Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 21:16-17
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AC 9017. Verses 16, 17. And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, and if he shall be found in his hand, dying he shall die And he that curseth his father and his mother, dying he shall die. "And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him," signifies the application of the truth of faith to evil, and alienation; "and he shall be found in his hand," signifies nevertheless the acknowledgment of it; "`lying he shall die," signifies damnation; "and he that curseth his father and his mother," signifies the denial in every possible way of the Lord and of His kingdom by those who are of the church, and thus profanation of the good and truth of the church; "dying he shall die," signifies damnation.

AC 9018. And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him. That this signifies the application of the truth of faith to evil, and alienation, is evident from the signification of "stealing a man," as being the application of the truth of faith to evil. That "a man," here a man of the sons of Israel, denotes the truth of faith, (n. 5414, 5879, 5951, 7957, 9007); and that "stealing" denotes its application to evil (n. 5135); and from the signification of "selling," as being alienation (n. 4098, 4752, 4758, 5886).

AC 9019. And if he shall be found in his hand. That this signifies nevertheless the acknowledgment of it, namely, of the truth of faith, is evident from the signification of "to be found in the hand," when said of the truth of faith, as being acknowledgment; for when truth is acknowledged with some faith, it is found with that person; "in his hand" denotes with him.

AC 9020. Dying he shall die. That this signifies damnation, see above (n. 9008). That they are damned who apply the truths of faith to evils, and thus alienate them from themselves, is because they had before acknowledged them. For when the truth of faith which has once been acknowledged is afterward applied to evil, it is commingled with falsity from evil, consequently there is profanation. This is profanation (n. 9021). In order that this may be better understood, let it be illustrated by an example. When those who, in order to rule over all and to gain the world, wish to dispense at their own good will and pleasure the things that belong to the Lord, especially those which belong to the heavenly life with a man, draw confirmations from the Lordís words, they are "thieves" in the spiritual sense, for they steal truths from the Word and apply them to evils. That they are evils is because they have as their end dominion and gain, and not the salvation of souls. If without any regard to dominion and gain these same persons have previously acknowledged the truths from the Word which they now apply to evils, they profane them, for by so doing they commingle falsities from evils with the truths. Such persons cannot possibly escape damnation, for by so doing they deprive themselves of all spiritual life. That they deprive themselves of spiritual life is plain from the fact that when they are by themselves, and think from themselves, and talk among themselves, they have no faith in truths, and do not believe in the Lord, in heaven, or in hell. Nevertheless above all others they have these things in their mouths, because the ardor for rule and gain incites them thereto, as means to their ends. This reigns especially in Christian paganism, where the images of sanctified men are exhibited for adoration, before which they bend their knees and fall prostrate. Even they themselves do this, from deceit, in order to mislead and persuade.

AC 9021. And he that curseth his father and his mother. That this signifies the denial in every possible way of the Lord and of His kingdom by those who are of the church, and thus the profanation of the good and the truth of the church, is evident from the signification of "cursing," as being aversion and disjunction (n. 245, 379, 1423, 3530, 3584, 5071), consequently also denial in every possible way, for he who turns himself away and disjoins himself from the Lord, at heart denies Him; and from the signification of "father and mother," as being the Lord and His kingdom, and in the relative sense the good and truth which are from the Lord (n. 8897, 9015). The reason why it signifies "by those who are within the church" is that the commandments, judgments, and statutes which were promulgated by the Lord from Mount Sinai, were specifically for the sons of Israel, among whom the representative of a church was at that time being instituted, and by whom therefore the church was signified (n. 6426, 6637, 6862, 6868, 7035, 7062, 7198, 7201, 7215, 7223, 7957, 8234, 8805). Therefore also by "cursing father and mother" is signified profanation, for those within the church who wholly deny the Lord and the things which are of His kingdom and church, profane them. That those who are within the church can profane holy things, but not those who are outside of the church, (n. 1008, 1010, 1059, 2051, 3398, 3399, 3898, 4289, 4601, 6348, 6959, 6963, 6971, 8882). For this reason denial of the Lord is not profanation with those who are outside of the church, as for instance with the Gentiles, Mohammedans, and Jews.

AC 9022. Dying he shall die, signifies damnation (n. 9008, 9016, 9020).- How the particulars in the internal sense cohere together, is evident from what has been said and shown. For the internal sense treats in a series of the denial, blaspheming, and profanation of the truth and good which are from the Lord. But in the external sense no such series appears, for in this sense various things are treated of; as those who smite a man so that he dies; those who kill a companion with deceit; those who smite father and mother; those who steal a man and sell him; and those who curse father and mother. Such is the Word in its particulars, namely, that in the internal sense things follow in order and as it were in a chain; although in the external sense, that is, in the sense of the letter, they are scattered, and in many places disconnected.

EXODUS 21:16-17    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Exodus  -  Full Page

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