Spiritual Meaning of

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The signification of saying by Myself have I sworn, and of saith Jehovah; is that all involve confirmation, and indeed from the Divine, that is, from Himself. The Divine cannot confirm from any other source than from Itself; and what it confirms is irrevocable, because it is eternal truth. Whatever Jehovah or the Lord speaks is eternal truth (Matt. 24:35), for it comes from the very being of truth. But His confirming it as it were by an oath is not for the reason that it may be more true, but for the reason that it is said to such as do not receive truth Divine unless it is so confirmed; for they have no other idea of Jehovah or the Lord than as of a man, who can say, and change, as we frequently read in the Word; but in the internal sense it is very different. Every one may know that Jehovah or the Lord never confirms anything by an oath; but when the Divine truth itself, and its confirmation, passes down to a man of such nature, it is turned into the semblance of an oath. The case herein is as it was with the devouring fire and smoke that appeared upon Mount Sinai before the eyes of the people, when Jehovah or the Lord came down (Exod. 19:18; Deut. 4:11, 12; 5:19-21): His glory in heaven, even mercy itself, appeared in this manner before the people there, who were in evil and falsity (AC 1861); and the case is the same with many things called the sayings and doings of Jehovah that are spoken of in the Word. It may be seen from this that the expression, by Myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, is significative of irrevocable confirmation from the Divine.

[2] That to swear, when predicated of Jehovah, signifies to confirm with a man who is of such nature, may be seen from many other passages in the Word; as in David:--

Jehovah remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations; which He made with Abraham, and His oath unto Isaac (Ps. 105:8, 9).

The case is the same with a covenant as with an oath, in that Jehovah or the Lord does not make a covenant with man, but when conjunction by love and charity is treated of, this is set forth in act as a covenant (AC 1864). In the same:--

Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a Priest forever, after the manner of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:4).

This is said concerning the Lord, and Jehovah hath sworn denotes irrevocable confirmation from the Divine, that is, that it is eternal truth.

[3] In the same:--

I have made a covenant with My chosen, I have sworn unto David My servant, Thy seed will I establish forever, and build up thy throne to generation and generation (Ps. 89:3, 4).

This also is concerning the Lord: to make a covenant with the chosen, and to swear unto David, denote irrevocable confirmation or eternal truth; David denotes the Lord (AC 1888); to make a covenant regards the Divine good; to swear, the Divine truth. In the same:--

My covenant will I not profane nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips; once have I sworn by My holiness, I will not lie unto David (Ps. 89:34, 35);

where also David denotes the Lord; the covenant here likewise has regard to the Divine good; and the thing that has gone out of My lips, to the Divine truth, and this on account of the marriage of good and truth which is in everything in the Word (AC 683, 793, 801, 2516, 2712).

[4] In the same:--

Jehovah hath sworn unto David in truth, He will not turn from it, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne, if thy sons will keep My covenant, and My testimony that I shall teach them (Ps. 132:11, 12);

Jehovah hath sworn unto David in truth manifestly denotes the confirmation of eternal truth; and therefore it is said, He will not turn from it; that by David is meant the Lord has been stated already; the oath was still to David, because he was of such a character that he believed that the confirmation was concerning himself and his posterity; for David was in the love of himself and of his posterity, and hence believed that it was concerning him; that is, as said above, that his seed should be established forever, and his throne to generation and generation; but this was said of the Lord.

[5] In Isaiah:--

This is as the waters of Noah unto Me for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee (Isaiah 54:9);

where to swear denotes making a covenant and confirming it by an oath. That it was a covenant, and not an oath, may be seen in (Genesis 9:11). In the same:--

Jehovah hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass (Isaiah 14:24).

In the same:--

Jehovah hath sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength (Isaiah 62:8).

In Jeremiah:--

Hear ye the word of Jehovah, all Judah, that dwell in the land of Egypt; behold I have sworn by My great name, saith Jehovah, that My name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah, saying, As the Lord Jehovih liveth, in all the land of Egypt (Jeremiah 44:26).

In the same:--

By Myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, that Bozrah shall become a desolation (Jeremiah 49:13).

In the same:--

Jehovah Zebaoth hath sworn by His soul, Surely I will fill thee with men as with the locust (Jeremiah 51:14).

In Amos:--

The Lord Jehovih hath sworn by His holiness, that behold the days shall come (Amos 4:2).

In the same:--

Jehovah hath sworn by the excellency of Jacob, Surely I will never forget any of their deeds (Amos 8:7).

[6] In these passages, Jehovah swearing by His right hand, by His great name, by Himself, by His soul, by His holiness, by the excellency of Jacob, signifies the confirmation there is in Jehovah or the Lord. A confirmation by Jehovah can be given only from Himself. The right hand of Jehovah, the great name of Jehovah, the soul of Jehovah, the holiness of Jehovah, the excellency of Jacob, signify the Lord's Divine Human: swearing" thereby was confirmation.

[7] Jehovah or the Lord swearing to give the land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or to their posterity, signifies in the internal sense the confirmation that He would give the heavenly kingdom to those who are in love to Him and faith in Him. It is they who are meant in the internal sense of the Word by the sons and the posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or of the fathers; which was also actually represented by the fact that the land of Canaan was given to their posterity, and that the church at that time with them represented the Lord's heavenly kingdom, as the land itself also did. That land and the land of Canaan in the internal sense is the Lord's kingdom, see (AC 1413, 1437, 1607). It is from this that it is said in Moses:--

That ye may prolong your days upon the ground which Jehovah sware unto your fathers, to give unto them, and to their seed, a land flowing with milk and honey that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, upon the ground which Jehovah sware unto your fathers, to give them, as the days of the heavens upon the earth (Deut. 11:9, 21).

From these passages it must now be evident that Jehovah's swearing was representative of confirmation, and indeed of an irrevocable one. This is still more plainly manifest in Isaiah:--

By Myself have I sworn, the word of righteousness is gone forth from My mouth, and shall not return, that to Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear (Isaiah 45:23).

[8] Moreover it was enjoined upon those who were of the representative Jewish Church, that when they confirmed covenants by an oath, and likewise vows, also promises, and sureties, they should swear by the name of Jehovah. The reason why this was enjoined upon them, although it was only permitted, was that the confirmation of the internal man also would thus be represented; so that oaths at that time in the name of Jehovah, were as other things were, namely, representative. That it was enjoined, that is, permitted, is evident in Moses:--

Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, and Him shall thou serve, and shalt swear by His name ye shall not go after other gods (Deut. 6:13, 14).

Again in the same:--

Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, Him shalt thou serve and to Him shalt thou cleave, and shalt swear by His name (Deut. 10:20).

In Isaiah:--

He who blesseth himself in the earth shall bless himself in the God of truth, and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth (Isaiah 65:16).

In Jeremiah:--

If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith Jehovah, unto Me shall thou return; and if thou wilt put away thine abominations from before Me, waver not; and thou shalt swear, Jehovah liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness (Jeremiah 4:1, 2).

In the same:--

If learning they will learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, then they shall be built up in the midst of My people (Jeremiah 12:16).

That they also swore by the name of Jehovah, or swore to Jehovah, may be seen in Isaiah:--

Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, that are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah, that swear by the name of Jehovah, and have made mention of the God of Israel, not in truth, and not in righteousness (Isaiah 48:1).

In the same:--

In that day there shall be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan, and swear to Jehovah Zebaoth (Isaiah 19:18).

In Joshua:--

The princes of the congregation sware to the Gibeonites by Jehovah the God of Israel (Joshua 9:18, 19).

[9] From this it is evident that they were permitted to swear by the name of Jehovah, or by Jehovah; yet it is evident that this was nothing else than a representative of the confirmation of the internal man. But it is known that internal men, that is, those who have conscience, have no need to confirm anything by an oath; and that they do not thus confirm. To them oaths are a cause of shame. They can indeed say with some asseveration that a thing is so, and can also confirm the truth by reasons; but to swear that it is so, they cannot. They have an internal bond by which they are bound, namely, that of conscience. To superadd to this an external bond, which is an oath, is like imputing to them that they are not upright in heart. The internal man is also of such a character that he loves to speak and act from freedom, but not from compulsion; for with them the internal compels the external, but not the reverse. On this account they who have conscience do not swear; still less do they who have perception of good and truth, that is, celestial men. These do not even confirm themselves or one another by reasons, but merely say that a thing is so, or is not so (AC 202, 337, 2718); wherefore they are still further removed from taking an oath.

[10] For these reasons, and because oaths were among the representatives which were to be abrogated, the Lord taught that we are not to swear at all, in these words in Matthew:--

Ye have heard that it has been said, Thou shalt not forswear thyself but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths. But I say unto you, Swear not at all neither by the heaven, for it is God's throne nor by the earth, for it is His footstool nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king neither shalt thou swear by thy head, for thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your speech be, Yea, yea; nay, nay; for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil (Matthew 5:33-37).

By these words is meant that we are not to swear at all by Jehovah, nor by anything which is of Jehovah or the Lord.

from AC 2842

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