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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 #4545

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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4545. And purify yourselves, and change your garments. That this signifies that holiness was to be put on, is evident from the signification of “to be purified” or “cleansed,” as being to be sanctified (of which in what follows); and from the signification of “changing the garments,” as being to put on, here to put on holy truths; for in the internal sense of the Word by “garments” are signified truths. It is very evident that to change the garments was a representative received in the church, but what it represented no one can know unless he knows what garments signify in the internal sense (see n. 2576). As the subject here treated of is the rejection of falsities and the disposition of truths by good in the natural, mention is made of the fact that they were commanded by Jacob to change their garments.

[2] That to change the garments was a representative that holy truths were to be put on, may be seen also from other passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:

Awake, awake, O Jerusalem, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on the garments of thy adornment, O Jerusalem, the holy city; for there shall not continue to come into thee any more the uncircumcised and the unclean (Isaiah 52:1);

as “Zion” is the celestial church, and “Jerusalem” the spiritual church, and as the celestial church is that which is in good from love to the Lord, and the spiritual church is that which is in truth from faith and charity, therefore “strength” is predicated of Zion, and “garments” of Jerusalem; and it is signified that thereby they were clean.

[3] In Zechariah:

Joshua was clothed with defiled garments, and stood thus before the angel; and [the angel] answered and said unto those that stood before him, saying, Remove the defiled garments from upon him; and unto him he said, See, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from upon thee by putting on thee change of garments (Zech. 3:3-4);

from this passage also it is evident that to remove the garments and to put on a change of garments, represented purification from falsities, for it is said, “I have made thine iniquity to pass from upon thee.” It was also for this reason that men had changes of garments, and they were so called (whereof occasional mention is made in the Word) because representations were thereby exhibited.

[4] As such things were represented by changes of garments, therefore where the new temple is treated of in Ezekiel, by which in the internal sense is signified a new church, it is said:

When the priests enter in, they shall not go out of the holy place to the outer court, but there they shall lay aside their garments wherein they ministered, for they are holiness, and shall put on other garments, and shall approach to those things which pertain to the people (Ezekiel 42:14).

And again:

When they go forth into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their garments wherein they minister, and shall lay them aside in the chambers of holiness, and they shall put on other garments, and shall sanctify the people with other garments (Ezekiel 44:19).

[5] Everyone can see that by the new temple and by the holy city and land, here described by the prophet and in the chapters which precede and follow, is not meant any new temple, nor a new city and a new land, for mention is made of sacrifices and rituals as to be instituted anew which nevertheless were to be abrogated; and mention is also made by name of the tribes of Israel dividing the land into inheritances among themselves, which nevertheless have been dispersed and have never returned. Hence it is evident that by the rituals there mentioned are signified spiritual and celestial things of the church, similar to what are signified by the changes of garments when Aaron ministered, in Moses:

When he maketh a burnt offering he shall put on his clothing, and his linen breeches, the ashes he shall put beside the altar. Afterward he shall put off his garments, and shall put on other garments, and shall bring forth the ashes into a clean place outside the camp, and thus shall he make the burnt-offering (Leviticus 6:9-11).

(References: Leviticus 6:9-12)

[6] That to be cleansed denotes to be sanctified, may be seen from the cleansings which were commanded, as that they should wash their flesh and their garments, and that they should be sprinkled with the waters of separation. That no one is sanctified by such things, everyone may know who has any knowledge about the spiritual man; for what has iniquity and sin in common with the garments with which a man is clothed? And yet it is sometimes said that after they had cleansed themselves, they should be holy. From this it is also manifest that the rituals enjoined upon the Israelites were holy simply because they represented holy things; consequently that those who were representative did not thereby become holy as to their persons; but that the holiness abstractedly represented by them affected the spirits who were with them, and thereby the angels in heaven (n. 4307).

[7] For of necessity there must be communication of heaven with man, in order that the human race may subsist, and this by means of the church, for otherwise they would become like beasts, devoid of internal and external bonds; and thus each would rush without restraint to accomplish the destruction of others, and they would annihilate each other. And as at that time this communication was not possible by means of any church, it was therefore provided by the Lord that it should be miraculously effected by means of representatives. That sanctification was represented by the ritual of washing and cleansing, is manifest from many passages in the Word, as when Jehovah came down upon Mount Sinai, He said to Moses:

Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments, and be ready against the third day (Exodus 19:10-11).

In Ezekiel:

I will sprinkle upon you clean waters, and ye shall be cleansed from all your uncleannesses, and I will cleanse you from all your idols, and I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in the midst of you (Ezekiel 36:25-26); where it is manifest that “sprinkling clean waters” represented the purification of the heart; thus that “to be cleansed” is to be sanctified.

(References: Genesis 35:1-4; Leviticus 6:9-12)

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Arcana Coelestia 4763, 4844, 4858, 4875, 4884, 4973, 5006, 5248, 5319, 5433, 5954, 6377, 6524, 7967, 8459, 8789, 8904, 9158, 9212, 9276, 9372, 9391, 9477, 9595, 9688, 9806, 9952, 10227, 10258, 10536

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 246

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Arcana Coelestia #5147

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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5147. There was of all food for Pharaoh. That this signifies full of celestial good for the nourishment of the natural, is evident from the signification of “food,” as being celestial good (of which presently); and from the representation of Pharaoh, as being the interior natural (see n. 5080, 5095), and also the natural in general; for when they correspond, the interior and exterior natural make a one; and as food is for nourishment, by the words “there was of all food for Pharaoh” is signified full of celestial good for the nourishment of the natural. It is said that this food was in the uppermost basket; and by this is signified that the inmost of the will part was full of celestial good. For good from the Lord flows in through man’s inmost, and thence through degrees as by the steps of a ladder to the exteriors; for the inmost is relatively in the most perfect state, and therefore can receive good immediately from the Lord; but not so the lower things. If these were to receive good from the Lord immediately, they would either obscure it or pervert it, for they are relatively more imperfect.

[2] As regards the influx of celestial good from the Lord, and its reception, be it known that man’s will part receives good, and his intellectual receives truth, and that the intellectual can by no means receive truth so as to make it its own, unless at the same time the will part receives good; and conversely; for the one flows in this way into the other, and disposes it to receive. The things of the intellect may be compared to forms which are continually varying, and the things of the will to the harmonies that result from this variation; consequently truths may be compared to variations, and goods to the delights therefrom; and as this is eminently the case with truths and goods, it is evident that the one is impossible without the other, and also that the one cannot be produced except by means of the other.

[3] That “food” signifies celestial good, is because the food of the angels is nothing else than the goods of love and of charity, by which they are not only made alive, but are also refreshed. These goods in act, or the practice of them, serve especially for the refreshment of the angels, because they are their desires; and it is known that when the desires are realized in act, they afford refreshment and life. That such things yield nourishment to the spirit of man, while material food yields nourishment to his body, may also be seen from the fact that food without delights conduces but little to nourishment, but together with delights it nourishes. It is the delights that open the passages or ducts which receive the food and convey it into the blood; whereas things undelightful close them. With the angels these delights are the goods of love and of charity, and from this it can be inferred that they are spiritual foods which correspond to earthly foods. As goods are food, so truths are drink.

[4] “Food” is mentioned in many places in the Word, and one who is not acquainted with the internal sense cannot know but that ordinary food is there meant, whereas it is spiritual food; as in Jeremiah:

All the people groan, seeking bread; they have given their desirable things for food, to refresh the soul (Lam. 1:11).

In Isaiah:

Everyone that thirsteth, go ye to the waters, and he that hath no silver, go ye, buy, and eat; yea, go, buy wine and milk without silver and without price (Isaiah 55:1).

In Joel:

The day of Jehovah is near, and as devastation from the Thunderer shall it come. Is not the food cut off before our eyes? gladness and joy from the house of our God? The grains have rotted under their clods; the garners are devastated, the barns are destroyed, because the corn is withered (Joel 1:15-17).

In David:

Our garners are full, bringing forth from food to food; our flocks are thousands and ten thousands in our streets. There is no cry in our streets; blessed is the people that is in such a case (Psalms 144:13-15).


All things wait for Thee, that Thou mayest give them their food in its time. Thou givest them, they gather; Thou openest Thy hand, they are sated with good (Psalms 104:27-28).

[5] In these passages celestial and spiritual food is meant in the internal sense, while material food is meant in the sense of the letter. From this it is plain in what manner the interiors and exteriors of the Word, or those things therein which are of the spirit, and those which are of the letter, correspond to each other; so that while man understands these things according to the sense of the letter, the angels with him understand them according to the spiritual sense. The Word has been so written as to serve not only the human race, but also heaven; for which reason all the expressions therein are significative of heavenly things, and all the things are representative of them, and this even to the least jot.

[6] That “food” in the spiritual sense is good, the Lord also plainly teaches in John:

Labor not for the food that perisheth, but for the food that abideth into life eternal, which the Son of man shall give to you (John 6:27).


My flesh is truly food, and My blood is truly drink (John 6:55); where “flesh” is the Divine good (n. 3813); and “blood” is the Divine truth (n. 4735). And again:

Jesus said to His disciples, I have food to eat that ye know not. The disciples said one to another, Hath any man brought Him aught to eat? Jesus saith to them, My food is that I do the will of Him that sent Me, and that I perfect His work (John 4:32-34);

“to do the will of the Father, and to perfect His work,” is the Divine good in act or exercise, which as before said in the genuine sense is “food.”

(References: Genesis 40:17)

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Arcana Coelestia 5435, 6078, 6502, 8408, 9003, 9052, 9139, 9210, 9223, 9372, 9400, 9412, 9682, 10037

Apocalypse Revealed 161

Heaven and Hell 356

The Last Judgment 39

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 23, 24, 47, 51, 121, 218, 277

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 84, 118, 235, 329, 336, 374, 655

Other New Christian Commentary

Food 1

Meat 1

Tittle, the least 1

What Would Love Do? Part 1 - The Hungry 1

Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg

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