Spiritual Meaning of

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 Bones, Flesh

By bones in the Word is signified truth, and in the opposite sense falsity, and by flesh good, and in the opposite sense evil. That this is the signification of bones, may be seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:--

Jehovah shall lead thee continually, and shall satisfy thy soul in droughts, and shall make strong thy bones that thou mayest be like a watered garden (Isa. 58:11);

where making strong the bones signifies to make alive the own of the understanding, that is, to enlighten it with intelligence; whence it is said, that thou mayest be like a watered garden. A garden signifies intelligence, (AC 100, 108, 1588). Again:--

Then ye shall see, and your heart shall rejoice, and your bones shall flourish like the grass (Isa. 66:14);

where by bones flourishing like the grass, the like is signified as above.

[4] In Jeremiah:--

Her Nazirites were whiter than snow, they were fairer than milk; their bones were more ruddy than gems, a sapphire was their polishing; their form is darker than blackness, they are not known in the streets their skin cleaveth to their bone, it is withered, it is become like wood (Lam. 4:7, 8);

the Nazirite denotes the celestial man (AC 3301); whiter than snow and fairer than milk denotes to be in celestial truth; and because this truth is from the love of good, it is said that their bones were more ruddy than gems. Whiteness and fairness are predicated of truth, (AC 3301); ruddiness, of good, (AC 3300); gems, of truths which are from good, (AC 114). By their skin cleaving to their bone is described a changed state as to the celestial things of love, namely, that there was no flesh on the bones, that is, no longer any good; for then all truth becomes like skin which cleaves to the bone; it is withered and become like wood.

[5] In Ezekiel:--

Utter a parable against the rebellious house, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, Set on the caldron, set it on, and also pour waters into it gathering the pieces thereof into it, every good piece, the thigh and the shoulder fill-it with the choice bones; taking the choice of the flock and let there be also a hearth of bones under it; let the bones also be boiled in the midst of it (Ezek. 24:3-5, 10);

where a caldron signifies violence offered to good and truth, wherefore it is called a city of bloods" (Ezek. 24:6) the pieces, the good piece, the thigh, and the shoulder gathered into it, are flesh, by which are meant goods; the choice bones with which the caldron was filled, denote truths a hearth of bones, the affection of truth; the bones being boiled in the midst of it, violence offered to truths. Everyone can see that Divine arcana are stored within this parable; and also that these arcana can in no wise be known unless it is known what is signified in the internal sense by a caldron or pot, by pieces, by thigh and shoulder, by choice bones, by a hearth of bones, and by boiling." In Micah:--

Is it for you to know judgment, who hate the good, and love the evil who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; who have eaten the flesh of My people, and have flayed their skin from off them and have broken their bones, and have divided them as into the pot, and as flesh in the midst of the caldron? (Micah 3:1-3);

where the signification is the same.

[6] In Ezekiel:--

He brought me out in the spirit of Jehovah, and set me down in the midst of the valley, which was full of bones. And He said unto me, Shall these bones live? He said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones hear the word of Jehovah; thus saith the Lord Jehovih unto these bones, Behold I will cause breath to enter into you that ye may live I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come up upon you, and will cover you with skin, and put breath in you that ye may live. I prophesied, and the bones came together, bone to its bone; and I beheld and lo there were sinews upon them, and flesh came up, and skin covered them above and there was no breath in them and breath came into them, and they revived, and stood upon their feet (Ezek. 37:1, 3-8, 10).

The subject here treated of in general is the setting up again of the church among the Gentiles; and in particular, the regeneration of man: dry bones denote the own of the understanding, which is inanimate before it receives the life of good from the lord, but is thereby animated or made alive; the flesh which the Lord causes to come up upon the bones is the own of the will, which is called the heavenly or celestial own, and thus signifies good; breath is the Lord's life, and when this inflows into that good of the man which he seems to himself to will and do from his own, the good is then vivified, and from the good the truth, and out of the dry bones there is made a man.

[7] In David:--

All my bones are unloosed, my heart is become like wax, I can number all my bones. They have parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture have they cast a lot (Ps. 22:14, 17, 18);

where the subject is the Lord's temptations as to Divine truths, which were the Lord's own, and hence are called my bones; and as to Divine good, which was the Lord's own, and hence is called my heart. The heart signifies good, (AC 3313, 3635). And because bones signify these truths, the numbering of which denotes to desire to dissipate them through reasonings and falsities, therefore there immediately follow the words, they parted my garments, and cast a lot upon my vesture; for garments also signify truths, but exterior ones (AC 297, 1073, 2576); dividing them and casting a lot upon the vesture, involves the like as also in (Matthew 27:35). Again:--

My soul exulteth in Jehovah it shall be glad in His salvation. All my bones shall say, Who is like unto Thee? (Ps. 35:9, 10);

where it is evident that in the spiritual sense bones denote the own of the understanding. Again:--

Thou shalt cause me to hear joy and gladness the bones which Thou hast bruised shall exult (Ps. 51:8);

where the exulting of the bones which were bruised signifies re-creation through truths after temptations.

[8] As bone signified the own of the understanding, that is, the own as to truth, and in the supreme sense the Divine truth which was the Lord's own, it was for this reason ordained as a statute of the passover that they should not break a bone of the paschal lamb; concerning which we read in Moses:--

In one house shall it be eaten thou shall not carry forth of the flesh abroad out of the house; neither shall ye break a bone thereof (Exod. 12:46).

And in another place:--

They shall not leave of it until the morning, nor break a bone thereof (Num. 9:12);

not to break a bone, in the supreme sense signifies not to do violence to truth Divine; and in the representative sense, not to do violence to the truth of any good whatever; for the quality of good and the form of good are from truths, and truth is the support of good, as bones are of flesh.

[9] That the Word, which is Divine truth itself, vivifies the dead, was represented by the man reviving and standing upon his feet who when cast into the sepulchre of Elisha, touched his bones (2 Kings 13:21). Elisha represented the Lord as to truth Divine, or the Word, (AC 2762). That in the opposite sense bones signify the falsity which is from man's own, is manifest from the following passages. In Jeremiah:--

In that time they shall bring out the bones of the kings of Judah, and the bones of his princes, and the bones of the priests, and the bones of the prophets, and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, out of their sepulchres; and they shall spread them before the sun, and the moon, and all the army of the heavens, which they had loved, and which they had served (Jer. 8:1, 2).

In Ezekiel:--

I will lay the carcases of the sons of Israel before their idols, and I will scatter your bones round about your altars (Ezek. 6:5).

In Moses:--

God who brought him forth out of Egypt; he hath as it were the strength of a unicorn: he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and shall break their bones, and shall destroy their arrows (Num. 24:8).

In the second book of Kings:--

Josiah the king brake in pieces the pillars, and cut down the groves, and filled their place with the bones of man he took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar that he might defile it he sacrificed all the priests of the high places who were there, upon the altars, and burned men's bones upon them (2 Kings 23:14, 16, 20).

In Moses:--

The soul that hath touched upon the surface of the field one that is slain with the sword, or one dead, or the bone of a man, or a sepulchre, shall be unclean seven days (Num. 19:16, 18).

[10] As bones signify falsities, and sepulchres the evils in which they are, and as hypocrisy is evil appearing outwardly as good, but is inwardly defiled with things false and profane, therefore the Lord says in Matthew:--

Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye make yourselves like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matthew 23:27, 28).

From these passages it is now evident that by bones is signified the own of the understanding, both as to truth and as to falsity.

from AC 3812

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