Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 20:21-23
(verses 24-26 in English Bible)
AC 8934. Verses 21-23. An altar of ground thou shalt make to Me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy thank-offerings, thy flocks, and thy herds; in every place where I shall put the memory of My name, I will come unto thee and I will bless thee. And if thou make Me an altar of stones, thou shalt not build it of hewn stones; for if thou move thy tool upon it, thou wilt profane it. And thou shalt not go up on steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered upon it. "An altar of ground thou shalt make unto Me," signifies a representative of worship in general from good; "and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy thank-offerings," signifies worship specifically according to the state of the spiritual life of each one; "thy flocks, and thy herds," signifies goods internal and external; "in every place where I shall put the memory of My name," signifies a state of faith in the Lord with everyone; "I will come unto thee and I will bless them," signifies the presence of the Divine then, and influx; "and if thou wake Me an altar of stones," signifies a representative of worship in general from truths; "thou shalt not build it of hewn stones," signifies that it must not be from self-intelligence; "for if thou move thy tool upon it," signifies if it is from one’s own; "thou wilt profane it," signifies that then there will be no worship; "and thou shalt not go up on steps unto Mine altar," signifies no elevation to interior things which are celestial; "that thy nakedness be not uncovered upon it," signifies the idea of thought concerning them thus full of falsities, which idea will then be made manifest.
AC 8935. An altar of ground thou shalt make unto Me. That this signifies a representative of worship in general from good, is evident from the signification of "an altar," as being the principal representative of the Lord, and consequently of the worship of Him (n. 921, 2777, 2811, 4489, 4541); and from the signification of "ground," as being good. That "ground" denotes good is because by "ground" is signified the church which is in good (n. 566). Hence Adam was said to be "from the ground" (Gen. 2:7; 3:19), for by him was signified the man of the celestial church, or the church which is in good (n. 478, 479). There are two things from which the worship of the Lord is effected; good and truth. Worship from good was represented by an altar of ground, but worship from truth was represented by an altar of stones; both kinds of altars are here treated of. These two things from which worship is effected are called faith and charity; worship from truth bears relation to faith, and worship from good to charity. As regards worship from faith and worship from charity, or from truth and from good, the case is this. Before a man is regenerated he is in worship from truth, but when he has been regenerated, he is in worship from good. For before a man has been regenerated he is led by means of truth to good, that is, by means of faith to charity; but when he has been regenerated he is in good and thence in truth; that is, he is in charity and thence in faith (n. 8516, 8539, 8643, 8648, 8658). These two kinds of worship are what are represented by altars of ground and of stone. That an altar is the chief representative of the worship of the Lord, because thereon were made burnt-offerings and sacrifices, and these were the things in which the Divine worship of the Hebrew nation, and thus of the Israelitish and Jewish nation, chiefly consisted, (n. 923, 1343, 2180, 2805, 2807, 2830, 3519, 6905).
AC 8936. And shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt-offerings, and thy thank-offerings. That this signifies worship specifically according to the state of the spiritual life of each one, is evident from the signification of "burnt-offerings and sacrifices," as being all internal worship in general, with variety according to the various kinds of celestial and spiritual things, that is, of good which is of love to the Lord, and of truth which is of faith in the Lord (n. 922, 923, 2165, 2180, 2805, 2807, 2830, 3519, 6905), thus according to every state of spiritual life specifically. From this it was that sacrifices were instituted of kinds so various, as, besides the daily sacrifices, those of the sabbaths, of the feasts, of the new moons, of inaugurations, of sanctifications, also for every guilt, for sin, for cleansing, for healing, and for birth. From this also it was that according to the state (to be represented) various kinds of animals were employed, as oxen, bullocks, lambs, rams, she-goats, and he-goats, by which were specifically signified the various goods of spiritual life.
AC 8937. Thy flocks, and thy herds. That this signifies goods internal and external, is evident from the signification of "flocks," as being internal goods, and from the signification of "herds," as being external goods (n. 2566, 5913). That by "flocks" are signified internal goods; is because to flocks belong lambs, sheep, kids, she-goats, rams, and he-goats, by which are signified such things as are of innocence, and of celestial and spiritual love in the internal man; and that by "herds" are signified external goods, is because to herds belong oxen, bullocks, calves, by which are signified such things as are of good and truth in the external man. What is signified by "oxen," (n. 2180, 2566, 2781); what by "bullocks," and by "calves," (n. 1824, 2830); what by "lambs," (n. 3519, 3994, 7840); what by "sheep," (n. 4169); what by "kids," and by "she-goats," (n. 3519, 4005, 4006, 4871); what by "rams," (n. 2830, 4170); and what by "he-goats," (n. 4169, 4769).
AC 8938. In every place where I shall put the memory of My name. That this signifies a state of faith in the Lord with everyone, is evident from the signification of "place," as being state (n. 2625, 2837, 3356, 3387, 3404, 4321, 4882, 5605, 7381); thus "every place" denotes the state of everyone, or with everyone. That a state of faith is signified, is because the "name of Jehovah" signifies everything in one complex by which the Lord is worshiped, thus all things of faith and charity (n. 2724, 3006, 6674); consequently "to put the memory of the name of Jehovah God" denotes with whom, or in whose heart, are charity and faith from the Lord. It is according to the sense of the letter that they were to sacrifice burnt-offerings and thank-offerings, thus their flocks and their herds, in Jerusalem, which was the place chosen by the Lord for the worship of Himself, thus in which He put the memory of His name. According to the internal sense, however, place is not meant, but every man in whom are faith and charity; for in the internal sense by "place" is not signified place, but state; neither by "name" is there signified name, but faith and worship; thus there is meant the man who is in a state of reception of faith from the Lord. Moreover in Jerusalem, which was the place where the Lord was worshiped by burn-offerings and thank-offerings, were represented all things that belong to the church. Consequently by "Jerusalem" in the Word, and by the "New Jerusalem" in the Apocalypse, is signified the church of the Lord; and the church of the Lord is with everyone who is in a state of reception of charity and faith from the Lord; for a man is himself a church, and a number in whom is the church make the church in general. Hence it is also evident that by "in every place in which I put the memory of My name" is signified a state of faith with everyone.
AC 8939. I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. That this signifies the presence of the Divine then, and influx, is evident from the signification of "coming unto" anyone, when it is said by Jehovah, as being presence (n. 5934, 6063, 6089); and from the signification of "to be blessed," when by Jehovah, as being to be gifted with faith and charity (n. 2846, 3406, 4981, 6091, 6099, 8674), thus also their flowing in, for faith and charity flow in from the Lord with man. These things are "a blessing" in the internal sense, for they are what render man blessed and happy to eternity. During man‘s life in the world, the things which he calls blessings are those which render him blessed and happy in time, such as riches and honors. But the things which are meant in the internal sense of the Word are not temporal things, but eternal things, compared with which temporal things are of no account. For there is no ratio between what is temporal and what is eternal, not even if the time be extended to thousands or myriads of years, for these have an end, but that which is eternal has no end. Wherefore that which is eternal is, for that which is without end is, because it has being from the Divine, which is infinite, and the infinite as to time is the eternal. But that which is temporal relatively is not, because when it is ended it is no more. Hence also it is plain that "blessing" in the spiritual sense is that which has within it being from the Divine, thus the things of eternal life, consequently those which are of charity and faith.
 That worldly blessing is nothing in comparison with heavenly blessing, which is eternal, the Lord thus teaches in Matthew:--
What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? (Matt. 16:26).
But the man who is in worldly and earthly things does not apprehend this saying, for worldly and earthly things suffocate it, and cause him not even to believe that there is an eternal life. And yet I can asseverate that as soon as a man dies he is in the other life, and lives as a spirit among spirits, and that he then appears to himself and to others in that life in all respects like a man in the world, endowed with every sense internal and external (n. 1881); consequently that the death of the body is only the casting off of such things as had served for use and service in the world; and moreover that death itself is a continuation of life, but in another world, which is invisible to the eyes of the earthly body, yet is there seen in a light exceeding a thousand times the midday light of the world.
 As I know this from the living experience of so many years, which is still continued, I solemnly declare it. I still speak, and I have spoken, with almost all whom I had known in the world and who are dead, with some after two or three days from their decease. Very many of them were exceedingly indignant that they had not believed at all in a life which was to continue after death. I have spoken with them not merely for a day, but for months and years; and it has also been given me to see their states of life in succession, or in progress, either to hell or to heaven. Wherefore let him who wishes to be eternally happy know and believe that he will live after death. Let him think of this and keep it in mind, for it is the truth. Let him also know and believe that the Word is the only doctrine which teaches how a man must live in the world in order to be happy to eternity.
AC 8940. And if thou make Me an altar of stones. That this signifies a representative of worship in general from truths, is evident from the signification of "an altar," as being a representative of Divine worship in general (n. 921, 2777, 2811, 4489); and from the signification of "stones," as being truths (n. 643, 1298, 3720, 3769, 3771, 3773, 3789, 3798, 6426, 8609). There is worship of the Lord from good, and there is worship of Him from truth. The worship of the Lord from good was represented by an altar of ground, and the worship from truth by an altar of stone. As to both kinds of worship, (n. 8935). As an "altar of stone" signified worship from truth, it was therefore commanded that such an altar should be erected as soon as they passed over the Jordan and came into the land of Canaan, and upon it were to be written the commandments of the law, that is, truths Divine from heaven; for by the "ten commandments" are signified all truths Divine in sum total. Concerning this altar it is thus written in Moses:--
When ye shall pass over Jordan, thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaster them with plaster; and then thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law. After, thou shalt build there an altar unto Jehovah thy God, an altar of stones, upon which thou shalt not strike iron. Thou shalt build the altar of Jehovah thy God of whole stones, and thou shalt cause to go up upon it burnt-offerings, and thank-offerings. And thou shalt write upon the stones of the altar the words of the law very plainly (Deut. 27:1-8; Josh. 8:30-32).
 The reason why the words of the law were to be written upon the stones of the altar, was that by "stones" were signified truths, and by "an altar of stones," worship from truths. This also was the reason why the ten commandments, which signified Divine truths in the complex, were written on tables of stone. That this was to be done as soon as they had passed over the Jordan, was because the Jordan, which was the first and the last boundary of the land of Canaan on the side of the wilderness, signified introduction into the church or heaven, which is effected by means of the knowledges of truth and good, thus by means of truths from the Word (n. 4255); for all the rivers which were boundaries of that land signified the first and the last things of the Lord’s kingdom (n. 4116, 4240). By the stones of the altar" are signified the truths of faith also in Isaiah:--
He shall take away sin when He maketh all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are scattered (Isa. 27:9);
speaking of the vastation of the church; "the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are scattered" denotes that so it shall be with the truths of faith which are of worship. As regards altars in general, they were of ground, of stones, of brass, of wood, and also of gold--of brass, wood, and gold, because these signified good. Concerning an altar of brass, (Ezekiel 9:2); concerning an altar of wood, (Ezek. 41:22); and concerning an altar of gold, which was the altar of incense, (1 Kings 6:22; 7:48; Rev. 8:3). That "brass" signifies good, (n. 425, 1551); that "wood" does so, (n. 643, 2784, 2812, 3720, 8354); and likewise "gold," (n. 113, 1551, 1552, 5658).
AC 8941. Thou shalt not build it of hewn stones. That this signifies that it must not be from self-intelligence, is evident from the signification of "hewn stones," as being such things as are from self-intelligence; for "stones" denote truths (n. 8940); and to "hew," or fit, them denotes to hatch or devise truths, or such things as resemble truths, from one‘s own, or from self-intelligence. For things which are hatched or devised from one’s own, or from self-intelligence, have their life from man, which life is no life, because man‘s own is nothing but evil (n. 210, 215, 694, 874-876, 987, 1047, 5660, 5786, 8480); whereas that which is not from man’s own, but from the Divine, has life in itself, because all life is from the Divine. The worship of the Lord from truth is here treated of, for this worship is signified by "an altar of stones" (n. 8940).
 The truths from which the Lord is to be worshiped are to be taken solely from the Word, for in every detail of the Word there is life from the Divine. When truths are taken from one‘s own, they regard and have as their end dignity and eminence over all in the world, and likewise earthly possessions and wealth above all men, and therefore they have in them the love of self and of the world, thus all evils in the complex (n. 7488, 8318). But truths which are from the Word regard and have as their end eternal life, and have in them love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor, thus all goods in the complex. When truths are hatched from one’s own, or from self-intelligence, they rule over the truths which are from the Divine, because these are applied to confirm them; when yet the contrary should be the case, namely, that truths from the Divine should rule, and those which are from self-intelligence should serve. Those which are from one‘s own, or from self-intelligence, are called truths, but they are not truths; they only appear as truths in the external form, for they are rendered like truths by means of applications from the literal sense of the Word, and by reasonings, while in the internal form they are falsities. What and of what quality they are, (n. 8932).
 There are in the world two religiosities which are from self-intelligence,--one in which the love of self and of the world is everything, which religion is that which is called in the Word "Babel;" it is inwardly profane from the love of self and of the world, and outwardly holy from the Word which has bee" applied to confirm. The other religiosity is that in which the light of nature is everything; they who are in this acknowledge nothing as truth which they do not apprehend. Some from this religiosity acknowledge the Word, but they apply it for confirmation, thus to serve. Some however do not acknowledge the Word; but these make the Divine to consist in nature, for their light, being of nature, falls into nature, and cannot be enlightened by the light of heaven, because they reject the Word from which is all enlightenment. Those who are from these two religiosities are in hell, because they are void of heavenly life, which they cannot receive because they have rejected the Word. And those of them who have applied the Word for confirmation, have made the Word of none effect in their hearts; but because of its great authority with the common people, they have used it for this service, in order to give weight to the devices of their own intelligence. From all this it can be seen what is signified in the spiritual sense by the altar not being to be built of hewn stones.
 By "hewn stone" is signified that which is from self-intelligence in the following passages also:--
That the people may know, Ephraim and the inhabitant of Samaria, that say in haughtiness and pride of heart, The bricks are fallen, and we will build with hewn stone (Isa. 9:9, 10).
Although I cry and shout, He hath shut out my prayers, He hath fenced about my ways with hewn stone, He hath overturned my paths (Lam. 3:8, 9).
Forasmuch as ye trample upon the worn one, and seize from him the burden of wheat; ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them (Amos 5:11).
In these passages "hewn stone" denotes such things in matters of faith as are from self-intelligence.
 Such being the signification of "hewn stone," therefore the altar first built in the land of Canaan by the sons of Israel after they had passed over the Jordan, was built of unhewn stones; for by the passage over the Jordan was represented introduction into the kingdom of the Lord, which is effected by means of the truths of faith. Of this altar it is thus written in Joshua:--
Joshua built an altar unto Jehovah the God of Israel in Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of Jehovah commanded the sons of Israel, an altar of whole stones, upon which no man had moved iron (Joshua 8:30, 31; Deut. 27:1-8).
 In like manner the temple of Jerusalem was built of whole stones unhewn, of which it is thus written in the first book of Kings:--
As to the house itself, when it was in building, it was built of whole stone, as it was brought; for there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tools of iron heard in the house, while it was in building (1 Kings 6:7)
for by the temple of the Lord was represented the Lord as to Divine truth. That the Lord was represented by the temple, He Himself teaches in (John 2:19, 21, 22); and that He was represented as to the Divine truth, was because this truth was there taught; for which reason also it was built of stones, because by "stones" was signified Divine truth (n. 8940); and hence also the Lord Himself was called the "Stone of Israel" (n. 6426).
 from all this it is now evident what was signified by the stone of the altar, and what also by the stone of the temple, likewise what by the stones being whole and unhewn, namely, that religion was to be formed by truths from the Lord, thus from the Word, and not from self-intelligence. Truths which are from self-intelligence are thus described also in Isaiah:--
The workman casteth a graven image, and the founder overlayeth it with gold, and casteth silver chains. He seeketh an intelligent workman to prepare a graven image (Isa. 40:19, 20);
"a graven image" denotes a religiosity that is from one’s own, which is set up to be worshiped as Divine (n. 8869); "the workman" denotes those who hatch and devise from one‘s own; that they may appear like truths is described by his "overlaying it with gold," "casting silver chains," and "seeking an intelligent workman."
They that form a graven image are all of them vanity. All his fellows shall be ashamed, and the workmen themselves. He fashioneth the iron with the tongs, and worketh with coal, and formeth it with sharp hammers; thus he worketh it with the arm of his strength; he fashioneth pieces of wood, he stretcheth out a thread, and marketh it off with a rule, he maketh it into its angles, and defineth it with a compass, that he may make it in the form of a man, according to the beauty of a man, to dwell in the house (Isa. 44:9, 11-13);
in this passage also is described a religiosity which is from self-intelligence. In like manner in Jeremiah:--
The statutes of the nations are vanity; surely he cutteth out wood from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with an axe. He decketh it with silver and with gold; he fasteneth it with nails and with hammers (Jer. 10:3, 4).
And also in Hosea:--
Nevertheless now they sin more and more, and make them a molten image of silver, idols in their intelligence, all the work of the craftsmen (Hosea 13:2).
A religiosity that is hatched from self-intelligence, and not derived from the Word, is meant in the internal sense by "idols" and "strange gods," by "molten images" and "graven images," for the things which are from one’s own are nothing else, because in themselves they are dead, and yet are adored as living.
AC 8942. For if thou move thy tool upon it. That this signifies if it is from one‘s own, is evident from the signification of a "tool," as being truth devised, thus from one’s own; for the tool is of iron, by which stones are cut and fashioned into form. Here therefore it is man‘s own, for this fashions the things which are to be of religion, in order that they may appear in the form of truth. Instead of "tool," the term "iron" is sometimes used, and sometimes "axe" (Deut. 27:5; Josh. 8:30, 31; 1 Kings 6:7; Isa. 44:11, 12; Jer. 10:3), and by these instruments are signified such things as are of self-intelligence, and which devise.
AC 8943. Thou wilt profane it. That this signifies that then there will be no worship, is evident from the signification of "profaning," as being to cause that there is not any worship. For that which is from self-intelligence is in itself void of life, nay, is spiritually dead, for man’s own is nothing but evil; and therefore if Divine worship is performed from it, this worship is nothing else than the worship of an idol, graven or molten, wherein there is no spirit, that is, no life. But that which is from the Word is alone serviceable for Divine worship, because it is in itself alive. For within everything of the Word there is a spiritual sense, which treats of the Lord‘s kingdom; and within this sense is the Divine, because the Word in its inmost sense treats of the Lord alone; from this is the sanctity and the life of the Word, and not from any other source. The Word is like a Divine man; the literal sense is as it were his body, but the internal sense is as it were his soul; which shows that the literal sense has life through the internal sense. It appears as if the literal sense vanishes or dies through the internal sense; but on the contrary it does not vanish, still less dies; but through the internal sense it lives. From all this it is now evident that worship truly Divine has its existence from those things which are of the Word, and in no case from those things which are of self-intelligence. Hence it is that by "if thou move a tool upon the altar thou wilt profane it," is signified, if thou devise not from the Word, but from self-intelligence such things as must be of Divine worship, there is no worship.
AC 8944. It is believed in the world that a man is able to know from the light of nature, thus without revelation, many things that belong to religion; as that there is a God, that He is to be worshipped, and also that He is to be loved, likewise that man will live after death, and many other things that depend upon these; and yet these things being such as are from self-intelligence. But I have been instructed by much experience that of himself, and without revelation, man knows nothing whatever about Divine things, and about the things that belong to heavenly and spiritual life. For man is born into the evils of the love of self and of the world, which are of such a nature that they shut out the influx from the heavens, and open influx from the hells; thus such as make man blind, and incline him to deny that there is a Divine, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death. This is very manifest from the learned in the world, who by means of knowledges have carried the light of their nature above the light of others; for it is known that these deny the Divine, and acknowledge nature in place of the Divine, more than others; and also that when they speak from the heart, and not from doctrine, they deny the life after death, likewise heaven and hell, consequently all things of faith, which they call bonds for the common people. From this it is plain what is the quality of the light of nature without revelation. It has also been shown that many who have written upon natural theology, and from the light of their nature have skillfully confirmed those things which belonged to the doctrine of their church, in the other life at heart deny these same things more than others do; and also deny the Word itself, which they attempt utterly to destroy; for in the other life hearts speak. It has also been shown that the same can receive nothing of influx out of heaven, but only from the hells. Hence it was plain what is the quality of the light of nature without revelation; consequently what is the quality of that which comes from man’s own intelligence.
 But two considerations have arisen which bring the mind into doubt upon this subject: first, that the ancients who were Gentiles nevertheless knew that there is a Divine, that this is to be worshiped, and not man as to the soul is immortal; second, that these things are known also to many nations at this day, with whom there is no revelation. But as regards the ancients, they did not know these things from the light of their own nature, but from revelation, which had spread from the church even unto them; for the Lord‘s church had been in the land of Canaan from the most ancient times (n. 3686, 4447, 4454, 4516, 4517, 5136, 6516). From this source such things as pertained to Divine worship spread to the nations round about, and likewise to the neighboring Greeks, and from these to the Italians or Romans. From this source both Greeks and Romans had knowledges about the Supreme Deity, and the immortality of the soul, of which their learned men wrote.
 As regards the nations at this day who also know that there is a Divine, and that there is a life after death, these have not had this knowledge from the light of their own nature, but from a religiosity derived by them from ancient times, which had been founded on such things as had spread in various ways from the church, which had revelation. This was of the Lord’s Divine Providence. Moreover, those of them who from their religiosity acknowledge a Divine over all things, and from their religiosity perform the duties of charity to their neighbor, when instructed in the other life receive the truths of faith, and are saved (n. 2589-2604).
AC 8945. And thou shalt not go up on steps unto the altar. That this signifies no elevation to interior things which are celestial, is evident from the signification of "going up by steps," as being to raise one‘s self to higher or interior things. Whether we say "interior things," or "higher things," it is the same, for interior things appear as higher, (n. 2148, 3084, 4210, 4599); and from the signification of "an altar," as being the chief representative of the Lord (n. 921, 2777, 2811); thus by "going up on steps unto Mine altar" is signified to raise one’s self to the Lord, consequently to interior things which are celestial; for the Lord is more present in interior things. Those things are called celestial which are in the inmost heaven, and those spiritual which are in the middle heaven. For heaven is distinguished into two kingdoms, namely, the celestial kingdom and the spiritual kingdom. They who are in the celestial kingdom are in the inmost or third heaven, thus nearest to the Lord; for they who are there are in love to the Lord and in innocence, consequently in wisdom above all the other angels. But they who are in the spiritual kingdom are in the middle or second heaven, thus more remote from the Lord; they who are there are in charity toward the neighbor, and through charity are with the Lord. Concerning these two kingdoms and the difference between them, (n. 2048, 2088, 2227, 2507, 2669, 2708, 2715, 2718, 3235, 3246, 3374, 3887, 4448, 4585, 4938, 4939, 5113, 5922, 6367, 6435, 7877).
 It is to be explained in a few words how the case is with respect to the elevation toward interior things, thus toward celestial things, which is signified by "going up on steps unto the altar." It is not granted anyone in the other life to be raised higher into heaven than to the degree of good in which he is; for if he is raised higher, his defilements, that is, the evils of his loves and the falsities therefrom, are made manifest. For the more interior, the more pure and holy, it is in heaven. They who are in a more impure state are kept in a lower sphere, where their impurities are not perceived and do not appear, because they are in a grosser good, and a more obscure truth.
 It sometimes happens that they who come into heaven desire to come into a more interior heaven, believing that so they will enjoy greater joy. In order that this desire which clings to them may be removed, they are indeed raised into a more interior heaven; but when they come thither, they begin to be distressed by reason of the evils of their loves, which evils then come to their perception, and they also become ugly by reason of the falsities from the evils with them. On perceiving these things, they cast themselves down from the more interior heaven, and do not return into a tranquil and peaceful state until they come into their former station. These are the things which are signified by the statute, "Thou shalt not go up on steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered upon it."
 The case is similar with those who are beneath heaven. If these desire to ascend into heaven before they have been prepared, when they are raised there they feel torment almost infernal, and appear to themselves like carcasses. Even the very life with them labors, like the life of those who are in the death agony; and therefore they cast themselves down headlong, and afterward no more desire to ascend above the state of life in which they are.
 Be it known that in the other life heaven is denied by the Lord to no one, and that as many as desire can be admitted. Heaven consists of societies of angels who are in the good of love toward the neighbor and of love to the Lord; and when any are admitted into heaven, they are let into such societies). But when the sphere of their life, that is, when the life of their love, is not in agreement, then conflict arises, from which they have anguish and downcasting. In this way they are instructed about the life of heaven, and the state of their own life in comparison, also about the fact that no one has heaven merely by being received or admitted (as is the common opinion in the world), and that by his life in the world a man may become of such a character that he can be with those who are in heaven (n. 3938, 4225, 4226, 4299, 4674, 5057, 5058, 7186, 7519, 8794, 8797). These are the things which are signified by the statute, "Thou shalt not go up on steps unto Mine altar, that thy nakedness be not uncovered upon it;" and also by a similar statute in (Exod. 28:42, 43).
 It is said "go up on steps," for the reason that elevation to interior things appears in the world of spirits, where celestial and spiritual things are presented in forms like those of the world, as an ascent by steps. This representative it has often been given me to see. For this reason also it was that the angels were seen by Jacob in his dream going up to the Lord by the steps of a ladder (Gen. 28:12). Therefore also by "steps" in the Word is signified ascent to higher things, that is, to interior things, as in (Ezekiel 40:6, 22, 26, 31, 34); and in Amos:--
The Lord Jehovih Zebaoth buildeth His steps in the heavens (Amos 9:6).
AC 8946. That thy nakedness be not uncovered upon it. That this signifies the idea of thought concerning them thus full of falsities, which idea will then be made manifest, is evident from the signification of "nakedness," as being that which is destitute of truths (n. 5433), thus an idea of thought full of falsities; and from the signification of being "uncovered," as being to be made manifest. How the case herein is, has been explained just above (n. 8945), namely, that a man, a spirit, or an angel, when raised more interiorly into heaven, appears such as he is as to both his lives; as to the life of his thought with respect to truths, and as to the life of his will with respect to goods; for the more interior the advance into the heavens, the purer is the good, and the purer the truth. In order therefore that the falsities which are of the thought, and the evils which are of the will, should not appear, but be hidden, they are kept in lower parts, where they are in a comparatively obscure light. From all this also it can be seen what was meant by the saying that "no one can see Jehovah and live;" for Jehovah is pure love, and from Him is pure light, and to be seen in these is to perish. Therefore also the angels themselves in heaven are covered with a cloud (n. 6849); and all who are in hell are veiled in thick clouds (n. 3340, 8137, 8138, 8814, 8819); for clouds there are falsities.