Spiritual Meaning of

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 Lives, Life

The signification of lives is conjunction through truths and goods; for when no truth from a common stock or genuine source could be adjoined to natural truth, then neither would there be the adjunction of the natural to the truth of the rational; thus to the rational its life would appear as no life (AC 3493, 3620); hence by the words, wherefore have I lives? is signified that thus there would not be conjunction. The reason why here and in other passages lives are spoken of in the plural, is that there are two faculties of life in man; one of which is called the understanding, and is of truth; and the other of which is called the will, and is of good; these two lives or faculties of life make a one when the understanding is of the will, or what is the same, when truth is of good. This is the reason why in the Hebrew tongue frequent mention is made of life, and also of lives. That mention is made of lives, is evident from the following passages in Genesis:--

And Jehovah God formed man dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives, and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7).

And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that is desirable to the sight, and good for food and the tree of lives in the midst of the garden (Gen. 2:9).

Behold I do bring the flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of lives (Gen. 6:17).

And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two, two, of all flesh wherein is the breath of lives (Gen. 7:15, n. 780).

All in whose nostrils was the breathing of the breath of lives died (Gen. 6:22).

And in David:--

I believe to see the goodness of Jehovih in the land of lives (Ps. 27:13).


What man is he that desireth lives, and loveth days that he may see good (Ps. 34:12).


With Thee is the fountain of lives; in Thy light shall we see light (Ps. 36:9).

In Malachi:--

My covenant was with Levi of lives and peace (Mal. 2:5).

In Jeremiah:--

Thus saith Jehovah, Behold I set before you the way of lives, and the way of death (Jer. 21:8).

In Moses:--

To love Jehovah thy God, and to obey His voice, and to cleave unto Him for He is thy lives, and the length of thy days that thou mayest dwell in the land (Deut. 30:20).

And again:--

It is not a vain word from you, because it is your lives, and through this word ye shall prolong your days upon the land (Deut. 32:47)

and in other places. Lives are spoken of in the plural because they are two, as was said, and yet a one; as also in the Hebrew tongue are heavens, which are many, and yet a one; in like manner waters, those above and those beneath (Gen. 1:6, 7, 9), which are spiritual things pertaining to the rational and the natural, and which also are to be a one through conjunction. In respect to lives, they signify in the plural both what is of the will and what is of the understanding, consequently what is of good and what is of truth; for the life of man is nothing else than good and truth wherein is life from the Lord, inasmuch as man, without good and truth, and life therein, is no man; for man without these would not be able to will anything or think anything, all his faculty of willing being from what is good or what is not good, and his faculty of thinking from what is true or what is not true; hence man has lives, which are one life when his thinking is from his willing, that is, when the truth which is of faith is from the good which is of love.

from AC 3623

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