Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 3:4-6
AC 6838. Verses 4-6. And Jehovah saw that he went aside to see, and God called unto him out of the midst of the bramble, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Behold me! And He said, Draw not nigh hither; pull off thy shoes from the feet, for the place whereon thou standest a ground of holiness is this. And He said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses covered his faces, because he was afraid to look upon God. "And Jehovah saw that he went aside to see," signifies reflection from the Lord; "and God called unto him," signifies influx from the Divine; "out of the midst of the bramble," signifies from the truths of memory-knowledge "and said, Moses, Moses; and he said, behold me!" signifies internal exhortation, and hearing; "and He said, Draw not nigh hither," signifies that he must not still think of the Divine from sensuous things; "pull of’ thy shoes from upon thy feet," signifies that sensuous things, which are the externals of the natural, must be removed; "for the place whereon thou standest a ground of holiness is this," signifies that otherwise the Divine cannot enter; "and He said, I am the God of thy father," signifies the Divine which was of the Ancient Church; "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," signifies the Divine Itself, and the Divine Human, thus the Lord; "and Moses covered his faces," signifies that the interiors were guarded; "because he was afraid to look upon God," signifies lest they should be injured by the presence of the Divine Itself.
AC 6839. And Jehovah saw that he went aside to see. That this signifies reflection from the Lord, is evident from the signification of "going aside to see," as being reflection (n. 6836); as also that "Jehovah" denotes the Lord, (n. 1343, 1736, 2921, 3023, 3035, 5663, 6303). The nature of the sense of the letter of the Word is evident here also. It is said that Jehovah saw that he went aside to see, as if He had not known before, and as if He had not enabled him and moved him to go aside to see. Nevertheless it is so said because this is according to the appearance. But the internal sense teaches how this is to be understood, namely, that the Lord flowed into his thought, in order that he might reflect upon it. This shows how the case is with the sense of the letter of the Word relatively to the internal sense; and that the contents of the sense of the letter are of such a nature as to accommodate themselves to the apprehension of the simple, who believe only as it appears; what does not appear they do not believe, because they cannot enter into the interiors of things; and therefore unless the Word had been of this nature in the letter, it would not have been received. He who is in sensuous things, and is engrossed by worldly ones, in no wise apprehends interior things. He desires to see the things he must believe; those which he does not see are as it were foreign, and when he is thinking from himself about them, he rejects them as matters worthy of denial, or at any rate as worthy of doubt.
AC 6840. And God called unto him. That this signifies influx from the Divine, is evident from the signification of "calling," as being influx; for in the internal sense there is not meant a calling by means of speech, as in the external historic sense, but a calling by influx into the will; and this calling is internal, for Jehovah, or the Lord, flows into the will and moves it to do what pleases Him. When this internal thing falls into what is historic, in which there are nothing but external things, it falls either into a command, or a call, or an address, or into other like terms.
AC 6841. Out of the midst of the bramble. That this signifies from the truths of memory-knowledge, is evident from the signification of a "bramble," as being the truth of memory-knowledge (n. 6832, 6833).
AC 6842. And said, Moses, Moses; and he said, Behold me! That this signifies internal exhortation, and hearing, is evident from the signification of being "called by God," in the historicals of the Word, as being influx from the Divine (n. 6840). The call itself is in these words: "and Jehovah said, Moses, Moses;" and because these words involve all things that follow, and first that he should not draw nigh hither, but that he should pull off his shoes from upon his feet, they signify exhortation; and the reply of Moses, "behold me," signifies hearing.
AC 6843. And He said, Draw not nigh hither. That this signifies that he must not still think of the Divine from sensuous things, is evident from the signification of "drawing nigh to Jehovah," as being to think of the Divine. That "to draw nigh," when said of a man‘s approach to the Lord, denotes thought about the Divine, is because man cannot approach the Divine with the body, as a man approaches a man, but with the mind, thus with the thought and the will. There is no other access to the Divine, because the Divine is above the things of place and time, being in those things with man which are called "states," namely, states of love and states of faith, thus states of both faculties of the mind, that is, of the will and of the thought; by these man can approach the Divine. Hence it is that here, by "Draw not nigh hither," is signified that he must not think of the Divine, that is, from the external sensuous things which are signified by the "shoes that he was first to pull of,." It is said still, because the external sensuous things of the natural are the last to be regenerated, and thus let receive influx from the Divine; and the state here treated of was not yet such that sensuous things could receive the influx. As regards sensuous things, see what now follows.
AC 6844. Pull off thy shoes from upon thy feet. That this signifies that sensuous things, which are the externals of the natural, must be removed, is evident from the signification of "shoes," as being the sensuous things which are the externals of the natural (n. 1748); and from the signification of "feet," as being the natural (n. 2162, 3147, 3761, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952). That "to pull off" denotes to remove is evident, because it is said of sensuous things; for terms must be applied to their subject that is being treated of; thus "to pull off," to the shoes; and "to be removed," to sensuous things. How the case herein is, must be told. Everyone can see that shoes here represent something that was not in agreement with the holy Divine, and thus that to pull of, the shoes was representative of the removal of such things; otherwise what would it matter to the Divine whether man approached in shoes or with the soles of his feet bare, provided that he was interiorly of such a character as to be able to approach the Divine in faith and love? Therefore by "shoes" are signified sensuous things, and these being the externals of the natural are of such a nature that they cannot be present when the Divine is the object of holy thought; therefore, as at that time representatives were to be observed, Moses was not allowed to approach with shoes on his feet.
 That sensuous things, which are the externals of the natural, are of such a nature that they cannot receive the Divine, is because they are in things worldly, bodily, and even earthly, for they proximately receive these things; hence the things that are in the memory from sensuous things derive from the light and heat of the world all that belongs to them, and but little from the light and heat of heaven, and therefore they are the last things that can be regenerated, that is, receive anything of the light of heaven. Hence it is that when a man is in these sensuous things, and is thinking from them, he thinks no otherwise of the Divine than as he thinks about earthly things, and if he is in evil he thinks from these sensuous things quite against the Divine. Therefore if when a man is thinking about such things as are of faith and love to God he is in good, he is elevated from the sensuous things which are the externals of the natural, toward interior things, consequently from earthly and worldly things nearer to heavenly and spiritual things.
 This a man knows not, because he does not know that the interiors in him are distinct from the exteriors, and that thought is more and more interior and also more and more exterior; and as he does not know these things, he cannot reflect upon them. But see what has been before said about thought from sensuous things, namely, that they who think from them, have very little wisdom (n. 5089, 5094, 6201, 6310, 6312, 6314, 6316, 6318, 6598, 6612, 6614, 6622, 6694); that man is elevated from sensuous things, and that when thus elevated he comes into a milder light; and that this is especially the case with those who are being regenerated (n. 6183, 6313, 6315). From all this is now plain what is meant by "putting off the shoes from upon the feet." That the natural with man is external, middle, and internal, see (n. 4570, 5118, 5126, 5497, 5649). The internal natural is signified by the "feet," the middle natural by the "soles of the feet," and the external by the "shoes."
AC 6845. For the place whereon thou standest a ground of holiness is this. That this signifies that otherwise the Divine cannot enter, is evident from the signification of "place," as being state (n. 2625, 2837, 3356, 3387, 4321, 4882, 5605), whence "the place whereon thou standest" denotes the state in which he as yet is; and from the signification of "ground of holiness," as being the holy which proceeds from the Lord. Thus it is a state of the holy proceeding from the Lord’s Divine Human which is meant by these words. That it signifies that otherwise the Divine cannot enter, follows from what goes before, namely, that if man were not removed from sensuous things, which are the externals of the natural, that is, if he were not elevated from these to things interior, the Divine could not flow in. The reason why the Divine cannot flow in with man so long as he is in these sensuous things, is that the influx from the Divine passes on even to those things which are last in order, thus down to the sensuous things which are the externals of the natural with man; and if the things therein be merely bodily and earthly, the Divine things which flow in are there dissipated, because they are not in agreement. Therefore when man is about to receive the Divine, that is, the things which are of faith and love, he is elevated from sensuous things; and when he has been elevated from them, the Divine no longer flows in thither, namely, into the external sensuous, but into the interior plane into which the man has been elevated. That this is the case it has been given me to know from much experience.
AC 6846. And He said, I am the God of thy father. That this signifies the Divine which was of the Ancient Church, is evident from the signification of "father," as being the Ancient Church (n. 6075). The Ancient Church is called "father" because from it were born the churches which came after it, namely, the Hebrew Church, and afterward the church that was among the posterity of Jacob. For the rites and statutes which were commanded to the posterity of Jacob through Moses, were not new, but had previously existed in the ancient churches, and were only restored among the sons of Jacob. They were restored because with other nations they had become idolatrous, and in Egypt and in Babel had been turned into magic. That these rites and statutes existed in the ancient churches, can be seen from many passages in the Word. Hence then it is that the Ancient Church is meant by "father," and is also called "father" in the Word where the church is treated of. The God who was worshiped in the Ancient Church was the Lord as to the Divine Human, and it was known to them that it was the Lord who was represented in every rite of their church; and many of them also knew that the Lord was to come into the world, and was to make the Human in Himself Divine. Nor in that church was any other meant by Jehovah, for He had appeared to them as a Divine Man, and was called "Jehovah" (n. 1343, 5663), as also afterward to Abraham (Gen. 18:2), to Joshua (Josh. 5:13-15), to Gideon (Judges 6:11), and to Manoah and his wife (Judges 13:3). And He was acknowledged as the God of the universe, and the Only One whom they should adore. Hence then it is that by "the God of thy father," is meant in the internal sense the Divine which was of the Ancient Church, that is, the Lord; but in the external historic sense there is meant Abraham, and also Isaac and Jacob.
AC 6847. The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. That this signifies the Divine Itself, and the Divine Human, thus the Lord, is evident from the representation of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, as being the Divine Itself, and the Divine Human of the Lord. Abraham represents the Lord as to the Divine Itself, Isaac as to the Divine rational, and Jacob as to the Divine natural, (n. 1893, 2011, 2066, 2072, 2083, 2630, 3194, 3210, 3245, 3251, 3305, 3439, 3704, 4180, 4286, 4538, 4570, 4615, 6098, 6185, 6276, 6425, 6804). By "God" is signified the Divine, and by these names the representative; hence these things in the Lord are what are meant by "the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
AC 6848. And Moses covered his faces. That this signifies that the interiors were guarded, is evident from the signification of the "faces," as being the interiors (n. 1999, 2434, 3527, 4066, 4796, 4797, 5102). That "to cover" denotes to guard, follows from the connection in the internal sense, for it is said that "he covered his faces because he was afraid to look upon God," and by this is signified lest the interiors should be injured by the presence of the Divine Itself. How this is will be told in what follows.
AC 6849. Because he was afraid to look upon God. That this signifies lest they should be injured by the presence of the Divine Itself, is evident from the signification of "being afraid," as being fear lest they should be injured, namely, the interiors, for this was the cause of the fear; and from the signification of "looking upon God," as being the presence of the Divine Itself; for the Lord is presented before man in no other way than by an internal looking, which is effected through the faith that is from charity. If the Lord appears to anyone in an outward form, still it is the interiors which are affected, for the Divine penetrates to the inmosts. In regard to the interiors not being injured by the presence of the Divine Itself, and that on this account they were protected, the case is this. The Divine Itself is pure love, and pure love is like a fire which is more ardent than the fire of the sun of this world; and therefore if the Divine love in its purity were to flow into any angel, spirit, or man, he would utterly perish. Hence it is that Jehovah or the Lord is in the Word so often called a "consuming fire." Lest therefore the angels in heaven should be injured by the influx of heat from the Lord as a sun, they are each of them veiled over by a certain thin and suitable cloud, whereby the heat flowing in from that sun is tempered.
 That without this preservation everyone would perish at the presence of the Divine, was known to the ancients; and therefore they were afraid to see God, as is evident in the book of Judges:--
Gideon saw that he was an angel of Jehovah; and therefore Gideon said, Ah Lord Jehovih! forasmuch as I have seen an angel of Jehovah face to face. And Jehovah said to him, Peace be to thee; fear not, for thou shalt not die (Judges 6:22, 23).
In the same book:--
Manoah said unto his wife, Dying we shall die, because we have seen God (Judges 13:22).
And in the book of Exodus:--
Jehovah said unto Moses, Thou canst not see My faces, for no man shall see Me and live (Exod. 33:20).
When therefore it was given Moses to see God, he was put into a hole of the rock (Exod. 33:22);
by which was represented the obscurity of faith, and also the cloudiness which covered him over, and by which he was protected.
 How dangerous it would be for the angels if they were looked upon by the Divine, without being veiled with a cloud, can be plainly seen from the fact that when the angels look at any spirit who is in evil, he appears to be turned into something inanimate, as has been frequently given me to see. The reason is, that through the angelic sight the light and heat of heaven fall there, and with these the truth of faith and the good of love, and when these penetrate, the wicked are almost deprived of life by them.
 This being the effect of a look from the angels, how much more would be the effect of a look from the Lord! This is the reason why the hells are quite removed from heaven, and why they who are there desire to be removed, for unless this is done they are direfully tormented. From this it is plain what is meant by these words:--
They shall say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne (Rev. 6:16; Luke 23:30; Hosea 10:8).
 From the fact that the presence of the Divine Itself is of such a nature that no angel can endure it unless he is protected by a cloud, which tempers and moderates the rays and heat from that sun, it is very evident that the Lords Human is Divine; for unless it were Divine, it could never he so united to the Divine Itself which is called the "Father," that they may be one, according to the Lord‘s words in (John 14:10), and elsewhere. For what so receives the Divine must needs be altogether Divine; what is not Divine would be utterly dissipated by such a union. To speak by comparison, what can be put into the solar fire, and not perish, unless it is of a solar nature? and in the same way, who can be introduced into the ardor of infinite love except him who is in the ardor of the like love? consequently, who but the Lord alone? That the Father is in Him, and that the Father does not appear except in His Divine Human, is evident from the Lord’s words in John:--
No one hath ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath set Him forth (John 1:18).
Ye have neither ever heard His voice, nor seen His shape (John 5:37).
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|