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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 #491

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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491. The same things are signified by “sons” and “daughters” in this chapter (verses 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 26, 30), but such as is the church, such are the “sons and daughters” that is, such are the goods and truths; the truths and goods here spoken of are such as were distinctly perceived, because they are predicated of the Most Ancient Church, the principal and parent of all the other and succeeding churches.

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Arcana Coelestia 1147, 1338, 1434, 1719, 1853, 1945, 1960, 2015, 2066, 2194, 2232, 2362, 2390, 2411, 2461, 2466, 2468, 2567, 2623, 2643, 2803, 2928, 3024, 3066, 3243, 3263, 3266, 3373, 3583, 3703, 3762, 3907, 3922, 3926, 3933, 3947, 3959, 3974, ...


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 63, 166


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Arcana Coelestia #2813

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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2813. 'He bound Isaac his son' means the state of the Divine rational which, in this condition as regards truth, was about to undergo the last degrees of temptation. This becomes clear from the meaning of 'binding', and also of 'Isaac his son' - of 'binding' as the assuming of a state for undergoing the last degrees of temptation, as may become clear from the consideration that anyone in a state of temptation is altogether like one who has been bound or fettered; and from the meaning of 'Isaac his son' as the Lord's Divine Rational, here as regards truth, see 2802, 2803. The whole genuine rational part of the mind consists of good and of truth. The Lord's Divine Rational as regards good could not suffer, nor undergo temptations, for no genius or spirit initiating temptations is able to get near Divine good, as this stands above their every endeavour to tempt. But Divine truth once it had been bound was that which could be tempted, for illusions, and still more falsities, are what invade it and so tempt it. Indeed some idea of Divine truth can be formed, but not of Divine good except by beings who have perception and are celestial angels. It was Divine truth that people no longer acknowledged at the time of the Lord's Coming into the world, and therefore it was Divine truth from which the Lord underwent and suffered temptations. Divine truth within the Lord is that which is called the Son of Man, whereas Divine good within Him is that which is called the Son of God. Speaking of the Son of Man the Lord many times says that He is to suffer, but He never says this when He refers to the Son of God. The fact that He speaks of the Son of Man, or Divine truth, having to suffer, is clear in Matthew,

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him and deliver Him to the gentiles to mock and scourge Him, and to crucify [Him]. Matthew 20:18-19.

In the same gospel,

Jesus said to His disciples, Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of sinners. Matthew 26:45.

In Mark,

Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, but after three days rise again. Mark 8:31.

In the same gospel,

It is written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt. And the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of men who will kill Him; but when He has been killed He will rise again on the third day. Mark 9:12, 31.

In the same gospel,

Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes who will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the heathens. They will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him; but on the third day He will rise again. Mark 10:33-34.

In the same gospel,

The hour has come; behold, the Son of Man will be delivered into the hands of sinners. Mark 14:41.

In Luke,

The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day rise again. Luke 9:22, 44.

In the same gospel,

We are going up to Jerusalem where everything will be accomplished that has been written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man. He will be delivered to the gentiles, and will be mocked, and suffer insults, and be spat upon. And they will scourge and kill Him, but on the third day He will rise again. Luke 18:31-33.

In the same gospel,

The angel said to the women, Remember what He told you while He was still in Galilee, saving that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. Luke 24:6-7.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2802-2803)


[2] In all these places 'the Son of Man' is used to mean the Lord as regards Divine truth - that is, as regards the Word in its internal sense - which was to be rejected by the chief priests and the scribes, suffer insults, be scourged, spat on, and crucified. This is made quite clear by the fact that the Jews took every single thing literally, applying and misappropriating it to themselves, and had no wish to know anything whatever about the spiritual sense of the Word and about a heavenly kingdom. They believed, as they do even today, that when He came the Messiah would raise up their kingdom above all the kingdoms of the earth. From this it is evident that it was Divine truth which was rejected, insulted, scourged, and crucified by them. Whether you speak of Divine truth or of the Lord as regards Divine truth it amounts to the same, for the Lord is Truth itself just as He is the Word itself, 2011, 2016, 2533 (end).

[3] Also implied in the Lord's rising again on the third day is the fact that Divine truth, or the Word as to its internal sense - as it was understood in the Ancient Church - will be brought back to life again at the close of the age, which also is 'the third day', 1825, 2788. And this is the reason why it is said that the Son of Man, that is, Divine truth, will appear at that time, Matthew 24:30, 37, 39, 44; Mark 13:26; Luke 17:22, 24-26, 30; 21:27, 36.

[4] The fact that the Son of Man is the Lord as regards Divine truth is clear from the places quoted already and further still from the following: In Matthew,

He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world. At the close of the age the Son of Man will send His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all offences. Matthew 13:37, 41-42.

Here 'the good seed' means truth, 'the world' men, 'he who sows it' the Son of Man, and 'offences' falsities. In John,

The crowd said, We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains for ever. Why therefore do you say, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? Jesus answered them, The Light is with you for a brief while. Walk, as long as you have the Light, lest the darkness overtakes you, for he who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. As long as you have the Light believe in the Light, that you may be sons of the Light. John 12:34-36.

Here, when the crowd ask, 'Who is the Son of Man?' Jesus speaks in His reply about the Light, which is truth, and says that He Himself is the Light or Truth in which they ought to believe. Regarding the Light which comes from the Lord, and which is Divine Truth, see 1053, 1521, 1529-1531, 1619-1632.

(References: John 12:34-35; Matthew 13:37-38, Matthew 13:40-42)


[5] But as for the truth that the Son of God, or the Lord as to the Good within His Divine human, could not be tempted, as stated above, this is evident also from the Lord's reply to the tempter, in the gospels,

The tempter said, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down, for it is written, He will give His angels charge regarding you, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, Again it is written, You shall not tempt the Lord your God. Matthew 4:6-7; Luke 4:9-12.

(References: Genesis 22:9; Matthew 13:37-38, 13:40-42)

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Arcana Coelestia 2817, 2824, 3703, 3704, 3927, 4060, 4334, 4765, 4781, 4809, 5376, 6418, 7839, 8127, 8281, 8571, 8705, 8890, 8902, 8904, 8982, 9000, 9156, 9199, 9281, 9309, 9325, 9372, 9528, 9548, 9666, 9684, 9807, 10067, 10402, 10494, 10540, 10545

Heaven and Hell 86

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 201, 302, 303, 310


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 32, 242, 900

Other New Christian Commentary

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