Spiritual Meaning of

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Gen 17:10 -- That every male be circumcised. That this signifies purity, is evident from the representation and derivative signification in the internal sense of circumcising. Circumcision, or the cutting off of the foreskin, signified the removal and wiping away of those things that were impeding and defiling celestial love, and which are the evils of cupidities (especially the evils of the cupidities of the love of self) and the derivative falsities. The reason of this signification is that the organs of generation, in both sexes, represent celestial love. There are loves of three kinds that constitute the celestial things of the Lord's kingdom, namely, conjugial love, love for infants, and the love for society, or mutual love. Conjugial love is the principal love of all, because it has within it the end of greatest use, namely, the propagation of the human race, and thereby of the Lord's kingdom, of which it is the seminary. Love toward infants follows next, being derived from conjugial love; and then comes the love for society, or mutual love. Whatever covers up, obstructs, and defiles these loves, is signified by the foreskin; and the cutting off of this, or circumcision, was therefore made representative; for in so far as the evils of cupidities, and the falsities derived from them are removed, in so far the man is purified; and in so far celestial love can appear. How contrary to celestial love, and how filthy, is the love of self, has been stated and shown above (AC 760, 1307, 1308, 1321, 1594, 2045, 2057). From what has now been said, it is clear that in the internal sense circumcision signifies purity.

[2] That circumcision is only a sign of covenant, or of conjunction, may be plainly seen from considering that the circumcision of the foreskin amounts to nothing at all without the circumcision of the heart; and that it is the circumcision of the heart, or purification from the filthy loves above referred to that is signified by it, as is plainly evident from the following passages in the Word. In Moses:--

Jehovah thy God will circumcise thy heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love Jehovah thy God in thy whole heart, and in thy whole soul, that thou mayest live (Deut. 30:6)

from which it is evident that to circumcise the heart is to be purified from filthy loves, in order that Jehovah God, or the Lord, may be loved with all the heart and with all the soul.

[3] In Jeremiah:--

Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns; circumcise yourselves unto Jehovah, and take away the foreskin of your heart, O man of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 4:3, 4);

to circumcise one's self to Jehovah, and remove the foreskin of the heart, is to remove such things as obstruct heavenly love; all which shows that the circumcision of the heart is an interior thing that is signified by the circumcision of the foreskin. In Moses:--

Ye shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and shall no longer harden your neck, doing the judgment of the orphan and the widow, and loving the stranger to give him bread and raiment (Deut. 10:16, 18)

where also it is clear that to circumcise the foreskin of the heart is to be purified from the evils of filthy loves and from the falsities derived from them. The celestial things of love are described by these works of charity, namely, doing the judgment of the orphan and the widow, and loving the stranger to give him bread and raiment.

[4] In Jeremiah:--

Behold, the days come in which I will visit upon every one that is circumcised in the foreskin, upon Egypt, and upon Judah, and upon Edom, and upon the sons of Ammon, and upon Moab, and upon all that are cut off at the comer, that dwell in the wilderness for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart (Jeremiah 9:25, 26)

where it is evident that circumcision is significative of purification, for they are called the circumcised in the foreskin, but still are reckoned among the uncircumcised nations, as are even the Jews; and Israel is said to be uncircumcised in heart. And it is the same in Moses:--

If then their uncircumcised heart be humbled (Lev. 26:41).

[5] That by the foreskin and by one that is uncircumcised is signified uncleanness, is evident in Isaiah:--

Awake, awake, put on thy strength, 0 Zion put on the garments of thy beauty, 0 Jerusalem, the city of holiness for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean (Isaiah 52:1).

By Zion is meant the celestial church, and by Jerusalem the spiritual church, into which what is uncircumcised, that is, the unclean," shall not enter.

[6] That circumcision is a sign of a covenant, or a token of conjunction, is clearly evident from the fact that the like was represented by means of the fruits of trees, which also were to be circumcised, concerning which in Moses:--

When ye shall have come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees of food, ye shall circumcise the foreskin thereof, its fruit; three years shall they be unto you as uncircumcised, it shall not be eaten and in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holiness for praises unto Jehovah (Lev. 19:23, 24)

fruits, like the heart, represent and signify charity, as may be seen from many passages in the Word; and thus their foreskin signifies the uncleanness which obstructs and contaminates charity.

[7] Wonderful to say, when the angels who are in heaven have the idea of purification from natural defilements, with the utmost rapidity there is represented in the world of spirits something like circumcision; for the angelic ideas pass over into representatives in the world of spirits. In the Jewish Church some of the representative rites originated in this source, and some did not. Those with whom that quick circumcision was represented in the world of spirits, were in the desire to be admitted into heaven; and before they were admitted, there was this representation. This shows why Joshua was commanded to circumcise the people, when, having passed over Jordan, they were entering the land of Canaan; for the entrance of the people into the land of Canaan represented this very admission of the faithful into heaven.

[8] For this reason circumcision was commanded a second time, concerning which in Joshua:--Jehovah said unto Joshua, Make thee swords of rocks, and circumcise the sons of Israel the second time and Joshua made him swords of rocks, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins and Jehovah said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you; and he called the name of that place Gilgal (Rolling-off) (Joshua 5:2, 3, 9); the swords of rocks signify the truths with which they were to be imbued, in order that thereby they might castigate and disperse filthy loves; for without the knowledges of truth no purification is possible. (That a stone or rock signifies truths (AC 643, 1298); and that a sword is predicated of the truths by which evils may be castigated, is evident from the Word).

from AC 2039

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