so that “king” and “kingship” evidently represented and signified nothing else than truth.

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 2069, 2089, 2466, 2504, 2509, 2567, 2761, 2781, 2826, 2830, 2832, 2851, 2906, 3009, 3105, 3325, 3355, 3365, 3441, 3703, 3708, 3858, 3863, 3875, 3969, 4391, 4402, 4575, 4669, 4677, 4728, 4763, 4809, 4876, 4973, 5038, 5044, 5068, ...

Apocalypse Revealed 854

The White Horse 10

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 259, 309


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 27, 31, 126, 155, 236, 701

Other New Christian Commentary

Melchizedek 1

Queens as nursing mothers 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
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 Asking for a King
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
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 The Choosing of Saul
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
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Arcana Coelestia #3863

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3863. 'For she said, Because Jehovah has seen' in the highest sense means foresight, in the internal sense faith, in the interior sense understanding, and in the external sense sight - faith received from the Lord being meant here. This is clear from the meaning of 'seeing', dealt with below. What has been presented above shows that the twelve tribes, named after the twelve sons of Jacob, meant all things forming part of truth and good, or of faith and love, and so all aspects of the Church. It also shows that each tribe meant some universal division, and so the twelve tribes the twelve universal divisions which embrace and include within themselves every specific thing which is part of the Church, and in the universal sense everything that is part of the Lord's kingdom. The universal division meant by 'Reuben' is faith. The reason faith is the first universal division is that when a person is being regenerated, or becoming the Church, he must first learn and absorb aspects of faith, that is, of spiritual truth, for it is by means of doctrine about faith or truth that he is led into regeneration. For man is such that of himself he does not know what heavenly good is but has to learn about it from doctrine, which is called the doctrine of faith. Every doctrine of faith has life as the end in view, and because it has life it also has good in view, for good is the sum and substance of life.

[2] Controversy existed among the ancients over which was the firstborn of the Church, whether it was the truth of faith or whether it was the good of love. Those who said that the truth of faith was the firstborn based their conclusions on the outward appearance and decided that such truth was the firstborn because it is and must be learned first and because a person is led by means of it into good. But they did not know that good is essentially the firstborn and that it is instilled by the Lord through the internal man so that he may adopt and accept the truth which is brought in by way of the external. They did not know that good holds life from the Lord within it, or that truth does not possess any life except that which comes through good, so that good is the soul of truth by making truth its own and clothing itself with it as the soul does the body. From this it may be seen that to outward appearance truth occupies first place and is so to speak the firstborn while a person is being regenerated, though essentially good occupies first place and is the firstborn, and does actually come to occupy it once he has been regenerated. For the truth of this, see 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3701.

[3] The subject in this and previous chapters being the regeneration of the natural - at this point its first state, which is a state of being led by means of truth into good - the first son of Jacob, who was Reuben, was so named from the phrase Jehovah seeing, which in the internal sense means faith originating in the Lord. Regarded in itself faith consists in faith in the understanding and faith in the will. Knowledge and understanding of the truth of faith is called faith in the understanding, but willing the truth of faith is called faith in the will. The former - faith in the understanding - is the faith meant by 'Reuben', but the latter - faith in the will - is that meant by 'Simeon'. It may be seen by anyone that faith existing in the understanding, or the ability to understand truth, comes before faith existing in the will, or the actual willing of it. For when a person does not know of something, such as heavenly good, he must first come to know of its existence and then to understand what it is before he is able to will it.

[4] 'Seeing' in the external sense means sight, as is clear without explanation. 'Seeing' in the interior sense means the understanding, as is likewise clear, for the sight that the internal man has is nothing else than the understanding, which also is why in everyday speech the understanding is called internal sight, and the word light is used in reference to it as well as to external sight and is called the light of the understanding. 'Seeing' in the internal sense means faith received from the Lord, as is clear from the consideration that interior understanding has no other objects than those of truth and good, for these are the objects of faith. This interior understanding, or internal sight, which has truths of faith as its objects, does not show itself so plainly as the understanding does which has truths to do with public and private life as its objects, the reason being that it exists inside this latter understanding and dwells in the light of heaven, which light is in obscurity as long as a person dwells in the light of the world. Nevertheless it does reveal itself with those who are regenerate, in particular by means of conscience. 'Seeing' in the highest sense clearly means foresight, for the intelligence spoken of in reference to the Lord is an infinite intelligence, which is nothing else than foresight.

[5] That 'seeing' after which Reuben was named means in the internal sense faith received from the Lord is evident from very many places in the Word, of which let the following be brought forward: In Moses,

Jehovah said to Moses, Make a serpent and set it on a standard, and it will be that everyone who has been bitten, when he sees it, will live. And Moses made a serpent of bronze and set it on a standard. And so it was, if a serpent had bitten a man, when he looked at the serpent of bronze, that he was restored to life again. Numbers 21:8-9.

'The bronze serpent' represented the Lord's external sensory perception, which is natural, see 197 - 'bronze' meaning that which is natural, 425, 1551. Faith in Him was represented by the restoration to life again of those who saw it, that is, looked at it, as the Lord Himself teaches in John,

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life. John 3:14-15.

[6] In Isaiah,

The Lord said, Go and say to this people, Hearing, hear - but do not understand; and seeing, see - but do not comprehend. Make the heart of this people fat and their ears heavy, and plaster over their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and their heart understands. Isaiah 6:9-10.

Here it is quite evident that 'seeing, see - but do not comprehend' means understanding what is true and yet not acknowledging. The words 'plastering over their eyes, lest they see with their eyes' means depriving them of the understanding of truth, faith in the Lord being meant in this case by 'seeing', as is clear from the Lord's words in Matthew 13:13-14, and in John 12:36-37, 39-40.

(References: John 12:37-40; Matthew 13:13-15)


[7] In Ezekiel,

Son of man, you are dwelling in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see but they do not see, who have ears to hear but they do not hear. Ezekiel 12:2

'Eyes to see but they do not see' stands for their being able to understand the truths of faith but not willing them. They do not will them on account of evils, meant by 'a rebellious house', which bring an untrue light to falsities and darkness to truths, in accordance with the following in Isaiah,

They were a rebellious people, lying sons, sons who did not wish to hear the law of Jehovah, who said to the seers, Do not see; and to those who had visions, Do not see for us things that are right, tell us smooth things, see illusions. Isaiah 30:9-10.

In Isaiah,

This people walking in darkness have seen a great light; those dwelling in the land of the shadow of death, upon them has the light shone out. Isaiah 9:2.

'Seeing a great light' stands for receiving and believing the truths of faith. It is over those who have faith that heavenly 'light' is said 'to shine out', for the light which is shed in heaven is Divine Truth coming from Divine Good.

[8] In the same prophet,

Jehovah has poured out over you a spirit of slumber, and has closed your eyes, the prophets and your heads, the seers, He has covered. Isaiah 29:10.

'Closing the eyes' stands for closing the understanding of truth - 'the eye' meaning the understanding, see 2701. 'Covering the seers' stands for covering those who know and teach the truths of faith. 'Seers' in former times were called prophets, and prophets mean those who teach as well as meaning the truths of doctrine, see 2534. In the same prophet,

The priest and the prophet err through strong drink, they err among those who see, they are tottery in judgement. Isaiah 28:7.

Here the meaning is similar. 'The judgement in which they are tottery' means the truth of faith, see 2235. In the same prophet,

The eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will listen. Isaiah 32:3.

Here the meaning is similar.

[9] In the same prophet,

Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty, they will see a land stretching far. Isaiah 33:17.

'Beholding the king in his beauty' stands for beholding truths of faith which come from the Lord and are called beautiful by virtue of good. 'Seeing a land stretching far' stands for seeing the good of love. For 'the king' means the truth of faith, see 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 3670, this being called beautiful by virtue of good, 553, 3080, 3821; and 'a land' means the good of love, 620, 636, 3368, 3379. In Matthew,

Blessed are the pure in heart, for these will see God. Matthew 5:8.

Here it is quite evident that 'seeing God' means believing in Him, and so seeing Him by faith, for people who possess faith, from faith see God, since God is within faith and is that within faith which constitutes true faith.

[10] In the same gospel,

If your eye causes you to stumble pluck it out. It is better for you to enter into life one-eyed than having two eyes to be thrown into the Gehenna of fire. Matthew 18:9.

Here, as is quite evident, 'the eye' does not mean the eye. Nor does it mean that the eye has to be plucked out, for it is not the eye that causes the stumbling but the understanding of truth meant here by 'the eye', 2701. The law that it is better not to know and grasp the truths of faith than to know and grasp them and yet to lead a life of evil is what is meant by 'better to enter into life one-eyed than having two eyes to be thrown into the Gehenna of fire'.

[11] In the same gospel,

Blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, but did not see. Matthew 13:13-17; John 12:40.

'Seeing' stands for knowing and understanding the things that constitute faith in the Lord, and so stands for faith. For it was not their seeing the Lord and seeing His miracles that made them 'blessed' but their believing, as becomes clear from the following words in John,

I said to you that you have both seen Me and not believed. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life. No one has seen the Father except Him who is with the Father; He has seen the Father. Truly, truly, I say to you, He who believes in Me has eternal life. John 6:36, 40, 46-47.

'Seeing and not believing' stands for knowing the truths of faith and not accepting them, 'seeing and believing' for knowing them and accepting them. The words 'No one has seen the Father except Him who is with the Father' stands for not being able to acknowledge Divine Good except through Divine Truth - 'the Father' being Divine Good and 'the Son' Divine Truth, see 3704. Consequently the internal sense is that nobody is able to possess heavenly good unless he acknowledges the Lord.

(References: Matthew 13:16-17)


[12] Similarly in the same gospel,

Nobody has ever seen God; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known. John 1:18.

And in the same gospel,

Jesus said, He who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. I have come as Light into the world in order that everyone who believes in Me may not remain in darkness. John 12:45-46.

Here it is explicitly stated that 'seeing' means believing or possessing faith. And in the same gospel,

Jesus said, If you know Me you know My Father also. And from now you know Him and have seen Him. He who has seen Me has seen the Father. John 14:7, 9.

In the same gospel,

The Spirit of truth the world cannot receive because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. I will not leave you orphans, I am coming to you. Yet a little while, the world will see Me no longer, but you will see Me; because I live you will live also. John 14:17-19.

'Seeing' stands for possessing faith, for it is solely through faith that the Lord is seen. Actually faith is the eye of love, since it is from love through faith that the Lord is seen, love being the life of faith. Hence His statement, 'You will see Me; because I live you will live also'.

[13] In the same gospel,

Jesus said, For judgement I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, but that those who see may become blind. The Pharisees said, Are we also blind? Jesus said to them, If you were blind you would have no sin; but now you say, 'We see', therefore your sin remains. John 9:39-41.

'Those who see' stands for those who imagine themselves to be more intelligent than everybody else. Of them it is said that they will become blind, that is, will not acquire faith. 'Not seeing' or being blind is used in reference to those immersed in falsities, and also to those who have no knowledge [of the truth], see 2383. In Luke,

To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but for everyone else in parables, that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear. Luke 8:10.

Here the meaning is similar. In the same gospel,

I tell you truly, There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God. Luke 9:27; Mark 9:1.

'Seeing the kingdom of God' stands for believing. In the same gospel,

Jesus said to the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see. Luke 17:22.

This refers to the close of the age or last period of the Church when no faith exists any longer.

[14] In the same gospel,

It happened, when Jesus was at table with them, that He took the bread and said a blessing, and broke it and gave to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. Luke 24:30-31.

The meaning of this event was that the Lord comes into sight through good, but not through truth devoid of good; for 'bread' means the good of love, 276, 680, 2165, 2177, 3478, 3735, 3813. From these and many other places it is clear that 'seeing' in the internal sense means faith received from the Lord, for no other faith exists which is truly faith except faith which comes from the Lord. This is also the faith that enables a person to see, that is, to believe. But faith originating in self or a person's proprium is not truly faith, for it causes him to see falsities as truths and truths as falsities; or if he does see truths as truths he does not truly see them because he does not believe them. For in them he sees himself and not the Lord.

[15] That 'seeing' means possessing faith in the Lord is quite evident from what has been stated often about the light of heaven, namely that because it flows from the Lord the light of heaven holds intelligence and wisdom within it, and so holds faith in Him since faith in the Lord is inwardly present in intelligence and wisdom. Consequently seeing by that light, as angels do, can mean nothing else than faith in the Lord. The Lord Himself too is within that light because it proceeds from Him. That light is also the light which shines within the conscience of those who possess faith in Him, though no one is directly conscious of its doing so as long as he lives in the body, for during that time the light of the world is obscuring that light.

(References: Genesis 29:32)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 3869, 3966, 4060, 4186, 4198, 4567, 4679, 4862, 4864, 5199, 5286, 5400, 5496, 5685, 5845, 5923, 6032, 6557, 6805, 6990, 7001, 7017, 7231, 7716, 8172, 8238, 8514, 8688, 8914, 9165, 9266, 9411, 10199, 10396, 10428, 10705

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 11, 25, 37, 434


   Parallel Passages:

Spiritual Experiences 257

Other New Christian Commentary

Explanation of Matthew 5:8 1

Eyes 1

Know 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
Resources for parents and teachers

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 Prophecies of the Advent
Prophecies of Jesus' advent on earth often use the image of new light dawning in darkness to describe the spiritual impact His birth would have on the world.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Breaking of Bread
To break bread and share it with someone is to communicate--to share what is good. And to eat the bread that is offered is to make this good part of oneself.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 The Man Born Blind
In what way might a person who bases their thinking only on the material world be "blind?" Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." Explore ways in which revealed truth gives spiritual sight.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 The Road to Emmaus
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Walk to Emmaus
Two disciples talked to Jesus while walking to Emmaus, but did not recognize Him. The Lord talks with us in His Word but like the disciples, we do not always recognize Him.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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