Spiritual Meaning of REVELATION 8:9
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AR 405. Verse 9. And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea that had souls died, signifies that they who have lived and do live this faith cannot be reformed and receive life. By "the third part" is signified all of them, as above; by "creatures" are meant those who can be reformed (n. 290); the reason is, because "to create" signifies to reform (n. 254). By "having souls" is signified to be capable of receiving life by reformation; by "they died," is signified that they who live that faith alone cannot receive life; the reason why they cannot, is because all are reformed by faith united to charity, thus by the faith of charity, and no one by faith alone, for charity is the life of faith. Since the affections and thence the perceptions and thoughts of spirits and angels, in the spiritual world, appear at a distance in the forms of animals or creatures upon the earth, which are called beasts, of creatures in the air which are called birds, and of creatures in the sea which are called fishes, therefore in the Word mention is so often made of "beasts," "birds," and "fishes," by which nothing else is meant; as in these passages:--

Jehovah hath a strife with the inhabitants of the earth, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God; and everyone that dwelleth therein shall waste away, the beast of the field, and the bird of the heavens; yea, the fishes of the sea shall be collected (Hos. 4:1, 3).

I will consume man and beast, the bird of the heavens and the fishes of the sea, and the stumbling blocks with the wicked (Zeph. 1:3).

There shall be a great earthquake upon the land of Israel, and the fishes of the sea, and the bird of the heavens, and the beast of the field, shall tremble before Me (Ezek. 38:18-20).

Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, the beasts of the field, the bird of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the way of the seas (Ps. 8:6-8).

This is concerning the Lord:--

But, ask now, the beasts, and they will teach thee; or the birds of heaven, and they shall announce to thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who knoweth not from all these that the hand of Jehovah hath done this? (Job 12:7-9).

Besides many other places. By "fishes" or "creatures of the sea," are here meant the affections and thence the thoughts of those men who are in general truths, and are thus more attracted by what is natural than what is spiritual; these are meant by "fishes" in the passages above cited, and also in the following:--

Behold, at My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness: their fish putrefy, and die of thirst, (Isa. 50:2).

The king of Egypt is a great whale that lieth in the midst of thy rivers; thou hast said, The river is mine, I have made it; therefore I will make the fish of thy rivers to adhere to thy scales, and I will leave thee in the wilderness, thee and all the fish of thy rivers (Ezek. 29:3-5).

These things were said to the king of Egypt, because by "Egypt" is signified the natural separated from the spiritual, and therefore by "the fishes of his rivers" are meant those who are in doctrinals, and from them in faith separated, which faith is only science; on account of this separation, one of the miracles that were performed there was as follows:--

That their waters were turned into blood, and that thereby the fish died (Exod. 7:17-25; Ps. 105:29).

Wherefore dost thou make man as the fishes of the sea, everyone draweth out with a hook, and gathereth into the net (Hab. 1:14-16).

"Fishes" here are for those who are in general truths, and in faith separated from charity. But "fishes" signify those who are in general truths and in faith conjoined with charity, in Ezekiel:--

He said unto me, These are the waters that go forth to the eastern boundary; they come to the sea, whence it is that every soul that creepeth liveth: and exceeding much fish; the fishers shall stand upon it to spread forth nets; its fish shall be according to their kinds, exceeding many like the fish of the great sea (Ezekiel 47:8-10).

In Matthew:--

Jesus said, The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and they collected fishes, the good they put into vessels, but cast the bad away (Matthew 13:47-48).

And in Jeremiah:--

I will bring again the sons of Israel upon their land, and, I will send for many fishers, who shall fish them (Jeremiah 16:15, 16).

He that knows therefore, that such persons and things are signified by "fishes," may see why:--

The Lord chose fishers for His disciples, and said, Come unto Me, and I will make you fishers of men (Matt. 4:18, 19; Mark 1:16, 17).

That the disciples, by the blessing of the Lord, caught an immense multitude of fishes, and the Lord said unto Peter, Fear not, from henceforth thou shalt catch men (Luke 5:2-10).

Why the Lord, when they wished to take tribute of Him, said to Peter to go to the sea, and draw up a fish, and give the piece of money found in it for Himself and him (Matt. 17:24-27).

Why the Lord, after the resurrection, gave the disciples a fish and bread to eat (John 21:2-13).

And said to them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).

For "the nations" which they converted were only in general truths, in natural truth more than in spiritual.

AR 406. And the third part of the ships perished, signifies that all the knowledges of good and truth from the Word serving for use of life were destroyed with them. "The third part" signifies all, as in (n. 400, 404, 405); "ships" signify the knowledges of good and truth from the Word serving for the use of life. That these are signified by "ships" is because ships cross the sea, and bring back the necessaries which are for the natural man for every use; and the knowledges of good and truth are the necessaries which are for the spiritual man for every use of it; for from them is the doctrine of the church, and according to this is life. "Ships" signify these knowledges, because they are containers; and in many places in the Word the container is taken for the thing contained, as a cup for wine, a platter for food, the tabernacle and the temple for the holy things in them, the ark for the law, the altars for worship, and so on. "Ships" signify the knowledges of good and truth in the following passages:--

Zebulon shall dwell at the shore of the seas, and he is for a port of the ships (Gen. 49:13).

By "Zebulon" is meant the conjunction of good and truth.

O Tyre, the builders have perfected thy beauty; of firs from Senir have they made all thy boards; they have taken the cedar of Lebanon to make a mast; they have made thine oars of the oaks of Bashan; thine oar-bench have they made of ivory, the daughter of steps from the isles of Kittim; the inhabitants of Sidon and Arvad were thy rowers; thy wise men were thy ship-masters; all the ships of the sea and their sailors were in thee to trade; the ships of Tarshish were thy troops in thy tradings; whence thou wast exceedingly filled and honored in the heart of the seas (Ezek. 27:4-9, 25).

This is concerning Tyre, because the church as to the knowledges of truth and good is signified by "Tyre" in the Word, as may be evident from the particulars concerning it in this chapter and in the eighteenth following, when understood in the spiritual sense. And as the knowledges of the truth and good of the church are signified by "Tyre," a ship is therefore described as to the particulars of it, and by each one is signified some quality of those knowledges that conduces to intelligence. What has the Word in common with the ships of Tyre and its commerce? The devastation of that church is afterwards described thus:--

At the voice of the cry of thy shipmasters the suburbs shall quake, and all that hold an oar shall descend from thy ships, all mariners and shipmasters of the sea shall cry out bitterly upon thee (Ezek. 27:28-30; Isa. 23:14, 15).

The devastation of Babylon as to all the knowledges of truth is similarly described in what follows in the Apocalypse:--

In one hour are so great riches devastated; every pilot and everyone employed upon ships, and the sailors, shall cry out, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, in which all who have ships In the sea were made rich (Apoc. 18:17, 19).

See the explanation below. The knowledges of truth and good are also signified by "ships" in the following passages:--

My days were swift, they fled away, they saw not good, they passed by with the ships of desire (Job 9:25, 26).

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do work in many waters, these see the works of Jehovah, and His wonders in the deep (Ps 107:23, 24).

The isles shall trust in Me, and the ships of Tarshish in the beginning, to bring thy children from afar (Isa. 60:9).

The kings gathered themselves together, terror seized them; thou shalt break the ships of Tarshish by the east wind (Ps. 48:4-7).

Howl, ye ships of Tarshish (Isa. 23:1, 14; Num. 24:24; Judges 5:17; Ps. 104:26; Isa. 33:21).

REVELATION 8:9    previous  -  next  -  text  -  summary  -  Revelation  -  Full Page

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