Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 21:1
next  -  text  -  summary  -  Exodus  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

AC 8971. That the Word is holy, nay, most holy, is known to everyone within the church. This is not only acknowledged, but is also perceived, by those who are in the truths of faith and in a life according to them, for when reading the Word they are continually kept in the idea of what is holy. But those who are not in the truths of faith and in a life according to them do not acknowledge, still less perceive, anything of holiness in the Word. When these persons read the Word, they do not see anything higher in it than in any other writing. And they who in their hearts deny the holiness of the Word also say to themselves when they read it, that the writings of men are finer, because in so far as regards the literal sense they are composed in a finer style. This has been shown me by living experience with regard to those in the other life who in their hearts have denied that the Word has been inspired by the Divine. But when they were told that the Word is holy and Divine as to every jot and smallest point in it, they stood amazed, and marveled whence this could be. And when they were told further, and also shown to the life, that all things which are in the Word contain in them a spiritual sense which does not appear in the letter, and that this sense of the Word is with the angels in heaven when the Word is being read by man, they then acknowledged it because it was shown; but they said that they did not know this in the world, and that because they did not know it, they are free from blame. But when these same persons were examined, it was observed that they had lived just as they liked, without any restraints from conscience, and had therefore at heart denied the Divine, heaven and hell, the life after death, and all other matters of faith, and that this was the cause of their not having acknowledged the holiness of the Word. And it was further shown that all those who have been in the truths of faith and in a life according to them, have held the Word to be holy, and have also while reading it perceived in themselves that it is so. From this they were convinced that the cause was not in the Word, but in themselves. For with those who are in a life of good the interiors are open into heaven, whence the holiness of the Word flows in from the angels; whereas with those who are in a life of evil the interiors are closed toward heaven, but are open into hell, whence there flows in the contrary.

[2] Take for example the judgments or laws in this chapter about menservants, maidservants, and oxen. They who deny the holiness of the Word, because they are in a life of evil, will say that in these judgments or laws they do not see anything Divine-as when it is said that a manservant who does not desire to go away free should be brought to a door or a doorpost, and his master should bore through his ear with an awl, and accordingly he should serve forever; also that if a manservant who is smitten shall live a day or two, his master who smote him shall not be punished, because he is his silver; as also that a manservant should be free for the loss of an eye or a tooth; and that an ox striking with the horn should be stoned, besides the other things there mentioned. They who in their hearts deny the holiness of the Word regard these things as not worthy of the Lord, and still less worthy to be dictated by Jehovah Himself on Mount Sinai; in like manner do they regard all other things that are in the Word, whether historical or prophetical. But the reason why they so regard them is that heaven is closed to them on account of their life of evil, consequently they have a contrary perception. The case is quite different with those who are in a life of good.

[3] Whence comes the holiness of the Word which flows in from heaven, is evident from all that has hitherto been said and shown about the internal sense of the Word; namely, that the Word alone has an internal sense, and that this sense treats of such things as belong to heaven, which are the things of eternal life, and that inmostly it treats of the Lord alone, thus of holy things, nay, of Divine things themselves which are most holy; and that this sense is for the angels who are with man while the Word is being read, consequently that there is from this source an influx of holiness, and a perception of it, with those who are in the life of faith and charity. As regards the judgments or laws in this chapter about menservants, maidservants, and oxen, these contain in the internal sense such things as are of Divine order with respect to those who are in the truth of faith, and also with respect to those who injure or destroy the things which belong to faith and charity, and those which belong to love to the Lord; and in the inmost sense, those things which would injure or destroy the Lord Himself. From this everyone can see how holy in themselves these judgments are, however little they appear so in the letter.

AC 8972. Verse 1. And these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them, signifies exterior truths, such as there must be in the civil state where there is a representative church, and which flow from the internal truths which are of order in the heavens. That these things are signified by "the judgments which were to be set before the sons of Israel" is evident from the signification of "judgments," as being truths (n. 2235, 6397, 7206, 8685, 8695). The reason why "judgments" denote truths is that all judgment is effected by means of truths; consequently by "doing judgment" in the Word is signified doing truth, that is, judging according to truths. But by judgments," in the plural, are signified civil laws, thus exterior truths such as are in the civil state. It is said "where there is a representative church," for the reason that interiorly they contain and involve in them those truths which are of order in the heavens, as can be seen from their internal sense.

[2] The laws which were enacted and commanded the sons of Israel by the Lord were distinguished into "commandments," "judgments," and "statutes." Those were called "commandments" which belonged to life; those "judgments" which belonged to the civil state; and those "statutes" which belonged to worship. As regards "judgments" specifically, they are such things as are contained in this chapter, and also in several chapters that follow. They served for laws in a church wherein the internal things which are of heaven and the church were represented by external things. But they do not serve for laws in a church wherein internal things are no longer represented by external, as in the Christian Church. The reason is that to the man of this Church internal things have been revealed, and therefore communication with heaven is effected by means of internal things, and not by means of external things, as before. This is the reason why the man of the Christian Church is not bound to observe in their external form those things which are called "judgments" and "statutes," but in their internal form. Nevertheless holiness abides in them, because they contain holy things within them, as do also all and each of the things commanded in the Word about sacrifices. Although these things have been abrogated, they nevertheless are holy things of the Word by reason of the Divine things which are in them, and which they represented. For when they are read by a Christian man, the Divine things that are within them, and that were represented, are perceived in the heavens, and fill the angels with that which is holy, and at the same time by influx from the angels they fill the man who reads, especially if he himself then thinks of the Divine things that are within them. From this it is plain that the Word even of the Old Testament is most holy.

[3] That the laws enacted by the Lord and commanded the sons of Israel were distinguished into "commandments" which relate to life, into "judgments" which relate to the civil state, and into "statutes" which relate to worship, is plain in the following passages:--

Jehovah said unto Moses, Go, say to them, return ye into your tents. But as for thee, stand thou here with Me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them (Deut. 5:28, 30, 31).

Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which Jehovah your God commanded to teach you (Deut. 6:1).

Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day. to do them (Deut. 7:11).

If his sons forsake My law, and walk not In My judgments; if they profane My statutes, and keep not My commandments; I will visit their transgression with the rod (Ps. 89:30-32).

[4] Moreover all the laws, in so far as they belonged to the representative church, were in general called "judgments" and "statutes," as in Moses:--

Now, therefore, O Israel, hear the statutes and the judgments which I will teach you, that ye may do them. What great nation is there that hath statutes and judgments so just as all this law, which I will give before you this day? (Deut. 4:1, 8; 5:1).

Jerusalem hath changed My judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and My statutes more than the lands that are round about her; for they have rejected My judgments, and have not walked in My statutes (Ezek. 5:6, 7).

Let them walk in My statutes, and keep My judgments, to do the truth (Ezek. 18:9).

Besides many other places (Lev. 18:5; 19:37; 20:22; 25:18; 26:15; Deut. 26:17; Ezek. 11:12, 20; 20:11, 13, 25; 37:24).

EXODUS 21:1     -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Exodus  -  Full Page

Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info