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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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

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


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

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

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

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

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John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1


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 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?
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Arcana Coelestia #2233

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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2233. That a “house” denotes those who are in goods, is evident from the signification of a “house,” as being good (see n. 710, 1708, 2048). By a “house,” or those born in the house, in the abstract sense goods are in like manner signified, but as applied to man they denote all who are in good.

(References: Genesis 18:19)

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Arcana Coelestia 2331, 2340, 2347, 2366, 2454, 2463, 2559, 2586, 2851, 3111, 3124, 3128, 3142, 3144, 3391, 3538, 3652, 3654, 3720, 3809, 3900, 3987, 4145, 4390, 4520, 4539, 4982, 5023, 5134, 5135, 5353, 7887, 7923, 9325, 9372, 9539


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 175, 193, 240


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Arcana Coelestia #2454

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2454. That 'his wife looked back behind him' means that truth turned away from good and looked towards matters of doctrine is clear from the meaning of 'looking back behind him' and from the meaning of 'a wife'. Looking back behind him means looking towards matters of doctrine, which have a relationship with truth, and not towards life in accordance with them, which has a relationship with good, as stated above in 2417. That which is secondary is referred to as 'behind him' and that which is primary as 'before him'. The fact that truth is secondary and good primary has been shown quite often. For truth belongs to good, since the essence and life of truth is good. 'Looking behind him' therefore means looking towards truth which constitutes doctrinal teaching, and not towards good which constitutes life in accordance with doctrinal teaching. That these points are what is meant becomes quite clear from the Lord's words, where also, referring to the final period of the Church or close of the age, He says in Luke,

On that day, whoever will be on the housetop with his vessels in the house, let him not come down to take them away; and whoever is in the field, let him likewise not turn back to behind him. Remember Lot's wife. Luke 17:31-32.

[2] These words of the Lord are by no means intelligible without the internal sense, and so are unintelligible unless one knows what is meant by 'being on the housetop', by 'vessels in the house', by 'coming down to take them away', by 'the field', and lastly by 'turning back to behind him'. According to the internal sense 'being on the housetop' means resting on good; for 'a house' means good, see 710, 2231, 2233. 'Vessels in the house' means truths which belong to good; for truths are the vessels for good, see 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2269. 'Going down to take them away' means, as is evident, turning away from good towards truth, for since good is primary it is also higher, while truth, being secondary, is also lower. That 'the field' is the Church, so called from the seed which it receives, and consequently that those people are 'fields' in whom there is the good taught by doctrine, is clear from many places in the Word. These considerations show what 'turning back to behind him' means, namely turning away from good and looking towards matters of doctrine. And it is because these things are meant by the expression 'Lot's wife', that 'remember Lot's wife' is added. The reason it is not said that she looked 'behind herself' but 'behind him' is that 'Lot' means good, see 2324, 2351, 2371, 2399. This explains why, when Lot was told what to do, verse 17, the words used were, 'Do not look back behind you'.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234, 2370)


[3] The reason why in Luke it is said 'let him not turn back to behind him' and not 'to the things behind him' is that celestial people are unwilling even to mention anything that is a matter of doctrine, see 202, 337. This is why no such thing is mentioned in Luke, only the words 'to behind him'.

[4] These same matters are described in Matthew as follows,

When you see the abomination of desolation, foretold by the prophet Daniel, then let those who are in Judea flee into the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything away out of his house; and let him who is in the field not return back to take his clothes. Matthew 24:15-17.

Here 'the abomination of desolation' is the state of the Church when there is no love and no charity. When these have been destroyed abominable things predominate. 'Judea' means the Church, and in particular the celestial Church, as is evident from both the historical and prophetical sections throughout the Old Testament Word, while 'the mountains into which they were to flee' means love to the Lord and consequent charity towards the neighbour, see 795, 1430, 1691. 'He who is on the housetop' means good flowing from love, as stated just above. 'Going down to take anything away out of his house' means turning away from good towards truth, as has also been stated above, while 'he who is in the field' means members of the spiritual Church, as is evident from the meaning of 'field' in the Word. 'Let him not return back to take his clothes' means not turning away from good towards truth that constitutes doctrinal teaching - 'clothes' meaning truths, for truths clothe good like garments, see 1073. Anyone may see that all those things which the Lord has said in that section about the close of the age mean things altogether different and embody arcana, such as that those in Judea were to flee into the mountains, that the one on the housetop was not to go down and bring anything out of the house, and that the one in the field was not to return back to take his clothes. Similar to this is the statement in verse 17 that Lot was not to look back behind him, and that made here that his wife did look back behind him and became a pillar of salt. In addition this matter is clear from the meaning of 'a wife' as truth, dealt with in 915, 1468, and from the meaning of 'Lot' as good, dealt with in 2324, 2351, 2371, 2399; hence the words 'after him'.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2370; Matthew 24:15-18)


[5] Truth is said to turn away from good and look towards matters of doctrine when the member of the Church no longer takes to heart what kind of life he leads, only what kind of doctrine he possesses. Yet it is life according to doctrine, not doctrine separate from life, that makes anyone a member of the Church; for when doctrine is separated from life, then because good, in which life consists, has been vastated, truth as well, in which doctrine consists, is vastated, that is, it becomes 'a pillar of salt'. This is something anyone who looks to doctrine alone and not to life may know, by considering whether, even though doctrine teaches such things, he in fact believes in the resurrection, heaven, hell, and indeed the Lord, and so in everything else which doctrine teaches.

(References: Genesis 19:26; Matthew 24:15-18)

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