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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

Resources for parents and teachers

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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?
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 17

 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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From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #8806

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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8806. And sanctified the people. That this signifies the veiling over of the interiors that they may appear to be in the holiness of faith, is evident from what was unfolded above (n. 8788); but it was there set forth what was the sanctification with the Israelitish people, namely, that it was a veiling over of the interiors, so that as to their externals they might appear to be in what was holy when they were in representative worship; and that unless their interiors had then been veiled over, they would not only have defiled the holiness of worship by foul thoughts and evil affections, but would also have totally destroyed it, so that nothing celestial and spiritual which was represented in the external things would have been perceived therefrom in heaven.

[2] But as by “the sons of Israel” are here meant those who are of the spiritual church, it shall be briefly told what is meant by “sanctification” with these. They who are of the spiritual church and live a life of truth and from this a life of good, are withheld from evils and are kept in good by the Lord. The good which is from the Lord is holy with them. Consequently insofar as they receive good from the Lord, so far they are holy; and they receive so much of good from the Lord, that is, are so far holy, as they live a life of good according to the genuine truths of faith, and at the same time believe that all the good which they then think and do is from the Lord. Then, too, evils with them are separated so as not to appear at all, especially those which they have derived hereditarily from parents, and which are filthy, because they have been successively accumulated with the parents for many ages back, and thus amassed in the offspring. These are the interiors which with those who are of the spiritual church are hid away and as it were veiled over (n. 966, 1667, 2307, 2308, 3701, 4317, 8550). Hence it is that all the will they possess hereditarily is destroyed. For this cause a new will is formed with them in the intellectual part by means of truths of faith from the Lord. This is the reason why, when they are being regenerated, they are led by means of truths to good; and afterward when they have been regenerated, from good into the truths of good. Hence it is evident how a new will is created in them by the Lord. (That this is formed in the intellectual part with those who are of the spiritual church, see n. 863, 875, 895, 927, 1023, 1043, 1044, 1555, 2256, 4328, 4493, 5113, 6125)

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1043-1044, 2307-2308; Exodus 19:14)

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Arcana Coelestia 8818, 8832, 8838, 9009, 9069, 9166, 9229, 9259, 9320, 9372, 9380, 9409, 9962, 10111, 10276, 10396, 10436, 10490, 10493, 10499

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 83, 248


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 130, 433, 443

Other New Christian Commentary

Sanctify 1


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Arcana Coelestia #4493

Arcana Coelestia (Potts translation)

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4493. And they circumcised every male, all that went out of the gate of his city. That this signifies accession to external things, is evident from the signification of “circumcising every male,” as being to be initiated thereby into the representatives and significatives of the descendants of Jacob in respect to the external alone (see n. 4486); and from the signification of “going out of the gate of the city,” as being to recede from the doctrine of the Church among the Ancients, concerning which just above (n. 4492). And because recession from their own doctrine and accession to externals are both signified, it is therefore twice said, “all that went out of the gate of his city.” But it is not at the same time said also, as elsewhere, “they that go into it,” because by “going in” is signified accession to doctrine, and recession from externals, whereas here the contrary is signified.

[2] It is necessary to say how the case herein is. The men of the Most Ancient Church, of the remains of which were Hamor and Shechem with their families, were of a totally different genius and native quality from the men of the Ancient Church; for the men of the Most Ancient Church had a will in which there was soundness, but not so the men of the Ancient Church. Therefore with the men of the Most Ancient Church the Lord could inflow through the will, thus by an internal way; but not so with the men of the Ancient Church, in whom the will had been destroyed; but with these He inflowed into the understanding, thus not by an internal way, but by an external way, as before said (n. 4489). To inflow through the will is to inflow through the good of love, for all good is of the will part; but to inflow through the understanding is to inflow through the truth of faith, for all truth is of the intellectual part. When the Lord regenerated the men of the Ancient Church He formed a new will in their intellectual part.

(That goods and truths were implanted in the will part of the men of the Most Ancient Church, may be seen, n. 895, 927 ut in the intellectual part of the men of the Ancient Church, n. 863, 875, 895, 927, 2124, 2256, 4328: That a new will is formed in the intellectual part, n. 928, 1023, 1043, 1044, 4328: That there is a parallelism between the Lord and the good that is with man, but not between the Lord and the truth with man, n. 1831, 1832, 2718, 3514 ence the men of the Ancient Church were in comparative obscurity, n. 2708, 2715, 2935, 2937, 3246, 3833.) From all this it is evident that the men of the Most Ancient Church were of a totally different genius and native quality from the men of the Ancient Church.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1043-1044, 1831-1832)


[3] It was for this reason that the men of the Most Ancient Church were internal men and had no externals of worship, and that the men of the Ancient Church were external men and had externals of worship; for the former saw external things through internal ones as in the light of the sun by day, and the latter saw internal things through external ones as in the light of the moon and stars by night. Therefore also in heaven the Lord appears to the former as a sun, but to the latter as a moon (n. 1521, 1529-1531, 2441, 2495, 4060). In these explications the former are they who are called “celestial,” but the latter “spiritual.”

[4] To illustrate the difference let us take an example: If a man of the Most Ancient Church had read the historic or prophetic Word, he would have seen its internal sense without any previous instruction or explication, and this so fully that the celestial and spiritual things of this sense would have at once occurred to him, and scarcely anything in the sense of the letter; thus the internal sense would have been in clearness to him, but the sense of the letter in obscurity. He would be like one who hears another speaking and gets the meaning without attending to the words. But if a man of the Ancient Church had read the Word he could not have seen its internal sense without previous instruction or explication; thus the internal sense would have been in obscurity to him, but the sense of the letter in clearness. He would be like one who hears another speaking and is intent upon the words while not attending to the meaning, which is thus lost to him. But when a man of the Jewish Church reads the Word, he apprehends nothing beyond the sense of the letter, he is not aware that there is any internal sense, and also denies it; and at the present day the case is the same with a man of the Christian Church.

[5] All this shows what was the difference between those represented by Hamor and Shechem (who being of the remains of the Most Ancient Church were in internals and not in externals), and those signified by the sons of Jacob (who were in externals and not in internals); and it shows further that Hamor and Shechem could not accede to externals and accept those among the sons of Jacob without their internals being closed; thus causing their eternal destruction.

[6] This is the secret reason why Hamor and Shechem with their families were slain, which otherwise would not have been permitted. But this does not exculpate the sons of Jacob from having committed an enormous crime. They knew nothing of this secret reason, and it was not the end they had in view. Everyone is judged according to his end or intention, and that their intention was fraudulent is plainly stated in the thirteenth verse (Genesis 34:13); and when any such crime is permitted by the Lord, it is evil men and their infernal instigators who are the authors of it. Nevertheless all the evil which the evil intend and do to the good is turned by the Lord into good, as in the present instance, in that Hamor and Shechem with their families were saved.

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Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 4489, 4496, 4502, 4507, 4555, 4601, 5113, 5297, 5461, 6146, 6296, 6363, 6367, 6419, 6661, 6693, 6854, 7049, 7102, 7297, 7595, 8194, 8521, 8622, 8806, 8902, 9166, 9262, 9277, 9340, 9348, 9404, 9496, 9594, 9596, 9643, 9670, 9807, ...

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 1, 121, 139, 247, 261


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 63, 112, 175, 193, 331, 443

Other New Christian Commentary

The Ancient Church 1

Paul Before King Agrippa: Telling Your Story 1


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


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