NUMBERS 25      Other translations  -  previous  -  next  -  notes  -  discussion  -  Numbers  -  BM Home  -  Full Page

Numbers Chapter 25

Summary of the Spiritual Sense

  1. The man of the Spiritual Church, before being made perfect, claims merit to himself for his good deeds, and consequently worship is profaned by falsity; and revelation takes place that such worship and its falsifications must be destroyed, vers. 1-5.
  2. For by such worship the church is not only in secret, but openly corrupted, except that those who are in good, and in a state of temptation, zealously destroy it in themselves, and thus completely, vers. 6-9.
  3. Concerning the happy state, even to eternity, of those who are in celestial-natural good and thus overcome, vers. 10-13.
  4. The quality of the wicked who thus profane good and truth is described, and involves separation from the church, a state of confirmation in evil and falsity externally, and of the violation of the heavenly marriage internally, vers. 14-15.
  5. Wherefore the man of the church is instructed that he must persistently oppose the deceitful insinuations of all falsity from evil, vers. 16-18.

The Contents of each Verse

  1. And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab:
  1. But the man of the Spiritual Church, before being made perfect, claims merit to himself for his good deeds, and consequently is influenced by the falsity derived from the evil of adulterated good, and falsifies the truth. [more]
  1. For they called the people to the sacrifice of their gods; and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods.
  1. And consequently also Divine worship is profaned by falsities; evil is appropriated; and there is a decline to a state of falsity from corrupted good. [more]
  1. And Israel joined himself to Baal-peor: and the anger of the lord was kindled against Israel.
  1. And thus the church is in selfish love the most external, and is averted from the Lord. [more]
  1. And the lord said to Moses, Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up to the lord before the sun, that the fierce anger of the lord may turn away from Israel.
  1. Therefore there is perception from the Divine Good by the Divine Truth that the essential principles in such worship lead men to a state of confirmation in selfish love, unless there is repentance by which aversion may be removed and conjunction established. [more]
  1. And Moses said to the judges of Israel, Slay you every one his men that have joined themselves to Baal-peor.
  1. And also perception is given from Divine Truth to the rational faculty, that the man of the church must at once reject such profane worship. [more]
  1. And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought to his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting.
  1. For it certainly happens with such false worshipers, that infernal falsity conjoined with evil will openly corrupt the church, especially as to the affections of good, and as regards Divine Truth internal and external, even when, in a state of temptation there is mourning on account of lost truth, and fluctuation between good and evil. [more]
  1. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from the midst of the congregation, and took a spear in his hand;
  1. But when he, who is tempted, is principled in love to the Lord and love to the neighbour, even as to the natural man from the Lord through the celestial and spiritual heavens, and perceives himself thus beset, he prepares to oppose evil and falsity by Divine Truth from the Word, [more]
  1. And he went after the man of Israel into the pavilion, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.
  1. Endeavouring, by a change of state, to search out and destroy them in himself, and this he accomplishes both as to thought and affection, in the course of the conflict; and thus the church is delivered from the consequences of profane worship, which would involve the complete destruction of remains. [more]
  1. And those that died by the plague were twenty and four thousand.
  1. But, however, he who perseveres in his wickedness is completely devastated as to all good and truth. [more]
  1. And the lord spoke to Moses, saying,
  1. But with the good there is further perception from the Lord by Divine Truth, [more]
  1. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
  1. That celestial - natural good from the Lord through the celestial and spiritual heavens removes aversion from the Lord and promotes conjunction with Him, because it is zealous for the preservation of the integrity of good and truth in worship, and by its life and actions promotes the removal of aversion from the Lord, so that man, in this case, is not vastated. [more]
  1. Wherefore say, Behold, I give to him my covenant of peace:
  1. Wherefore it is perceived that conjunction with the Lord and heavenly peace belong to celestial-natural good, [more]
  1. And it shall be to him, and to his seed after him, the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel.
  1. And that to eternity it is true that love, charity, and obedience from love and charity always effect regeneration by conjunction with the Lord from Whom is all celestial love; for this love is eminently zealous for good and truth; and thence also is the removal of all evil, by which man is reconciled to God. [more]
  1. Now the name of the man of Israel that was slain, who was slain with the Midianitish woman, was Zimri, the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers' house among the Simeonites.
  1. But the quality of him who, being a man of the church, is vastated as to all good and truth, because he has corrupted and falsified them, is such, that he must be separated from the church, since he has confirmed himself in a state of opposition to it, although he has been in its primary truths, which teach that faith in the understanding must be followed by obedience in the life. [more]
  1. And the name of the Midianitish woman that was slain was Cozbi, the daughter of Zur; he was head of the people of a fathers' house in Midian.
  1. And the quality of the falsity by which such are deluded, is that it delights in lying, externally, and in the destruction of the heavenly marriage internally, its central principle being the very essential of all falsity. [more]
  1. And the lord spoke to Moses, saying,
  1. And therefore there is further revelation from the Lord by Divine Truth giving the perception, [more]
  1. Vex the Midianites, and smite them:
  1. That all such falsity should be utterly destroyed both as to will and thought, [more]
  1. For they vex you with their wiles, with which they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor, and in the matter of Cozbi, the daughter of the prince of Midian, their sister, which was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor.
  1. Because it is aggravating and deceitful, especially in making external worship alone or from selfish motives, appear to be lawful, and still more in promoting deceit, and in violating the heavenly marriage, through the abuse of intellectual truth by falsifications, and by the destruction of remains, when corrupted worship is confirmed as true. [more]

References and Notes

  1.  Israel abiding in Shittim, and people beginning to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab, denotes that the man of the Spiritual Church, before being made perfect, claims merit to himself for his good deeds, and consequently is influenced by the falsity derived from the evil of adulterated good, and falsifies the truth, 3654, 1293, 9472, 489, 2468, 2466, 10652.

    [Back to 1]

  2.  The Moabites calling the people to the sacrifices of their gods, denotes that consequently Divine worship is profaned by falsities, 2468, 1259, 923, 9283 ; the people eating, denotes that evil is appropriated, 1259, 1287; and bowing down to their gods, denotes a decline to a state of falsity from corrupted good, 2153, 9283.

    [Back to 2]

  3.  Israel joining himself to Baal-peor, denotes that the church is in selfish love most external, 3654, chap 23:28; and the anger of the Lord being kindled against Israel, denotes aversion from the Lord, 5798.

    [Back to 3]

  4.  The Lord saying to Moses, denotes perception from Divine Good by Divine Truth, 2001, 7010, 1822; "Take all the chiefs of the people, and hang them up to the Lord before the sun," denotes that the essential principles of such worship lead men to a state of confirmation in selfish love, 10652; and "that the fierce anger of the Lord may turn away from Israel," denotes unless there is repentance by which aversion may be removed and conjunction may be established, 5798, 10702, 2001.

    [Back to 4]

  5.  Moses saying to the judges of Israel, denotes perception given from Divine Truth to the rational faculty, 7010, 1822, 9047; and "Slay you every one his men that have joined themselves to Baal-peor," denotes that the man of the church must at once reject such profane worship, 6767, 10652, ver. 3.

    [Back to 5]

  6.  One of the children of Israel coming and bringing to his brethren a Midianitish woman, denotes that it certainly happens with such false worshipers that infernal falsity conjoined with evil will openly corrupt the church, 32424, 5947, 3654, 367; in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation (or assembly) of the children of Israel, denotes especially as to the affections of good, and as regards Divine Truth internal and external, 367, 7010, 7843, 3654; and while they were weeping at the door of the tent of meeting denotes, even when in a state of temptation, there is mourning on account of lost truth, and fluctuation between good and evil, 2689, 2356, 2357.

    [Back to 6]

  7.  Phinehas means mouth of brass, and therefore he denotes love to the Lord and love to the neighbour even as to the natural man, 3313, 425, 1038; the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, denotes procedure from the Lord through the celestial and spiritual heavens, 9812, 10017; seeing it denotes perception, 2150; and rising up from the midst of the congregation (or assembly) and taking a spear in his hand, denotes preparation to oppose evil and falsity by-Divine Truth from the Word, 2401, 200, 2686, 878.

    In the reference it is shown that Eleazar denotes the natural degree, which is according to the series there; but here, according to the series, he signifies the spiritual degree, because after the death of Nadab and Abihu he took up their representation, and also after the death of Aaron, the representation of the celestial degree.

    [Back to 7]

  8.  His going after the man of Israel into the pavilion, denotes an endeavour by a change of state to search out and destroy evil and falsity in himself, 3335, ver, 6, 32424; and his thrusting both of them through, clearly denotes that this he accomplishes as to thought and affection in the course of the conflict, 4727, 476; while by the plague being stayed from the children of Israel is denoted that the church is delivered from the consequences of profane worship which would involve the destruction of remains, 10219, 3654.

    [Back to 8]

  9.  Those that died by the plague being twenty and four thousand, denotes that he who perseveres in his wickedness is completely devastated as to all good and truth, 6119, 10219, 10652.

    [Back to 9]

  10.  The Lord speaking to Moses and saying, denotes that with the good there is further perception from the Lord by Divine Truth, 2001, 2951, 7010, 1822.

    [Back to 10]

  11.  "Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest," denotes celestial-natural good from the Lord through the celestial and spiritual heavens, ver. 7; "has turned my wrath away from the children of Israel," denotes that this removes aversion from the Lord and promotes conjunction with Him, 5798, 2001, 10702; "in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them," denotes because it is zealous for the preservation of the integrity of good and truth in worship, 8875; and "so that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy " denotes that, by its life and actions, celestial-natural love promotes the removal of aversion from the Lord, so that man, in this case, is not vastated, 10431, 3654 8875.

    [Back to 11]

  12.  "Wherefore say, Behold I give to him my covenant of peace," denotes that it is perceived that conjunction with the Lord and heavenly peace belong to celestial-natural good, 1822, 666, 8899.

    [Back to 12]

  13.  "It shall be to him, and to his seed after him the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was jealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel," denotes that, to eternity, it is true that love, charity, and obedience from love and charity, always effect regeneration by conjunction with the Lord from Whom is all celestial love; for this love is eminently zealous for good and truth, and thence also is the removal of all evil, by which man is reconciled to God, ver. 7, 726, 666, 9946, 8875, 2001, 10042, 3654.

    [Back to 13]

  14.  The name of the man of Israel that was slain, who was slain with the Midianitish woman, being Zimri the son of Salu, a prince of a fathers' house among the Simeonites, denotes that the quality of him who. being a man of the church, is vastated as to all good and truth, because he has corrupted and falsified them, is such that he must be separated from the church, since he has confirmed himself in a state of opposition to it, although he has been in its primary truths, which teach that faith in the understanding must be followed by obedience in the life, 145, 476, 3654, 4727, 1482, 7833, 3869. But Zimri means my field, my vine, my branch, and is derived from a root which means cut off or pruned, and thus he denotes a corrupted man of the Spiritual Church requiring to be separated on account of his corruption, because confirmed in evil, 1071, 5302, 3292; and his being the son of Salu and a Simeonite, denotes his origin and quality as one who has been disposed to obedience from faith, 5912, 3869.

    [Back to 14]

  15.  The name of the Midianitish woman that was slain being Cozbi the daughter of Zur, and his being head of the people of a fathers' house in Midian, denotes that the quality of the falsity by which such are deluded is that it delights in lying, externally, and in the destruction of the heavenly marriage, internally, its central principle being the very essential of all falsity, 145, 476, 3242, 4727, 3728, 7833. But Cozbi means a liar, and thus she denotes falsity, externally; Zur means adulterous, and therefore denotes what destroys the heavenly marriage, internally, and Zur being the head of a people of a fathers' house in Midian, denotes that its central principle, indeed, is the very essential of all falsity, 3728, 1259, 7833. 3242.

    [Back to 15]

  16.  The Lord speaking to Moses saying, denotes that therefore there is further revelation from the Lord by Divine Truth giving the perception, 2001, 2951, 7010, 1822.

    [Back to 16]

  17.  "Vex the Midianites and smite them," denotes that all falsity should be utterly destroyed both as to will and thought, 9313, 4251, 3242.

    [Back to 17]

  18.  "For they vex you with their wiles with which they have beguiled you in the matter of Peor," denotes "because it is aggravating and deceitful, especially in making external worship alone, or from selfish motives, appear to be lawful," vers. 2, 3; "and in the matter of Cozbi the daughter of a prince of Midian their sister, which was slain on the day of the plague in the matter of Peor," denotes "and still more in promoting deceit, and in violating the heavenly marriage, through the abuse of intellectual truth by falsifications, and by the destruction of remains, when corrupted worship is confirmed as true," vers. 6-9, and 14-15, 1475.

    [Back to 18]

Discussion

From this interesting little chapter we learn, in the literal sense, that although the false prophet Balaam was not permitted to curse the children of Israel, as Balak so earnestly desired, the reason being because they represented the true Spiritual Church of the Lord, yet he afterwards succeeded in gratifying the king of the Moabites by enticing the Israelites to the worship of their false gods, and also to commit whoredom with the women of Midian, by which, as we have learned, is represented the falsification of the truth of the church by those who are in a state of adulterated good; for the Israelites, while in the plains of Moab, also represented such profanation of the truth. And that this action of the Israelites occurred through the advice of Balaam we learn from chap 31:16. But our first section especially teaches that when the man of the church is in this state of adulterated good, he is led to claim merit to himself for his good deeds, which is signified by the people abiding in Shittim. For this word means, according to Cruden, what turns away or divests, or scourge, or rods, or thorns, and thus denotes the evils and falsities of selfish love, which claim merit to themselves for their good deeds on account of the wood which grew in that district; wood signifying the good of merit. But, in the best sense, this place, for the same reason, denotes "the goods of merit which are from the Lord, and thus which are the Lord's alone (as) appears from the signification of wood as denoting the good of merit, concerning which see nos. mo, 2784, 2812, 4943, 8740. The good of merit is the good which proceeds from the Lord's Divine Human, and which is Christian good, that is spiritual good with man," 9472. Now this passage requires particular attention, for otherwise it may be misunderstood. It is said that the good of merit is spiritual good with man, but as just above it is also said that such goods are the Lord's alone, it is evident that in proportion as any one receives this good and acknowledges it, in the same proportion he will cease to claim merit to himself, or to be selfishly delighted with the good he does. One of the indications, therefore, that we are in spiritual good is that we cease to claim merit because we do good for the sake of good, and are ashamed of the selfish feeling of pleasure because we have done some good thing. And hence now we see what is meant spiritually, in the opposite sense, by the Israelites abiding in Shittim, when they bowed down to the gods of the Moabites, and committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab.

But in the other part of this section we are to understand, by the punishment inflicted upon the chiefs, that whenever man profanes worship by making it selfish, he becomes more and more confirmed in selfishness, unless he repents truly and utterly rejects such worship. It is essential, therefore, that every man of the church should most diligently avoid these three evils, namely, the claiming of merit, worshiping the Lord only from selfish motives, and falsifying the truth of the Word by doing so. And we now proceed to the second section.

And the important lesson here set before us in the internal sense is that so surely as we love and practise any evil thing in secret, so surely it will happen that we shall at length corrupt the church to which we belong by practising it openly, just as one of the children of Israel brought to his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel. And particularly will it come to pass, if we persist in falsifying the truth of the church by conjoining it with evil affections, while yet we appear before men as pious and good Christians, that at length our wickedness will be made manifest to all, unless we diligently do the work of repentance internally as well as externally, even because we have been made conscious of our sinfulness, and have spiritually wept at the door of the tent of meeting, by which is signified mourning on account of lost truth, and fluctuation between good and evil in a state of temptation.

And also we next have to reflect upon what immediately follows; for this describes the state of temptation, and the victory which must surely be ours if, indeed, we are determined to do what is here taught. First, then, in order to successfully overcome the tendency in ourselves to profane worship, even the worship of a good life, as well as that of the sanctuary, we must act from the affection of natural good, which the Lord has given us, and no longer from selfish motives; for it is this natural good which is represented by Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, as the meaning of the name Phinehas clearly shows, as well as the signification of Eleazar, and Aaron, as given in the foregoing explanation. It may here be asked, however, how we can act from this natural good if we have it not, and if we are only conscious of selfish good. The answer is that no one who is acquainted with the truths of the church from the Word needs to be without this natural good, because these truths are given in order that every one may act according to them, and not according to his own merely selfish impulses and desires; and when a person does this he acts from the natural good, which comes from the Lord, and is embodied in truths he has learned. For good continually flows in from the Lord into the truths which a man knows, and when he obeys those truths, even simply because they are truths, then he has natural good from the Lord, and he is filled with zeal to destroy in himself the falsity and evil which pervert and falsify the truth, and make him fancy that selfish worship is true worship. And here we have to remember also that this natural good comes to us from the Lord through spiritual and celestial good, namely, such good as is represented by Eleazar and Aaron respectively.

But now we read that Phinehas took a spear in his hand, with which he destroyed the guilty couple, in consequence of which the plague among the Israelites was stayed. And we learn from the explanation already given that this spear signifies Divine Truth from the Word. Hence therefore we have a very valuable practical lesson. That is, we learn that no state of evil can be overcome simply by the knowledge of the truth, or by the desire to be good which flows into such knowledge. On the contrary, if we wish to conquer evil by power given to us in natural good from the Lord, we must properly apply the truth from the Word, which condemns as well as exposes the very evil by which we are troubled. And as for the plague, we also know that it denotes the destruction of remains, by which is meant that the good and truth stored up in the interior degrees of the human mind by the Lord is no longer of use in promoting the salvation of man, although nothing that is good and true can ever be absolutely destroyed.

But next we have to consider the reward of Phinehas; and here indeed, as at the close of the last chapter, we saw clearly the real meaning of the Lord's work of Redemption, so now we have clearly set before us His work of Atonement, or of the reconciliation of man with God through the reception of good from Him. For this is exactly the teaching of the apostle Paul where he says, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses " (2 Cor 5:19), as well as the teaching in the spiritual sense of the early chapters of the book of Leviticus. And, in this connection, it may be useful to point out the true doctrine of imputation, or of reckoning, as it is here called. For can any one imagine, for a moment, that the all-loving and all-wise God and Lord can impute to a finite man anything, which he cannot possess, as a finite man? And when this is seen to be impossible, it may also be seen that neither could the sins of mankind be imputed to the Lord the Redeemer so that He suffered the punishment due to man; nor could the righteousness of the Lord be imputed to man, so that he could be righteous on account of the Lord's obedience; for Redemption was a Divine work, and could not be thus imputed. But, in the true sense, evil is not imputed to a person who believes in the Lord, is redeemed by Him, and regenerated, because he ceases to be in evil, by such redemption and regeneration; while good is imputed to such a person because he is in good from the Lord continually by virtue of such redemption and regeneration. And lastly the covenant of peace here given to Phinehas, denotes that conjunction with the Lord and heavenly peace belong to him who is in celestial-natural good, since this means no longer any conflict between the internal and external man, on account of the perfect harmony between them. This then is the glorious prospect for all those who truly love the Lord.

And now, again combining the last two sections, we cannot fail, in the first instance, to notice once more the adaptability of the names here mentioned to the purposes of the inner sense, through the correspondence of the meaning of each; and although that of Salu does not appear in our lists, yet we find the word under a root which, in one of its forms, signifies opposition through selfish love, and we know that this is the character of those represented by Zimri. And secondly, we are led to reflect that it is the duty of the man of the Spiritual Church, earnestly and intelligently, by power given from the Lord, to contend against all forms of falsity from evil. For such falsities, as the narrative in the literal sense, and the series of the internal sense forcibly show, are calculated, when cultivated, to prove destructive of all heavenly principles. May we then, here and in other parts of the Word in which the Midianites are named, and represent in the internal sense falsities from evil, profit by the instruction given, and especially remember that only truth and good can agree together, and by no means falsity and good; while, notwithstanding, those who innocently believe some falsity to be the truth, because their religion teaches that it is so, are excused for their error, if they are in good even the good represented by Phinehas and are at length delivered entirely from such falsities, and have given to them truths agreeing with their good. And thus we now see that the last section of our chapter sets prominently before us the law of Divine Order concerning the final removal of falsities in the church and in the individual.

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