Spiritual Meaning of

Bible Meanings Back to Words index Back to Artifact words index

The signification of bread is what is celestial (AC 276, 680, 681, 1798). That bread signifies what is celestial, is because bread means all food in general, and thus in the internal sense all celestial food. What celestial food is, see (AC 56-58, 680, 681, 1480, 1695). That bread means all food in general, is evident from the following passages of the Word. We read of Joseph that, He said to him who was over his house, that he should bring the men--his brethren--home, and should slay what was to be slain, and should make ready; and afterwards, when they had made ready, and were to eat, be said, Set on bread (Gen. 43:16, 31); meaning that they should make ready the table; bread thus denoting all kinds of food. We read concerning Jethro that, Aaron came, and all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses father-in-law before God (Exod. 18:12), where also bread denotes all kinds of food. Concerning Manoah, in the Book of Judges:--

Manoah said unto the Angel of Jehovah, Let us I pray detain thee, and let us make ready before thee a kid of the goats. And the Angel of Jehovah said unto Manoah, Though thou detain me, I will not eat of thy bread (Judges 13:15, 16),

where bread denotes a kid of the goats. When Jonathan ate of the honeycomb, they told him that Saul had adjured the people, saying:--

Cursed be the man that shall eat bread this day (1 Sam. 14:27, 28),

where bread denotes all food. Again, concerning Saul:--

When Saul sat down to eat bread, be said unto Jonathan, Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to bread either yesterday or to-day? (1 Sam. 20:24, 27),

meaning to the table, where were all kinds of food. We read concerning David that he said to Mephibosheth the son of Jonathan:--

Thou shalt eat bread on my table continually (2 Sam. 9:7, 10).

So too concerning Evilmerodach, who said that,

Jehoiachin king of Judah should eat bread before him continually, all the days of his life (2 Kings 25:29).

Concerning Solomon also:--

Solomon's bread for each day was thirty cors of fine flour, and sixty cors of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen of the pastures, and a hundred sheep, besides the hart and the wild she-goat, and the antelope, and fatted fowl (1 Kings 4:22, 23),

where bread plainly denotes all of these things.

[2] Now as bread means all kinds of food in general, it therefore signifies in the internal sense all those things which are called celestial foods, as may be still more evident from the burnt-offerings and sacrifices that were made of lambs, sheep, she goats, kids, he-goats, heifers, and oxen, which were called in one word the bread of the offering made by fire unto Jehovah, as is clearly evident from the following passages in Moses, where the various sacrifices are treated of, of which it is said that,

The priest should burn them upon the altar, the bread of the offering made by fire unto Jehovah, for an odor of rest (Lev. 3:11, 16),

all those sacrifices and burnt-offerings being so called. Again:--

The sons of Aaron shall be holy unto their God, neither shall they profane the name of their God; because the offerings to Jehovah made by fire, the bread of their God, they do offer. Thou shalt sanctify him, because he offereth the bread of thy God. A man of the seed of Aaron in whom there shall be a blemish, shall not come nigh to offer the bread of his God (Lev. 21:6, 8, 17, 21),

where also sacrifices and burnt-offerings are the bread. The same is true of (Leviticus 22:25). Again:--

Command the sons of Israel, and say unto them, My oblation, My bread for offerings made by fire, of an odor of rest, shall ye observe, to offer unto Me at their appointed time (Num. 28:2).

Here also bread denotes all the sacrifices which are there enumerated. In Malachi:--

Offering polluted bread upon Mine altar (Malachi 1:7),

where also the sacrifices are spoken of. The hallowed things of the sacrifices, which they ate, were also called bread, as is evident from these words in Moses:--

He that toucheth an unclean thing shall not eat of the hallowed things, but he shall wash his flesh in water, and when the sun is down, he shall be clean; and afterwards he shall eat of the hallowed things, because this is his bread (Lev. 22:6, 7).

[3] The burnt-offerings and sacrifices in the Jewish Church represented nothing else than the celestial things of the Lord's kingdom in the heavens, and of the Lord's kingdom on earth (that is, in the church), also of the Lord's kingdom or church with each person, and in general all those things which are of love and charity, for these are things celestial; and each kind of sacrifice represented something special and peculiar. All these were at that time called BREAD, and therefore when sacrifices were abolished, and other things succeeded in their place for external worship, it was commanded that bread and wine should be made use of.

[4] From all this we may now see what the bread (in the Holy Supper) signifies, namely, all the things represented by the sacrifices, thus in the internal sense the Lord Himself. And because the bread signifies the Lord Himself, it signifies love itself toward the universal human race, and what belongs to love as also man's reciprocal love to the Lord and toward the neighbor. The bread thus signifies all celestial things, and in the same way the wine signifies all spiritual things, as the Lord also teaches in plain words in John. They said,

Our fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven for the bread of God is He that cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. They said unto Him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on Me shall never thirst (John 6:31-35).

And again:--

Verily I say unto you, he that believeth on Me hath eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers did eat the manna in the wilderness, and are dead; this is the bread that cometh down from heaven, that one may eat thereof and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; if anyone eat of this bread, he shall live to eternity (John 6:47-51).

[5] Now because the bread is the Lord, it belongs to the celestial things which are of love, which are the Lord's; for the Lord is the celestial itself, because He is love itself, that is, mercy itself; and because this is so, bread means all the celestial, that is, all the love and charity with man, for these are from the Lord; and therefore they who are not in love and charity have not the Lord with them, and thus are not gifted with the good and happy things that in the internal sense are signified by bread. This outward symbol was commanded because the greatest part of the human race are in external worship, and therefore without some outward symbol there would be scarcely anything holy with them. And therefore when they live in love to the Lord and in charity toward the neighbor, they nevertheless have appertaining to them what is internal, although they do not know that this love and charity is the veriest internal of worship. Thus in their external worship they are confirmed in the goods which are signified by the bread.

[6] In the Prophets also the celestial things of love are signified by bread (Isa. 3:1, 7; 30:23; 33:15, 16; 55:2; 58:7, 8; Lam. 5:9; Ezek. 4:16, 17; 5:16; 14:13; Amos 4:6; 8:11; Ps. 105:16), in like manner by the bread of faces upon the table (Lev. 24:5-9; Exod. 25:30; 40:23; Num. 4:7; 1 Kings 7:48).

from AC 2165

Back to Words index, Back to Artifact words index

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