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Arcana Coelestia #9372

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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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Arcana Coelestia #8562

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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

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Arcana Coelestia #6752

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6752. And she called his name Moses. That this signifies the quality of state then, is evident from the signification of a “name,” and “calling a name as being the quality (n. 144, 145, 1754, 1896, 2009, 2724, 3006, 3421, 6674); here the quality of the state, because when anyone is named, the name itself then signifies the state (see n. 1946, 2643, 3422, 4298). The quality of state which is signified, is that of the law Divine in the beginning with the Lord, and that of truth Divine in the beginning with the man who is being regenerated. Two men especially represent the Lord as to the Word, namely, Moses and Elias; Moses as to the historic books, Elias as to the prophetic. There are besides, Elisha, and lastly John the Baptist, wherefore this is he who is meant by “Elias who was to come” (Matthew 17:10-13; Luke 1:17). But before it can be shown that Moses represents the law Divine, what this is must be told. The law Divine in a wide sense signifies the whole Word; in a sense less extended the historic Word; in a close sense, what was written through Moses; and in the closest sense, the ten commandments written on the tables of stone upon Mount Sinai. Moses represents the law in the less wide sense, also in the close, and likewise in the closest sense.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 144-145)


[2] That “the law,” in a wide sense, is the whole Word, both historic and prophetic, is evident in John:

We have heard out of the law that the Christ [Messiah] abideth forever (John 12:34).

That by “the law” here is meant also the prophetic Word, is plain, for this is written in Isaiah 9:6-7; Psalms 110:4; and in Daniel 7:13-14. Again in John:

That the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated Me without a cause (John 15:25); where the sense is the same, for this is written in Psalms 35:19.

In Matthew:

Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall not pass away from the law, till all things be done (Matthew 5:18); where “law” in the wide sense denotes the whole Word.

[3] That “the law” in a sense less wide is the historic Word, is evident in these passages:

All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12);

here the Word is distinguished into the law and the prophets, and because the Word is distinguished into the historic and prophetic, it follows that by “the law” is meant the historic Word, and by “the prophets” the prophetic Word.

On these two commandments hang the law and the prophets (Matthew 22:40).

The law and the prophets were until John: from that time the kingdom of God is evangelized (Luke 16:16; Matthew 11:13).

[4] That “the law” in a close sense is the Word that was written through Moses, is evident in these passages:

When Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law upon a book, even until he had completed them, Moses commanded the Levites who bare the ark of Jehovah, saying, Take the book of this law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of Jehovah your God (Deuteronomy 31:24-26);

“the book of the law” denotes the books of Moses.

If thou wilt not watch to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, every disease and every plague which are not written in the book of this law, Jehovah will send secretly upon thee, even until thou be destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:58, 61); where the meaning is the same.

His good pleasure is in the law of Jehovah, and in His law doth he meditate day and night (Psalms 1:2);

“the law of Jehovah” denotes the books of Moses, for the prophetic books were not yet written, nor the historic except those of Joshua and of Judges. Besides passages in which the “law of Moses” is mentioned, to be seen below.

(References: Deuteronomy 28:24-26)


[5] That “the law” in the closest sense is the ten commandments written on tables of stone upon Mount Sinai, is known (see Josh. 8:32); but this law is also called “the testimony” (Exodus 25:16, 21).

[6] That Moses represents the law in a less wide sense, or the historic Word, and also the law in a close sense, and likewise in the closest sense, is evident from those passages where instead of “the law” mention is made of “Moses;” and where the law is called “the law of Moses,” as in Luke:

Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead (Luke 16:29, 31);

here by “Moses and the prophets” the like is signified as by “the law and the prophets,” namely, the historic and the prophetic Word; from which it is evident that “Moses” denotes the law, or the historic Word. Again:

Jesus beginning from Moses and from all the prophets, interpreted in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:27).

All things must be fulfilled which are written in the law of Moses, and the prophets, and the psalms, concerning Me (Luke 24:44).

Philip said, We have found Jesus of whom Moses in the law did write (John 1:45).

Moses in the law commanded us (John 8:5).

There hath flowed down over us the curse and the oath, which was written in the law of Moses the servant of God; for we have sinned against Him. As it is written in the law of Moses, all evil is come upon us (Daniel 9:11, 13).

Joshua wrote upon the stone of the altar a copy of the law of Moses (Josh. 8:32).

[7] It is said “the law of Moses” because by Moses is represented the Lord as to the law, that is, as to the Word; and in a sense less wide, as to the historic Word. Hence it is that to Moses is attributed what is of the Lord, as in these passages:

Moses gave you the law; Moses gave you circumcision; if a man receive circumcision on the sabbath, that the law of Moses may not be broken (John 7:19, 22-23).

Moses said, Honor thy father and thy mother (Mark 7:10).

Jesus answering said to them, What did Moses command you? They said, Moses permitted to write a bill of divorcement and to put her away (Mark 10:3-4).

And because on account of the representation there is attributed to Moses what is of the Lord, it is said both “the law of Moses,” and “the law of the Lord,” in Luke:

When the days of her purification were fulfilled, according to the law of Moses, they brought Him into Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord), and to offer a sacrifice, according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtle doves, and two young pigeons (Luke 2:22-24, 39).

[8] As Moses represented the law, he was allowed to enter in unto the Lord on Mount Sinai, and not only to receive the tables of the law there, but also to hear the statutes and judgments of the law, and to deliver them to the people; and it is also said that “from this, they should believe in Moses forever.”

Jehovah said unto Moses, Lo I come unto thee in the thickness of the cloud, that the people may hear when I shall speak with thee, and may also believe in thee forever (Exodus 19:9);

it is said “in the thickness of the cloud” because by a “cloud” is meant the Word in the letter, and from this when Moses entered in unto the Lord on Mount Sinai, it is said that he “entered into the cloud” (Exodus 20:18; 24:2, 18; 34:25). (That a “cloud” denotes the literal sense of the Word, see the preface to Gen. 18; also n. 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 2135; Exodus 20:21, 34:2-5, 34:2, 34:5)


[9] And as Moses represented the law or the Word, therefore also when he came down from Mount Sinai,

The skin of his face shone when he spoke; and he put a veil upon his faces (Exodus 34:28 seq.).

The “shining of the faces” signified the internal of the law, for this is in the light of heaven, and is therefore called “glory” (n. 5922); and the “veil” signified the external of the law. That he veiled his face when he spoke with the people was because with them the internal was covered; and was so obscured to that people that they could not endure any of the light from it. (That the “face” denotes the internal, see n. 1999, 2434, 3527, 3573, 4066, 4796-4805, 5102, 5695.) As by Moses was represented the Lord as to the historic Word, and by Elias the Lord as to the prophetic Word, therefore when the Lord was transfigured, Moses and Elias were seen talking with Him (Matthew 17:3); nor could any others talk with the Lord when His Divine appeared in the world than they who represented the Word, for talking with the Lord is done through the Word. (That Elias represented the Lord as to the Word, see n. 2762, 5247.)

(References: Exodus 34:29-35)


[10] And as both Moses and Elias together represented the whole Word, therefore where it is said of Elias that he should be “sent before the Lord,” mention is made of both:

Remember ye the law of Moses My servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, even statutes and judgments. Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah come (Malachi 4:4-5).

These words involve that one would go before to announce the advent according to the Word.

(References: Exodus 2:10, Exodus 34:29-35)

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Arcana Coelestia 6771, 6827, 6864, 6866, 6869, 6943, 6947, 6980, 6996, 7010, 7089, 7104, 7158, 7201, 7215, 7226, 7233, 7244, 7381, 7395, 7463, 7678, 7710, 7721, 7912, 8106, 8127, 8170, 8241, 8351, 8420, 8443, 8444, 8563, 8644, 8668, 8692, 8695, ...

The White Horse 11

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 107, 260


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 36, 63, 64, 204, 222, 272, 277, 329, 392, 735, 746

Other New Christian Commentary

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


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