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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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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, ...


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Apocalypse Explained 63, 166


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Arcana Coelestia #3762

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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3762. 'And went to the land of the sons of the east' means a raising up towards truths that relate to love. This is clear from the meaning of 'the land of the sons of the east'. For Aram or Syria was called 'the land of the sons of the east', as is evident from the fact that it was the land to which Jacob went, see also 3249. In general, 'Syria' means cognitions of good, as shown in 1232, 1234, but specifically 'Aram Naharaim' or Syria of the [Two] Rivers means cognitions of truth, in 3051, 3664. Here however it is not said that he went to Aram or Syria but 'to the land of the sons of the east', so as to mean that which is the subject in the whole of this chapter, namely an ascent towards truths that relate to love. The expression 'truths that relate to love' is used to describe those truths which in other places have been called celestial truths, for they are cognitions concerning charity towards the neighbour and concerning love to the Lord. In the highest sense, where the Lord is the subject, they are truths that relate to Divine love.

[2] These truths, that is to say, those concerning charity towards the neighbour and concerning love to the Lord, must first be learned before a person can be regenerated, and must also be acknowledged and believed. And insofar as those truths are acknowledged and believed, and are endowed with life, that person is also regenerated and those truths are implanted in his natural, where they exist as in their own soil. They are first implanted there through the instruction received from parents and teachers, then from the Word of the Lord, and after that from personal reflection on them. But all of this does no more than to deposit those truths in the person's natural memory and so to place them among the cognitions there. They are still not acknowledged, believed, and received unless life is led in accordance with them, in which case the person enters into an affection for them; and insofar as he enters into an affection for them because his life accords with them, those truths are implanted in his natural as their own soil. Things that are not so implanted do indeed remain with that person, but only in his memory as some item of knowledge or historical fact which does no more than enable him to talk about such things, to further his reputation by means of them, and in so doing to grow in wealth and position. When this is the case truths have not been implanted within him.

[3] As regards the meaning of 'the land of the sons of the east' as truths relating to love, and so as cognitions of truth leading the way to good, this may be seen from the meaning of 'sons' as truths, dealt with in 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, and from the meaning of 'the east' as love, dealt with in 101, 1250, 3249. Their land is the soil in which they exist. For 'the sons of the east' are those who possess cognitions concerning truth and good and therefore the truths that relate to love. This may be seen further from other places in the Word, as in the first Book of Kings,

The wisdom of Solomon surpassed the wisdom of all the sons of the east and all the wisdom of the Egyptians. 1 Kings 4:30.

Here 'the wisdom of the sons of the east' means interior cognitions concerning truth and good, and so means people who possess them. 'The wisdom of the Egyptians' however means knowledge of the same things as they exist in a lower degree -'the Egyptians' meaning factual knowledge in general, see 1164, 1165, 1462.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1164-1165)


[4] In Jeremiah,

Thus said Jehovah, Arise, go up against Kedar; lay waste the sons of the east. They will take their tents and flocks, their curtains and all their vessels, and will take their camels. Jeremiah 49:28-29.

Here 'the sons of the east' is used to mean those who possess cognitions concerning good and truth. This is clear from the fact that 'they will take their tents and flocks, also their curtains and all their vessels, as well as their camels'. For 'tents' means holy forms of good, 414, 1102, 2145, 2152, 3312; 'flocks' the goods that flow from charity, 343, 2566; 'curtains' holy truths, 2576, 3478; 'vessels' the truths of faith, and facts, 3068, 3079; 'camels' factual knowledge in general, 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145. Thus 'the sons of the east' means those who possess these, that is, cognitions concerning what is good and what is true.

[5] The wise men from the east who came to Jesus when He was born belonged to those people called the sons of the east. This becomes clear from the fact of their awareness that the Lord was to be born, and that they knew of His Coming from the star which appeared to them in the east. These matters are described in Matthew as follows,

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, behold wise men from the east came into Jerusalem, saying, Where is He born King of the Jews? for we have seen His star in the east and have come to worship Him. Matthew 2:1-2.

The fact that such a prophecy existed from of old among the sons of the east, who were from Syria, is clear from Balaam's prophecy concerning the Lord's Coming, in Moses,

I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near. A star will arise out of Jacob and a sceptre will rise up out of Israel. Numbers 24:17.

The fact that Balaam was from the land of the sons of the east, that is, from Syria, is evident from the following in Moses,

Balaam uttered his declaration and said, From Syria has Balak, the king of Moab, brought me, from the mountains of the east. Numbers 23:7.

The wise men who came to Jesus when He was born are called the magi, but this expression was used for wise men at that time, as is clear from many places, such as Genesis 41:8; Exodus 7:11; Daniel 2:27; 4:6-7; 1 Kings 4:30; and in various places in the Prophets.

[6] 'The sons of the east' in the contrary sense means cognitions concerning evil and falsity, and so means those who possess these. This is clear in Isaiah,

The envy of Ephraim will depart, and the enemies of Judah will be cut off. They will fly down onto the shoulder of the Philistines towards the sea, and together they will plunder the sons of the east. Isaiah 11:13-14.

In Ezekiel, when prophesying against the sons of Ammon,

Behold, I have handed you over to the sons of the east as an inheritance, and they will station their ranks among you. Ezekiel 25:4, 10.

In the Book of Judges,

When Israel put in seed, Midian came up and Amalek, and the sons of the east; and they came up upon them. Judges 6:3.

'Midian' stands for those under the influence of falsity because the good of life does not exist with them, 3242; 'Amalek' for those under the influence of falsities with which they assail truths, 1679; 'the sons of the east' for those who possess cognitions that support what is false.

(References: Ezekiel 25:2, 25:3-4; Genesis 29:1)

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Arcana Coelestia 4060, 5215, 9293, 9340, 10177, 10252

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 186


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Apocalypse Explained 324

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