Spiritual Meaning of

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The signification of the robe, is the middle of the spiritual kingdom, thus the truth itself which is there; for by Aaron's garments was represented the Lord's spiritual kingdom (AC 9814), thus the truths which are there, in their order (AC 9822) and as this kingdom has been distinguished into three degrees, the inmost, the middle, and the external, therefore by the robe was signified that which is in the middle of this kingdom. The reason why this kingdom has been distinguished into three degrees, is that the inmost there communicates with the celestial, and the external with the natural, and therefore the middle partakes equally of both. Moreover, in order that anything may be perfect, it must be distinguished into three degrees. This is the case with heaven, and with the goods and the truths in it. That there are three heavens is known; consequently there are three degrees of goods and truths there. Each heaven also is distinguished into three degrees; for its inmost must communicate immediately with what is higher, and its external with what is lower, and so, through these, its middle must communicate with both, whence comes its perfection. The case is the same with the interiors of man, which in general have been distinguished into three degrees, namely, into the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural; in like manner each of these into its own three degrees; for a man who is in the good of faith and of love to the Lord is a heaven in the least form corresponding to the greatest (AC 9279). Such also is the case in all things of nature. That the natural of man has been distinguished into three degrees, (AC 4570), and in general all his interior and exterior things, (AC 4154). The reason of its being so, is that everywhere there must be end, cause, and effect; the end must be the inmost, the cause the middle, and the effect the ultimate, in order that the thing may be perfect. It is from this that in the Word three signifies what is complete from beginning to end (AC 2788, 4495, 7715, 9198, 9488, 9489). From all this it can be known why Aaron's garments of holiness were an ephod, a robe, and a tunic; and that the ephod represented the external, the robe the middle, and the tunic the inmost, of the spiritual kingdom.

[2] As the robe represented the middle in the spiritual kingdom, and the middle partakes of both the others, it is taken representatively for that kingdom itself, as in the first book of Samuel:--

Samuel turned about to go away, but Saul laid hold upon the skirt of his robe, and it was rent; wherefore Samuel said, Jehovah shall rend the kingdom of Israel from upon thee this day, and shall give it to thy companion who is better than thou (1 Samuel. 15:27, 28);

from these words it is evident that the rending of the skirt of Samuel's robe signified the rending of the kingdom of Israel from Saul, for the kingdom of Israel signifies the Lord's spiritual kingdom (AC 4286, 4598, 6424, 6637, 6862, 6868, 7035, 7062, 7198, 7201, 7215, 7223, 8805). In like manner in the same:--

David cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily; and when he showed it to Saul, Saul said, Now I know that reigning thou shalt reign, and the kingdom of Israel shall continue in thine hand (1 Samuel 24:4, 5, 11, 20).

When Jonathan made a covenant with David, he stripped himself of his robe, and gave it to David, even to his sword, to his bow, and to his girdle (1 Sam. 18:3, 4);

by which was represented that Jonathan, who was the heir, abdicated the kingdom of Israel and transferred it to David.

[3] As a robe represented the spiritual kingdom, so likewise it represented the truths of this kingdom in general. The truths of this kingdom are what are called spiritual truths, which are in the intellectual part of man. These are signified by robes in Ezekiel:--

All the princes of the sea shall come down from upon their thrones, and shall cast away their robes, and put off the garments of their embroidery (Ezek. 26:16);

this is said of Tyre, by which are signified the knowledges of good and truth (AC 1201); the vastation of these in the church is here described; the robes which they shall cast away denote the truths of faith which are in the intellectual part; but the garments of embroidery denote the memory-knowledges which are in the natural (AC 9688). The reason why these truths are signified, is that the truth which belongs to the understanding reigns in the Lord's spiritual kingdom; but in the celestial kingdom the good which belongs to the will. In Matthew:--

The scribes and Pharisees do all their works to be seen of men, and enlarge the borders of their robes (Matt. 23:5);

where enlarging the borders of the robes denotes to speak truths grandiloquently, merely to be heard and seen by men. That such things are signified by the robe, will be seen still better from the description of it below in this chapter (verses 31-35).

from AC 9825

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