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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 #4104

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4104. 'And set his sons and his womenfolk on camels' means a raising up of truths and of affections for these, and the arrangement of them within things that are general. This is clear from the meaning of 'sons' as truths, dealt with in 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623; from the meaning of 'womenfolk', who in this case are Rachel and Leah, and also their servant-girls, as affections for truth, for cognitions, and for facts, dealt with already; and from the meaning of 'camels' as general facts within the natural, dealt with in 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2693)


[2] Anyone who does not have some knowledge of representations and correspondences is incapable of believing that the words 'he set his sons and his womenfolk on camels' mean such things. To him they seem too remote to incorporate and contain within them that which is spiritual; for he thinks about sons, womenfolk, and camels. But the angels, who see and perceive all such things in a spiritual manner, do not think of sons but of truths when 'sons' are mentioned; they do not think of womenfolk but of affections for truth, cognitions, and facts when 'womenfolk' are mentioned; nor do they think of camels but of things that are general within the natural when these are mentioned. For such is the correspondence between the one thing and the other, and such is the way in which angels think. And what is remarkable, it is also the way in which the internal spiritual man thinks while living in the body, though the external man is totally unaware of it. For the same reason when a person who has been regenerated dies he enters into a similar manner of thinking and is able to think with and talk to angels. And this he does without being taught to do so, something that would never have been possible if his interior thought had not been such. The fact that it is such is due to the correspondence of natural things with spiritual. From this it may be seen that although the literal sense of the Word is natural it nevertheless contains spiritual things within it, and in every single part, that is, it contains the kind of things that belong to thought and therefore to interior or spiritual language, such as angels employ.

[3] With regard to the raising up of truths and of the affections for these, and the arrangement of them within things that are general, truths and affections are raised up when the things of eternal life and of the Lord's kingdom are thought to be more important than those of life in the body and of the kingdom of this world. When a person acknowledges the former to be first and foremost, and the latter to be secondary and subordinate, the truths he knows and his affections for them are raised up. For as is his acknowledgement so in the same measure is that person conveyed into the light of heaven, which light holds intelligence and wisdom within it, and so also in the same measure do things belonging to the light of this world become for him images and so to speak mirrors in which he sees the things belonging to the light of heaven. The contrary takes place when he thinks the things of the life of the body and of the kingdom of this world to be more important than those of eternal life and of the Lord's kingdom. He does this when he believes that the latter do not exist because he does not see them and because nobody has come from there and given an account of them - or if he does believe that they may exist, nothing worse will happen to him than to others - and in so believing confirms himself in these ideas, leads a worldly life, and despises charity and faith altogether. With such a person truths and the affections for them are not raised up but are either smothered, or rejected, or perverted. For he dwells in natural light into which no heavenly light at all flows in. This shows what is meant by a raising up of truths and of affections for them.

[4] As for the arrangement of these truths and affections within things that are general, this is the inevitable consequence; for insofar as a person thinks heavenly things are more important than worldly ones, things within his natural are arranged into an order in keeping with the state of heaven. As a result they are seen in the natural, as has been stated, as images and mirrors of heavenly things, for they are representatives that correspond. It is the ends in view which effect the arranging, that is, the Lord effects it by means of the ends which the person has in view. For there are three things which follow in order ends, causes, and effects. Ends bring about causes, and by means of causes bring about effects. As is the nature of the ends therefore so is that of the emanating causes, and from these that of the effects. Ends constitute the inmost things with man; causes constitute the intermediate things and are called the intermediate ends; and effects constitute the ultimate things and are called the ultimate ends. Effects also constitute the things which are termed general. From this one may see what is meant by an arrangement within things that are general, namely this: When anyone has the things of eternal life and of the Lord's kingdom as his end in view, then all intermediate ends, which are causes, and all ultimate ends, which are effects, are arranged in accordance with the end itself. And this is situated within the natural because that is where effects reside, or what amounts to the same, where things that are general reside.

[5] Every adult person possessing any judgement at all can recognize, if he gives the matter any consideration, that he is living in two kingdoms, the spiritual kingdom and the natural one. He can recognize that the spiritual kingdom is interior and the natural exterior, and consequently that he is able to think one more important than the other, that is, to have one rather than the other in view, and therefore that with him the one which he has as his end in view or makes more important is predominant. If therefore he has the spiritual kingdom, that is, the things which constitute that kingdom, as his end and thinks the spiritual kingdom more important than the natural one, then he acknowledges as being first and foremost love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour, and consequently all ideas that reinforce love and charity, and are called the truths of faith; for these belong to that kingdom. When this is the situation in a person, everything within his natural is distributed and arranged in keeping with the things of that kingdom so as to be subservient and obedient. But when he has the natural kingdom, that is, the things that exist there, as his end in view, and makes that more important, he annihilates all love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour, and all faith. Indeed he goes so far as to set no value at all on these things, but makes love of the world and self-love, and the things which go with these, all important. When this is the case everything within his natural is arranged in keeping with those ends, and so is entirely at odds with the things of heaven. In this way he brings about hell within himself. Having something as the end in view consists in loving it, for every end exists as the object of a person's love because that which he loves he has as his end in view.

(References: Genesis 31:17)

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