From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous    Next →

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)

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous    Next →

   Study this Passage
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
Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 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.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3


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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Arcana Coelestia #3147

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 10837  

← Previous    Next →

3147. And water to wash his feet. That this signifies purification there, is evident from the signification of “water for washing,” or of washing with water, as being to purify (concerning which presently); and from the signification of “feet,” as being natural things, or what is the same, the things in the natural man (see n. 2162). In the representative church it was customary to wash the feet with water, and thereby to signify that the unclean things of the natural man were washed away. The unclean things of the natural man are all those things which are of the love of self and of the love of the world; and when these unclean things have been washed away, then goods and truths flow in, for it is solely these unclean things that hinder the influx of good and truth from the Lord.

[2] For good is continually flowing in from the Lord, but when it comes through the internal or spiritual man to his external or natural man, it is there either perverted, turned back, or suffocated. But when the things which are of the love of self and of the love of the world are removed, then good is received there and is made fruitful; for then man practices the works of charity. This is evident from many considerations; as when in misfortune, distress, and sickness, the things that belong to the external or natural man are merely lulled, the man forthwith begins to think piously and to will what is good, and also to practice works of piety insofar as he is able; but when the state is changed, there is a change also in all this.

[3] These things were signified by the washings in the Ancient Church, and the same were represented in the Jewish Church, The reason why they were signified in the Ancient Church, but represented in the Jewish church, was that the man of the Ancient Church regarded the rite as a something external in worship, and did not believe that he was purified by that washing, but by the washing away of the impurities of the natural man, which as before said are the things which are of the love of self and of the world. But the man of the Jewish Church believed that he was purified by that washing; neither knowing nor desiring to know that the purification of the interiors was signified.

[4] That by “washing” is signified a cleansing from the impurities referred to, is evident in Isaiah:

Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes, cease to do evil (Isaiah 1:16); where it is evident that to “wash themselves” means to make themselves pure and to put away evils. Again:

When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof, in the spirit of judgment and in the spirit of expurgation (Isaiah 4:4); where “washing away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purging the blood of Jerusalem,” denotes purifying from evils and falsities.

In Jeremiah:

O Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall the thoughts of thine iniquity lodge within thee? (Jeremiah 4:14).

[5] In Ezekiel:

I washed thee with water, and I washed away thy bloods from upon thee, and anointed thee with oil (Jeremiah 16:9 [NCBSW: Ezekiel 16:9]); concerning Jerusalem, by which is there meant the Ancient Church; “washing with waters” denotes purifying from falsities; “washing away bloods” denotes purging from evils; “anointing with oil” denotes filling then with good.

In David:

Wash me from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. Thou shalt purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow (Psalms 51:2, 7).

Here “being washed” plainly denotes being purified from evils and their falsities.

[6] These are the things that were signified by “washing” in the representative church; and it was commanded for the sake of the representation that when they had become unclean they should wash the skin, the hands, the feet, and also the garments, and should be cleansed; by all which things were signified those which are of the natural man. Lavers also, of brass, were placed outside the temple, namely, the brazen sea and the ten brazen lavers (1 Kings 7:23-39); and a laver of brass at which Aaron and his sons were to wash was placed between the tent of meeting and the altar; and thus outside the tent (Exodus 30:18-19, 21); by which also was signified that only external or natural things were to be purified; for unless these have been purified, that is, unless the things that are of the love of self and of the world have been removed, the internal things which are of love to the Lord and toward the neighbor cannot possibly flow in, as before said.

[7] For the better understanding of how these things are circumstanced, namely, that external things are to be purified, take as an example and illustration good works, or what is the same, the goods of charity which at this day are called the fruits of faith; these are external things, because they are the exercises of charity. Good works are evil works unless those things are removed which are of the love of self and of the world; for when works are done before these have been removed, they indeed appear good outwardly, but are inwardly evil; for they are done either for the sake of reputation, or for gain, or for the sake of one’s honor, or for recompense, thus they are either self-meritorious 1 or hypocritical; for that which is of the love of self and the world causes the works to be such. But when these evils are removed, the works then become good; and they are goods of charity; that is, in them there is not regard to self, to the world, to reputation, to recompense; thus they are neither self-meritorious nor hypocritical; for then celestial love and spiritual love flow in from the Lord into the works and cause them to be love and charity in act; and then the Lord through these loves also purifies the natural or external man, and disposes it into order, so as to receive correspondently the celestial and spiritual things that flow in.

[8] This is clearly evident from what the Lord taught when He washed the feet of the disciples, as we read in John:

Then cometh He to Simon Peter; and Peter saith unto Him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto Him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me. Simon Peter saith unto Him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that hath been washed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit; ye are clean already, but not all (John 13:4-17).

“He that hath been washed, needeth not save to wash his feet” signifies that he who has been reformed, has need only to be cleansed as to natural things, that is, has need that evils and falsities should be removed from them; and then all things are disposed into order by the influx of spiritual things from the Lord. Moreover to wash the feet was an office of charity, as meaning not to reflect on the evils of another; and it was also an office of humility, as meaning to cleanse another from evils as from impurities; as also is evident from the Lord’s words in the passage just quoted (verses 12-17; also Luke 7:37-38, 44, 46; John 11:2; 1 Samuel 25:41).

(References: John 13:12-17)


[9] Everybody can see that washing himself does not purify anyone from evils and falsities, but only from the impurities that cling to him; nevertheless, as washing was among the rites commanded in the church, it follows that it involves something special, namely, spiritual washing, that is, purification from the uncleannesses which inwardly adhere to man. Therefore they who knew these things in that church, and thought about the purification of the heart, or the removal of the evils of the love of self and of the love of the world from the natural man, and who endeavored to effect this with all diligence, observed the rite of washing as external worship according to commandment; but those who did not know this and did not desire to know it, but thought that the mere rite of washing their garments, skin, hands, and feet, would purify them, and that provided they did these things they might be allowed to live in avarice, hatreds, revenge, unmercifulness, and cruelties, which are spiritual impurity, practiced this rite as an idolatrous one. Nevertheless they could represent by it, and by representation exhibit something of the church, whereby there might be some conjunction of heaven with man before the Lord’s advent; yet such conjunction as affected the man of the church little or not at all.

[10] The Jews and Israelites were such that they had no thought about the internal man, nor willingness to know anything about it; thus none at all concerning celestial and spiritual things, relating to the life after death. But yet lest all communication with heaven and thus with the Lord should perish, they were bound to external rites, whereby internal things were signified. All their captivities and plagues were in general for the end that external rites might be strictly observed for the sake of the representation.

Hence then it was that Moses washed Aaron and his sons with water at the door of the tent, that they might be sanctified (Exodus 29:4 40:12; Leviticus 8:6); that Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and feet before they entered into the tent of meeting and came near to the altar to minister, that they might not die; and that this was to be to them a statute forever (Exodus 30:18-21; 40:30-31); that Aaron was to wash his flesh before he put on the garments of ministry (Leviticus 16:4, 24); that the Levites were to be purified by being sprinkled with the water of expiation; and that they were to cause a razor to pass over their flesh, and to wash their garments, and thus should be pure (Numbers 8:6-7); that whoever should eat the carcass even of a clean beast, or one that was torn, should wash his garments, and bathe himself in water; and if he did not wash himself and bathe his flesh, he should bear his iniquity (Leviticus 17:15-16); that whoever touched the bed of one affected with the flux, or who sat upon a vessel on which he had sat, and whoever touched his flesh, should wash his garments, and bathe himself with water, and should be unclean till the evening (Leviticus 15:5-7, 10; 15:10-12); that whoever let go the he-goat, as a scape-goat, should wash his flesh (Leviticus 16:26); that when a leprous person was cleansed, he was to wash his garments, shave off all his hair, and wash himself with water, and he should be clean (Leviticus 14:8-9); nay, that the very vessels which were made unclean by the touch of things unclean, should be passed through water, and should be unclean until evening (Leviticus 11:32). From these things it may be seen that no one was made clean or pure as to internal things by the rite of washing, but only represented one pure or spiritually clean, for the reason given above. That this is so, the Lord teaches plainly in Matthew (15:1-2, 20), and (Matthew 15:20) in Mark (7:1-23).

-----
Footnotes:

1. The words “merit,” “to merit,” and “meritorious,” are used by Swedenborg in a bad sense, meaning self-merit, etc., except when applied to the Lord. [Reviser.]

-----

(References: Exodus 40:30-32; Genesis 24:32; Matthew 15:1-20)


Go to section / 10837  

← Previous    Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 3324, 3693, 3721, 3761, 3881, 3986, 4208, 4280, 4302, 4311, 4382, 4515, 4938, 5328, 5508, 5669, 6015, 6372, 6377, 6413, 6463, 6730, 6844, 6947, 7046, 7442, 7729, 7864, 8046, 8106, 8588, 8789, 8886, 8918, 9054, 9223, 9229, 9262, ...

Heaven and Hell 603

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 186, 209, 248, 277


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 69, 71, 130, 163, 176, 240, 279, 365, 376, 405, 433, 443

Other New Christian Commentary

Good Works 1

Feet 1

Washing feet 1

Wash 1

Bloods 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Jesus Washes the Disciples' Feet
In washing the disciples' feet Jesus showed His unconditional love for humankind. His example shows us leadership qualities to strive for.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17


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

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #176

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)      

Study this Passage

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous    Next →

176. (v. 27) And he shall rule them with a rod of iron. That this signifies that He is about to chastise evils by means of truths which are in the natural man is evident from the signification of ruling, as being to chastise, for it is added that He would break them in pieces as a potter's vessels, and the evils which are thereby signified are chastised by means of truths; also from the signification of a rod of iron, as being truths in the natural man. By a rod or staff is signified power, by means of which chastisement is effected, and by iron, truths in the natural man which chastise. (That a rod or staff denotes power, may be seen, n. 4013, 4015, 4876, 4936, 6947, 7011, 7026, 7568, 7572; that hence it is that kings have a sceptre, which is a short staff, n. 4581, 4876.) The reason why iron signifies truths in the natural man is, that metals, as well as all other things on earth, from correspondence, signify things spiritual and celestial, all of which have reference to truths and goods. Gold signifies the good of the internal man, silver its truths; copper or brass the good of the external or natural man, iron its truth. This is the reason why the ancients called the Ages by the names of metals - golden, silver, copper and iron: golden from the most ancient men, who lived in the good of love; silver from the ancients after them, who lived in truths from that good; copper from their posterity, who were in external or natural good; iron from the posterity of the latter, who were in natural truth alone without good. Natural truth is truth in the memory, and not in the life; truth which is of the life is good. (But more may be seen concerning this correspondence in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 104, 115.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4013, 4015, Arcana Coelestia 4581, 4876, 4936, Arcana Coelestia 6947, 7011, 7026, Arcana Coelestia 7568, 7572; Heaven and Hell 104, 115; Revelation 2:27)


[2] The successive states of the church, even until the coming of the Lord, are meant by the gold, the silver, the brass, and the iron of which the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar in a dream was composed, as it is thus recorded in Daniel:

"His head was fine gold, his breast and his arms silver, his belly and his thighs brass, his legs iron, his feet part of iron and part of clay. And a stone was cut out" of the rock, "and smote the image upon his feet, that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Whereas thou sawest the feet, part of potter's clay and part of iron," it signifies that "the kingdom shall be divided; the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly broken. Whereas thou sawest iron mixed with clay of mire, they shall mingle themselves by the seed of man; but they shall not cohere the one with the other, even as iron is not mixed with clay" (n. 32-34, 41-43).

By the head which was fine gold is meant the first state of the church, when men were in the good of love to the Lord; by the breast and arms, which were silver is meant the second state of the church, when they were in truth from that good. By the belly and thighs which were of brass, the following or third state of the church, when men were no longer in spiritual but in natural good, for brass signifies that good; by the legs which were of iron is meant the fourth state of the church, when there was no longer natural good, but only truth; but by the feet which were of iron and clay is meant the last state of the church, when there are truth and falsity: truth in the Word and falsity in doctrine. When the truths of the Word are falsified, and doctrine is drawn from falsified truth, then the state of the church is part iron and part clay, and thus the kingdom is partly strong and partly broken. The kingdom in this passage denotes the church; therefore the church is also called the kingdom of God. That truths are thus mixed with falsities, but that still they do not cohere, is meant by Whereas thou sawest iron mixed with clay of mire, they shall mingle themselves by the seed of man, but they shall not cohere one with the other, even as iron is not mixed with clay. The seed of man denotes Divine truth which is in the Word. (That this is signified by seed, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 3038, 3337, 10,248, 10,249; that man signifies the Lord, from whom is the Word and also the church, see n. 768, 4287, 7424, 7523, 8547, 9276.) That potter's clay signifies the falsities that are in the natural man, will be seen presently in the following article, no. 177. By the stone cut out of the rock, which smote the image, upon his feet is meant the Lord by means of Divine truth, and the destruction of falsities not cohering with truths from the Word. (That stone signifies truth, and that the stone of Israel is the Lord as to Divine truth, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 643, 1298, 3720, 6426, 8609, 10,376; that rock also signifies the Lord, n. 8581, 10,580, and in the small work, The Last Judgement n. 57.) Because iron signifies truths in the natural man, therefore the feet of the statue were of iron, for feet signify the Natural (as may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 2162, 3147, 3761, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 643, 768, 1298, 2162, Arcana Coelestia 3038, 3147, 3373, 3720, 3761, 3986, Arcana Coelestia 4280, 4287, Arcana Coelestia 4938-4952, 6426, Arcana Coelestia 7424, 7523, Arcana Coelestia 8547, 8581, 8609, Arcana Coelestia 9276, Arcana Coelestia 10248-10249, 10376, 10580; Daniel 2:32-34, 2:41-43; The Apocalypse Explained 177; The Last Judgment 57)


[3] Similar things are signified by gold, silver, brass, and iron, in the prophet Isaiah:

"For brass I will bring gold, for iron silver, for wood brass, and for stones iron" (lx. 17).

For brass to bring gold denotes celestial good for natural good; for iron silver denotes celestial truth for natural truth: for wood brass, and for stones iron denote natural good and truth in such abundance as are wood and stone. The state of the celestial church is here treated of. (That iron signifies truth in the natural man, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 425, 426.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 425-426; Isaiah 60:17)


[4] These things are adduced, in order that it may be known that a rod of iron signifies power, by means of which the Lord chastises the evils and disperses the falsities that are in the natural man. For a rod or staff signifies power, as was said above, and iron signifies truths in the natural man. The reason why the Lord chastises evils and disperses falsities by means of truths in the natural man is, that all evils and the falsities therefrom reside therein, but none in the spiritual or internal man. The internal man does not receive evils and falsities, but is closed against them; and because these all reside in the natural man, therefore they must be chastised and dispersed by the things that are also there, which are truths. Truths in the natural man are scientifics (scientifica) and knowledges cognitiones), from which man can think, reason and conclude naturally concerning the truths and goods of the church, and concerning the falsities and evils which are opposed to them, and thence be in some natural enlightenment when he reads the Word: for the Word in the letter is not intelligible without enlightenment, and this is either spiritual or natural. Spiritual enlightenment is only granted to those who are spiritual, who are those who are in the good of love and of charity, and consequently in truths; but natural enlightenment alone is granted to those who are natural (which may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 153, 425, and n. 140, above). To those also who are spiritual while they live in the world, there is granted enlightenment in the Natural; but this exists from the enlightenment in the Spiritual; for with them the Lord flows in through the spiritual or internal man into the natural or external, and thus enlightens the latter. From this enlightenment man sees what is true and good, and what is false and evil; and when he sees these things, then the Lord disperses the evils and falsities which are in the natural man by means of the truths and goods which are also there, and which make one with the goods and truths in the spiritual or internal man. (Further particulars concerning sciences (scientiis) and knowledges (cognitionibus), and what they effect, may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 51, and concerning influx, n. 277, 278.)

(References: Heaven and Hell 153, 425, 455; The Apocalypse Explained 140; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51, 277-278)


[5] From these considerations it may now be seen, what is signified by the rod of iron with which the Lord shall rule the nations, that is, will chastise the evils in the natural man. These things are said to the angel of this church because the subject treated of in what is written to this angel is the internal and external man, and their conjunction. For, when the internal and external, or the Spiritual and Natural are conjoined, then the Lord chastises the evils and falsities that are in the natural man, and this by means of the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good. But in the case of those in whom the internal and external man are not conjoined, evils and falsities cannot be chastised and expelled, because they receive nothing through the spiritual man from heaven, but everything they receive is from the world, which their Rational favours, and for which it furnishes confirmations.

Things similar to those here signified by a rod of iron, are also signified in the following passages; as in David:

"Thou shalt bruise" the nations "with a sceptre of iron; as a potter's vessel shalt thou disperse them" (Ps. ii. 9).

In Isaiah:

"He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked" (xi. 4).

In the Apocalypse:

The woman "brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron" (xii. 5).

Out of the mouth of him that sat upon the white horse "went a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations; for he shall rule them with a rod of iron" (xix. 15).

And in Micah:

"Arise, O daughter of Zion; for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass, and thou shalt beat in pieces many peoples" (iv. 13).

The daughter of Zion is the celestial church; a horn is power in the natural man; hoofs are its ultimates, which are called sensual scientifics (scientifica sensualia); hence it is evident what is signified by making the horn iron, and the hoofs brass. (That the daughter of Zion is the celestial church may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 2362, 9055; that horn denotes the power of truth from good in the natural man, n. 2832, 9081, 9719-9721, 10,182, 10,186; and that hoofs are the scientifics of the sensual man, which are truths in the ultimate of order, n. 7729.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2362, 2832, Arcana Coelestia 7729, Arcana Coelestia 9055, 9081, Arcana Coelestia 9719-9720, 9721, 10182, 10186; Isaiah 11:4; Micah 4:13; Psalms 2:9; Revelation 12:5, 19:15)

Go to section / 1232  

← Previous    Next →

   Study this Passage
From Swedenborg's Works

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 149, 163, 230, 422, 438, 540, 577, 727, 1147

Other New Christian Commentary

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


Translate: