Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 22:17-19
AC 9187. Verses 17-19. Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live. Everyone that lieth with a beast, dying he shall die. He that sacrificeth to gods, save to Jehovah alone, shall be accurst. "A sorceress," signifies those in whom something of the church has been conjoined with the falsities of the evil of the love of self; "thou shalt not suffer to live," signifies the deprivation of spiritual life; "everyone that lieth with a beast," signifies conjunction with the evils of the cupidities of the love of self; "dying he shall die," signifies damnation; "he that sacrificeth to gods," signifies the worship of falsities from evil; "shall be accurst," signifies a casting out; "save to Jehovah alone," signifies that the Lord, who is the one and only God, is to be worshiped.
AC 9188. A sorceress. That this signifies those in whom something of the church has been conjoined with the falsities of the evil of the love of self, is evident from the signification of "sorceries," as being the falsities of the evil of the love of self conjoined with such things as are of the church. There are two things which make heaven and thus spiritual life with man-- the truth of faith in the Lord, and the good of love to Him. And there are two things which make hell and thus spiritual death with man--the falsity of faith, and the evil of the love of self. The two latter are conjoined in those who are in hell, and make the infernal marriage; but the two former are conjoined in those who are in heaven, and make the heavenly marriage. So far as possible, the Lord withholds man from the conjunction of truth and good with falsity and evil, because this conjunction is profanation. Nevertheless many of those who are within the church cannot be withheld, because from early childhood they have learned the things of the church from the Word, and from doctrine drawn from the Word; and some of them have become imbued with such things, and have made them of their faith. When these persons have arrived at mature age, and have begun to think from themselves, and not as before from others, then they have made nothing of the things they had made of their faith, and in their stead have seized on falsities and imbued themselves with them. These are they who have conjoined within them truths with falsities; for those truths which have once become truths of faith remain, and cannot be rooted out; and the falsities which are afterward made of their faith conjoin themselves with them.
 It is this conjunction which is signified in the internal sense by "sorceries." The reason why these falsities are falsities of the evil of the love of self, is that all evil springs chiefly from this love, and together with evil, falsity, because they cohere together. From this it is evident that in such persons there is no spiritual life, because it has been destroyed by falsities of evil; and in so far as they have conjoined these falsities with truths, so far they have extinguished spiritual life within them; and as in this way instead of being alive, they have become dead, it is said, "Thou shalt not suffer them to live."
 That the conjunction in question is signified in the Word by "sorceries," is plain in Isaiah:--
She said, I shall not sit a widow, neither shall I know the loss of children; but these two things shall come upon thee in a moment in one day, loss of children, and widowhood, because of the multitude of thy sorceries, because of the exceeding greatness of thy magical deeds. Thou hast trusted in thy wickedness; thou hast said, None seeth me. Thy wisdom and thy knowledge have led thee astray; when thou saidst in thine heart I am, and there is none else besides me. Therefore shall evil come upon thee which thou shalt not know how to ward off; and calamity shall fall upon thee which thou shalt not he able to atone: devastation shall come upon thee suddenly, thou not knowing. For indeed persist thou in thy magical deeds, and in the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast labored from thy youth. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsel. Let the searchers of the heavens, the stargazers, and those who know the new moons, now stand and save thee from the things that shall come upon thee. Behold they are become as stubble; the fire hath burned them; they shall not rescue their soul from the hand of the flame (Isa. 47:8-14).
 That "sorcerers" denote those who conjoin the falsities of the evil of the love of self with the truths of faith, and thus perish, is plain from every particular in the above passage viewed in the internal sense, for they are here described. The extinction of their spiritual life is described by "widowhood and loss of children." "Widowhood" denotes the privation of truth and of the derivative good; and "loss of children" the privation of truth and good. The origin of falsity, as being from the evil of the love of self, is described by these words, "thy wisdom and thy knowledge have led thee astray when thou saidst in thine heart, I am, and there is none else besides me;" and the evil itself of the love of self, by these words, "behold, they are become as stubble, the fire hath burned them, they shall not rescue their soul from the hand of the flame;" "fire" and "flame" denote the love of self. That everything of spiritual life has been extinguished, is described by these words, "evil shall come upon thee which thou shalt not know how to ward off, and calamity shall fall upon thee which thou shalt not be able to atone." They are called "searchers of the heavens, stargazers, and those who know the new moons," from being in external things without any internal; for such see from the external man and not at all from the internal, thus from natural light and not at all from spiritual light; for in the internal sense "heaven," the "stars," and "new moons" denote knowledges and memory-knowledges; here, such as are seen from the world, and not from heaven.
 That "sorceries" denote such falsities, is also plain in Micah:--
I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds; I will cut off sorceries out of thine hand; and thou shall have no soothsayers (Micah 5:11, 12):
"the cities of the land" denote the false doctrinal things of their church, which are called "sorceries" because they destroy the truths of faith. In Nahum:--
Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the well-favored harlot, the mistress of sorceries, that selleth nations in her whoredom and families in her sorceries (Nahum 3:4);
"whoredoms" denote perversions of truth; and "sorceries," the falsities thence derived. In like manner in the second book of Kings:--
Jehoram said unto Jehu, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, even unto the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel, and her many sorceries? (2 Kings 9:22).
 That those are "sorcerers" who have been taught by themselves, and trust in themselves alone to the extent of loving themselves and desiring to be worshiped as deities, is also plain from passages which treat openly of the coming of the Lord, who will teach them and cast out the sorcerers; for he who shall be taught in the truths and goods of faith must be taught by the Lord, and in no wise by himself. Wherefore it is thus written in Malachi:--
Behold I send Mine angel, who shall prepare the way before Me; and the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple, even the angel of the covenant whom ye desire. And I will draw nigh to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and those who swear to what is false (Mal. 3:1, 5);
"sorcerers" denote those who have been taught by themselves, and who thus destroy truths which are from the Lord; "adulterers" denote those who destroy goods; and "those who swear to what is false," those who confirm falsities. That it is the Lord who will cast them out is plain, for it is said, " the Lord shall come to His temple, even the angel of the covenant."
 So also in Moses:--
When thou comest unto the land which Jehovah God will give thee, there shall not be found in thee anyone that maketh his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one that divineth divinations, and one that questioneth the hells, and an augur, and a sorcerer, and an enchanter, and one that consulteth a familiar spirit, and a soothsayer, and a questioner of the dead. For everyone that doeth these thing is an abomination to Jehovah; and because of these abominations Jehovah thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Jehovah thy God will raise up to thee a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; him shall ye obey. Jehovah said in Horeb, I will raise him up a prophet from the midst of their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put My words in his mouth, that he may speak unto them all that I shall command him. Whence it shall come to pass that the man who will not obey My words, which he shall speak in My name, I will require it of him (Deut. 18:9-19);
 by "diviners," "augurs," "sorcerers," and the rest who are here named, are meant in the internal sense those who destroy the truths and goods of the church by means of memory-knowledges wrongly applied; thus who do so from their own intelligence and through falsities from the evils of the love of self and the love of the world, consequently who learn and teach from the cupidity of profit and of honors, and not from any affection for the truth of faith and the good of life. And as all falsities of doctrine and evils of life come forth from this source, mention is made of "a prophet who shall come and teach." That this "prophet" is the Lord, is known in the church, and was known also to the Jews and Gentiles of that time, as is evident in (Matthew 21:11; Luke 1:76; 7:16; 13:33; Mark 6:4). Those are taught by the Lord who read the Word not for the sake of self and the world, but for the sake of good and truth itself, for then they are enlightened. But when men read it for the sake of self and the world, they are blinded. "A prophet" signifies one who teaches, and in a sense abstracted from person, doctrine (n. 2534, 7269); thus the Lord as to the Word, that is, as to Divine truth.
AC 9189. Thou shalt not suffer to live. That this signifies the privation of spiritual life, is evident from the signification of "suffering to live," as being to endow with spiritual life (n. 5890); thus "not to suffer to live" denotes to deprive of spiritual life. That those deprive themselves of spiritual life who conjoin falsities from the evil of the love of self with the truths of faith, and who are signified by "sorcerers," (n. 9188).
AC 9190. Everyone that lieth with a beast. That this signifies conjunction with the evils of the cupidities of the love of self, is evident from the signification of "lying with" as being to be conjoined; and from the signification of "a beast," as being good affection with the good, and evil affection with the evil (n. 45, 46, 142, 143, 246, 714, 715, 719, 776, 2781, 3518, 3519, 5198, 7424, 7523, 7872, 9090), thus cupidities; here the cupidities of the love of self. Evil affections are called "cupidities."
AC 9191. Dying he shall die. That this signifies damnation, is evident from the signification of "dying," as being damnation (n. 5407, 6119, 9008).
AC 9192. He that sacrifieth to gods. That this signifies the worship of falsities from evil, is evident from the signification of "sacrificing," as being worship (that "to sacrifice" denotes worship is because sacrifices were the chief things of worship with the Israelitish and Jewish people, (n. 923, 6905, 8680, 8936); and from the signification of "gods," as being falsities (n. 4402, 4544, 7873, 8941). The worship of falsities from evil is here mentioned, because this is opposed to the worship of truths from good. For all worship has matters of doctrine for its rules; and these matters of doctrine are truths in so far as they are from good; and they are falsities in so far as they are from evil; for truths have their essence and life from good, and on the other hand falsities have their death from evil.
 But the case herein is as follows. There are some who are in genuine truths, some who are in truths not genuine, and some who are in falsities; and yet those who are in genuine truths are often damned, while those who are in truths not genuine, and also those who are in falsities, are often saved. This will appear paradoxical to most people, but still it is the truth. Experience itself has confirmed it; for there have been seen in hell those who had been more learned than others in truths from the Word and from the doctrine of their church, both dignitaries and others; on the other hand there have been seen in heaven those who had been devoid of truths, and even those who had been in falsities, both Christians and Gentiles.
 The reason why the former were in hell, was that they had indeed been in truths as to doctrine but in evils as to life; and the reason why the latter were in heaven, was that they had not indeed been in truths as to doctrine but nevertheless had been in good as to life. Some spirits recently deceased with whom it was given me to speak, wondered that those who had been pre-eminent for learning in the Word and in the doctrine of their church, were among the damned, whom they nevertheless had believed would become shining lights in heaven, according to these words in Daniel:--
The intelligent shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:3).
But they were told that "the intelligent" are those who are in truth, and who teach truths, and that "they who turn others to righteousness" are those who are in good, and who lead to good; and that therefore the Lord said:--
The righteous shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt. 13:43).
That righteousness is predicated of good, and thus that "the righteous" are those who are in good, (n. 2235).
 And they were further told that those who are learned as to doctrine, but evil as to life, are those who are meant by the Lord in the following passages:--
Many shall say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied by Thy name, and by Thy name have cast out demons, and in Thy name done many mighty deeds? But then will I confess unto them, I know you not; depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity (Matt. 7:22, 23).
Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in Thy presence, and Thou hast taught in our streets. But He will say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity (Luke 13:26, 27).
And they were also told that the same were meant by "the foolish virgins who had no oil in their lamps," of whom it is written in Matthew:--
At last came the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answering said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Matt. 25:11, 12);
"to have oil in the lamps" denotes good in the truths which are of the faith of the church (n. 4638); that "oil" denotes the good of love, (n. 886, 4582).
 They were told furthermore, that those who are not in truths, nay, who are in falsities from ignorance, and yet are in good and from this in the affection of knowing truth, were meant by the Lord when He said:--
I say unto you, that many shall come from the east even unto the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the heavens; but the sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness (Matt. 7:11, 12).
They shall come from the east and west, and from the north and south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And behold, there are last who shall be first, and there are first who shall be last (Luke 13:29, 30).
That the Gentiles who are in good, though from ignorance in things not true, are received into heaven, (n. 2589-2604, 2861, 2863, 3263, 4190, 4197).
 From all this it can now be seen that by "those who sacrifice unto gods" are signified those who are in the worship of falsity from evil, and that these are they who shall be "accurst," that is, shall be cast out. For falsities from evil are evils in form, because when evil shows itself in the light, and takes form, it is called falsity. Hence it is that those who are in evil as to life, although in truths as to doctrine, are nevertheless in the falsities of their evils. That this is so is clearly visible in the other life; for when these persons are left to themselves they think from their evil against the truths which they had known and professed; thus they think falsities. And they do the very same in this world when thinking by themselves; for they then either pervert truths, or deny them, in order to defend the evils of their life.
 But they who are in good, and yet in things not true, nay, who are in falsities from ignorance, as are many within the church, and many also outside of the church who are called Gentiles, these indeed regard their falsities as truths; but because their falsities come forth from good, they bend them to good, and therefore there is nothing wicked in these falsities, as there is in those which are from evil. And as falsities from good are mild and pliant, such persons are in the capacity of receiving truths, and moreover do receive them when they are instructed by the angels. These falsities may be compared to foods which look unclean, but yet are savory; whereas falsities from evil may be compared to unclean foods which inwardly are putrid. But truths from evil may be compared to foods which look clean, but are inwardly baneful, and if attended with hypocrisy are poisonous; as the Lord teaches in Matthew:--
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make yourselves whited sepulchres which outwardly indeed outwardly appear beautiful, but inwardly are full of dead men‘s bones, and of all uncleanness (Matt. 23:27).
AC 9193. Shall be accurst. That this signifies a casting out, is evident from the signification of "being accurst," when said of those who are in the worship of falsities from evil, as being to be cast out, that is, from the church. That to be cast out from the church, and thus the rooting out of such falsities, is signified by "being accurst," is plain in Moses:--
If men of Belial shall go out from the midst of thee, and shall urge the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in the midst of thee; smiting thou shalt smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, making it accurst, and everyone that is therein, and also the beast thereof, with the edge of the sword. All the spoil of it thou shalt carry together into the midst of the street, and shalt burn the city with fire, and all the spoil thereof, to Jehovah thy God; that it may be a heap for eternity; neither shall it be built any more; so that there may not cleave to thine hand anything of the accursed thing (Deut. 13:13-17).
 That it is the falsity from evil which is signified by "the accursed thing," is plain from each detail in the above passage in the internal sense; for "the cities which were to be accursed" denote doctrines, here false doctrines (n. 2712, 2943, 3216); "the edge of the sword, with which the men and beasts were to be smitten," denotes truth fighting and destroying the falsity which is from evil (n. 2799, 4499, 7102, 8294); "the street into the midst of which the spoil was to be carried together" denotes the truth of doctrine, and in the opposite sense, the falsity of doctrine (n. 2336); "the fire with which the spoil was to be burned together with the city," denotes the evil of the love of self (n. 1297, 2446, 5071, 5215, 6314, 6832, 7324). From this it is evident that this "accursing" denotes a casting out from the church, and a rooting out. Wherefore also it was commanded that the nations in the land of Canaan should be "accursed" (Deut. 7:2, 24-26); for these nations had formerly constituted the church in that land, and therefore they had altars, and likewise offered sacrifices (n. 3686, 4447, 4454, 4516, 4517, 5136, 6306, 6516, 8054); but when they turned the representative worship, which belonged to the Ancient Church, into idolatrous worship, and thus falsified truths and adulterated goods (n. 8317), it was ordered that not only the men, but also the cities and what was in the cities, should be "accursed."
 The reason was that all things therein represented falsities from evil; the cities themselves, doctrines of falsity; the beasts, evil affections; the gold and silver, their evils and falsities; and all other things in like manner. The main feature of the worship of the Ancient Church was the worship of God under a human form, thus of the Lord. But when they turned aside from good to evil, they began to worship the representatives themselves, such as the sun, the moon, the stars, also groves, statues, and God under various idol forms, thus external things apart from anything internal, as is the case when the internal man has been closed. The internal man is closed by a life of evil; for the Lord flows in by good, and opens the internal man; and consequently it is closed by evil. And when the internal man has been closed, truths are turned into falsities; and where they remain as truths, they merely serve the evils which are of the love of self and the love of the world. The main thing of internal worship is to acknowledge the Lord as the one and only God, and that everything good and true is from Him. Those in the church who do not acknowledge Him cannot be in good, thus neither can they be in truth. Those acknowledge Him who are in faith, and at the same time in the good of life; but not those who are in evil of life (n. 8878). That to acknowledge and worship the Lord is to live according to His commandments, that is, to live a life of faith and charity, see (n. 8252-8257). A life of faith consists in doing the commandments from obedience and a life of charity in doing the commandments from love.
AC 9194. Save to Jehovah alone. That this signifies that the Lord, who is the one and only God, Is to be worshiped, is evident from the signification of "offering sacrifices," here to Jehovah alone, as being worship (n. 9192). That "to Jehovah" denotes to the Lord, is because by "Jehovah" in the Word is meant no other than the Lord (n. 1343, 1736, 2921, 3023, 3035, 4692, 5663, 6303, 6905, 8864). That the Divine which He called "the Father" is the Divine good in Himself, (n. 2803, 3704, 7499, 8897); thus that the Lord is the one and only God, (n. 1607, 2149, 2156, 2329, 2447, 2751, 3194, 3704, 3712, 3938, 4577, 4687, 5321, 6280, 6371, 6849, 6993, 7014, 7182, 7209, 8241, 8724, 8760, 8864, 8865). EXODUS 22:17-19 previous - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
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