Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 3:1-3
AC 6826. Verses 1-3. And Moses was feeding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock behind the wilderness, and came into the mountain of God, to Horeb. And the angel of Jehovah was seen by him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bramble; and he saw, and behold the bramble burned with fire, and the bramble was in no wise consumed. And Moses said, I will therefore go aside, and see this great vision, why the bramble is not burnt. "And Moses was feeding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian," signifies that the law from the Divine was instructing those who were in the truth of simple good; "priest," is the good of the church where such are; "and he led the flock behind the wilderness," signifies after they had undergone temptations; "and came unto the mountain of God," signifies that the good of love Divine appeared to him; "to Horeb," signifies its quality; "and the angel of Jehovah was seen by him," signifies the Lord as to the Divine Human; "in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bramble," signifies love Divine in the truth of memory-knowledge; "and he saw, and behold the bramble burned with fire," signifies a noticing that the truth of memory-knowledge was full of the good of love Divine; "and the bramble was in no wise consumed," signifies Divine truth united to Divine good in the natural; "and Moses said," signifies perception from the law from the Divine; "I will therefore go aside, and see this great vision," signifies reflection upon this revelation; "why the bramble is not burnt," signifies that such is the union.
AC 6827. And Moses was feeding the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. That this signifies that the law from the Divine was instructing those who were in the truth of simple good; and that "the priest of Midian" is the good of the church where such are, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Lord as to the law Divine (n. 6752); and in the beginning as to the truth which is of the law from the Divine (n. 6771); but here as to the law from the Divine. So may we name the degrees of progression in the Lord, before, as to the Human, He was made the very law Divine. In the whole Word, in its inmost or supreme sense, the Lord alone and the glorification of His Human are treated of; but as the inmost or supreme sense transcends human understanding, it is allowable to unfold the Word as to its internal sense, in which are treated of the Lord’s kingdom and the church, and the setting up of the latter, and also the regeneration of the man of the church by the Lord. That these subjects are treated of in the internal sense, is because the regeneration of man is a representative image of the glorification of the Lord (n. 3138, 3212, 3245, 3246, 3296, 3490, 4402, 5688).
 From the signification of "to feed," as being to instruct (n. 3795, 5201); from the signification of a "flock," as being one who learns and is led by means of truth to the good of charity (n. 343), thus the "flock" in the general sense is the church (n. 3767, 3768), here the church where are those who are in the truth of simple good, who are signified by "Midian" (n. 3242, 4756); from the signification of "father-in-law," as being the good from which, as from a father, comes forth that good which has been conjoined with truth, here with the truth which is of the law from the Divine, which is represented by Moses (n. 6793), the quality of this good is "Jethro;" and from the signification of the "priest of Midian," as being the good of the church where are they who are in the truth of simple good (n. 6775). From all this it is evident that by "Moses was feeding the flock of his father-in-law, the priest of Midian," is signified that the law from the Divine was instructing those who were in the truth of simple good; and that the "priest of Midian" is the good of the church where such are.
AC 6828. And he led the flock behind the wilderness. That this signifies after they had undergone temptations, namely, they who were in the truth of simple good, is evident from the signification of a "flock," as being the church where they are who are in the truth of simple good (n. 6827); and from the signification of "wilderness," as being a state of temptation. For a "wilderness" signifies what is but little inhabited and cultivated, and also what is not inhabited and cultivated at all, thus in the spiritual sense a man vastated as to good and desolated as to truth, consequently a man who Is in temptation; for he who is in temptation is in vastation and in desolation, because the falsity and evil in him come out and darken and almost take away the influx of truth and good from the Lord; and the truth which flows in does not appear to him to have sufficient life to disperse the falsities and evils. Moreover evil spirits are then present, who inject grief, and despair of salvation. That a "wilderness" signifies such a state, is evident from very many passages in the Word (n. 2708); and as a "wilderness" signified a state of temptation, and the number "forty" its duration, however long or short (n. 730, 862, 2272, 2273), therefore the sons of Israel were in the wilderness forty years; and therefore the Lord was in the wilderness forty days when He was tempted (Matt. 4:2; Mark 1:13).
AC 6829. And came to the mountain of God. That this signifies that the good of love Divine then appeared, is evident from the signification of the "mountain of God," as being the good of love Divine. A "mountain" is the good of love, see (n. 795, 796, 2722, 4210, 6435). That this good appeared after they had undergone temptations, is signified by his coming to that mountain behind the wilderness. The case herein is this. When a man is in temptation, he is beset round by falsities and evils which impede the influx of light from the Divine, that is, the influx of truth and good, and then the man is as it were in darkness. Darkness in the other life is nothing else than this besetment by falsities, for these take away the light from the man who is in temptation, and thus the perception of consolation by truths. But when the man emerges from temptation, then the light appears with its spiritual heat, that is, truth with its good, and from this he has gladness after anxiety. This is the morning which in the other life follows the night. The reason why good is then perceived, and truth appears, is that after temptation truth and good penetrate toward the interiors, and there take root. For when a man is in temptation, he is as it were in hunger for good, and in thirst for truth; and therefore when he emerges he draws in good as a hungry man devours food, and receives truth as a thirsty man imbibes drink. Moreover when light from the Divine appears, falsities and evils are removed, and when these are removed, the way is opened for truth and good to penetrate more interiorly. These are the reasons why after temptations the good of love appears with its light from the Lord. That after the obscurity and anxiety of temptations, brightness and gladness appear, is known to all in the other life, because it is there a common occurrence.
AC 6830. Unto Horeb. That this signifies the quality, namely, of the good of love Divine which appeared, is evident from the fact that when names are added they involve the quality of the thing treated of. The quality involved by "Horeb" is plain from the things there seen, namely, from the flame of fire out of the midst of the bramble; thus it is the Divine good of love shining forth through the truth which is of the law Divine.
AC 6831. And the angel of Jehovah was seen of him. That this signifies the Lord as to the Divine Human, is evident from the signification of "the angel of Jehovah," as being the Divine Human of the Lord (n. 6280). The reason why the Divine Human is called the "angel of Jehovah," is that before the coming of the Lord, when Jehovah passed through heaven, He appeared in a human form as an angel. For the whole angelic heaven bears relation to a man, which is called the Grand Man, and which has been treated of at the end of many chapters. Therefore when the Divine Itself passed through the angelic heaven, it appeared in human form as an angel before those with whom He spake: this was the Divine Human of Jehovah before the coming of the Lord. The Lord‘s Human when made Divine is the same, for the Lord is Jehovah Himself in the Divine Human. That the Lord as to the Divine Human is called an "angel," may be seen above (n. 6280); and it is also evident from many passages in the New Testament where the Lord says that He was "sent by the Father;" to be "sent" signifies to proceed, the word "sent" in the Hebrew tongue being the same as "angel." The Lord speaks of Himself as "sent," (Matt. 10:40; 15:24; Mark 9:37; Luke 4:43; 9:48; 10:16; John 3:17, 34; 4:34; 5:23, 24, 36-38; 6:29, 39, 40, 44, 57; 7:16, 18, 28, 29; 8:16, 18, 29, 42; 9:4; 10:36; 11:41, 42; 12:44, 45, 49; 13:20; 14:24; 16:5, 7; 17:3, 8, 18, 21, 23, 25).
AC 6832. In a flame of fire out of the midst of the bramble. That this signifies love Divine in the truth of memory-knowledge, is evident from the signification of a "flame of fire," as being love Divine; and from the signification of a "bramble," as being the truth of memory-knowledge, That a "bramble" denotes the truth of memory-knowledge, is because all small shrubs of every kind signify memory-knowledges, but the greater shrubs signify real knowledges and perceptions. As a "bramble" produces flowers and berries, it signifies the truth of memory-knowledge. The truth of memory-knowledge of the church is nothing else than the Word in the sense of the letter, and also every representative and significative of the church which existed among the descendants of Jacob. In their external form these truths are called truths of memory-knowledge, but in the internal form they are spiritual truths. But as truths in the internal form, that is, in their spiritual form, could not appear to the posterity of Jacob, because they were in mere externals, and were quite unwilling to learn anything internal, therefore the Lord appeared in the bramble; for when the Lord appears, He appears according to the quality of the man, because a man receives the Divine no otherwise than according to his own quality. Therefore when the Lord appeared on Mount Sinai, He appeared to the people as fire burning even to the heart of heaven, and as darkness, clouds, and thick darkness (Deut. 4:11; 5:22-25; Exod. 19:18). He would have appeared altogether otherwise if the people who were looking on beneath the mountain had not been of such a quality; and because that people was in mere externals, therefore when Moses entered unto the Lord on Mount Sinai, it is said that he "entered into a cloud" (Exod. 24:2, 18; 34:5). That a "cloud" denotes the external of the Word, (n. 2135a, 4060, 4391, 5922, 6343); consequently also it was representative of the church as looked at in its outward form.
 That the Lord appears to everyone according to his quality, is evident from the fact that the Lord appears to those who are in the inmost or third heaven as a sun, from which proceeds ineffable light, because those who are there are in the good of love to the Lord; and that He appears to those who are in the middle or second heaven as a moon, because those who are there are more remotely and obscurely in love to the Lord, being in love toward the neighbor; but in the lowest or first heaven, the Lord does not appear as a sun nor yet as a moon, but only as a light which far surpasses the light of the world. And as the Lord appears to everyone according to his quality, therefore also He cannot appear to those who are in hell except as a dusky cloud and thick darkness; for as soon as the light of heaven which is from the Lord sinks down into any bell, shades and darkness are produced there. From all this it can now be seen that the Lord appears to everyone according to his quality, because according to his reception; and as the descendants of Jacob were in externals only, therefore the Lord appeared unto Moses in the bramble, and also in a cloud, when he entered in unto the Lord upon Mount Sinai.
 That "flame" denotes love Divine is because love in its first origin is nothing else than fire and flame from the Lord as a sun. It is the fire or flame of this sun which gives the being of life to every man; and it is the vital fire itself which fills the interiors of man with heat, as can be seen from love, for in proportion as love increases with man, he grows warm, and in proportion as love decreases, he grows cold.
 Hence it is that when the Lord appeared in vision, He appeared as fire and Same, as in Ezekiel:--
The appearance of the four animals (which were cherubs) was like burning coals of fire, like the appearance of torches; it was going along among the animals, as the brightness of fire, and out of the fire went forth lightning. Above the expanse that was over their head was as it were the appearance of a sapphire stone, the likeness of a throne; and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man upon it above. And I saw the appearance of a burning coal as the appearance of fire within it round about, from the appearance of his loins and upward; but from the appearance of his loins and downward I saw as it were the appearance of fire, which had a brightness round about (Ezek. 1:13, 26, 27).
That the details of this vision are significative and representative of something Divine, no one can deny; but unless it is known what is signified by "cherubs," by "burning coals of fire like the appearance of torches," by a "throne," by the "appearance of a man upon it," by the "loins from which was the appearance of fire upward and downward, and brightness from the fire," it is impossible to know the holy secret contained within it. That "cherubs" denote the providence of the Lord, see (n. 308); that a "throne" denotes heaven, properly the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, which forms heaven, (n. 5313). That "the appearance of a man upon the throne above" denotes the Lord as to the Divine Human, is plain; that "loins" denote conjugial love and from this all heavenly love, (n. 3021, 4277, 4280, 4575, 5050-5062); which love was represented by the appearance of burning coal as the appearance of fire, which had a brightness round about.
 In Daniel:--
I beheld even until the thrones were cast forth, and the Ancient of days did sit; His garment was like white snow, and the hair of His head was like clean wool; His throne was a flame of fire; His wheels were burning fire, a stream of fire issued and went forth from before Him (Daniel 7:9, 10);
the Divine good of the Lord’s Divine love was here also seen as a flame of fire. In John:--
He that sat upon the white horse had eyes as a flame of fire (Rev. 19:12);
that "He that sat upon the white horse" is the Lord as to the Word, is there openly said (Rev. 19:13, 16); thus the "Same of fire" is the Divine truth which is in the Word, which is from the Lord‘s Divine good. Again:--
In the midst of the seven candlesticks was one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot. His head and hairs were white as white wool, as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire (Rev. 1:13, 14);
here also "eyes as a flame of fire" denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord’s Divine good.
 That a "flame of fire" denotes the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, is evident also in David:
The voice of Jehovah falleth down like a flame of fire (Ps. 29:7);
"the voice of Jehovah" denotes the Divine truth. That the Divine truth might be represented as proceeding from the Lord‘s Divine good, the command was given that they should make a lampstand of pure gold with seven lamps, and that it should be set in the tent of the congregation by the table on which were the loaves of setting forth, and that the lamps should burn continually before Jehovah (Exod. 25:31-40; 37:17-24; 40:24, 25; Lev. 24:4; Num. 8:2; Zech. 4:2). By the lampstand with the seven lamps was represented the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord’s Divine good.
 That the Divine good itself might also be represented, it was commanded that there should be a perpetual fire on the altar:--
The fire shall burn upon the altar, and shall not go out; the priest shall kindle pieces of wood upon it every morning. The fire shall burn continually upon the altar, and shall not go out (Lev. 6:12, 13).
That fire was very well known to the ancients to be representative of the Divine love, is very evident from the fact that this representative spread from the Ancient Church even to remote nations which were in idolatrous worship, and who are known to have instituted a sacred perpetual fire, and to have appointed to it virgins, called the Vestals.
 That in the opposite sense "fire and flame" signify filthy loves, such as the loves of revenge, of cruelty, of hatred, of adultery, and in general the concupiscences which are from the loves of self and of the world, is evident also from many passages in the Word, of which it is enough to cite only the following:
Behold they are become as stubble, the fire hath burned them; they rescue not their soul from the hand of the Same; no coal to warm at, or a fire to sit before (Isa. 47:14).
Behold I will kindle a fire in thee, which shall devour in thee every green tree, and every dry tree; the flame of a grievous Same shall not be quenched, whence all faces shall be burned up from the south to the north (Ezek. 20:47);
by "fire" and "flame" are signified the cupidities of evil and falsity, which extinguish all the good and truth of the church, whence comes its vastation.
 In Luke:--
The rich man said to Abraham, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this Same (Luke 16:24);
they who do not know that the fire of life in man is from a different origin than is elementary fire, cannot possibly know otherwise than that by the "fire of hell" is meant such fire as is in the world; when yet in the Word no such fire is meant, but the fire which is of love, thus which is of man‘s life, proceeding from the Lord as a sun; which fire, when it enters into those who are in things contrary, is turned into the fire of cupidities, which, as before said, are those of revenge, hatred, and cruelty, springing forth from the love of self and of the world. This is the fire which torments those who are in the hells, for when the rein is given to their cupidities, they rush one upon another, and torture one another in direful and unspeakable ways, because everyone desires to be pre-eminent, and by secret or open artifices to take from another what belongs to him. This being the case on both sides, deadly hatreds come forth from it, and from these the perpetration of savage deeds, especially by means of magical arts and also by means of phantasies, which arts are innumerable and are quite unknown in the world.
 They who do not believe in spiritual things, especially the worshipers of nature, can never he brought to believe that the heat in living beings, which makes the internal life itself, is from any other origin than the heat of this world; for they cannot know, still less acknowledge, that there is a heavenly fire proceeding from the Lord as a sun, and that this fire is pure love. Consequently they cannot know innumerable things that exist in the Word, where no other fire is meant; neither can they know innumerable things in man, who is an organ receptive of this fire.
AC 6833. And he saw, and behold the bramble burned with fire. That this signifies a noticing that the truth of memory-knowledges was full of the good of love Divine, is evident from the signification of "seeing," as being to notice (n. 2150, 3764, 4567, 4723, 5400); from the signification of a "bramble," as being the truth of memory-knowledge (n. 6832); and from the signification of "fire," as being love Divine (n. 934, 4906, 5071, 5215, 6314, 6832). Hence "to burn with fire" denotes to be full of the good of love Divine.
AC 6834. And the bramble was in no wise consumed. That this signifies Divine truth united to Divine good in the natural, is evident from the signification of a "bramble," as being the truth of memory-knowledge (n. 6832, 6833), here being said of the Lord, it denotes Divine truth in the natural, and the natural is signified because the truth of memory-knowledge is there; and from the signification of "not being consumed by fire," as being not to be dissipated by the good of Divine love. "Fire" is the good of Divine love, (n. 6832), thus it is united, namely, Divine truth with Divine good in the natural. This is the signification of these words in the supreme sense, in which the Lord is treated of. The case herein is this. The Divine good of the Divine love is the very solar fire in the other life, which fire is so ardent that if it were to light on anyone without an intermediate tempering, even on an angel of the inmost heaven, he would be deprived of all sense, and would perish. Such is the ardor of the Lord’s Divine love. But when the Lord was in the world, and united the human essence to the Divine essence, He received the fire of this love in His Human, and united it to the truth there when He made Himself the law Divine. This then is what is meant by the Divine truth being united to the Divine good in the natural.
AC 6835. And Moses said. That this signifies perception from the law from the Divine, is evident from the signification of "saying," in the historicals of the Word, as being perception; and from the representation of Moses, as being the law from the Divine (n. 6827).
AC 6836. I will therefore go aside, and see this great vision. That this signifies reflection on this revelation, is evident from the signification of "going aside and seeing," as being to reflect, for in the spiritual sense "to go aside" denotes to turn aside from the present thought; and "to see" denotes to perceive, thus both expressions together denote to reflect; and from the signification of a "vision," as being revelation (n. 6000). It is called a "great vision," because in the supreme sense by the "flame in the bramble" is signified the Divine truth united to the Divine good in the Lord‘s Human (n. 6834).
AC 6837. Why the bramble is not burnt. That this signifies that such is the union, is evident from what was said above (n. 6834). EXODUS 3:1-3 - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|