Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 20:14
(verse 17 in English Bible)
AC 8909. Verse 14. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor‘s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife, and his manservant, and his maidservant, and his ox, and his ass, and anything that is thy neighbor’s, signifies that one must beware of the love of self and of the world; and thus lest the evils which are contained in the preceding commandments become of the will, and so come forth.
AC 8910. Thou shall not covet thy neighbors house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbors wife, and his manservant, and his maidservant, and his ox, and his ass, and anything that is thy neighbor‘s. That this signifies that one must beware of the love of self and of the world, and thus lest the evils which are contained in the preceding commandments become of the will and so come forth, is evident from the signification of "coveting (concupiscere)," as being to will from an evil love. That "coveting" has this signification, is because all concupiscence is of some love; for nothing is coveted (concupiscitur) unless it is loved, and therefore concupiscence (or "coveting") is the continuous of love, in this case of the love of self or of the world, and is as it were the life of its breath. For that which an evil love breathes is called "concupiscence," but that which a good love breathes is called "desire." Love itself belongs to the other part of the mind, which is called the will, for whatever a man loves he wills; but concupiscence belongs to both the will and the understanding, though it is properly of the will in the understanding. From all this it is evident whence it is that by the words, "thou shalt not covet the things that are thy neighbor’s," is signified that one must beware lest they become of the will; for the things which become of the will are appropriated to the man, because the will is the man himself.
 It is believed in the world that the thought is the man; but there are two things which constitute the life of man, the understanding and the will. To the understanding belongs thought, and to the will the affection which is of love. Thought without the affection which is of love does not make anything of life with man; but thought from affection which is of love, thus understanding from will. That these two are distinct from each other is plain to everyone who reflects, from the fact that a man can understand and perceive that to be evil which he wills, and that to be good which he either wills or does not will; from which it is clear that the will is the man himself, but not the thought, except in so far as there passes into it something from the will. Hence it is that the things which enter into the thought of man, and not through the thought into the will, do not defile him; but the things which enter through the thought into the will. These things defile him because they are then appropriated to him, and become his; for the will, as already said, is the man himself. The things which become of the will are said to enter into his heart and to come forth therefrom; whereas the things which are only of the thought are said to enter into the mouth, but to go out through the belly into the draughts - according to the Lord‘s words in Matthew:--
Not that which entereth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which cometh forth out of the mouth, this defileth the man. Whatsoever entereth into the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught. But the things which come forth out of the mouth come forth out of the heart; and these defile the man. For out of the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies (Matt. 15:11, 17-19).
 From these words, as from all His other words, it can be seen of what nature was the Lord’s speech, namely, that internal and spiritual things were meant, but that they were expressed by external or natural things, and this according to correspondences; for the mouth corresponds to the thought, as also all things that belong to the mouth, as the lips, the tongue, the throat; and the heart corresponds to the affection which is of love, thus to the will. That there is a correspondence of the heart with these, (n. 2930, 3313, 3883-3896, 7542). Consequently "to enter into the mouth" denotes to enter into the thought, and "to come forth out of the heart" denotes out of the will; "to go into the belly and to be cast out into the draught," or privy, is to be cast into hell, for the belly corresponds to the way toward hell, and the draught or privy corresponds to hell; hell is also so called in the Word. From this it is plain what is signified by, "whatsoever entereth into the mouth goeth into the belly and is cast out into the draught," namely, that evil and falsity are injected into the thought of man from hell, and are rent back again thither. These things cannot defile the man, because they are sent back; for a man cannot stand apart from thinking evil, but from doing it But so soon as he receives evil from the thought into the will, it then does not go out of him, but enters into him, and this is called "coming forth out of the heart." The things which come forth thence defile him, because what a man wills goes forth into speech and into act, in so far as external bonds, which are fear of the law, of the loss of reputation, of honor, of gain, and of life, do not forbid. From all this it is now evident that by "thou shalt not covet" is signified that one must beware lest evils become of the will, and so come forth.
 That concupiscence (or "coveting") is of the will, this of the heart, is also evident from these words of the Lord in Matthew:--
Ye have heard that it was said to them of old, Thou shalt not commit adultery; but I say unto you, that if anyone looketh on a strange woman so that he lusteth after (concupiscat) her, he hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:27, 28);
by "lusting after" is here meant to will, and unless fears (which are external bonds) restrained, to do; hence it is said that "he who looketh on a woman so that he lusteth after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart."
 The concupiscence of evil is also meant by "the right eye giving offence," and the concupiscence of falsity by "the right hand giving offence," in the Lord‘s words also in Matthew:
If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee; for it will be better for thee that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into Gehenna. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee; for it will be better for thee that one of thy members perish, and not thy whole body be cast into Gehenna (Matt. 5:29, 30);
from these words it is again evident in what manner the Lord spake, namely, from the Divine, as everywhere else in the Word; thus that He expressed internal and heavenly things by external or natural things according to correspondences; here the affection of evil or the concupiscence thereof by "the right eye offending;" and the affection of falsity or the concupiscence thereof by the "right hand offending;" for the eye corresponds to faith, the left eye to the truth of faith, and the right eye to the good of faith, and in the opposite sense to the evil which is of faith; thus "the right eye offending" corresponds to the concupiscence thereof (n. 4403-4421, 4523-4534). But the hand corresponds to the power which is of truth, the right hand to the power of truth from good, and in the opposite sense to the power of falsity from evil, thus "the right hand offending" corresponds to the concupiscence thereof (n. 3091, 3563, 4931-4937, 8281). "Gehenna" denotes the hell of concupiscences. Everyone can see that in this passage by "the right eye" is not meant the right eye, nor is it meant that the eye should be plucked out; also that by "the right hand" is not meant the right hand, and that it is to be cut off; but that something else is meant, which cannot be known unless it is known what is signified by "the eye," specifically by "the right eye," also what by "the hand" and specifically by "the right hand," and likewise what by "to give offence;’, nor can it be known what is signified by these expressions except from the internal sense.
 As concupiscences are things that come from an evil will, thus from an evil heart, and out of the heart or the will come forth murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, according to the words of the Lord in (Matthew 15:19), thus such things as are contained in the preceding commandments of the decalogue, therefore it is said that by "not coveting those things which are the neighbor‘s," is signified that one must beware lest the evils which are contained in the preceding commandments become of the will, and so come forth. That by "not coveting those things which are the neighbor’s" is signified that one must beware of the love of self and of the world, is because all the evils of concupiscence spring from these loves as from their fountains (n. 2045, 7178, 7255, 7366-7377, 7488, 8318, 8678).
AC 8911. From what has been thus far said it can be seen how the case is with man and his life, namely, that man is such as his will is, and that he remains such after death, because death is not the end of life, but its continuation. As therefore man is such as his will is, because, as before said, the will is the man himself, therefore "to be judged according to his deeds" signifies to be judged according to his will, for will and deed are not at variance, the deed being in the will and the will in the deed, provided external bonds do not hinder, such as fears of the law, of the loss of honor, of gain, of reputation, and of life. This is circumstanced like endeavor and motion. Motion is nothing else than continuous endeavor; for when endeavor ceases, motion ceases, and therefore there is nothing essential in motion except endeavor. The learned know this, for it is an acknowledged and confirmed theorem. Endeavor in man is will, and motion in him is action; they are so called in man because in him endeavor and motion are living. To be judged according to the will is the same thing as to be judged according to the love, and also the same as to be judged according to the ends of life, likewise to be judged according to the life, for the will of man is his love, and is his end of life, and is his very life itself. That this is the case is evident from the words of the Lord quoted above, that "whoever looketh on a strange woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Matt. 5:27, 28); also that "to kill" a man is not only to do so in act, but also to will to do it, which is signified by "being angry" with him and treating him with insult (Matt. 5:21). Moreover man is judged according to his deeds, but no further than in so far and in such a manner as his deeds have proceeded from his will.
AC 8912. It must also be explained briefly what is meant in the internal sense by the things here mentioned, namely, "house," "wife," "manservant," "maidservant," "ox," and "ass," which are not to be coveted. They are all the goods and truths of faith in one complex, which are not to be taken away from anyone, and to which no injury is to be done; and they are the same things which in the internal sense are signified by "keeping the sabbath day holy," "honoring father and mother," "not killing," "not committing adultery," "not stealing," "not bearing false witness," all which things have been shown above to be in the internal sense such as are of love and faith. By "house" is meant all good in general; by "wife," all truth in general; by "manservant," the affection of spiritual truth; by "maidservant," the affection of spiritual good; by "ox," the affection of natural good; and by "ass," the affection of natural truth. These are the things which are "not to be coveted," that is, which are not to be taken away from anyone, or to which harm must not be done. That these things are meant in the internal sense, is because the Word in this sense is for those who are in heaven, for those who are there do not perceive the Word naturally, but spiritually, thus not house, nor wife, nor manservant, nor maidservant, nor ox, nor ass, but the spiritual things that correspond to them, which are the goods of love and the truths of faith. In a word, the external sense or the dense of the letter is for those who are in the world, but the internal sense is for those who are in heaven, and also for those who are in the world, yet in so far as they are at the same time in heaven, that is, so far as they are in charity and faith.EXODUS 20:14 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|