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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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Inbound References:

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
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
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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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Arcana Coelestia #4299

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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4299. For I have seen God faces to faces, and my soul is delivered. That this signifies that He endured the most grievous temptations as if they were from the Divine, is evident from the signification of “seeing God,” as being an approach to Him through things interior, namely, goods and truths, hence denoting presence (see n. 4198); and from the signification of “faces,” as being things interior (n. 1999, 2434, 3527, 3573, 4066), consequently the thoughts and affections, for thoughts and affections are interior things, because they are of the animus and of the mind, and manifest themselves in the face; and from the signification of “my soul is delivered,” as being to endure, namely, the Divine presence. That by all these things is signified that He endured the most grievous temptations as if they were from the Divine, cannot appear except from the causes of temptations both proximate and remote. The proximate causes are the evils and falsities in the man, which lead him into temptations, consequently the evil spirits and genii who pour them in (n. 4249). Nevertheless no one can be tempted (that is, undergo any spiritual temptation) except him who has conscience; for spiritual temptation is nothing else than torment of conscience; and consequently none can be tempted except those who are in celestial and spiritual good, for these have conscience, and all others have not, and do not even know what conscience is.

[2] Conscience is a new will and a new understanding from the Lord; thus it is the Lord’s presence in a man; and this the nearer, in proportion as the man is in the affection of good or of truth. If the Lord’s presence is nearer than in proportion as the man is in the affection of good or of truth, the man comes into temptation. The reason is that the evils and falsities which are in the man, tempered by the goods and truths that are in him, cannot endure a nearer presence. This may be seen from the things that take place in the other life: that evil spirits cannot possibly approach any heavenly society without beginning to feel anguish and torment; also that evil spirits cannot endure to have angels look upon them, for they are instantly tortured and fall into a swoon; and also from the fact that hell is remote from heaven, for the reason that it cannot endure heaven, that is, the Lord’s presence which is in heaven. This is the reason why it is said of such in the Word:

Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall upon us; and to the hills, Hide us (Luke 23:30).

And elsewhere:

They shall say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall down upon us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth upon the throne (Revelation 6:16).

Moreover the foggy and pitch-dark sphere which exhales from the evils and falsities of those who are in hell appears like a mountain or rock, under which they are hidden (see n. 1265, 1267, 1270).

[3] From all this it can now be known that the words, “I have seen God faces to faces, and my soul is delivered,” signify the most grievous temptations as if they were from the Divine. Temptations and torments appear as if from the Divine, because, as before said, they come forth through the Lord’s Divine presence; but still they are not from the Divine, or from the Lord, but from the evils and falsities which are in him who is being tempted or tormented. For from the Lord nothing proceeds but the Holy which is good and true and merciful. This Holy, which is good and true and merciful, is what those who are in evils and falsities cannot endure, because they are opposites or contraries. Evils, falsities, and unmercifulness are continually intent upon doing violence to these holy things; and insofar as they assault them, so far they are tormented; and when they assault them, and are consequently tormented, they suppose that it is the Divine which torments them. These things are what are meant by the words “as if they were from the Divine.”

[4] That no one can see Jehovah face to face, and live, was known to the ancients, and this knowledge was handed down from them to the posterity of Jacob; for which reason they rejoiced so greatly when they saw an angel and yet lived. As in the book of Judges:

Gideon saw that he was the angel of Jehovah; and therefore Gideon said, Lord Jehovih! Forasmuch as I have seen the angel of Jehovah face to face. And Jehovah said unto him, Peace be unto thee, fear not, thou shalt not die (Judg. 6:22-23).

In the same book:

Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God (Judg. 13:22).

And in Moses:

Jehovah said unto Moses, Thou canst not see My faces, for man shall not see Me, and live (Exodus 33:20).

[5] When it is said of Moses that he spoke with Jehovah face to face (Exodus 33:11), and that Jehovah knew him face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10), the meaning is that Jehovah appeared to him in a human form adapted to his reception, which was external, namely, as an old man with a beard, sitting with him—as I have been instructed by the angels. It was from this also that the Jews had no other idea of Jehovah than as of a very old man, with a long and snowy beard, who could do greater miracles than other gods. Not that they accounted Him the most holy, for what holiness was they did not know; still less that they could by any possibility see the Holy that proceeds from Him, because they were in bodily and earthly love, without any holy internal (n. 4289, 4293).

(References: Genesis 32:30)

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Arcana Coelestia 4307, 4311, 4692, 7568, 8562, 8797, 8924, 8945, 9313, 9320, 10396, 10566

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 121, 139, 197, 200, 248


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 433

Other New Christian Commentary

Face 1

Face to face 1


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