Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 17:4-6
AC 8572. Verses 4-6. And Moses cried unto Jehovah, saying, What shall I do to this people? a little more and they stone me. And Jehovah said unto Moses, Pass on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come waters out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so before the eyes of the elders of Israel. "And Moses cried unto Jehovah, saying," signifies interior lamentation and intercession; "What shall I do to this people?" signifies for those who are in a complaining so grievous on account of the non-reception of truth; "a little more and they stone me," signifies that they are not far from doing violence to truth from the Divine; "and Jehovah said unto Moses," signifies aid; "Pass on before the people," signifies that He should lead and teach them; "and take with thee of the elders of Israel," signifies from primary truths; "and thy rod wherewith thou smotest the river," signifies the Divine power by which falsities had been dissipated; "take in thine hand, and go," signifies that equipped therewith he should perform the mandate; "Behold, I stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb," signifies the Lord as to the truths of faith; "and thou shalt smite the rock," signifies that they should be urgent in entreating Him; "and there shall come waters out of it," signifies that the truths of faith are from Him; "that the people may drink," signifies which shall refresh them and give them spiritual life; "and Moses did so before the eyes of the elders of Israel," signifies the effect by means of primary truths.
AC 8573. And Moses cried unto Jehovah. That this signifies interior lamentation and intercession, is evident from the signification of "crying," when for Divine aid, which the people demanded by reason of their grievous suffering, as being interior lamentation (n. 7782), and also intercession (n. 8179). As by "Moses crying unto Jehovah" is signified intercession by the Divine truth which is represented by Moses, it shall be briefly told what intercession is, and how the case is in respect to it. They who do not know what intercession is, cannot form any other idea about it than that the Lord continually prays to the Father, and intercedes for the sinner who devoutly supplicates and promises repentance. Nay, the simple think that the Lord sits with the Father, and pleads with Him for the sinner, and entreats Him to give him to Himself, that he may be in His kingdom, and may enjoy eternal happiness. Such an idea have very many about the intercession spoken of in the word, where it is said that the Lord will entreat His Father for them. But who cannot see that these things were said according to the ideas of human thought? for everyone at that time, as also very many at this day, could not think otherwise of the heavenly kingdom, than as they think of an earthly kingdom, because they get the idea about the former from the latter. This is plainly evident from those very apostles of the Lord, James and John, who asked to sit the one on His right hand, and the other on His left, in His kingdom (Mark 10:35-37); and also from the rest of the apostles, among whom there was a contention as to which of them should be the greatest in the Lord’s kingdom, and who were therefore told by the Lord that they should eat and drink at His table in His kingdom, and should sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke 22:24, 30), thus that they should reign with Him. It is evident that these things were said in accordance with their ideas, and thus in accordance with their apprehension, and that in the interior sense they have a different signification, which at that time could not so well be made known. "The twelve thrones" signify on which the apostles were to sit, (n. 2129, 6397).
 As regards intercession, the case is this. There is intercession in all love, consequently in all mercy; for mercy is of love. That he who loves, or who feels compassion, continually intercedes, can be seen from examples. A husband who loves his wife, wishes her to be kindly received by others, and to be well treated; he does not say this in express terms, but continually thinks it, consequently is in silence continually entreating it, and interceding for her. Parents act in like manner in favor of their children whom they love. In like manner do those also who are in charity for their neighbor; and they who are in friendship for their friends. From all this it can be seen that there is constant intercession in all love. It is the same in respect to the Lord‘s intercession for the human race, and in especial for those who are in the good and truth of faith; for toward them there is Divine, that is, infinite love; and there is Divine, that is, infinite mercy. He does not pray the Father for them, and in this way intercede, for this would be to act altogether after a human manner; but He continually excuses, and continually forgives, for He continually feels compassion; and this is done on the part of the Lord Himself, for the Lord and the Father are one (John 14:8-12).
 A secret that lies still more interiorly hidden in the word "intercession," shall also be told. The Divine truth which proceeds from the Lord continually intercedes in the manner described, because it proceeds from the Divine love. When the Lord was in the world He was the Divine truth; but since He was glorified, which was effected when He rose again, He is the Divine good (n. 7499). It is the Divine good which is meant in the Word in the internal sense by "the Father," and the Divine truth which is meant by "the Son" (n. 2803, 3704, 7499). And as in the Divine truth, which proceeds from the Divine good, there is continual intercession, therefore it is said that the Son entreats the Father, and intercedes for man. This latter idea could be apprehended by man, but the former with difficulty.
AC 8574. What shall I do to this people? That this signifies for those who are in a complaining so grievous on account of the non-reception of truth, is evident from the signification of "What shall I do to this people?" as involving such things; for by the quarreling of the people against Moses is signified a grievous complaining (n. 8563, 8566); and by their having "no water to drink" is signified a lack of truth (n. 8562, 8568).
AC 8575. A little more and they stone me. That this signifies that they are not far from doing violence to truth from the Divine, is evident from the signification of "a little more," as being that it is not far off; and from the signification of "stoning," as being the punishment on account of the violation of the truth which is of worship (n. 7456); here, in the opposite sense, of the doing of violence to truth from the Divine, which truth is represented by Moses. "Moses" denotes truth from the Divine.
AC 8576. And Jehovah said unto Moses. That this signifies aid, is evident from the signification of "saying," as involving the things which follow, here that truths should be given, of the lack of which they so grievously complained, which truths are signified by "water from Horeb." Therefore "saying" here involves aid.
AC 8577. Pass on before the people. That this signifies that he should lead and teach them, is evident from the signification of "passing on before," as being to lead, thus also to teach, for he who teaches, leads in a spiritual way; and from the representation of the sons of Israel, who are here "the people," as being those who are of the spiritual church.
AC 8578. And take with thee of the elders of Israel. That this signifies from primary truths, is evident from the signification of "the elders of Israel," as being the primary things of wisdom and intelligence which are in agreement with good and with truth (n. 6524, 6525, 6890, 7912), thus primary truths, for these belong to intelligence and wisdom.
AC 8579. And thy rod wherewith thou smotest the river. That this signifies the Divine power by which falsities had been dissipated, is evident from the signification of "a rod," as being power (n. 4013, 4015, 4876, 4936, 6947, 7011, 7026), here Divine power, because by Moses, whose rod it was, is represented the Lord as to Divine truth; and from the signification of "the river," here the river of Egypt, as being falsity (n. 6693). It is said "wherewith thou smotest the river," in order that the dissipation of falsity may be signified, for by the Divine power whereby truth is given, falsities also are dissipated; the truth which is given is signified by "the water out of the rock in Horeb."
AC 8580. Take in thine hand, and go. That this signifies that equipped therewith he should perform the mandate, is evident from the signification of "taking the rod in the hand," as being to be equipped with this power. That "go thou" denotes to perform the mandate, is evident without explication.
AC 8581. Behold I stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb. That this signifies the Lord in respect to the truths of faith, is evident from the signification of "a rock," as being faith, here faith from the Lord, or the Lord in respect to faith; for Jehovah, that is, the Lord, says, "Behold I stand upon the rock;" and from the signification of "Horeb," as being the Divine Law; consequently by these words is signified the Lord in respect to the truths of faith which are from His law, or the Word. That "a rock" denotes the Lord as to faith, and relatively to man, the faith which is from the Lord, is evident from many passages in the Word, as in Moses:--
Give ye greatness to our God, the Rock whose work is perfect. He made him ride on the high places of the earth, and he did eat the produce of the fields, He made him suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the stone of the rock: but when Jeshurun became fat, he kicked, he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation The Rock that begat thee thou hast given to forgetfulness, and hast forgotten God thy Former: their rock hath sold them, and Jehovah hath shut them up, for their rock is not as our Rock. When it is said, Where are their gods, the rock in which they trusted (Deut. 32:3, 4, 13, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37);
from these words it is plain that it is Jehovah, that is, the Lord, who is called "the flock;" that this is Jehovah or the Lord as to faith, is clear from the details here in the internal sense.
 In Daniel:--
Thou wast seeing till that a stone was cut out, which was not by hands, and it smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them in pieces. Then were the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; so that the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: but the stone that smote the image became a great Rock, and filled the whole earth. The God of the heavens shall make a kingdom arise which shall not be destroyed to the ages; and His kingdom shall not be permitted to another people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms; but itself shall stand to the ages. Forasmuch as thou hast seen that a stone was cut out from the rock, that was not by hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold (Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45);
this is said of the Lord and His kingdom, and by "a stone" is meant faith, and by "a rock" the Lord as to faith. That these things are signified by "stone" and by "rock," is plain to everyone who reflects. "Stone" too signifies in the Word the truth which is of faith (n. 643, 1298, 3720, 3769, 3771, 3773, 3789, 3798, 6426); and therefore the Lord as to Divine truth is called "the Stone of Israel" (n. 6426). That "a rock" denotes the Lord as to the truth of faith, is because by "a rock" is also meant a bulwark against falsities; the bulwark itself is the truth of faith, for combat is waged from this truth both against falsities and against evils.
 From all this it can also be seen that by "rock" is meant the Lord as to faith, and also the faith which is from the Lord, in the words which the Lord spake to Peter, in Matthew:--
I say unto thee, Thou art Peter (Petrus), and upon this rock (Petra) I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in the heavens (Matt. 16:18, 19);
that "a rock" here denotes the Lord as to faith, and the faith which is from the Lord, and that Peter represents this faith, see the preface to Genesis xxii, also, (n. 3750, 4738, 6000, 6073, 6344. It is also plain to everyone who thinks from sound reason that the power of opening heaven and of shutting hell for the good, and of opening hell and shutting heaven for the evil, belongs to the Lord alone; and that this belongs to faith is because faith is from the Lord, thus also is the Lord’s, that is, the Lord Himself is in it. Moreover all sovereign power in the other life comes through the truth of faith from good (n. 4931, 6344, 6423, 8200, 8304). And he who thinks from reason can conclude that the Lord‘s church has not been built upon any man, thus not upon Peter, but upon the Lord Himself, thus upon faith in Him.
 From all this it can be seen into what and how great errors they fall, who press so closely the sense of the letter of the Word; and with what eagerness the leaders of the church catch at the idea that such power was given to Peter, and consequently to those who call themselves his successors, because it favors their love; and with what difficulty they suffer themselves to be persuaded that anything else is meant, for everyone desires to procure for himself the height of power. From the above it is also plain how necessary it is to know what is signified in the internal sense by "a rock," what by "keys," what by "the gates of hell," and many other things.
 That Jehovah is called "the Rock," and that then is meant the Lord as to faith, is also evident from many other passages in the Word, as from the following, which may be cited without further explication:--
Send ye the lamb of the Ruler of the land from the Rock toward the wilderness unto the mount of Zion (Isa. 16:1).
Thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not remembered the Rock of thy refuge (Isa. 17:10).
Asshur shall fall with the sword not of a man, also his rock shall pass away through dread thereof (Isa. 31:8, 9).
Let the inhabitants of the rock sing, let them cry from the top of the mountains (Isa. 42:11).
Attend to Me, ye that follow after righteousness, that seek Jehovah, look back unto the Rock from which ye were hewn (Isa. 51:1).
Forsake the cities, and dwell in the rock, ye inhabitants of Moab (Jer. 48:28).
I am against thee, O destroying mountain, destroying the universal earth; and I will stretch out My hand against thee, and roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee a mountain of burning; neither shall they take from thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations (Jer. 51:25, 26);
speaking of Babel. And in David:--
He made me come up out of a pit of devastation, out of the mire of clay, and He set my feet upon a rock (Ps. 40:2).
From the extremity of the earth do I cry unto Thee when my heart faileth, Thou leadest me to the Rock that is high from Me (Ps. 61:2).
He fed them with the fat of wheat; and with honey out of the rock I sated them (Ps. 81:16).
 As "a rock" signified the Lord as to faith, and faith from the Lord, therefore also wonderful things were done upon a rock, of which it is thus written in the book of Judges:--
The angel of Jehovah said unto Gideon that he should take the flesh and the unleavened things, and put them upon the rock, and pour out the broth, and there went up fire out of the rock, and devoured the flesh and the unleavened things (Judges 6:20, 21).
Manoah the father of Samson took a kid of the goats, and offered it upon the rock: then the angel did wondrously, and went up in the flame (Judges 13:19, 20).
What these things signified can be seen if from the internal sense there is unfolded what Gideon represented, and what Manoah the father of Samson; also what was signified by "the flesh" and "the unleavened things," and by "the broth," as also by "the kid of the goats," and by "the fire;" for all and each of these things were representative and significative.
 From the signification of "a rock," as being faith, it can also be known what is meant by Moses being put in an opening of the rock when he was to see Jehovah (Exod. 33:20-23); for by "an opening of a rock" is signified obscurity of faith. That the rock in Horeb from which came the waters signified the Lord, is known in the churches; but that it signifies the Lord as to faith, and also that it signifies faith from the Lord, has now been shown. The like to what is signified by "the rock in Horeb" is also signified by these words in Isaiah:--
Say ye, Jehovah hath redeemed His servant Jacob, then shall he not thirst, He shall lead them in the wastes, He shall make the waters flow out of the rock for them, while He shall cleave the rock that the waters may flow out (Isa. 48:20, 21).
That water was not given to the people from any other rock than that in Horeb, is because by "Horeb" is signified the Divine Law; that the Divine Law is signified by "Horeb," is because the Law was there promulgated; and faith which is from the Lord is from the Divine Law, that is, from the Word; for through this the Lord teaches what faith is, and also gives faith.
AC 8582. And thou shalt smite the rock. That this signifies that they should be urgent in entreating the Lord, is evident from the signification of "smiting," as being to be urgent in entreating, but from a humble heart. That "to smite the rock" denotes to entreat urgently from a humble heart, can be seen from the fact that because Moses smote the rock from a hard heart, and in this way expostulated, therefore it was intimated to him that he should not bring the people into the land of Canaan, as he himself relates in the book of Numbers:--
Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said to them, Hear I pray ye rebels; shall we bring you forth waters out of this rock? and Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice: nevertheless many waters came out. Then 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 (Num. 20:10-12).
AC 8583. And there shall come water out of it. That this signifies that the truths of faith are from Him, is evident from the signification of "the rock from which the waters would come out," as being the Lord as to faith (n. 8581); and from the signification of "waters," as being the truths of faith (n. 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 5665, 8568).
AC 8584. That the people may drink. That this signifies which shall refresh them and give them spiritual life, is evident from the signification of "drinking" as being to be instructed in the truths of faith, and thus giving and refreshing the spiritual life (n. 8562).
AC 8585. And Moses did so before the eyes of the elders of Israel. That this signifies the effect by means of primary truths, is evident from the signification of "Moses did so," as being the effect; and from the signification of "the elders of Israel," as being primary truths (n. 8578). It was previously said that Moses should "take with him of the elders of Israel," and now that he did so "in the sight of the elders of Israel," because faith is given by means of truth, and indeed by means of primary truths; for enlightenment is effected by virtue of these, so that the truths flowing from them, which are called "secondary," may be clearly perceived. EXODUS 17:4-6 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|