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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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Arcana Coelestia #8562

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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8562. And there was no water for the people to drink. That this signifies a lack of truth and of the consequent refreshment, is evident from the signification of “water,” as being the truth of faith (see n. 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 5668); and from the signification of “drinking,” as being to be instructed in the truths of faith and to receive them (n. 3069, 3772, 4017, 4018), here, to be refreshed; for as water and drink refresh the natural life, so truths and the knowledges of truth refresh the spiritual life. For he who is in spiritual life longs for the sustenance thereof from such things as are called heavenly food and drink, which are the goods and truths of faith; in like manner as he who is in natural life longs for sustenance from such things as are natural food and drink.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 4017-4018)


[2] That temptation as to truth is now treated of, is because temptation as to good was treated of just before, after which temptation they received the manna, by which is signified good. For when man is endowed with good by the Lord, he comes into a longing for truth, and this longing is kindled according to the lack of truth, because good continually strives after truth. All the genuine affection of truth is from good. The case herein is like food, which without drink cannot nourish the natural life; and it is also like it in that food longs for drink, with which it may be conjoined so as to serve for use. This then is the reason why temptation as to truth follows immediately after temptation as to good. Temptation attacks that which a man loves and longs for (n. 4274, 4299).

(References: Exodus 17:1)

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Arcana Coelestia 8564, 8568, 8574, 8584, 8904, 9003, 9052, 9139, 9210, 9372, 9412, 9527, 9960, 10037, 10415, 10466, 10686

Heaven and Hell 356

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 51, 218


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 84, 102, 118, 235, 240, 336, 374, 411

Other New Christian Commentary

Drink 1


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Apocalypse Explained #118

Apocalypse Explained (Tansley translation)

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118. And poverty (but thou art rich). That this signifies acknowledgment that they know nothing from themselves, is evident from the signification of poverty, as being acknowledgment of the heart that they know nothing from themselves, concerning which we shall speak presently. That by poverty is here meant spiritual poverty, and that by thou art rich is meant to be spiritually rich, is evident, because these things are said to the church. To be spiritually poor and nevertheless to be rich, is to acknowledge in heart that a man of himself knows nothing, that he has neither understanding nor wisdom, but that all knowledge, understanding and wisdom are from the Lord. In such acknowledgment are all the angels of heaven; therefore they are intelligent and wise, and this in a degree corresponding to their acknowledgment and perception that this is the case; for they know and perceive that nothing of the truth which is called the truth of faith, and nothing of the good which is called the good of love, is from themselves, but from the Lord; they know also that all things which they understand, and in which they are wise, have reference to the truth of faith and to the good of love. They also know that all their intelligence and wisdom are from the Lord. And because they know and acknowledge this, and also because they desire and love it to be so, therefore Divine truth continually flows into them from the Lord, from whom they have all intelligence and wisdom, which they receive in proportion as they are affected by it, that is, in proportion as they love it. But, on the other hand, infernal spirits believe that everything they think, will and thence speak and do, is from themselves, and not from God; for they do not believe in the Divine; consequently, also, instead of being intelligent and wise, they are insane and foolish; for they think contrary to the truth, and will contrary to good, which is to be insane and foolish. Every man who is in the love of self acts in a similar way; because he looks only to himself, he cannot do otherwise than attribute every thing to himself, and he does this because he does not acknowledge that all intelligence and wisdom are from the Lord. Consequently, when such persons think in themselves, they do so against the goods and truths of the church and of heaven, although when speaking with men they say otherwise, from a fear of losing their reputation.

(References: Revelation 2:9)


[2] From these considerations it may be known what is meant by poverty in the spiritual sense. The reason why he who is spiritually poor, nevertheless is rich, is, that he is in the spiritual affection of truth; for intelligence and wisdom flow from the Lord into this affection. Every one's affection receives and takes in things congenial to itself, as a sponge absorbs water: thus the spiritual affection of truth receives and takes in spiritual truths, which are the truths of the church derived from the Word. The reason why the spiritual affection of truth is from the Lord alone is, that the Lord is Divine truth in heaven and in the church, for it proceeds from Him; and because the Lord loves to lead every one to Himself, and to save him, and this can only be effected by the knowledges (cognitiones) of good and truth from the Word, therefore He loves to implant these in man, and to make them principles of his life; for in this and in no other way can he lead man to Himself and save him. It is therefore clear that all spiritual affection of truth is from the Lord, and that no one can be in that affection unless he acknowledges the Divine of the Lord in His Human; for by this acknowledgment there is conjunction, and according to conjunction there is reception. (On this subject more may be seen in the work, Heaven and Hell, where it treats of the wisdom of the angels of heaven, n. 265-275; and concerning the wise and the simple in heaven, n. 346-356, and in the same work, n. 13, 19, 25, 26, 133, 139, 140, 205, 297, 422, 523, 603, and in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem, n. 11-27; and above, n. 6, 59, 112, 115, 117.)

(References: Heaven and Hell 13, 25-26, 133, 139-140, 205, 265-275, 297, 346-356, Heaven and Hell 422, 523, 603; The Apocalypse Explained 6, 59, The Apocalypse Explained 112, 115, 117; The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 11-27)


[3] Throughout the Word frequent mention is made of the poor and needy, and also of the hungry and thirsty. By the poor and needy are signified those who believe that they know nothing of themselves, and also those who do not know, because they have not the Word. By the hungry and thirsty are signified those who continually desire to possess truths, and to be perfected by them. Both the latter and the former are meant by the poor, the needy, the hungry, and thirsty, in the following passages:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled" (Matt. v. 3, 6).

"Blessed be ye poor; for yours is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are ye that hunger; for ye shall be filled" (Luke vi. 20, 21).

"To the poor the gospel shall be preached," and "the poor hear the gospel" (Luke vii. 22; Matt. xi. 5).

"The master of the house said to his servant, Go out into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor" (Luke xiv. 21).

"Then the first-born of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety" (Isa. xiv. 30).

"I was an hungered, and ye gave me to eat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me to drink" (Matt. xxv. 35).

"The poor and needy seek water, and there is none; their tongue faileth for thirst. I, Jehovah, will hear them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys" (Isa. xli. 17, 18).

From this last passage it is evident that by the poor and needy are meant those who desire the knowledges (cognitiones) of good and truth; for the water which they seek denotes truth. (That water denotes the truth of faith, may be seen above, n. 71.) Their desire is here described by their tongue failing for thirst; and the abundance which they should have, by rivers being opened in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys.

(References: Isaiah 14:30, 41:17-18; Luke 6:20-21, 7:22, 14:21; Matthew 5:3, 5:6, 11:5, 25:35; The Apocalypse Explained 71)


[4] Those who do not know that by the rich are signified those who have the Word, and who can therefore have the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good, and that by the poor are signified those who have not the Word and yet desire truths, cannot but suppose that by the rich man in Luke (xvi. 19, and following verses), who was clothed in crimson and fine linen, are meant the rich in the world, and that by the poor man who lay at his gate, and desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, are meant the poor in the world. But here, by the rich man is meant the Jewish nation, which possessed the Word, and could therefore be in the knowledges of truth and good; and by the poor man are meant the Gentiles, who had not the Word, and yet desired the knowledges of truth and good. The reason why the rich man is described as being clothed with crimson and fine linen, is, that crimson signifies genuine good (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 9467), and fine linen signifies genuine truth (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 5319, 9469, 9596, 9744), both from the Word. The reason why the poor man is described as being laid at the rich man's gate, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from his table, is, that to be laid at the gate denotes to be cast out, and to be deprived of reading and understanding the Word; and to wish to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table denotes to desire some truths therefrom, for food signifies the things of knowledge (scientia), intelligence and wisdom, and in general, good and truth (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 3114, 4459, 4792, 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5410, 5426, 5576, 5582, 5588, 5655, 8562, 9003), and a table signifies that which receives such things (see Arcana Coelestia, n. 9527). Because the poor man had that desire, which is the same thing as being in the spiritual affection of truth, therefore it is said of him that he was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom, by which is signified that he was raised up into an angelic state of intelligence and wisdom; the bosom of Abraham denoting the Divine truth which is in heaven; for those who are therein are with the Lord. (That Abraham in the Word signifies the Lord, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 2010, 2833, 2836, 3245, 3251, 3305, 3439, 3703, 6098, 6185, 6276, 6804, 6847.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2010, 2833, 2836, 3114, 3245, 3251, 3305, 3439, 3703, 4459, Arcana Coelestia 4792, 5147, 5293, 5319, 5340, 5342, 5410, 5426, 5576, 5582, 5588, 5655, 6098, 6185, 6276, 6804, 6847, 8562, 9003, 9467, 9469, 9527, 9596, 9744; Luke 16:19)


[5] What is here signified by the rich man, and by the poor man who hungered, is also signified by the rich and the hungry in Luke:

"He hath filled the hungry with good, and the rich he hath sent empty away" (i. 53).

(That by riches in the Word, are signified spiritual riches, which are the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good from the Word, may be seen, Arcana Coelestia, n. 1694, 4508, 10,227; and in the work, Heaven and Hell, n. 365; and in the opposite sense, the knowledges of falsity and evil, which they confirm from the sense of the letter of the Word, Arcana Coelestia, n. 1694. That riches in the Word signify the knowledges of truth and good, and therefore intelligence and wisdom, is the result of correspondence; for with the angels in heaven all things appear shining, as it were from gold, silver, and precious stones; and this according as they are in the intelligence of truth and in the wisdom of good: with spirits also who are below the heavens, there are riches in appearance according to their reception of truth and good from the Lord.)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1694, Arcana Coelestia 4508, Arcana Coelestia 10227; Heaven and Hell 365; Luke 1:53; Revelation 2:9)

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Apocalypse Explained 111, 137, 151, 408, 836

Other New Christian Commentary

Purple 1


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