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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 #5620

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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5620. A little resin and a little honey. That this signifies the truths of good of the exterior natural and its delight, is evident from the signification of “resin,” as being the truth of good or truth from good (see n. 4748). The reason why “resin” has this signification is that it ranks among unguents, and also among aromatics. “Aromatics” signify such things as are of truth from good, especially if they are of an unctuous nature, and so partake of oil; for “oil” signifies good (n. 886, 3728, 4582). That this resin was aromatic, may be seen in Genesis 37:25; and for this reason also the same word in the original means balsam. That it was like an ointment or thick oil, is evident. This then is the reason why by “resin” is signified the truth of good which is in the natural, here in the exterior, because “resin” is put first and joined with “honey,” which is the delight therein. That “honey” denotes delight is because it is sweet, and everything sweet in the natural world corresponds to what is delightful and pleasant in the spiritual world. The reason why it is called its delight, that is, the delight of truth from good in the exterior natural, is that every truth and especially every truth of good has its own delight; but a delight from the affection of these, and from the derivative use.

[2] That “honey” is delight is evident also from other passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:

A virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel [God with us]. Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good (Isaiah 7:14-15);

speaking of the Lord; “butter” denotes the celestial; “honey,” that which is from the celestial.

[3] In the same:

It shall come to pass for the multitude of milk that they shall yield, he shall eat butter; and butter and honey shall everyone eat that is left in the midst of the land (Isaiah 7:22);

speaking of the Lord’s kingdom; “milk” denotes spiritual good; “butter,” celestial good; and “honey,” that which is from them, thus what is happy, pleasant, and delightful.

[4] In Ezekiel:

Thus wast thou adorned with gold and silver; and thy garments were of fine linen and silk and broidered work. Thou didst eat fine flour and honey and oil; so thou becamest beautiful very exceedingly, and thou didst prosper even unto a kingdom. With fine flour and oil and honey I fed thee; but thou didst set it before them for an odor of rest (Ezekiel 16:13, 19);

speaking of Jerusalem, by which is meant the spiritual church, the quality of which is described as it was with the ancients, and as it afterward became. Her being “adorned with gold and silver” denotes with celestial and spiritual good and truth; her “garments of fine linen, silk, and broidered work” denotes truths in the rational and in each natural; “fine flour” denotes the spiritual; “honey,” its pleasantness; and “oil,” its good. That such things as belong to heaven are signified by these particulars can be seen by anyone.

[5] In the same:

Judah and the land of Israel were thy traders, in wheat of Minnith, and pannag, and honey, and oil, and balm (Ezekiel 27:17);

speaking of Tyre, by which is signified the spiritual church such as it was in the beginning and such as it afterward became, but in respect to the knowledges of good and truth (n. 1201). “Honey” here also denotes the pleasantness and delight from the affections of knowing and learning celestial and spiritual goods and truths.

[6] In Moses:

Thou makest him ride on the high places of the earth, and he eats the produce of the fields. He maketh him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flint of the rock (Deuteronomy 32:13);

here also treating of the Ancient spiritual Church; “to suck honey out of the rock” denotes delight from truths of memory-knowledge.

[7] In David:

I feed them with the fat of wheat, and with honey out of the rock I sate them (Psalms 81:16);

“to sate with honey out of the rock” denotes to fill with delight from the truths of faith.

[8] In Deuteronomy:

Jehovah bringeth me unto a good land, a land of rivers of water, of fountains and of deeps that go out from the valley, and from the mountain; a land of wheat and barley, and of vine and of fig and of pomegranate; a land of oil olive and of honey (Deuteronomy 8:7-8);

speaking of the land of Canaan; in the internal sense, of the Lord’s kingdom in the heavens. A “land of oil olive and of honey” denotes spiritual good and its pleasantness.

[9] Hence also the land of Canaan was called:

A land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:27; 14:8; Deuteronomy 26:9, 15; 27:3; Jeremiah 11:5; 32:22; Ezekiel 20:6).

In the internal sense of these passages by the “land of Canaan” is meant, as before said, the Lord’s kingdom; “flowing with milk” denotes an abundance of celestial spiritual things; and “with honey,” an abundance of derivative happiness and delights.

(References: Numbers 14:7-8)


[10] In David:

The judgments of Jehovah are truth, righteous are they together; more to be desired are they than gold and much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the dropping of the honeycombs (Psalms 19:9-10).

The “judgments of Jehovah” denote truth Divine; “sweeter than honey and the dropping of the honeycombs” denotes delights from good and pleasantnesses from truth. Again:

Sweet are Thy words to my palate, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalms 119:103); where the meaning is similar.

[11] The manna that Jacob’s posterity had for bread in the wilderness is thus described in Moses:

The manna was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like a cake kneaded with honey (Exodus 16:31);

as the manna signified the truth Divine that descends through heaven from the Lord, it consequently signified the Lord Himself as to the Divine Human, as He Himself teaches in John 6:51, 58; for it is the Lord’s Divine Human from which all truth Divine comes, yea, of which all truth Divine treats; and this being so, the manna is described in respect to delight and pleasantness by the taste, that it was “like a cake kneaded with honey.” (That the taste denotes the delight of good and the pleasantness of truth may be seen above, n. 3502)

[12] As John the Baptist represented the Lord as to the Word, which is the Divine truth on earth, in like manner as Elijah (n. 2762, 5247), he was therefore the “Elijah who was to come” before the Lord (Malachi 4:5; Matthew 17:10-12; Mark 9:11-13; Luke 1:17); wherefore his clothing and food were significative, of which we read in Matthew:

John had his clothing of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loin; and his meat was locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6).

The “clothing of camel’s hair” signified that the Word, such as is its literal sense as to truth (which sense is a clothing for the internal sense), is natural; for what is natural is signified by “hair,” and also by “camels;” and the “meat being of locusts and wild honey” signified the Word such as is its literal sense as to good; the delight of this is signified by “wild honey.”

[13] The delight of truth Divine in respect to the external sense is also described by “honey” in Ezekiel:

He said unto me, Son of man, feed thy belly and fill thy bowels with this roll that I give thee. And when I ate it, it was in my mouth as honey for sweetness (Ezekiel 3:3).

And in John:

The angel said unto me, Take the little book and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. So I took the little book out of the angel’s hand and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey; but when I had eaten it my belly was made bitter. Then he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again over many peoples and nations and tongues and kings (Revelation 10:9-11).

The “roll” in Ezekiel, and the “little book” in John, denote truth Divine. That in the external form this appears delightful, is signified by the flavor being “sweet as honey;” for truth Divine, like the Word, is delightful in the external form or in the literal sense because this admits of being unfolded by interpretations in everyone’s favor. But not so the internal sense, which is therefore signified by the “bitter” taste; for this sense discloses man’s interiors. The reason why the external sense is delightful, is as before said that the things in it can be unfolded favorably; for they are only general truths, and general truths are susceptible of this before they are qualified by particulars, and these by singulars. It is delightful also because it is natural, and what is spiritual conceals itself within. Moreover, it must be delightful in order that man may receive it, that is, be introduced into it, and not be deterred at the very threshold.

[14] The “honeycomb and broiled fish” that the Lord ate with the disciples after His resurrection, also signified the external sense of the Word (the “fish” as to its truth and the “honeycomb” as to its pleasantness), in regard to which we read in Luke:

Jesus said, Have ye here anything to eat? They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb, and He took them and did eat before them (Luke 24:41-43).

And because these things are signified, the Lord therefore said to them:

These are the words which I spoke unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Me (Luke 24:44).

It appears as if such things were not signified, because their having a piece of broiled fish and a honeycomb seems as if fortuitous; nevertheless it was of providence, and not only this, but also all other, even the least, of the things that occur in the Word. As such things were signified, therefore the Lord said of the Word that in it were written the things concerning Himself. Yet the things written of the Lord in the literal sense of the Old Testament are few; but those in its internal sense are all so written, for from this is the holiness of the Word. This is what is meant by His saying that “all things must be fulfilled which are written in the Law of Moses, and in the Prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning Him.”

(References: Luke 24:41-44)


[15] From all this it may now be seen that by “honey” is signified the delight that is from good and truth, or from the affection of them, and that there is specifically signified external delight, thus the delight of the exterior natural. As this delight is of such a nature as to be from the world through the things of the senses, and thereby contains within it many things from the love of the world, the use of honey in the meat-offerings was therefore forbidden, as in Leviticus:

No meat-offering which ye shall bring unto Jehovah shall be made with leaven; for there shall be no leaven, nor any honey, from what ye burn with fire to Jehovah (Leviticus 2:11); where “honey” denotes such external delight, which, because it contains in it what partakes of the love of the world, was also like leaven, and was on this account forbidden. (What “leaven” or “leavened” means may be seen above, n. 2342)

(References: Genesis 43:12; Luke 24:41-44)

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 6857, 7643, 8056, 8522, 9372, 9780, 10137, 10530

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 47, 121, 196


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 513

Other New Christian Commentary

Gum 1

Honey 1

Honey-comb 1

Roll and little book 1

Sweet 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
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Arcana Coelestia #7643

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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7643. 'Behold, I am bringing locusts into your border' means that falsity will take possession of their outermost parts. This is clear from the meaning of 'locusts' as falsity in outermost parts, dealt with below; from the meaning of 'border' as outermost parts; and from the meaning of 'bringing', since it is used in connection with falsity, as taking possession of. It says that Jehovah will bring the locusts, but by this their being brought - brought by evil - is meant. This is similar to the attribution made to Jehovah, that is, to the Lord, where it says that 'He made Pharaoh's heart stubborn'; in actual fact it is made such by man, by the evil within him, see above in 7632. Evil does not originate in the Lord but springs from man because man diverts towards himself the good that flows in from the Lord, and instead of regarding, in every single thing, the Lord and what is the Lord's regards himself. This self-regard gives rise to a craving to have dominion over all people and to possess all that others have; it gives rise to contempt for others, and hateful, vengeful, and cruel behaviour towards those who are not disposed to apply themselves to his interests; and also it gives rise to contempt for all things connected with faith and charity, for when these flow in from the Lord he focuses them onto himself and so away from the Lord.

[2] From all this one may see that man turns into evil the actual good that flows in from the Lord. It also goes to explain why in the next life the evil distance themselves from heaven as far away as they can get; for when heaven draws nearer to them, that is, when the inflow of goodness and truth becomes more forceful, they plunge with greater force into the opposite, that is, into evil and into falsity. Then to the extent that the evil and falsity increase, they drive truth out from themselves and bring about vastation within themselves. And to the same extent they also plunge into the evils brought by punishment; for in the next life evils and punishments are interconnected.

[3] The Lord is continually rearranging the heavens, and constantly adding new inhabitants of heaven whom He provides with dwellings and inheritances. When He does this heaven draws nearer, that is, flows in with greater force, as a consequence of which hellish spirits plunge with greater force into evils and falsities, and into the punishments that go with them; and since they plunge into evils and falsities, they bring about vastation within themselves, as has been stated. This process does not stop until they have brought about complete vastation and cast themselves deeply into the hells. From this it may be recognized that nothing but good emanates from the Lord, and that evil springs from those people themselves who are ruled by evil. From all this one may now see how to understand the statement that Jehovah, that is, the Lord, made Pharaoh's heart stubborn, and the statement here that He will bring locusts, by which falsity arising from evil in outermost parts is meant.

[4] In the Word, in those places in which the laying waste of evils is referred to, the locust and the bruchus 1 are mentioned several times; and in those places 'locust' is used to mean in the internal sense falsity that lays waste the outermost parts. For as has been shown before, the human natural is interior and exterior. The falsity that is present in the outermost parts of the natural is meant by 'locust', and the evil there by 'bruchus'. Because 'locust' is used to mean falsity present in the outermost parts of the natural it says that the locusts will be brought 'into the border, and they will cover the surface of the land', and later on in verses 14-15.

The locusts came up over the land of Egypt, and rested at all the border of Egypt, and covered the surface of the whole land.

'The border' and 'the surface' mean the outermost and lowest parts, on which the more internal ones rest, that is, by which they are bounded.

(References: Exodus 10:14)


[5] These things are what 'the locust' and 'the bruchus' are used to mean in David,

He sent among them swarms [of insects], which devoured them, and frogs which destroyed them; and He gave their crops to the bruchus, and their labour to the locust. Psalms 78:45-46.

And elsewhere,

He spoke so that the locust might come and the bruchus, so that it would be without number. Psalms 105:34.

These verses, which speak about Egypt, refer to 'the bruchus', but no mention is made of it in Moses, only of 'the locust'. The reason why 'the bruchus' also is referred to is that 'the bruchus' means evil and 'the locust' falsity, both of them in the outermost parts of the natural. But when 'the locust' alone is referred to it means both falsity and evil together, for 'the locust' is falsity arising from evil.

[6] In Nahum,

There the fire will devour you, the sword cut you off; it will devour you like the bruchus. Multiply yourself like the bruchus, multiply yourself like the locust; you have multiplied your merchants, more than the stars of the heavens. The bruchus has spread out, and flown away. Your monarchs are like the locust, your emperors like the locust of locusts. Nahum 3:15-17.

This refers to 'the city of blood', which means teachings that uphold falsity. And since falsity and evil are multiplied chiefly in the outermost parts of the natural (because of the presence there of the illusions of the senses arising from worldly and earthly objects, and of the sensory enjoyments resulting from various kinds of appetites), the multiplication of evil and falsity is for that reason described by 'the bruchus and locust', as it also is in Judges 6:5; 7:12; and in Jeremiah 46:23. With regard to the sensory level, which is the last and lowest of the natural, that it is utterly full of illusions and consequently of falsities, see 5084, 5089, 5094, 6310, 6711, 6313, 6318, 6598, 6612, 6614, 6621, 6624.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 6310-6311, 6622, 6948-6949)


[7] In Joel,

What the caterpillar (eruca) left the locust has devoured, and what the locust left the beetle (melolontha) has devoured, and what the beetle left the bruchus has devoured. Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the new wine that has been cut off. For a nation will come up over My land, strong, and without number; and it will turn My vine into a waste, and My fig tree into froth. Joel 1:4-7.

In the same prophet,

The threshing floors are full of clear grain, and the presses overflow with new wine and oil. And I will recompense you for the years that the locust has consumed, the beetle (melolontha), the bruchus, and the caterpillar (eruca). Joel 2:24-25.

Here 'the locust' stands for falsity in the outermost parts which is laying waste truths and forms of good. In Moses,

You will carry much seed out into the field, but you will gather little, because the locust will consume it. You will plant vineyards, but you will not drink wine or gather [anything], for the worm will devour it. Deuteronomy 28:38-39.

Here 'the locust' stands for falsity arising from evil.

[8] In John,

Out of the smoke of the abyss that had been opened came locusts onto the earth, which were given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were told not to harm the grass of the earth, or any tree, but men (homo) only who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were not allowed to kill them, but to torment them for five months. The shapes of the locusts were like horses prepared for war, and on their heads there were so to speak crowns like gold, their faces being like the faces of men (homo). They had hair like women's hair, and their teeth were like lions' teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running to war. Finally, they had tails like scorpions, and the stings were in their tails, so that they could do harm to men (homo) for five months. They have a king over them, the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon; but in Greek he has the name Apollyon. Revelation 9:3-11.

No one can see what all these things mean except from the internal sense. From each detail there viewed in accordance with the internal sense it is clear that 'locusts' means reasonings that are based on illusions and consequent falsities, and supported also by philosophical arguments. Thus in addition 'locusts' means the falsities which, being present in the outermost parts of the human mind and having a more earthly and bodily nature than all other falsities, can easily deceive and mislead people. For a person can embrace with ease ideas that agree with the senses, but with difficulty those that contradict them.

[9] To enable people to know that such things are meant by 'locusts', let the details of this passage be explained one by one. 'The abyss' out of which the locusts came is hell. 'The grass of the earth' which they were not to harm is factual knowledge, 'tree' recognition of what is good and true, and 'men' affections for what is good. Their being told to harm only men, not the grass of the earth or any tree, means that truth and good may come to be understood even when there is no living in accordance with them. 'Those who have the seal on their foreheads' are those who have been regenerated. Their being told to torment for five months those who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads means that they were to lay them waste. 'Locusts like horses prepared for war' are reasonings based on falsities that are used to fight against the Church's truths. 'On their heads crowns like gold' and 'faces like those of men' mean that the reasonings have a similar appearance to truth and in origin seem to be good. 'Hair like that of women' and 'teeth like the teeth of lions' are the external things of the natural or the level of the senses, that is, the illusions there which give the appearance of good. 'Breastplates of iron' are external things giving the appearance of truth. 'The sound of wings like that of chariots with many horses running to war' means the falsities of doctrinal teachings which they use to fight with and which they fight for. 'Tails like scorpions' and 'the stings in their tails' are the injuries such things can inflict. 'The king' of the abyss is hellish falsity, 'Abaddon' destruction, 'Apollyon' reasoning based on falsities that seems to be based on truth, especially if those deemed to be wise support those falsities with philosophical arguments completely misapplied; for blind admiration of their wisdom leads people to have faith in them.

[10] In the good sense 'locust' means fundamental and very general truth, and also the pleasure it gives. This was why John had locusts as his food, and wild honey, Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6. The reason why they were his food was that John represented the Word; and by his food as well as his clothing, which consisted of camel hair together with a skin girdle, he represented the Word in the external sense. For external pleasure is meant by 'locusts and wild honey', 5620, and external truth by a garment made of camel hair and by a skin girdle, 3301. This explains why John is understood to be the Elijah who is going to come and announce the Lord's Coming, 'Elijah' being the Word, see Preface to Chapter 18 of Genesis, and 2762, 5247 (end). And Leviticus 11:22 states that locusts were among the small creatures which people were allowed to eat.

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Footnotes:

1. i.e. a (wingless) kind of locust, possibly the larva of a locust

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(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 10:4)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 7649, 7674, 7681, 7682, 7686, 7702, 7703, 7705, 7710, 7797, 7877, 7989, 8151, 8228, 8284, 8483, 8678, 8764, 8875, 9033, 9052, 9313, 9320, 9331, 9335, 9372, 10071

The White Horse 2, 8

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 81, 107, 121, 170, 308


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 19, 66, 83, 130, 194, 315, 355, 710

Other New Christian Commentary

What is Evil? 1

Grasshoppers 1

Joel 1: Locust Invasion 1


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg

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


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