Spiritual Meaning of

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That wings denote spiritual truths, is because birds in general signify intellectual things and thoughts (AC 40, 745, 776, 3219, 5149, 7441); consequently wings denote spiritual truths, because all the intellectual is from these truths. The intellectual derived from falsities, however discerning and acute it appears, is not the intellectual; for the intellectual sees from the light of heaven, and the light of heaven is spiritual truth, that is, the truth of faith. Wherefore where there is no truth of faith, there is no light, but thick darkness, and an intellectual in thick darkness is no intellectual. Wings also denote the powers which belong to spiritual truth from its good; for the wings with birds are like the hands or arms with man, and by the arms and hands are signified powers (AC 878, 3387, 4931-4937, 5327, 5328, 5544, 6292, 6947, 7518, 7673, 8050, 8153, 8281, 8305). There is power in spiritual truth from good, (AC 3563, 4931, 5623, 6344, 6423).

[3] That wings denote spiritual truths, or truths of faith which have power from good, is manifest from other passages in the Word. Wherefore when wings are attributed to the Divine, by them is signified the Divine truth which has omnipotence; as where they are attributed to the cherubs, by which is signified the Providence of the Lord, as in Ezekiel:--

Every cherub had four faces, and everyone of them had four wings; their wings were erect, the one toward the other; everyone had wings that covered their bodies. I heard the sound of their wings like the sound of great waters, like the voice of Shaddai; when they went, a voice of tumult like the voice of a camp; when they stood, they let down their wings. I heard the voice of their wings kissing one another, and the voice of the wheels beside them. The voice of the wings of the cherubs was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of God Shaddai. The likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings (Ezek. 1:6, 23, 24; 3:13; 10:5, 21).

[4] That here wings denote truth Divine is evident from each particular of the description, as well as from the fact that the wings were erect the one toward the other, that they covered their bodies, and that the sound of them was heard like the sound of great waters, like the voice of wheels, and like the voice of Shaddai, and also that the likeness of the hands of a man was under their wings. That the wings were erect the one toward the other represented the consociation of all in the Divine; that they covered their bodies signified that the Divine truth was a covering to the Divine good from which it proceeds. For the Divine good is a flame, and the Divine truth is the light therefrom, encompassing and thus covering the flame. The flame itself does not appear in heaven, but only the light in which the flame is, and which is thus perceived as heat, which is love. That a sound was heard like the sound of great waters signifies the quality of Divine truth in heaven; in like manner its voice like the voice of wheels, and like the voice of Shaddai for sound and voice are attributed to Divine truth. It is therefore said, the voice of great waters, because waters denote truths (AC 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 5668, 8137, 8138, 8568), as also the voice of the wheels, because wheels denote the truths of doctrinal things, for the reason that chariots denote doctrines of truth (AC 5321, 5945, 8146, 8148, 8215); and also the voice of God Shaddai, because God Shaddai denotes truth chiding in temptations and afterward consoling (AC 1992, 4572, 5628). The likeness of the hands of a man under the wings signified the omnipotence which belongs to Divine truth, because hands denote power, and in the supreme sense omnipotence, when they are attributed to the Lord.

[5] From all this it can be seen what was represented by the wings of the cherubs that were over the mercy-seat that was upon the ark of the covenant, and by their being expanded upward, and covering the mercy-seat (Exod. 25:20) also what the cherubs represented on the curtains of the tabernacle and on the veil, and likewise in the temple of Solomon; in like manner what they represented round about the new house described in (Ezekiel 41:18-20); also what was signified by the four animals round about the throne, each of which had for itself six wings round about (Rev. 4:6, 8); and what by the seraphim standing above the throne, each one of which had six wings (Isa. 6:1, 2).

[6] That in the internal sense wings denote spiritual truths, or the truths of faith, is evident in Ezekiel:--

Thus said the Lord Jehovah, A great eagle, great in wings, long in pinions, full of feathers which had broidery, came upon Lebanon, and took a little twig of the cedar, and carried it into a land of traffic; thereafter it took of the seed of the land, and set it in a field of sowing; it took it unto great waters, it sprouted and became a luxuriant vine. And there was another eagle, great in wings and full of feathers, to which behold the vine applied its roots, and sent forth its shoots unto it, in a good field by many waters; it was planted to make branch, and to bear fruit, that it might be for a vine of magnificence (Ezek. 17:3-8).

This prophetic utterance describes the setting up again of a spiritual church by the Lord. The eagle there spoken of denotes faith; great in wings and long in pinions denotes the truths of faith; broidery denotes memory-knowledge; growth therefrom is described by the little twig of the cedar from Lebanon, by a land of traffic, the seed of the land in a field of sowing, beside great waters the church itself thence arising is the vine. A vine" denotes the spiritual church, (AC 1609, 5113); and it denotes the external church, (AC 6375); but the vine of magnificence which was from the other eagle, denotes the internal church, (AC 6376); for the external of the church is described by one eagle, and its internal by the other. Afterward is described by the prophet in the same chapter how that church which was set up with the ancients was perverted with the Jews.

[7] In like manner by wings is signified the truth of faith in David:--

If ye will lie among the ranks, the wings of a dove will be overlaid with silver, and her pinions with yellow gold (Ps. 68:13);

the wings of a dove denote the truths of faith. A dove denotes faith, (AC 870); they are said to be overlaid with silver, because silver denotes truth from good (AC 1551, 2954, 5658, 6914, 7999).

[8] That wings denote truth Divine, is also evident from the following passages:--

They that await Jehovah are renewed in strength, they go up with wing like eagles (Isa. 40:31).

God rode upon a cherub, and did fly, He was carried upon the wings of the wind (Ps. 18:10; 104:3).

Treating of the Divine truth and its power. Again:--

Jehovah shall cover thee under His wing, and under His wings shalt thou confide; truth is a shield and a buckler (Ps. 91:4);

to be covered with the wing of Jehovah, and to confide under His wings, denote the protection and confidence that belong to faith. The like is meant by being under the shadow of God's wings" (Ps. 17:8); confiding in the shadow of His wings (Ps. 36:7; 57:1; 61:4); and singing in the shadow of His wings (Ps. 63:7).

[9] As most expressions have also an opposite sense, so likewise have wings, in which sense wings signify falsities, as in John:--

Out of the smoke of the pit of the abyss came forth locusts, and the voice of their wings was as the voice of many horses rushing to war (Rev. 9:2, 3, 9);

where wings denote falsities fighting against truth, for a locust denotes falsity in the extremes (AC 7643).

from AC 8764

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