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1. The Word of JEHOVAH which was to Joel the son of Pethuel.
Apart from the spiritual sense of these words, no one could know the profound principle embosomed in and enunciated through their literal form. Attention to the apparently unimportant members of the sentence will furnish us with the key to their mystery and teaching: for the least forms of the Divine Word enfold arcana of Heaven. However, let each word be considered in its order.
It is interesting to notice the peculiar meaning of the term Word in the Hebrew tongue. Like the equivalent term used in the New Testament, the original of 'word' is formed from a verb whose primary meaning is, to range in order. So that the related noun has respect to an ordering or regulation. Hence we observe that the ten commandments are, in the original, called 'the ten words,' or orders (Exod 34:28). That is to say, the commandments of God are the laws of Divine Order promulgated for the right and orderly conduct of human life. As the principles of conduct set forth in the Sacred Scriptures have for their end an orderly regulation of human life according to the laws of Divine truth, the Scriptures are called 'the Word of God.' Such principles are the laws derived from Divine Life, and are therefore potent to reform the world. Still, it will thence appear that the Word, or expression of order according to the Divine Mind, is the revelation of the laws by which the Divine is Itself ordered. All order originates in the Divine Mind: because the Divine is Order itself, and is governed by Its own laws. Thus the Divine Word in its supreme aspect is the Law of Divine Life, and to men, the revelation of the very Divine.
The signification of Word, then, it is not difficult to apprehend, is the Divine truth and its revelation: for it is Divine truth which regulates supreme order. Thus the Lord Who declared Himself to be 'the Truth' (John 14:6), is also described as the Word which was God (John 1:1). And as all things came into existence through the Word, we read that "the Word of Jehovah is upright, and His every deed is in truth. In the Word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all their host in the spirit of His mouth" (Psalm xxxiii. 4, 6); also that "the beginning of the Lord's Word is truth" (Psalm 119:160).
To this signification much is added by its association with the Divine name—Jehovah. The vowels of this name have given occasion for much discussion, into which it is unnecessary to enter here. It is probably sufficient to accept the usual explanation—namely, that the name is formed from three parts of the verb to be, and seems to denote Who is, He was, and He will be: the same in fact described by John in Rev 1:8: "Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come,"—that is the Lord, Jesus Christ. Indeed, and this is generally agreed, the name describes the Eternal, the I AM of Exod 3:14 and John 8:58. Thus we are enabled to see that the Word of Jehovah is the Eternal Law—the Order of the Everlasting God.
The laws by which human conduct must be guided and heavenly life determined are unchangeable: they belong to the very Essence of God Himself. These laws have neither been evolved nor newly made; they are now newly made known, but they are in themselves eternal—of God's own nature. From time to time they have been made known to man according to his changing states and spiritual needs; but their intrinsic nature is not altered thereby.
Again, it should be observed that the Lord is eternal in the nature of His own Essential Being—the Divine Esse, the i am: and, that His Inmost Being is Divine Love. For this reason, when the Lord is referred to particularly in relation to the Divine Love, He is named, in the Old Testament, Jehovah. In like manner, when the Lord is referred to as the Divine Wisdom, He is named God (Elohim). So that when good is being spoken of, the name Jehovah (implying the Essential Divine Love) is used, but when truth is the subject, the name God (implying the Existent Divine Wisdom) is used of the Lord. Therefore we remark further, that the Word of Jehovah is the orderly expression of the Divine Love. It is too often forgotten, that the laws for the guidance of man's life on earth, and which are also the laws of angelic life, while they are unchangeable degrees of Truth, are at the same time the precepts and embodiments of Eternal Love.
Hence it is manifest, that the Word of Jehovah signifies the revelation from the Divine Love of every truth necessary for the preservation of man from evil and falsity, and which is moreover needful for his reformation, regeneration, and eternal life in Heaven.
This, then, is the revelation as given from God to man: How is it received by man? We have the answer in the latter words of the verse. We learn in AC 4987, that a change which is deserving of special remark is pointed out in the Sacred Scriptures by the occurrence of the verb to be. Such a notable change of state in regard to the Word of Jehovah is indicated, therefore, in the present case. The particle to should be noticed also, inasmuch as it appears to denote an accordance formed between the members of the sentence in which it stands, or more strictly an accommodation of the one to the other. Whatever, therefore, Joel the son of Pethuel may signify, it is the state to which the revelation from God is accommodated, and to which it is changed in the minds of those receiving it. Thus the revelation, in conformity with the principle, that whatever is received by man from the Lord is modified by the recipient, is adapted to and moulded by the state represented by the prophet.
Before enquiring as to the special signification of the name Joel, it will help the understanding most if we consider here the suggestion of the prophet's office. The prophets, or, "speakers for" God, represented the Divine truth of the Word as taught and received among the members of the Church in which they prophesied. "By the prophets is signified the doctrine of the truth which is through the Word from the Lord" (AC 9229). Hence the prophets represented also the Word (AC 9954); or, what is the same thing, the prophets, their demeanour, and actions, were visible symbols and signs of the treatment bestowed upon the Divine Word by the Church in which they taught. This is fully set forth in TCR 130 and SS 35. It must not be supposed, however, that there is any implication here, that the prophets themselves perceived the supernal significance of the words dictated to them and uttered by them. They did not (AE 624). Though the words were from Jehovah (D. L. 52), they were not received by the prophets from Him immediately (AC 7055, 7268; HH 254). So that the prophets uttered inward spiritual truths in external forms adapted to the state of the Church in which they fulfilled their duties, without any perception of the inward truths at all. This is taught in Matthew 1:22 and 2:15: "What was spoken by the Lord through the prophet." The case seems to be, that the words were dictated to the inward ear of the prophets by spirits filled with the presence of the Divine Mind. Thus the truths were made known to the prophets intermediately. Doubtless the spirits employed would be such as were in accordance with the prophets' interiors, and hence the Word of Jehovah, or revelation of the Divine Mind, would be adapted to the state of man, for whom the revelation was designed. To unfold the internal meaning of the words so imparted has been left for the present age; but it will be seen plainly that the prophets were, for the time being, living representations of the reception accorded to the Divine Word, and the truths thence derived by the Jewish Church. On this account the Lord Himself, Who was the Word made flesh, dwelling among us (John 1:14), was also called The Prophet (John 7:40), and as such suffered rejection, denial, and crucifixion, at the hands of the Jewish people. Joel, then, in his function as a prophet similarly represents the manner in which the Divine Word was received and treated by the Church of Judah.
To what has been advanced in the Introduction regarding the prophet's place in history and among the prophets, some definiteness may be added as to his personal signification by examining his name: for names were given according to those things which were signified (AC 144). Moreover, a name contained the quality of state implied by the person bearing it (AC 4197). Thus we hope to obtain some idea of the state to which the revelation from the Lord was changed in the Jewish Church, and which state was represented by the prophet Joel. The precise nature of the change implied by Joel the son of Pethuel, in the absence of explicit teaching from Swedenborg, we cannot pronounce upon. But taking into view the whole purport of the prophecy we may with sufficient accuracy judge, from analysis and examination of the two names given, that it was perversion.
The name Jôël appears to be formed from jo, the usual abbreviation of jehô (meaning, he shall be), which is the former part of the name Jehovah, and El. Thus the name would either mean, He (i.e., the Lord) shall be El, or more probably, Jehovah is El. The meaning and signification of Jehovah is discussed above, where it is noted that the name is used with a definite intention wherever in the Scriptures it occurs.
El means, literally, a strong one—as in Ezekiel 31:11, where it is probably the king of Babylon who is referred to as "the strong one of the nations." The name was, however, used as the Divine title equal to "God" by several nations surrounding Judah and Israel. Il, the supreme divinity of the Phoenicians (identified by the Greeks with Kronos, and by the Romans with Saturn) is a form of El. Ilu is similarly employed by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Ilâh is the old Arabic of the same word, whence Al-Ilah or Allah, the God, appears in the Koran. Again the term enters into the composition of some ancient names of places—as Babel: in Chaldean, Babil (the Gate of Il), and Bethel (the House of El). So too, Melchizedek, who was a native of Canaan before the Israelites possessed it, is described as a "priest of the most high El" (Gen 14:18). In agreement with the teaching of these facts—namely the use of El for God among the surrounding heathens—the term is sometimes employed for false gods—as in Exod 15:11 and 34:14; also in later books, as a general equivalent for idols—as in Isaiah 44:15, 17; 46:6; 57:5; and Malachi 2:11. Nevertheless the term is often used when the Lord Himself is meant. That is to say, by the Divine Mercy of the Lord this title was applied to Him in accordance with a law of His Providence which works to lead all men, in the way which their states will permit, to the only Lord of Heaven and earth. The reason of this permission is, that the Lord will only remove a false indoctrination gradually: for to remove it suddenly would be to destroy the ground of reverence and truth (see AC 1992). Thus to Abraham (who, as a Chaldean, knew God as "El"), and Isaac and Jacob the Lord appeared in "El Shaddai"; but His name Jehovah was not known to them (Exod 6:3).
Joel—Jehovah is El—therefore, while it may have a more exalted import involved in its parts when perceived in more supernal realms (for it embosoms a revelation for all worlds), may yet be said to imply in the present connection, that Jehovah was regarded in the Jewish Church as no better than an idol or heathen god. A conclusion which history justifies.
It is quite true that El is used to denote the Divine Spiritual of the Lord, or truth in the will and in the act (AC 4402), but the context and subsequent prophecy, of whose character the present verse is a brief statement, lead us to see that here the term points to the Divine Spiritual falsified. Therefore we conclude, that the name being a heathen title for God, in the present connection, a certain estrangement of the essentially Divine One, whose Heart is Love, is indicated by Joel. And this conclusion is supported by the fact, that those who bring about the evil described in this book are called "aliens" and "the nations from around."
By the prophet being styled the son of Pethuel it is clear we are directed to the state whence this degenerate regard for Jehovah originated. Son signifies a state of truth derived from the interior state of good, or in other words, a principle of faith begotten of the condition of soul existent in the people of the Church. The term is principally applied to truth as derived from good; or, in its reverse sense, falsity as derived from evil. When it is observed that truth is begotten of good, as effect is produced by cause, and that every cause begets the form of its own effect, the general principle of this signification will appear. Thus the Divine Good is called in the New Testament "the Father," and the Divine Truth, "the Son." So the prophets, as teachers of God's Truth, and representatives of it, were denominated sons of man. The sons of Israel likewise were representatives of the truths of faith constituting the Church. We have, however, an instance of the opposite meaning when the Lord spoke to those who were characterised by falsity from evil affection, saying, "You are out of your father the devil... he stood not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks out of his own: because he is false and the father of it. And because I say the truth, you believe Me not" (John 8:44, 45).
The name Pethuel is derived from path^u, which means "induced," and El. To induce signifies, in its bad sense, to entice, or beget a deceptive infatuation. Thus in Deut 11:16, "Take heed to yourselves lest your heart shall induce, and you depart and serve other gods, and prostrate yourselves to them." Pethuel therefore represents the infatuation arising from the influence, upon the Jewish Church, of the surrounding idolatrous worshipers. With this signification that of Bethuel may be compared (AC 3665). It may also be remarked, that the Septuagint version states that Joel was the son of Bethuel, instead of, Pethuel; but that is a manifest error.
We may regard, therefore, Joel the son of Pethuel as indicating the inroads of idolatrous practices from the outer nations, and their effect upon the reception of the Word of Jehovah in the Jewish Church—namely, that the laws of Divine truth, revealed from the Heart of the Lord for the exaltation of human life and the salvation from sin, were perverted by that Church to the level of the vile and degrading superstitions of the heathen worshipers around them. This is the summary of the prophecy following—a statement in brief of the prophet's message: the title and preface of his book; pointing to the results of violating the First Commandment.
Internal Sense. The revelation of the Lord's truth from His Essential Divine Love for the good of man as perverted, in accordance with the false worship of Him derived from the enticements of idolatrous associations.
2. Hear this, you elders, and cause all the inhabitants of the earth to listen. Was [ever] this in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
The object of Divine revelation is not simply to make truth known, but rather to evoke the good life of man. The Church of the Lord is not established by the knowledge of truth: the truths of God must be perceived, and from such perception become vital by obedience. Therefore the prophet's message opens by exhorting the Church to obey the Divine precepts of life, and by contrast with its condition— briefly indicated in the second part of the verse—to enforce that exhortation. The exhortation commences, hear this, you elders, that is, hear the Word of Jehovah.
To hear signifies to perceive internally, and thence desire to be obedient. This signification will plainly appear from the words of Genesis 42:22, "And Reuben answered them, saying, Said I not to you as follows, Do not sin against the boy? And you would not hear: therefore, behold, also his blood is required." Also in Judges 11:17: "Then Israel sent messengers to the king of Edom, saying, Let me, pray, pass through your land; but the king of Edom would not hear. And in like manner they sent to the king of Moab: and he was not willing." The prophet calls attention to that which he is about to relate and the obedience entailed by the Divine Word in the words hear you this—especially pointing to the subject of the 4th verse. This is a term which appears to have reference to affection, and is probably for that reason used between hear and elders. It would therefore seem to be a medium conjoining wisdom and obedience, as perceived by angelic intelligence, but upon that we cannot speak with certainty. But that to hear this is to perceive internally and obey from the heart the laws of life, because they make for righteousness, cannot be questioned: for the reference is to the Word of Jehovah given to Joel.
Among the sons of Israel, the elders, as being the wise men, represent the principles of wisdom in the Church. Thus we read in Psalm 119:100: "From elders I am intelligent, because I observe Your precepts." Also in Job 12:12: "In the aged ones is wisdom: and length of days is understanding." And because old age was synonymous with wisdom, the law provided and said, "You shall rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of an elder" (Levit 19:32). Again when Jeremiah is announcing, that the principles of goodness and wisdom from the Lord had been destroyed in a degraded community, he says, "My priests and my elders expired in the city" (Lam 1:19).
Wisdom is not learning, nor is it intelligence alone: it is
rather intelligent goodness of mind. Thus, w
Perception and obedience such as were just referred to are more of the will than the understanding, and being thus of a more interior order are fittingly mentioned first: for from there must emerge any external obedience required. While the elders as persons would be required to obey externally the commandments of the Lord, yet they represented that internal obedience which precedes, and does not itself appear as, external action: being rather the inward cause and impulse of such action. Obedience of an external order is nevertheless required to bring the externals of the Church into conformity and harmony with its internal wisdom, and so is also represented. If the truths of Divine Wisdom are to be of any useful service to man, they must be brought down into practice—into external obedience. This truth is indicated by the words, Hear this, you elders, and cause all the inhabitants of the earth to listen. If there be an internal obedience to Divine Law, an external life in correspondence will inevitably follow. In a well ordered community, whither the wise men lead from, the desire for general good, thither will the rest be led.
Accordingly, the same meaning that was observed in to hear, though of a more external order (applicable, too, to the more external plane of mind), appears in the word to listen. While the latter signifies perception and obedience in the internal man, the former relates to obedience from there in the external man. Thus the internal and external are brought into harmony and uniformity. The signification of to listen may be illustrated from the following passages of Scripture:— "Cause to listen, O you heavens, and I will speak: and you shall hear, O earth, the words of My mouth" (Deut 32:1); "Hear, O heavens, and cause you, O earth, to listen: for Jehovah has spoken" (Isaiah 1:2); "Cause to listen, O My people, to My law: incline your ears to the sayings of My mouth" (Psalm lxxviii. i). Hence it will appear, that to listen signifies, from internal understanding to obey in the external will and act. Thus the difference in spiritual significance existing between to hear and to listen appears to be, that the former implies an obedience arising in the internal will and executed in the internal understanding, whereas the latter implies an obedience caused from the internal understanding and executed in the external will.
This signification is enforced by the terms in connection with which to listen is used. All the inhabitants of the earth denotes every good dwelling in the truth of the external mind, even to the last. Herein the earth, being the complement of the heavens, as may be seen in the passages cited above, signifies the external of the spiritual man, especially in regard to the will. The term is thence applied to the external Church as existing among men. Thus, the Lord, in the Word, calls His external Church His earth. See several places in this prophecy—1:6; 2:18; 3:2. Again, the inhabitants of the Lord's external Church are the affections of spiritual good dwelling in truth, as will be seen from the nature of the case and confirmed by the following words of Scripture. The Lord is described as "the inhabitant of the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3), because He is pre-eminently the Good that dwells in Truth. "The earth and all the inhabitants thereof are dissolved" (Psalm 75:3), when no such natural dissolution had taken place, but rather the degradation of the Lord's external Church, and the goods dwelling in truth had been perverted into the evils dwelling in falsity. It may be remarked also, that the inhabitants of the earth is often used in association with the elders as, together, describing the sum of the Church. Thus, in this prophecy, at 1:14 as well as the present instance. The term all is used because it denotes every spiritual matter of which it is predicated, even to the last. The partial obedience of the Divine laws is not sufficient to form the character designed for man by the Divine Will. Arising in the internal man, there must descend into every affection of the external man an obedience to the laws of life which can alone unify and regenerate the spirit. The words thus far considered therefore imply a life of external obedience in all respects to God's Will as the issue and effect of inward wisdom and desire for good.
In their application to the Church, the significance of these words is manifest. There are those remaining (and these the prophet evokes) who retain the principles of wisdom, and there are those, far more abundantly, who, while they are more external in character, and regard more especially the externals of worship, yet from the very goodness of their natures dwell in the truth. These latter are they indicated by all the inhabitants of the earth. It matters not how humble or how small a place they fill, while they retain and represent this character, they are included in that description, and are those whose service, according to the Divine precepts, the example of the elders should call forth. Indeed it is on the mutual and reciprocal action, upon Divine principles, of those indicated by the elders, and those represented by all the inhabitants of the earth, that the unity and subsistence of the Church depends. The true Church exists in its essence only where this uniformity is most conspicuous. Where the Oneness of God is most perfectly reflected in the life of the Church, there is the Lord's Church. As the inward perception of wisdom, and the outward life conformed thereto, constitutes the whole regeneration of man, and the Church is thus represented, it is manifest why Swedenborg says, that these introductory verses apply "to all who are of the Church."
But did this unity of internals and externals, by obedience induced from within, exist in the Church to which the words were addressed? It did not: and hence the interrogation, Was this in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? So long as the aged could remember, or even their fathers could remember, the conditions of spiritual life involved in the former words had been unknown. The cause of this deplorable fact will be laid down later; but at present it is noted, that a want of unity between internal spiritual life and the external actions of the Jewish Church was the very feature by which it was most marked. For this cause the Jewish was not a true Church, but only the representative of a Church by external forms. The outward professions were pious enough, but the inward character and perceptions of wisdom were corrupt. For this reason the prophet commences by evoking obedience from the elders; for when first principles and leaders are contaminated, what may be expected in the less enlightened who follow? The words which the Lord directed to the Jews of later times are equally true of those of Joel's time. "Alas! for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites (or, actors!), for you cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but within are they full from greed and lustfulness. Blind Pharisee! cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the dish, in order that the outside also of it may become clean. Alas! for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for you are like graves whitewashed, which, indeed, outside appear beautiful, but within are full of dead bones and of all uncleanness. In this manner also you, outside, indeed, appear to men righteous, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. Alas! for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites: for you are building the graves of the prophets, and arranging the monuments of the righteous, while you say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been their partners in the blood of the prophets. So that you are bearing witness concerning yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets; and you—fill you up the measure of your fathers" (Matt 23:25-32).
The words now before us take the form of a question because, although there is no need for the Lord to enquire in order to perceive, yet the condition of man is such that he believes no one knows his thought and the state of his affection but himself, and, therefore, the letter of the Word is adapted to this delusion. See AC 2693, 4358, 6250. "Jehovah your God tries you, to know whether you really love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut 13:3). Where a question appears, however, a knowledge from perception is indicated in the spiritual sense of the Word. Was this in your days, or even in the days of your fathers? therefore, suggests that the elders knew from perception that the conditions required were not.
In the former verse it was explained that the verb to be, whenever it occurs in the Hebrew of the Scriptures (which, like the definite article, is not as often as it appears in the English translation), implies a change of state worthy of remark. The interrogation is as to whether any such change for good had taken place, and the implied answer is that it had not. The particle in would seem to suggest its own significance. It may be helpful, however, to examine it. In the Hebrew original in is expressed by what appears to be a fragment of the word coming in or entry. An Arabian writer thus describes its equivalent in the cognate tongue: "Its peculiar power is, the influence which it exerts on nouns, for the purpose of uniting the word so influenced with the verb influencing it." The same mediating force belongs to the like particle in other languages. Thus in Matt 9:34 it is recorded that the Pharisees said, "In the chief of the devils, He casteth out the devils." The word italicised is represented in the Syriac Version by a particle exactly equal in force to the term we have under consideration. This is more remarkable when we note, that its place in the plane of spiritual truth appears to be, not an indication of inmost residence, but rather of the medium by which conjunction of interiors and exteriors is attained. Thus, in the present instance, was this in your days, taking what has already been advanced, may with sufficient accuracy be paraphrased as an affirmation instead of interrogation thus:—It is plainly to be perceived, that the change of heavenly principles revealed from God, which is manifest in the Church, has come about by means of the internal states of life prevalent among the leaders and guides of the Church itself. Again it may be remarked, that while your days means the days of the elders; nevertheless, as the three forms of the pronoun relate to the three degrees of life: the first to the inmost, the second to the internal, and the third to the external—so your days refer to internal states.
That days denote states may be seen in Lam 5:21, which is a prayer that the former states of glory should be renewed in the degenerate Church: "Renew our days as of old"; also in Psalm 96:2, "Announce His salvation from day today"; and Isaiah 49:8, "In the day of salvation have I helped you." Times controlled by the sun have reference to states of love, while times controlled by the moon have reference to states of faith. Days hold common ground between both— that is, they are controlled by sun and moon conjointly; they therefore relate to states of life in general.
In passing to the final clause of this verse it must be observed, that the words or even should, more strictly, be transposed and read "and certainly," as in the original. It is the interrogative form which occasions the altered reading. Just as to be, as stated above, indicates a notable change of state, so and implies a change of less decided character (AC 4987). Certainly indicates an affirmative condition, such as we intend by the natural expression "as certainly as." Or even in the days of your fathers, in the question form, bespeaks the fact, that no certain change in the least for good, but rather one for evil, is the issue of the states whence the present condition of affairs is derived.
It was mentioned under the former verse what father signifies. The term is spiritually applied to the internal hereditary principle as being the prior spiritual progenitor of issuing conditions either in the man or the Church. In its bad sense the word refers to the evil proper to man from progeniture—his hereditary evil, and thence the ground whence may issue his own evil. The question is fittingly asked, whether what the Church should be exists in the states of the elders, or even in those whence their states were begotten, as represented by their fathers. If the preceding states of the Church were bad, as being contrary to the Divine Will, had the elders and the people done anything since to make them better? To understand this it is necessary to reflect a moment on the pristine state of the First Church on the earth and slow degeneracy, by accumulated hereditary evil, which the Church suffered after it. The story is one of gradual decadence, and not of growth as some suppose. The fall continued through the ages until little of spiritual life and truth remained. Wherefore the Redeemer came in the fullness of time to deliver men from the powers of evil which had descended to them and were augmented by their own sins. That fathers signify the spiritual progenitors (more especially, in the bad sense, the states of self-love) from which more exterior states originate, may be seen in the words of the Lord when speaking of the wickedness of the Jews, cited above: "You are from your father the devil, and the lusts of your father you will do" (John 8:44). Taking the whole clause together—or even in the days of your fathers—it may be thus expressed as to its spiritual import, an unobtrusive, but no less vital change must be affirmed of the Church through the intermediate states of life therein, derived from the evil hereditary principles of the ages.
Thus, this verse, directing us first to the means whereby evil can be removed, in the next place exhibits how, by the scarcely perceptible encouragement of evil inclinations within, the degraded state into which the Jewish Church fell was occasioned.
Internal sense. The Lord through His Word requires the affection for internal perception of, and obedience to, His laws on the part of those of His Church who are in the principles of wisdom, and, as resulting therefrom, a sincere obedience on the part of every one who seeks to know the truth in His external Church, even to the last. Nevertheless, it is well known that instead thereof, such is the state of the Church as would of necessity be the issue of the internal evil of those who should be wise: their state being the most assured consequence of repeated encouragements of tendencies derived from internal hereditary evils and the love of self.
the duty of the church.
3. Tell it over to your sons, and your sons to their sons, and their sons to another generation.
The former verse directed the gaze to the origins of the present evil condition existing in the Church: this verse points to its coming issues. But while it does so more directly as to consequences, nevertheless it does so also in the way of hope, that by pointing the issue it may be averted. Just as in the preceding verse enquiry was made as to the state of the elders and their fathers, so in the present words the elders are enjoined to transmit to their sons and the succeeding generations the salutary lesson to be drawn therefrom, if haply reformation may ensue thereby. We are enabled, therefore, to see the greater scope of the words of Swedenborg formerly quoted: namely, that the first three verses are "to all who are of the Church." There was first, the primary requisite of the Church, even its foundation—the Word of the Lord; then followed the elders, as the embodiments of internal wisdom; all the inhabitants of the earth, as those whom the elders lead in externals, even to the last; the priores whence the elders were derived, and finally the successive descendents of the elders to the third generation.
It was a statute, still observed by the modern Jews, that the memorable events of their history and experience should be transmitted from father to son for future generations. "He established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers, that they should make known to their sons; that a remote generation might know, even sons to be born : who should arise, and relate to their sons: that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments" (Psalm 78:5-7). "Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to your sons, and your sons sons" (Deut 4:9—also 6:6, 7; 11:19). It was remarked above that fathers represent the hereditary principle of the mind. In the merciful providence of the Lord the action of heredity is designed to be a means of transmitting from generation to generation accelerated powers for good; and this is indicated by the commandments requiring fathers to transmit to their sons, and those sons to their sons for several generations, the good which the Lord has bestowed upon them. But when, owing to man's corruption of the Lord's gifts, the hereditary transmission is evil, then takes place that which is referred to in the words, "visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth [generation] of them that hate Me" (Exodus 20:5). To such a hereditary transmission the present verse refers, though indirectly—as pointing to the increasing evil that needs to be removed. As being part of the exhortation to the elders, the words more immediately refer to the repeated application of truth to the life by which the issues of hereditary evil are subjected and its tendencies resisted. Just as hearing and listening, in the preceding verse, signify perception of an internal and an external order, or, more exactly, the obedience resulting from such perceptions in their own planes, so saying and telling signify a corresponding perception of an internal and an external order. The concordance of saying with hearing, and telling with listening, will be seen at once. The perception signified by saying is, in a sense, causative, as being from the one who communicates what is perceived. The perception, therefore, signified by hearing is receptive, as being received by the one to whom the matter is communicated, and is thus received in obedience. One says and another hears: the perception of the speaker is causative of the perception of the hearer. But it must be remembered, that both these terms are used of the internal. Telling and listening are similarly related; but they are terms whose signification is of a more external nature.
The particular force of to tell in this case will not be felt unless two things be observed in connection with it—(1), the primary meaning of the original, like its English representative, is, to number or recount in detail: whence the words "number" and "scribe" or recorder, are derived: wherefore in the present use a detailed enumeration of particulars is involved; and (2), the form of the verb here employed is somewhat causative in its sense, although it cannot be conveniently expressed in English. The term signifies, spiritually, to know the quality of something and thence to give external perception of it. Thus in Psalm 139:17, 18: "How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! how mighty are their heads: if I should number them, they are more abundant than sand." Where to number the thoughts of God is to perceive and give external perception of the Lord's infinite wisdom. Again Psalm 26:6, 7: "I will wash my hands in innocence: so will I compass Yours altar, O Jehovah; that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell all Your wondrous works."
The particular subject upon which the elders are invited to descant is, of course, that referred to formerly as "this"—being the Word of Jehovah, but especially that summarized in the next verse. The term directing our attention to those special words claims consideration. Though above it is translated over, as if it were a particle lending force to the verb, the reader must be warned that while it may do this, the term has a distinctive force of its own, not at all conveyed in the translation. In the first place, the sentence is so arranged that this term occupies the position of greatest emphasis—thereby indicating the importance given it as the chief matter of concern. Even if the term had only a prepositional force, the Latin supra or English above-would better convey its meaning—as may be seen in Genesis 43:19, "And they came near to the man who was over Joseph's house"; and in Exodus 28:27, "near the joining thereof above the girdle of the ephod." Now since "interior things are expressed in the Word by higher things" (AC 2148, 3084, 5146), therefore in the present case over, or above, signifies the spiritual interiors. Manifest examples of this occur in all passages of Scripture wherein the heavens are referred to as "above." "You shall not make to yourself any graven image, or any similitude of that which is in the heavens from above, or which is in the earth from beneath" (Exodus 20:4. See also Genesis 27:39). Observe, too, that the Lord declared that "the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:21). Again we find our term applied to God in Hosea 11:7, "Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt Him." The spiritual import of the term will be more clearly seen at 2:28 of this prophecy. In regard to this term it must be further noted, that over and it are joined together, but though it is in the singular, over is in the plural form; so that, without doing violence to the text as written, its order and form may be represented thus—"the higher [things] of it to your sons tell you." The more generally accepted meaning, however, is that conveyed above. But the exact form will help us to see with greater precision the force of the verb to tell as pointed out already. The natural idea would be, that the matter of narration should be told over and over again from generation to generation. Nevertheless, this particular form of expression is employed that thereby a more luminous internal sense may be contained. It was mentioned in the preceding verse, that the third personal pronoun signifies things external. In the present instance it in the natural sense refers to the Word of Jehovah. But over it, or "the higher [things] of it," denotes the interior things enfolded in its external form. Thus tell it over signifies that those who are wise in the Church should know the spiritual truths which arc within the external form of the Word, and give external perception of the same to others, that thereby, seeing the causes of their degradation, they may turn and live.
We fall as one evil or false state descends from and succeeds another; we rise again as succeeding states increase in the perceptions of the true and good. If we are induced to look upon the effects of evil with abhorrence, and thus to shun all sin, while at the same time we look to the Lord, by successive steps evil will be removed by Him, and we shall rise again to true life. But just as the descent begins with the more interior nature, whence the exterior is influenced and falls, so the ascent begins in the exteriors, wherein the degrading influences may be first assailed, and mount up to the inward. Wherefore the perception which works effectually to reformation is, in the first place, that which is awakened in the external mind. Nevertheless, as seen in the preceding and present verses, even this is caused through the interiors—the Lord working through the interiors to reform the external. Thus, the elders are required to make the Divine law known to their sons, who are relatively exterior to the elders.
Descendents correspond to the states of the mind begotten in its exterior planes of those more interior. Thus, good, being of the will, is the more interior state and progenitor of truth, which is of the understanding. For this reason it was stated under the first verse, that son, in its good sense, signifies truth from interior good. The succession of generations referred to in this and the former verse may be set forth in this order—the fathers of the elders, the elders, and the sons of the elders to the third generation. In their good sense the following would be their significations in their spiritual order: (l) the hereditary good begetting internal wisdom, (2) the internal wisdom, and (3) the internal wisdom begetting from its good the truths of faith in several descending orders. Just as "the sons of the prophets" denote the truths of faith from the Word, so "the sons of the elders" denote the truths of faith derived from wisdom. Again, the sons of these sons are further truths, and so on, in successive stages. As sons have especial reference to the understanding, the succession of sons may be described as thoughts, either true or false as the subject shall determine. Thought begets thought after its own kind. It may also be remarked that, as "the sons of the prophets" were those who received instruction in the Word from the prophets, so in the present case the sons of the elders are those who receive instruction in the wisdom of the elders, and are not necessarily their actual offspring, although as to their minds they are. They are the perpetuators of the wisdom of the elders in a descending order. The succession of generations, therefore, from the elders, denotes a series of states of thought from the states of wisdom, represented by the elders, in a descending order. So that as the elders are representative of the chief things of wisdom in the Church, and the Church is indicated as perverted from its prior evils, the successive states of thought signified by their sons are false in each according to his remove from the elders. The thoughts of a corrupt mind are respectively less true as they descend one from another, until in the end they are wholly false.
Under 2:2 the term generation will be more fully discussed, but at present it is enough to state, that it is especially applied to the intellectual part of the Church and mind, and signifies what is perpetual therein. Hence generation relates to the perpetual succession of thought. This may be seen from the primary meaning of the word—revolution. So, too, in-Psalm 14:5, "God is in the generation of the righteous," and in Psalm 22:30, "The Lord is proclaimed to the latest generation." The term other indicates an affection for further truth, or truth of another order. Thus in Jeremiah 44:3, "to serve other gods, whom they knew not." Another generation, therefore, signifies the perpetual affection for further truth in the intellectual part, or, in the reverse sense, the affection of falsity. This may be illustrated from common experience. Whether we consider the case of a mind moving upward in truth or downward in falsity, at any stage of its. movement it seeks a higher, or a lower, degree of thought.
We have, then, a definite indication of the state of faith in the Church, or, what is the same thing, the character of its intellectual part. The elders were corrupt—the chief things of its faith were perverted; your sons are the internal falses derived from those chief things; their sons are the external falses derived from the internal, and another generation are all the further desires of falsity in the intellectual part arising therefrom—the lusting after false faiths referred to in the first verse. Thus, the total perversion of faith throughout the Church. We notice further, that three generations from the parent state are mentioned. Three is indicative of completeness in oneness, and thus describes, in the present case, a complete perversion of faith.
Hence the state of faith in the Church is fully described; but the exhortation to tell this to the sons is clearly intended to be carried right through. When what it is that needs reformation is known, the state of better things can be initiated. If, from interior wisdom, the laws of God are communicated successively to those in relatively exterior states of false thought, there must result a renewal of life in consequence. To know the character of the falsity dominating the mind is to see in what direction amendment is needed. If those who should be wise give perception of the truth to those in internal falsity, and they, being amended, commit the same to the more externally false until all the desires of the intellectual man are toward truth, much has been done toward reformation; indeed, the work will tend "to another generation:" namely, "a new creature," and the three successions would denote the renewal of the image of the Divine One.
Internal Sense. The interior things of the Church's perverted state are to be made known to those in internal falsity, thence to those in external falsity, and thence to all who desire falsity in the spiritual Church.
destroyed by sensualism.
4. The remainder from the gnawing-locust the abundant-locust ate, and the remainder from the abundant-locust the licking-locust ate: and the remainder from the licking-locust, the consuming-locust ate!
The subject for special consideration already referred to is recorded in this verse. In order that the allusions of the prophecy in its natural sense may carry their proper force, the subject of this verse must be kept in view continually. Here and there most forcible and telling descriptions will arise, recalling the theme of the locust and its devastating flights. It appears that a double current of thought is sustained throughout a considerable part of the book, but that which has reference to the locusts, as the stronger, bears itself above the other, and sweeps on impulsively to figure the destined end. There can be no doubt that, while describing a natural enemy to the produce of the vineyard, olive-yard, and harvest fields, the prophet is at the same time setting forth the desolation worked by some national foe. This, when the historic or natural sense is regarded.
It will be of use, therefore, to direct attention to the natural sense in the first place. Much diversity of judgement has existed respecting the identity of the insects named: it having been assumed, that creatures of different families were meant where the words here employed appear in the Scriptures. No such assumption need be granted. It is conceded by many, that the locust, though of different species, or perhaps different stages of development, is the creature in each case referred to. There are reasonable objections to both adjuncts to the main contention. Locusts do not make successive flights in orders of species; neither do they in different stages of their growth. The observations of travellers in the home-lands of the locust attest this. In the present translation, therefore, the names are regarded as epithets variously descriptive of the locust tribe. Over eighty different kinds of locust are known, so that the difficulties attending any attempt to identify the above names with special kinds will be appreciated: for the names are not scientifically descriptive. There are some, however, whose colour and coruscation give a bright fiery appearance to the mass when seen floating in the sun's rays. This may have lent something to the descriptions wherein, in the prophecy, fire and the locusts are associated together. Clouds of these creatures settle upon a tract of country, and simply desolate it of every vestige of vegetation: they then march directly forward, never deviating from the direction of their flight, climbing over trees, walls, and houses, consuming every plant, leaf, and fruit as they go, and let nothing escape them. So dense are the swarms at times, that the ground beneath them as they fly is in complete darkness. "I have often in spring," says Joseph de S. Angelo, "seen the sun darkened by very thick clouds (so to say) of locusts, which cross the sea from the coasts of Arabia far into Persia." This is the desolator which, so far as the natural image is concerned, appears ever and anon in the rise and fall of this prophecy.
We note that the Hebrew text makes a distinct division between the two former and the two latter names, according, fittingly, with the signification of those couplets, spiritually. For the two former terms relate to falsity, and the two latter to evil. More particularly, the falsities and evils of the sensual man as destroyers of all the higher knowledge of spiritual life. In 2:25 the four terms occur again, but divided into couplets according to another order.
Locusts, in general, seem to signify the sensual principle of the mind, especially in relation to knowledge. For this reason John the Baptist made his food of locusts and wild honey. With the signification just referred to that of Syria is in close agreement (AC 1232). It has to be remembered, however, - that the distinction which does exist is indicated by the special terms which, by Divine ordination, are used in this verse, instead of Syria. Syria represents the knowledge of truth and good which exists in the external planes of the mind (AE 706), or such knowledge perverted; while the locusts, speaking in more specific terms, denote the sense-knowledge of the same planes. When this is observed it will be more evident, that the effect of heathen idolatry upon Jewish worship is the theme of the whole book. Thus, though the locusts come from the south, they are to represent "the nations from around."
The remainder signifies the knowledge of truth and good, which, having been implanted in the mind by the Lord while instruction is received from the Word, remains after the infestations of falsity. Such knowledge is laid up in the mind of every child while receiving the truth. It is the basis of later intelligence, and thus remaining ensures the possibility of regeneration. This signification may be illustrated from Isaiah 44:19, "Shall I make the remainder thereof an abomination?" Knowledge, however, so far as it rests in the outward courts of the mind, is open to the assaults of self-opinion and unwisely formed judgements regarding spiritual life. In that case what is left of the implanted knowledge, after the fallacious persuasions so arising, is called the remainder. The destroyers are the falses and evils of the sensual mind.
Respecting the sensual plane of the human mind, Swedenborg explains that it has an internal and an external phase (the latter is also called the "corporeal"), and that to each there is a volitional and an intellectual aspect (see AC 5077, 9996, 10236). More specifically, the case is set forth as follows. Of the five external senses, that especially subordinate to the intellectual part is sight: for which reason we "see" what we believe. That which is subordinate to the intellectual part and next to the volitional is hearing, as is shown under verse 2. And those which are subordinate to the voluntary part are touch and, not so immediately, taste. Smell is subject to both the voluntary and intellectual parts. These external sensuals, however, are related to internal sensuals. The facts which are laid up in the memory by means of the sensuals, both internal and external, from the world, are known as "sensuals," and the plane of the mind thus instrumental is the sensual degree of it. The man, moreover, who ascends no higher in spiritual development than such knowledge allows, is the sensual man—he trusts to his senses, and neglects all above them. The sensual plane of the mind is also the lowest seat of the paternal proprium. In the light of this fact, what has been said above, respecting the hereditary tendencies descending from the fathers, will be seen to extend in meaning to this present verse. The hereditary evils are hereby represented as having descended and culminated in sensual falses and evils.
The term rendered gnawing-locust is derived from a word meaning "to cut off." It signifies falsity of the internal sensual order. When there exists a desire to know all that is to be believed, by means of sensation regarding it, especially by immediate communication to the hearing, then this order of falsity is present. This is a disposition of mind eminently insidious in its operation, and destructive in its results— although in subjection to more enlightened minds it serves a useful end. "The multiplying of your gardens and your vineyards and your fig-trees and your olive-trees, the gnawing-locust shall eat" (Amos 4:9).
The knowledge of truth and good remaining from the infestations of this stage of falsity, which is the desire toward the fallacies of the senses, the prophet declares, that represented by the abundant-locust destroyed. The name is derived from the verb "to be numerous," and refers to the great multiplicity of the locust in general. Thus in Jeremiah 46:23, concerning the Babylonians it is said," They are more numerous than the abundant-locust, they are without number." In its good sense, the term signifies truth of the external sensual, particularly the truths seen, which are useful food for the mind:
see Leviticus 11:22. But sense-knowledge, especially following the desire for knowing by sense alone, and diverted from serving superior powers, usurps the dominion of the higher, and is a possible source of folly—destroying "the leaves which are for the healing of the nations." The particular form of falsity by which we are most rapidly persuaded into wrong courses, being greatly destructive of every living principle of faith, and which is signified by the abundant-locust, is that which takes the character of sense-knowledge sought for and attained only for the sake of knowing, apart from the use it may serve—it is the falsity of the external sensual as the fruition of the desire above referred to. What is accepted only because it has been seen, is often made the means of opposing and denying what is not known by the senses. This was the case of Thomas: "Because you have seen Me, you have believed: Blessed are they who see not and yet believe" (John 20:29). Sense-knowledge is the lowest, most corporeal order of knowledge, and by its very dependence on sensation is most open to fallacy and delusion, so that when it is false, it is a plague desolating the mind of living faith: "If you refuse to let My people go, behold, to-morrow will I bring the abundant-locusts within your boundaries, and they shall cover the face of the earth, that one is not able to see the earth: and they shall eat the remainder that escaped, which remains to you from the hail, and shall eat every tree that grows for you out of the field" (Exodus 10:4-5).
It may be worthy of notice that the Syriac Version adds to the word under consideration a distinguishing term implying t hat the "flying" locust is meant, or a locust able to fly. If this distinction is to be regarded as bearing any weight of authority, an additional evidence of the signification assigned to this term is traceable in 207441:&version=ESV&showfn=yes&showxref&interface=print">AC 7441:—"The fly in the extremity of the rivers of Egypt (Isaiah 7:18) denotes the falsities which are in what is sensual nearest the body. These are compared to such an insect, because the falsities of that kind are precisely like insects flying in the air, obscuring interior things, and causing them injury.... It is to be observed, that the flying things mentioned in the Word all signify things intellectual, thence truths, and in the opposite sense falsities."
To eat signifies, in its good sense, to conjoin and appropriate good; but in its reverse sense, to destroy good and appropriate evil. This will be illustrated not alone by the natural process of eating, but from many parts of the Word. One reference will suffice: "Your words were found, and I did eat them: and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart" (Jeremiah 15:16). That nothing else than the appropriation of the good of the Divine Truth is here meant is manifest. The remainder from the gnawing-locust the abundant-locust ate, therefore, signifies that the knowledge of truth and good remaining from the infestations of falsity of the internal sensual order, the corresponding falsity of the external sensual diverted from its use and appropriated to evil. What survived the desire to know by the senses the fallacies arising therefrom corrupted.
But man is not an organic form of the intellect only: he is such a form of both will and understanding, or primarily will and thence understanding. Thus far the case has been stated only as to the understanding: because the understanding being external, is the first to be assailed and falsified from worldly things. Or if the same thing need be stated in terms of the Church instead of the individual men (the mass of whom compose the Church), then the Church consists of faith and charity, and so far only the destruction of faith has been treated of. From false persuasions of the understanding soon follow unrighteous affections of the heart, and want of charity succeeds to want of faith. The first deflections of the will are associated with the natural desires resident in the external sensual. In regard to the intellectual part the influence was from internal to external, but in regard to the volitional part it is from external to internal in the present case.
More strictly the circuit of consequences may be stated thus —from the desire for sense-knowledge follow the fallacies of the senses, thence ensues pleasure in the feelings of the senses, and finally a subjection of the superior affections of this plane to the lowest.
The original of the licking-locust is derived from the term to lick or lap: it signifies, in its good sense, the good of the external sensual, and in the reverse sense, the evil of the same. Directed right, the natural desires of the senses serve useful ends. We have this indicated by the service of the men who, when they drank water at the order of the Lord through Gideon, lapped it (Judges vii.). But if the good of the sensual be not so directed, as in the case when the understanding is falsified so that the director leads astray, then "the licking-locust strips and flees away" (Nah 3:16). Just as the lower natural thoughts are vitiated by the relatively higher natural intentions if they be corrupt, so the feelings perverted thence return upon the relatively better feelings and corrupt them. The remainder left from the sensual persuasions of the understanding is the good of the Word: it is appropriated to evil by evil in the sensual, for it is by the sensual that man has most immediate contact with the Word externally. When, therefore, the intelligence is sensual, making the understanding of its truth sensual, or falsified, then the good of the Word is also corrupted and converted to sensual evil.
The consuming-locust derives its name from "to eat away," or devour. See in Deut 28:38, "You shall bring much seed out into the field, and shall gather little in: for the abundant-locust shall devour it" From this passage it may be seen that the names of the locust are only epithetical. The term signifies the evil of the internal sensual, or the will of sensual evil. Thus in Isaiah 33:4, speaking of the completed desolation of goodness, "And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of the consuming-locust" Referring again to the etymology of the name, this is the creature which "eats away" whatever remains. So in Solomon's prayer, after famine, pestilence, blasting, mildew, and the abundant-locust, the king besought the Divine aid against the consuming-locust (1 Kings 8:37). The two latter names mentioned in the present verse are qualified in the Syriac Version by the term "creeping," which, when considered in connection with what is quoted above from Swedenborg, as to flying insects, will be seen to support their signification.
Thus the conditions of religious life in the Jewish Church, and the causes of those conditions, are plainly set forth. The effect of association with idolatrous races is clearly traceable in the seeking after worldly things, while the worship of God became more and more formal, sensual, and external. Spiritual truth is represented as being subjected to the desires for sense-perception, and then to the fallacies arising in consequence; and spiritual good, as resulting from this, is represented as defiled by subjection to sensual delights, and their inward counterparts—sensual evils. Thus, the Church, external though it was, becomes wholly sensual, and desolate of every truth and good of the Word; for when the outermost is destroyed, nothing of the internal remains.
Internal Sense. The knowledge of spiritual things remaining from the infestations of falsity in the internal sensual, the falsity of the external sensual appropriated: the knowledge remaining from the infestations of this falsity, the evil of the external sensual appropriated; and the knowledge of good remaining from the infestations of this evil, the evil of the internal sensual appropriated.
references—AC 7643, 9331; AE 543; AR 424.
lament over faith.
5. Cause drunken ones to awake, and weep you: and cause all the drinkers of wine to howl—over new wine: because it was struck off from your mouth.
The causes of the Church's desolation having been briefly told, the prophecy addresses itself to the work of reformation. To realise the depth of degradation to which the Church has fallen is to be conscious of the need to reform. To have drunken in full of sensual delights, and then to awake, like the victims of Circe, and discover how much they are degraded and bemeaned, is to arouse the pangs of conscience and grief.
" Greedily they pluck'd The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flamed; This more delusive, not the touch, but taste Deceived: they, fondly thinking to allay Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit Chew'd bitter ashes."
—Paradise Lost, 10:560.
Thence to arise, having discovered their self-delusion, and to grieve over their state, are the first movings of repentance. So the prodigal, having eaten of "the husks that swine do eat," when he came to himself, and knew his condition and need, said, "I will arise and go to my Father." To awake signifies to discover or make known. This will be illustrated by these passages of Scripture. "Stir up yourself, and cause my judgement to awake, even to my strife, my God and my Lord" (Psalm 35:23). "When I awake, I am still with You" (Psalm 139:18). "Awake and sing, you that dwell in dust" (Isaiah 26:19). When the soul awakes from the stupor of falsity, it discovers its low condition, and moves to light and life.
To be drunken signifies to be in that state of self-delusion or insanity occasioned by believing only what appeals to the senses. Just as the drunken man, who has induced his drunkenness by indulgence of the sensual appetites, is the victim of delusive fancies bespeaking a temporary insanity, so are those who, in spiritual matters, believe and foster sense-knowledge. It is an order of mental intoxication and spiritual insanity. "They also have erred through the wine, and through the strong drink have strayed: priest and prophet
have erred through the strong drink, they are swallowed up of the wine, they have strayed through the strong drink: they err in vision, they stumble in judgement" (Isaiah 28:7). "They reel to and fro, and stagger like the drunken one, and their wisdom is swallowed" (Psalm 107:27). That drunkenness denotes the insanity spoken of above is plainly shown in Jeremiah 51:7, "Babylon is a golden goblet in the hand of Jehovah, that made all the earth drunken: the nations have drunken of her wine: therefore the nations are mad." It was on account of this signification as connected with wine when denoting a falsified faith, that the Law provided that the priests should not drink wine or strong drink before entering the Tabernacle, so that they should teach the statutes of the Lord (Levit 10:9-11). The drunken ones whom the elders are to cause to awake are they who are possessed of that insanity which believes only in the corporeal senses. That is, those in the interior principles of wisdom, by infusing somewhat of their wisdom into those of the Church now stupefied and reeling with sensual affections and thoughts, should bring them to discover their insane delusions, and so remove those delusions.
That contrition and grief of mind may be of more than one degree, and be so expressed in ways more or less prompted by interior causes, will be seen by all who have observed. Weeping, by reason of its cause being in the injured feelings, is expressive of a more interior grief than that which finds expression only by the voice. Thus it is that the elders are called upon to weep. The tears themselves denote the grief of mind on account of falsities; for the water thereof is bitter and astringent, denoting falsity. It is because our Lord takes away the grief of mind on account of falsities, that we read, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (Rev 7:17). Because, however, weeping is occasioned by distress of the more interior feelings, it signifies grief interiorly from the deprivation of faith in the Church, while to howl denotes.
an exterior grief for the same. Indeed, as may be seen in the present case, the exterior distress is caused by the interior, it being said that the weeping of the elders will cause the drinkers of wine to howl. "Weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him: weeping, weep for him that goes away: for he shall return no more, nor see the land of his kindred" (Jerem 22:10). "We wept, when we remembered Zion" (Psalm 137:1). There is no awakening from a state of delusion regarding the truth unless an inward affection for the truth has been quickened. To weep, therefore, indicates further a desire to remove falsity and have faith. If the awakening to the discovery of a false state is accompanied by grief over it, then is begun the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart, which the Lord will not despise. "They that sow in tears shall reap with shouting. Weeping he goes along bearing the seed to be sown, he returns back with shouting, bearing his sheaves" (Psalm 126:5-6).
That the grief of the interiors would have its effect upon the exteriors could only be expected, and the exterior effect is expressed by to howl. Thus this term is the complement of to weep, describing a repentant grief over the loss of faith, but as it is expressed in the external nature. It is the cry of the voice outwardly uttering the cry of the heart. In Isaiah 15:3 the relation of weeping and howling is plainly set forth: "He shall cause every one to howl, going down in weeping." So in Amos 8:3, "And the songs of the Temple shall be howlings in that day, says the Lord Jehovih."
The drinkers of wine are those who receive and appropriate spiritual truth in the external mind. Just as to eat signifies the appropriation of good, so to drink signifies to be instructed in and appropriate the truths of faith. For this reason the Lord said, "If any one thirst, let him come to Me, and drink.... Whosoever drinks of the water which I will give him, shall in nowise thirst forever; but the water which I will give him shall become, within him, a fountain of water springing up into eternal life" (John 7:37; 4:14). In its reverse sense, the term denotes to receive and appropriate falsities as truths of faith. In this sense the term is used in Psalm 69:12. "They that sit in the gate talk against Me; and I was the song of the drinkers of strong drink." The wine of the internal sense of the Divine Word is the spiritual faith, or in its bad sense, the falsity which is imbibed by the drinker. In its bad signification wine is used in Genesis 9:24, "And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him." In its good sense we find the term in Psalm 104:15, "And wine that makes glad the heart of man." The term all was explained under verse 2, and shown to denote each, even to the last as to the spiritual. All the drinkers of wine, therefore, signifies those who are instructed in and accept falsities as truths of faith even to the last. These are they whom the elders are required to cause to grieve on account of the loss of true faith.
The peculiar punctuation of the Hebrew text, which is as far as possible reproduced above, seems to suggest that what both "elders" and "the drinkers of wine" are to grieve over is "the new wine'' The original of this term is derived from "to tread," used in Malachi 4:3, "You shall tread down the wicked": and refers, therefore, to the wine just trodden out. New wine signifies, that genuine truth of the Church which has not yet been clarified by doctrine, or formulated. The term occurs again in Joel 3:18, where its significance can better be illustrated. It was shown above (under verse 3) that over has reference to what is internal or within. When, therefore, it is said, over new wine in connection with grief, it means that grief must be felt, for the lack of the genuine truth of the Church, from within.
The rationale of this grief is stated in the present and succeeding verse. In the first place, sorrow of heart becomes the elders, inasmuch as new wine has been struck off from their mouth. Such desolation have the locusts worked in the vineyards that no wine can be trodden out—no, not so much as would be needed for the Temple service. The term translated struck off means literally, to make such a division as would distinguish something from that to which it was formerly attached. Thus, while the term is used of cutting down a tree, or slaying a man, it is also used of making a covenant with some one: for the covenant, while binding two parties in one bond, cuts them off from another. In much the same sense we speak of "striking a bargain." In the internal sense to strike off signifies to be separated, on the one hand, from good and truth, or on the other, from evil and falsity. Thus it will be seen that "to make a covenant" means spiritually, to enter into that conjunction with the Lord which separates from evil and falsity. So in Psalm 37:28, "The seed of the wicked shall be struck off." Again in Jeremiah 7:28, "Truth is perished, and is struck off from their mouth." The mouth corresponds to the understanding as it is expressed; otherwise, the utterance of truth or falsity. When truth is not faithfully proclaimed, the mouth is said to speak vanity. A similar condition is spoken of in Psalm 5:9," There is no faithfulness in their mouth." Again in Jeremiah 15:19, it is said by the Lord, "If you take forth the precious from the vile, you shall be as My mouth." "The mouth of Jehovah has spoken it," is an assurance that what is then enunciated is the expressed wisdom of God. The particle from indicates spiritually, an origin or derivation out of externals—something of ascent—whence it is said "from your mouth": for this relates to the elders as the interior things of wisdom. Because it was struck off from your mouth, therefore, denotes that because the genuine truth of the Church has been separated from the falsity originating out of the external state of understanding in those who should lead with wisdom, they should grieve and repent.
Internal Sense. Those who are wise should make known to the self-deluded (who believe only what their external senses. comprehend) their dangerous state, and grieve interiorly from the heart on account of the loss of faith in the Church. They should also induce a corresponding grief in all, even to the last, who appropriate falsities as truths of faith. For both the wise and the deluded need the genuine truth of the Church within: because it has been separated from the falsity originating out of the external state of understanding in which the wise are. references.— AC 1072, 3580; AE 376; AR 316.
6. For a nation ascended over My earth, mighty, and without number: his teeth, the teeth of a lion; and the jaw-teeth of a bold lion, for him.
It is evident that these words support the conclusion that the locusts were the visible image of a desolating nation as an enemy of the Jews. Apparently the prophet here breaks through the similitude, and plainly describes the desolater as a nation; although the description given of that nation holds good in regard to the locusts. They are countless. "Their multitude," says a traveller, speaking of a swarm of locusts, "is incredible, whereby they cover the earth and fill the air: they take away the brightness of the sun." So great are they in number, that flights have been observed to extend for twenty-four miles, and even much greater distances. A column has been known, when on the wing, to fly rapidly past a given spot for more than three hours without its end coming into view. The locust is armed with two jaws, toothed like a saw, and very powerful. The teeth are said to be harder than stone, and admirably contrived to eat up all the herbs of the land.
In respect to the internal sense of the Word the causes of the desolation of faith are still under view. Why did faith decline? Why was genuine truth separated from the false understanding of the Church? Because a nation ascended over My earth. It was explained under verse 2 that earth signifies the external of the spiritual man or Church, especially in regard to the will. In the present case it is spoken of as My earth, because the Church of the Lord as it exists externally is meant.
By a nation is signified the affections of good or evil, according to the worship prevalent in the Church of which the term is predicated. This is so, because the term describes the community of a state as to their nativity and likeness. A community of persons, such as a nation, have a certain basis of feeling by which they are united, and which belongs to their common nationality, as well as a similitude of thought and expression in language. Let this unity of feeling be called the will faculty, and the unity of thought, the intellectual faculty, or understanding, of the Church existing among any race. Then, in the spiritual sense of the Scriptures the term nation relates to the will faculty, and people describes the intellectual, or understanding,—nation denoting the affections and acts of good according to the worship followed by the community, and people their thoughts or faith in that worship. Thus it is, that when a community is described in the Word as to their state of will as well as that of the understanding, both terms are employed. For instance, Deuteronomy 4:6: "Only this great nation is a wise and understanding people"; or in Psalm 105:13: "They went about from nation to nation, from a kingdom to another people." But both terms may take an opposite sense, according to the context. So that instead of describing a community whose affections and acts are good, or a community whose understanding and thought are true, as the words do when the race is characterised by righteousness and the worship of the Lord, the same terms may, under opposite circumstances, describe them as to their lusts of evil and their false faith. Thus in Isaiah 1:4: "Woe, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, seed of evil-doers, corrupting children!" It is in the latter sense that nation is used in the present instance, and doubtless points to the evils resulting from the heathenish worship of the countries around Judah. It is to the infection by this worship that the prophet refers. The decadence of true faith is laid to the charge of the evils of a false worship ascending over the external Church —or more accurately, entering into the form of worship existing in the Church among the Jewish people: for it was mentioned above that the significance of over is, within. The fact also, that nation is especially applied to foreign peoples gives its significance here greater force and point.
As terms implying something higher relate to what is spiritually interior, therefore to ascend denotes to emerge from an inferior to a superior state, or from an exterior to an interior state. For this reason the Scriptures describe a journey from any of the exterior parts of Palestine towards Jerusalem as "going up to Jerusalem." Thus in Psalm 122:3, 4: "Jerusalem is built as a city joined together: whither the tribes ascend, tribes of Jehovah, a testimony for Israel." Again in Jeremiah 19:5: "Burnt-offerings to the Baal, which I commanded not, nor spoke, neither ascended into My heart." "Who shall ascend into the hill of Jehovah? or who shall rise in the place of His holiness? He that is of clean hands and pure heart: who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, nor sworn to deceit" (Psalm 24:3, 4). That the evils of heathen worship had entered into the Lord's external Church is plainly the meaning of these words.
The nation is described as mighty and without number, because the state of falsity is so denoted. Mighty, in its natural sense, is applied to numbers in particular, not to space or extension in space. All terms implying numeration, spiritually refer to truth, or in the reverse sense, falsity; while all terms implying extension in space refer to good or evil. Mighty, therefore, signifies the effect of falsity from evil, for while it relates to number it also includes the idea of strength, as strength by number; but the power of falsity is from the evil whence it originates. Whether we speak of the power of evil through falsity, or of the effect of falsity from evil, it is the same. In reference to both qualities mentioned just above,—that is, of good and truth in their power,—it is said,. "And Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation" (Genesis 18:18). Again, when it is meant that the Lord's Church is more effective in truth, it is said, "Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more numerous and mightier than we" (Exodus 1:9).
To appreciate the full force of the next phrase, it should be noted that instead of without number, its literal form is "the nothing of number." Certainly, that the multitude was so great that they could not be numbered is meant, but the word nothing is the same as that used in Isaiah 40:23, "That brings the princes to nothing." It is derived from the verb "to be nothing." Another noun formed from the same root is used for nothingness, falsehood and power (especially the power of the false and wicked). Thus in Amos 1:5 we read of "the inhabitant from the valley of idols," more literally, from the valley of nothingness; and this in direct association with "the people of Syria." See what is said under verse 1, as to the connection between this prophecy, the Syrians, and other idolatrous nations. So in Isaiah 66:3, reference is made to one in false worship as if "he blessed an idol," or nothingness. It is suggestive that the same word should be used for falsehood, idols, and nothingness. When we note that this is the term often used of the power of the false and unreal, we read with clearer comprehension the words of Isaiah 40:17, "All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothingness and desolation." Though, therefore, the phrase "without number" is intended to describe the apparent numerical strength of this nation, and does describe the multitude of the locusts, it also directs us to the real nothingness of their power. What else can be the strength of falsity in reality, seeing it is a negative state, than interior nothingness? Signifying, then, the apparent force of falsity, absence of the truth by which alone true power is given, is also indicated. Number, as may be seen from what is said above, as well as what is said under verse 3 concerning to tell, whence the present term is derived, signifies the quality of truth. In the present case, being predicated of the nation, it signifies falsity. In spiritual things, states or qualities are understood by terms which, in their natural sense, involve quantities. A nation, mighty and without number, therefore, denotes the lust of false worship, whose effect proceeds from evil through falsity, and its negative state in regard to the truths of faith; in other words, the power of evil and the power of falsity. It is not an unknown thing, even in modern times, for the Church charged with the truths of God to be led by those whose minds are negative regarding the essential truths of life—nay, for the Church, wherein the truth should repose, to be infected itself with heathen darkness and superstition.
The teeth correspond to the exterior intellectual part of the mind, otherwise the hard facts deposited in the memory, with which the spiritual food is masticated and first prepared for assimilation to the spiritual man. In reference to the scarcity of such knowledge, it is said in Amos 4:6, "I have also given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities "—meaning there was nothing to eat. In the bad sense the teeth, or ultimates of life in the natural man, which are sensual, describe those sensual facts as destroying instead of using. Thus in Deut 32:24, "They shall be emaciated with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send forth the teeth of beasts upon them." "The wicked plots against the righteous, and gnashes upon him with his teeth" (Psalm 37:12).
The rabbis tell us that seven of the words employed in the Old Testament, by which the lion is named, describe the king of the desert as to his seven periods of development. The two terms used in the present verse refer to the lion's third and sixth ages respectively. That rendered "lion," because it is the term most commonly occurring, refers to a mature lion, though only of the third age. It signifies in its supreme sense the Power of Divine Love and Divine Truth, and in this sense is applied to the Lord. As in Revelation 5:5, "The lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the root of David." In an inferior sense, the term signifies the good of celestial love, and thence truth in its power: for the power of truth is from good. "What is stronger than a lion?" (Judges 14:18). In its opposite sense the lion denotes the evil of self-love, and his teeth are the sensual falses which appertain thereto. Thus in Psalm 7:2, "Deliver me, lest he tear my soul like a lion crushing." Also Psalm 22:21, "Save me from the lion's mouth." Again in Jeremiah 2:30, "Your own sword has devoured your prophets like a destroying lion." It should be noticed also that in Revelation 9:8 we have the same description given of the locusts, "And their teeth were as those of lions." Of this, Swedenborg says, "Sensual men who are in falsities from confirmation, seem to themselves to be in power over all things, so as to be perfectly invincible. The teeth of the locusts, which signify such sensual things, were therefore as the teeth of lions, for a lion signifies power" (AR 435). His teeth are the teeth of a lion, therefore, denotes that the exterior sensuals of those in the evils of idolatry are in the same state as the sensuals of those confirmed in falsity from the love of self, which love is "the lion seeking whom he may devour." The destructive character of such evils is further represented by the words and the jaw-teeth of a bold lion [belong] to him: that is, to the nation. That the bold lion, or lion of the sixth age, signifies a more confirmed state of self-love with the ardour of falsity added thereto, will be manifest. Thus in Hosea 13:8, "There will I devour them like a bold lion." This is the destructive power of falsity from a confirmed state of self-love. The jaw-teeth, or grinders, signify the hardened sensual falsities which result from using the facts of the letter of the Word for confirming falsity and destroying truth. Thus in Psalm 58:6, "Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth; break out the jaw-teeth of the lion's whelps, O Jehovah." Hence when the jaw-teeth of a bold lion are attributed to the nation, it is meant, that those in the evil of false worship are ardent to confirm falsity from the love of self by the sensual facts of the memory.
Internal Sense.—Genuine truth is separated from the Church, because heathenish lust enters into and infects the will of the Lord's external Church, the power of which lust is in its evil and the multiplicity of its falsity: its external sensual things appearing to itself capable of overcoming and destroying all truth and invincible in confirming falsity.
references.—AC 9052; AE 403, 556; AR 435.
7. He put my vine to desolation, and my fig-tree to dissolution: [by] uncovering he uncovered it, and caused [it] to be cast down; they caused its tendrils to whiten.
In its natural sense, this verse states exactly the result of a swarm of locusts settling upon the vegetation of a land. The chronicles of travel abound with accounts of the desolation of herbage caused by these creatures: everything green and succulent is devoured first; when this is consumed, they attack the bark and young shoots of the trees, so that they leave them bare and whited skeletons.
There are two aspects of life essential to a true Church, and both are necessarily indivisible from faith. These two phases of faith and its resultant good are represented by the vine and the fig-tree. The vine corresponds to the intellectual part of the Spiritual Church. It is found most perfectly represented in those who raise up the natural truths of the Word and transform them into spiritual wisdom and happiness, as the Lord, Who declared Himself to be the True Vine, transformed the water into wine at Cana. Just as the vine needs to entwine itself about some other standing object in order most effectually to produce its fruit, so the intellectual part of the Spiritual Church needs the mutual affections of others in order to manifest in deeds the intuitions of the spirit. Some firm basis of activity is needed in order to bring forth work. The vine is known for its tendency to spread its arms and roots without restraint. Indeed so generous is it of its fruit, that unless wisely kept back it would spend its strength in a single season. It is with reference to the unstinted affection for giving Himself to the world and the extension of spiritual faith, that the Lord, from Whom is all faith, and Who is the Truth Itself, said, "I am the Vine"; and to those who become channels of faith from Him as being in the affection of mutual charity, "You are the tendrils" (John 15:5). It is because the Church is the ground upon which are established and nourished such intellectual perceptions, that it is called a "vineyard." Contrasting the heavenly faith implanted by the Lord with that estranged from the truth, He says, "Yet I had planted you a noble vine, wholly seed of truth: how then are you turned into the excrescences of the vine alien to Me?" (Jeremiah 2:21). It will be seen, then, that My vine indicates the spiritual truths of the Lord applied to the good of the neighbour, or the Church of the Lord in that respect.
Desolate is a term signifying the state of being deprived of the truth of spiritual faith just referred to. "Your land shall no more be termed Desolate" (Isaiah 62:4), is the Lord's promise that His Church shall be renewed in the truths of spiritual faith. "Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they put to desolation a land of pleasantness" (Zech 7:14). That to put, which is always used in the sense of application to a set, limited purpose, signifies to apply in a definite way, may be seen in Daniel 6:14: "Then the king, when he heard these words, was sore displeased with himself, and put his heart on Daniel to deliver him: and he laboured till the going down of the sun to deliver him." Hence, He put my vine to desolation, signifies that the lust of false worship applied the intellectual part of the Lord's spiritual Church to the deprivation of spiritual faith, or, in other words, deprived the Church of spiritual faith and charity: so that the intellectual faculty, instead of being employed in uplifting natural truth into spiritual wisdom and faith, was perverted into a means of falsifying faith.
As the vine corresponds to the Church in respect to the good of the neighbour by the application of spiritual truths, so the fig-tree corresponds to the good done by the application of natural truths: that is, the natural good of the Church, done, not from any exalted spiritual perception, but because it is felt to be right to do it. This is the good which, though springing from feelings of mutual regard, men seem to do spontaneously and of themselves. When the Church is spoken of with respect to this natural goodness, it is called a fig-tree. The fruits of the tree are the good deeds done as the offspring of the general disposition indicated: the leaves are the elemental notions which are complementary to those deeds. Thus, when the Jewish Church exhibited the notions without the good works, it was, being wholly natural and external, represented by the fig-tree whereon was "nothing but leaves," "and presently the fig-tree withered away." The Lord said to Nathanael, whose simplicity of character He attested, "When you were under the fig-tree, I saw you" (John 1:48). That is, Nathanael was under the influence of that naturally good disposition which fitted him to become a follower of the Lord. There are, however, differences in the fruits of the fig-tree, according as they indicate works done for the good of others or the love of self. We have this illustrated in the two baskets of figs shown to Jeremiah: "What see you, Jeremiah ? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good: and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten for badness" (Jerem 24:1-3).
When the Church is in a right and prosperous state regarding spiritual faith and natural charity, then it is said, "In that day, says Jehovah of hosts, shall you call every man his fellow under a vine and under a fig-tree" (Zech. 3:10)—that is, men shall dwell in the affections of mutual love and charity under the influence of spiritual and natural truth. Again: "Judah and Israel abode in safety, every man under his vine and under his fig-tree" (1 Kings iv. 25); and, "they shall sit every man under his vine, and under his fig-tree; and none shall make them afraid" (Micah 4:4).
That the natural goodness of the Lord's Church was put to dissolution, signifies that it was rendered merely natural and external, being deprived of all inward spiritual truth. The outward goodness which is only outward and without inward truth to sustain and direct it, is hollow, like a multitude of bubbles; and of this internal truth, as already told, the lust of idolatry had despoiled the Church. Concerning the natural sense of the term translated dissolution, there are various opinions. Most probably, however, the term is formed from one that means the fragments or broken branches of trees. If, therefore, the destructive work of the locusts be considered, inasmuch as they reduce a tree to dried sticks, the above translation will not be misleading, beside being in agreement with the Syriac and Septuagint versions. It will be seen that the picture is that of a fig-tree shorn of its leaves and fruit, with its life sapped out, so that the branches droop and fall. It is a fitting symbol of the Church whose inward spiritual life is wasted, and whose outward deeds are as the "dried sticks" of goodness—merely sapless forms. After a similar manner "the sweet singer of Israel" describes the effect of evil in the Church: "He smote their vines also, and their fig-trees: and break the trees of their boundaries" (Psalm 105:33). So in Isaiah 34:4 the knowledge of heavenly things is said to wither away "as the leaf withers away from the vine, and as a withering from the fig-tree." We are reminded again of the fig-tree that withered away.
Describing the Church under two aspects, the vine and fig-tree seem to be united in the singular pronoun now following —"uncovering he uncovered it" (literally, her). The Church is frequently described as the Lord's Bride, and therefore the term "her" would be appropriate, beside combining the feminine terms vine and fig-tree. Uncovering he uncovered it, is a form of expression commonly used in the Old Testament; as in Genesis 2:17, "dying you shall die," by which is meant that an internal death is occasioned by deadness in the more exterior things of the mind. A like meaning is conveyed by the present expression: namely, that depriving the Church of truth, the lust of idolatry deprived it of good. All coverings denote exterior forms of good and truth which clothe the interiors. Thus, to uncover, signifies to deprive of good and truth. Hence the prophet Ezekiel, as representing the Divine Word, was commanded to have his arm uncovered (Ezek 4:7); his arm corresponding to the power of the Word.
That he caused [it] to be cast down, signifies that the Church was moved by power from the evil of this heathenish worship, so as to be despoiled of its true life, may be readily perceived. It is illustrated in Ezek 7:19: "They shall cause their silver to be cast down in the streets." As silver corresponds to truth from the internal man, this passage means that such truth is despoiled of its life.
They caused its tendrils to whiten, signifies that sensual things, denoted by the locusts, make it appear that the derivations of the intellectual part are of self-merit. The term tendril is never applied to any plant except the vine, and therefore signifies the derivatives of the intellectual part of the spiritual Church. The term is derived literally from to "intertwine," and refers to the use of the tendrils, which is, to support the vine by interlacing it with some other object. Thus the significance of the vine, as stated above, is continued in its derivatives; and, indeed, the tendrils of the vine are modified clusters of grapes and branches. To whiten, signifies, in its bad sense, to appear in one's own merit, or take merit to self, and thus devise falsity. The word points to an artificial and pharisaical piety. It is interesting to note that the same term is applied to the process of making bricks in Gen 11:3 —that is, to the process of producing artificial imitations of stone—"Come, let us whiten bricks." So the Lord said, "Alas! for you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like graves whitewashed, which, indeed, outside appear beautiful, but within are full of dead bones and of all uncleanness" (Matt 23:27).
Looking back over verses 5-7, it is noticeable that they are an appeal to the Church "to repent because evil from the sensual man has destroyed the various things of the Church."
Internal Sense.—The lust of heathenism deprived the intellectual part of the Lord's spiritual Church of the truths of faith, and its natural good of charity; depriving it of truth it was deprived of good and despoiled of inward life, and sensual things caused its derivations to appear as due to its own merit.
references.—AC 1072, 5113, 9052; AE 403, 556; Cor. 56.
returning to the lord.
8. Adjure you, as a virgin girded [with] sackcloth, over the owner of her childhood.
Naturally regarded, this is a picture in a sentence. It is a virgin betrothed, after the custom of the orientals, in her childhood, but bereaved before the realization of her happiness. She wears the clothing of her grief, but lays herself under perpetual obligation of fidelity to him whom she calls her own and her owner. Commonly an oriental espousal is regarded as little else than a commercial transaction; the proper understanding of this passage leads to the conclusion that this is a mistake. What now remains, as the transmitted custom of marriage from ancient times in the East, only points to the degradation of the true ideal suggested in the Scripture. The betrothed bridegroom is called "the owner" of his betrothed bride, as she is said to "own" her husband, not as the possessor of some commercial and marketable property, but as being the soul who alone can own its "other-self." The verse introduces an impassioned exhortation to return to the Lord in fidelity and truth: for "truth is fallen in the street," and fallen by the deed of those charged with its upholding.
The natural sense of to adjure may be more exactly expressed by, "to lay one under an obligation by oath," probably, by invoking the name of God. Thus the silver which Micah took to himself had been sanctified to the Lord by his mother, and he had known that she had laid herself under the obligation so to use it: "And he said to his mother, The eleven hundred of silver that were taken from you, respecting which you did adjure (lay yourself under obligation by oath), and spoke of also in mine ears, behold, the silver is with me: I took it" (Judges 17:2). So in 1 Sam 14:24, "Saul caused the people to adjure, saying, Cursed be the man that eats bread until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies." Again 1 Kings 8:31, "If any man sin to his neighbour, and lay upon him an adjuration to cause him to adjure," etc. Hosea 4:2, compared with the commands against false oaths, would seem to bring this term within the scope of the second commandment. In the same sense the word is used in Hosea 10:4, "They speak words, adjuring falsely in their making a covenant." That the internal signification of the term, in its good sense, is to testify and confirm by truth, the natural meaning amply illustrates. It should be observed, that the form of the present verb is feminine, as continuing the idea of the preceding verse, by addressing the Church as the espoused of the Lord. Again, the sense of the passage is best obtained by understanding the latter words in connection with this, thus: "Adjure you, over the Owner of your childhood, as would a virgin girded with sackcloth over the owner of her childhood." So that deeply concealed in this word is the indication of the covenant or obligation laid upon the Church by its espousal to the Lord. The Church is called upon to return to Him by re-avowal of her faith and fidelity, and to realise her marriage bond by rejecting all other loves and desires but that of communion with the Holy One.
The Scriptures frequently speak by comparisons. The present verse is an instance: for the particle as is introduced. There is a Divine reason hidden within this. The spiritual import of the particle is, that something is so according to the appearance. The uses which appearances perform in the Divine Providence are very important in man's salvation, inasmuch as he is enabled thereby to act as from himself, and thus with freedom and reason. Swedenborg declares, that although the desire for truth is really not from ourselves, but from the Lord, it is permitted to appear to be our own, "for no one, without this appearance, can be saved," and "man, without the appearance that it is his, could not be in any affection of knowing, nor in any affection of understanding" (D.P. 79, 76). The value of this particle in the present case will be perceived from the following paraphrase,—O Church of God, lay yourself under obligation of fidelity toward your Lord, appearing to be the Church desirous of Truth, but distressed by the loss of it.
The espoused Church of the Lord, as to the affection of the genuine Truth, is signified by a virgin. In the natural sense this word seems to refer to a maiden of an age fit to be betrothed, and often of one already betrothed, though not wedded. See Isaiah 62:5, "For as a chosen youth owns a virgin, so shall your sons own you: and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you"; also Exodus 22:16, 17, and Deut 22:23. When the sins of Israel were such that the Church had fallen away from the affection of truth, the case is stated in Amos 5:2, thus, "The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall not continue to rise; she is forsaken upon her ground: there is none to establish her." As in the case of the present verse of Joel, we find in Jeremiah 31:21, an appeal for the affection of Truth in the Church to turn to its only true means of satisfaction, "Turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these your cities." Again the Lord's Church is assured of establishment in this affection—"Again I will build you, and you shall be built, O virgin of Israel" (Jeremiah 31:4). Because also a saving faith is conceived in and born from the affection of the genuine Truth in the Lord's kingdom; He was born as a child of a virgin mother. It is as the fidelity of the chaste bride to the bridegroom that the affection of the Church towards the Lord should be known. But, it is not intended that this is the state of the Church now being considered: it is only as appearing in this state that the Church is to adjure.
Girding with sackcloth was a sign of great grief and mourning on account of some loss or bereavement. The vestment was a coarse cloth made of hair, and was consequently very afflicting to the flesh. The sackcloth itself denoted that penitence of the one who wore it which was due to the acknowledgement of being without genuine truth in the natural mind. All garments correspond to truths clothing the mind. So that to have cast aside the orderly garments and put on sackcloth was a sign, that instead of genuine truth, the mind was clothed with afflicting falsity. Further, the voluntary assumption of this significant garment bespeaks a real distress over the soul's grievous condition and a willingness to amend, after the confession. Thus the representation would have great force in the present circumstances. Even the natural truth externally clothing the minds of those in the Jewish Church had been exchanged for grievous falsity by the inroads of heathenism. But the word to gird is especially employed in this place (sackcloth is not always said to be girded on), because it signifies a readiness to receive. Now while the girding with sackcloth was the sign of the willingness of the Church to receive the falsities of idolatry, it may equally be the indication of her ready sorrow and self-imposed repentance —a grief that tends toward reparation. This is in perfect conformity with the signification of a virgin as being the affection of genuine truth. In Jeremiah 4:7, 8, "He is gone forth from his place to put your land to desolation,... for this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl." "Alas! for you, Chorazin: alas! for you, Bethsaida; because, if in Tyre and Sidon had been done the mighty works which were done in you—of old in sackcloth and ashes would they have repented" (Matt 11:21).
The word owner is, in the original, baal, and although often used in the sense of husband, that is not its strict meaning; agreeing with the usage of virgin in this place, the term relates more particularly to a man betrothed, though not wedded to his bride—the one who owns her affections. The mutual ownership of affection existing between the man and woman is best seen by means of the verb whence this word is derived, meaning "to own," but often translated "to marry." "A woman owning an owner" (Deut 22:22). The ownership may have advanced to marriage, but the word suggests the marriage of minds, even though the earthly consummation has not been effected. The Lord Himself, as the Bridegroom of His Church, is her Owner, and Him alone she should own. "Your Maker is your Owner, Jehovah of Hosts is His name" (Isaiah 54:5). If the virgin Church knows no lord, but God, then she is indeed "made ready as a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev 21:2). Spiritually, owner, signifies the truth as it is conjoined to good. It is especially as this Truth that the Lord is called the Owner; but it is of this Truth that the Church's faithlessness has bereaved her. The distinctions just drawn, as well as the spiritual import of the term, are plainly discernible in Hosea 2:16, 17, "And it shall be in that day, says Jehovah, that you shall call Me, my Husband; and shall call Me no more, my Owner. For I will remove the names of the Baalim (owners) out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name." That is, the Lord will be united to His Church, and not merely her potential Husband. That the true meaning of owner is as stated above, will be confirmed on referring to verse 13 of the Scripture just cited, where baalim is used together with lovers. It should also be observed, that the particle over, is, in the original, so united to the word owner as to make them one word in force. This gives additional light on what has been said already. As pointed out under former verses, over denotes within or internal. The manner in which it qualifies the word to which it is united will be observed thus—inward-owner. The Church is required to place herself under perpetual obligation and testify of internal Truth united to Good as it was in the Ancient Church.
It has been shown that the Jewish Church in the state of its ideal purity is here spoken of as a virgin. This Church arose out of the Ancient Church, which was spiritual in character. The beginnings therefore of the Jewish were in this spiritual Church. To these beginnings her childhood refers. For this reason also the Lord is referred to as the owner of her childhood; because in the spiritual Church and kingdom, He is especially acknowledged as Divine Truth. Therefore the verse is an appeal for the Church to return to her pristine purity and allegiance to God as the Giver of all truth, to renew the covenant of her fidelity, and to forsake the falsities of other gods and faiths. Thus would she cast off all heathen infection, and live as the loyal bride of Jehovah alone. Using, then, the obligations of the marriage covenant, we are again reminded of the Church as fallen away from the true worship of the Lord by indulgence of heathen persuasions.
Internal Sense.—That the Church should testify and confirm its loyalty to the Lord, as if her affection for genuine truth had led to the acknowledgement of falsity and to repentant willingness to make reparation by receiving the Divine Truth of the Lord, to which at the beginning she was internally united.
9. He caused oblation and libation to be struck off from the house of Jehovah: the priests, the ministers of Jehovah, mourned.
Here the whole situation is brought into distinct connection with the worship of the Lord. Because the Jewish was only the representative of a Church, and not a Church in itself, its rites and ceremonies were representatives of the essentials of true worship, and not in themselves acts of spiritual devotion; although they may have indicated a devotional spirit in those who performed them.
The law concerning an oblation is fully set forth in Leviticus ii. and Numbers xv. However offered, whether raw, baked, or otherwise, the offering was to be compounded of fine or cleaned flour and olive oil; it was also to be unleavened. The offering was also to be accompanied by a gift of frankincense. The oblation was "the holiness of holinesses" among the tabernacle offerings. In Exodus xxix. and Numbers xxviii., xxix. are given the laws respecting the libation. It consisted of the fourth part of a hin of wine, that is, about two and a half pints of wine. That no mistake should be made respecting the nature of the wine to be used for this purpose, it is described in Numbers 28:7 as "strong drink": a name applied to any intoxicating drink, including wine, and, indeed, in Arabic, is used as a synonym for wine. Portions of the oblation and libation were offered to the Lord by burning on the altar with whatever other sacrifice had been brought: the remainders were for the subsistence of the priest. The altar was the priests' only inheritance. When, therefore, the "nation" came up over the land, spreading such destruction that the oblation and libation were cut off from the altar, the priests were afflicted with distress and want. The particulars of the offerings are treated of more specially in the following verse.
Oblation is often employed in the Scriptures as a general term inclusive of other offerings, as the libation, because the truest worship of God is the offering made from the regenerated life of celestial love and charity, and includes all other. Thus sacrifices generally were called oblations. In Malachi 3:3-4, "The sons of Levi may offer to Jehovah an oblation in righteousness. Then shall the oblation of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant to Jehovah, as in the days of old, and as in former years." What Judah and Jerusalem signify will be stated hereafter; but it may be remarked that the whole love and faith of the Church are here implied. Again, in Isaiah 66:20, "And they shall bring all your brethren for an oblation to Jehovah. .. as the sons of Israel bring the oblation in a clean vessel to the house of Jehovah." Although oblation is used so, because it represents the regeneration accomplished by the good and truth of celestial love, nevertheless in association with libation, the term denotes in particular the good of love, or the worship of the Lord from love to Him. The oil of the offering denotes love to the Lord, and the flour, charity to the neighbour. As the dedication of such good to the service of God is the prime offering of sincere worship, it is taken to represent the whole. "Give to Jehovah the glory due to His name: bring an oblation, and come into His courts. Bow yourselves before Jehovah in the beauty of holiness" (Psalm 96:8, 9).
Just as the oblation is the sign of regeneration to celestial love, so the libation is the sign of regeneration to spiritual love, and the latter is included in the former, as just stated. Inasmuch as the libation consisted of an offering of wine, it denotes the good of faith, or truth in the service of the Lord from faith in Him. So in Psalm 16:4, "Their libations from blood I will not offer." For no service can be rendered to the Lord from truth defiled. Together the oblation and libation represent the worship of the Lord from love and faith, or in love to Him and good to mankind. Wherefore from the Church into which the lust of idolatry has entered and overspread, these essential qualities are cut off. The worship of the Father "in spirit and in truth" is not known: the two forms of devotion to God's will are destroyed. It was explained under verse 5 that to be struck off, signifies to be separated from good and truth, and thence to be lost.
The House of Jehovah is the Church in its superior sense: that is, the Church as the embodiment and manifestation of the will of the Divine Love on earth. It is the will of our Father done on earth even as it is done in heaven. It is the house in which the man who delights to do the will of God perpetually dwells. "And I will abide in the house of Jehovah for a length of days" (Psalm 23:6). "Jehovah, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place of the tabernacle of Your glory" (Psalm 26:8). The one thing that every God-loving man desires, is, that he may live in the will of the Divine Love. "One thing have I asked of Jehovah, that will I seek after: that I may abide in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of Jehovah, and to search in His temple" (Psalm 27:4). "In the multitude of Your mercy will I come into Your house, and in Your fear will I worship toward the temple of Your holiness" (Psalm 5:7). But if the Church, as it appears among men, be bereft of those essential graces mentioned, then the Lord's will is not done on earth, and the offerings of love and faith are not made, they are struck off from the house of Jehovah. It has been stated above that the particle from indicates ascent out of externals. Thus, that oblation and libation had been caused by "the nation" to be struck off from the house of Jehovah, signifies that love to the Lord and faith in Him were caused to be separated from serving the Church internally out of external things: the ascent from externals to interiors had been cut off by idolatry. Hence it appears that all things which remained to the Jewish worship were merely external, without the corresponding internal.
The priests' office was to minister at the altar of the Lord in the sublimest representatives of worship. They had to receive the offerings, prepare and complete the sacrifices; to regulate the sacred services, and instruct the people in the Law. The priests, then, not as to their persons, but their duties, represent the holy principles of love and good actuating the worship of God: they were indicators of the highest motives in the service of God. For this reason they were anointed with oil when entering their sacred office, and were required to be clean beyond question, and without blemish. "Let Your priests be clothed with righteousness" (Psalm 132:9). "For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of Jehovah of hosts" (Mal 2:7). Most probably "the elders" addressed at the second verse, and still being addressed, are "the elders of the priests" (Isaiah 37:2; Jerem 19:1). The priests are called also ministers of Jehovah on account of the duties they performed as instructors in the Divine Law. Hence the term signifies those who serve by instructing the spiritual man in the truths of the Divine Love and Wisdom. Regarded as priests, they denote the celestial of the Church: and because the celestial flows into the spiritual, regarded as ministers of the Lord, they are the instructors of the spiritual in truths of doctrine. This, however, they do from the affection of love to the Lord. "But you shall be called the priests of Jehovah; men shall call you the ministers of our God" (Isaiah 61:6).
To mourn signifies to grieve on account of the destruction of truth. The harmony of the terms will thus appear. The priests, as ministers of the Lord, are grieved at the loss of truth, that being destroyed by the infection of heathenism. Nevertheless, they are priests who mourn, because truth cannot be destroyed without affecting the holiest motives of worship, nor without truth can the holiness of love and good survive in the Church. The signification of to mourn may be illustrated in Isaiah 24:7, "The must mourns." Those with the best interests of true worship at heart must be afflicted, when they perceive the utter perversion of truth in the Church.
Internal Sense.—'The lust of heathenism has caused love to the Lord and faith in Him, to be separated inwardly from His Church; those in the holy principles of love, who serve by instructing in the truths of the Lord, are grieved by the desolation of truth.
references.—AC 10137; AE 376.
the church laid waste.
10. A field was utterly devastated, ground mourned: because grain was utterly devastated; he caused must to be dried up, new oil was caused to be wasting away.
The devastations of the locusts are here plainly referred to. In the preceding verse it was stated that the oblation and libation were cut off from the Temple services. It was also explained that flour, oil, and wine were the constituents of these two offerings, and said that the details were further treated in the present verse. The desolating ravages, formerly spoken of, have swept away the things needful for the offerings to God, hence those offerings are not made. It should be observed, that the ingredients necessary for the offerings are described in their states before they are prepared for presentation at the altar of the Lord—indeed, before they can be used for the oblation and libation. The grain is not yet prepared as fine flour: the must is not yet pressed from the grape, and the new oil is not yet clarified for mixture with the flour. The corn-field, the vine, and olive grounds are stricken by the destroying locusts, who are manifestly implied in "the nation." The drying up of the must and the languishing of the oil would be caused by the scorching south wind with which the locusts are associated.
The mind prepared by doctrine and receptive of truth is as a field. The term field, in its natural sense, is specifically applied to land cultivated and fertile: in its spiritual signification, it denotes the good of life resulting from the orderly cultivation of the doctrines of the Church—or the Church as the repository of truths and its reproductive life of truth. This signification is illustrated in Ezek 17:5: "He took of the seed of the land and planted it in a seed field." So the doctrine of faith alone is described in 1 Sam. vi. I: "And the ark of Jehovah was in the field of the Philistines seven months." "And every plant of the field was not yet in the earth" (Genesis 2:5). "All the trees of the field shall clap their hands" (Isaiah 55:12). To devastate signifies to deprive of good, especially by the falsities of evil. So in Psalm 137:8: "O daughter of Babylon, who are to be devastated." That a field was utterly devastated signifies that the Church as to its doctrine was deprived of all good.
The ground, like a field, corresponds to the mind as to a receptive capacity; but whereas field denotes the mind as cultivated and prepared by doctrine—thus rather the intellectual part of the mind, the ground, usually referring to the external man before regeneration, relates especially to the will of the external as receiving the seeds of truth. On account of this signification it is said that "Jehovah God caused every tree that is desirable for appearance and good for meat to grow out of the ground" (Genesis 2:9). So we often read of "the fruit of the ground." Eliphaz also said that trouble does not "spring out of the ground" (Job 5:6). Because ground corresponds to the will of the natural man as the receptacle of truth, it is said that man (a term whence ground is formed) was formed out of the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). When truth is withheld from the will of the Church the ground is said to mourn, which, as stated above, signifies grief on account of truth destroyed. But when truth perishes in the will, falsity is present. That the ground mourned, therefore, denotes that the will of the Church was falsified, just as the previous phrase implies that the intelligence was violated by evil.
One of the most striking types of God's goodness as the nourishment of man is the golden grain of the harvest field. Yet while goodness is given by God as food for the spirit, it is at the same time given through the mind of man. For all good from God for our spiritual sustenance is given by means of our own spiritual states. That is to say, God feeds the hungry soul of man by means of the products in his own mind. Grain, therefore, corresponds to the general goodness of the external man. It springs from the field of the mind, nurtured by doctrine, and ripened in the radiant light of Divine Truth. That a field was utterly devastated, as signifying the Church being bereft of the good of doctrine, was because grain was utterly devastated, for grain denotes that order of goodness whereof the "field" was devastated. Doctrine degenerates as goodness is forsaken. So, too, as goodness is increased is truth more largely multiplied. "With respect to the multiplication of truth and the fructification of goodness, the case is this. When the rational mind flows into the natural, it there presents its good in a general form. By this goodness it produces truths therein, almost as the life in man produces fibres, and disposes them into forms according to uses. This good, by these truths disposed into a heavenly form, produces further good, and by this good further truths which are derivations. Such a natural idea may be had of the formation of truth from goodness, and further goodness by truth, whereby again truth is formed" (AC 3579). Respecting the goodness indicated by grain, the Psalmist says, "You visit the earth and replenish it: You greatly enrich it; the brook of God is full of water: You prepare them grain, for thus You will provide it" (Psalm 65:9). "He had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given of the grain of heaven" (Psalm 78:24). This goodness is, however, desolated by the invading evil.
But just as the field is devastated of grain, so is the ground despoiled of must. Ground like field, in the literal sense, as mentioned above, describes the soil made capable of produce, but the terms are used according to the difference of the spiritual significations involved. Upon the field, as the plane of doctrine, grows up from the seeds of truth the sustaining goodness of the natural mind; but upon the ground, as the plane of feeling, grow up the useful truths of the natural mind which also sustain it. Hence it appears, that the products of the field and ground are of the same degree. The ground mourned because the produce of its vine, in its incipient state, was by a withering heat caused to dry up.
It may be as well to remark, that the word translated "must" is derived from a verb meaning to inherit or possess, and may therefore be used in the sense of that which is still possessed by the grape. Hence, by the desolation of the vine its juice is dried up. Must signifies that form of truth of which the ground is deprived—the truth conducive to, but received before regeneration: the truth of the natural mind. Thus in Isaiah 24:7: "The must mourns, the vine languishes, all the merry-hearted do sigh." Also in Micah 6:15: "You shall sow, but you shall not reap; you shall tread the olives, but you shall not anoint you with oil: and [shall tread the] must, but shall not drink the wine." It would appear from this passage that the must is the juice of the grape before it is trodden out. To be dried up signifies that truth is dissipated. Thus in Isaiah 40:8, "The grass is dried up, the flower withers; but the Word of our God shall arise for ever." Very frequently the terms grain and must are associated in the Scriptures: because they appertain to the same degree of the mind, and to the goodness and truth of that degree. Thus, "With grain and must have I supported him" (Genesis 27:37). "Israel dwelled in safety: the fountain of Jacob is solitary upon a land of grain and must" (Deuter 33:28). "For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! grain shall make young men cheerful, and must maids" (Zech 9:17). Again, with grain and must, new oil is often mentioned—as in Deuter 7:13, "And He will love you, and bless you and multiply you: He will bless your grain, and your must, and your new oil"; also in Hosea 2:22, "And the earth shall answer the grain, and the must, and the new oil." The new oil corresponds to the good of the spiritual man—the life of charity and the heart of truth. The term describes the oil as it is just pressed out of the olive. The olive corresponds to charity; and the life-blood of the olive corresponds to the influent life of charity, which is love. The present term is, however, correspondent to love of a less exalted nature—it is love of the spiritual, not the celestial order. It is said, that "all the best of the new oil, and all the best of the must, and of the grain, the first-fruits of them, which they shall give to Jehovah," He would give to Aaron (Numb 18:12). To languish, or be wasting away, signifies to be deprived of truth by the acknowledgement of falsity. So in Lam 2:8, "Therefore He made trench and rampart to lament: they were caused to be wasting away together." That the good of the spiritual man was deprived of the truth which gives it strength and value by the acknowledgement of falsity, and that this was due to the inclinations toward the evil of idolatry, is meant by new oil was caused to be wasting away, is manifest.
Internal Sense.—The doctrine of the Church is deprived of good; its will is despoiled of truth: hence the goodness of the external man is despoiled of truth. The idolatrous evil infecting the Church caused natural truth to be dissipated, and the good of the spiritual man was deprived of truth by the acknowledgement of falsity.
references.—AC 368, 566, 3580, 7602, 9295, 9780; AE 374, 375, 376; AR 315.
the end forecast.
11. Cause husbandmen to be put to shame; cause vine-dressers to howl, over wheat and over barley: because the harvest of a field perished.
Yet again the desolation worked by the locusts is brought into notice: this time, however, by its effect on those whose charge it was to tend the vegetable products. The fruitlessness of their toil—both that of the tillers and that of the vinedressers—is the occasion of their grief. But the grief, as the desolation itself, is the external representative of an internal state. The connection between this and the preceding verse is very plain. In the 9th verse the fruits of the earth, as used in the Lord's House, were the subject: the next verse brought under view the fruits as they stood in the soil; now the picture is of those whose special care is the production of the fruits, and again the subject is continued in the verse following.
From the signification of a field as the doctrine, or Church, in regard to the implantation of truth in the external mind, it may be readily seen that the husbandmen, as those who prepare and watch over the soil, denote those who educate in the principles of religion from the desire to do good in the Church. Thus when the charge and care of spiritual things were referred to as about to pass out of the hands of the Jewish people, it is said, "And strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your husbandmen and your vine-dressers" (Isaiah 111:5). Similar to the words of Joel in describing the destitute condition of the Church, with regard to the principles of good, are those of Jeremiah 14:4: "Because the ground is dismayed, for there was no rain in the earth, the husbandmen were ashamed, they covered their heads." Also Amos 5:16: "They shall call the husbandman to mourning." That the Church, having degenerated from righteous life, is thereby unable to teach from good, is implied in Jerem 51:23: "And with you will I break in pieces the husbandman and his yoke of oxen." That the elders should cause the husbandman to be put to shame, signifies that they who are in the interior principles of wisdom, still being addressed, should move those who should educate by goodness and worship to lament the loss of goodness in the Church. For if the truths of wisdom be made manifest, those who seek the good of the Church cannot but see the folly of the heathenism contaminating the Church, and the destitution of good worked by its inroads. From this would ensue a very real repentance.
To put to shame is sometimes confounded with to be ashamed, used in 2:26; but must here be distinguished from it, inasmuch as the terms are not the same. To be put to shame, signifies grief on account of the destitution of good, and from there a confession of wrong-doing. Shame appertains to the feelings, and is shown from there when some moral delinquency is acknowledged. In such a state the Church, as here described, is called upon to acknowledge its inability to lead or educate from good, because it is no longer characterised by goodness. The signification of this word may be illustrated from Isaiah 30:5: "They caused all to be put to shame over a people that could not profit them, nor be a help nor profit, but a shame and also a disgrace."
Vinedresser is the complement of husbandman. Just as the latter refers to one in good and who leads from it, so the former relates to one in truth and who teaches it. There are those who teach from goodness and others who do so from the rational acceptance of truth in themselves. The vinedressers and husbandmen mentioned in the above citation from Isaiah will illustrate this. See also Jerem 52:16 and 2 Kings 25:12. Under verse 5 it was explained that to howl signifies to grieve exteriorly on account of the vastation of faith. For the elders to cause vinedressers to howl, therefore, signifies that those who are wise should by their own repentance induce an external sorrow in those who teach, because of the destitution of the truths of faith by which others are instructed. That this grief is induced from within is indicated by the particle over, which, as before stated, bears that signification.
Wheat and barley correspond to the good of the natural mind: wheat to the good of the interior natural mind, and barley to the good of its exterior. This may be seen in some measure from the relative estimates of wheat and barley in 2 Kings 7:18, "Two seahs of barley for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel." So, too, in Revelation 6:6, "A quart of wheat for a penny, and three quarts of barley for a penny." Because the Promised Land represented the Spiritual Church, it was described as to its interior and exterior natural good as "a land of wheat and barley" (Deuter 8:8). So the Lord is said to satisfy the righteous "with the finest of wheat" (Psalm 147:14). Again, in Jerem 41:8, "We have hidden treasures in the field, of wheat, and of barley, and of oil, and of honey." Thus, they who lead from good and teach from truth are caused to sorrow, because the simple good both in its interior and exterior forms are cut off from within by the evils and falses of the sensual man.
The term harvest, in its natural sense, refers rather to the products of the field than to the gathering in, and spiritually denotes the state of the Church as to the effects of its reception of truth into goodness. "Seedtime and harvest" are the states of receiving truth, and the effect of that reception in life. Several passages of Scripture indicate, that the harvest denotes the last state of life, as the issue of truth in goodness, characterising the Church. "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jerem 8:20). "The harvest is the consummation of the age" (Matt 13:39). It was shown in the preceding verse that field corresponds to the Church as to the good of life from doctrine: the harvest of a field, therefore, denotes the final state of the Church in regard to the issues of its truth of doctrine in goodness. The law provided that, "when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not make clean riddance of the corner of the field when you reap" (Levit 23:22); because they who receive the truth should show charity to the neighbour. To perish, signifies to cast down to hell, as being swallowed up in evil, and thereby condemned. Thus is the Church judged: "for by their fruits you shall know them." If the fruits are corrupt, it argues that the tree is corrupt also. Thus we read in Jerem 10:11, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens." That the harvest perished, bespeaks some inward evil by which the end of the Church, as to the life resulting from truth and good, is come. The particle because emphasises this. It was stated above that because implies derivation, and its force may be at present shown thus, hence the life of the Church, being false and evil, is condemned.
Internal Sense.—That they who are wise should induce those who seek the good of the Church to lament its destitution of good, and those who seek and teach the truth to grieve for the loss of faith, for the interior and exterior goods of the natural degree have been destroyed from within; hence the final state of the Church as to life from its doctrine is condemned to hell.
references —AC 368, 3941, 7602, 9295; AE 374, 376, 911; AR 315, 316, 645.
perversion of the spirit.
12. He caused the vine to be dried up, and the fig-tree to be wasting away: pomegranate, palm-tree also, and apricot-tree— all the trees of the field—were dried up, because he caused joy to be dried up from the sons of man.
All that part of the harvest which was gathered from fruited trees had been desolated. The trees mentioned in this verse correspond to some form and degree of good. As shown under verse 7, the vine corresponds to the intellectual part of the spiritual Church, and the fig-tree, with which the vine is associated each time it occurs in this prophecy, corresponds to the natural good of the Church. The vine had been made to dry up by the general desolation worked by "the nation" —signifying that spiritual charity had been spoliated of truth by heathenish persuasions; for, as stated under verse 10, to be dried up denotes to dissipate truth. That the fig-tree had been made to waste away, signifies that the natural good of the Church had been deprived of truth by its acknowledgement of falsity; see also verse 10. In like manner the perverted faith, represented by the Egyptians, is described as of no effect, thus, "He smote their vines also, and their fig-trees: and break the trees of their boundaries" (Psalm 105:33). So again, the faith of the evil and false is described by Moses, "For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter" (Deuter 32:32).
There are certain elementary concepts of doctrine, tending to the good of the Church, which are received into the memory when we are reading the Divine Word, and which, taken up into the spiritual mind, become matters of internal faith. So long as these elementary concepts of doctrine are in the sensual degree of the mind, they are represented by the pomegranate-tree. On account of this correspondence, the priests' garments had pomegranates worked on the hems (Exod 28:33). They were worked in colours of a bluish purple, crimson, and scarlet, the suggestions of truth, love, and charity, and indicated the abundant natural usefulness characterised by those principles. Thus the pomegranate-tree signifies the knowledge of good and truth in the sensual of man as the teaching of the Word.
Perhaps no other among the trees, unless it be the olive-tree, was held in higher esteem by the Orientals that the palm-tree. It is not only the image of grace, comeliness, and triumph, but its fruit, the date, is a luscious food; for the date-palm is meant. "Tall, slender, and erect as Rectitude herself," the palm-tree supplied Solomon with a simile of his beloved, "How fair and how pleasant are you, O love, for delights! This, your stature, is like a palm-tree" (Sol. Song 7:6-7). The same dignity and grace are the qualities attributed to the righteous, "The righteous shall flourish like the palm-tree" (Psalm 92:12). Growing in desert places, palm-trees offer the weary traveller both rest and food, as well as indicate that a spring of water is not far away. Taking up this idea, the hymnist likens the palm-tree's grateful service to the rest of Sabbath, "As shade of clustered palm-trees 'mid weary wastes of sand." It may be seen, therefore, why the palm-tree corresponds to the good acts which result from truth, or in other terms, spiritual good. Its "branches," which are really prodigious leaves, were used as signs of that peaceful triumph known only when the heart rejoices in good things done: wherefore when Jesus entered into Jerusalem the people "took the branches of the palms, and went forth to meet Him" (John 12:13). For the same reason they who had come out of great tribulation, in the Apocalytic vision of John, had "palms in their hands" (Rev 7:9). It was the sign of their victory and consequent joy: yet the victory was by good from truth. It was because Jericho represented the good of life, before that good was perverted in the Church existing in Israel, that it was called "the city of palm-trees" (Deuter 34:3).
The particle also, claims attention. Literally, the term appears to carry the idea of addition, and spiritually, to import association. It associates the palm-tree with the apricot-tree, although and indicates such a change of state as would be implied in the significations of the two trees. We expect, then, to find a likeness in the significations of these trees—the palm and apricot: for they are expressly associated. The identity of the tree, described here as the apricot tree, is a matter of dispute: it is certainly not the apple tree known to us. The passages of Scripture wherein the word occurs are equally descriptive of several trees bearing delicious fruits of golden hue. Etymologically the word means something of a delightful odour. The apple, citron, and apricot have each been proposed, without general acceptance. Just as the palm-tree corresponds to the good acts arising from truth, or spiritual good and its internal delight, so apricot-tree corresponds to that joy of heart which originates in natural good derived from spiritual. Here we observe the reason of its association with the palm. "As the apricot-tree among the trees of the wood, so is My beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste" (Sol. Song 2:3).
The trees in general correspond to man as to his intellectual nature: if he be celestially-minded, to perception; and if he be spiritually-minded, to his knowledge of good and truth. Thus in Eden there were planted "every tree that is desirable for appearance "—that is, every perception of truth acceptable to the understanding: "and good for meat"—that is, every perception of good agreeable to the will (Gen 2:9). The knowledges of good and truth which have within them the living spirit of love to the Lord, are the trees of Jehovah which are full of sap (Psalm 104:16). As explained under verse 10, the field signifies the Church as to the good of life from doctrine. The trees of the field, therefore, denote the knowledge of good and truth from the doctrine of the Church in those minds receptive of its teaching. All, as already mentioned, relates to everything, even to the last, as to the spiritual. That every such knowledge is dried up, signifies that its truth is dissipated; that is, the knowledge of the Church is falsified. The spiritual delights, both internal and external, and every form of spiritual faith are perverted by heathen worship.
Because he caused joy to be dried up from the sons of man. Here we have returned to the primal cause of all this desolation of faith. In that the Church fell away from the worship of the Lord only, and became the worshipers of idols, the soul's delight in genuine and fundamental truths from a Divine origin was sapped and withered. One by one the several affections of good and truth have disappeared, hence the great delight, which is the offspring of the affection of good through truth, is dissipated. Joy signifies that pleasure, as may be seen in Isaiah 12:3, "With joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation." MAN is the title that belongs to the Lord alone,. as an absolute name. Men are so called only as derived from Him. Son, as already shown, signifies truth. It is for the reason indicated by these significations that the Lord, as the Divine Truth, was denominated "Son of Man," and that the prophets, representing the Divine Truth, were called sons of man. Sons of man, therefore, signify Divine truths. As all the truths of the Church in an orderly state are derived from the Divine, therefore the final source of delight is the Divine also, but the decline from the one great truth of the Lord's oneness and the evil of worship, thence ensuing, cause that delight to be dissipated.
Internal Sense.—The evil of idolatrous worship caused truth to be dissipated in the Intellectual part of the Church and its natural good to be deprived of truth. The knowledge of good and truth in the sensual, the delights of spiritual good and natural good, and every knowledge of the good and true from the doctrines of the Church, even to the last, were perverted by the same evil. Whence it caused pleasure from the affection of good through truth derived from Divine truths to be dissipated. references — AC 368, 5113, 8369; AE 109, 403, 458.
the work of repentance.
13. Gird you and lament, you priests: cause the ministers of an altar to howl: come you in: lodge in the sackcloths, the ministers of my god : because oblation and libation was withheld from the House of your god.
The preceding verses have been addressed to the elders. This is the indication that those especially known for their wisdom in spiritual things, or abstractly, the principles of wisdom as embodied in the Church, were the subject. Hence it follows that the subject-matter of the foregoing verse was the Church as to its understanding—its decline from true faith. The present verse is the first of those addressed especially to the priests. It will be seen from the representation of the priests, as stated under verse 9, that the affectional part of the Church is now the subject. As the elders relate to wisdom, so the priests relate to love: in the present instance, the love of false worship.
It was shown under verse 8, that to gird taken alone, signifies to connect together in such an order as to enable one to act effectually. That is to say, taking the present case, the term implies that the priests, moved by some common sentiment, should unite in promoting such action as would tend to the general good. Such is the general course by which love moves. Doubtless, the common sentiment which should move towards this action is shame on account of the loss of true worship. Therefore it is said, Gird you and lament, you priests. To lament signifies to be grieved on account of evil. Thus in Jerem 4:8, "For this gird you with sackcloth, lament and howl." That the holy principles of love to the Lord are disgraced by the evil of false worship is, therefore, what is here meant.
The priesthood was of different degrees—the priests of different ranks. Those properly called the priests officiated in the highest representations of the law: they were assisted at the sacrifices by priests of an inferior order. Doubtless the ministers of the altar, spoken of in this verse, are those assistant priests: and so distinguished from the ministers of Jehovah, mentioned in verse 9. The chief representative figure in the temple worship was the altar, being that whereon the gifts were laid. It was the symbol of the purest heavenly love— the noblest principle from which the incense of true devotion can arise. "I will wash my hands in innocence: so will I compass Yours altar, O Jehovah" (Psalm 26:6). Again, "O send out Your light and Your truth: let them guide me; let them bring me to the mountain of Your Holiness, and to Your tabernacles. That I may come to the altar of God; to God my exceeding joy" (Psalm 43:3, 4). Under verse 9 it was shown that ministers denote those who serve by instructing the spiritual in the truths of doctrine. The ministers of an altar, therefore, represent those who instruct in the truths of the genuine worship of the Lord. It was explained under verse 5 that to howl, signifies to grieve exteriorly on account of the vastation of faith. It will, therefore, plainly appear why the priests' lamentation—which is an interior grief—is said to cause the ministers of an altar to howl: for the interior grief of the will is the cause of the exterior grief of the understanding.
The highest planes of the spiritual man are the inmost, and the lowest are the outermost. On this account to come in, denotes to ascend from a lower to a higher state: specifically, to introduce truth into good by influx and thus prepare for their conjunction. Being addressed to the priests, it is meant that they should come into the Temple for sacred worship and to seek the Lord. The signification of the term is sufficiently illustrated in Psalm 5:7, "In the multitude of Your mercy will I come in Your House, and in Your fear will I worship towards the temple of Your Holiness." Hence the invitation is, that the Church, by means of love to the Lord, should come into closer communion with Him and a more perfect realization of His presence and help.
But this can only be done by putting away everything false in worship—indeed, by humiliation and repentance self-imposed. By humility God exalts—"He has put down the mighty from their seats, and has exalted them of low degree." Nor can the higher life be attained, but by abiding humbly, throughout all darkness, in trust in the Lord. The term to lodge is used of tarrying a night in some place of safety. Referring to verse 8, it will be seen that to lodge in the sackcloths, signifies to feel the bitterness of temptation: and this induces penitence. That to lodge signifies the sense of pain suffered during temptation combats, may be seen from its natural sense (for it is also used to express complaint) and illustrated in Psalm 30:5, "Weeping may lodge for a night, but exultation comes in the morning." In such a state of humiliation the genuine truths of spiritual life, begotten of the Divine Wisdom Itself, and signified by the ministers of my God, remain protected until the dawn of a new day in the Church's history.
Because the true acknowledgement of the Lord, by means of charity and faith united in His service, as represented by the oblation and libation, has been diverted, this repentance is needed. For the significations of oblation and libation, see verse 9. It is said, was withheld (in the singular), because charity and faith are united and regarded as one. The term signifies to restrain from producing the effect. It is also said from the House of your God, because, as may be seen at verse 9, the Will of the Lord, as embodied in the external Church of the Jews, is meant.
Internal Sense.—That the celestial of the Church should unite in grief on account of evil, and cause the spiritual leaders in worship to grieve: thus ascend into communion with the Lord: with penitence during the Church's trial, whereby Divine truths would be preserved, for the worship of charity and faith has been diverted from the Church. references.—AC 10137; AE 637.
acknowledging the lord.
14. Sanctify you a fast, call a restraint; gather in, elders [even] all the inhabitants of the earth [to] the House of jehovah your god: and call out to jehovah.
Again the wayward worshipers are exhorted to reverse the current of their lives, and, leaving the enticements of idolatry, to turn to the Lord. Without some knowledge of the laws of God's Providence the signification of the first phrase would be hard to comprehend. It must not be forgotten, that these words are addressed to the priests, who, as representing the leading motives which actuated the worship of the Jewish Church, describe the interior affections of idolatrous worship in that Church. The priests were not necessarily characterised in themselves by the principle or state they represented. It is possible, that men interiorly wicked in a representative Church should wear the semblance of and represent sanctity, for the sake of preserving the appearance of a Church on earth. In the present case the priests were inwardly drawn away to heathenish idolatry and from the love of God, although they represented love to the Lord; yet for the sake of the Church, they were exhorted to make a semblance of resisting evil from the most hallowed motive. This is implied in the words, sanctify you a fast.
The natural meaning of the word to sanctify is, to set apart: spiritually it signifies to represent the Divine from the Lord when the interiors are veiled, and thus to confess and acknowledge the Lord alone. In this manner the people were said to be sanctified (Exod 19:10), and the tabernacle, which represented the Divine from the Lord, was said to be sanctified by His Glory (Exod 29:43). Thus, though the priests made no inward acknowledgement of the Lord, they were commanded to make this semblance or appearance which represented such an acknowledgement. The wisdom of this representation lay in the fact, that what the priests appear to do, as if they did it inwardly, the people would do in freedom upon that initiative. Hence reformation would be begun. Then the Lord removes evil in the interiors: for while men appear to put away evil externally, as of themselves, the Lord removes it interiorly.
The fast was a part of the Jewish ceremonial representing the resistance of interior evil by abstinence from it and doing good—for that cause the priests were exhorted to the fast. It was an observance implying a lack of good and truth from the Lord and sorrow thereat on the part of the Church. To sanctify a fast, therefore, denotes an acknowledgement of loss regarding the good and truth of the Lord and mourning on that account. It is expressive of the soul's hunger and longing for the Divine from the Lord. This it also represented. The semblance of this on the part of the priests would be the occasion for the people to follow their example, when sincere repentance would cause the Church to turn again to the Lord in pure worship and devotion. Thus there would be represented, in the first place, an acknowledgement of the Lord as the Giver of all good and truth, as if from love to Him, and afterwards an actual acknowledgement of the same. And this is, indeed, what the words signify. The priests are exhorted to confess the hungry state of the Church, and thus indicate an interior desire for spiritual food from the Lord.
The same is also signified, as to the more external order of the Church, by call a restraint. Yes, even this acknowledgement is to result from the initiative of the priests. To call, signifies to acknowledge by faith, or externally. This is illustrated by the consideration that whatever things are called, that they were in very ancient times known to be. The priests are to call this restraint, because they represent the motives which induce the faith of the Church in the externals. They are to call the people to the restraint. Just as the fast represents an interior resistance of evil, so restraint represents the relatively exterior resistance of falsity. It is of those in whom the outward appearance of repentance is only a sham that the Lord says, "I hate, I scorn your festivals, and I will not be refreshed by your restraints" (Amos 5:21). Also Isaiah 1:13, "I cannot bear iniquity and restraint." Thus the Church is called upon, through its priests, to acknowledge the Lord by interior and exterior resistance of evil and falsity.
As stated above, when in freedom men shun evil and falsity externally, the Lord implants, by interior means, good and truth, which take the place of the states put off. This implanting is signified by to gather in. As shown under verse 2, elders and all the inhabitants of the earth denote the principles of wisdom and every spiritual good of the external mind, even to the last; thus every spiritual principle of the natural man. To gather these in, refers to the implantation of all truths in the natural of the Church. That such truths were to be gathered in to the House of Jehovah your God, means that they should be conformed to the Divine Will in the worship of the Church. For the signification of the House of Jehovah, see verse 9. It is said your God, because the will of the Lord as represented in the external Church of the Jews is the subject. There seems to be a further purpose in speaking of Jehovah your God: it is that the minds of the people should be turned from heathen ideas of God to that of the Lord God as revealed. This is treated more fully below.
That from sincere repentance, and the desire to do the will of God, the Church should seek the Lord's aid, is denoted by the concluding phrase. To call out, signifies to implore aid on account of the infestations of falsity. Thus in Hosea 7:14, "And they have not called out to Me with their heart, though they howled upon their couches." So in Psalm 107:13, "And they called out to Jehovah in their distress, so He should save them out of their trials." That to call out to Jehovah is to implore Divine aid, when the Church is in temptation, in accordance with the Lord's love and mercy, is therefore plainly to be seen. Not only is acknowledgement of the Lord made by shunning evils because they are sins against Him, but also by seeking His aid to save us and to perform good acts. From the next to the 20th verse are the words the priests are exhorted to utter.
It may be as well now to say in what way the above reference to Jehovah God affects the idolatrous disposition to which the prophecy refers. It was pointed out above, that these two Divine names are used in the Scriptures with definite intentions wherever they occur. Jehovah is used when the Essential Divine Love is the subject, and God when the Divine Wisdom existent from the Divine Love is the subject. These are related as Substance and Form. Wisdom or Truth is the Divine Form of Love. It will be seen then why it is said, that Divine Truth or Law embodies the Divine Love. Now as the Form of God is that from whence man's form is derived, and continuously derived, it is the Human Form: or in other words, God is Very Man—the Prototype of men. So that the term Jehovah God describes the Divine Being in His Human Form, or, the Lord in His Divine Humanity. When the Lord came into the world, that Form. was ultimated in a human body. In the New Testament, Father denotes the same as Jehovah, and Son the same as God; the Father (who was in the Son), the Essential Divine, and the Son, the Human of the Lord. The Human of the Lord is the embodiment of the Divine Itself. When, therefore, Jehovah assumed a humanity in the world by birth, the exterior Divine Truth, or Word, "was made flesh, and dwelt among us" (John 1:14). Thus it is, that the Father was in the Son, and that they are One. It is to indicate this unity of God as to His Love and Wisdom, in His unchangeable nature, and as to His Divinity and Humanity in His Form and Person, that the names Jehovah and God are often found together in the Scriptures, and when so found must be understood to denote the Lord in His Divine Human Form and Oneness.
The Oneness of God in His Divine Person is no meaningless idea in connection with human life. It has an important significance for mankind: it is an essential doctrine for true faith: it is the fundamental doctrine of the Lord's Church. This is the doctrine around which the Divine Word revolves, and to which this prophecy has especial reference. In the Oneness of God is the First Type of that "singleness of spirit" wherein the inward affections and thoughts are one with the outward deeds and speech. The Divine Humanity or Unity of God is the source from which all truth of life flows: for it is the fountain of the sincerity, the harmony of things outward and things inward, which can only exist where perfect unity is found, and where thought is the precise form of the desire, and speech or act the corresponding form of thought: where, indeed, the most perfect image of the one Lord is mirrored in the soul. This truth is that whence radiates every truth of the Lord's Church in heaven and on earth. Perverted or obscured, this doctrine is the occasion of innumerable errors and heresies: and it was by departing from this truth that the Jewish Church found itself in the truly pitiable plight described in Joel. It had departed from the worship of the one God, and sought the vanities of strange idols.
Internal Sense.—That the Church should internally acknowledge the Lord by resistance of evil from the principle of good, and externally by resistance of falsity from the principle of faith. Thus they would be implanted with wisdom, and every spiritual good in the natural mind, even to the last, according to the will of the Lord when He is worshiped: and that they should implore the Lord's aid according to His love and mercy, on account of their falsities.
15. Alas for the day! For the Day of jehovah is near; and as a devastation from Shaddai it will come in.
It was explained under verse 2, that day denotes state of life in general. Just as we refer to the state of a community, when we speak of its day of prosperity, or its day of adversity, so the term is used in the Divine Word. The references to day in the present instance are, therefore, referable to the condition and quality of the Church generally. That alas is indicative of lament may be seen from the word itself in its natural meaning. Alas for the day, signifies, therefore, distress on account of the desolate state of the Church. This, as stated in general terms, is to be the burden of what the priests were directed to cry to the Lord.
The cause of distress is to be found in the state of the Church: for without faith and charity the Church, as a dispensation preserving mankind in spiritual life, is at an end. And this is the state to which the Church is drawing near. The Church comes to an end, when true faith and charity are found no longer in her. In such a state the Lord comes to judge, and to raise a new Church. The last state and time of the Church passing away are called the Day of Jehovah. Thus in Zeph 1:14, "The great Day of Jehovah is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the Day of Jehovah." Often the Lord's advent is denoted by that day, signifying the state in which the Lord brings a perverted Church to its end, and establishes a new Church. This was done in the case of the Jewish Church when the Christian Church was inaugurated. It was the that day referred to by the prophets, and accomplished in the coming of the Lord. "In that day shall Jehovah alone be exalted" (Isaiah 2:11). "And they shall say in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us: this is Jehovah; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice according to His salvation "
(Isaiah 25:9). The state of the Church is to be lamented, because the Day of Jehovah is near—its end or consummation is at hand. The Church has drawn near to destruction; near denoting a proximity to affinity.
"Shaddai" is one of the heathen titles for God which, by Divine Providence, it was permitted the Israelites to adopt and use in respect to the Lord. Nevertheless, it retained, and was used, during idolatrous epochs especially, with a peculiar character of its own. It rather described God as the cause of hurt than mercy, and a Being to be feared rather than loved. The word is commonly translated "Almighty." Its more exact meaning is "Devastator," for it is akin with "devastation." This supplies us with the reason for likening the Day of Jehovah to a devastation from Shaddai. As pointed out above, as, while it is naturally a term of comparison, signifies that something is an appearance. The appearance is, that the Lord is a devastator; but this is only an appearance due to the perverted state of the mind. The truth is, that the Lord is the Preserver. It is the evil state of the Church which devastates it, while the Lord preserves the human race in the opportunity of recovering spiritual life by providing that a new means of salvation shall arise when the former means is devastated. Taking up, therefore, the very image of fear which the idolatrous practices of the Jews themselves supplied, by bringing before their minds the dreadful conception of Shaddai, the condition of the Church, as to the approaching end, is depicted—as a devastation from Shaddai it will come in.
It is said in Job 6:4, "The arrows of Shaddai are within me. .. the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me." The spiritual use of this term is to describe the Lord as to His Truth sustaining the Church in temptation and as the Comforter afterward. "For devastation, temptation, chastisement, and rebuke come not from good, but from truth." "Behold the happiness of the man whom God reproves: therefore despise not you the correction of Shaddai" (Job 5:17). So in Ezek 1:24, "I heard the voice of their wings, like the voice of many waters, as the voice of Shaddai, the voice of speech." As just stated, the term describes the Lord as the Comforter; for the Spirit of Truth which upholds us in the toils of temptation also sustains us throughout, and leads us into light and comfort, and blesses us. Thus, as by Truth during temptation the false is brought to its end, so is a new state born within. Thus, while the perverted Church is consummated, a new Church is promised in the Lord's coming. The Church is devastated when it is deprived of good by means of falsities from evil. This is the state of the Jewish Church now being described, and is denoted by the phrase a devastation from Shaddai: for the desolate state of the Church has resulted from its false conception of God, and its polluted worship. In the fact that Shaddai is a familiar title for the Divine may be seen the corrupt state of the Church, and out of that corruption has come its desolation of spiritual life.
It is said, that the Day of Jehovah will come in, because, as already stated, when one dispensation is consummated, a new dispensation is raised up. To come in, as explained under verse 13, signifies to introduce truth into good by influx, or to raise up a new state by descent from the Lord. Thus in Isaiah 13:6, "Howl you; for the Day of Jehovah is near; it. shall come in as a devastation from Shaddai."
Internal Sense.—Lament the state of the Church; for its end is near, and the Lord will come in judgement to consummate the perverted, and to raise up a new Church, by the influx of His truth.
references.—AC 488, 1992; Doct. L. 4.
A church without works.
16. Was not food struck off in front of our two eyes— gladness and exultation from the House of our god?
In former verses the ruin worked by the devastating enemy has been described. The fields, the growing fruits, and the ripened harvest have been presented in their turn to view. In the present verse mention is made of the food ready prepared; even this escaped not the general desolation. The harvest thanksgiving was the occasion for general rejoicing. The time for grateful acknowledgement of the Lord's mercies in giving "meat in due season," was one of gladness and exultation in the House of God. But the food had been devoured before their eyes; and instead of rejoicings, the Temple would echo the lamentations and weepings of the people. In the language of the verse, grief is portrayed by the absence of joy.
The food which nourishes the spirit of man is the life of goodness and truth from the Lord; by it the soul is sustained; by it the soul lives and moves. Thus food corresponds to good and truth united in good works; thus, to everything conducing to use. The ends of such food are determined by the purpose it serves, and the quality of the life is according to the quality of the use to which the food ministers. Thus Jesus said, "My food is that I may do the will of Him Who sent Me, and complete His work" (John 4:34). Also, "Labour—not for the food which perishes, but—for the food which abides into everlasting life" (John 6:27). In Lamentations 1:11, "All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things for food to relieve the soul." In Psalm 104:27, 28, "You give them their food in due season,... You open Your hand, they are filled with good." As explained under verse 5, to be struck off, signifies to be separated, and thus lost. That food was struck off, therefore, signifies that the life of goodness and truth was separated from the Church by the evil of idolatry in the sensual man.
In front of is a term having reference to the interior state. The eyes correspond to the understanding in its perceptive faculty, that by which we obtain clear and distinct ideas of spiritual things. "Blessed are your eyes, for they see," announces the fruitfulness of the understanding wherein truth and good are perceived. Also, because the Divine Truth illuminates the understanding as to truth and good, it is said, "The commandment of Jehovah is pure, enlightening the eyes" (Psalm 19:8). That the understanding is fed from God by means of good and truth is meant in Psalm cxlv. 15, "The eyes of all wait upon You; and You give them their food in due season." It may be noticed that in the present case, as elsewhere in the Scriptures, the dual form of the word is used, and is therefore rendered two eyes. Swedenborg says, "It has been made plain to me by much experience that the sight of the left eye corresponds to truths which are of the understanding, and the right eye to affections of truth which also are of the understanding; hence that the left eye corresponds to truths of faith, and the right eye to good things of faith" (AC 4410). The understanding has imperfectly seen a principle of religion if it has perceived the truth of it and not its good, neither is the principle of any value for use in that case. Before, therefore, any principle of religion can serve to nourish the spirit—as food, which is truth and good united— it needs to be both a matter of faith and inward charity, thus to be seen by both eyes: there must be a rational understanding of its truth and good. But in the Church as now depicted this is cut off by perversion of the fundamental principle of true religion, the acknowledgement of the Lord only. There is neither understanding of truth nor good.
Like other sister terms, gladness and exultation are associated. Thus in Psalm 45:15, "In gladness and exaltation shall they be led." In Isaiah 51:11, "They shall obtain joy and gladness." In all such cases the delights of goodness and truth are involved. Gladness signifies the pleasure arising from the love and affection of truth, and exultation, the delight originating in the love and affection of good. On account of these significations, the terms are used in association with the two eyes, and relate to the delights consequent upon the perception of the good and true. Gladness, though it has the more exterior meaning, is placed first, because in the representative Church the genuine affection for truth first disappeared, and it is the understanding of truth and good which is now being treated of. So in Isaiah 16:10, "Gladness is taken away, and exultation out of the fruitful soil." However, that gladness on account of truth is ultimately on the ground of exultation from good, may also be inferred from the positions of the terms. That the delights of both truth and good are separated from the Jewish Church is signified by gladness and exultation being struck off from the House of our God, see verse 14.
Internal Sense.—Good and truth united in use are separated interiorly from the understanding, also the delights of truth and good from the Church.
references.—AC 4137, 5147; AE 650, 660; AR 507; TCR 252; SS 87.
good subordinate to evil.
17. Sown seeds vanished under their ravagings, stores were desolated, granaries were broken through: because he caused grain to be dried up.
So thoroughly have the locusts done the work of destruction, that not even the seeds scattered in the fields escaped them: nor have they left any to supply the loss—the store-houses have been emptied of their store and the granaries invaded. The grain perished under the power of this enemy. Again, in this verse, the "locusts" are identified with "the nation." But there are several terms here whose literal sense call for special attention.
Sown seeds is a term occurring nowhere else in the Scriptures. It appears to be used of those seeds (perhaps, grains of corn) which have been scattered or spread upon the soil.
Its literal meaning would seem to be, distinct, separate grains. It is impossible to illustrate the signification of the term, because of its isolation. Some idea of its import may be derived, however, from the verb whence it is formed. In AC 1594 we learn that to be separated, denotes the disunion of the internal and external of man by self-love and the evil desires arising therefrom. Taking this signification with that of the grain, in the parable of the mustard seed, sown seeds may be regarded as denoting those least things of good from truth sown in the mind of man by the unseen Sower, but which are not united to the internal man by inward love and intelligence. These are the good things which have no coherence with spiritual perception, but are found here and there sown on a fruitful soil, notwithstanding the general barrenness. Nevertheless, they are only externally planted; they have no roots in the depths of the soul. "You shall bring much seed out into the field, and shall gather in but little: for the locust shall devour it" (Deuter 28:38).
As with the former term, so it is with regard to to vanish. This term occurs only in this passage of Scripture. Several different renderings have been proposed: it is therefore necessary to state why the above is preferred. To this end the context supplies the greater help. By comparison with a like word in the Arabic language, this term seems to mean, a shrivelling or drying up by reason of heat. In the present case, however, the agent of destruction is not so much heat, as the locust, as will be seen further. Locusts would devour the seeds, not merely shrivel them. Again the term has some likeness to to be dried up. These are, therefore, the reasons for the above translation. Apparently the term signifies to be dissipated by evil. Thus we conclude that sown seeds vanished, signifies that the least things of good in the external life were dissipated by evil.
The particle under, relates to what is relatively subordinate. Again, ravagings is a term appearing nowhere else in the Scriptures. Some have preferred to translate their clods— that is, the lumps of soil under which the seeds lay. Such a translation depends upon the agreement of their with sown seeds; but there is no such agreement, for while sown seeds is feminine, their is masculine, and manifestly refers to the locusts. Ravagings is derived from to grasp or snatch away, whence is also derived fist or a hand-grasping. It would, therefore, seem to describe the act by which the locusts destroyed the produce of the fields: their ravenous consumption of the verdure and fruits of harvest, than which nothing could be more desolating and instantaneous. We regard the word as signifying a confirmed state of evil from falsity, or the desolating power of such evil. This conclusion is reached by comparison with fist, which denotes a general phase of thought, either true or false, in the natural mind. Thus in Exodus 21:18, "And if men quarrel, and a man smite his fellow with a stone, or with a fist"—here fist denotes the power of some generally recognized truth confirmed. But in Isaiah 58:4, "Behold, you fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness." Fist here signifies the power of falsity from evil. So in the present case ravagings, or graspings, signifies the most external falsities of the mind confirmed; thereby seeking to do evil. The few scattered good dispositions which remain in the Jewish Church are dissipated by the confirmed evil of those sensual ones who are in the false persuasions of idolatrous worship.
The spiritual stores are the truths of the natural degree from the Divine Word, or in the Divine Word. These are treasured or laid up in the human mind. On this account the natural mind of man is also denoted by the stores. "He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap: He lays up the murmuring deep in stores" (Psalm 33:7). "He brings the wind [the breathing thoughts] out of His stores" (Psalm 135:7; Jer 10:13). Store is only the collective name for the treasures, the truths, bestowed in the mind: for what is the natural understanding, except the aggregate of the natural thoughts and ideas? "His land also is full of silver and gold, neither is there 'limit to His stores" (Isaiah 2:7). That these stores were desolated, signifies that the truths of the Divine Word were perverted or falsified. Compare with desolation, at verse 7. Thus, when by Ezekiel the renewal of truth in the external Church is described, we read, "This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden" (Ezek 36:35).
Just as stores signify the natural understanding as the depository of truths, so the granary or barn, which again is a term only occurring in this place, seems to correspond to the natural will as the repository of good from the Divine Word. In Haggai 2:19 it is asked, "Is the seed yet in the barn? Yea, as yet the vine, and the fig-tree, and the pomegranate, and the olive-tree, has not brought forth." And whereas the wheat of goodness is gathered into the barn (Matt 13:30), the ravens, corresponding to the darkness of falsities as the devourers of good, have neither store-house nor barn (Luke 12:24). To break through signifies to reject, as worth nothing, from an ardent desire towards the opposite. Thus in Exodus 19:24, "Go down, and you shall come up, you, and Aaron with you: but let not the priests and the people break through to come up to Jehovah, lest He burst forth upon them." That the granaries were broken through, therefore, signifies that the good of the Word was rejected as of no account by means of the ardent desire for idolatry.
All this, because he caused grain to be dried up. Grain, as shown under verse 10, signifies the general good of the external man. It was also shown under the same verse that to be dried up signifies to be dissipated. The interior and final cause of failure, as to goodness in the external life, is the influence of evil on the inner man, and this is derived from forsaking the Lord and the worship of Him. This evil, signified by the nation, is the cause of goodness being dissipated in the external Jewish Church.
Internal Sense.—The least things of good are dissipated by subordination to the desolating power of confirmed evil: the natural truths of the Word are perverted, the goods of the Word are rejected as nothing, hence the general good of the external Church is dissipated by the evil of idolatry.
18. How a beast sighed! The droves of (the) herd were entangled: because there was nothing of pasture for them—the droves of the flock also became guilty.
There is a pathos in this verse we are unwilling to lose. So utterly has the scourge devastated the country that there is neither food for man nor beast. The cattle have wandered first this way and then that, only to find that the pasturage has been already consumed as by a fire—they are in the meshes of a destroying enemy. It is not improbable, also, that the effect referred to in the succeeding verse is contemplated in this. A fire spreading around the pasture land of the cattle and enclosing them, drives them here and thither, and leaves them without escape. They stand perplexed and entangled, and only give voice to their distress by a long, deep moan—the heaviness of which the prophet can only suggest. Let it be remarked here that "beast," in the original, by its etymology, means a dumb creature. The flocks also have been driven by stress of hunger to trespass on other pastures. They have become guilty of feeding on pastures not their own.
The beast corresponds to the speechless, but living, moving phase of mind called affectional. To be more precise, beast corresponds to man's natural affection. On account of this correspondence, Noah took both clean and unclean beasts into the ark to save them from the flood, which represents the inundation of falsity, and which comes with the end of a dispensation (Gen 7:8). And because the Lord desires the offering of pure natural affection, the beasts for sacrifice were restricted to those that were clean. A like restriction was laid on those used for food: "These are the animals which you shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth" (Levit 11:2). These, too, are the affections sustained by the Lord: "He gives to beasts the food thereof" (Psalm 147:9). Sighing is just that expression of grief which, springing from the affection rather than the intelligence, gives itself no verbal form. It expresses the distress of the dumb creature. To sigh signifies to grieve from affection. So in Exod 2:23: "And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the service." Again in Isaiah 35:10: "They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away." How a beast sighed, therefore, signifies that owing to the destruction of the good and true in the Church the natural affections are stricken in grief.
In the following words the former phrase is somewhat specialised. The word herd is used in Hebrew with a general sense, including the oxen of all kinds and ages. It corresponds (and in this it is differentiated from beast) to the good of the exterior natural mind; in other words, the herd are those who perform externally the good works of charity as guided by truth. So in Ezek 45:18: "Thus says the Lord Jehovih, In the first month, in the first of the month, you shall take a son of the herd without blemish, and cleanse the sanctuary." Drove, denotes the knowledge of the Church's doctrines, as being the collected good things of the Church. This may be seen in some measure from the verb whence "drove" is derived. This verb means to set in array, or arrange in order. Thus Jacob's well, which refers to the Word as the source of knowledge and truth, is mentioned, as where "all the droves were gathered together" (Gen 29:3). The droves of the herd, therefore, signifies the good of the exterior natural mind taken collectively: for doctrine draws together the good in order. That such affections are confounded and impotent, because of grief for the loss of truth, is signified by their being entangled. They who would perform the common acts of charity are perplexed and grieved by the deficiency of light and leading in the Church itself: "The day of your watchmen and your visitation comes; now shall be their perplexity" (Micah 7:4); "It is a day of confusion, and of treading down, and of perplexity by the Lord Jehovih of Hosts" (Isaiah 22:5).
At verse 6 it was noted, that nothing is peculiarly indicative of the nature of falsity; for where there is nothing of truth, falsity is in full possession. Pasture signifies the knowledge from the Divine Word as a means of spiritual nourishment. Thus in Ezek 34:14: "I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their abode be." It is manifest, then, that those who desired to do good were unable, because there was nothing of pasture for them; that is, the knowledge from the Word by which their good desires would have been fed was removed by false teaching in the Church.
The flocks comprised sheep and goats of all ages. The flock corresponds to the interior natural good; in other words, the flock are they who perform good deeds from the desire for good. Thus in Exodus 20:24 it is commanded, "You shall sacrifice thereon... your flocks and your herds." The droves of the flock, therefore, signify the interior natural good affections collectively. The particle also denotes association, and points here to the association of the herd and the flock. To become guilty signifies to be blamable by the profanation of truth. Those who sought the good of the Church have been led into false fields of thought by the profanation of truth. There is a guilt for which the wrong-doer is held not altogether responsible; but it needs to be removed nevertheless. Thus it is written in Levit 5:17, 18, "If a soul sin, and do any of these things which should not be done according to the commandments of Jehovah: and he does not know that he is guilty and bears his iniquity: he shall bring a ram without blemish out of the flock, with your arrangement, for a guilt-offering, to the priest." That the droves of the flock became guilty, signifies that owing to the desolation and perversion of truth in the Church, those who would do good, misguided by falsity, do wrong.
Internal Sense.—The natural affections of man are grieved. The good of the exterior natural mind collectively is perplexed with grief: because the knowledge of the Divine Word is falsified. The good of the interior natural collectively is also culpable by the profanation of Truth.
references.—AC 6078, 10609; AE 482, 650.
the work of self.
19. Unto You, JEHOVAH, will I call: for fire ate the pasture-grounds of a desert, and flame ignited all the trees of the field.
When these words are compared with 2:3, it becomes probable that the work of the locusts is described by way of comparison, as if it were the effect of fire. It often happens that, in Arabia and the adjacent lands, a fire will desolate great tracks of country, consuming grass and trees. The present verse may draw its image from such a visitation; but most probably the heat of the south wind on which the locusts are travelling is referred to. Whether the words are a comparison or not, makes no difference, however, to the internal sense. Exhorting the Church to repentance, the prophet, in the face of the prevailing indifference towards the Lord, puts the words of personal confession of the Lord in the mouth of the priests.
Since the knowledge of the Lord has been desolated by false teaching and worship, He can only be known by simple faith. As stated under verse 14, to call signifies to acknowledge by faith. It has been stated also that to is indicative of accord, and that Jehovah refers to the Lord as to Divine Love. To call to Jehovah, therefore, signifies that there is acknowledgement of the Lord, according to His love, by faith. To what a depth the Church had fallen, when its inmost representatives of good could only acknowledge the Lord by faith. The most potent acknowledgement of the Lord is made when every motive actuating the life looks to Him; the priests, therefore, who represent the inmost motives of the Church, are required to say, "to You, Jehovah, will I call." For not only does the first person point to the inmost, but also to the individually personal need to acknowledge the Lord in all things. Thus is the self conformed to the Divine Will. This is the accord between the caller and Jehovah. The prayer of sincerest faith is, "Your will be done!"
This touches the heart of the whole matter. What is the reason that the inmost motives of selfhood should acknowledge the Divine Will? The answer is, that fire ate the pasture-grounds of a desert, and flame ignited all the trees of the field. There can be no peace, no restful goodness of life, no knowledge of eternal life, while the destroying love of self continues. Of those who suffer loss of spiritual life by reason of self-love, it is said, "and the fire shall eat them" (Psalm 21:9). Of those who love and worship self rather than the Lord, it is said, "They have set Your sanctuary on fire, they have defiled the dwelling-place of Your Name to the earth" (Psalm 74:7). That fire corresponds, then, to the passion of self-love, is evident. It was shown under verse 4 that to eat signifies to destroy good by appropriating it as evil.
The pasture-grounds of a desert is a phrase needing some explanation. The Church is described as a desert when, during its temptations, it is in an obscure state of faith. Thus the children of Israel, having just left Egyptian darkness, wandered, tempted and tried, in the desert as an indication of the obscurity of their faith. "They wandered in the desert, in a solitary way: they found no city of habitation" (Psalm 107:4). But by the Lord's mercy there are interior depths of the spirit wherein truths are preserved, though not apparent, and in these are the substance of good. These are denoted by the pasture-grounds. This word is only applied to the resting-places of sheep. Thus in Psalm 23:2: "He makes me to lie down in rich pasture-grounds." The paths of the Lord are also said to "drop the pasture-grounds of a desert" (Psalm 65:12). The pasture-grounds of a desert, therefore, correspond to the interior truths preserved by the Lord when the Church is in a state of obscure faith. But this is the state destroyed by the inward love of self. Fire ate the pasture-grounds of a desert. By means of self-love the interior truths were appropriated to evil.
But as the love of self destroyed the interior truths of the soul, so that which accompanies it—the pride of self as it appears in the understanding: the pride of self-intelligence, fostered by the love of the world—destroys all external truth. Flame corresponds to the pride of self-intelligence. To ignite signifies to excite with the lust of self-pride. Thus in Psalm 106:18: "A fire was kindled in their assembly; a flame ignited wicked ones." As shown under verse 12, all the trees of the field denotes every knowledge of good and truth from the doctrine of the Church. That every such knowledge is ignited by flame, signifies that they have been excited by the lust of self-intelligence, and thus perverted to self instead of used for the Lord.
Internal Sense.—That the inmost things of the Church must be conformed to the Divine Love of the Lord by acknowledging Him. For self-love destroys the interior truths preserved by the Lord in the obscure state of faith of the Church, and self-intelligence perverts by its own lust every knowledge of good and truth from the doctrine of the Church.
references.—AC 2708; AE 504, 730; AR 546.
A hungry world.
20. The beasts of a field also—[each one]—shall incline to You: because the channels of waters were dried up, and fire ate the pasture-grounds of the desert.
The present verse is a continuation of the preceding, and concludes the address to Jehovah beginning at verse 15. Not only have the pasture-lands been consumed as if by fire, but the streams of water which irrigate the soil have been dried up by the intensity of the heat. The thirsty beasts of the field, as is their wont, lift their heads to the heavens and make their moan. All nature turns to God. Not only do men raise their plaint, but the dumb creatures of the earth also shall cry in their distress to their Maker whom they know not.
Under verse 18 it was shown that beast corresponds to the natural affections of man; and under verse 10 it was explained that field corresponds to the Church, especially in relation to the good derived from doctrine. The particle also couples the beasts of the field with the priests, who are represented as calling upon Jehovah in the preceding verse. But just as the priests call upon the Lord individually, so are the beasts presented as doing. The beasts of the field are the affections of the good of life from the doctrines of the Church in the natural man. Such affections, unconscious of the source of the living waters, drinking which they thirst not, desire the satisfaction of God's truth; yet know not where to seek it, for the stream is dried up by the lusts of evil. Ingrained upon the spirit are the intuitions of Divine love by our origin, and the unconscious movings of those intuitions awake the desire for satisfaction regarding the important themes of spiritual life. This is why it is said, the beasts of the field [each one] incline to Jehovah: for it is accordant to the Divine Love that this ardent desire is aroused. To incline signifies to desire ardently. So in Psalm 42:1: "As a hart inclines to the channels of waters, so inclines my soul to You, O God."
The reason of this distress is that the channels of waters were dried up. The channels of waters, signify the special forms of the truths of faith drawn from the Word, or the particulars of faith which the Word supplies. That waters correspond to the truths of faith which the Lord gives by His Word may be seen from His own words, "Whosoever shall drink of the water which I will give him, in no wise shall thirst for ever; but the water which I will give him shall become, within him, a fountain of water springing up into life everlasting" (John 4:14). Channels correspond to the particulars of external truth drawn from the Divine Word, or the special forms of truth as doctrine derived therefrom. Thus in Ezekiel 34:13: "I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the channels, and in all the inhabited places of the country." Also in Psalm 18:15:" Then the channels of waters were seen." Again in Isaiah 8:7: "And He shall go up over all His channels, and go over all His banks." The flowing Divine wisdom is the whole of truth as stated in Psalm 65:9: "The river of God is full of water." The heavenly truths of the Divine Word are also called "the pure river of water of life" (Rev 22:1). Though the natural affections ardently desire to drink at such streams, the streams are dried up. Under verse 10 it was shown, that to be dried up signifies to be dissipated, and is used in relation to truth dissipated by evil. Thus we learn that the special forms of the truth drawn from the Word were dissipated by the evils dominant in the Church.
Under the former verse, the words fire ate the pasture-grounds of the desert were explained, and shown to signify that self-love appropriated to evil the interior truths preserved by the Lord in the spirit of man when the faith of the Church is obscured. These are preserved that when man is in temptation they may sustain him; but self-love violates them. It may be worthy of observation that the term translated "desert" means, from its etymological structure, "from the word."
Internal Sense.—The affections of good from the doctrines of the Church in the natural man severally desire knowledge of the Lord, but without satisfaction, because the particular truths of faith from the Word are dissipated, and self-love has appropriated to evil the interior truths preserved by the Lord in the Church's obscurity of faith.
references.—AC 2708; AE 650, 730; AR 546, 567.JOEL 1 Other translations - next - Joel - BM Home - Full Page