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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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

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


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

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

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

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
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 John the Baptist
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Arcana Coelestia #2803

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2803. That the Divine Truth is the “son,” and the Divine Good the “father,” is evident from the signification of a “son,” as being truth (see n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2633); and of a “father,” as being good; and also from the conception and birth of truth, which is from good. Truth cannot be and come forth [existere] from any other source than good, as has been shown many times. That the “son” here is the Divine Truth, and the “father” the Divine Good, is because the union of the Divine Essence with the Human, and of the Human Essence with the Divine, is the Divine marriage of Good with Truth, and of Truth with Good, from which comes the heavenly marriage; for in Jehovah or the Lord there is nothing but what is infinite; and because infinite, it cannot be apprehended by any idea, except that it is the being and the coming forth [esse et existere] of all good and truth, or is Good itself and Truth itself. Good itself is the “Father,” and Truth itself is the “Son.” But because as before said there is a Divine marriage of Good and Truth, and of Truth and Good, the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father, as the Lord Himself teaches in John:

Jesus saith unto Philip, Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me ? Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in me (John 14:10-11).

And again in the same Evangelist:

Jesus said to the Jews, Though ye believe not Me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father (John 10:36, 38).

And again:

I pray for them for all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and that they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me, and I in Thee (John 17:9-10, 21).

And again:

Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself. Father, glorify Thy Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee (John 13:31-32; 17:1).

[2] From this may be seen the nature of the union of the Divine and the Human in the Lord; namely, that it is mutual and alternate, or reciprocal; which union is that which is called the Divine Marriage, from which descends the heavenly marriage, which is the Lord’s kingdom itself in the heavens—thus spoken of in John:

In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (John 14:20).

And again:

I pray for them, that they all may be one, as Thou Father art in Me and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us, I in them and Thou in Me; that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them, and I in them (John 17:21-23, 26).

That this heavenly marriage is that of good and truth, and of truth and good, may be seen above (n. 2508, 2618, 2728, 2729 and following numbers).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2728-2729; John 17:20-23)


[3] And because the Divine Good cannot be and come forth without the Divine Truth, nor the Divine Truth without the Divine Good, but the one in the other mutually and reciprocally, it is therefore manifest that the Divine Marriage was from eternity; that is, the Son in the Father, and the Father in the Son, as the Lord Himself teaches in John:

And now O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thyself, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was (John 17:5, 24).

But the Divine Human which was born from eternity was also born in time; and what was born in time, and glorified, is the same. Hence it is that the Lord so often said that He was going to the Father who sent Him; that is, that He was returning to the Father. And in John:

In the beginning was the Word (the “Word” is the Divine Truth itself), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-3, 14; see also John 3:13; 6:62).

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Arcana Coelestia 2813, 2824, 3004, 3061, 3077, 3211, 3255, 3373, 3703, 3704, 3956, 3960, 4060, 4180, 4334, 4434, 4462, 4765, 4781, 4809, 5376, 5515, 5902, 6041, 6050, 6371, 6418, 6432, 6433, 7605, 7839, 8127, 8273, 8281, 8571, 8573, 8705, 8809, ...

Heaven and Hell 86

The White Horse 1, 11, 14

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 25, 201, 260, 263, 302, 303, 305


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 32, 200, 242, 254, 900


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Arcana Coelestia #4334

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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4334. But of that day and hour no one knows means that the state of the Church at that time so far as forms of good and truth are concerned is not going to be visible to anyone either on earth or in heaven, for 'day' and 'hour' in this case are not used to mean day and hour, that is, a period of time, but a state so far as good and truth are concerned. Periods of time in the Word mean states, see 2625, 2788, 2837, 3254, 3356, and 'day' also has the same meaning, 23, 487, 488, 493, 893, 2788, 3462, 3785. 'Hour,' too therefore is descriptive of state, but some specific aspect. The reason why state so far as good and truth are concerned is meant is that the subject is the Church, for good and truth constitute the Church.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 487-488; Matthew 24:36-41)


[2] Not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only means that heaven does not know the specific nature of the state of the Church so far as good and truth are concerned; the Lord alone knows. Nor does it know when that state of the Church is going to be reached. The Lord Himself is meant by 'the Father', see 15, 1729, 2004, 2005, 3690; also the Divine Good within the Lord is called 'the Father' and the Divine Truth originating in Divine Good is called 'the Son', see 2803, 3703, 3704, 3736. People therefore who believe that the Father is one and the Son another, and who keep the two apart, do not understand the Scriptures.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2004-2005, Arcana Coelestia 3703-3704)


[3] But as they were in the days before the Flood means the state of vastation undergone by those who belonged to the Church. This state is compared to the state of vastation which the first or Most Ancient Church underwent, the close of their age, that is, their last judgement, being described in the Word by means of the Flood. For 'the Flood' means a deluge of evils and falsities and the close of that age which followed as a result, see 310, 660, 662, 705, 739, 790, 805, 1120; and 'days' means states, see above.

[4] Eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage means their state insofar as they made evil and falsity their own, and by doing this became joined to these. For 'eating' means making good one's own, and 'drinking' making truth one's own, see 3168, 3513 (end), 3596; and so in the contrary sense they mean making evil and falsity one's own. 'Marrying' means becoming joined to evil and 'giving in marriage' becoming joined to falsity, as may be seen from what has been stated and shown about marriage and conjugial love in 686, 2173, 2618, 2728, 2729, 2737-2739, 2803, 3132, 3155, to the effect that in the internal sense the joining together of good and truth is meant by them, though here in the contrary sense the joining together of evil and falsity is meant. Everything the Lord has said, since it is Divine, is of a different nature in the internal sense from what it is in the letter. So eating and drinking in the Holy Supper do not in the spiritual sense mean eating and drinking but making the good of the Lord's Divine love one's own, 2165, 2177, 2187, 2343, 2359, 3464, 3478, 3735, 4211, 4217. And as the joining of good which is the good of love to truth which is the truth of faith is meant when the idea of a marriage is used in reference to the Church or to the Lord's kingdom, so therefore is the Lord's kingdom in the Word called the heavenly marriage.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2728-2729, 2737, 2739)


[5] Up to the day on which Noah entered the ark means the end of the former Church and the beginning of the new one, for 'Noah' means the Ancient Church in general which replaced the Most Ancient after the Flood, 773 and elsewhere, while 'the ark' means the Church itself, 639. The word 'day' which is used several times in these verses means state, as shown just above.

[6] And they were unaware of anything until the flood came and took them all away means that members of the Church at that time will not know that they have been swamped by evils and falsities because, on account of the evils and falsities in which they are immersed, they will have no knowledge of what the good of love to the Lord is and what the good of charity towards the neighbour is, nor also what the truth of faith is. Nor will they know that such truth originates in those forms of good and that it cannot exist except with people who lead lives filled with such love and charity, in addition to which they will have no knowledge of the fact that what is internal saves or condemns, not what is external separated from internal.

[7] So also will be the coming of the Son of Man means Divine Truth which they will not entertain. The meaning of 'the coming of the Son of Man' as Divine Truth which will be revealed at that time has been discussed already at verses 27-30, and in 2803, 2813, 3704, as well as 3004-3006, 3008, 3009.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3004-3009, Arcana Coelestia 3897-3901)


[8] At that time two will be in the field; one will be taken and one will be left behind means those within the Church who are governed by good and those within the Church who are governed by evil; the former will be saved and the latter condemned. For 'the field' means the Church as regards good, see 2971, 3196, 3310, 3317, 3766.

[9] Two women grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left behind means the future salvation of those within the Church who know the truth, that is, who are led by good to have an affection for it, and the future condemnation of those within the Church who know the truth, but who are led by evil to have an affection for it. These meanings which 'grinding' and 'mill' have in the Word will be clear from what appears immediately below.

From all this it is now evident that the words under consideration describe what the state of good and truth will be like within the Church when that Church is set aside and the new one is adopted.

(References: Matthew 24:36-41)

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Arcana Coelestia 4422

The Last Judgment 35

True Christian Religion 757

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 246


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 5, 400, 555, 674

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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