Spiritual Meaning of

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A bow signifies the doctrine of truth; and this from the darts, arrows, or other missiles, which denote the doctrinal things from which and with which those in especial fight who are spiritual, and who were thence formerly called shooters with the bow.

[3] That a bow signifies the doctrine of truth is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:--

Jehovah's arrows are sharp, and all His bows are bent, the hoofs of His horses are counted as rock, and His wheels as the whirlwind (Isaiah 5:28).

Here the truths of doctrine are treated of; arrows are spiritual truths; bows are doctrine; the horses' hoofs are natural truths; the wheels are their doctrine; and as these things have such a signification they are attributed to Jehovah, to whom they cannot be attributed except in a spiritual sense; for otherwise they would be empty words and unbecoming. In Jeremiah:--

The Lord hath bent His bow like an enemy, He hath stood with His right had as an adversary, and hath slain all that were pleasant to the eye in the tent of the daughter of Zion, He hath poured out His fury like fire (Lam. 2:4).

Here bow denotes the doctrine of truth, which appears to those who are in falsities as an enemy and as hostile; no other how can be predicated of the Lord. In Habakkuk:--

O Jehovah, Thou ridest upon Thy horses, Thy chariots of salvation, Thy bow will be made quite bare (Habakkuk 3:8, 9).

Here also the bow is the doctrine of good and truth. In Moses:--

They grieved him, and shot at him, the archers hated him, his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob; from thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:23, 24);

where Joseph is spoken of. His bow denotes the doctrine of good and truth.

[4] In John:--

I saw and behold a white horse, and he that sat thereon had a bow, and there was given unto him a crown (Rev. 6:2).

The white horse denotes wisdom; he that sat thereon, the Word, as is said plainly in (Rev. 19:13), where the white horse is again treated of; and as he that sat thereon was the Word, it is evident that the bow is the doctrine of truth. In Isaiah:--

Who hath raised up righteousness from the east, and called him to his footsteps? he hath given nations before him, and made him to rule over kings; he gave them as dust to his sword, as the driven stubble to his bow (Isaiah 41:2);

where the Lord is treated of; the sword denotes truth; the bow, doctrine from Him. In the same:--

I will set a sign among them, and I will send such as escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan (Isaiah 66:19).

They that draw the bow denote those who teach doctrine. The signification of Tarshish may be seen above (AC 1156); that of Lud (AC 1195, 1231), that of Tubal (AC 1151), and that of Javan (AC 1152, 1153, 1155).

[5] In Jeremiah:--

For the voice of the horseman and of him that shooteth the bow, the whole city fleeth; they have entered into clouds, and climbed up upon the rocks, the whole city is forsaken (Jeremiah 4:29).

The horseman denotes those who declare truth the bow, the doctrine of truth, which they who are in falsities flee from or fear. In the same:--

Set yourselves in array against Babel round about; all ye that bend the bow shoot at her, spare not with the arrow, for she hath sinned against Jehovah (Jeremiah 50:14, 29; 51:2, 3);

where they that shoot, and bend the bow denote those who declare and teach the doctrine of truth.

[6] In Zechariah:--

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and He shall speak peace unto the nations (Zechariah 9:10).

Ephraim denotes the understanding of truth in the church; the bow, doctrine. In Samuel:--

David lamented with this lamentation over Saul, and over Jonathan his son, and he said it to teach the sons of Judah the bow (2 Sam. 1:17, 18).

where the bow is not the subject, but the doctrinal things of faith. In Ezekiel:--

Said the Lord Jehovah, This is the day whereof I have spoken; and they that dwell in the cities of Israel shall go forth, and shall set on fire and burn up the weapons, the shield and the buckler, the bow and the arrows, and the hand staff and the spear, and they shall kindle fire in them seven years (Ezekiel 39:8, 9).

The arms here named are all arms of spiritual war; the bow with the arrows denote doctrine and its truths. In the other life truths themselves when separated from good and represented to the sight, appear like arrows.

[7] As a bow signifies the doctrine of truth, in the opposite sense it signifies the doctrine of falsity. The same things in the Word have usually an opposite sense, as has been said and shown in several places; thus in Jeremiah:--

Behold a people cometh from the north country, and a great nation shall be stirred up from the sides of the earth; they lay hold on bow and spear; they are cruel, and shall not have compassion; their voice shall roar like the sea, they shall ride upon horses set in array as a man for battle, against thee, O daughter of Zion (Jeremiah 6:22, 23);

where bow denotes the doctrine of falsity. In the same:--

Behold a people cometh from the north, and a great nation, and many kings shall be stirred up from the sides of the earth, they lay hold on bow and spear, they are cruel, and have no compassion (Jeremiah 50:41, 42);

where the meaning is similar. In the same:--

They bend their tongue; their bow is a lie, and not for truth, they are grown strong in the land; for they have gone forth from evil to evil, and have not known Me (Jeremiah 9:3).

[8] That the bow is the doctrine of falsity is plainly manifest, for it is said, they bend their tongue; their bow is a lie, and not for truth. In the same:--

Jehovah Zebaoth said, Behold I will break the bow of Elam, the chief of his might (Jeremiah 49:35).

In David:--

Come, behold the works of Jehovah, who hath made desolations in the earth He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth, He breaketh the bow, He cutteth the spear in sunder, He burneth the chariots in the fire (Ps. 46:9).

In the same:--

In Judah is God known, His name is great in Israel; in Salem also shall be His tabernacle, and His dwelling-place in Zion; there brake He the fiery shafts of the bow, the shield and the sword, and the war (Ps. 76:1-3).

In the same:--

Lo the wicked bend the bow, they make ready their arrows upon the string, to shoot in darkness at the upright in heart (Ps. 11:2).

Here the bow and arrows plainly denote doctrinal things of falsity.

from AC 2686

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