LEVITICUS 17
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Leviticus Chapter 17

Summary of the Spiritual Sense

  1. There is revelation from the Lord to those who are in good and truth of every degree, that if they do not acknowledge that their power to worship is from Him through the heavens, they do violence to holy good and holy truth, because all genuine worship is really from good, in order that there may be harmony between the internal and external man, vers. 1-5.
  2. For such worship only, causes the conjunction of truth with good, removes worship from faith without charity, and is perpetual and eternal, vers. 6-7.
  3. And, therefore, any one who does not thus worship the Lord is separated from the church and from Divine truths, vers. 8-9.
  4. He who violates holy charity by mixing evils and falsities therewith averts himself from the Lord and separates himself from truths, because charity is the life of the church, and external worship ought to be in harmony with internal, vers. 10-12.
  5. Concerning the appropriation of good or truth from a principle of persuasion, from merely natural good, or from good contaminated by evil, vers. 13-16.

The Contents of each Verse

  1. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
  1. There is revelation from the Lord by Divine Truth giving the perception, [more]
  1. Speak to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them; This is the thing which the Lord has commanded, saying,
  1. That instruction is to be given to those who are in good and truth celestial, and in good and truth spiritual by influx and illumination, from which it is seen, [more]
  1. What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that kills an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that kills it without the camp,
  1. That every one who prepares to worship the Lord from natural good, or from celestial good, or from spiritual good, whether within the church or without, [more]
  1. And has not brought it to the door of the tent of meeting, to offer it as an oblation to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord: blood shall be imputed to that man; he has shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:
  1. And it is not acknowledged that he receives power to do so by conjunction with the Lord through the heavens, since all good is from Him through inmost principles; that man does violence to holy good and holy truth, and thereby separates himself from heaven and the church. [more]
  1. To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they sacrifice in the open field, even that they may bring them to the Lord, to the door of the tent of meeting, to the priest, and sacrifice them for sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord.
  1. For it is essential that the spiritual man should know and maintain that the delight and pleasure of all good affections in worship, which appear to be separated from Divine Good, are really from the Lord by conjunction with Him through the heavens, and this by means of the principle of good, so that thereby the external man is harmonized with the internal in worship from perfect freedom. [more]
  1. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting, and burn the fat for a sweet savour to the Lord.
  1. And thus, from good, shall the conjunction of truth with good be effected, through such acknowledgement of celestial good, because it is grateful and acceptable to the Lord, and productive of continual rest from all temptations. [more]
  1. And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices to the he-goats, after whom they go a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever to them throughout their generations.
  1. Neither shall the regenerated spiritual man worship the Lord from the falsities of faith without charity, by which truth is continually falsified; and for ever shall external worship, in the course of the heavenly life, be in perfect harmony with internal. [more]
  1. And you shall say to them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, that offers a burnt offering or sacrifice,
  1. And further, there is perception, by Divine Truth with every man of the Spiritual Church, internal or external, who engages, ostensibly, in the worship of the Lord either celestial or spiritual, [more]
  1. And brings it not to the door of the tent of meeting, to sacrifice it to the Lord; even that man shall be cut off from his people.
  1. And thereby does not acknowledge that the power to do so is from the conjunction of man with the Lord through the heavens, through the principle of heavenly love, shall be separated from the church and be ignorant of Divine truths. [more]
  1. And whatever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, that eats any manner of blood; I will set my face against that soul that eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
  1. And every man of the Spiritual Church either internal or external who violates holy charity by mixing the evils and falsities of the merely natural life therewith; that man averts himself from the Lord, because he profanes the truth, and is consequently separated from all truths. [more]
  1. For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes atonement by reason of the life.
  1. For external worship ought to be truly harmonious with internal; and in heavenly worship it is so, because therein is the conjunction of Divine Truth with Divine Good, whereby the external man is harmonized with the internal, since Divine Truth cleanses man from evil, because it is from Divine Good which is Life itself. [more]
  1. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourns among you eat blood.
  1. And it is for this reason that the spiritual man is taught from the Lord that it is unlawful to mingle the holy with the profane either in the internal man or in the external. [more]
  1. And whatever man there be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among them, which takes in hunting any beast or bird that may be eaten; he shall pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust.
  1. And therefore every man of the Spiritual Church, internal or external, who, from a principle of persuasion, appropriates any affection of good or affection of truth, he shall separate the holy from the profane by the sincere acknowledgement that of himself he is nothing but evil, and is condemned. [more]
  1. For as to the life of all flesh, the blood thereof is all one with the life thereof: therefore I said to the children of Israel, You shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whoever eats it shall be cut off.
  1. For all the genuine life of the external man is from the Divine Life of the Lord in the internal man; and thence it is that man is taught that he profanes by appropriating life to himself; for good manifested in truth is the life of man from the Lord; and he who claims it as his own, separates himself from all good and truth. [more]
  1. And every soul that eats that which dies of itself, or that which is torn of beasts, whether he be native or a stranger, he shall wash his clothes, and bathe himself in water, and be unclean until the even: then shall he be clean.
  1. And every man of the Spiritual Church who appropriates to himself that which is merely natural and void of spiritual life; or that which has been injured by evil inadvertently, and who yet is essentially, in good, whether he be of the internal church or of the external, shall be purified, externally and internally, by means of the Word; and shall remain impure until a change of state is brought about by such purification. [more]
  1. But if he wash them not, nor bathe his flesh, then he shall bear his iniquity.
  1. But if he neglects to purify himself in this way, then evil must remain with him. [more]

References and Notes

  1.  This is evident, because by Jehovah is denoted the Divine Being as to His love, 2001; by speaking is denoted influx, 2951; by Moses is denoted Divine Truth, or the Word, 7010; and by saying is denoted perception, 1791, 1822.

    [Back to 1]

  2.  Moses speaking denotes instruction by Divine Truth, 7010, 10355; to Aaron denotes to those who are in good, 9946; to his sons denotes to those who are in truth, 9946; to all the children of Israel denotes to those in good and truth spiritual, 3654; and saying "This is the thing which the Lord has commanded" denotes influx and illustration from which it is seen, 5486, 5732, 1791, 1822.

    [Back to 2]

  3.  Any one who kills an animal for sacrifice denotes any one preparing to worship, 10024; an ox, or a lamb, or a goat, denotes natural, celestial or spiritual good respectively, 10024, 10132; and in the camp or without the camp denotes whether within the church or without, because the camp denotes heaven, and thence the church, 10038.

    [Back to 3]

  4.  By not bringing the sacrifice to the door of the tent of meeting is denoted not acknowledging that he receives power to worship by conjunction with the Lord through the heavens, 2356, 35403; by offering it as an oblation to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord is denoted that all good is from the Lord through inmost principles, 349, 922, 9481; by blood being imputed to that man, and by his shedding blood, is denoted violence to holy good and holy truth, 374, 683; and by being cut off from his people is denoted separation from heaven and the church, 5302, 3294-5.

    [Back to 4]

  5.  By the children of Israel are denoted the spiritual man, 3654; by bringing their sacrifices which they sacrifice in the open field to the Lord to the door of the tent of meeting is denoted acknowledgement that the delight and pleasure of all good affections in worship, which appear to be separated from Divine Good, are really from the Lord by conjunction with Him through the heavens, 349, 368, 369, 2356, 35403; by being brought to the priest is denoted by means of the principle of good, 9946; and by sacrificing them for peace offerings to the Lord is denoted so that thereby the external man is in harmony with the internal in worship from perfect freedom, 10097.

    [Back to 5]

  6.  The priest sprinkling the blood on the altar before the Lord at the door of the tent of meeting denotes that thus from good shall the conjunction of truth with good be effected, 9946, 10047, 2356, 35403; and burning the fat for a sweet savour to the Lord denotes " because it is grateful and acceptable to the Lord, and productive of continual rest from all temptations," being celestial good ascribed to the Lord, 10054, 10033.

    [Back to 6]

  7.  No more sacrificing their sacrifices to he-goats denotes that the regenerated man will no longer worship the Lord from the falsities of faith without charity, 349, 922, 4169; after whom they go a whoring denotes by which truth is continually falsified, 2466; and this being a statute for ever to them throughout their generations denotes that for ever shall external worship, in the course of the heavenly life, be in perfect harmony with internal, 7884, 9789.

    [Back to 7]

  8.  Saying to them denotes further perception from Divine Truth, 1791, 1822, 7010; the man of the house of Israel denotes the man of the internal church, and the strangers sojourning among them denote the man of the external church, 3654, 7908; and offering a burnt offering or sacrifice denotes engaging, ostensibly, in the worship of the Lord either celestial or spiritual, 923.

    [Back to 8]

  9.  Not bringing it to the door of the tent of meeting denotes not acknowledging that the power to worship is by the conjunction of man with the Lord through the heavens, 2356, 35403; and that man being cut off from his people denotes separation from the church and ignorance of Divine truths, 5302, 3294-5; while by sacrificing before the Lord is evidently denoted the worship of the Lord from pure love, 2001.

    [Back to 9]

  10.  Any man of the house of Israel or of the strangers that sojourns among them denotes the man of the Spiritual Church internal or external, 3654, 7908; eating any manner of blood denotes violating holy charity by mixing the evils and falsities of the merely natural life therewith, 1001-1003; and the Lord setting Himself against that soul, and cutting him off from his people, denotes that that man averts himself from the Lord because he profanes the truth, and is consequently separated from all truths, 7599, 5302, 3294-5.

    [Back to 10]

  11.  The life of the flesh being in the blood denotes that external worship ought to be truly harmonious with internal, 156, 870, 1001; the Lord giving blood upon the altar denotes that in heavenly worship it is so, because therein is the conjunction of Divine Truth with Divine Good, 10047; making atonement denotes the harmonizing of the external man with the internal, 10042 II.; and the blood making atonement by reason of the life or soul denotes that this is so, since Divine Truth cleanses man from evil because it is from Divine Good which is Life itself, 3704, 4180.

    A careful study of the last references will enable us to understand how it is that blood viewed under one aspect denotes charity or good, and under another faith or truth. It is because that which proceeds from the Lord, and is called Divine Truth in one expression, has in it both the good and the truth which are the life of man.

    [Back to 11]

  12.  The Lord saying, therefore, to the children of Israel denotes for this reason man is taught from the Lord, 3654, 7304; and neither they nor the strangers among them eating blood denotes that it is unlawful to mingle the holy with the profane either in the internal or in the external man or church, 1001-1003, 7908.

    [Back to 12]

  13.  Again, the children of Israel or the stranger denote every man of the Spiritual Church internal or external, 3654, 7908; to take in hunting denotes to acquire from a principle of persuasion, 3309; a beast or a bird that may be eaten denotes good or truth that may be appropriated, 40, 44, 2187; and pouring out the blood thereof, and covering it with dust, denotes to separate the holy from the profane by the sincere acknowledgement that of himself he is nothing but evil, and is condemned, 1001-3, 9127, 249.

    [Back to 13]

  14.  As to the life of all flesh, the blood being one with the life thereof, denotes that all the genuine life of the external man is from the Divine life of the Lord in the internal man, 1001-1003, 3704, 4180; saying to the children of Israel denotes that thence it is that man is taught, 3654, 7304; not eating the blood of any manner of flesh denotes no profanation by the appropriation of life to himself, 1001-1003, 2187; the life of all flesh being in the blood thereof denotes that good manifested in truth is the life of man from the Lord, 3704, 4180; and whoever eating it being cut off denotes that he who claims life as his own separates himself from all good and truth, 5302, 3294-5.

    [Back to 14]

  15.  Every soul that eats that which dies of itself denotes every man who appropriates to himself that which is merely natural and void of spiritual life, 2187, 4171; or that which is torn of beasts denotes that which has been injured by evil inadvertently, 2187, 4171; whether he be native or a stranger denotes whether he be of the internal church or of the external, 3654, 7908; and washing his clothes, and bathing himself in water, and being unclean until even and then being clean, denotes being purified externally and internally by means of the Word, and remaining impure until a change of state is brought about by such purification, 3147, 5006, 10130, 7844, 4545.

    [Back to 15]

  16.  Not washing his clothes or bathing himself denotes neglecting to purify himself, 3147, 5006; and bearing his iniquity denotes that evil will remain with him, 9937.

    [Back to 16]

Discussion

Who that reads thoughtfully over the beginning of this chapter does not perceive at once that there is a hidden or spiritual meaning in it? For cannot the Lord be truly worshiped by those who desire to worship Him in any place whatever? And yet we find in this account that a very severe punishment is denounced upon every person attempting to offer sacrifices anywhere but at the door of the tent of meeting. How, then, are we to know the internal meaning here involved? It can only be by understanding the correspondences according to which the Word is written; otherwise, indeed, we have no guide; and if each reader is allowed to draw his own conclusions from the historical sense only confusion and misinterpretation are sure to be the result. How thankful, therefore, ought the man of the church to be that it has pleased the Lord to give to him at the present day a knowledge of these correspondences! And the Word itself shows us, in general, the meaning of the sacrifices, for we read concerning the Lord: "You delight not in sacrifice; else would I give it: you have no pleasure in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise " (Ps 51:16-17). That is to say, the real sacrifices involve the devotion of the affections to the Lord, these being denoted by the various animals, each, as we have already seen, denoting some particular affection, which certainly any one who chooses can consecrate to the service of the Lord at any time and place.

But again, seeing that such is the hidden meaning of the sacrifices, we are very anxious to know why they could not be offered anywhere but at the door of the tent of meeting. It was because not only animals, but places, correspond; and also buildings correspond, as well as all their parts. Different places represent different states, and motion from place to place denotes changes of state. This is quite obvious; and when we think of it in connection with our subject, we can recognize at once that although men may truly worship the Lord in any place, they cannot truly worship Him in any state. This, then, is the cause of the prohibition and of the limitation. We cannot worship the Lord in a merely natural state, when our hearts and minds are full of selfishness, of worldliness, or of mere pleasure. This everybody knows; and it is commonly and rightly said that when we enter the house of the Lord we ought to put away the thought of such things. Hence, then, we may comprehend what is meant by killing an ox, or a lamb, or a goat in the camp, or out of the camp, or in the open field. Our good affections from the Lord may be contaminated in the church, or out of the church, by the outward appearance of worship without the reality.

But now consider the penalty attached to such seeming worship. "Blood shall be imputed to that man; and he shall be cut off from his people." That is, as the references show, a person who thus falsely worships does violence to the holy principles he professes, and so far is separated from them. And yet how very common is this external worship separated from internal! And, in truth, very few there are who have not been guilty in this respect; for we have been like the people of Sardis, who had a name to live, while yet they were dead (Rev. iii. i). What, then, is the remedy? Our chapter tells us we must bring our offerings to the door of the tent of meeting and sacrifice them there. As a matter of fact, there is only one place, that is, one state, in which we can truly acknowledge the Lord and worship Him. And it is a state of genuine good exhibiting itself through knowledge, through faith, or through love. Or, in other words, it is a state of truth introducing us to good, just as the door admits us into an earthly temple where we can if we like worship the Lord thus in sincerity and truth. And this true worship is what is signified by the priest sprinkling the blood and burning the fat for a sweet savour to the Lord, while the former false worship is thereby abolished, and is aptly denoted by the idolatry specified. Hence, therefore, let the man of the church take heed of his habits, and estimate at its proper value the Divine law concerning worship which immediately follows, and with which, notwithstanding his delinquencies, he is really tacitly acquainted; for who does not well know that there cannot be true adoration of the Lord apart from an honest and earnest endeavour to keep His commandments from a principle, and with a desire to be good?

For in the next place, although we may admit that the careless worshipers of whom this part of the Word has hitherto treated may not be profaners as yet, it is quite possible that many of them, by persistence in a wrong course, may actually become so. And also to eat blood with the flesh, which, in what now follows, is implied, is to mingle what is holy with what is profane. To profane good and truth is to acknowledge and believe and love them, and yet to live contrary to them; and there are, as we have already seen, many degrees of this evil. A man may profane slightly, or he may profane deeply; his spiritual disease may be curable, or it may be uncurable; and it may be made very much worse by determined and deliberate hypocrisy; and, therefore, let us carefully guard against its beginnings; and when a person feels that he has within him some love of the truth, let him diligently cultivate it by first shunning the evil it condemns, and then earnestly practising the good of which it is the expression. For surely even our common perception may convince us that it is a greater advantage, in every way, to live in harmony with the Divine Law than to make a mere profession of doing so, while we contaminate ourselves by indulgence in the selfishness, worldliness or sensuality that inevitably lead to ruin.

But now there is an aspect of this subject which yet remains to be considered, and it is one to which we shall all do well to take heed.

It is that we may add to our inadvertent or careless neglect of the good and the true, or to our deliberate violation of them, a principle of persuasion which intensifies them, and which is represented in what we are here studying, as well as in other parts of the Word, by hunting. "Nimrod," it is said, "was a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Gen 10:9), and concerning this we read, "it signifies that he persuaded many. This appears from the nature of faith separate from charity, which is thus persuasive; also from the signification of hunting in the Word. Faith separate from charity is such that it easily persuades. The generality of mankind do not know what things internal are, but only things external, and the greater number live immersed in sensualities, pleasures and lusts; and they regard themselves and the world; therefore they are easily captivated by such a religion.... ' Behold, I am against your pillows to hunt the souls there, to make them fly away; and I will tear them from off your arms, and will let go the souls which you hunt, even the souls to make them fly away; and I will tear your kerchiefs, and deliver my people out of your hand; and they shall be no more in your hand for hunting' (Ezek 13:21). It is here explained what is meant by hunting, namely, that it is to deceive, by means of persuasions and by means of cognitions, which they pervert, and which they explain in their own favour, and according to the inclination of others," 1178. Hence we may see the nature of the persuasion of which our chapter speaks; and when we add that Nimrod means rebellious, or sleep of descent, or sleep of him that rules, we may still more clearly see it, and may be led by all means in our power to avoid falling into such a state as this, which aggravates our own unjust position, and takes away from others that precious liberty which is so necessary to all spiritual progress.

But there are also other points in the remainder of this interesting description which might be advantageously enlarged upon, such as the fact that the life of the external man, in a state of perfection, is derived from that of the internal, and that for this reason especially should profanation be avoided, as well as the other fact that he who is not cleansed from his impurity in this respect while he is still in the probationary state must remain in it. But let what has been already said suffice for the present as a stimulus to the higher life, and as an incentive to the study of the Word of the Lord in its internal sense, with a view to the final attainment of that life. For the more we examine and reflect carefully upon the particulars of Divine Truth therein contained, the more shall we be enlightened and energized to run with patience the course yet before us.

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