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Arcana Coelestia #9372

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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
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Arcana Coelestia #3048

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3048. The servant took ten camels, of the camels of his lord, and departed. That this signifies general memory-knowledges in the natural man, is evident from the signification here of “servant,” as being the natural man (see above, n. 3019, 3020) and from the signification of “ten,” as being remains (that these are goods and truths with man stored up by the Lord, may be seen above, n. 468, 530, 560, 561, 660, 661, 1050, 1906, 2284; and that “ten,” or remains, when predicated of the Lord, are the Divine things which the Lord acquired for Himself, n. 1738, 1906); and also from the signification of “camels,” as being general memory-knowledges; and because these were Divine, or acquired by the Lord, it is said that they were “ten,” and then it is said that they were “camels, of the camels of his lord.” That he “departed,” signifies the initiation thereby which is treated of in this chapter.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 560-561, 660-661, Arcana Coelestia 3019-3020)


[2] The subject here is the process of the conjunction of truth with good in the Lord’s Divine rational; first, the process of initiation (n. 3012-3013), the nature of which is described in a series; here, that the Lord separated in the natural man the things which were from Himself, that is, which were Divine, from those which were of the maternal. The things which were from Himself, or which were Divine, are the things by which the initiation was effected; and they are here the “ten camels, of the camels of his lord.” And hence it is that in the following verses much mention is made of “camels” as that he made the camels fall on their knees without the city (verse 11); that Rebekah also gave drink to the camels (verses 14, 19-20); that they were brought into the house, and that straw and provender were given them (verses 31-32); and further, that Rebekah and her girls rode upon the camels (verse 61); and that Isaac saw the camels coming; and when Rebekah saw Isaac, that she alighted off her camel (verses 63-64). Camels are mentioned so often because of the internal sense, in which they signify the general memory-knowledges in the natural man, from which comes the affection of truth which is to be initiated into the affection of good in the rational, and this in the usual way, as shown above; for the rational as to truth cannot possibly be born and perfected without memory-knowledges and knowledges.

[3] That “camels” signify general memory-knowledges is evident from other passages in the Word where they are mentioned, as in Isaiah:

The prophecy of the beasts of the south: In the land of straitness and distress; from whence come the young lion and the old lion, the viper and the flying fire serpent; they carry their riches upon the shoulder of young asses, and their treasures upon the hump of camels, to a people that shall not profit; for Egypt shall help in vain and to no purpose (Isaiah 30:6-7).

The “beasts of the south” denote those who are in the light of knowledges, or in knowledges, but in a life of evil; “carrying their riches upon the shoulder of young asses” denotes the knowledges pertaining to their rational (that a “young ass” is rational truth may be seen above, n. 2781); “their treasures upon the hump of camels,” denotes the knowledges pertaining to their natural; the camels’ “hump” is what is natural; the “camels” themselves signify the general memory-knowledges which are there; the “treasures” are the knowledges which they hold as precious; that “Egypt shall help in vain and to no purpose” denotes that memory-knowledges are of no use to them; that “Egypt” is memory-knowledge may be seen above (n. 1164-1165, 1186, 1462, 2588 the end). That “camels” here are not camels is plain; for it is said “the young lion and the old lion carry their treasures upon the hump of camels”; and anyone can see that some arcanum of the church is hereby signified.

(References: Isaiah 21:6-9)


[4] Again:

The prophecy of the wilderness of the sea: Thus hath the Lord said, Go, set a watchman; let him declare what he seeth: and he saw a chariot, a pair of horsemen, a chariot of an ass, a chariot of a camel, and he hearkened diligently. And he answered and said, Babel is fallen, is fallen (Isaiah 21:1, 6-7, 9).

The “wilderness of the sea” here denotes the emptiness of memory-knowledges that are not for use; a “chariot of an ass,” a collection of particular memory-knowledges; a “chariot of a camel,” a collection of general memory-knowledges in the natural man. It is the empty reasonings with those signified by “Babel” which are thus described.

[5] Again:

Thy heart shall be enlarged because the multitude of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the wealth of the nations shall come unto thee. The abundance of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come; they shall bring gold and incense, and they shall proclaim the praises of Jehovah (Isaiah 60:5-6).

This is concerning the Lord, and concerning the Divine celestial and spiritual things in His natural: the “multitude of the sea” denotes the immense supply of natural truth; the “wealth of the nations,” the immense supply of natural good; the “abundance of camels,” the abundant supply of general memory-knowledges; “gold and frankincense,” goods and truths, which are the “praises of Jehovah;” “from Sheba” is from the celestial things of love and faith (see n. 113, 117, 1171). That:

The queen of Sheba came to Solomon to Jerusalem with exceeding great riches, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-2)

represented the wisdom and intelligence which came to the Lord, who in the internal sense here is “Solomon.” The “camels bearing spices, gold, and precious stones” are the things of wisdom and intelligence in the natural man.

[6] In Jeremiah:

To Arabia, and to the kingdoms of Hazor, which Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel smote: Arise ye, go up to Arabia, and lay waste the sons of the East. Their tents shall they take, and they shall carry away for themselves their curtains, and all their vessels, and their camels. And their camels shall be a booty, and I will scatter them to every wind (Jeremiah 49:28-29, 32).

Here “Arabia and the kingdoms of Hazor,” in the opposite sense, denote those who are in knowledges of celestial and spiritual things, but for the end of no other use than that they may be esteemed wise and intelligent by themselves and the world; the “camels which should be taken away from them, and should be for a booty, and should be scattered to every wind,” are in general the memory-knowledges and the knowledges of good and truth which are also taken away from them in the life of the body by their believing contrary things, and in the other life wholly.

[7] In Zechariah:

And this shall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will smite all the peoples that shall fight against Jerusalem; thus shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of every beast (Zech. 14:12, 15).

Here the “plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass,” denotes the privation of intellectual things, which thus succeed in order from rational things to natural things (what is meant by the “horse,” may be seen above, n. 2761, 2762; what by the “mule” n. 2781; and what by the “ass,” n. 2781); “camels” denote the general memory-knowledges in the natural man. The like was signified by the murrain in Egypt, which was “Upon the cattle in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels,cupon herd and upon flock” (Exodus 9:2-3).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2761-2762)


[8] From these passages it is evident that by “camels” in the internal sense of the Word are signified the general memory-knowledges of the natural man. General memory-knowledges are those which include in themselves many particulars, and these singulars; and they form in general the natural man as to the intellectual part of it.

(References: Genesis 24:10; Isaiah 21:6-9)

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Arcana Coelestia 3054, 3071, 3094, 3097, 3102, 3136, 3143, 3190, 3199, 3203, 3301, 3762, 4038, 4104, 4156, 4250, 4264, 4748, 7503, 9372, 9595, 9828, 10227


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 242

Other New Christian Commentary

Ten 1

Arabia and the kingdoms of Hazor 1

Camel 1

Queen of Sheba 1

Treasures on the back of camels 1


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Arcana Coelestia #2588

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2588. Abraham’s wife. That this signifies in order that spiritual truth might be conjoined with celestial good, is evident from the representation of Sarah as a wife, as being spiritual truth conjoined with celestial good (see n. 1468, 1901, 2063, 2065, 2172, 2173, 2198, 2507); and from the representation of Abraham, as being celestial good conjoined with spiritual truth (see n. 2011, 2172, 2198, 2501). Whether we say “spiritual truth and celestial good,” or “the Lord,” it is the same; because the Lord is truth itself and good itself, and is the very marriage itself of truth and good, and of good and truth. How the case herein is can indeed be seen from the explication; but as these matters are among those which are obscure at this day, we may so far as possible illustrate them. The subject here treated of is the doctrine of faith, concerning which the Lord thought in His childhood, namely, whether it was allowable to enter into it by means of rational things, and thus form for one’s self ideas concerning it. His so thinking came from His love and consideration for the human race, who are such as not to believe what they do not comprehend in a rational manner. But He perceived from the Divine that this ought not to be done; and He therefore revealed the doctrine to Himself from the Divine, and thereby at the same time all things in the universe that are subordinate, namely, all things of the rational and of the natural.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2172-2173)


[2] How the case is with the doctrinal things of faith among men has been stated above (n. 2568), namely, that there are two principles from which they think, a negative and an affirmative; and that those think from the negative principle, who believe nothing unless they are convinced by what is of reason and memory-knowledge; nay, by what is of sense; but those think from the affirmative who believe that things are true because the Lord has said so in the Word, thus who have faith in the Lord. They who are in the negative in regard to a thing being true because it is in the Word, say at heart that they will believe when they are persuaded by things rational and memory-knowledges. But the fact is that they never believe; and indeed they would not believe if they were to be convinced by the bodily senses of sight, hearing, and touch; for they would always form new reasonings against such things, and would thus end by completely extinguishing all faith, and at the same time turning the light of the rational into darkness, because into falsities. But those who are in the affirmative, that is, who believe that things are true because the Lord has said so, are continually being confirmed, and their ideas enlightened and strengthened, by what is of reason and memory-knowledge, and even by what is of sense; for man has light from no other source than by means of the things of reason and memory, and such is the way with everyone. With these the doctrine thus “living lives;” and of them it is said, that they “are healed,” and “bring forth;” whereas with those who are in the negative the doctrine “dying dies;” and it is said of them that “the womb closing is closed.” All this shows what it is to enter into the doctrine of faith by means of rational things, and what to enter into rational things by means of the doctrine of faith; but let this be illustrated by examples.

[3] It is from the doctrine of the Word, that the first and principal thing of doctrine is love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor. They who are in the affirmative in regard to this can enter into whatever things of reason and of memory, and even of sense, they please, everyone according to his gift, his knowledge, and his experience. Nay, the more they enter in, the more they are confirmed; for universal nature is full of confirmation. But they who deny this first and principal thing of doctrine, and who desire to be first convinced of anything true by means of the things of reason and memory, never suffer themselves to be convinced, because at heart they deny, and all the time take their stand in favor of some other principle which they believe to be essential; and finally, by confirmations of their principle they so blind themselves that they cannot even know what love to the Lord and love to the neighbor are. And as they confirm themselves in what is contrary, they at length confirm themselves in the notion that no other love is possible that has any delight in it except the love of self and of the world; and this to such a degree (if not in doctrine, yet in life) that they embrace infernal love in place of heavenly love. But with those who are not in the negative nor as yet in the affirmative, but are in doubt before they deny or affirm, the case is as above stated (n. 2568), namely that they who incline to a life of evil fall into the negative, but they who incline to a life of good are brought into the affirmative.

[4] Take another example: It is among the primary things of the doctrine of faith that all good is from the Lord, and all evil from man, that is, from one’s self. They who are in the affirmative that it is so, can confirm themselves by many things of reason and of memory-knowledge, such as that no good can possibly flow in except from good itself, that is, from the Fountain of Good, thus from the Lord; and that the beginning or principle of good can be from no other source; finding illustration in all things that are truly good, in themselves, in others, in the community, and also in the created universe. But they who are in the negative confirm themselves in what is contrary by everything they think of, insomuch that at last they do not know what good is; and dispute among themselves as to what is the highest good, being deeply ignorant of the fact that it is the celestial and spiritual good from the Lord, by which all lower good is made alive, and that the delight therefrom is truly delight. Some also think that unless good is from themselves, it cannot possibly come from any other source.

[5] Take as another example the truth that they who are in love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor can receive the truths of doctrine and have faith in the Word, but not they who are in the life of the love of self and the world; or what is the same, that they who are in good can believe, but not they who are in evil. They who are in the affirmative can confirm this by numberless things of reason and memory. From reason they can confirm it on the ground that truth and good agree, but not truth and evil; and that as all falsity is in evil, so it is from evil; and that if any who are in evil nevertheless have truth, it is on the lips, and not in the heart; and from their memory-knowledge they can confirm by many things that truths shun evils, and that evils spew out truths. But they who are in the negative confirm themselves by alleging that everyone, of whatever character, is able to believe just as well as others, even though he lives in continual hatred, in the delights of revenge, and in deceit; and this even while they themselves altogether reject from their doctrine the good of life, after the rejection of which they do not believe anything.

[6] That it may be still more manifest how the case herein is, let us take this example: They who are in the affirmative that the Word has been so written as to possess an internal sense which does not appear in the letter, can confirm themselves therein by many rational considerations; as that by the Word man has connection with heaven; that there are correspondences of natural things with spiritual, in which the spiritual are not seen; that the ideas of interior thought are altogether different from the material ideas which fall into the words of language; that man, being born for both lives, can, while in the world, be also in heaven, by means of the Word which is for both worlds; that with some persons a certain Divine light flows into the things of the understanding, and also into the affections, when the Word is read; that it is of necessity that there should be something written that has come down from heaven, and that therefore the Word cannot be such in its origin as it is in the letter; and that it can be holy only from a certain holiness that it has within it. He can also confirm himself by means of memory-knowledges; as that men were formerly in representatives, and that the writings of the Ancient Church were of this nature; also that the writings of many among the Gentiles had this origin; and that it is on this account that in the churches such a style has been revered as holy, and among the Gentiles as learned, as examples of which the books of many authors might be mentioned. But they who are in the negative, if they do not deny all these things, still do not believe them, and persuade themselves that the Word is such as it is in the letter, appearing indeed worldly, while yet being spiritual (as to where the spiritual is hidden within it they care little, but for manifold reasons are willing to let it be so), and this they can confirm by many things.

[7] In order to present the subject to the apprehension of the simple, take as an example the following matter of knowledge. They who are in the affirmative that sight is not of the eye, but of the spirit, which sees the things that are in the world through the eye as an organ of its body, can confirm themselves by many things; as from our hearing things said by others; in that they refer themselves to a certain interior sight, into which they are changed; which would be impossible unless there were an interior sight; also that whatever is thought of is seen by an interior sight, by some more clearly, by others more obscurely; and again, that things we imagine present themselves not unlike objects of sight; and also that unless it were the spirit within the body that saw the objects which fall within the ken of the eye as the organ of sight, the spirit could see nothing in the other life, when yet it cannot but be that it will see innumerable and amazing things that cannot possibly be seen with the bodily eye. Then again we may reflect that in dreams, especially those of the prophets, many things have been seen although not with the eyes. And finally, should anyone be skilled in philosophy, he may confirm himself by considering that outer things cannot enter into inner things, just as compounds cannot into simples; and therefore that things of the body cannot enter into those of the spirit, but only the reverse; not to mention a host of other proofs, until at last the man is persuaded that the spirit has sight, and not the eye, except from the spirit. But they who are in the negative call every consideration of this kind either a matter of nature or one of fancy, and when they are told that a spirit possesses and enjoys much more perfect sight than a man in the body, they ridicule the idea, and reject it as an idle tale, believing that if deprived of the sight of the bodily eye they would live in the dark; although the very opposite is the truth, for they are then in the light.

[8] From these examples we may see what it is to enter into the things of reason and memory-knowledge from truths, and what it is to enter into truths from the things of reason and memory-knowledge; and that the former is according to order, but the latter contrary to order; and that when we do that which is according to order we are enlightened; but when we do that which is contrary to order, we are made blind. All of which shows of how great concern it is that truths should be known and believed; for man is enlightened by truths, but is made blind by falsities. By truths there is opened to the rational an immense and almost unbounded field; but by falsities comparatively none at all, although this does not appear to be so. It is because the angels are in truths that they enjoy wisdom so great; for truth is the very light of heaven.

[9] They who have blinded themselves by not being willing to believe anything which they do not apprehend by the senses, until at length they have come to believe nothing, were in old times called “serpents of the tree of knowledge;” for such reasoned much from sensuous things and their fallacies, which easily fall into man’s apprehension and belief, and thereby they seduced many (see n. 195, 196). In the other life such are readily distinguished from other spirits by the fact that in regard to all things of faith they reason whether it be so; and if they are shown a thousand and a thousand times that it is so, still they advance negative doubts against every proof that is offered; and this they would go on doing to all eternity. So blind are they on this account that they have not common sense, that is, they cannot comprehend what good and truth are; and yet every one of them thinks himself wiser than all in the universe; making wisdom to consist in being able to invalidate what is Divine, and deduce it from what is natural. Many who in this world have been esteemed wise, are preeminently of this character; for the more anyone is endowed with talent and knowledge, and is in the negative, the more insane he is, beyond all others; whereas the more anyone is endowed with talent and knowledge, and is in the affirmative, the wiser he is able to be. It is by no means denied man to cultivate the rational faculty by means of memory-knowledges; but that which is forbidden is to harden ourselves against the truths of faith which belong to the Word.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 195-196)


[10] These things are much treated of in the internal sense of the Word, especially in that of the prophetic Word, where Asshur (or Assyria) and Egypt are treated of; for reasoning is signified by “Asshur” (n. 119, 1186); and memory-knowledge by “Egypt” (n. 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462). Concerning those who desire to enter into doctrinal and Divine things by means of memory-knowledges and rational things, we read in Isaiah:

I will confound Egypt in Egypt, and they shall fight every man against his brother, and every man against his companion, city against city, and kingdom against kingdom; and the spirit of Egypt shall be made void in the midst of it, and I will swallow up the counsel thereof; the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be dried up and shall become totally dry; and the streams shall vanish, the rivers of Egypt shall be diminished and dried up; the reed and the flag shall wither away; and all the seed of the river shall become dry. Jehovah hath mingled a spirit of perversities in the midst of her, and they have caused Egypt to go astray in every work thereof, as a drunken man strayeth in his vomit (Isaiah 19:2-3; 19:5-7, 14).

Woe to the rebellious sons, who walk to go down into Egypt, but have not asked at My mouth, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt. And the strength of Pharaoh shall be unto you for a shame, and the trust in the shadow of Egypt for a reproach (Isaiah 30:1-3).

Woe to them that go down into Egypt for help, and stay upon horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, and seek not Jehovah. And when Jehovah shall stretch out His hand, he that helpeth shall stumble, and he that is helped shall fall, and they shall all be consumed together. And Asshur shall fall by the sword not of man, and the sword not of man shall devour him (Isaiah 31:1, 3, 8).

In Jeremiah:

My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, to hew them out pits, broken pits, which can hold no water. Is Israel a servant? If he was born of the house, why is he become a prey? Dost thou not do this unto thyself, in that thou hast forsaken Jehovah thy God in the time when He led thee in the way? And now what hast thou to do with the way to Egypt to drink the waters of Shihor? Or what hast thou to do with the way of Asshur to drink the waters of the river? O generation, see ye the Word of Jehovah: have I been a wilderness unto Israel, a land of darkness? Wherefore said My people, We will rule, we will come no more unto Thee? Why goest thou away so much to change thy way? Thou shalt be ashamed from Egypt also, as thou wast ashamed from Asshur (Jeremiah 2:13-14, 17-18, 31, 36).

Hear ye the word of Jehovah, O remnant of Judah; thus saith Jehovah Zebaoth the God of Israel, If setting ye set your faces to come into Egypt, and ye come to sojourn there, then it shall come to pass that the sword which ye were fearing for yourselves shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine whereof ye were afraid shall cleave unto you there in Egypt, that ye die there. So shall it be with all the men who set their faces to come into Egypt, to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence; and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon you (Jeremiah 42:15-17, etc .).

In Ezekiel:

And all the inhabitants of Egypt shall know that I am Jehovah; because they have been a staff of reed to the house of Israel; in their taking thee by thy hand thou didst break, and didst rend for them every shoulder, and in their leaning upon thee thou breakest, and makest all their loins to be at a stand; therefore thus said the Lord Jehovih, Behold I will bring a sword upon thee, and will cut off from thee man and beast, and the land of Egypt shall be a desolation and a waste, and they shall know that I am Jehovah; because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it (Ezekiel 29:6-9, etc.).

In Hosea:

Ephraim was like a silly dove; they called unto Egypt, they went unto Asshur; when they shall go, I will spread out My net upon them; woe unto them because they have wandered away from Me (Hos. 7:11-13).

Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; every day he multiplieth a lie and a waste, and they make a covenant with Asshur, and oil is carried down into Egypt (Hos. 12:1).

Israel hath committed whoredom under her God; thou hast loved hire upon all the corn floors; Ephraim shall return into Egypt, and they shall eat what is unclean in Asshur; for lo they are gone away from devastation, Egypt shall gather them up, Moph shall bury them, the thorn shall possess their desirable things of silver, the thistle shall be in their tents. Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit; yea, though they bring forth yet will I slay the desired fruit of their womb; my God will cast them out, because they did not hearken unto Him, and they shall be wanderers among the nations (Hos. 9:1, 3, 6, 16-17).

In Isaiah:

Woe to Asshur, the rod of Mine anger, and he is the staff in their hand of Mine indignation; he thinketh not right, neither doth his heart meditate right; for it is in his heart to destroy and to cut off nations not a few; for he saith, Are not my princes all of them kings? I will visit upon the fruit of the elation of heart of the king of Asshur, for he hath said, In the strength of my hand I have done it, and in my wisdom, for I am intelligent; and I will remove the bounds of the peoples, and will plunder their treasures, and will cast down as a mighty one the inhabitants. Therefore shall the Lord of lords Zebaoth send among his fat ones leanness; and instead of his glory, kindling there shall be kindled a burning of fire (Isaiah 10:5, 7-8, 12-13, 16).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165)


[11] In all these passages, by “Asshur” as before shown is signified reasoning; by “Egypt” and “Pharaoh” memory-knowledge; by “Ephraim” the intellectual; and there is described in these and in many other places of what quality man’s rational becomes when it reasons concerning the truths of faith from the negative principle. The like is involved in Isaiah (chapters 36 and 37), where we read that when Rabshakeh, sent by the king of Asshur, spoke against Jerusalem and king Hezekiah, the Angel of Jehovah smote a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the king of Asshur; by which is signified what an overthrow of man’s reasonings takes place when he reasons against Divine things, however much the man may then appear to himself to be wise.

[12] This reasoning is also in various places called “whoredom with the sons of Egypt and with the sons of Asshur.” As in Ezekiel:

Thou hast committed whoredom with the sons of Egypt, thy neighbors, great of flesh, and hast multiplied thy whoredom and hast committed whoredom with the sons of Asshur, and yet thou wast not satisfied (Ezekiel 16:26, 28; 23:3, 5-21; see n. 2466).

[13] Concerning those who enter into rational things and memory-knowledges from the doctrine of faith, and thence are wise.

In Isaiah:

In that day shall there be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar at the border thereof to Jehovah; and it shall be for a sign and for a witness unto Jehovah Zebaoth in the land of Egypt; for they shall cry unto Jehovah because of the oppressors, and He shall send them a Saviour and a Prince, and He shall deliver them; and Jehovah shall be known to Egypt, and the Egyptians shall know Jehovah in that day; and they shall offer sacrifice and meat-offering, and shall vow a vow unto Jehovah, and shall perform it (Isaiah 19:19-21).

In the same:

In that day there shall be a highway from Egypt to Asshur, and Asshur shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptians shall serve Asshur. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Asshur, a blessing in the midst of the land, which Jehovah Zebaoth shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Asshur the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance (Isaiah 19:23-25); where the spiritual church is treated of, of which the spiritual is “Israel,” the rational is “Asshur,” and the faculty of knowing is “Egypt;” which three constitute the intellectual things of that church, which thus follow in order; on which account it is said, “In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Asshur,” and “Blessed be Egypt My people, and Asshur the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance.”

(References: Isaiah 19:18-21)


[14] In the same:

It shall come to pass in that day that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Asshur, and they that were outcasts in the land of Egypt, and they shall bow themselves down to Jehovah in the mountain of holiness at Jerusalem (Isaiah 27:13).

In the same:

Thus saith Jehovah, The labor of Egypt, and the merchandise of Cush and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine; they shall go after thee, and shall bow themselves down to thee, they shall make supplication unto thee. In thee only is God, and there is no God else besides (Isaiah 45:14);

“Cush and the Sabeans” are knowledges (n. 117, 1171).

In Zechariah:

Egypt shall go up to Jerusalem, to worship the King Jehovah Zebaoth (Zech. 14:17-18).

In Micah:

I look unto Jehovah, I wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me; a day for building thy walls, in this day, and they shall come even unto thee thence from Asshur, and the cities of Egypt, and thence from Egypt even to the river (Micah 7:7, 11-12).

[15] In Ezekiel:

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, At the end of forty years will I gather Egypt from the peoples whither they were scattered, and I will bring again the captivity of Egypt (Ezekiel 29:13-14).

In the same:

Behold, Asshur was a cedar in Lebanon with fair branches and a shadowing forest, and lofty in height, and its branch was among the tangled boughs; the waters made it grow, going with her streams round about her plantation, and she sent out her canals unto all the trees of the field; therefore its height was exalted above all the trees of the field, and its boughs were multiplied, and its branches became long by reason of many waters; all the birds of the heavens made their nests in its boughs, and under its branches all the beasts of the field brought forth, and under its shadow dwelt all great nations. And it became fair in its greatness, in the length of its branches, for its root was by many waters; the cedars in the garden of God did not hide it, the firs were not like its boughs, nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto it in its beauty. I made it fair by the multitude of its branches, and all the trees of Eden that were in the garden of God, envied it (Ezekiel 31:3-8).

The Most Ancient Church, which was celestial, is here described in regard to the quality of its rational, and thereby its wisdom and intelligence, because that church looked at things below from Divine things, thus at truths from goods themselves, and thence at things that are subordinate. “Asshur” and the “cedar” are the rational; the “tangled boughs among which were its branches” are memory-knowledges; the “rivers and waters” are spiritual goods, among which was its root; the “height and length of its branches” are its extension; the “garden of God” is the spiritual church; the “trees of Eden” are perceptions. From this and from all that goes before we can see what is the quality of man’s rational, and what is the quality of his faculty of knowing, when they are subordinated to Divine truths, and serve them by confirming them.

(References: Ezekiel 31:3-9)


[16] That rational things and memory-knowledges are of service to those who are in the affirmative as means of being wise, was represented and signified by its being commanded the sons of Israel to borrow from the Egyptians vessels of gold, and vessels of silver, and garments (Exodus 3:22; 11:2; 12:35-36). The like is meant by its being said in various passages of the Word that they should possess the goods, houses, vineyards, and oliveyards, and other things, of the nations; and also that the very gold and silver taken from the nations should become holy. As in Isaiah:

Jehovah will visit Tyre, and she shall return to her harlot hire, and shall commit whoredom with all the kingdoms of the earth upon the face of the ground, and her merchandise and her harlot hire shall be holiness to Jehovah; it shall not be stored up nor laid away, for to them that dwell before Jehovah her merchandise shall be for eating till satisfied, and for an ancient covering (Isaiah 23:17-18);

“the merchandise of Tyre” denotes knowledges (n. 1201), which to those who are in the negative are as harlot hire; but to those who are in the affirmative are as what is holy. The like is also meant by the Lord’s words:

Make to yourselves friends by means of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when ye fail they may receive you into eternal habitations; if ye have not become faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will intrust you with the true? (Luke 16:9, 11).

(References: Exodus 12:36; Ezekiel 31:3-9; Genesis 20:18; Isaiah 19:18-21)

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 God and the Universe
It's impossible to have a clear understanding of God when thinking from nature. God may be seen in nature when nature is viewed from spirit.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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