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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

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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 #4592

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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4592. 'And his father called him Benjamin' means the nature of the spiritual of the celestial. This is clear from the representation of 'Benjamin' as the spiritual of the celestial. What this is has been explained above in 4585, namely the intermediate part between the spiritual and the celestial, or between the spiritual man and the celestial man. In the original language Benjamin means Son of the right hand, and by 'son of the right hand' is meant spiritual truth which springs from celestial good, and consequent power; for good receives power through truth, 3563. 'Son' means truth, 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373, and 'hand' means power, 878, 3091, 3563, 'right hand' therefore meaning supreme power. From this one may see what is meant by 'sitting at God's right hand', namely a state of power received from truth that springs from good, 3387. When used in reference to the Lord this phrase denotes omnipotence, and also Divine Truth which proceeds from the Lord's Divine Good, as in Psalms 110:1; Matthew 22:44; 26:63-64; Mark 14:61-62; 6:19; Luke 22:69. And since it is Divine power, that is, omnipotence, that is meant, the phrase 'at the right hand of God's power (or virtue 1 )' is used in these places.

(References: Mark 16:19)

[2] From this it is evident what 'Benjamin' means in the genuine sense, namely spiritual truth which springs from celestial good, meant by 'Joseph'. Both together therefore constitute that which lies between the spiritual man and the celestial man, as stated above in 4585. But this good and this truth are distinct and separate from the celestial represented by 'Judah' and from the spiritual represented by 'Israel', the former entity being higher or more interior, the latter one lower or more exterior, for as stated they constitute that which lies between. But no one can have any conception of the good represented by 'Joseph' or of the truth represented by 'Benjamin' except him who has been enlightened by the light of heaven. Angels have a clear conception of them because all the ideas forming their thought are products of the light of heaven which comes from the Lord, a light in which they see and perceive an unending number of things which man cannot possibly understand, let alone speak about.

[3] Take the following as an illustration. All without exception are born natural yet with the capacity to become either celestial or spiritual, whereas the Lord alone was born spiritual-celestial. It was for this reason that He was born in Bethlehem, where the border of the land of Benjamin ran. Indeed 'Bethlehem' means the spiritual of the celestial, and 'Benjamin' represents the same. The reason He alone was born spiritual-celestial is that the Divine dwelt within Him. These are matters which no one can possibly comprehend who does not dwell in the light of heaven; for one who dwells in the light of the world, and relies for his perception on that light, hardly knows what truth is or what good is, still less what it is to rise up by degrees to more interior levels of truth and good, and so hardly knows anything at all about the countless manifestations of truth and good in every degree which are visible to angels in light as clear as that shining at midday. This shows the nature of angels' wisdom in comparison with men's.

[4] There are six names which occur frequently [in the Word] - in the prophetical sections, where the Church is the subject. These are Judah, Joseph, Benjamin, Ephraim, Israel, and Jacob. Anyone who does not know which aspect of good or truth of the Church each of these is used to mean in the internal sense cannot know a single one of the Divine arcana of the Word in those sections. Nor can he know which aspect of the Church is meant unless he knows what the celestial is, meant by 'Judah'; what the celestial of the spiritual is, meant by 'Joseph'; what the spiritual of the celestial is, meant by 'Benjamin'; what the intellectual side of the Church is, meant by 'Ephraim'; what the internal spiritual is, meant by 'Israel'; and what the external spiritual is, meant by 'Jacob'.

[5] As regards 'Benjamin' in particular, he represents the spiritual of the celestial, while 'Joseph represents the celestial of the spiritual; and both together accordingly represent the intermediate part between the celestial man and the spiritual man. This being so they are linked together very closely, and for this reason that close link between them is also described by the following details in the historical narratives about Joseph,

Joseph told his brothers to bring their youngest brother, so as not to die. Genesis 42:20.

When they resumed with Benjamin, and Joseph saw Benjamin his brother, he said, Is this your youngest brother, of whom you told me? And he said, God be kind to you, my son. And Joseph hastened, for his bowels were stirred with emotion for his brother, and he sought to weep, and therefore went into his room and wept there. Genesis 43:29-30.

He multiplied Benjamin's portion five times more than the portion of any of the others. Genesis 43:34.

After disclosing who he was to his brothers he fell on the neck of Benjamin his brother and wept; and Benjamin wept on his neck. Genesis 45:14.

He gave changes of clothing to them all, but to Benjamin three hundred pieces of silver and five changes of clothing. Genesis 45:22.

[6] From these places it is evident that Joseph and Benjamin were linked very closely together, not because they had the same mother but because the spiritual link that exists between the good meant by 'Joseph' and the truth meant by 'Benjamin' is represented by them. And because these two constitute that which lies between the celestial man and the spiritual man Joseph and his brothers could not be brought together, nor he and his father brought together, except by means of Benjamin; for without that intermediary no such bringing together is possible. This was the reason why Joseph did not reveal his true identity before he did.

[7] Elsewhere in the Word, especially the prophetical part, there are other places where Benjamin means the spiritual truth which is the Church's, as in Moses' prophecy regarding the sons of Israel,

To Benjamin he said, Beloved of Jehovah, he will dwell in confidence upon him, covering him all the day, and he will dwell between his shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12.

'Beloved of Jehovah' means spiritual truth springing from celestial good. The presence of this good with that truth is referred to as 'dwelling in confidence', 'covering it the whole day', and also 'dwelling between his shoulders', for in the internal sense 'the shoulders' means all power, 1085, and all power which good possesses is expressed by means of truth, 3563.

[8] In Jeremiah,

Flee, sons of Benjamin, out of the midst of Jerusalem, and sound the trumpet, and take up a prophecy over the house of the vine; for evil stares from the north, and great destruction. Jeremiah 6:1.

'Sons of Benjamin' stands for spiritual truth springing from what is celestial. 'Jerusalem' stands for the spiritual Church, as does 'the house of the vine' or Beth Hakkerem. 'Evil from the north' stands for man's sensory perception and his knowledge acquired through this. In the same prophet,

It will happen if you keep the sabbath day holy, that people will come in from the cities of Judah and from places surrounding Jerusalem, and from the land of Benjamin, and from the plain, and from the mountain, and from the south, bringing burnt offering and sacrifice, and minchah, and frankincense, and bringing thanksgiving, to the house of Jehovah. Jeremiah 17:24, 26.

[9] And elsewhere in the same prophet,

In the mountain cities, in the cities of the plain, and in the cities of the south, and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places surrounding Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hands of him who counts them. Jeremiah 33:13.

Here 'the land of Benjamin' too stands for spiritual truth which is the Church's, for all things that constitute the Church, from the first to the final degree of these, are meant by 'the cities of Judah', 'the places surrounding Jerusalem', 'the land of Benjamin', 'the plain', 'the mountain', and 'the south'.

[10] In Hosea,

Sound the trumpet (buccina) in Gibeah, the trumpet (tuba) in Ramah. Cry out, Beth Aven; after you, Benjamin. Ephraim will become lonely places on the day of reproach. Hosea 5:8-9.

'Gibeah', 'Ramah', and 'Beth Aven' stand for aspects of the spiritual springing from the celestial meant by 'Benjamin', for Gibeah was part of Benjamin, Judges 19:14, as also was Ramah, Joshua 18:25, as well as Beth Aven, Joshua 18:12. 'Sounding the trumpets (buccina et tuba)' and 'crying out' stand for declaring that the intellectual side of the Church, meant by 'Ephraim', has been destroyed.

[11] In Obadiah,

The house of Jacob will become fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, the house of Esau stubble; and those in the south will inherit the mountain of Esau, and those who are in the plain the Philistines; and they will inherit the field of Ephraim and the field of Samaria, and Benjamin [will inherit] Gilead. Obad. verses 18, 19.

Here, as in other places, it is quite evident that the names used mean spiritual realities, for unless one knows what is meant by 'the house of Jacob', 'the house of Joseph', 'the house of Esau', 'the mountain of Esau', 'the Philistines', 'the field of Ephraim', 'the field of Samaria', 'Benjamin', and 'Gilead', and in addition to these what is meant by 'those in the south', 'the house', 'the plain', 'the mountain', and 'the field', one will never understand anything here. Nor did the details described here as historical events actually take place. But anyone who knows what each individual expression implies will discover heavenly arcana within this particular use of them. Here also 'Benjamin' stands for what is spiritual springing from that which is celestial.

(References: Obadiah 1:18-19)

[12] Similarly the following in Zechariah,

Jehovah will be King over all the earth; in that day there will be one Jehovah, and His name one. Round about the whole land will be as the plain from Geba even to Rimmon. And [Jerusalem] will dwell in her own place, from the Gate of Benjamin even to the place of the first gate, to the corner gate, 2 and the tower of Hananel, even to the king's winepresses. Zechariah 14:9-10.

Similarly in David,

Turn Your ear, O Shepherd, You who lead 3 Joseph like a flock, who are seated on the cherubim; before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh, stir up Your power and come to save us. Psalms 80:1-2.

Similarly in the prophecy of Deborah and Barak,

Jehovah will have dominion for me among the strong. Out of Ephraim whose root is in Amalek, following you, Benjamin, among your peoples, out of Machir lawgivers will come down, and out of Zebulun those who carry the sceptre of the scribe. Judges 5:13-14.

[13] In John,

I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand sealed out of every tribe of Israel - twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Zebulun, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Joseph, twelve thousand sealed out of the tribe of Benjamin. Revelation 7:4, 8.

By 'the tribes of Israel' here are meant those with whom goods and truths exist and who as a consequence are in the Lord's kingdom. For 'the tribes' and 'twelve', or what amounts to the same 'twelve thousand', mean all aspects of love and faith, or all aspects of good and truth, 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913, 3926, 3939, 4060. In that chapter of the Book of Revelation the tribes are divided into four groups, the last group being made up of twelve thousand sealed out of Zebulun, twelve thousand out of Joseph, and twelve thousand out of Benjamin, because 'the tribe of Zebulun' means the heavenly marriage, 3960, 3961, in which marriage heaven and so all things consist. 'Joseph' in this case means the celestial of the spiritual, or the good of truth, while 'Benjamin' means the truth of that good, or the spiritual of the celestial. These form the marriage in which heaven consists, and this is why these three tribes are mentioned last.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2129-2130)

[14] Because 'Benjamin' was to represent the spiritual of the celestial of the Church, or the truth of good, which is the intermediate part between celestial good and spiritual truth, Jerusalem was therefore allowed to the children of Benjamin as an inheritance; for before Zion was built there Jerusalem meant the Church in general. For the allotment of Jerusalem to Benjamin, see Joshua 18:28 and Judges 1:21.


1. virtue is used here in the now almost obsolete sense of 'The power or operative influence inherent in a supernatural or divine being'. (Shorter Oxford English Dictionary)

2. literally, the sate of the corners

3. The Latin means He who leads, but the Hebrew means You who lead.


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Arcana Coelestia 4594, 4607, 4675, 4963, 4973, 5086, 5097, 5110, 5245, 5251, 5254, 5307, 5411, 5443, 5444, 5586, 5600, 5689, 5805, 5970, 6425, 6440, 6526, 9340, 9671, 9807, 9809, 9942, 10061, 10082

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 39, 63, 72, 209, 322, 357

Other New Christian Commentary

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