Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 15:20-21
AC 8336. Verses 20, 21. And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered to them, Sing ye to Jehovah, because exalting He hath exalted; the horse and his rider hath He cast into the sea. "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand," signifies glorification of the Lord from the good of faith; "and all the women went out after her," signifies all the goods of truth; "with timbrels and with dances," signifies celebration from joy and gladness; "and Miriam answered to them," signifies what is reciprocal; "Sing ye to Jehovah," signifies that to the Lord alone belongs glory "because exalting He hath exalted," signifies that He has manifested His Divine in the Human; "the horse and his rider hath He cast into the sea," signifies from the fact that by reason of His mere presence falsities of faith and evils of life have cast themselves into hell.
AC 8337. And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand. That this signifies glorification of the Lord from the good of faith, is evident from the representation of Miriam, as being the good of faith; for Moses represents the truth of faith which proceeds immediately from the Lord, thus internal truth; while Aaron represents the truth of faith which proceeds mediately from the Lord, thus external truth (n. 7009, 7089, 7382); consequently "Miriam" denotes the good of faith which proceeds mediately from the Lord; for when men represent truth, their women represent good (n. 6014). As Miriam with the women represent external good, therefore it is added "the sister of Aaron," and it is not said "the sister of Moses." Moreover good and truth are circumstanced like sister and brother (n. 3160). But be it known that women represent good, and men truth, when the spiritual church is treated of; whereas women represent truth, and men good, when the celestial church is treated of (n. 4823):--From the signification of "the prophetess," as being one who teaches (n. 2534, 7269), here who praises the Lord, or what is the same, glorifies Him from the good of faith, because she sang to Jehovah, as Moses and the men of Israel had done. "To sing" denotes to glorify, (n. 8261, 8263, 8267); and from the signification of "taking a timbrel in the hand," as being to glorify from the good of faith, for a "timbrel" is predicated of spiritual good, or what is the same, of the good of faith (n. 4138).
 Formerly in Divine worship many kinds of musical instruments were employed, but with much distinction. In general, by wind instruments were expressed affections of good, and by stringed instruments affections of truth, and this from the correspondence of every sounding thing with the affections. It is known that some natural affections are expressed by certain kinds of musical instruments, and others by certain other ones, and that when a fitting harmony joins in accord, they actually excite these affections. They who are skilled in music are aware of these things, and make an accordant use of them. The cause of this fact arises from the very nature of sound and of its accord with the affections. Men learned this at first, not from science and art, but from the hearing and its exquisite sense: from this it is clear that it does not come from any origin in the natural world, but from an origin in the spiritual world, and accordingly from the correspondence with things in the spiritual world of those things in the natural world which flow from order. Harmonious sound and its varieties correspond to states of joy and gladness in the spiritual world; and states of joy and gladness there arise from the affections, which in that world are affections of good and truth. From this then it can be seen that musical instruments correspond to the delights and pleasantnesses of spiritual and celestial affections, and that some instruments correspond to celestial affections, and some to spiritual affections (n. 418-420, 4138).
 As regards the timbrel specifically, it corresponds to spiritual good, that is, to the good of truth. The reason is that the timbrel is not a stringed instrument, neither is it a wind instrument, but as it is made with a skin, it is as it were a continuous stringed instrument, and moreover its sound is graver and deeper than is the sound of stringed instruments. This can also be seen from the Word, where the "timbrel" is mentioned, as in Isaiah:--
The joy of the timbrels shall cease, the tumult of the joyous shall cease, the joy of the harp shall cease (Isa. 24:8);
"the joy of the timbrels" denotes the delights of the affections of the good of faith; "the joy of the harp," the delight of the affection of the truth of faith. In Jeremiah:--
Anew I will build thee, that thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel; anew shalt thou adorn thy timbrels, and shalt go forth into the dance of them that play (Jer. 31:4);
"to adorn the timbrels" denotes to glorify God from spiritual good, for it treats of the spiritual church, which is the "virgin of Israel."
 In like manner in Ezekiel:--
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God, the work of thy timbrels and of thy pipes was in thee, in the day that thou wast created they were prepared (Ezek. 28:13);
speaking of Tyre, by which are signified the knowledges of good and of truth, and by "timbrels and pipes" the affections of the former, and the joys of the latter. In David:--
They have seen Thy goings, O God, the goings of my God in the sanctuary. The singers went before, after them the players, in the midst of the virgins playing on timbrels (Ps. 68:24, 25).
Shout to the God of Jacob, lift up a song, and give a timbrel, a pleasant harp with a psaltery (Ps. 81:1, 2).
Sing to Jehovah a new song, let them praise His name in the dance, let them sing psalms to Him with timbrel and harp (Ps. 149:1, 3);
here "to praise with timbrel" denotes to glorify from the delight of the affection of the good of faith; and "to praise with harp" denotes the pleasantness of the affection of the truth of faith.
 In the same:--
Praise ye God with timbrel and dance, praise ye Him with stringed instruments and organ, praise Him with cymbals of sound, praise Him with cymbals of noise (Ps. 150:4, 5);
"to praise with timbrel and dance" denotes from the good and truth of faith; "with stringed instruments and organ" denotes from truths and the good thence derived. As by correspondence all instruments signified the delights and pleasantnesses of spiritual and celestial affections, many of the Psalms of David have an inscription, and it is told how they are to be sung, as "upon Neginoth," "upon Nechiloth," "upon the Octave," "Shigajon," "Gitthith," "Muth-labben," "Sheminith," "Shoshannim," "Machalath."
AC 8338. And all the women went out after her. That this signifies all the goods of truth, is evident from the signification of "women," as being affections of good, when "men" denote affections of truth (n. 8337).
AC 8339. With timbrels and with dances. That this signifies celebration from joy and gladness, is evident from the signification of "timbrel," as being predicated of the affection of spiritual good, or of the good of truth, and as signifying its delight or joy (n. 8337); and from the signification of "dance," as being predicated of the affection of spiritual truth, and as signifying its pleasantness or gladness. In ancient times gladness of heart was attested not only by musical instruments and songs, but also by dances. For joys of the heart, or interior joys, burst forth in the body into various acts, as into songs, and also into dances. And as in ancient times the gladnesses which excelled all others were spiritual gladnesses, that is, were from the affections of spiritual loves, which were those of good and truth, therefore also it was then allowed to add dances to the songs and musical harmonies, and in these ways also to testify joy. It is from this that "dances" are mentioned in the Word, and by them are signified gladnesses of the affections of truth or of faith, from good or charity, as in these passages:--
Anew thou shalt adorn thy timbrels, and shalt go forth into the dance of the players. Their soul shall become as a watered garden, and they shall not grieve any more at all; then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old together (Jer. 31:4, 12, 13).
The joy of our heart shall cease, our dance is turned into mourning (Lam. 5:15).
Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing (Ps. 30:11).
Let them praise His name in the dance, let them sing psalms to Him with timbrel and harp (Ps. 149:3; 150:4).
That the Gentiles also in their divine worship played and danced, is evident in (Exod. 32:6, 19).
 Both "joy" and "gladness" are mentioned, because in the Word "joy" is predicated of good, and "gladness" of truth, consequently it is very often said in the Word "joy and gladness," both together, as in these passages:--
Behold joy and gladness, slaying oxen (Isa. 22:13).
They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sadness and sighing shall flee away (Isa. 35:10).
Joy and gladness shall be found in Zion, confession and the voice of singing (Isa. 51:3, 11).
The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, and the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride (Jer. 33:11).
The fast of the tenth month shall be to the house of Judah for joy and gladness (Zech. 8:19).
Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness (Ps. 51:8).
As in these passages "joy" is predicated of good, and "gladness" of truth, both are mentioned, otherwise one word would have sufficed. Such is the holy way of speaking that is in the Word, to the end that in every detail there may be the heavenly marriage, that is, the marriage of good and truth (n. 683, 793, 801, 2173, 2516, 2712, 4138, 5138, 5502, 7945).
AC 8340. And Miriam answered to them. That this signifies what is reciprocal, is evident from the signification of "answering," when the glorification of the Lord by means of a song is treated of, as being what is reciprocal. In holy worship among the ancients it was also customary to sing by means of choirs, that there might be one or more to answer; by which was represented reciprocation and response, such as is that of the church from heaven, and of heaven from the Lord. Such is the signification in these passages:--
I will answer and I will sing to Him (Hos. 14:8);
Then sang Israel this song; Rise up, O spring, answer ye upon it (Num. 21:17).
AC 8341. Sing ye to Jehovah. That this signifies that to the Lord alone belongs glory, is evident from what was unfolded above (n. 8263), where are the same words.
AC 8342. For exalting He hath exalted. That this signifies that He has manifested His Divine in the Human, is evident from what was unfolded above (n. 8264), where are the same words.
AC 8343. The horse and his rider hath He cast into the sea. That this signifies that by virtue of His mere presence the falsities of faith and evils of life cast themselves into hell, is evident from the signification of "horse" and of "rider," as being falsities from evil (n. 8146, 8148); and from the signification of "casting into the sea," as being into hell (n. 8099, 8137, 8138); that this was effected by virtue of the mere presence of the Lord, (n. 8137, 8265). It is said that falsities and evils "cast themselves" into hell, for the reason that it is the very falsities and evils that are cast into hell, and these draw with them those to whom they adhere. For through evil of life men become forms of falsities from evil, and therefore when the evils themselves with their falsities are cast down, the forms also to which they adhere are dragged down together with them; for falsities and evils are exhalations from the hells, and flow in with those who through evils of life have made their interiors forms of reception. That everything of thought and of will flows in, good from heaven, and evil from hell, (n. 2886-2888, 4151, 4249, 5846, 6189, 6191, 6193, 6203, 6206, 6213, 6324, 6325, 7147, 7343). Hence then it is that it is said that falsities of faith and evils of life cast themselves into hell; and therefore when the angels are thinking and speaking about the hells they think and speak of falsities and evils abstractedly from those who are there; for the angels always remove ideas of person, and remain in ideas of things (n. 5225, 5287, 5434). EXODUS 15:20-21 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
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