Spiritual Meaning of

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As the nature of all things is determined by that of the man of whom they are predicated, so also is the signification of "blood." Relatively to the regenerate spiritual man, "blood" signifies charity, or love toward the neighbor; relatively to the regenerate celestial man it signifies love to the Lord; but relatively to the Lord it signifies all His Human essence, consequently Love itself, that is, His mercy toward the human race. Hence "blood," in general, because it signifies love and what is of love, signifies celestial things, which are of the Lord alone; and thus relatively to man the celestial things which he receives from the Lord. The celestial things which the regenerate spiritual man receives from the Lord, are celestial spiritual-of which, by the Divine mercy of the Lord, elsewhere.

[3] That "blood" signifies what is celestial, and in the supreme sense signified the Human essence of the Lord, thus love itself, or His mercy toward the human race, is evident from the sanctity in which it was commanded that blood should be held in the Jewish representative church. For this reason blood was called the blood of the covenant, and was sprinkled upon the people, as also upon Aaron and his sons, together with the anointing oil; and the blood of every burnt-offering and sacrifice was sprinkled upon and around the altar (Exod. 12:7, 13, 22, 23; 24:6, 8; Lev. 1:5, 11, 15; 4:6, 7, 17, 18, 25, 30, 34; 5:9; 16:14, 15, 18, 19; Num. 18:17; Deut. 12:27).

[4] And because blood was held so sacred and man's will is so profane, the eating of blood was severely prohibited, on account of its representation of the profanation of what is holy. As in Moses:--

It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that ye shall eat neither fat nor blood (Lev. 3:17).

"Fat" here denotes celestial life, and "blood" celestial spiritual life. The celestial spiritual is the spiritual which is from the celestial; as in the Most Ancient Church love to the Lord was their celestial, because implanted in their will; their celestial spiritual was the faith therefrom, of which see above (AC 30-38, 337, 393, 398). With the spiritual man, however, the celestial does not exist, but the celestial spiritual, because charity has been implanted in his intellectual part. Again in Moses:--

Whosoever of the house of Israel, or of the sojourner sojourning among them, eateth any manner of blood, I will set My faces against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people; for the soul of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar, to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul. The soul of all flesh, it is the blood thereof; whosoever eateth it shall be cut off (Lev. 17:10, 11, 14).

Here it is plainly shown that the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and that the soul of the flesh is the blood, or the celestial, that is, the holy, which is the Lord's.

[5] Again:--

Be sure that thou eat not the blood; for the blood is the soul, and thou shalt not eat the soul with the flesh (Deut. 12:23-25).

From this passage also it is evident that the blood is called the soul, that is, celestial life, or the celestial, which was represented by the burnt-offerings and sacrifices of that church. And in the same way, that what is celestial, which is the Lord's Own (Domini Proprium) - which alone is celestial and holy, was not to be commingled with that which is man's own, which is profane-was also represented by the command that they should not sacrifice or offer the blood of the sacrifice on what was leavened (Exod. 23:18; 34:25). What was leavened signified what is corrupt and defiled. That blood is called the soul and signifies the holy of charity, and that the holy of love was represented in the Jewish Church by blood, is because the life of the body consists in the blood. And as the life of the body consists in the blood, this is its ultimate soul, so that the blood may be said to be the corporeal soul, or that in which is the corporeal life of man; and inasmuch as in the representative churches internal things were represented by external, the soul or celestial life was represented by the blood.

from AC 1001

The signification of "blood" is what is holy; hence "to shed blood" is to do violence to what is holy. All the holy in heaven proceeds from the Lord's Divine Human, and therefore all the holy in the church; wherefore that violence might not be done to it, the Holy Supper was instituted by the Lord, in which it is expressly said that the bread is His flesh, and the wine His blood, thus that it is His Divine Human from which the holy then comes. With the ancients, flesh and blood signified the human own, because the human consists of flesh and blood; thus the Lord said to Simon,

"Blessed art thou, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father who is in the heavens" (Matt. 16:17)

The flesh and the blood, therefore, signified by the bread and the wine in the Holy Supper, denote the Lord's Human own The Lord's own itself, which He acquired to Himself by His own power, is Divine. His own from conception was what He had from Jehovah His Father, and was Jehovah Himself. Hence the own which He acquired to Himself in the Human, was Divine. This Divine own in the Human is what is called His flesh and blood; "flesh" is His Divine good (AC 3813), and "blood" is the Divine truth of Divine good.

[2] The Lord's Human, after it was glorified or made Divine, cannot be thought of as human, but as the Divine love in human form; and this so much the more than the angels, who, when they appear (as seen by me), appear as forms of love and charity under the human shape, and this from the Lord; for the Lord from Divine love made His Human Divine; just as man through heavenly love becomes an angel after death, so that he appears, as just said, as a form of love and charity under the human shape. It is plain from this that by the Lord's Divine Human, in the celestial sense, is signified the Divine love itself, which is love toward the whole human race, in that it wills to save them and to make them blessed and happy to eternity, and to make its Divine their own so far as they can receive it. This love and the reciprocal love of man to the Lord, and also love toward the neighbor, are what are signified and represented in the Holy Supper the Divine celestial love by the flesh or bread, and the Divine spiritual love by the blood or wine.

[3] From these things it is now evident what is meant in John by eating the Lord's flesh and drinking His blood: I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eat of this bread he shall live forever; and the bread that I will give is My flesh. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me, and I in him. This is the bread which came down from heaven (John 6:51-58). As "flesh and blood" signify as before said the Divine celestial and the Divine spiritual which are from the Lord's Divine Human, or what is the same, the Divine good and the Divine truth of His love, by "eating and drinking" is signified making them One's own; and this is effected by a life of love and charity, which is also a life of faith. "Eating" is making good one's own, and "drinking" making truth one's own, (AC 2187, 3069, 3168, 3513, 3596, 3734, 3832, 4017, 4018).

[4] As "blood" in the celestial Sense signifies the Divine spiritual or the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human, it therefore signifies the holy proceeding; for the Divine truth proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human is the holy itself.

[5] Holiness is nothing else, nor from any other Source. That "blood" signifies this holy, is evident from many passages in the Word, of which we may adduce the following:

Son of man thus saith the Lord Jehovih, Say to every bird of the heaven, to every wild beast of the field, Assemble yourselves and come; gather yourselves from every side upon My sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, even a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, of lambs, and of goats, [of bullocks,] all of them fatlings of Bashan. And ye shall eat fat till ye be full, and drink blood till ye be drunken, of My sacrifice which I will sacrifice for you. And ye shall be sated at My table with horse and chariot, with the strong, and with every man of War. And I will set My glory among the nations (Ezek. 39:17-21).

The subject here treated of is the calling together of all to the Lord's kingdom, and specifically the setting up again of the church among the Gentiles; and by their "eating flesh and drinking blood" is signified making Divine good and Divine truth their own, thus the holy which proceeds from the Lord's Divine Human. Who cannot see that by "flesh" is not meant flesh, nor by "blood," blood, where it is said that they should eat the flesh of the mighty and drink the blood of the princes of the earth, and that they should be sated with horse and chariot, with the strong, and with every man of war?

[6] So likewise in the Revelation.

I saw an angel standing in the sun and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that fly in mid-heaven, Come and gather yourselves unto the supper of the great God that ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of the strong, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit thereon, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great (Rev. 19:17, 18);

who would ever understand these words unless he knew what is signified in the internal sense by "flesh," and what by "kings," "captains," "the strong," "horses," "those that sit thereon," "free and bond?"

[7] Further in Zechariah:

He shall speak peace to the nations; and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. As for Thee also, through the blood of Thy covenant I will send forth Thy bound out of the pit (Zech. 9:10, 11);

where the Lord is spoken of; the "blood of Thy covenant" is the Divine truth proceeding from His Divine Human, and is the holy itself which, after He was glorified, went forth from Him. This holy is also what is called the Holy Spirit, as is evident in John:

Jesus said, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. Whosoever believeth in Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living Water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive for the Holy Spirit Was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified (John 7:37-39).

That the holy proceeding from the Lord is the "spirit," may be seen in (John 6:63).

[8] Moreover that "blood" is the holy proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human, in David:

Bring back their soul from deceit and violence; and precious shall their blood in His eyes (Ps. 72:14)

"precious blood" denotes the holy which they wood receive. In the Revelation:

These are they who come out of great affliction, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14).

And again:

They overcame the dragon by the blood of the lamb, and by the Word of their testimony; and they loved not their soul even unto death (Rev. 12:11).

[9] The church at this day does not know otherwise than that the "blood of the lamb" here signifies the Lord's passion, because it is believed that they are saved solely by the Lord having suffered, and that it Was for this that He was sent into the world; but let this view of it be for the simple, who cannot comprehend interior arcana The Lord's passion was the last of His temptation, by which He fully glorified His Human (Luke 24:26; John 12:23, 27, 28; 13:31, 32; 17:1, 4, 5); but the "blood of the lamb" is the same as the Divine truth, or the holy proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human; thus the same as the "blood of the covenant" spoken of just above, and of which it is also written in uses:

[10] Moses took the book of the covenant, and read in the ears of the people; and they said, All that Jehovah hath spoken will we do, and hear. Then Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which Jehovah hath made with you upon all these words (Exod. 24:7, 8); the "book of the covenant" was the Divine truth which they then had, which was confirmed by the blood testifying that it was from His Divine Human.

[11] In the rituals of the Jewish Church blood had no other signification than the holy proceeding from the Lord's Divine Human, wherefore when they were sanctified, it was done by blood as when Aaron and his sons were sanctified, blood was sprinkled upon the horns of the altar, the remainder at the bottom of the altar, also upon the tip of the right ear, the thumb of the right hand, and the great toe of the right foot, and upon his garments (Exod. 29:12, 16, 20; Lev. 8:15, 19, 23, 30). And when Aaron entered within the veil to the mercy-seat, blood was also to be sprinkled with the finger upon the mercy-seat eastward seven times (Lev. 16:12-15). So also in the rest of the sanctifications, and also in the expiations and cleansings, in regard to which see the following passages, (Exod. 12:7, 13, 22; 30:10; Lev. 1:5, 11, 15; 3:2, 8, 13; 4:6, 7, 17, 18, 25, 30, 34; 5:9; 6:27, 28; 14:14-19, 25-30; 16:12-15, 18, 19; Deut. 12:27)

[12] As by "blood" in the genuine sense is signified the holy, so in the opposite sense by "blood" and "bloods" are signified those things which offer violence to it, because by shedding innocent blood is signified doing violence to what is holy. For this reason wicked things of life and profane things of worship were called "blood." That "blood" and "bloods" have such a signification, is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:

When the Lord shall have washed the excrement of the daughters of Zion, and shall have washed away the bloods of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of expurgation (Isa. 4:4)


The Waters of Dimon are full of blood (Isa. 15:9).


Your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity. Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity (Isa. 59:3, 7).

In Jeremiah:

Also in thy skirts is found the blood of the souls of the innocent poor (Jer. 2:34).

[13] Again:

It is because of the sins of her prophets, and the iniquities of her priests, that have shed the blood of the just in the midst of Jerusalem. They have wandered blind in the streets, they are polluted with blood; those which they cannot [pollute] they touch With their garments (Lam. 4:13, 14).

In Ezekiel:

I have passed by thee, and sad thee trodden down in thy bloods, and I said unto thee, Live in thy bloods, and I said unto thee, Live in thy bloods. I washed thee with Waters, and washed away thy bloods from upon thee, and I anointed thee with oil (Ezek. 16:6, 9).


Thou son of man, Wilt thou debate with a city of bloods? Make known to her all her abominations. Thou art become guilty through thy blood that thou hast shed, and art defiled through thine idols which thou hast made. Behold the princes of Israel, everyone according to his arm, have been in thee and have shed blood; men of slander have been in thee to shed blood; and in thee they have eaten at the mountains (Ezek. 22:2-4, 6, 9).

In Moses:

If anyone shall sacrifice elsewhere than upon the altar at the tent, it shall be blood; and as if he had shed blood (Lev. 17:1-9).

[14] Falsified and profaned truth is signified by the following passages concerning blood. In Joel:

I will set wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day come (Joel 2:30, 31).

In the Revelation:

The sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the whole moon became as blood (Rev. 6:12).


The second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea and the third part of the sea became blood (Rev. 8:8).


The second angel poured out his vial into the sea; and it became blood as of a dead man, and every living soul died in the sea. And the third angel poured out his vial into the rivers, and into the fountains of water, and there became blood (Rev. 16:3, 4).

[15] Similar is what is said in (Exodus 7:15-22), about the rivers, ponds, and pools of water in Egypt being turned into blood; for by "Egypt" is signified the memory-knowledge which from itself enters into heavenly mysteries, and hence perverts, denies, and profanes Divine truths (AC 1164, 1165, 1186). All the miracles in Egypt, being Divine, involved such things. The "rivers which were turned into blood" are the truths of intelligence and wisdom (AC 108, 109, 3051); "waters" have a similar signification (AC 680, 2702, 3058), and also "fountains" (AC 2702, 3096, 3424); "seas" are truths in the complex which are a matter of memory-knowledge (AC 28); the "moon," of which it is also said that it should be "turned into blood," is Divine truth (AC 1529-1531, 2495, 4060). It is evident from this, that by the moon, the sea, fountains, waters, and rivers, being turned into blood, is signified truth falsified and profaned.

from AC 4735


the signification of blood, as being the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord (AC 4735, 6978, 7317, 7326, 7850, 9127). That the Divine truth which has been made of the life and of worship is signified, is because it was the blood that Moses sprinkled on the people (verse 8), by which blood is signified Divine truth received by man, thus which has been made of the life and of worship. For that truth is said to be received by man which has been made of the life and thus of worship; and it has become of the life and of worship when the man is affected by it, that is, loves it, or what is the same thing, wills it, and from willing does it from love and affection. Until this is the case, truth is indeed with man in his memory, and is sometimes called forth thence to the internal sight or understanding, from which it again falls back into the memory. But so long as truth Divine has not entered more interiorly, it is indeed with man, but still it is not implanted in the life and will; for the life of man is his will. And therefore when truth is called forth from the memory into the understanding, and from the understanding enters the will, and from the will goes forth into act, then the truth becomes of the man's life, and is called good. From all this it is evident what is meant by Divine truth being made of the life. It is the same with the truth that is made of the worship. Worship from truth that cleaves to the mere memory, and from this appears in the understanding, is not worship. But worship from truth that goes forth from the will, thus from affection and love, is worship. This worship is called in the Word worship from the heart, but the former is worship of the mouth only.

[2] It has indeed already been shown, in passages cited above, that blood denotes the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord. But as many of the church at this day have no other conception of the blood in the Holy Supper than of the blood of the Lord shed on the cross; and in a more general sense, the passion itself of the cross; it may here be shown in a few words that it is not blood which is there meant, but the Divine truth that proceeds from the Lord. The reason why this is unknown within the church, is that at the present day nothing whatever is known about correspondences, consequently nothing about the internal sense of the Word, which is the sense in which the angels are when the Word is read by man.

[3] That blood does not denote blood, but truth Divine, can be seen from many passages in the Word, and plainly from this in Ezekiel:--

Say to the bird of every wing, and to every wild animal of the field, Be ye assembled, and come; assemble yourselves from around upon My sacrifice that I do sacrifice for you, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood. Ye shall eat the flesh of the strong ones, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth. Ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood unto drunkenness, of My sacrifice that I will sacrifice for you. Ye shall be sated upon My table with horse and chariot, and with every man of war. Thus do I set My glory among the nations (Ezekiel 39:17-21);

that by blood is not here meant blood, is very evident, for it is said that they shall drink the blood of the princes of the earth, and the blood of the sacrifice, even unto drunkenness, when yet to drink blood, and especially the blood of princes, is an abominable thing, and was forbidden the sons of Israel under the penalty of death (Lev. 3:17; 7:26; 17:4, 9, 10, 14; Deut. 12:17-26; 15:23). It is also said that they shall be sated with horse, chariot, and every man of war. He therefore who does not know that blood signifies Divine truth; princes, primary truths; a sacrifice, the things of worship; a horse, the understanding of truth; a chariot, doctrine; and a man of war, truth fighting against falsity; must be amazed at the details of this passage.

[4] In like manner at the Lord's words in John:--

Jesus said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye will have no life in you. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him (John 6:53-56).

But see what has been already said about these words in (AC 4735, 6978, 7317, 7326, 7850, 9127). That flesh corresponds to good, in like manner bread; and that blood corresponds to truth, in like manner wine; has very often been told me from heaven; as also that the angels perceive the Word no otherwise than according to correspondences; and that in this way man has conjunction with heaven through the Word, and through heaven with the Lord.

[5] In like manner I have been told that the Holy supper was instituted by the Lord in order that by it there might be a conjunction of all things of heaven, that is, of all things of the Lord, with the man of the church; because in this supper the flesh and the bread denote the Divine good of the Lord's Divine love toward the whole human race, and man's reciprocal love to the Lord; and the blood and the wine denote the Divine truth proceeding from the Divine good of the Lord's Divine love, and this received in turn by man; and in heaven to eat and drink these things denotes appropriation and conjunction. But see what has been already shown on this subject in (AC 2165, 2177, 3464, 4211, 4217, 4581, 4735, 5915, 6789, 7850, 9323)

from AC 9393



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