Spiritual Meaning of EXODUS 4:1-4
AC 6942. Verses 1-4. And Moses answered, and said, And behold they will not believe me, and will not hear my voice; for they will say, Jehovah hath not been seen of thee. And Jehovah said unto him, What is that in thy hand? And he said, A rod. And He said, Cast it to the earth. And he cast it to the earth, and it became a serpent and Moses fled from before it. And Jehovah said unto Moses, Put forth thy hand, and take hold of its tail; and he put forth his hand, and took hold of it, and it became a rod in his hand. "And Moses answered and said," signifies thought from the law Divine; "And behold they will not believe me, and will not hear my voice," signifies that those who are of the spiritual church would not have faith, thus would not receive "for they will say, Jehovah hath not been seen of thee," signifies the Divine of the Lord in His Human; "and Jehovah said unto him," signifies foresight as to what they would be if they had not faith; "What is that in thy hand? and he said, A rod," signifies the power of the Lord’s Divine Human; "and He said, Cast it to the earth," signifies the influx of the power of the Lord‘s Divine natural into the sensuous; "and it became a serpent," signifies the sensuous and corporeal man thereby separated from the internal; "and Moses fled from before it," signifies horror at the sensuous separated; "and Jehovah said unto Moses," signifies providence from the Divine; "Put forth thy hand, and take hold of its tail," signifies the power of uplifting from the ultimate sensuous; "and he Put forth his hand, and took hold of it," signifies an uplifting toward the interiors "and it became a rod in his hand," signifies that then power was communicated from the Divine.
AC 6943. And Moses answered and said. That this signifies thought from the law Divine, is evident from the signification of "answering and saying," as being thought. For that which in the historical sense of the letter is expressed by external things, in the internal sense signifies internal things; because in no other way can the spiritual things of heaven be presented to men. For man does not apprehend bare spiritual things, neither can they be expressed in the words of human speech; and therefore spiritual things have been described by corresponding natural things, and in this way have been given to man. Thus the Word is helpful to man in the natural world, and also to man in the spiritual world, and hence there is communication of heaven with man, and communion. And from the representation of Moses, as being the Lord as to the law Divine (n. 6752). Hence it is evident that by "Moses answered and said" is signified thought from the law Divine. Thought from the law Divine is from truth from the Divine; here that the sons of Israel will not believe unless they see signs and wonders.
AC 6944. And behold they will not believe me, and will not hear my voice. That this signifies that those of the spiritual church would not have faith, thus would not receive, is evident from the representation of the sons of Israel, of whom these things are said, as being those who are of the spiritual church (n. 6426, 6637); from the signification of "not believing," as being not to have faith; and from the signification of "not hearing the voice," as being not to receive (n. 5471, 5475).
AC 6945. For they will say, Jehovah hath not been seen of thee. That this signifies the Divine which is in the Lord’s Human, is evident from the signification of "saying," as being perception, here the perception of those who are of the spiritual church; and from the signification of "Jehovah seen," as being the appearing of the Lord‘s Divine in His Human. That "to be seen" denotes to appear is evident, and that "Jehovah" is the Lord as to the Divine Itself and as to the Divine Human, may be seen above (n. 1736, 2004, 2005, 2018, 2025, 2156, 2329, 2921, 3023, 3035, 5041, 5663, 6281, 6303, 6905). That "Jehovah seen" denotes the appearing of the Lord’s Divine in His Human, is evident also from the fact that His Divine cannot appear to any man, nor even to any angel, except through the Divine Human; nor the Divine Human except through the Divine truth which proceeds from Him. Here in the internal sense the subject treated of is the liberation of those who are of the spiritual church. These were liberated by the Lord‘s coming into the world, (n. 2661, 2716, 3969, 6854, 6914); and these specifically were saved by means of the Lord’s Divine Human, (n. 2716, 2833, 2834).
 As regards this statement, that the people of that church would not have faith, and would not receive what the law Divine represented by Moses (that is, what the Word) says, unless they saw signs, the case is this. These people, being of the spiritual church, have no perception of truth from good, as the celestial have, but acknowledge as truth every doctrinal matter of their church which they have confirmed in themselves, and are therefore relatively in obscurity (n. 2718, 2831, 2849, 2935, 2937, 3833, 6427, 6500, 6865), as can also be seen from the fact that they do not at all comprehend how the Lord‘s Human can be Divine; nor that the Divine love in the Human can effect this; for they keep their thought in a human such as exists with man, and they do not recede from this thought when they think of the Lord, in such an entanglement are they. The same can also be seen from the fact that neither do they comprehend how man can live after death, and at the same time have senses, such as sight, hearing, touch, and smell, and be in a human form there. That such is man when he has cast away his body and its senses and members, appears to them foreign to the truth, so enwrapped are they in things of sense, and in the memory-knowledges and fallacies thence derived; and therefore unless they believed that the body will again he conjoined with the soul, they would have no belief whatever in any resurrection.
 From all this it is sufficiently evident in how much obscurity they are as regards the things of heaven; and hence it is that no faith can ever be implanted in them unless they are withheld by the Lord from falsities by a mighty force. And as there was no such force before the Lord’s coming, but only after His coming, when He had made the Human in Himself Divine, therefore they could not be taken out of the lower earth, where they were being infested by falsities, and be taken up into heaven, until after the Lord‘s resurrection (n. 6914). From this then it is that it is said that they would not believe, thus neither would receive what the law Divine, that is, the truth Divine says, unless they saw that it is so, thus unless they saw signs.
AC 6946. And Jehovah said unto him. That this signifies foresight as to what they would be if they had not faith, is evil dent from the signification of "saying," when predicated of Jehovah or the Lord, as being foresight (n. 5361). That it denotes foresight as to what they would be if they had not faith, is plain from the three signs treated of below; for in the internal sense these signs represent their state if they did not believe.
AC 6947. What is that in thy hand? And he said, A rod. That this signifies the power of the Lord’s Divine Human, is evident from the signification of "hand," as being power (n. 878, 3387, 4931-4937, 5327, 5328, 5544) and from the signification of a "rod," as also being power (n. 4013, 4876, 4936). That it is the power of the Lord‘s Divine Human, is because by Moses is represented the Lord as to the law Divine, or the Word, which is the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord’s Divine Human (n. 6752). The power which is signified by "hand" is the power proceeding from the Lord‘s Divine rational; but the power which is signified by "rod" is the power proceeding from the Lord’s Divine natural. That the "rod" denotes the power proceeding from the Lord‘s Divine natural, is because a rod supports the body, like a foot, and by a "foot" is signified the natural (n. 2162, 3147, 3761, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952). That "to lift up the hand" denotes power in the spiritual, and "to lift up the foot" denotes power in the natural, may be seen above (n. 5327, 5328); and for this reason, in accordance with the kind of elevation treated of in the internal sense, it was sometimes said to Moses when he was to do miracles, that he should "lift up the hand," sometimes that he should "lift up the rod."
AC 6948. And He said, Cast it to the earth. That this signifies the influx of the power of the Lord’s Divine natural into the sensuous, is evident from the signification of a "rod," as being power in the natural, and when it is said of the Lord, as being the power proceeding from his Divine natural (n. 6947) from the signification of "casting," or "sending forth," as being proceeding, thus influx; and from the signification of "the earth" as being man‘s external (n. 82, 913, 1411, 1733), here his sensuous and corporeal, which are the outermosts, because the rod became a serpent, and by a "serpent" is signified the sensuous and corporeal man.
 By the Divine power of the Lord is here meant the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord, for there is power in Divine truth, insomuch that it is power itself (n. 3091, 4931, 6344, 6423). The Divine truth proceeding from the Lord flows into every man, through his interiors into the exteriors, even into the external Sensuous and into the corporeal, and calls forth everywhere things correspondent in their order; in the sensuous, things correspondent, it such as appear in the world and upon the earth. But as the things which are in the world and upon the earth appear otherwise than as they are, they are therefore full of fallacies; and therefore when the sensuous is in these evils only, it must needs think against the goods and truths of faith, because it thinks from fallacies; and when Divine truth flows in, it must needs turn it into falsity.
 That a man who is not elevated from the sensuous, but is in it and thinks from it, thinks from fallacies, may be illustrated by examples:--The fallacies in respect to the life of man, that it is of the body, when yet it is of the spirit in the body: in respect to the sight - that it is of the eye: in respect to the hearing that it is of the ear: in respect to the speech - that it is of the tongue and mouth; when yet it is the spirit which sees, hears, and speaks, through these organs of the body. The fallacies in respect to life - that it is permanent in man, when yet it flows in. The fallacies in respect to the soul - that it cannot be in a human form, and in human senses and affections. The fallacies in respect to heaven and hell - that the former is above man, and the latter beneath him, when yet they are in him. The fallacies that objects flow into the exteriors, when yet what is external does not flow into what is internal, but what is internal into what is external. The fallacies in respect to the life after death - that it is impossible except together with the body. Besides the fallacies in natural things, which give rise to the self-contradictory conjectures of so many persons.
 Who cannot see that fallacies and the falsities thence derived have dominion instead of truths, merely from the dispute which long existed in respect to the circulation of the blood, which though supported by so many experimental proofs, nevertheless long remained in doubt; and also from the dispute about the sun - that it revolved once a day around this earth, and not only the sun, but also the moon, all the planets, and the whole starry heaven; and also from the dispute which still continues in respect to the soul, its conjunction with the body, and its seat therein. Seeing that the fallacies of the senses have dominion in such things, although their true character is plain from so many phenomena and effects, why should they not do so in such things as belong to heaven, which being spiritual are not plain except through correspondences?
 From all this it can now be seen what is the quality of man’s sensuous, viewed in itself, and left to itself; namely, that it is in fallacies, and thence in falsities, thus is against the truths and goods of faith Hence it is that when man is in the sensuous and in its light, he is in thick darkness in respect to the things of the spiritual world, that is, in respect to those which are in light from the Divine; and that the sensuous light is turned into mere thick darkness when the light from heaven falls into it. The reason is, that the truths which are of the Divine light cannot be together with fallacies and the falsities thence derived; but extinguish them, and thereby induce thick darkness.
AC 6949. And it became a serpent. That this signifies the sensuous and corporeal man separate from the internal, is evident from the signification of a "serpent," as being a man who reasons from things sensuous (n. 195-197, 6398, 6399), thus the sensuous of man; and as by "serpent" is signified the sensuous, it signifies also the corporeal, for what the sensuous has, it has from the senses of the body. And because, regarded in itself, the sensuous is such as has been described just above (n. 6948), the "serpent" also (which is the sensuous), signifies all evil in general (n. 251, 254, 257). That by the "serpent" is here meant the sensuous and corporeal man separated from the internal or rational, is evident from the fact that Moses fled from before it, whereby is signified horror of it; and also from the fact that by this sign is described the state of those of the spiritual church, if they did not have faith; for then their internal would be closed, nor would more of the light of heaven flow in, than to enable them to think, and from this to speak, from the sensuous separated. All those think from the sensuous separated who defend falsities against truths, and evils against goods; in a word, all who are in evil of life, and thence in no faith, for he who lives evilly, believes nothing. Such persons excel others in the gift of reasoning, and also of persuading, especially the simple, for the reason that they speak from the fallacies of the senses, and from appearances in the world. They also know how to extinguish or veil truths by fallacies, whence also by "serpents" are signified cunning and craftiness. But when the sensuous has been conjoined with the internal, or rightly subordinated to the rational, then by a "serpent" is signified prudence and circumspection (n. 197, 4211, 6398).
AC 6950. And Moses fled from before it. That this signifies horror at the sensuous separated, is evident from the signification of "fleeing," as being horror, for he who feels horror at anything, flees from it; and from the signification of the "serpent," which is that from before which he fled, as being the sensuous separated (n. 6949).
AC 6951. And Jehovah said unto Moses. That this signifies providence from the Divine, is evident from the signification of "saying," when predicated of Jehovah or the Lord, as being foresight (n. 6946); and because it denotes foresight, it also denotes providence, for these two are conjoined together, because the Lord provides what He foresees. He foresees evil and provides good. Here therefore by "Jehovah said," is signified providence, because the serpent is now turned into a rod, that is, evil into good. And from the representation of Moses, as being the Lord in respect to Divine truth: thus providence from the Divine is predicated of the Lord as to the Human when He was in the world.
AC 6952. Put forth thy hand and take hold of its tail. That this signifies the power of uplifting from the ultimate sensuous, is evident from the signification of "hand," as being power (n. 6947); and from the signification of the "tail of the serpent," as being the ultimate of the sensuous. That a "serpent" denotes the sensuous may be seen above (n. 6949), thus its "tail" is the ultimate or lowest of the sensuous. Uplifting is signified by "putting forth and taking hold of," for he who puts forth the hand and takes hold of any creeping thing of the earth, lifts it up. As by the "serpent" is signified the sensuous separated, and hence reasoning from the fallacies of the senses about the truths of faith, by the "tail of the serpent" is signified falsity itself, for this is the ultimate or lowest, and he who is in falsity, thus in the ultimate and lowest, looks wholly downward, or outward, that is, into the world and to the earth; but not upward or inward, that is, into heaven and to the Lord.
 That such things are signified by the "tail of the serpent," is evident in John:--
The locusts had tails like unto scorpions, and stings were in their tails; and their power was to do harm to men (Rev. 9:10);
where "tails like unto scorpions, and stings in the tails," denote cunning reasonings from falsities, by which they persuade, and thus do harm, wherefore it is said that "their power is to do harm to men."
The tails of the horses were like unto serpents, having heads, and by them they do harm (Rev. 9:19);
where in like manner "tails like serpents" denote reasonings from falsities, by which harm is done and especially because it is said that "such were the tails of the horses, and that they had heads; "for by "horses" is signified the intellectual, and also by "head." Hence by "tails" are here signified more cunning reasonings from fallacies and the derivative falsities against truths, which reasonings are lowest, for the more cunning any reasonings are against truths, the lower they are.
The tail of the dragon drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them into the earth (Rev. 12:4);
where the "tail of the dragon" in like manner denotes reasonings from falsities; the "stars of heaven," the knowledges of good and truth; "to cast them to the earth" denotes to destroy them. That the "dragon" is the "serpent," which seduces by reasonings from falsities, and which seduced the mother of the living, or Eve, in paradise, by means of the tree of knowledge, that is, by means of memory-knowledges from the sensuous, thus from fallacies, is clear also in John:--
The great dragon was cast down the old serpent, which is called the Devil and Satan, which seduceth the whole world (Rev. 12:9).
 That the "tail" in general denotes the sensuous separated, which looks not up but down, thus not to heaven, but to earth, and consequently denotes falsity, is evident in these passages:--
Jehovah will cut off from Israel head and tail, branch and rush; the old man and the honorable, he is the head; and the prophet, the teacher of a lie, he is the tail (Isa. 9:14, 15);
where the "tail" manifestly denotes falsity, which in the Word is called a "lie." Again:--
There shall not be for Egypt any work, which shall make head and tail, branch and rush (Isa. 19:15);
where "rush" denotes what is lowest. In Moses:--
Thus Jehovah shall make thee the head, and not the tail; that thou mayest be upward only, and not downward, when thou shalt obey the commandments of thy God (Deut. 28:13).
 The "tail" denotes the lowest, which looks downward or outward, that is, into the world and to the earth, but not to heaven and to the Lord. For the interiors of man together with his sensuous things are lifted upward by the Lord when the man is in the good of faith and of charity; but if he is in evil and falsity, then his interiors together with his sensuous things look downward, thus only to the things that are in the world, whereby he puts off the human nature, and puts on the bestial; for wild beasts look downward, or only to those things which are on the earth. He who looks downward, wills what is evil and thinks what is false, but he who is lifted upward by the Lord, wills what is good and thinks what is true; the uplifting by the Lord takes place actually, and from this a removal from evils and falsities, which the angels perceive by the very sense. This is like the tendency to the center of gravity: the center is where the Lord is in His sun. Toward this the heads of the angels are lifted up; but the feet of the infernals. Thus the former look upward, and the latter downward (n. 3641, 3643).
The stranger that is in the midst of thee shall ascend above thee upward more and more; but thou shalt descend downward more and more; he shall be for the head, and thou shalt be for the tail (Deut. 28:43, 43, 44);
where the sense is similar. In Isaiah:--
Say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither let thy heart soften, because of the two tails of these smoking fire-brands, on account of the wrath of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah (Isa. 7:4);
"Rezin king of Syria" denotes knowledges of evil. That "Syria" denotes knowledges of good, may be seen above, (n. 1232, 1234, 3680) thus in the opposite sense, knowledges of evil. The "soil of Remaliah the king of Samaria" denotes knowledges of falsity. Knowledges of evil and knowledges of falsity are "tails," because they are lowest things. "Smoking firebrands" denote wrath.
AC 6953. And he put forth his hand, and took hold of it. That this signifies an uplifting toward the interiors, is evident from the signification of "putting forth the hand and taking hold," when said of what lies beneath, as being to be uplifted toward higher things, or what is the same, toward the interiors (n. 6952); from the signification of "hand," as being interior power (n. 6952); and from the signification of a "serpent," which is what he took hold of, as being the sensuous and reasoning thence (n. 6949); that when the sensuous is uplifted toward the interiors, power is communicated from the Divine, will be seen in what now follows.
AC 6954. And it became a rod in his hand. That this signifies that then was communicated power from the Divine, is evident from the signification of the " serpent which became a rod," as being the sensuous (n. 6949); from the signification of a "rod," as being power in the natural; and from the signification of the "hand," as being interior power; both powers being from the Divine (n. 6952). The case herein is this. From himself man looks downward only, that is, into the world, and to the earth, because from himself he is in evil and falsity; and when he looks thither, then the sensuous has dominion, and interior things makes no opposition, because they follow the force of the stream, and yield to it. Nevertheless not from himself but from the Lord, man looks upward, that is, to heaven and to the Lord, which is effected by means of an uplifting and when the interiors are uplifted, the sensuous also is uplifted, but its light is then obscured, because the light of heaven has dominion. When this takes place, good and truth from the Lord flow in, and are also received; and this is meant by power communicated from the Divine. Yet no others can be uplifted in this way than those who have lived in the good of faith and of charity. That the upliftings are toward the interiors, has been given me to know from living experience, for they have been observed a thousand times. EXODUS 4:1-4 - next - text - summary - Exodus - Full Page
|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|