Spiritual Meaning of

Bible Meanings Back to Words index Back to Body words index

Hence the skin of man, and also of beasts, signifies what is external; which is also manifest from the Word, as in Jeremiah:--

For the multitude of thine iniquity are thy skirts uncovered, and thy heels suffer violence. Can the Ethiopian change his skin, and the leopard his spots? then can ye also do good that are taught to do evil (Jer. 13:22, 23);

where skirts are external truths; heels, outermost goods. The heel, and shoes, are the lowest natural things, (AC 259, 1748); and because these truths and goods are from evil, as here said, they are compared to an Ethiopian, or a black, and his skin, and also to a leopard and his spots.

[2] In Moses:--

If in pledging thou shalt have pledged thy neighbor's garment, thou shalt restore it unto him before the sun goes down; for that is his only covering it is his garment for his skin wherein he shall lie down (Exod. 22:26, 27).

As all the laws in the Word, even those which are civic and forensic, have a correspondence with the laws of good and truth in heaven, and were thence enacted, such is the case with this law also; otherwise it would be impossible to discover why a pledged garment should be restored before the sun went down; and why it is said that his garment is for his skin wherein he shall lie down, But from the internal sense the correspondence is manifest, being that our companions are not to be defrauded of external truths, which are the doctrinal things according to which they live, and rituals. A garment signifies such truths, (AC 297, 1073, 2576); but the sun is the good of love or of life which is therefrom (AC 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495); that this should not perish, is signified by the garment being restored before the sun went down; and because these external truths are the externals of the interior things, or their termination, it is said that his garment is for his skin wherein he shall lie down.

[3] As skins signified external things, it was commanded that the covering of the Tent should be of the skins of red rams, and over these the skins of badgers (Exod. 26:14); for the Tent was representative of the three heavens, thus of the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord's kingdom. The curtains which were round about represented natural things that are external (AC 3478), which are the skins of rams and of badgers, and as external things are those which cover internal ones, or in other words natural things are those which cover spiritual and celestial ones, just as the body covers its soul, therefore this was commanded; and in like manner that when the camp set forward Aaron and his sons should cover the ark of the testimony with the veil of covering, and should put over this covering the skin of a badger; and that upon the table and the things which were upon it they should spread a cloth of scarlet double-dyed, and should cover it with badger's skin as a covering; likewise that they should put the lampstand and all its vessels under a covering of badger's skin; and should put all the vessels wherewith they ministered under a cloth of blue, and should cover them with a covering of badger's skin (Num. 4:5-12). Whoever thinks of the Word holily may know that Divine things are represented by all these things: by the ark, the table, the lampstand, and the vessels wherewith they ministered; also by the coverings of scarlet double-dyed and blue; and also by the coverings of badgers' skins and that by all these things are represented the Divine things that are within the external ones.

[4] Inasmuch as the prophets represented those who teach, and hence the teaching of good and truth from the Word (AC 2534), and Elijah the Word itself (AC 2762), in like manner John, who for this reason is called the Elias that was to come (Matt. 17:10-13); therefore in order that they might represent the Word as it is in its external form, that is, in the letter, Elijah was girded with a girdle of skin about his loins (2 Kings 1:8) and John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a girdle of skin about his loins (Matt. 3:4). And inasmuch as the skin of man and beast signified external things, which are natural things in their relation to spiritual and celestial ones; and as in the Ancient Church it was customary to speak and write by significatives, therefore also in Job, which is a book of the Ancient Church, skin has the same signification, as may be seen from several passages in that book, and also from this:--

I know my Redeemer, He liveth, and at the last He will arise above the dust, and afterward these shall be encompassed with my skin, and from my flesh I shall see God (Job 19:25, 26).

To be encompassed with skin denotes by the natural, such as man has with him after death (AC 3539); from the flesh to see God is to do so from what is our own, vivified. This is flesh may be seen above, (AC 148, 149, 780).

from AC 3540

Back to Words index, Back to Body words index

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