Spiritual Meaning of

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That a lion denotes the good of celestial love and the derivative truth, in its power, and also that in the opposite sense it denotes the evil of the love of self in its power, is evident from passages in the Word where a lion is mentioned. That it denotes the good of celestial love is evident in John:--

Behold the lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, hath conquered to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof (Rev. 5:5);

here the Lord is called a lion from the omnipotence belonging to His Divine love and the Divine truth thence derived. In other passages in the Word, Jehovah or the Lord is compared to a lion, as in Hosea:--

They shall go after Jehovah; He shall roar like a lion; for Be shall roar, and the sons shall come with honor from the sea (Hosea 11:10).

[3] In Isaiah:--

Thus said Jehovah unto me, Like as when the lion roareth, and the young lion over his prey, if a fulness of shepherds come running upon him, he is not dismayed at their voice, and is not afflicted by their tumult; so shall Jehovah Zebaoth come down to fight upon Mount Zion and upon the hill thereof (Isa. 31:4);

here the omnipotence of Divine good is compared to a lion, and the omnipotence of the Divine truth thence derived is compared to a young lion, for it is said that Jehovah Zebaoth shall come down to fight upon Mount Zion and upon the hill thereof; for Mount Zion signifies the good of Divine love, and the hill thereof, the Divine truth thence derived (AC 795, 796, 1430, 4210).

[4] For the same reason the four animals in Ezekiel and in John, by which are meant cherubs, had the faces of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. In Ezekiel:--

The likeness of the faces of the four animals: the face of a man and the face of a lion on the right side had they four; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; and they four had the face of an eagle (Ezek. 1:10; 10:14).

And in John:--

Before the throne were four animals full of eyes before and behind. And the first animal was like a lion, and the second animal like a calf the third animal had a face as a man, the fourth animal was like a flying eagle (Rev. 4:6, 7).

That these animals were cherubs is said in Ezekiel 10, and is also plain from the description of them in John, namely, that they had eyes before and behind; for by cherubs are signified the Lord's foresight and providence (AC 308): that they had the face of a lion was from the omnipotence of Divine truth from Divine good, which is of providence. It was similar with the cherubs about the new temple, in (Ezekiel 41:19).

[5] That the celestial, who are in power from good and the derivative truth, which are from the Lord, are meant by lions, is evident in David:--

There is no want to them that fear Jehovah. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger; but they that seek Jehovah shall not want any good (Ps. 34:9, 10).


The lions roar after their prey, and to seek their food from God. The sun ariseth, they are gathered together, and lay them down in their habitations (Ps. 104:21, 22).

And in the prophecy of Balaam:--

At that time it shall be said to Jacob and Israel, What hath God wrought! Behold the people shall rise up as an old lion, and as a young lion shall he lift himself up; he shall not rest until he eat the prey (Num. 13:23, 24).

[6] And again:--

When Balaam saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes, he said, He boweth down, he coucheth as a lion, and as an old lion, who shall rouse him up? (Num. 24:2, 9).

It is the celestial that is here described, because it was the celestial order that the tribes represented by their encampment which Balaam saw in spirit when he saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes (AC 6335). This order is from the Divine good through the Divine truth from the Lord, and in this order is all power, here denoted by the lion which boweth down and coucheth.

[7] In Micah:--

The remains of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep; who if he go down, treadeth down and scattereth, and there is none rescuing. Let thy hand be exalted over thine enemies, and let all thy foes be cut off (Micah 5:8, 9);

where the lion and young lion denote celestial good and celestial truth, which are the remains of Jacob. The meaning is similar in (Isaiah 21:8; Jer. 25:38; Ezek. 32:2; Zech. 11:3). The like was represented by the lions at the ivory throne of Solomon, two at the sides of the throne, and twelve upon the six steps (1 Kings 10:18-20); also by the lions upon the borders of the ten bases of brass (1 Kings 7:29, 36).

[8] That in the opposite sense a lion signifies the evil of the love of self in its power, is plain from the following passages:--

No lion shall be there, and no ravenous beast shall go up thereon, It shall not be found there; but they shall go free; thus the redeemed of Jehovah shall return and shall come to Zion with singing (Isa. 35:9, 10).

In Jeremiah:--

Why is Israel become a prey? The young lions rear against him, they utter their voice, they reduce his land to a waste (Jer. 2:14, 15).


The lion cometh up from his bramble, and the destroyer of the nations hath journeyed, he went forth from his place to reduce the land into a waste (Jer. 4:7).


They have not known the way of Jehovah, the judgment of their God. Wherefore a lion out of the forest hath smitten them, and a wolf of the plains will lay them waste (Jer. 5:4, 6).

And in Nahum:--

Where is the habitation of the lions, and the pasture of the young lions; where the lion stalked, the old lion, the lion's whelp, and none made afraid? The lion seizeth enough for his whelps, and strangleth for his old lionesses, and filleth his caves with prey, and his habitations with ravin. Behold I am against thee, saith Jehovah Zebaoth, and I will burn her chariot in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions; and I will cut off thy prey from the earth (Nahum 2:11-13);

speaking of Nineveh. In the above passages a lion denotes the power possessed by the evil of the love of self when it destroys and lays waste; and so in (Jer. 12:8; 49:19; 50:17, 44; 51:38; Ezek. 19:2-11; 33:2; Joel 1:6; Zeph. 3:3; Ps. 57:5; 58:6; 91:13; Rev. 13:2).

from AC 6367

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