Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 21:12-15
AC 9006. Verses 12-15. He that smiteth a man, and he die, dying he shall die. And he that hath not lain in wait, and God caused it to happen to his hand; then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. And when a man shall act of set purpose against his companion, to kill him with deceit; thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die. And he that smiteth his father and his mother, dying he shall die. "He that smiteth a man, and he die," signifies the injuring of the truth of faith and the consequent loss of spiritual life; "dying he shall die," signifies damnation; "and he that hath not lain in wait," signifies when it was not of foresight from the will; "but God caused it to happen to his hand," signifies appearing as of chance; "then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee," signifies a state of blamelessness, and thus exempt from punishment; "and when a man shall act of set purpose against his companion," signifies premeditation from a depraved will; "to kill him with deceit," signifies the consequent malice and ardor of depriving the neighbor of eternal life; "thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die," signifies damnation even although he flees to the worship of the Lord, and supplicates for forgiveness, and promises repentance; "and he that smiteth his father and his mother," signifies the blaspheming of the Lord and of His kingdom; "dying he shall die," signifies damnation.
AC 9007. He that smiteth a man, and he die. That this signifies the injuring of the truth of faith and the consequent loss of spiritual life, is evident from the signification of "smiting," as being to injure by falsity (n. 7136, 7146); from the signification of "a man (vir)," as being the truth of faith; and from the signification of "dying," as being the loss of spiritual life (n. 5407, 6119, 7494); for in the internal sense no other life is meant, but in the external sense natural life is meant. The reason why spiritual life perishes by the injuring of the truth of faith, is that good united to truth constitutes that life; and therefore when truth is stolen away, good, and thus spiritual life, falls to the ground. That "a man" denotes the truth of faith, is because in heaven no attention is paid to person, or to anything of person; but to things abstracted from person (n. 4380, 8343, 8985); consequently where "a man" is mentioned in the Word, they do not perceive a man, because a man is a person; but instead they perceive that faculty of his by virtue of which he is a man, namely, the intellectual faculty; and when they perceive this faculty, they perceive the truth of faith, because the truth of faith belongs to it, and not only enlightens it, but also forms it. And as by "a man (vir)" there is perceived in heaven the intellectual of man, so by "a man (homo)" there is perceived his will; because man is man (homo) from the will; but is man (vir) from the understanding. And as the will is the man himself, therefore the good of love is the man, for this belongs to the will, and perfects, and makes it. That "man (vir)" denotes the intellectual, and therefore the truth of faith, (n. 158, 265, 749, 1007, 2517, 3134, 3309, 3459, 4823, 7716); and that "man (homo)" denotes the good of love, (n. 768, 4287, 7523, 8547, 8988).
AC 9008. Dying he shall die. That this signifies damnation, is evident from the signification of "dying to die," as being damnation (n. 5407, 6119, 7494). That "death" denotes damnation, is because with those who are damned the truths of faith and the goods of love have been extinguished, for these are what constitute the veriest life of man, because they are from the Lord who is the only source of life. When these have been extinguished, falsities and evils succeed in their place, which being opposite to the truths and goods that are of life, are therefore of death, but of spiritual death, which is damnation, hell, eternal unhappiness. That nevertheless those are alive who are in evils and falsities, or who are in hell, is because they have been born men, and therefore into the capacity of receiving life from the Lord; and also do receive so much of life from the Lord as to be able to think, reason, and speak, and thereby to cause the evil in themselves to appear as good, and the falsity as truth; and thus to live as semblances of life.
AC 9009. And he that hath not lain in wait. That this signifies when it was not of foresight from the will, is evident from the signification of "lying in wait," as being to act with deliberation, thus with foresight, for the evil which one who lies in wait is about to do he foresees in his mind; and because he does such evil with foresight, he therefore does it also from the will, for it proceeds therefrom. There are evils which proceed from the will of man, but are not of foresight; and there are evils which proceed from the will, and are of foresight. Those which proceed from the will, and from foresight, are much worse than those which are not from foresight; because the man sees that they are evils, and can therefore desist from them, but is not willing, and he thereby confirms them in himself, and evils confirmed put on nature, so that afterward they can scarcely be extirpated; for in such case he summons spirits from hell who afterward do not easily retire.
 Evils which proceed from one part of the mind and not at the same time from the other, such as those which come from the intellectual part, and not at the same time from the will part, are not rooted in and appropriated to the man. That alone is rooted in and appropriated to him which passes from the intellectual part into the will part; or what is the same, which passes from the thought which is of the understanding into the affection which is of the will, and thence into act. Those things which enter into the will are those which are said to enter into the heart.
 But evils which proceed solely from the will, thus not with premeditation, are such as the man inclines to hereditarily, or from some previous consequent actual doing of evil. These are not imputed to the man unless he has confirmed them in his intellectual part (n. 966, 2308, 8806); but when they have been confirmed in this part, they have then been inscribed on the man, and become his own, and are imputed to him. But these evils cannot be confirmed with a man in his intellectual part except in his adult age, namely, when he begins to think, and understand things, for himself; for before this he had no faith from himself, but only from his teachers and parents. From all this it is evident what is signified by, "if he has not lain in wait," namely, when it was not of foresight from the will.
AC 9010. But God caused it to happen to his hand. That this signifies appearing as of chance, is evident from the idea concerning chance among the ancients, which was that it happened from God; and therefore they expressed the idea of chance by the phrase, "God caused it to happen to the hand." For they who were of the ancient churches knew that the Providence of the Lord is in each and all things, and that things which happen, that is, which appear as of chance, were of Providence. Wherefore the simple, who could not distinguish between the things which were of permission, and those which were of good pleasure, attributed to the Lord both good and evil; good because they knew that all good is from Him; and evil by reason of the appearance. For when a man does evils, and thereby turns himself away from the Lord, it appears as if the Lord turns Himself away; for the Lord then appears to him behind, and not in front. From this then it is that if anyone smote another by chance, thus without will from foresight, it was expressed by the words, "God caused it to happen to the hand." That the Providence of the Lord is in each and all things, has been already shown, (n. 1919, 4329, 5122, 5155, 5195, 5894, 6058, 6481-6487, 6489, 6491, 7004, 7007, 8478, 8717); also that things which happen, or are of chance, are of Providence, (n. 5508, 6493, 6494); and that evil is attributed to the Lord, when yet it is from man, (n. 2447, 5798, 6071, 6832, 6991, 6997, 7533, 7877, 7926, 8197, 8227, 8228, 8282, 8284, 8483, 8632).
AC 9011. Then I will appoint thee a place whither he shall flee. That this signifies a state of blamelessness, and that is exempt from punishment, is evident from the signification of "place," as being state (n. 2625, 2837, 3356, 3387, 3404, 4321, 4882, 5605, 7381); and from the signification of "an asylum," or place whither he should flee who unexpectedly, or by chance, had killed anyone, as being a state of blamelessness, and thus exempt from punishment; for they who had smitten anyone by chance, that is, without intent, thus not with premeditation, nor from an evil affection which is of the will, were not in any fault of their own; and therefore when such came to a place of asylum they were exempt from punishment. By these persons were represented those who not of set purpose injure anyone in respect to the truths and goods of faith, and consequently extinguish his spiritual life; for such are in a blameless state and one exempt from punishment; as for instance are those who have complete faith in their religiosity, which is also in what is false, and who from this reason against the truth and good of faith, and thus persuade, as heretics will sometimes do who are conscientious, and consequently are zealots.
 That such persons were represented by those who were to flee to asylums is evident in Moses:--
Ye shall select suitable cities, which shall be cities of refuge for you; that the manslayer may flee thither that smiteth a soul through error; as if he hath struck him unexpectedly, without enmity, or hath cast upon him any instrument without set purpose, or with any stone wherewith he may die, seeing him not, so that he make it fail upon him, and he die, when yet he was not his enemy, neither sought his evil (Numbers. 35:11, 22, 23).
This is the word of the manslayer, who shall flee thither that he may live; when he hath smitten his companion unawares, when he was not his hater yesterday and the day before, when he come into the forest with his companion to hew wood, but when his hand hath struck with the axe, to cut the wood, and the iron hath been shaken off from the wood, and hath found his companion that he die; he shall flee unto one of these cities, that he may live (Deut. 19:4, 6).
 Here is described the state of one who is blameless and exempt from punishment, and who has injured some one by the falsities of faith which he had believed to be truths, or by means of memory-knowledges derived from the fallacies of the senses, and thus has done injury to the internal or spiritual life of the other. In order that this might be signified, such error or chance is described by an instrument of some kind, and by a stone which he cast upon his companion, so that he died, and likewise by an axe, or the iron thereof, falling from its wood while they were both hewing wood in the forest. The reason why this is described by such things, is that "an instrument" signifies memory-knowledge; "a stone" the truth of faith, and in the opposite sense falsity; in like manner "the iron of an axe;" and "to hew wood" signifies disputation concerning good from one’s religiosity.
 Everyone can see that homicide committed through error would not have been described without a secret reason by the iron of an axe falling from its wood in a forest, because such a mischance can rarely happen, in fact scarcely once in the course of many years. But such a mischance is so described on account of the internal sense, in which is described the injury to a soul by another through the falsities of faith which from his religiosity he had believed to be truths; for he who does an injury by means of falsities which he believes to be truths, does it not of set purpose, or from a better conscience, because he does it from the faith and consequent zeal of his religiosity. That these things might be signified in the internal sense, they are described, as before said, by those who kill their companions by mistake, with a stone, by hewing wood in a forest and the iron of the axe then falling from the wood upon a companion; for "a stone" denotes the truth of faith in the natural man, and in the opposite sense falsity (n. 643, 1298, 3720, 6426, 8609, 8941), in like manner "iron" (n. 425, 426); "the iron of an axe falling from its wood" denotes truth separated from good, for "wood" denotes food (n. 643, 2812, 3720, 8354), "hewing wood," the placing of merit in works (n. 1110, 4943, 8740); but "hewing wood in a forest" denotes discussing these and the like things, and also bringing them into question; for "a forest" denotes a religiosity.
 Such things are signified by "hewing wood in a Forest with axes" in Jeremiah:--
The hirelings of Egypt will go in strength, and will come against her with axes, as hewers of wood, they shall cut down her forest, said Jehovah (Jer. 46:22, 23);
here "to cut down wood in a forest" denotes to act from a false, religiosity, and to destroy such things as are of the church; for the church is called a "forest," a "garden," and a "paradise" a "forest" from knowledge, a "garden" from intelligence, and a "paradise" from wisdom (n. 3220), because "trees" denote the perceptions of good and of truth, and also the knowledges thereof (n. 103, 2163, 2722, 2972, 4552, 7690, 7692); and as a "forest" denotes the church as to knowledge, thus as to external things, it also denotes a religiosity.
 The church as to knowledge, or as to external things, is signified by a "forest" in David:--
The field shall exalt, and all that is therein; then shall all the trees of the forest sing (Ps. 96:12).
Lo we heard of Him in Ephrata, we found Him in the fields of the forest (Ps. 132:6);
speaking of the Lord. In Isaiah:--
The light of Israel shall be for a fire, and his Holy One for flame. And it shall burn the glory of his forest, and his Carmel; it shall consume from the soul even to the flesh; whence the rest of the trees of his forest shall be a number that a child may describe them. He shall cut down the thickets of the forest with iron, and Lebanon shall fail by a magnificent one (Isa. 10:17-19, 34);
"the forest" denotes the church as to the knowledges of truth; "Carmel," the church as to the knowledges of good; in like manner "Lebanon" and "Hermon;" the "trees of the forest" denote knowledges, as above; to be "a number that a child may describe" means few; "the thickets of the forest" denote memory-knowledges (n. 2831).
 In the same:
Thou hast said, By the multitude of my chariots I will go up to the height of the mountain‘s, to the sides of Lebanon, and I will cut down the tall cedars thereof, the choice of the fir-trees thereof; then will I come unto the height of his border, the forest of his Carmel (Isa. 37:24).
I will visit upon you according to the fruit of your works, and I will kindle a fire in her forest (Jer. 21:14).
Prophesy against the forest of the field unto the south; and say to the forest of the south, Behold I will kindle a fire in thee, and it shall devour every tree (Ezek. 20:46, 47).
Feed Thy people with Thy rod, the flock of Thine heritage who dwell alone in the forest in the midst of Carmel (Micah 7:14).
Who does not see that in these passages by "a forest" is not meant a forest, and that by "Lebanon" and "Carmel" which are "forests" are not meant Lebanon and Carmel, but some thing of the church? yet what of the church is meant has been hitherto hidden, because the internal sense lies hidden. And it is wonderful that in so learned a world as is Europe above all the rest, where they have the Word, in every particular of which there is an internal sense, the very knowledge of this sense is wanting; when yet this knowledge existed among the ancients in Chaldea, in Assyria, in Egypt, in Arabia, and thence in Greece, in whose books, emblems, and hieroglyphics such things are still to be met with. But the reason why such knowledge has perished, is that there is no faith that the spiritual is anything.
AC 9012. And when a man shall act of set purpose against his companion. That this signifies premeditation from a depraved will, is evident from the signification of "to act of set purpose," as being to act with premeditation, for he who proposes to himself evil, does it with premeditation; and as it is evil, and he does it, it is from the will; for the doing of evil is originally from this source. But the falsity by which evil is affirmed, defended, and thus promoted, is of the thought; thus comes from a depraved or inverted understanding. That man is guilty when he does evil from both, namely, from the understanding and from the will, (n. 9009).
AC 9013. To kill him with deceit. That this signifies the consequent malice of depriving the neighbor of eternal life, is evident from the signification of "to kill," as being to take away faith and charity from the neighbor, and thus to deprive him of spiritual life, which is eternal life (n. 6767, 8902); and from the signification of "deceit," as being malice from the will with forethought or premeditation, thus from set purpose. Evils are done either from enmity, or from hatred, or from revenge, and either with deceit or without it. But evils done with deceit are the worst, because deceit is like a poison which infects and destroys with infernal venom, for it goes through the whole mind even to its interiors. The reason is that he who is in deceit meditates evil, and feeds his understanding with it, and takes delight in it, and thus destroys everything therein that belongs to man, that is, which belongs to life from the good of faith and of charity.
 They who in the world have ensnared the neighbor with deceit in respect to worldly and earthly things, in the other life ensnare the neighbor with deceit in respect to spiritual and heavenly things; and because they do this in secret, they are dispatched to the hells behind the back, deep down according to the malignity and hurtfulness of the deceit, and in this way are separated from those who are in front; the latter being called "spirits," but the former, "genii" (n. 5035, 5977, 8593, 8622, 8625). Genii are not admitted to men as spirits are, because they flow into the affections of the will, by acting against the good of love and charity so secretly that it cannot possibly be perceived; and in this way they destroy the truth of faith. In their own hell they render themselves invisible before their companions; for they who have acted secretly in the world can render themselves in visible in the other life; but when they appear, they appear among themselves like men; whereas when they are looked at by the angels they appear like serpents, for they have the nature of serpents, and that which goes forth from them is lie poison, and indeed is spiritual poison.
 Wherefore in the Word "poison" signifies deceit, and poisonous serpents, such as "asps," "cockatrices," and "vipers," signify the deceitful; as in the following passages:--
In heart ye work perversities, their poison is like the poison of a serpent; like that of the deaf asp (Ps. 58:2, 4).
They cogitate evils in the heart, they sharpen their tongue like a serpent; the poison of the asp is under their lips (Ps. 140:2, 3).
They lay eggs of the asp, and weave the spider’s webs, he that eateth of their eggs dieth (Isa. 59:5).
He shall suck the poison of asps; the viper‘s tongue shall slay him (Job 20:16).
Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel gall of asps (Deut. 32:33).
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of Gehenna (Matt. 22:29, 33).
 Deceit is called "hypocrisy" when there is piety in the mouth, and impiety in the heart; or when there is charity in the mouth, but hatred in the heart; or when there is innocence in the face and gesture, but cruelty in the soul and breast; consequently when they deceive by a show of innocence, charity, and piety. Such are "serpents" and "vipers" in the internal sense, because, as before said, when such are looked at by the angels in the light of heaven, they appear like serpents and like vipers, who hide evils under truths; that is, who deceitfully bend truths to the doing of evils; for such hide poison as it were under the teeth, and thus kill.
 But they who are in the faith of truth and in the life of good from the Lord, cannot be injured by the poisons of such, for they are in light from the Lord, in which the deceitful appear like serpents, and their deceits like poisons. That these are kept in safety by the Lord is meant by His words to the disciples:--
Behold I give unto you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions (Luke 10:19).
These signs shall follow them that believe; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them (Mark 16:17, 18).
The suckling shall play on the hole of the viper (Isa. 11:8).
 Those who have been interiorly infected with spiritual deceit, that is, with hypocrisy, are they who are meant by those who speak against the Holy Spirit, for whom there is no forgiveness, in Matthew:--
I say unto you, All sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy of the spirit shall not be forgiven unto men. Nay, if anyone shall say a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is to come. Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad and its fruit bad. O offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak what is good (Matt. 12:31-34);
by "saying a word against the Holy Spirit" is meant to speak well and think evil, and to do well and will evil, respecting those things which are of the Lord, of His kingdom, and of His church, also which are of the Word; for thus falsity lies inwardly hidden in the truths which they speak; and evil, which is hidden poison, in the goods which they do; consequently they are called "an offspring of vipers."
 In the other life an evil person is allowed to speak evil and also falsity; but not good and truth, because there all are compelled to speak from the heart, and are not allowed to be of a divided mind. They who do otherwise are separated from the rest, and are hidden in hells from which they cannot possibly go forth. That such are they who are meant by "those who say a word against the Holy Spirit" is evident from the above words of the Lord, "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; how can ye, being evil, speak what is good?" The "Holy Spirit" denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, thus the Holy Divine Itself, which is thereby interiorly blasphemed and profaned.
 That it will not be forgiven them is because hypocrisy or deceit in connection with Holy Divine things infects the interiors of man, and destroys everything of spiritual life in him, as was said above, insomuch that at last there is nothing sound in any part of him. For the forgiveness of sins is the separation of evil from good, and the rejection of evil to the sides (n. 8393), which cannot be done with him in whom all good has been destroyed. Therefore it is said "It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age nor in that which is to come." Of this character also are those who are meant by "him that had not on a wedding garment," who was bound hand and foot and cast out into outer darkness (Matt. 22:11-13), (n. 2132).
 That "deceit" in the Word denotes hypocrisy is evident from the following passages:--
Beware ye every man of his companion, and put ye not your trust upon any brother; for every brother supplanteth. They mock, a man with his companion, and speak not the truth; they have taught their tone to speak a lie. Thy dwelling is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they have refused to know Me, said Jehovah (Jer. 9:4-6).
Thou shalt destroy them that speak a lie; Jehovah abhorreth the man of bloods and deceit (Ps. 5:6).
Blessed is the man unto whom Jehovah imputeth not iniquity, provided in his spirit there is no deceit (Ps. 32:2).
Deliver my soul from the lip of a lie, from a tone of deceit (Ps. 120:2).
In like manner (Ps. 52:4; 109:2).
AC 9014. Thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die. That this signifies damnation even although he flees to the worship of the Lord, and supplicates for forgiveness, and promises repentance, is evident from the signification of "the altar of Jehovah," as being the chief representative of the worship of the Lord (n. 921, 2777, 2811, 4541, 8935, 8940), and because it was a representative of worship, therefore "to flee to the altar" denotes to flee to the Lord, and to supplicate for forgiveness, and also to promise repentance, for the one follows the other; and from the signification of "dying," as being damnation (n. 5407, 6119, 9008).
 How it is in regard to this can be seen from what was shown in the paragraph above (n. 9013), namely, that in spiritual things, deceit, that is, hypocrisy, cannot be forgiven. The reason is that deceit is like poison, for it penetrates even to the interiors, and kills everything of faith and charity, and destroys the remains, which are the truths and goods of faith and charity stored up by the Lord in the interiors of man, which being destroyed nothing of spiritual life any longer survives. With respect to remains, (n. 468, 530, 560-563, 660, 661, 798, 1050, 1738, 1906, 2284, 5135, 5342, 5344, 5897, 5898, 6156, 7560, 7564). Wherefore when such persons supplicate the Lord for forgiveness, and promise repentance, which is signified by "fleeing to the altar," they supplicate and promise nothing whatever from the heart, but only from the mouth. Therefore they are not heard, for the Lord looks at the heart, and not to words abstracted and estranged from the heart. Consequently for such there is no forgiveness, because no repentance is possible with them.
 It is believed by many within the church that the forgiveness of sins is the wiping out and washing away thereof, as of filth by water; and that after forgiveness they go on their way clean and pure. Such an opinion prevails especially with those who ascribe everything of salvation to faith alone. But be it known that the case with the forgiveness of sins is quite different. The Lord forgives everyone his sins, because He is mercy itself. Nevertheless they are not thereby forgiven unless the man performs serious repentance, and desists from evils, and afterward lives a life of faith and charity, and this even to the end of his life. When this is done, the man receives from the Lord spiritual life, which is called new life. When from this new life the man views the evils of his former life, and turns away from them, and regards them with horror, then for the first time are the evils forgiven, for then the man is held in truths and goods by the Lord, and is withheld from evils. From this it is plain what is the forgiveness of sins, and that it cannot be granted within an hour, nor within a year. That this is so the church knows, for it is said to those who come to the Holy Supper that their sins are forgiven if they begin a new life by abstaining from evils and abhorring them.
 From all this then it is evident how the case is with hypocrites, who through deceit are filled with evils as to the interiors, namely, that they cannot do the work of repentance; for the very remains of good and of truth in them have been consumed and destroyed, and therewith everything of spiritual life; and because they cannot do the work of repentance, they cannot be forgiven. This is signified by the statute that those who kill the neighbor with deceit should be taken from the altar that they may die.
 The damnation of such is described by the prophetic words of David with respect to Joab, when he had slain Abner with deceit:--
There shall not fail from the house of Joab one that hath an issue, or that is a leper, or that leaneth on a staff, or that falleth by the sword, or that lacketh bread (2 Sam. 3:27, 29);
"one that hath an issue" signifies the profanation of the good of love; "one that is a leper" signifies the profanation of the truth of faith (n. 6963); "one that leaneth on a staff," or that is lame, signifies those in whom all good has been destroyed (n. 4302, 4314); "one that falleth by the sword" signifies those who are continually dying through falsities (n. 4499, 6353, 7102, 8294); "one that lacketh bread" signifies those who are destitute of all spiritual life, for "bread" denotes the sustenance of spiritual life by good (n. 6118, 8410). As such were signified by "Joab," therefore by the command of Solomon Joab was slain at the altar whither he had fled (1 Kings 2:28-32).
AC 9015. And he that smiteth his father and his mother. That this signifies the blaspheming of the Lord and of His kingdom, is evident from the signification of "smiting," as being to injure by means of falsities (n. 7136, 7146, 9007), and when predicated of the Lord and of His kingdom, as being to blaspheme; and from the signification of "father," as being the Lord; and of "mother," as being His kingdom. See (n. 8897), where the fourth commandment of the decalogue was unfolded, and it was shown what is meant in the internal sense by "honoring father and mother," namely, to love the Lord and His Kingdom, and therefore in the relative sense, to love good and truth. So also "to smite father and mother," in the relative sense denotes to blaspheme the good and truth of the church.
AC 9016. Dying he shall die. That this signifies damnation, is evident from the signification of "dying" as being damnation (n. 9008). EXODUS 21:12-15 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
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