Spiritual Meaning of

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That elders signified the chief things of wisdom, and old men, wisdom, is plain from the following passages. In David:--

Let them extol Jehovah in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders (Ps. 107:32);

where the congregation of the people denotes those who are in the truths that belong to intelligence, congregation being predicated of truths (AC 6355), and also people (AC 1259, 1260, 2928, 3295, 3581); and the assembly of the elders denotes those who are in good, which is of wisdom; for wisdom is of life, thus of good, but intelligence is of knowledges, thus of truth (AC 1555). Again:--

I am wiser than the elders, because I have kept Thy commandments (Ps. 119:100);

where the elders manifestly denote him who is wise. So in Job:--

In old men there is wisdom, and in length of days intelligence (Job 12:12).

In Moses:--

Thou shalt rise up before the grey head, and honor the faces of the old man (Lev. 19:32);

this was commanded because old men represented wisdom.

[3] In John:--

Upon the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, who had golden crowns upon their heads (Rev. 4:4);

elders denote the things which belong to wisdom, thus those which belong to good; that elders denote these things is evident from the description--that they sat on thrones, were clothed in white garments, and had crowns of gold on their heads; for thrones denote the truths of intelligence from the good of wisdom (AC 5313); in like manner white garments. Garments are truths, (AC 1073, 4545, 4763, 5248, 5954); and white is predicated of truth, (AC 3301, 5319). Golden crowns upon their heads denote the goods of wisdom; for gold is the good of love (AC 113, 1551, 1552, 5658), and the head is the celestial, where is wisdom (AC 4938, 4939, 5328, 6436). They are called wise who are in the third or inmost heaven, thus who are nearest the Lord; but they are called intelligent who are in the middle or second heaven, thus who are not so near the Lord.

[4] Again:--

All the angels stood round about the throne, and the elders, and the four animals (Rev. 7:11);

where also elders denote the things that belong to wisdom. So in the following passages. In Isaiah:--

The child will puff himself up against the old man, and the despised against the honored one (Isa. 3:5);


Jehovah Zebaoth shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem; and before His elders shall be glory (Isa. 24:23).

In Jeremiah:--

My priests and mine elders expired in the city, because they have sought food for themselves wherewith to refresh their soul (Lam. 1:19).


Her king and her princes are among the nations, the law is not; the elders of the daughter of Zion sit upon the earth, they keep silence (Lam. 2:9, 10).


They ravished the women in Zion, the virgins in the cities of Judah; princes were hanged up by their hand; the faces of the old were not honored; the elders have ceased from the gate (Lam. 5:11, 12, 14).

In Ezekiel:--

Misery shall come upon misery, and rumor shall be upon rumor; therefore they shall seek a vision from the prophet; but the law hath perished from the priest, and counsel from the elders. The king shall mourn, and the prince shall be clothed with amazement (Ezek. 7:26, 27).

In Zechariah:--

There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for multitude of days (Zech. 8:4).

That the elders might represent the things that belong to wisdom, the spirit of Moses was taken and given them, whence they prophesied (Num. 11:16). In the opposite sense elders denote the things that are contrary to wisdom (Ezek. 8:11, 12).

from AC 6524

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