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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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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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Arcana Coelestia #3128

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3128. And told her mother’s house according to these words. That this signifies toward natural good of every kind whithersoever enlightenment could reach, is evident from the signification of the “mother’s house,” as being the good of the external man, that is, natural good. (That a “house” denotes good may be seen above, n. 2233, 2234, 2559; also that man’s external or natural is from the mother, but the internal from the father, n. 1815.) The good with man is compared in the Word to a “house,” and on this account a man who is in good is called a “house of God;” but internal good is called the “father’s house,” and the good that is in the same degree is called the “house of the brethren;” but external good, which is the same as natural good, is called the “mother’s house.” Moreover all good and truth are born in this manner, namely, by the influx of internal good as of a father into external good as of a mother.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2233-2234)


[2] As this verse treats of the origin of the truth which is to be conjoined with good in the rational, it is therefore said that Rebekah (by whom this truth is represented) ran to the house of her mother, for that was the origin of this truth. For as before said and shown, all good flows in by an internal way (that is, by the way of the soul) into man’s rational, and through this into his faculty of knowing, even into that which is of the senses; and by enlightenment there it causes truths to be seen. Truths are called forth thence, and are divested of their natural form, and are conjoined with good in the midway, that is, in the rational, and at the same time they make the man rational, and at last spiritual. But how these things are accomplished is utterly unknown to man; because at this day it is scarcely known what good is, and that it is distinct from truth; still less that man is reformed by means of the influx of good into truth, and by the conjunction of the two; neither is it known that the rational is distinct from the natural. And when these things, which are most general, are not known, it cannot possibly be known how the initiation of truth into good, and the conjunction of the two, is effected-which are the subjects treated of in this chapter in its internal sense. But whereas these arcana have been revealed, and are manifest to those who are in good, that is, who are angelic minds, therefore however obscure they may appear to others, they nevertheless are to be set forth, because they are in the internal sense.

[3] Concerning the enlightenment from good through truth in the natural man, which is here called the “mother’s house,” the case is this: Divine good with man inflows into his rational, and through the rational into his natural, and indeed into its memory-knowledges, that is, into the knowledges and doctrinal things therein, as before said; and there by a fitting of itself in, it forms truths for itself, through which it then enlightens all things that are in the natural man. But if the life of the natural man is such that it does not receive the Divine good, but either repels it, or perverts it, or suffocates it, then the Divine good cannot be fitted in, thus it cannot form for itself truths; and consequently the natural can no longer be enlightened; for enlightenment in the natural man is effected from good through truths; and when there is no longer enlightenment, there can be no reformation. This is the reason why in the internal sense the natural man also is much treated of in regard to its quality; thus whence truth is, namely, that it is from good there.

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Arcana Coelestia 3142, 3538, 3607, 3720, 3809, 3987, 4390, 4982, 5134, 5135, 5297, 5353, 5648, 5694, 5776, 6041, 7833, 7848, 9150, 9372

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 27


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 175, 193, 240

Other New Christian Commentary

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Arcana Coelestia #3607

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3607. 'The days of mourning for my father are approaching, and I will kill Jacob my brother' means an inversion, and the removal from truth of the life from itself. This is clear from the meaning of 'the days of mourning' as an inversion of state, and from the meaning of 'killing his brother Jacob' as removing from truth the life from itself. These matters are similar to those discussed just above about hatred not being meant in the internal sense by 'hatred'. The same is also evident from things that are happening all the time in the next life. In that life all good flowing down from heaven to those under the influence of evil is converted into that which is evil, and among those in hell into that which is an opposite of that good; and truth in a similar way is converted into falsity, see 2123. Conversely therefore, that which exists as evil and falsity among such evil spirits as these exists in heaven as good and truth; and to turn this into what is good, there are spirits along the way who remove ideas of evil and falsity so that an idea of good and truth may present itself. Concerning that removal, see 1393, 1875. Furthermore when evil and falsity reach people with whom good and truth are present they are not seen as evil and falsity but under some other form determined by the disposition and state of the goodness that exists with them.

[2] From this it may also be seen that 'killing Jacob his brother' does not mean in the internal sense killing but the removal of that life which does not properly belong to truth. For of itself truth has no life except from good, truth being merely a vessel for receiving good, see 1496, 1832, 1900, 2063, 2261, 2269, 2697, 3049, 3068, 3128, 3146, 3318, 3387. It is in good that life lies, but not in truth unless it receives it from good 1589, and many other paragraphs. Consequently the removal from truth of the life from itself does not destroy truth but gives it life, for when truth seems to possess life from itself it does not possess any life at all other than that which is not life in itself. But when that life from itself is removed, life itself is then conferred on it, that is to say, the life received by way of good from the Lord, who is life itself.

[3] This is plain to see in those in the next life with whom truth alone exists. Their ideas appear closed, so much so that things of heaven are unable to flow in except in so general a way that it is scarcely recognized as being influx from that source. But the ideas of those with whom good as well as truth exists appear to be open, so much so that things of heaven flow so to speak into a miniature heaven or an image of themselves, for such things flow by way of the good present with those persons into the truths, see 1869, 2429. The fact that truth has the life from itself removed from it when good starts to occupy the prior position or to have dominion may be seen from what has been stated and shown already about the apparent priority of truth in the first stage and about the priority of good later on. It is this removal from truth of life from itself that is meant here. The reason why these matters are referred to as 'mourning for a father' is that 'the days of mourning' means an inversion of state, the inversion of state that was meant above in verse 33 by Isaac's 'trembling very greatly', 3593, and in verse 34 by Esau's crying out 'with a loud and bitter cry', 3597.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2425, Genesis 27:41)

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Arcana Coelestia 3610, 3701, 4307, 5120, 8413, 9093, 9205, 9325, 10237, 10490

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 21, 23, 121, 186, 246, 308


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