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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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 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

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Arcana Coelestia #8928

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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8928. 'And Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was' means a joining even of the truth of spiritual good to God's truth. This is clear from the representation of 'Moses' as God's truth below heaven joined to God's truth in heaven, consequently an intermediary kind of truth - dealt with in 8760, 8787, 8805 - thus the truth of spiritual good (for such truth is God's truth below heaven, which exists with the spiritual Church represented by the children of Israel; and Moses as the head of that Church represents this truth, 7014); from the meaning of 'drawing near' as a joining together, for drawing near the Divine is being joined to Him; and from the meaning of 'the thick darkness' as God's truth as it exists with those who belong to the spiritual Church, and also as it existed with that people whom Moses was set over as leader. The reason why God's truth is 'thick darkness' to both these is that neither of them is in any light as regards God's truths.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 7041)


[2] Let those who belong to the spiritual Church be dealt with first. Those who belong to it believe that they are in the light. Yet they are in obscurity, indeed in thick darkness, so far as God's truth is concerned, as is clear from the consideration that they have no inner perception enabling them to see whether what the Church says is indeed the truth; they know it to be such only because the Church says it. What the Church says they firmly accept, whether it is false or true. And anyone devoid of any inner perception to see God's truth is in thick darkness, or what amounts to the same thing, Divine Truth is for him thick darkness. Members of the spiritual Church do not know for example, and have no wish to know, of the existence of an internal sense in the Word; and if they do perhaps come to believe in its existence there, it will not be because they perceive it for themselves but because of some other influence inducing them to believe it.

[3] Members of the spiritual Church, to take another example, say that faith is the one and only means of salvation, even without charity and the good deeds of charity. They believe this because the Church says it. They do not arrive at that light of perception in which they may see for themselves that faith does not exist except where charity does, or that the one belongs to the other as one person does to another in marriage, and therefore that charity is the essential element of the Church, because of its coherence with good. This also shows what obscurity or thick darkness the spiritual Church is in. And being in such darkness they divide the Church into many different Churches, as many as the variant doctrines presenting the truths of faith, a situation which would never arise if they were in the light. For one who is in the light never doubts, skill less denies that love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour are the essential elements of the Church, or that all the truths which the Word contains, consequently all the truths of faith, are founded on them. He likewise never doubts any of the other truths which hang on this law and are called the truths of faith. But these matters have been shown more plainly in 2708, 2715, 2831, 2849, 2935, 2937, 3241, 3246, 6289, 6427, 6865, 6945, 7233. Those who belong to the spiritual Church do not arrive at even the outermost threshold of the wisdom or of the light in which those are who belong to the celestial Church, 2718, 3833, 6500.

[4] The second reason why it says that Moses entered thick darkness when he drew near God is that as their leader 'Moses' represented the Israelite and Jewish people, who were in darkness regarding internal truths, so thick that they were totally ignorant of them; for they considered all of worship and everything Divine to consist in external things. This is why the Divine was for them thick darkness; for as everyone well knows, the Divine never dwells in thick darkness but in light, since the Divine is light itself. When therefore the Divine is called 'thick darkness', it describes what He is so far as those who do not dwell in any light are concerned; for Divine Truths which compose the light of heaven do not appear to them to be anything else than such darkness, because they do not believe them, indeed they deny them. How the Divine appears to anyone is determined by the essential nature of the person's life and faith. Consequently He appears as light to those who are in the light, and as thick darkness to those who are in thick darkness. The fact that the Israelite and Jewish people were such, see 3479, 3769, 4281, 4293, 4307, 4314, 4316, 4433, 4680, 4825, 4832, 4844, 4847, 4865, 4903, 6304, and that the Lord on Mount Sinai appeared to them in smoke, cloud, and thick darkness, in keeping with the essential nature of that people, 1861 (end), 6832, 8814, 8819.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1891; Exodus 20:21, 20:23)

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