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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 24:18, Exodus 24:16)


[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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From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #2135

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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2135. PREFACE TO THE 18th CHAPTER.

At the end of the preceding chapter, the subject of the Last Judgment was treated of, and it was shown what is signified thereby, namely, not the destruction of the world, but the last time of the church. When this is at hand, the Lord says that He "will come in the clouds of the heavens, with power and glory" (Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27).

Hitherto no one has known what is meant by the "clouds of the heavens." But it has been disclosed to me that nothing else is meant than the literal sense of the Word; and by "power and glory" the internal sense of the Word, for in the internal sense of the Word there is glory, since whatever is there is concerning the Lord and His kingdom (see in volume 1, n. 1769-1772).

[2] Similar is the signification of the "cloud" which encompassed Peter, James, and John, when the Lord appeared to them in glory; of which it is said in Luke:

A voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, hear ye Him; but when the voice had passed, Jesus was found alone (Luke 9:35-36),

where by "Moses and Elias," who spoke with the Lord, was represented the Word of the Old Testament, which is also called "Moses and the Prophets" (by "Moses," his books together with the other historical books, and by "Elias" the prophet, all the books of the Prophets); but by "Peter, James, and John," as in all other places where they are named in the books of the Evangelists, were represented faith, charity, and the good of charity. That they only were present signifies that no others can see the glory of the Lord, which is in His Word than those who are in faith, in its charity, and in the good of charity. Others are indeed able to see, but still do not see, because they do not believe. This is the internal sense in regard to the foregoing two passages; and in various places in the Prophets also, a "cloud" signifies the Word in its letter, and "glory" the Word in its life.

[3] The nature and quality of the internal sense of the Word has already been frequently stated, and has been shown in the explication word by word. It was those skilled in the Law in the Lord's time who least of all believed that there was anything written in the Word concerning the Lord. At the present day, those skilled in the Law know indeed, but it may be that they will believe least of all that there is any other glory in the Word than that which appears in the letter; when yet this is the cloud in which is the glory.

CHAPTER 18.

From this chapter we may see, in an especial manner, what is the nature of the internal sense of the Word, and how the angels perceive it when it is being read by man. From the historical sense of the letter we can understand nothing else than that Jehovah appeared to Abraham under the form of three men; and that Sarah, Abraham, and his lad prepared food for them, namely, cakes made of the meal of fine flour, a "son of an ox," and also butter and milk; which things, though they are true historicals describing what really took place, are still not so perceived by the angels; but the things which they represent and signify are what are perceived, altogether abstractedly from the letter, in accordance with the explication given in the CONTENTS. Thus, instead of the things historically related in this chapter, the angels perceive the state of the Lord's perception in the Human, and the communication with the Divine at that time, before the perfect union of His Divine Essence with the Human Essence, and of the Human Essence with the Divine Essence, which state is also that concerning which the Lord thus speaks:

No one hath seen God at any time; the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath set Him forth (John 1:18).

[2] And by the various kinds of food here mentioned, the angels perceive nothing but celestial and spiritual goods, concerning which see the explication. Moreover by what is afterwards said concerning the son that Sarah should bear at the set time of another year, they perceive nothing else than that the Lord's human rational should be made Divine. Lastly, by the things which Abraham spoke with Jehovah concerning the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels perceive nothing else than the Lord's intercession for the human race; and by five, forty-five, forty, thirty, twenty, and ten, they perceive His intercession for those with whom truths should be adjoined to goods, and who should have goods by means of temptations and combats, or by means of other states. So it is with all other things in the Word, as may be more clearly seen from the explication word by word, where it is shown that in each word similar things are involved in the Word, both Historic and Prophetic.

[3] That there is such an internal sense everywhere in the Word, which treats solely of the Lord, of His kingdom in the heavens, of His church on earth and in particular with every man, thus treating of the goods of love and truths of faith, may also be seen by every one from the passages cited by the Evangelists from the Old Testament. As in Matthew:

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on My right hand, until I made thine enemies thy footstool (Matthew 22:44; compare Psalms 110:1). That these words treat of the Lord, cannot be apparent in the literal sense of the passage cited, as found in David; but yet that no other than the Lord is meant, He Himself here teaches in Matthew.

[4] Again:

Thou Bethlehem, the land of Judah, art in no wise least among the leaders of Judah; for out of thee shall come forth a Leader, who shall feed My people Israel (Matthew 2:6; compare Micah 5:2).

They who abide in the literal sense, as do the Jews, know indeed from this passage that the Lord should be born there; but as they are expecting a leader and a king who will bring them back into the land of Canaan, they therefore explain the words found here according to the letter; that is, by the "land of Judah" they understand the land of Canaan; by "Israel" they understand Israel, although they know not where Israel now is; and by a "Leader" they still understand their Messiah; when yet other things are meant by "Judah" and "Israel;" namely, by "Judah" those who are celestial, by "Israel," those who are spiritual, in heaven and on earth; and by the "Leader" the Lord.

[5] Again in the same:

A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, a cry, and great wailing; Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be comforted, because they are not (Matthew 2:18; compare Jeremiah 31:15).

They who abide in the literal sense of these words cannot possibly gather from it what is the internal sense; and yet that there is an internal sense is evident in the Evangelist. Again: Out of Egypt have I called My Son (Matthew 2:15; compare Hos. 11:1).

In Hosea it is said:

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt. They called them, so they went from their faces, and I made Ephraim to go (Hos. 11:1-3). They who know not that there is an internal sense, cannot know otherwise than that Jacob is here meant when he entered into Egypt, and his posterity when they went out from it, and that by Ephraim is meant the tribe of Ephraim, thus the same things that are in the historicals of the Word nevertheless it is evident from the Word of the Evangelist that they signify the Lord. But what the several particulars signify could not possibly be known unless it were disclosed by means of the internal sense.

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