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The signification of shaving the head and the beard is to reject such things as are of the exterior natural; for hair that was shaved off signifies this natural (AC 3301). The hair both of the head and of the beard corresponds in the Grand Man to the exterior natural; and therefore sensuous men (that is, they who have believed nothing but what is natural, and have not been willing to understand that there is anything more interior or purer than what they could apprehend by the senses) in the other life when in the light of heaven, they appear hairy, so much so that the face is scarcely anything but beard. Such hairy faces have often been seen by me. But they who have been rational, that is, spiritual men, in whom the natural has been rightly subordinated, appear becomingly furnished with hair. Nay, from the hair in the other life may be known the quality of spirits in respect to the natural. The reason why spirits appear with hair is that in the other life spirits appear altogether as do men on earth. Hence it is that the angels spoken of in the Word as being seen are sometimes described even in respect to their hair.

[2] From what has now been said it is evident what is signified by shaving, as in Ezekiel:--

The priests the Levites the sons of Zadok shall put off their garments wherein they minister and lay them in the bedchambers of holiness, and they shall put on other garments, neither shall they sanctify the people in their garments, and they shall not shave their heads and let down their hair, in polling they shall poll their heads (Ezek. 44:19, 20);

this is said of the new temple and the new priesthood, that is, of the new church; and the putting on of other garments signifies holy truths; their not shaving their heads nor letting down their hair, but in polling to poll their heads, signifies not rejecting the natural, but accommodating it so that it may be in accord, thus making it subordinate. Everyone who believes the Word to be holy can see that these and the rest of the things said in the prophet about the new earth, the new city, the new temple, and new priesthood, will not be at all as is stated in the letter there; as that the priests the Levites, the sons of Zadok, will minister therein, and will then put off the garments of their ministry and put on other garments, and will poll their heads; but that all and everyone of these things signify such things as belong to a new church.

[3] Neither would the statutes have been commanded in regard to the high priest, the sons of Aaron, and the Levites, in the following passages from Moses, if they had not contained holy things within:--

The priest chief of his brethren, upon whose head the anointing oil has been poured, and he hath filled his hand to put on the garments, shall not shave his head, and shall not unrip his garments (Lev. 21:10).

The sons of Aaron shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave the corner of their beard; they shall be holy to their God, and not profane the name of their God (Lev. 21:5, 6).

Thus shalt thou purify the Levites. Sprinkle the waters of expiration upon them, and they shall make to pass a razor over their flesh, and they shall wash their garments; and they shall be pure (Num. 8:7).

What is there that is holy or that is of the church in these things--that the high priest should not shave his head nor unrip his garments; that the sons of Aaron should not make baldness upon their head nor shave the corner of their beard, and that the Levites when being purified should be shaved with a razor upon their flesh? But to have the external or natural man subordinate to the internal or spiritual, and thus to have both subordinate to the Divine, this is a holy thing, and is what the angels perceive when these passages of the Word are being read by man.

[4] So also it was with the Nazirite, who was holy unto Jehovah:--

If any man should by chance die very suddenly beside him, and he hath defiled the head of his Naziriteship; then he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing, on the seventh day shall he shave it. And when the days of his Naziriteship are fulfilled, the Nazirite shall shave the head of his Naziriteship at the door of the tent of meeting; and shall take the hair of his head and put it on the fire that is under the sacrifice of peace-offerings (Num. 6:9, 13, 18);

what the Nazirite was, and what holiness he represented, may be seen above (AC 3301). That holiness should abide in his hair can never be comprehended unless it is known what hair is by correspondence, thus to what holiness the hair of the Nazirite corresponded. In like manner it cannot be comprehended how Samson had strength from his hair, of which he speaks thus to Delilah:--

There hath not come up a razor upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite of God from my mother's womb; if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man. And Delilah called a man, who shaved off the seven locks of his head and his strength went from upon him. And afterward when the hair of his head began to grow after it was shaved off, strength returned to him (Judges 16:17, 19, 22);

who without knowledge derived from correspondence can know that the Lord as to the Divine natural was represented by the Nazirite, and that the Naziriteship had no other meaning, and that Samson's strength was from this representative?

[5] One who does not know, and especially who does not believe, that there is an internal sense in the Word, and that the sense of the letter is representative of the things in the internal sense, will scarcely acknowledge that there is anything holy in these things; when yet that which is most holy is in them. If a man does not know, and especially if he does not believe, that the Word possesses an internal sense which is holy, neither can he know what the following passages bear in their bosom, as in Jeremiah:--

Truth is perished and is cut off from their mouth. Cut off the hair of thy Naziriteship, and cast it away (Jer. 7:28, 29).

In Isaiah:--

In that day shall the Lord shave with a razor that is hired in the passages of the river, through the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet; and shall also consume the beard (Isa. 7:20).

In Micah:--

Make thee bald, and shave thee on account of the sons of thy deliciousnesses, enlarge thy baldness as the eagle, because they have migrated from thee (Micah 1:16).

Nor can he know what holiness is involved in that which is related of Elijah, in that he was a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of skin about his loins (2 Kings 1:8); nor why the children who called Elisha bald were torn by she-bears out of the wood (2 Kings 2:23, 24).

[6] By Elijah and by Elisha was represented the Lord as to the Word, thus by them was represented the Word, specifically the prophetic Word, (AC 2135A, 2762). The hairiness and the girdle of skin signified the literal sense, a hairy man this sense in respect to truths, and a girdle of skin about the loins this sense in respect to goods. For the literal sense of the Word is its natural sense, because it is from the things in the world; and the internal sense is the spiritual sense, because it is from the things in heaven. These two senses are circumstanced as are the internal and external of man; and because there is no internal without an external, for the external is the ultimate of order in which the internal subsists, therefore it was a reproach against the Word to call Elisha bald, implying that it is devoid of an external, thus that the Word has no sense that is adapted to the apprehension of man.

[7] From all this it is evident that all the details of the Word are holy; but the holiness therein is not apparent to the understanding, except that of one who knows its internal sense; nevertheless by influx from heaven it comes to the perception of him who believes the Word to be holy. This influx is effected through the internal sense in which the angels are; and although this sense is not understood by the man, still it affects him, because the affection of the angels who are in it is communicated. From this it is plain also that the Word has been given to man in order that he may have communication with heaven, and that the Divine truth which is in heaven may affect him by means of the influx.

from AC 5247

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