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Arcana Coelestia #9372

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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

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


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

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

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

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135)


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

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

Other New Christian Commentary

John the Baptist 1

Elijah 1

Leathern girdle, the, which john the Baptist wore 1

Locusts 1

Raiment 1

Reed shaken with the wind 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
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 John the Baptist
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Arcana Coelestia #4281

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4281. That by “the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint in his wrestling with him,” is signified that this conjunction was wholly injured and displaced in Jacob’s posterity, is evident from the signification of being “out of joint” in the sense in question, as being to be displaced, and thus to be injured. That the “hollow of the thigh” denotes conjunction, is manifest from what was said above (n. 4280); and because in the Word “Jacob” denotes not only Jacob, but also all his posterity, as is evident from many passages in the Word (Numbers 23:7, 10, 21, 2 23:23; 24:5, 1 24:17, 19; Deuteronomy 33:10; Isaiah 40:27; 43:1, 22; 44:1-2, 21; 48:12; 59:20; Jeremiah 10:16, 25; 30:7, 10, 18; 31:7, 11; 46:27-28; Hosea 10:11 Amos 7:2; Micah 2:12; 3:8; Psalms 14:7; 24:6; 59:13; 78:5; 99:4 and elsewhere).

[2] That Jacob and his posterity were of such a character that with them celestial and spiritual love could not be conjoined with natural good (that is, the internal or spiritual man with the external or natural man), is manifest from everything which is related of that nation in the Word; for they did not know, nor were they willing to know, what the internal or spiritual man is, and therefore this was not revealed to them; for they believed that nothing exists in man except that which is external and natural. In all their worship they had regard to nothing else, insomuch that Divine worship was to them no otherwise than idolatrous; for when internal worship is separated from external, it is merely idolatrous. The church that was instituted with them was not a church, but only the representative of a church; for which reason that church is called a representative church. That a representative of a church is possible with such people may be seen above (n. 1361, 3670, 4208).

[3] For in representations the person is not reflected upon, but the thing which is represented; and therefore Divine, celestial, and spiritual things were represented not only by persons, but also by inanimate things, as by Aaron’s garments, the ark, the altar, the oxen and sheep that were sacrificed, the lampstand with its lamps, the bread of arrangement upon the golden table, the oil with which they were anointed, the frankincense, and other like things. Hence it was that their kings, the evil as well as the good, represented the Lord’s royalty; and the high priests, the evil as well as the good, represented the things that belong to the Lord’s Divine priesthood, when they discharged their office in an outward form according to the statutes and precepts. In order therefore that the representative of a church might come forth among them, such statutes and laws were given them by manifest revelation as were altogether representative; and therefore so long as they were in them and observed them strictly, so long they were able to represent; but when they turned aside from them, as to the statutes and laws of other nations, and especially to the worship of another god, they then deprived themselves of the faculty of representing. For this reason they were driven by outward means, such as captivities, disasters, threats, and miracles, to laws and statutes truly representative; but not by internal means, as are those who have internal worship in external. These things are signified by the “hollow of Jacob’s thigh being out of joint,” taken in the internal historical sense, which regards Jacob and his posterity.

(References: Genesis 32:25)

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Arcana Coelestia 4288, 4291, 4292, 4307, 4310, 4311, 4314, 4429, 4433, 4439, 4459, 4486, 4500, 4515, 4825, 4852, 5051, 6238, 6592, 7041, 7043, 7048, 8588, 8788, 8886, 8918, 8928, 8932, 9166, 9229, 9320, 9372, 9380, 9391, 9409, 9458, 10040, 10396, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 248


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 130, 433, 443, 710

Other New Christian Commentary

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

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Arcana Coelestia #4459

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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4459. 'Jacob's sons answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully means evil thought and intention regarding the truth and the good of the Church among the Ancients. This is clear from the representation of 'Shechem' as truth among the Ancients, or what amounts to the same, truth from the ancient Divine stock, dealt with in 4399, 4454; from the representation of 'Hamor' as the good from which that truth sprang, dealt with in 4399, 4431, 4447, 4454; and from the meaning of 'deceit' as evil thought and intention. In general deceit implies evil against another and against what he says and does, for the thought and intention of the one who is deceitful is different from that of the other person, as is also clear from the outcome of events described in this chapter. From this it is evident that 'the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully' means evil thought and intention regarding the truth and the good of the Church among the Ancients.

[2] The sons of Jacob, that is, his descendants, could have none but an evil thought and intention regarding the truth and the good belonging to the internal man, because they were interested in external things devoid of internal, 4281, 4293, 4307, 4429, 4433. They saw no value at all in internal things, and therefore utterly despised them. Such is also the nature of that nation at the present day, and so it is of all who are interested only in external things. People who are interested only in external things do not even know what it is to be interested in internal things, since they have no knowledge of what is internal. If anyone in their presence mentions that which is internal they either endorse the existence of it because they know from doctrine of its existence, though that endorsement is attributable to their deceit, or else they deny the existence of it with their lips as they do in their hearts. For they do not go further than the experiences of the senses of the external man, and as a consequence do not believe in any life after death. Nor do they believe any resurrection to be possible apart from their rising again in the physical body. That being so, they are allowed to have these thoughts concerning the resurrection, or else they would not have any at all. For they centre the whole of life in the body, not knowing that the life of their body flows from the life of their spirit which lives after death. People who are interested only in external things cannot possibly have any faith, for external things with them annihilate all thought concerning internal ones, and consequently all belief in them.

[3] Since this kind of ignorance reigns at the present day, an explanation needs to be given of what it is to be interested in external things devoid of internal. All people who are devoid of conscience are interested only in external things, for the internal man reveals itself through conscience. Anyone is devoid of conscience if he thinks and does what is true and good not for the sake of what is true and good but for the sake of his own personal position and gain, and also merely because he fears the law and fears for his own life. For if reputation, position, gain, and life were not endangered he would plunge without conscience into every unmentionable act. This is quite evident from those in the next life who were such during their lifetime. Because interior things are laid bare in that life those people are constantly endeavouring to destroy others, on account of which they are in hell, where they are held in bonds in a spiritual manner.

[4] To enable anyone to have a fuller knowledge of what is meant by an interest in external things, and what by an interest in internal ones; to enable him to know also that people who are interested only in external things cannot have any conception of what internal ones are and so cannot feel any affection for them (for nobody feels any affection for things of which he has no conception) let the following, for example, be considered. One who is least in heaven is the greatest, one who is humble is exalted, and also one who is poor and needy is rich and affluent. People who are interested only in external things cannot have any conception of these matters, for they think that the least cannot possibly be the greatest, nor the humble be the exalted, and that the poor cannot possibly be rich or the needy affluent. Yet this is precisely how it is in heaven. And because they cannot have any conception of these matters they are consequently unable to feel any affection for them; and when they reflect on them from the point of view of the bodily and worldly things which interest them they feel an aversion to them. How it is in heaven they do not know at all, and as long as they are interested only in external things they do not wish to know, nor indeed are they capable of knowing. For in heaven one who knows, acknowledges, and believes in his heart that is, with affection - that none of his power is self-derived, but that all the power he has comes from the Lord, is called the least. Yet he is the greatest because his power comes from the Lord. Similarly so with one who is humble yet exalted; for one who is humble, acknowledging and believing from affection that he has no self-derived power at all, nor any self-derived intelligence and wisdom, nor any goodness and truth, has power, an intelligent understanding of truth, and a wise discernment of good, conferred on him by the Lord more than on others. And likewise so with the poor and the needy being rich and affluent; for he is called poor and needy who believes in his heart and with affection that nothing he possesses begins in himself, nor does anything he knows and is wise in, nor does anything he has power in. In heaven he is rich and is affluent, the Lord granting him total wealth since he is wiser and richer than all others and lives in most magnificent palaces, 1116, 1626, 1627, and among the treasures constituting all the riches of heaven.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1626-1627)


[5] Take as another example someone who is interested only in external things. Such a person cannot have any conception at all that heavenly joy consists in loving the neighbour more than himself and the Lord above all things, and that happiness depends on the amount and the quality of that love. For one interested only in external things loves himself more than his neighbour, and if he does love others it is because they show him favour; and so he loves them for a selfish reason - and he therefore loves himself in them and them in himself. A person like this cannot know what loving others more than himself is; indeed he does not wish to know, and is incapable of knowing. Consequently when told that heaven consists in such love, 548, he is repelled by the idea. Hence those who have been like this during their lifetime are unable to draw near any heavenly community; and when they do draw near, because they feel repelled by it, they cast themselves down headlong into hell.

[6] Because few at the present day know what it is to be interested in external things and what it is to be interested in internal ones, and because the majority believe that those interested in internal things cannot be interested in external ones, and vice versa, let one further example be introduced to illustrate the matter. Take the nourishment of the body and the nourishment of the soul. A person who is interested in merely external pleasures takes care of his own skin, gratifies his stomach, likes to live sumptuously, and finds that the choicest food and drink yields him the highest pleasure. A person however who is interested in internal things also takes delight in those same pleasures, but his governing affection is to nourish the body with pleasurable foods so that it may be healthy, the end in view being a healthy mind in a healthy body. His primary concern is health of mind, for which health of the body serves as a means. One who is a spiritual man does not stop there but regards health of mind or of the soul as the means provided to acquire intelligence and wisdom, not for the sake of reputation, position, or gain, but for the sake of the life after death. And one who is spiritual in a more interior degree regards intelligence and wisdom as a mediate end enabling him to serve as a useful member in the Lord's kingdom; while one who is celestial regards the same as that which enables him to serve the Lord. To him bodily food is a means to the enjoyment of spiritual food; and spiritual food is a means to the enjoyment of celestial food. And because they ought to serve in this manner those foods also correspond, and are therefore called foods. From these examples one may see what is meant by being interested only in external things and what by being interested in internal ones.

[7] The Jewish and Israelite nation, which is the subject in this chapter in the internal historical sense, apart from those who have died as children, are for the most part such. They more than all others are interested in external things, for they are governed by avarice. Those who do not love profit and gain for the sake of any use, only for the sake of gold and silver, and who focus the whole delight of life in those possessions, dwell in the outermost or lowest places, since they are entirely earthly things which they love. But those loving gold and silver because of some use these may serve are people who rise above earthly things, in accordance with that use. The use itself which a person loves is what gives direction to his life and marks him off from others, an evil use making him like one in hell and a good use like one in heaven. It is not indeed the use itself that does so but the love behind it, for everyone's life is inherent in his love.

(References: Genesis 34:13)

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Arcana Coelestia 4464, 4825, 6502, 7041, 8788, 9139, 9372, 9527, 10396, 10490

Heaven and Hell 356, 603

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 47, 48, 51, 107, 120, 121, 139, 218, 277


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 84, 118, 235, 336, 374, 443

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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