Spiritual Meaning of

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 Laver, Basin

The signification of a laver (basin), wherein is water for washing, is the natural of man; and the signification of brass, is the good of this (AC 425, 1551). In Exod 30:17 the subject treated of is washing, and it is said that Aaron and his sons should wash their hands and their feet when they entered into the Tent of meeting, or came near unto the altar to minister; and in other places it is said that they who had become unclean should wash themselves and their garments, and so they would be clean; from which it can be seen that washing represented purification from evils; thus the washing of the body and the garments represented the purification of the heart and mind. Everyone who thinks from any enlightenment can see that the evils of the heart and mind were not wiped away by the washing, but only the uncleanness of the body and the garments; and that after this was wiped away the evils still remained; and that evils cannot possibly be washed away by water, but by repentance.

[2] From all this it is again evident that the things which were instituted among the Israelitish nation were external things that represented internal ones, and that these internal things were the real holy things of the church among them, and not the external things without the internal things. But that this nation nevertheless made all holiness to consist in the external things, and nothing of it in the internal things, is evident from the words of the Lord in the Gospel of Matthew as follows:--

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and intemperance. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, and the outside also shall become clean. Ye make yourselves like unto whitened sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but within are full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness (Matt. 23:25-27; Mark 7:2-8; Luke 11:39).

[3] That the laver signifies the natural, is because by washing therein is signified purification from evils, and purification from evils is effected in the natural; and moreover by vessels in general is signified what is of the natural man (AC 3068, 3079, 9394), because the natural is the recipient of the spiritual things of the internal man. By the natural is meant the external of man, that is, what is called the external man. It may seem strange that by the laver is signified the natural of man; but be it known that the subject here treated of in the internal sense is purification from evils, and it is man that is purified; hence it follows that something of man is signified by that in which the washing, by which is signified purification, was effected. That this is the natural is because as already said, purification is effected in this. Moreover all things which were built up for the sake of worship among the Israelitish and Jewish nation signified things of heaven and the church, consequently such as belong to man; for unless they had signified something with man, they would not have represented any. thing.

[4] As by the laver is signified the natural of man; by the waters in the laver, the truths which are of faith; and by washing, purification from evils; it can from this be known what was signified by the brazen sea near the temple, and what by the twelve oxen which bore it; and likewise by the ten other lavers also placed near the temple, and by the lions, the oxen, and the cherubs engraved on them, also by the wheels like those of a chariot under them. The signification of all these things is evident when it is known what is signified by a laver, by water, and by washing, and when it is further known how the case is with purification from the evils in man, for each and all were representative of celestial and spiritual things.

[5] The brazen sea made by Solomon, and set near the temple, is thus described:--

He made the molten sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, the height five cubits; and a line of thirty cubits compassed it round about. And under the brim of it round about were wild gourds, for ten cubits, compassing the sea round about. It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and the sea was set upon them above, and all their hinder parts were inward. Its thickness was a hand-breadth; and the brim thereof was according to the work of the brim of a cup, the flower of a lily; it held two thousand baths. And the sea was set on the right shoulder of the house eastward over against the south (1 Kings 7:23-26, 39).

[6] This vessel or laver is called a sea, because by the sea is signified memory-knowledge in general, and all memory-knowledge belongs to the natural of man. That the sea denotes memory-knowledge in general, (AC 28, 2850, 8184); and that this knowledge belongs to man's natural, (AC 1486, 3019, 3020, 3309, 3310, 5373, 6004, 6023, 6071, 6077, 9918). The reason why this laver was according to the work of the brim of a cup was because by a cup, a bowl, or a goblet, is also signified the memory-knowledge that belongs to the natural or sensuous of man (AC 9557, 9996). By the twelve oxen were signified all the goods of the natural and sensuous man in the complex, because they were for a base, and by a base is signified that which is ultimate, and supports. That twelve denotes all things in the complex, (AC 3272, 3858, 3913); and that an ox denotes the good of the natural man, (AC 2781, 9135).

[7] That they looked to all the quarters of the world was because the good of the natural man is the receptacle of all things that flow in from the world, as well those which relate to goods as those which relate to truths. The diameter of ten cubits signified what is full (AC 3107); and the circumference thirty cubits signified a full and complete complex (AC 9082); two thousand baths signified the conjunction of good and truth, thus purification and regeneration, for regeneration is nothing else than the conjunction of good and truth; two thousand signify the same as two, for multiplied numbers signify the like as the simple ones from which they are compounded (AC 5291, 5335, 5708, 7973); and two denotes conjunction (AC 5194, 8423). The brazen sea being set on the right shoulder of the house toward the east over against the south signified that it looked to the Lord, for the Lord is the East (AC 101, 9668); the horse or temple denotes heaven and the church where the Lord is (AC 3720). From all this it can now be seen what was signified by the brazen sea, consequently what by the laver, namely, the natural of man, in which is purification.

from AC 10235

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