Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 18:13
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AR 777. Verse 13. And cinnamon and incense and ointment and frankincense, signifies that they no longer have worship from spiritual goods and truths, because they have nothing within their worship which corresponds to the things here named. In the foregoing verse it treats of all the things that are of the doctrine of the church, but in this verse it treats of all the things which are of the worship of the church. The things which are of doctrine are premised, and those that are of worship follow, because the quality of the worship is from the goods and truths of doctrine; for worship is nothing but an external act, in which there should be the internals, which are of doctrine. without these the worship is without its essence, life and soul. Now because all the things which are of doctrine have relation to the goods which are of love and charity, and to the truths which are of wisdom and faith, and these goods and truths, according to the degrees of their order, are celestial, spiritual and natural, so also are all the things of worship. And because in the preceding verse the spiritual things of doctrine are mentioned first, so likewise here the spiritual things of worship, which are "cinnamon, incense, ointment and frankincense;" and the celestial things of worship are named in the second place, which are "wine, oil, fine flour and wheat;" and the natural things of worship are named in the third place, which are "beasts of burden and sheep." That all these goods and truths of worship should be from the Word, is signified by their being "of horses, of chariots, of the bodies and of the souls of men." This is the series of the things in the spiritual sense in this verse. But by all those things which are enumerated in this verse, the like is meant as by those that are enumerated in the preceding verse; that is, that these goods and truths are not with them, because they have not with themselves such things as correspond to them. This is evident from what precedes, where are these words, that "the city of Babylon should be burnt up with fire, and no one should buy her merchandise any more" (verses 8-11); and from those which follow, where are these words, that "all things fat and splendid had departed from her, and were not found any more" (ver. 14); and that they were devastated (verses 16, 19). But something shall now be said of the things that have been mentioned, which are cinnamon, incense, ointment, and frankincense. These are mentioned, because they are such things as incense was made of. That the worship of the Lord from spiritual goods and truths is signified by "incense," may be seen above (n. 277, 392): and that incense was pleasing, because it was from fragrant things which correspond (n. 394). All the fragrant things by which it was prepared are meant by the cinnamon, incense, and ointment and their essential by the frankincense. This is manifest from the enumeration of the spices of which it was compounded, in Moses:--

Jehovah said unto Moses, take to thee spices, stacte. onycha, and galbanum, and pure frankincense; and thou shalt make of them incense, an ointment, the work of a perfumer, salted, pure, holy (Exod. 30:34-37).

Of these the incense was made, by which, as was said, worship from spiritual goods and truths was signified. Cinnamon is mentioned here in place of all the spices there. But what each of those spices signifies in the spiritual sense, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, upon Exodus, where they are severally explained.

AR 778. And wine and oil and fine flour and wheat, signifies that they no longer have worship from celestial truths and goods, because they have not within in the worship the things which correspond to the things above mentioned. These things are similar to those which have been said just above and before, with the difference only that celestial goods and truths are here signified. What goods and truths are called celestial, and what spiritual, see (n. 773); and that as they have not these, neither are they in their worship. For, as was said above, the goods and truths of doctrine are in worship as the soul is in the body; wherefore worship without them is inanimate worship. Such is worship which is holy in externals, in which there is not any holy internal. That "wine" signifies truth from the good of love, see (n. 316). That "oil" signifies the good of love will be seen in the following paragraph. By "fine flour" is signified celestial truth, and by "wheat" is signified celestial good. That the truths and goods of worship are signified by "wine," "oil," "fine flour" and "wheat," is because the drink-offerings and meal-offerings consisted of them, which were offered upon the altar together with the sacrifices; and by the sacrifices and by the offerings offered upon the altar worship is signified, for the chief part of worship consisted in them. That the drink-offerings, which were wine, were offered upon the altar together with the sacrifices, see (Exod. 29:40; Lev. 23:12, 13, 18, 19; Num. 15:2-15; 28:11-15 18 to end; 29:1-7; Isa. 57:6; 65:11; Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19; Ezek. 20:28; Joel 1:9; Ps. 16:4; Deut. 32:38). That oil was also offered upon the altar together with the sacrifices (Exod. 29:40; Num. 15:2-15; 28:1-31). That the meal-offerings, which were of fine flour of wheat, were offered upon the altar together with the sacrifices (Exod. 29:40; Lev. 2:1-13; 5:11-13; 6:14-21; 7:9-13; 23:12, 13, 17; Num. 6:14-21; 15:2-15; 18:8-20; 28:1-15; 29:1-7: Jer. 33:18; Ezek. 16:13-19; Joel 1:9; Mal. 1:10, 11; Ps. 112:2). The bread of faces or the shewbread upon the table in the tabernacle was also made of fine flour of wheat (Lev. 23:17; 24:5-9). It may be seen from this, that these four things, wine, oil, fine flour and wheat, were holy and celestial things of worship.

AR 779. Since "oil" is here mentioned among the holy things of worship, and signifies celestial good, something shall be said here of "the oil of anointing," which was in use among the ancients, and was afterwards commanded to the sons of Israel. That in ancient times they anointed stones set up as statues, is manifest from (Gen. 28:18, 19, 22). That they also anointed warlike arms, shields and bucklers (2 Sam. 1:21; Isa. 21:5). That it was commanded that they should prepare oil of holiness, with which they should anoint all the holy things of the church; that with it they anointed the altar and all its vessels, also the tabernacle and all things of it (Exod. 30:22-23; 40:9-11; Lev. 8:10-12; Num. 7:1). That they anointed with it those who should perform the function of the priesthood and their garments (Exod. 29:7, 29; 30:30; 40:13-15; Lev. 8:12; Ps. 133:1-3). That with it they anointed the prophets (1 Kings 19:15, 16). That they anointed the kings with it, and therefore the kings were called "the anointed of Jehovah" (1 Sam. 10:1; 15:1; 16:3, 6, 12, 13; 24:6, 10; 26:9, 11, 16, 23; 2 Sam. 1:16; 2:4, 7; 5:17; 19:21; 1 Kings 1:34, 35; 19:15, 16; 2 Kings 9:3; 11:12; 23:30; Lam. 4:20; Hab. 3:13; Ps. 2:2, 6; 20:6; 28:8; 45:7; 84:9; 89:20, 38, 51; 132:17). Anointing with the oil of holiness was commanded because "oil" signified the good of love, and represented the Lord, who as to His Human is the very and the only Anointed of Jehovah, anointed not with oil, but with the Divine good itself of the Divine love; wherefore also He was called "the Messiah" in the Old Testament and "the Christ" in the New (John 1:41; 4:25); and "Messiah" and "Christ" signify anointed. Hence it is that the priests, the kings, and all the things of the church were anointed, and when anointed were called holy; not that they were holy in themselves, but because they thereby represented the Lord as to the Divine Human. Hence it was sacrilege to harm a king, because he was "the anointed of Jehovah" (1 Sam. 24:6, 10; 26:9; 2 Sam. 1:16; 19:21). Moreover, it was a received custom to anoint themselves and others to testify gladness and benevolence of mind; but with common oil or some other noble oil, but not with the oil of holiness (Matt. 6:17; Mark 6:13; Luke 7:46; Isa. 61:3; Amos 6:6; Micah 6:15; Ps. 92:10; 104:15; Dan. 10:3; Deut. 28:40). That it was not permitted to anoint themselves or others with the oil of holiness (Exod. 30:32, 33).

AR 780. And beasts of burden, and sheep, signifies that they no longer have worship from the external or natural goods and truths of the church, because they have not anything within their worship which corresponds to the above mentioned things. This is similar to the things explained above (n. 777, 778); with the difference that there are signified spiritual goods and truths, and celestial goods and truths, but here natural goods and truths; for the distinction between which, see above (n. 773). By "beasts of burden and sheep" are signified the sacrifices which were made with oxen, bullocks, he-goats, sheep, kids, rams, she-goats, lambs. Oxen and bullocks are meant by "beasts of burden," and kids, rams, she-goats, and lambs, by "sheep," and sacrifices were the externals of worship, which are also called the natural things of worship.

AR 781. And of horses and carriages and the bodies and souls of men, signifies all those things according to the understanding of the Word and doctrine thence, and according to the goods and truths of the sense of its letter, which they have not, because they falsify and adulterate the Word, by applying the things which are therein to dominion over heaven and the world, contrary to its genuine sense. These things are named in the possessive case, because they qualify those which precede. That the understanding of the Word is signified by "horses," may be seen (n. 298). That by "chariots" doctrine from the Word is signified (n. 437); hence the like by "carriages." That the goods and truths of the sense of the letter of the Word are signified by "the bodies and souls of men," is because similar things are signified by them as by the body and blood in the Holy Supper. By "the body" in the Holy Supper is signified the Lord‘s Divine good, and by "the blood" the Lord’s Divine truth; and because they signify these, they also signify the Divine good and the Divine truth of the Word, because the Lord is the Word. But here it is said "the soul" instead of "blood." The reason is, that truth is likewise signified by the soul, see above (n. 681); and because the blood is called "the soul" in the Word (Gen. 9:4, 5; Lev. 17:12-14; Deut. 12:23-25). The like is signified by the "soul of man" (Ezek. 27:13); also by the "seed of man" (Dan. 2:43). Similar things are signified by "horses" and "carriages" in Isaiah:--

Then shall they bring all your brethren upon horses and upon chariots and upon carriages, and upon mules and upon coursers, unto the mountain of My holiness, Jerusalem (Isa. 66:20).

This is said of the Lord‘s New Church, which is Jerusalem, concerning those therein who are in the understanding of the Word and in doctrine thence, which are "horses," "chariots," and "carriages." Now because they who are of the Roman Catholic religious persuasion falsify and adulterate the Word, by the application to dominion over heaven and the world, it is signified that they have no goods and truths from the Word, and therefore neither in their doctrine. Concerning this Jeremiah says:--

The king of Babel hath devoured me, he hath disturbed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up as a whale, he hath filled his belly with my delicacies (Jer. 51:34).

A sword is against the horses of Babel, and against his chariots, and against his treasures, that they may be pillaged; drought is upon her waters, that they may be dried up; because it is a land of graven images, and they glory in their terrible things (Jer. 50:37, 38).

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