Spiritual Meaning of

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The signification of leprosy, is profanation, specifically, the profanation of truth. In the historic Word much is said about leprosy, and about its various appearances in the skin, and about the judgment thence to be formed of its quality - whether the leper was to be shut in, or to go out of the camp, or to be set at liberty; and also about leprosy in garments, in vessels, and in the very houses. Leprosy is so much treated of, not on account of leprosy as a disease, but because it signified the profanation of truth, thus for the sake of the spiritual sense; and because the Jews and the Israelites were capable of profaning truth more than other people.

[2] For if they had known the internal things of the Word, and the truths themselves which were represented by the rites of the church among them, and had faith in them, and yet had lived according to their inclination, namely in the love of self and the love of the world, in hatred and revenge among themselves, and in cruelty toward the Gentiles, they must needs have profaned the truths in which they once had faith; for to believe in truths and to live contrary to them, is to profane them. And therefore they were withheld as far as possible from the knowledges of internal truth (AC 3398, 3489); insomuch that they did not even know that they would live after death; neither did they believe that the Messiah would come to save souls eternally, but to exalt that nation above all others in the universe. And because that nation was such, and also is such at this day, therefore they are still withheld from faith, even though they live in the midst of Christendom. Hence then it is that the nature of leprosy was so particularly described.

[3] That leprosy signifies the profanation of truth, is plain from the statutes concerning leprosy that are recorded by Moses in Lev. 13. In this description there is contained in the internal sense the whole nature of the profanation of truth - as what the nature of this profanation is if recent, what if old, what if inward in man, what if also outward, what if curable, what if incurable, what are the means of cure, and other particulars, which cannot be at all known to anyone, except by means of the internal sense of the Word.

[4] But as it is profanations which are described by leprosy, it is not allowable to explain in detail what is contained in the description of it. Moreover heaven is horrified at the bare mention of what is profane. I may quote this passage only:--

If the leprosy effloresce fully in the skin, and the leprosy cover the whole skin of him that hath the plague, from his head even to his heel, under every look of the priest's eyes; and the priest see, and behold the leprosy hath covered all his flesh, then he shall pronounce the plague clean; it is all turned white, he is clean. But in the day that there shall appear in him living flesh, he shall be unclean (Lev. 13:12-14);

unless it is known from the internal sense how the case herein is, namely, that he is clean who is all leprous from his head even unto his heel, it must appear like a paradox; but by one leprous from his head to his heel is meant one who knows internal truths, but does not acknowledge or believe them. Such a one is not inwardly in profanation, but outwardly, which profanation is removed, and therefore he is clean. But if he knows the truths of faith, and believes them, and yet lives contrary to them, he is in profanation inwardly, as is the case also with one who has once believed, and afterward denies. Therefore it is said, in the day that there shall appear in him living flesh, he shall be unclean; by living flesh is meant acknowledgment and faith (AC 6959).

from AC 6963

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