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Arcana Coelestia #10050

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10050. 'And its legs' means purification of the more external things belonging to the natural man. This is clear from the meaning of 'washing the legs' as purification of the natural man (for the meaning of 'washing' as purifying, see immediately above in 10049); and from the meaning of 'the legs' as the more external things belonging to the natural man. The reason why these things are meant by 'the legs' is that one must at the same time understand the feet, since an animal's four legs are closely connected to its feet, and 'the feet' by virtue of their correspondence mean the natural or external level in a person, see 2162, 3147, 3761, 4938-4952.

[2] Much the same is meant by 'the legs' in Amos,

As the shepherd rescues from the mouth of the lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so will the children of Israel dwelling in Samaria be rescued, on the corner of a bed and on the end of a couch. Amos 3:12.

'The lion' here means those who lay the Church waste, 'legs' the external part of it, which is also the external part of the natural man, 'a piece of an ear' its discernment, and those 'dwelling in Samaria' those whose worship is external. 'The corner of a bed and the end of a couch' is the lowest part of the natural, which is external sensory awareness and its truth and good.

[3] In Daniel's description of Nebuchadnezzar's statue - its head made of pure gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and side of bronze, legs of iron, and feet partly of iron and partly of clay, Daniel 2:32-33 - what is meant by 'the legs' is the truth of faith in the external or natural man; and the same thing is also meant by 'iron', see 10030. The reason why the legs in the description are distinguished from the feet is that human legs are by nature different from animal legs.

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

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Arcana Coelestia #2162

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2162. 'Wash your feet' means that they were to take on something natural so that during the state He was then passing through His perception might be improved. This becomes clear from the meaning of 'feet' as natural things, and also in a like manner from the train of thought. That arcana lie concealed here becomes clear to a certain extent from the fact that Abraham besought the three men to take a little water and wash their feet, and to relax under a tree, even though he knew that it was the Lord or Jehovah; also from the fact that if it was not so such details would not have been mentioned.

[2] That 'feet' means natural things becomes clear from the representatives in the next life, and consequently from representatives derived from these that existed among the most ancient people and so occur in the Word. Celestial and spiritual things are represented by 'the head' and the parts of the head; by 'the breast' and the parts of the breast are represented rational concepts and aspects of these; by 'the feet and the parts of the feet are represented natural things and the different kinds of these. Consequently 'the sole' and 'the heel' of the foot mean the lowest natural things, regarding which see 259, while 'a shoe' means the lowest things of all, which are filthy, regarding which see 1748.

[3] Similar things are meant by the representations in the dreams and visions in the Prophets, such as the statue seen by Nebuchadnezzar, the head of which was fine gold, the breast and arms were silver, the belly and thighs were bronze, the legs were iron, and the feet were partly iron and partly clay, Daniel 2:32-33. In this case 'the head' means celestial things, which are inmost and are 'gold', as shown in 113, 1551, 1552; 'the breast and arms' spiritual or rational things, which are 'silver', as shown in 1551; but 'the feet' means lower things, which are natural, the truths of which are meant by 'iron' and the goods by 'clay' or mud. As regards 'iron' meaning truth, see 425, 426, and 'clay' good, 1300, both of which in the present case are natural. These things come in the same order in the Lord's kingdom in heaven, and in the Church which is the Lord's kingdom on earth, and also in every individual who is a kingdom of the Lord.

[4] It is similar with the vision which Daniel himself saw, of which the following is said,

I lifted up my eyes and saw, and behold, a man clothed in linen whose loins were girded with gold of Uphaz and whose body was like tarshish, 1 and whose face was like the appearance of lightning, and whose eyes were like fiery torches, and whose arms and feet like the shine of burnished bronze. Daniel 10:5-6.

Specifically these words mean the interiors of the Word as to goods and truths. 'The arms and feet' are its interiors, which constitute the sense of the letter, for natural things occur there, since natural things are the source from which the exteriors of the Word are drawn. What further is meant by each of these parts, namely the loins, body, face, eyes, and many others in man, becomes clear from the representatives in the next life, which will in the Lord's Divine mercy be spoken of when the Grand Man - which is the Lord's heaven - and the representatives that originate in heaven but occur in the world of spirits are dealt with.

[5] That which one reads about Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the seventy elders seeing the God of Israel, under whose feet there was so to speak a paved work of sapphire stone, like the substance of the sky for pureness, Exodus 24:9-10, means that they saw, represented in natural things, merely the external features of the Church, and also the literal sense of the Word, in which too, as has been stated, external things are represented by natural things. And these external things are 'the feet' under which there is so to speak 'a paved work of sapphire stone, like the substance of the sky itself'. It is clear that it was the Lord whom they saw, though only in those lower or natural things, since He is called 'the God of Israel', whom all things of the Church represented and whom all things of the Word in the internal sense meant. For the Lord is presented visually in accordance with the things that are meant at the time. When, for example, in John, He was seen as a Man on a white horse, the Word was in this case meant by Him, as is explicitly stated in Revelation 19:11, 13.

[6] The living creatures seen by Ezekiel, which were cherubs, are described as regards celestial and spiritual things by their faces and wings, and also many other things. But as regards natural things they are described as follows, by their feet, a straight foot, and the soles of their feet being like the sole of a calf's foot, and sparkling like the shine of burnished bronze, Ezekiel 1:7. The reason their feet, that is, natural things, are said to have sparkled like burnished bronze is that 'bronze' means natural good, dealt with in 425, 1551. It was similar when the Lord appeared to John as the Son of Man: His eyes were like a flame of fire and His feet were like burnished bronze, Revelation 1:14-15; 2:18.

[7] That 'feet' means natural things is further evident from the following places: In John, who saw,

A mighty angel coming down out of heaven, wrapped in a cloud, and a rainbow around his head, his face was like the sun and his feet like pillars of fire. In his hand he had a little book opened, and he set his right foot on the sea and his left on the land. Revelation 10:1-2.

This angel in a similar way means the Word. The nature of the Word in the internal sense is meant by 'the rainbow around his head' and by 'his face being like the sun'; but the external sense, or sense of the letter, is meant by his 'feet'. 'The sea' is natural truths, 'the land' natural goods, from which it is clear what is meant by his setting his right foot on the sea and his left on the land.

[8] Reference is made in various places in the Word to 'a footstool', but no one knows what is meant by this in the internal sense; as in Isaiah,

Jehovah said, The heavens are My throne and the earth My footstool. Where is this house which you are going to build for Me and where is this place of My rest? Isaiah 66:1.

'The heavens' means the celestial and spiritual things, and so the inmost things, both of the Lord's kingdom in heaven and of the Lord's kingdom on earth, which is the Church. Also meant by 'the heavens' are those same things as they exist with every individual who is a kingdom of the Lord or a Church. Thus 'the heavens' also means the celestial and spiritual things regarded in themselves which are matters of love and charity and of faith that springs from these, and so means all things that belong to internal worship and similarly all things that belong to the internal sense of the Word. These things are meant by 'the heavens' and are called 'the Lord's throne', but by 'the earth' are meant all lower things corresponding to those meant by 'the heavens'. By 'the earth' lower rational and natural things are meant, which from correspondence are likewise referred to as celestial and spiritual things, such as those that exist in the lower heavens and also in the Church, and those things which belong to external worship and also those present in the literal sense of the Word. In short, all things that stem from internal things and manifest themselves in external are, being natural things, called 'the earth' and 'the Lord's footstool'. What heaven and earth mean in the internal sense of the Word, see also 82, 1733. What the new heaven and new earth mean, see 2117, 2118 (end). And that man is a miniature heaven, see 911, 978, 1900.

[9] Similarly in Jeremiah,

In His anger the Lord covers the daughter of Zion with a cloud, He has cast down from heaven to earth the splendour of Israel, and has not remembered His footstool on the day of His anger. Lamentations 2:1.

Also in David,

Exalt Jehovah our God, and bow down at His footstool. Holy is He! Psalms 99:5.

Elsewhere in the same author,

We will enter His dwelling-places, we will bow down at His footstool. Psalms 132:7.

People in the representative Church - and thus the Jews - imagined that God's house and the temple were His footstool. They did not know that by the Lord's house and the temple was meant external representative worship. What the internal features of the Church were, meant by 'heaven' or God's throne, they had no knowledge at all.

[10] In the same author,

Jehovah said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand till I make your enemies a stool for your feet. Psalms 110:1; Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42-43.

Here 'footstool' in a similar way means natural things - both sensory impressions and factual knowledge, and man's rational ideas formed from these - which are called 'enemies' when worship is perverted by them (which is done from the literal sense of the Word). As a result worship exists solely in things that are external, and no internal worship - or rather only internal worship that is defiled - exists, concerning which see 1094, 1175, 1182. When these have became perverted and defiled in this manner they are called 'enemies'; but because, regarded in themselves, they have reference to internal worship, when this is restored, they become - both the things that belong to external worship and those that belong to the sense of the letter of the Word - 'a footstool', as stated already.

[11] In Isaiah,

The glory of Lebanon will come to you, the fir, the pine, and the box tree together, to beautify the place of My sanctuary; and I will make the place of My feet glorious. Isaiah 60:13.

This refers to the Lord's kingdom and Church, the celestial-spiritual things of which are meant by 'the glory of Lebanon', that is, cedar trees, but the celestial-natural things of it by 'the fir, the pine, and the box', as also in other places in the Word. Thus it is the external aspects of worship that are referred to when it is said that 'I will make the place of My feet glorious'; and this cannot he made glorious by the fir, the pine, and the box, but by the things meant by these.

[12] That 'feet' means these things is also clear from the representatives in the Jewish Church, for example, by the requirement that Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and feet before entering the tabernacle, Exodus 30:19-20; 40:31-32. No one is able to see that arcana were represented by this, for what is such washing of the hands and feet but some external act which does not do anything at all if the internal is not pure and clean? Nor can the internal be made pure and clean by such a washing. But because all the forms of ritual of that Church meant internal things that are celestial and spiritual, so it was with this form; that is to say, it meant the cleanliness of external worship, which is clean when internal worship is present within it. This explains why their lavers were made of bronze, and also the large laver which was called 'the bronze sea', together with the ten smaller ones made of bronze around Solomon's temple, 1 Kings 7:23, 38. They were made of bronze because 'bronze' represented good present in external worship, which is the same as natural good. Regarding this meaning of bronze, see 425, 1551.

[13] Similarly representative was the prohibition that no man among Aaron's descendants who had a broken foot or a broken hand should draw near to offer fire-offerings to Jehovah, Leviticus 21:19, 21. 'Broken feet and hands' represented those people whose external worship was perverted.

[14] That 'feet' means natural things is also evident from various other places in the Prophets, as in these prophetical utterances in Moses,

Blessed above sons be Asher; let him be acceptable among his brothers, and dipping his foot in oil. Your shoes will be iron and bronze. Deuteronomy 33:24-25.

These words will not be understood by anybody unless he knows what the meaning of oil, foot, iron, bronze, and shoe are in the internal sense. 'Foot' is the natural; 'shoe' the still lower natural, such as that which is connected with the senses and the body, see 1748; 'oil' is the celestial, 886; 'iron' natural truth, 425, 426; and 'bronze' natural good, 425, 1551. From these places it is evident what these words embody.

[15] In Nahum,

The way of Jehovah is in storm and tempest, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. Nahum 1:3.

Here 'the dust of the feet' means the natural and bodily things with man which give rise to clouds. The same is also meant by these words in David,

Jehovah bowed the heavens and came down, and thick darkness was under His feet. Psalms 18:9.

[16] When goods and truths of faith are perverted by natural light, as people call it, it is described in the Word as the feet and hoofs of a beast which trouble waters and trample on food, as in Ezekiel,

You have come forth into the rivers, and have troubled the waters with your feet and trampled their rivers. I will destroy all its beasts from over many waters, and the foot of man will not trouble them any longer, nor will the hoofs of beast. Ezekiel 32:2, 13.

This refers to Egypt, which meant forms of knowledge, as shown in 1164, 1165, 1462. Thus by 'feet and hoofs which trouble the rivers and water' are meant facts gained from sensory and from natural things, on the basis of which people reason about the arcana of faith and do not believe anything until they grasp it by this method. This amounts to not believing at all, for the more such people go on reasoning, the less believing they are; see what is said in 128-130, 215, 232, 233, 1072, 1385. From all these quotations it is now evident that 'feet' in the Word means natural things. But what further meaning 'feet' may have is evident from the context in which the expression occurs.


1. A Hebrew word for a particular kind of precious stone, probably a beryl.

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