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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

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 John the Baptist
Compare the birth of John the Baptist with the birth of Jesus Christ. What do the births of these men mean in our lives?
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 The Lord's Baptism: Matthew
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Arcana Coelestia #7643

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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7643. Behold tomorrow I bring the locust into thy border. That this signifies that falsity will take possession of their extremes, 1 is evident from the signification of “the locust,” as being falsities in the extremes (of which below); from the signification of “border,” as being the extremes; and from the signification of “bringing,” because predicated of falsity, as being to take possession of. It is said that “Jehovah will bring,” but thereby is meant that it will be brought, that is, by evil. The case is the same here as when it is attributed to Jehovah (that is, to the Lord) that He made heavy Pharaoh’s heart, when yet this is from man, from his evil in him, as shown above (n. 7632). That evil is not from the Lord, but that it arises from man, is because man turns to himself that good which flows in from the Lord, and instead of regarding the Lord and what is of the Lord in all things, he regards himself. Hence comes the concupiscence of reigning over all, and of possessing all that belongs to others; and hence come contempt for others, and hatred, revenge, and cruelty toward those who do not favor and be friendly to one’s self; hence also comes contempt for all things that are of faith and charity, because when these flow in from the Lord they are turned to self, thus away from the Lord.

[2] From all this it can be seen that man turns into evil the very good which flows in from the Lord. From this also it is that the evil in the other life remove as far as possible from heaven; for when heaven comes near them, that is, when good and truth flow in more strongly, they then rush the more strongly into the opposite, that is, into evil and falsity; and in the degree that evil and falsity increase, they expel truth from themselves, and devastate themselves; and then also in the same degree they rush into the evils of penalty, for in the other life evils and their penalties are joined together.

[3] The Lord is continually bringing the heavens into order, and is constantly receiving new residents of heaven, to whom He gives dwelling places and inheritances; and when He does this, heaven approaches, that is, flows in more strongly, causing the infernal spirits to rush more strongly into evils and falsities, and into the penalties of these; and in consequence of this rushing into evils and falsities, they as before said vastate themselves; and this does not cease with them until they have completely devastated themselves, and cast themselves deeply into the hells. From all this it can be seen that nothing else than good proceeds from the Lord, and that the evil is from those themselves who are in evil. All this shows how is to be understood what is said of Jehovah (that is, of the Lord), that “He made heavy Pharaoh’s heart,” and here that “He brings the locust,” by which is signified falsity from evil in the extremes.

[4] In the Word, where the vastation of the evil is treated of, mention is sometimes made of the “locust” and of the “caterpillar,” and by the “locust” in the internal sense is there meant the falsity which vastates the extremes. For as before shown, the natural with man is interior and exterior; the falsity which is in the extremes of the natural, being meant by the “locust,” and the evil therein by the “caterpillar.” As by the “locust” is meant the falsity which is in the extremes of the natural, therefore it is said that the locust would be brought “into the border,” and would “cover the surface of the earth;” and afterward (verse 14), “the locust went up upon the land of Egypt, and rested in all the border of Egypt, and it covered the surface of the whole land.” By the “border” and by the “surface” are signified the extremes and ultimates in which the interiors rest, that is, terminate.

(References: Exodus 10:14-15)

[5] The same is meant by the “locust” and the “caterpillar” in David:

He sent among them swarms, which consumed them; and the frog, which destroyed them; and He gave their produce to the caterpillar, and their labor to the locust (Psalms 78:45-46).

He said that the locust should come, and the caterpillar, so that there was no number (Psalms 105:34).

These things are said of Egypt, and the “caterpillar” is mentioned, although there is no mention made of it in Moses, but only of the “locust.” The reason why the “caterpillar” also is mentioned, is that by it is signified evil; and by the “locust” falsity; each in the extremes of the natural. But when the “locust” alone is mentioned, it signifies both falsity and evil together, for the “locust” denotes falsity from evil.

[6] In Nahum:

There shall the fire devour thee, the sword shall cut thee off, it shall devour thee like the caterpillar; multiply thyself like the caterpillar, multiply thyself like the locust. Thou hast multiplied thy merchants above the stars of the heavens; the caterpillar hath spread himself, and hath flown away. Thy crowned ones are as the locust, thy commanders are as the locust of the locusts (Nah. 3:15-17).

The subject here treated of is the “city of bloods,” by which is signified the doctrine of falsity; and because falsity and evil are especially multiplied in the extremes of the natural, for therein are the fallacies of the senses that originate from the objects of the world, and of the earth, and also pleasures from various kinds of appetites, therefore the multiplication of evil and falsity is also described by “the caterpillar and the locust,” as also in the book of Judges (6:5; 7:12), and in Jeremiah (46:23). (That the sensuous, which is the lowest of the natural, is very full of fallacies and the derivative falsities, see n. 5084, 5089, 5094, 6310, 6311, 6313, 6318, 6598, 6612, 6614, 6622, 6624, 6948, 6949.)

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

[7] In Joel:

That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust devoured; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm devoured; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpillar devoured. Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine, in that it is cut off. For a nation will come up upon My land, strong, and without number, and will reduce My vine into a waste, and My fig-tree into froth (Joel 1:4-7).

The threshing floors are full of pure grain, and the vats overflow with new wine and oil; and I will compensate to you the years that the locust hath consumed, the cankerworm, the caterpillar, and the palmerworm (Joel 2:24-25); where the “locust” denotes falsity in the extremes vastating truths and goods.

In Moses:

Thou shalt bring out much seed into the field, but shalt gather little, because the locust shall consume it. Thou shalt plant vineyards, but thou shalt neither drink the wine, nor gather; for the worm shall devour it (Deuteronomy 28:38-39); where the “locust” denotes falsity from evil.

[8] In John:

Out of the smoke of the opened abyss there went forth locusts on the earth; and power was given them, as the scorpions of the earth have power; and it was said unto them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, nor any tree, but only such men as had not the seal of God upon their foreheads; and it was given them that they should not kill them, but should torment them five months; and the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared for war; and upon their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as it were the faces of men; and they had hair as the hair of women; and their teeth were as the teeth of lions; and they had breastplates, as it were of iron; and the voice of their wings was as the voice of the chariots of many horses running to war; and they had tails like scorpions; and stings were in their tails, that they might hurt men five months. They have over them a king, the angel of the abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in the Greek he hath the name Apollyon (Revelation 9:3-11);

what is signified by all these things no one can see except from the internal sense. From the details clearly seen therein according to the internal sense, it is evident that by “locusts” are there signified reasonings from fallacies and the falsities thence derived, also confirmed by philosophical things. Thus also by the “locusts” are signified the falsities which are in the extremes with man, and which are more earthly and corporeal than all other falsities; and by which man may be easily deceived and seduced, for he apprehends what is obvious to the senses, and with difficulty what is opposed to the senses.

[9] That it may be known that such is the signification of “locusts,” the contents of this passage may be set forth in detail. The “abyss out of which the locusts came up” denotes hell; the “grass of the earth which they were not to hurt” denotes memory-knowledge; the “tree” denotes the knowledges of good and truth; the “men” denote the affections of good; their “hurting these, and not the grass of the earth and the tree,” denotes that truth and good can be understood although the life is not in accordance therewith; “they who have the seal upon their foreheads” denotes those who have been regenerated; their “tormenting five months those who had not the seal of God upon their foreheads” denotes that they should vastate them; that “the locusts were like horses prepared for war,” denotes reasonings from falsities, whereby there is combat against the truths of the church; “crowns upon their heads like gold, and their faces as men’s faces,” denotes that the reasonings appear like truth, and as it were from good; “hair as of women, and teeth as the teeth of lions,” denotes the external things of the natural, that is, sensuous things, or the fallacies therein, which make an appearance of good; “breastplates of iron” denote external things which make an appearance of truth; “the voice of the wings like that of the chariots of many horses running to war,” denotes the falsities of doctrine from which and for which they fight; “tails like scorpions and stings in their tails” denote the harm which such things bring; the “king of the abyss” denotes infernal falsity; “Abaddon” denotes perdition; “Apollyon” denotes reasoning from falsities appearing as from truth, especially if by those who are believed wise it is confirmed by philosophical things wrongly applied, for the blind admiration of their wisdom leads to faith in them.

[10] By the “locust” in a good sense is signified ultimate and most general truth, and also its pleasantness; hence John’s food was “locusts and wild honey” (Matthew 3:4; Mark 1:6). These were his food for the reason that John represented the Word, and by his food, as also by his clothing which was of camel’s hair with a leathern girdle, he represented the Word in the external sense, for external pleasantness is signified by the “locust and wild honey” (see n. 5620); and external truth by the “garment of camel’s hair” and by the “leathern girdle” (n. 3301). Hence it is that by John is meant Elias, who was to come and announce the advent of the Lord. (That “Elias” denotes the Word, see the preface to the eighteenth chapter of Genesis, and n. 2762, 5247) That locusts are among the small animals to be eaten, see Leviticus 11:22.


1. These “extremes” (Latin, extrema) are defined in n. 7693e as being sensuale hominis—“the sensuous of man,” which is the lowest part of his mind, and therefore is the extreme or extremity of it.—Reviser.


(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 10:4, 10:14-15)

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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

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Arcana Coelestia #8678

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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8678. 'For this reason, that they behaved proudly over them' means because of the endeavour and the force used to exercise control over those belonging to the Church. This is clear from the meaning of 'behaving proudly' as the endeavour and the force used to exercise control, dealt with below; and from the representation of the children of Israel, who are the ones over whom they behaved proudly, as those belonging to the spiritual Church, dealt with above in 8645. The reason why 'behaving proudly' means the endeavour and the force used to exercise control is that kind of endeavour and the force used as a result are present in all pride; for pride consists in loving self more than others, putting self before others, and wishing to rule others. Those who wish to do this also despise others in comparison with themselves, and in addition out of hatred and vengeance persecute others who put themselves before them or do not pay respect to them. The nature of self-love, which is pride, is such that so far as it is given rein it gallops away, gaining speed with every possible step it can take, till eventually it reaches the very throne of God - wishing to usurp God. This is what all in hell are like. What they are like is revealed by their endeavours emanating from there, and also by their intense feelings of hatred for one another and their awful acts of revenge because of their wish to exercise control. That endeavour is one that is curbed by the Lord; and it is what is meant by the head of the serpent which the seed of the woman will tread down, 257. Such spirits also are meant by Lucifer in Isaiah,

How have you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the Dawn? You have been cut down to the earth, you have been weakened below the nations. And you said in your heart, I will go up the heavens, above the stars of God I will raise my throne, and I will sit on the mount of assembly, in the furthest parts of the north; I will go up above the heights of the clouds, and I will make myself like the Most High. But you have in truth been sent down to hell, to the sides of the pit. You have been cast out of the sepulchre like an abominable branch, [like] a garment of the killed, [like] those pierced with the sword, who go down to the stones of the pit like a dead body trodden underfoot. Isaiah 14:12-19.

(References: Isaiah 14:1-16, Isaiah 14:12-15, 14:19)

[2] The fact that pride of heart, which is self-love, drives the Divine away from itself and puts heaven away from itself becomes perfectly clear from that state in which the Divine and heaven find acceptance, which is a state of love towards the neighbour and a state of humility towards God. To the extent that a person can humble himself before the Lord, to the extent that he can love his neighbour as himself, and - as they do in heaven - above himself, he accepts the Divine and for that reason lives in heaven. From this one can see what the state is of those who love themselves more than their neighbour, and who behave proudly towards him, that is, who are ruled by self-love. One can see that it is a state in which they are opposed to heaven and to the Divine; it is therefore the state in which those in hell live. See what has been stated and shown about self-love in 2041, 2045, 2051, 2057, 2219, 2363, 2364, 2444, 3413, 3610, 4225, 4750, 4776, 4947, 5721, 6667, 7178, 7255, 7364, 7366-7377, 7488-7492, 7494, 7643, 7819, 7820, 8318, 8487.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2363-2364, 7819-7820; Exodus 18:11; Isaiah 14:12-15)

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Arcana Coelestia 8910, 9335

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 81

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