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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


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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 #2813

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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2813. And bound Isaac his son. That this signifies the state of the Divine rational thus about to undergo as to truth the last degrees of temptation, is evident from the signification of “binding,” and also of “Isaac his son.” That to “bind” is to put on the state for undergoing the last degrees of temptation, is evident from the fact that he who is in a state of temptation is no otherwise than as bound or chained. That “Isaac the son” is the Lord’s Divine rational, here as to truth, may be seen above (n. 2802, 2803). All the genuine rational consists of good and truth. The Lord’s Divine rational as to good could not suffer, or undergo temptations; for no genius or spirit inducing temptations can come near to Good Divine, as it is above all attempt at temptation. But Truth Divine bound was what could be tempted; for there are fallacies, and still more falsities, which break in upon and thus tempt it; for concerning Truth Divine some idea can be formed, but not concerning Good Divine except by those who have perception, and are celestial angels. It was Truth Divine which was no longer acknowledged when the Lord came into the world, and therefore it was that from which the Lord underwent and endured temptations. Truth Divine in the Lord is what is called the “Son of man,” but Good Divine is what is called the “Son of God.” Of the “Son of man” the Lord says many times that He was to suffer, but never of the Son of God. That He says this of the Son of man, or of Truth Divine, is evident in Matthew:

Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be delivered, unto the chief priests and scribes, and they shall condemn Him, and shall deliver Him unto the Gentiles to mock and to scourge, and to crucify (Matthew 20:18-19).

Jesus said to His disciples, Behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is delivered into the hands of sinners (Matthew 26:45).

In Mark:

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders, and the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again (Mark 8:31).

It is written of the Son of man, that He shall suffer many things, and be set at nought. And the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men, and they shall kill Him; but when He is killed He shall rise again on the third day (Mark 9:12, 31).

Behold we go up to Jerusalem, and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests and the scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death, and shall deliver Him unto the Gentiles, and they shall mock Him, and shall spit upon Him, and shall kill Him, and the third day He shall rise again (Mark 10:33-34).

The hour is come; behold the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (Mark 14:41).

In Luke:

The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and the third day rise again (Luke 9:22, 44).

We go up to Jerusalem, where all the things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished; He shall be delivered up unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and shamefully entreated, and spit upon, and they shall scourge and kill Him, and the third day He shall rise again (Luke 18:31-33).

The angel said to the women, Remember what He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying that the Son of man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again (Luke 24:6-7).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2802-2803)


[2] In all these places by the “son of man” is meant the Lord as to Truth Divine, or as to the Word in its internal sense, which was rejected by the chief priests and scribes, was shamefully entreated, scourged, spit upon, and crucified, as may be clearly evident from the fact that the Jews applied and arrogated everything to themselves according to the letter, and were not willing to know anything about the spiritual sense of the Word, and about the heavenly kingdom, believing that the Messiah was to come to raise up their kingdom above all the kingdoms of the earth, as they also believe at this day. Hence it is manifest that it was Truth Divine which was rejected by them, shamefully treated, scourged, and crucified. Whether you say Truth Divine, or the Lord as to Truth Divine, it is the same; for the Lord is the Truth itself, as He is the Word itself (n. 2011, 2016, 2533 at the end).

[3] The Lord’s rising again on the third day also involves that Truth Divine, or the Word as to the internal sense, as it was understood by the Ancient Church, will be revived in the consummation of the age, which is also the “third day” (n. 1825, 2788); on which account it is said that the Son of man (that is, Truth Divine) will then appear (Matthew 24:30, 37, 39, 44; Mark 13:26; Luke 17:22, 24-26, 30; 21:27, 36).

[4] That the “Son of man” is the Lord as to Truth Divine, is evident from the passages adduced, and further from the following.

In Matthew:

He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man, the field is the world. In the consummation of the age the Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend (Matthew 13:37, 41-42); where the “good seed” is the truth; the “world” is men; “He that soweth the seed” is the Son of man; and the “things that offend” are falsities.

In John:

The multitude said, We have heard out of the Law that the Christ abideth forever; and how sayest Thou that the Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man ? Jesus answered them, A little while is the Light with you; walk while ye have the Light, that darkness overtake you not; for he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have the Light, believe in the Light, that ye may become the sons of Light (John 12:34-35); where, when they asked who the Son of man is, Jesus answered concerning the Light, which is the Truth, and that He is the Light or Truth in which they should believe. (As regards the Light which is from the Lord, and which is the Divine Truth, see above, n. 1053, 1521, 1529-1531, 1619-1632)

(References: John 12:34-36; Matthew 13:37-38, Matthew 13:40-42)


[5] But that the Son of God, or the Lord as to Good in His Human Divine could not be tempted, as was said above, this is manifest also from the Lord’s answer to the tempter, in the Evangelists:

The tempter said, If Thou art the Son of God cast Thyself down; for it is written, He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee, lest haply Thou dash Thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God (Matthew 4:6-7Luke 4:9-12).

(References: Genesis 22:9; John 12:34-36; Matthew 13:37-38, 13:40-42)

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Arcana Coelestia 2817, 2824, 3703, 3704, 3927, 4060, 4334, 4765, 4781, 4809, 5376, 6418, 7839, 8127, 8281, 8571, 8705, 8890, 8902, 8904, 8982, 9000, 9156, 9199, 9281, 9309, 9325, 9372, 9528, 9548, 9666, 9684, 9807, 10067, 10402, 10494, 10540, 10545

Heaven and Hell 86

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 201, 302, 303, 310


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 32, 242, 900

Other New Christian Commentary

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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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9372. 'And He said to Moses' means something concerning the Word in general. This is clear from the representation of 'Moses' as the Word, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'He said', which includes all that follows in the present chapter, thus things concerning the Word in general, 9370. The fact that Moses represents the Word may be recognized from what has often been shown already regarding Moses, for instance in the Preface to Genesis 18, and in 4859 (end), 5922, 6723, 6752, 6771, 6827, 7010, 7014, 7089, 7382, 8601, 8760, 8787, 8805, which please see. At present Moses represents the Word in general, because what follows says in reference to him, that he alone was to come near Jehovah, verse 2, and also that he was called from the middle of the cloud, went into it, and went up the mountain, verses 16, 18.

[2] In the Word there are many who represent the Lord in respect of God's truth or the Word; but the chief among them are Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and John the Baptist. The fact that Moses does so may be seen in the explanations referred to just above; the fact that Elijah and Elisha do so may be seen in the Preface to Genesis 18, and in 2762, 5247 (end); and the fact that John the Baptist does so is clear from His being 'the Elijah who is to come'. Anyone who does not know that John the Baptist represented the Lord in respect of the Word cannot know what it is that all the things said about him in the New Testament imply and mean. Therefore to lay bare this arcanum and at the same time the truth that Elijah as well as Moses, who were seen when the Lord was transfigured, meant the Word, let some of the things recorded regarding John the Baptist be introduced here, such as these words in Matthew,

After John's messengers went away Jesus began to speak about John, saying, What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A person clothed in soft garments? Behold, those who wear soft garments are in kings' houses. But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one of whom it has been written, Behold, I send My angel before your face, who will prepare your way before you. Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not been raised up one greater than John the Baptist; but one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. All the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to believe it, he is the Elijah who is to come. He who has an ear to hear, let him hear. Matthew 11:7-15; Luke 7:24-28.

No one can know how to understand these things unless he knows that this John represented the Lord in respect of the Word, and unless he knows from the internal sense what is meant by 'the wilderness' in which he lived, also what is meant by 'a reed shaken by the wind' and by 'soft garments in kings' houses'; then what is meant by the statement that he was 'more than a prophet', and that 'among those born of women' there was none greater than he, and yet 'one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he'; and finally the announcement that he was 'the Elijah'. For without some deeper meaning all this sounds like a mere comparison and not anything more profound.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


[3] It sounds altogether different however when the Lord in respect of the Word, or one representing the Word, is understood by John. Then 'the wilderness of Judea' in which John lived means the state in which the Word resided at the time when the Lord came into the world, namely in the wilderness, that is, in obscurity so great that the Lord was not acknowledged at all and nothing whatever was known about His heavenly kingdom, even though all the prophets prophesied about Him and about His kingdom which would last forever. The fact that 'the wilderness' means such obscurity, see 2708, 4736, 7313. The Word is therefore compared to 'a reed shaken by the wind' when it is explained at will; for 'a reed' in the internal sense is truth on its last and lowest level, which is what the Word is in the letter.

[4] The Word on the lowest level or in the letter looks to human sight to be rough and dull, but in the internal sense it is soft and shining. This is meant by the words that they did not see 'a person clothed in soft garments. Behold, those who wear soft garments are in kings' houses'. The fact that such things are meant by these words is evident from the meaning of 'garments' or clothes as truths, see 2132, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 6914, 6918, 9093, as a result of which angels appear clothed in garments soft and shining, in keeping with the truths springing from good that reside with them, 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216; and also from the meaning of 'kings' houses' as the places where angels dwell, and in the universal sense as the heavens. For 'houses' are so called by virtue of good, 2233, 2234, 3128, 3652, 3720, 4622, 4982, 7836, 7891, 7996, 7997, and the word 'kings' is used in regard to truth, 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148. Therefore angels are called the children of the kingdom, the king's children, and also kings, by virtue of their reception of truth from the Lord.

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


[5] The Word is greater than any doctrinal teachings in the world and greater than any truth in the world. This is meant by the words, 'What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet' and 'among those born of women there has not been raised up one greater than John the Baptist'. For 'a prophet' in the internal sense means doctrinal teachings, 2534, 7269, and 'those born of women' are truths, 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3704, 4257.

[6] The Word in its inward sense or as it exists in heaven is in a degree above the Word in its outward sense or as it exists in the world and as John the Baptist taught it. This is meant by the statement that 'the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he'; for the Word perceived in heaven possesses wisdom so great that it surpasses all human understanding. Prophecies concerning the Lord and His Coming, and things representative of the Lord and His kingdom were brought to an end when the Lord came into the world. This is meant by the words that 'all the prophets and the law prophesied until John'.

[7] The Word was represented by John as it had been by Elijah. This is meant by the statement that he is 'the Elijah who is to come', and also by the following in Matthew,

The disciples asked Jesus, Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first? He answering said, Elijah will indeed come first and restore all things. I say to you that Elijah has come already, and they did not acknowledge him but did to him whatever they wished. In the same way too will the Son of Man suffer at their hands 1 . And they understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. Matthew 17:10-13.

'Elijah has come, and they did not acknowledge him but did to him whatever they wished' means that the Word indeed taught them that the Lord was going to come, but that they were nevertheless unwilling to have a right understanding of this; they interpreted it as support for their own dominion and in so doing eliminated what was of God within it. The fact that much the same would happen to God's truth itself is meant by the words 'In the same way too will the Son of Man suffer at their hands', 'the Son of Man' being the Lord in respect of God's truth, see 2803, 2813, 3704.

[8] All this now shows how to understand the prophecy regarding John in Malachi,

Behold, I send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrifying day of Jehovah comes. Malachi 4:5.

The Word on the lowest level or as it is in the outward form seen by people in the world is also described by 'the garments' John the Baptist wore and by 'the food' he ate, in Matthew,

John the Baptist preaching in the wilderness of Judea had a garment of camel hair and a skin girdle around his waist; his food was locusts and field honey. 2 Matthew 3:1, 3, 4.

Much the same is said of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8, that he was a hairy man, and wore a girdle of skin around his loins. When it has reference to the Word 'a garment' or piece of clothing means God's truth there in its lowest form; 'camel hair' means true factual knowledge such as is seen there by people in the world; 'a skin girdle' means the outward connecting bond, holding all the interiors in order; 'food' means spiritual nourishment derived from cognitions or knowledge of truth and good obtained from the Word; 'locusts' means the lowest or most general truths, and 'field honey' the pleasantness of them.

[9] The origin of these meanings of 'garments' and 'food' lies in representatives in the next life. There all are seen wearing clothes in accord with their truths derived from good; and also food there is represented in accord with their desires to have knowledge and wisdom. So it is that 'a garment' or piece of clothing means truth, see the places referred to above in this paragraph, while 'food' means spiritual nourishment, 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5576, 5579, 5915, 8562, 9003; 'a girdle' means a bond gathering the interiors together and holding them within itself, 9341 (end), 'skin' means what is external, 3540, so that 'a skin girdle' means an external bond; 'hair' means the lowest or most general truths, 3301, 5569-5573, 'camel' means factual knowledge in general, 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4156, consequently 'camel hair' means true factual knowledge obtained from the Word; 'locust' means truth nourishing the outermost levels, 3301(end), 3 and 'honey' its pleasantness, 5620, 6857, 8056, the words 'field honey' being used because 'the field' means the Church, 2971, 3317, 3766, 7502, 7571, 9139, 9295. A person who does not know that such things are meant cannot possibly know why Elijah and John were clothed in that manner; yet anyone with correct ideas about the Word can think that such clothing was a sign of something peculiar to those prophets.

[10] Since John the Baptist represented the Lord in respect of the Word, he also said of himself - when he spoke about the Lord, who was the Word itself - that he was not Elijah, nor the Prophet, and that he was not worthy to untie the latchet of the Lord's shoe, in John,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory. Jews from Jerusalem, priests and Levites, asked John who he was. He confessed, and did not deny, I am not the Christ. They therefore asked him, What then? Are you Elijah? But he said, I am not. Are you the Prophet? He answered, No. Therefore they said to him, Who are you? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as the prophet Isaiah said. They said therefore, Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? He answered, I baptize with water; among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who will come after me, who was before me, the latchet of whose shoe I am not worthy to untie. When he saw Jesus he said, Behold, the Lamb of God who bears away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I said, After me comes a Man (Vir) who was before me; for He was prior to me. John 1:1, 14, 19-30.

From these words it is evident that when John spoke about the Lord Himself, who was God's truth or the Word itself, he said that he himself was not anything; for when the light itself makes its appearance the shadow disappears, that is, the representative disappears when the image itself makes its appearance. Representatives had regard only to what they represented, namely holy things and the Lord Himself, and no regard whatever to the person who represented them, see 665, 1097 (end), 1361, 3147, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4292, 4307, 4444, 4500, 6304, 7048, 7439, 8588, 8788, 8806. The person who does not know that representatives vanish as shadows do at the presence of the light cannot know why John said that he was not Elijah or the Prophet.

[11] All this now makes plain what was meant by Moses and Elijah, who were seen in glory, and who spoke to the Lord, when He was transfigured, about His departure which He was about to complete in Jerusalem, Luke 9:29-31. That is to say, the Word was meant by them - the historical section of the Word by 'Moses' and the prophetical part by 'Elijah' - the subject of which everywhere in the internal sense is the Lord, His Coming into the world, and His Departure from the world. This explains why it says that Moses and Elijah 'were seen in glory', for 'the glory' is the inward sense of the Word, and 'the cloud' the outward sense, see Preface to Genesis 18, and 5922, 8427.

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Footnotes:

1. literally, from them

2. i.e. wild honey, honey found in the field

3. This reference is incorrect; possibly 7643 (end) is intended, or 9331 (end).

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

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

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


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

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

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