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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


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
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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 #8588

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)      

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8588. And Meribah. That this signifies the quality of the complaining, is evident from the fact that in the original tongue “Meribah” means “contention,” or “quarreling,” and “quarreling” signifies complaining (see n. 8563, 8566); and because names signify the quality of the thing (n. 8587), therefore “Meribah” here signifies the quality of the complaining. As regards this temptation itself and its quality, be it known that in this passage are described those who in temptations almost yield, namely, those who complain against heaven and also against the Divine Itself, and at last almost disbelieve in the Divine Providence. These things are signified in the internal sense by what precedes, and also by what follows in this verse, namely, the quality of the state of the temptation, which is signified by “Massah,” and the quality of the complaining in the temptation, which is signified by “Meribah.” That this quality is here signified by “Meribah,” is plain in David:

Thou calledst upon Me in distress, and I rescued thee; I answered thee in the secret place, I proved thee at the waters of Meribah (Psalms 81:7).

[2] But in the internal historical sense, in which the subject treated of is the state of religion with the Israelitish nation, that nation is described in respect to its quality toward Jehovah, namely, that they were not willing by supplication to entreat Him for aid, but that they expostulated. The reason was, that at heart they did not acknowledge Jehovah as the supreme God, but only in the mouth, when they saw the miracles. That at heart they did not acknowledge Him is very evident from the Egyptian calf which they made for themselves and worshiped, saying that these were their gods; also from their frequent apostasy (of which see n. 8301). This is what is here described in the internal historical sense; but in the internal spiritual sense is described the quality of the temptation with those who before they are liberated are brought to the last of temptation.

[3] That the quality of the Israelitish nation and of its religiosity is described by contention with Moses at Massah and Meribah, is also evident in the following passages:

Harden not your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, where your fathers tempted Me; they tempted Me, and saw My work; for forty years did I feel loathing at the generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and the same have not known My ways, to whom I sware in Mine anger that they should not come unto My rest (Psalms 95:8-11).

Ye shall not tempt Jehovah your God, as ye tempted Him in Massah (Deuteronomy 6:16; 9:22, 24).

Of Leviticus he said, Thy Thummim and thy Urim are with the Holy Man, whom thou didst tempt at Massah, with whom thou didst contend at the waters of Meribah (Deuteronomy 33:8).

“The Holy Man” here denotes the Lord, whom they tempted, and whom Moses and Aaron did not sanctify.

(References: Deuteronomy 4:16, Deuteronomy 33:8-9)


[4] In the internal historical sense, in which the subject treated of is the religiosity of the Israelitish nation, by Moses and Aaron is not represented truth Divine, but the religiosity of that nation whose leaders and heads they were (n. 7041). Because this religiosity was such as said above, it was intimated to them that they should not bring the people into the land of Canaan, as is written in the book of Numbers:

Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye have not believed in Me, and sanctified Me in the eyes of the sons of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them; these are the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with Jehovah (Numbers 20:12-13; 27:14).

Aaron shall be gathered unto his people, and shall not come into the land which I have given to the sons of Israel, because ye rebelled against My mouth at the waters of Meribah (Numbers 20:24).

The same is said of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:50-51).

[5] That still representative Divine worship was instituted with that nation, was because representative worship could be instituted with any nation that had holy externals of worship, and worshiped almost idolatrously; for what is representative does not regard the person, but the thing (n. 1361), and it was the genius of that nation, beyond any other nation, to worship merely external things as holy and Divine, without any internal; as for instance to worship as deities their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and afterward Moses and David, and moreover to account holy and as Divine, and to worship, every stone and every piece of wood that had been inaugurated in their Divine worship; as the arks, the tables therein, the lamp, the altar, the garments of Aaron, the Urim and Thummim, and afterward the temple. Of the Lord’s Providence there was then given a communication of the angels of heaven with man by means of such things. For there must needs be somewhere a church, or the representative of a church, in order that there may be communication of heaven with the human race; and as that nation, beyond any other nation, could make Divine worship consist in external things, and thus act the representative of a church, therefore that nation was taken.

[6] At that time communication with the angels in heaven was effected by means of representatives in the following way. Their external worship was communicated to angelic spirits who are simple, and who do not reflect upon internal things, but still are interiorly good. Such are they who in the Grand Man correspond to the outer skin. These pay no attention whatever to the internal of man, but only to his external. If this appears holy, they think holily of the internal also. The more interior angels of heaven saw in those spirits the things that were represented, consequently the heavenly and Divine things that corresponded; for they could be present with these spirits, and see those things; but not with the men except by means of the spirits. For angels dwell with men in things interior; but where there are no such things, they dwell in the interior things of simple spirits; for the angels have no interest in other than spiritual and heavenly things, which are the interior things contained in representatives. From these few words it can be seen how there could be communication with heaven by means of such a people. But see what has been previously shown on this subject, namely: That with the Jews the holy of worship was miraculously elevated into heaven quite apart from them (n. 4307); that whatever their quality might be, the descendants of Jacob could represent what is holy, provided they closely observed the rituals commanded (n. 3147, 3479, 3480, 3881, 4208, 4281, 4288, 4289, 4293, 4307, 4444, 4500, 4680, 4825, 4844, 4847, 4899, 4912, 6304, 6306, 7048, 7051, 8301).

(References: Arcana Coelestia 3479-3480, 4288-4289; Deuteronomy 4:16, Deuteronomy 33:8-9)

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Arcana Coelestia 8788, 8918, 9166, 9229, 9259, 9320, 9372, 9380, 9409, 9962, 10396, 10401, 10436, 10490, 10493, 10499

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 248


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 130, 433, 443


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
Other New Christian Commentary

Massah and Meribah 1

Fake It Until You Make It 1


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Arcana Coelestia #9409

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)      

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9409. 'And on the children of Israel who had been set apart' means those restricted to the outward sense, separated from the inward. This is clear from the representation of 'the children of Israel who had been set apart' - that is, those who had been separated from Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders, and about whom verse 2 above says 'they shall not come up' - as those restricted to the outward sense of the Word, separated from the inward, dealt with above in 9380. Something brief must be stated here about who exactly those people are, and what they are like, who are restricted to the outward sense of the Word, separated from the inward. They are those who draw no teachings about charity and faith from the Word but confine themselves to the sense of the letter. Teachings about charity and faith compose the inward substance of the Word, while the sense of the letter composes its outward form. The worship too of those restricted to the outward sense of the Word without the inward is something outward devoid of anything inward. They venerate outward things as being holy and Divine, and also believe that these things are in themselves holy and Divine, when in fact they are holy and Divine by virtue of inner realities. This was what the children of Jacob were like, see 3479, 4281, 4293, 4307, 4429, 4433, 4680, 4844, 4847, 4865, 4868, 4874, 4899, 4903, 4911, 4913, 6304, 8588, 8788, 8806, 8871.

[2] But let some examples serve to illustrate this matter. They believed that they were pure, free from all sin and all guilt, when they offered sacrifices and ate from them. For they thought that the sacrifices in their outward form alone, without the inward, were the most holy things of worship, that when used in those sacrifices the oxen, young bulls, lambs, she-goats, sheep, rams, and he-goats were holy, and that the altar was the most holy thing of all. And they thought of the bread of the minchahs and the wine of the drink-offerings in a similar way. They also believed that when they had washed their clothes and their bodies they were altogether clean, and in like manner that the perpetual fire on the altar and the fires in the lamps were in themselves holy, also the loaves of the presence, the anointing oil, and all else. This was what they believed because they rejected everything internal, so completely that they were unwilling even to hear about internal things, such as that they should love Jehovah for His sake and not their own, that is to say, not in order that they might be raised to important positions and wealth above all nations and peoples throughout the world. Nor therefore were they willing to hear that the Messiah was going to come for the sake of their eternal salvation and happiness, only for the sake of their pre-eminence over all in the world. Nor were they willing to hear about mutual love and charity towards the neighbour for the neighbour's sake and good, only for their own, so far as the neighbour was favourably disposed towards them. They thought nothing of entertaining feelings of enmity, harbouring hatred, taking vengeance, acting savagely, so long as they could lay hold of some reason.

[3] Their beliefs and actions would have been altogether different if they had been willing to accept teachings about love to and faith in the Lord and charity towards the neighbour. They would then have known and believed that burnt offerings, sacrifices, minchahs, drink-offerings, and feasting on sacrifices would not purify them from any guilt or sin, but that worship of God and heartfelt repentance would do so, Deuteronomy 33:19; Jeremiah 7:21-23; Micah 6:6-8; Hosea 6:6; Psalms 40:6, 8; 51:16-17; 1 Samuel 15:22. They would in a similar way have known that the washing of clothes and body rendered no one clean, only purification of the heart; and in like manner that the fire on the altar and fires in the lamps, also the loaves of the presence, and the anointing oil were not holy of themselves but by virtue of the inner realities which they were the signs of. They would have known too that when they were governed by those holy and inner realities they would be holy people, not on their own account, but on that of the Lord from whom everything holy springs. The children of Israel would have known these inner realities if they had received teachings about love and charity, because these declare what it is that outward things include within them. Those teachings also provide knowledge of the internal sense of the Word, because the internal sense of the Word constitutes true teachings about love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour. It is also what the Lord teaches, when He says that on both these commands all the Law and the Prophets depend, Matthew 22:36, 40.

(References: Matthew 22:37-40, 22:39-40; Psalms 51:17-19)


[4] The situation is virtually the same today in the Christian world. Here people are restricted to outward things, without anything inward, because teachings about love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour are lacking, so much so that there is scarcely any knowledge of what celestial love is and what spiritual love is, which is charity. For the good of celestial and spiritual love, and consequently the truth of faith, constitute the inner level in a person. So it is that even at the present day the outward sense of the Word, without doctrinal teachings as regulator and guide, can be distorted as much as anyone likes. For teachings about faith without teachings about love and charity are like the darkness of night, whereas teachings about faith arising out of teachings about love and charity are like the light of day. For the good that belongs to love and charity is like the flame, while the truth of faith is like the light radiating from it.

[5] This being what people in the Christian world are like at the present day, that is to say, people restricted to outward things without anything inward, scarcely any have an affection for truth for its own sake. Here also is the reason why they are not even aware of what good, charity, or the neighbour is. They are not even aware of what the inner level in a person is, nor of what heaven is and hell is, nor of the fact that everyone is alive immediately after death. And those among them who keep to the teachings of their Church do not care whether those teachings are false or true. They learn them and endorse them not for the sake of exercising the good of charity from the heart, nor for the sake of the salvation of their soul and eternal happiness, but for the sake of getting on in the world, that is, to earn reputation, important positions, and wealth. For this reason they receive no enlightenment when they read the Word, and so will altogether deny the existence of anything inwardly present in the Word apart from what stands out in the letter. But more on this subject from experience will in the Lord's Divine mercy be stated elsewhere.

(References: Exodus 24:11)

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Arcana Coelestia 10105, 10400, 10548, 10584

The White Horse 8

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 257


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 270, 701


Glossary of Terms Used by Emanuel Swedenborg
Other New Christian Commentary

Apart 1

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 Night and Day
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