Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 13:2
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AR 572. Verse 2. And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, signifies a heresy destructive of the church, because it is from the truths of the Word falsified. By "beasts" in general are signified men as to affections (n. 567); and by "a leopard" is signified the affection or lust of falsifying the truths of the Word; and because it is a ferocious beast, and kills harmless animals, it signifies also a heresy destructive of the church. That "a leopard" signifies the truths of the Word falsified, is owing to its black and white spots, for by the black spots are signified falsities, and by the white among them is signified truth. Therefore because it is a fierce and savage beast, it signifies the truths of the Word falsified and thus destroyed. Similar is the signification of a "leopard" in the following passages:--

Can the Ethiopian change his akin, and the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good that have been taught to do evil (Jer. 13:23).

The lion out of the forest hath smitten the magnates, and a wolf of the fields shall devastate them, a leopard shall watch over their cities, everyone that goeth out shall be torn in pieces, because their backslidings are strong (Jer. 5:6).

"The leopard watching against their cities," means watching against the truths of doctrine. "A city" means doctrine (n. 194).

As they have forgotten Me, therefore I have become unto them as a lion, as a leopard by the way will I observe them (Hos. 13:6, 7).

"A way" also signifies truth (n. 176).

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard with the kid (Isa. 11:6).

Here the Lord‘s kingdom which is to come is treated of; "a kid" signifies the genuine truths of the church, and "a leopard" the same falsified.

The third beast which came up out of the sea was like a leopard which had upon the back of it four wings (Dan. 7:6).

Concerning the four beasts seen by Daniel, see below (n. 574).

AR 573. And his feet like a bear’s, signifies full of fallacies from the sense of the letter of the Word read but not understood. By "feet" is signified the natural, which is the ultimate, upon which that heresy, meant by "the leopard," subsists, and as it were walks, and this is the sense of the letter of the Word, and by "a bear" are signified those who read the Word and do not understand it, whence they have fallacies. That these are signified by "bears" was clear to me from the bears seen in the spiritual world, and from some there who were clothed in bear skins, who had all read the Word, but had not seen any doctrinal truth therein; also who had confirmed the appearances of truth therein, whence they had fallacies. In that world there appear bears that are hurtful, and bears that are harmless, and some that are white; but they are distinguished by their heads; those which are harmless have heads like calves or sheep. "Bears" have such a signification in the following passages:--

He hath overturned my highways, as a bear lying in wait for me, as a lion in secret places, he hath turned aside my ways, he hath made me desolate (Lam. 3:9-11).

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved, and there will I devour them like an immense lion, the wild beast of the field shall tear them (Hos. 13:7, 8).

The calf and the young lion shall lie down together, and the cow and the bear shall feed (Isa. 11:6, 7).

The second beast coming up out of the sea was like a bear, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth (Dan. 7:5).

The lion and the bear, which David took by the beard and smote (1 Sam. 17:34-37) has a like signification and likewise (2 Sam. 17:8). "The lion and the bear" are mentioned in those places, because by "a lion" is signified falsity destroying the truths of the Word, and by "a bear" are signified fallacies, which also destroy, but not in so great a degree; therefore it is said in Amos:--

The day of Jehovah is a day of darkness and not of light, as if one fleeth from a lion, and he falls upon a bear (Amos 5:18, 19).

We read in the second book of Kings, that:--

Elisha was mocked by boys, and they called him bald-head; and therefore forty-two boys were torn by the two bears out of the forest (2 Kings 2:23, 24).

This took place because Elisha represented the Lord as to the Word (n. 298); and because "baldness" signifies the Word without the sense of the letter, thus not anything (n. 47); and the number forty-two, blasphemy (n. 583); and "bears" signify the sense of the letter of the Word, read indeed, but not understood.

AR 574. And his mouth as the mouth of a lion, signifies reasonings from falsities as if from truths. By "mouth" is signified doctrine, preaching and discourse (n. 452), here reasoning from falsities of doctrine, because by "the head," in which is the mouth, is signified insanity from mere falsities (n. 568); by "a lion" is signified Divine Truth in power (n. 241, 471), but here falsity in power appearing like truth by reasonings (n. 573); hence by "his mouth being as the mouth of a lion," are signified reasonings from falsities as if from truths. That "a leopard," "a bear," and "a lion," signify such things, may appear from similar beasts that were seen by Daniel, of which it is thus written:--

Four great bats came up out of the sea, the first was like a lion, and had eagle‘s wings; I beheld till the wind thereof were plucked, and it was lifted up from the earth, and erected upon its feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. The second beast was like a bear, and it raised up itself on one side; and it had three ribs in its mouth, between its teeth; and it was said, Arise, devour much flesh. The third beast was like a leopard, which had upon its back four wings as of birds, the beast had also four heads, and dominion was given to it. The fourth beast was terrible and dreadful, and exceedingly strong, and it had great iron teeth, it devoured and brake in pieces, and trampled the residue with its feet (Dan. 7:3-7).

By these four "beasts" are described the successive states of the church, from its first to its last, even to its utter devastation as to every good and truth of the Word; after which is the Lord‘s advent. By "the lion" is signified the Divine Truth of the Word in its first state, and the establishment of the church thereby, which is meant by "being lifted up from the earth, and erected upon the feet like man, and a man’s heart being given to it." By "the bear" is described the second state of the church, when the Word is read indeed, but not understood; by "the three ribs between the teeth" are signified appearances and fallacies, and by "much flesh" is signified the sense of the letter of the Word as a whole. The third state of the church is described by "the leopard," by which is signified the Word falsified as to its truths; by "the four wings, as of birds, on his back," are signified confirmations of what is false. The fourth or last state of the church is described by "the beast terrible and dreadful," by which is signified the destruction of all truth and good, for which reason it is said that "it crushed in pieces and devoured, and trampled the residue with its feet;" lastly, the Lord‘s advent is described, and then the destruction of that church, and the establishment of a new one (Daniel 7:9-18). These four beasts were seen by Daniel to come up out of the sea successively, but by John the first three beasts were seen united in one body, and also coming out of the sea; the reason is, because in Daniel the successive states of the church are described by them, but here in the Apocalypse its last state is described, in which all the former states exist together; but as to the body this beast appeared like a leopard, and as to its feet like a bear, and as to its mouth like a lion; "the leopard" and "the bear" have everywhere a like signification; but by "a mouth like that of a lion" are signified reasonings from falsities, because it follows that "The beast out of its mouth spake blasphemies" (verses 5, 6), and by "his heads" insanity from mere falsities is signified.

AR 575. And the dragon gave hid his power, and his throne, and great authority, signifies that this heresy prevails and reigns in consequence of its reception by the laity. By "the dragon" is signified that heretical doctrine (n. 537); by "this beast" the laity are signified (n. 567), who do not speak from themselves, but from their teachers; and as they are the people themselves, it is manifest that from reception by them that heresy prevails and reigns. This therefore it is, which is signified by "the power, throne, and great authority," which the dragon gave to this beast, and by these words following, "And they adored the dragon who gave authority to the beast" (ver. 4). The dragon prevails and reigns through them, especially through this dogma of their religion: That the understanding is to be kept under obedience to faith; and that it is a faith which is not understood; and that, in spiritual things, faith in a thing which is understood is intellectual faith, which is not justifying. When these prevail with the laity, the clergy have authority, veneration, and a species of adoration, on account of the divine things which they believe they know, and which are to be received from their mouths. By "power" is signified prevalence; by "throne," government; and by "great authority," dominion.

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Author:  E. Swedenborg (1688-1772). Design:  I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002. www.BibleMeanings.info