Spiritual Meaning of

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That the sea denotes a collection of memory-knowledges, comes from the fact that waters, springs, and rivers, signify truths, and therefore collections of these are signified by seas. That this is so, is also evident from passages in the Word where mention is made of the sea and of seas; as in David:--

The earth is Jehovah's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. He hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the streams (Ps. 24:1, 2);

where the earth and the world denote the church; the seas upon which He hath founded the world, denote memory-truths; the streams upon which He hath established it, denote the truth of faith. That the earth, the world, seas, and rivers are not meant here, is evident, for the world is not founded upon the seas, nor is it established upon the streams.

[4] Again:--

Thou didst break through the sea by Thy strength; Thou hast broken the heads of the whales upon the waters. Thou hast broken the heads of Leviathan, Thou gavest him for meat to the people Ziim, Thou hast dried up the rivers of strength (Ps. 74:13-15);

in the internal sense, the subject here treated of is the memory-knowledges that destroy the truths of faith; the whales whose heads are broken, denote memory-knowledges in general (AC 42, 7293); in like manner Leviathan (AC 7293); the people Ziim to whom he was to be given for meat, denote those who are in falsities, or the falsities themselves. From this it is evident what is denoted by the sea, namely, memory-knowledge misapplied to weaken and destroy truths. In Habakkuk:--

Thou didst tread the sea with Thy horses, the mire of many waters (Habakkuk 3:15);

where treading the sea with horses, when spoken of Jehovah, denotes to instruct the natural man who has memory-knowledges.

[5] In Zechariah:--

In that day, living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; part of them toward the eastern sea, and part of them toward the hinder sea (Zech. 14:8);

living waters from Jerusalem denote truths of faith made living from the good of love; the eastern sea and the hinder sea denote the natural and sensuous in which are memory. knowledges, which are collections of truths. In Hosea:--

They shall walk after Jehovah, and the sons shall come with honor from the sea. They shall come with honor as a bird out of Egypt (Hosea 11:10, 11);

sons from the sea denote the memory-truths that belong to the natural man; for this reason it is said that they shall come as a bird out of Egypt, for Egypt in the Word denotes memory-knowledge (AC 9340, 9391).

[6] In Ezekiel

All the princes of the sea shall come down from upon their thrones, and shall cast away their mantles, and put off the garments of their embroidery; they shall be clothed with terrors; they shall say, How hast thou perished that wast inhabited in the seas, the renowned city, that wast strong in the sea (Ezek. 26:16, 17);

where the subject treated of is the vastation of the knowledges of good and truth, which are Tyre (AC 1201); the knowledges of good and truth are the memory-knowledges of the church; the princes of the sea denote the primary knowledges (AC 1482, 2089, 5044); to cast away the mantles and garments of embroidery denotes to cast away memory-truths (AC 9688). As these things are signified by Tyre, therefore Tyre is said to be "inhabited in the seas, and to be a city strong on the sea

[7] In Jeremiah:--

The sea is come up upon Babylon; she is covered with the multitude of the waves thereof. Her cities have been brought into desolation (Jer. 51:42, 43);

Babylon denotes worship which in externals appears holy, but in internals is profane (AC 1182, 1326); the sea upon Babylon denotes falsity from memory-knowledges; its waves denote reasonings therefrom, and the consequent denials; the cities which are brought into desolation denote doctrinal things.

[8] In like manner in the Revelation:--

Every pilot, and everyone who is employed upon the seas, and mariners, and all they who trade upon the sea, stood afar off, when they saw the smoke of the burning of Babylon, saying, Woe, woe, the great city, wherein were made rich all that have ships in the sea by reason of her costliness! Then an angel took up a stone as it were a great millstone, and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus with violence shall Babylon be cast down (Rev. 18:17-21).

ships denote doctrinal things from the Word (AC 6385); hence it is plain what is meant by a pilot, and a mariner, also by the sea, and those who trade upon it; a stone as it were a millstone, denotes the truth through which is faith; being cast into the sea, denotes into the falsity of memory-knowledges. In the other life there appear seas, and also ships upon them; as has often been granted me to see. The seas there in a bad sense signify the falsities of memory-knowledges, and those who are in the ships signify those who boast of having such things, and teach them.

[9] In Jeremiah:--

Thus said Jehovah, that giveth the sun for a light by day, the statutes of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, who throweth into commotion the sea, that the waves thereof are tumultuous (Jer. 31:35);

the sun for a light by day denotes the good of love from which comes the light in truths; the statutes of the moon and of the stars for a light by night denote the goods of faith and of knowledges, from which comes the light of truth in the dark; to throw the sea into commotion that the waves thereof are tumultuous, denotes to dispel the falsities of memory-knowledges from which come reasonings about truth.

[10] In Isaiah:--

By shortening is My hand shortened, that there is no redemption? or is there no power in Me to rescue? Behold by My rebuke I dry up the sea, I make the rivers a wilderness; their fish shall rot, because there is no water, and it dieth of thirst (Isa. 1:2);

to dry up the sea denotes to destroy the good and truth of memory-knowledges; to make the rivers a wilderness denotes to vastate the truths themselves; the fish which shall rot denotes the memory-knowledge that belongs to the natural man (AC 40, 991); because there is no water denotes that there is no truth (AC 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 5668, 8568).

[11] In like manner elsewhere in the same:--

The waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be made quite dry and shall dry up. And the streams shall recede; the rivers of Egypt shall be diminished and dried up (Isa. 19:5, 6);

the waters that shall fail from the sea denote truths where there is a collection of them; the rivers of Egypt which shall be dried up, denote memory-knowledges. Again:--

The earth is full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9);

the waters denote truths; the sea, a collection of them, that is, of memory-knowledges; therefore it is said, the earth is full of the knowledge of Jehovah.

[12] In John:--

The second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea; and the third part of the sea became blood; whence there died the third part of the creatures that were in the sea having souls; and the third part of the ships was destroyed (Rev. 8:8, 9);

a great mountain burning with fire denotes the love of self; the sea into which it was cast denotes memory-knowledge in general; the blood which was from it denotes truth falsified and profaned (AC 4735, 6978, 7317, 7326); the creatures which thereby died denote those who are in the doctrinal things of truth.

[13] In like manner elsewhere in the same:--

The second angel poured out his vial into the sea; and it became blood as of a dead man; whence every living soul in the sea died (Rev. 16:3);

here by the sea is meant memory-knowledge that is of service to evils to destroy truths, and to confirm falsities. Again:--

A beast coming up out of the sea speaking blasphemies (Rev. 12:1);

a beast out of the sea denotes memory-knowledge destroying the truths of faith. From all this it can be seen that the sea denotes where there is a collection of memory-knowledges, from which there is reasoning about the truths of faith.

[14] As the sea has this signification, it is said of Zebulun:--

He shall dwell at the shore of the seas, and at a haven of ships (Gen. 49:13).

He shall suck the affluence of the sea, and the covered things of the hidden things of the sand (Deut. 33:19);

by Zebulun in the representative sense are meant those who draw conclusions from memory-knowledges about the truths of faith; wherefore it is said that he should dwell at the shore of the seas.

[15] But in the opposite sense the sea denotes memory-knowledge which looks to the world; its waves are in this case reasonings from worldly things about Divine ones; consequently to be sunk in the sea denotes to be immersed in memory-knowledges from worldly and earthly things even to the denial of truth Divine; as in Matthew:--

Whoso shall cause to stumble one of these little ones that believe in Me, it is expedient for him that an ass millstone be hanged about his neck, and that he be sunk in the depth of the sea (Matt. 18:6);

a millstone denotes the truth that is of service to faith (AC 4335, 7780); an ass denotes the natural, because it is a beast of service (AC 2781, 5741, 5958, 6389, 8078); consequently an ass millstone, denotes memory-knowledge that is natural and worldly; the neck denotes the conjunction of things interior and exterior (AC 3542); being hanged there denotes the shutting off and interception of good and truth (AC 3542, 3603); being sunk in the depth of the sea denotes in what is merely worldly and bodily, thus into hell. These things spoken by the Lord, like all other things spoken by Him, are therefore significative.

[16] But memory-knowledge is signified by the sea in accordance with the density and blackness of its waters; and on the other hand, in accordance with their tenuity and transparence. From this it is that the memory-knowledge which looks to heaven, which is spiritual in the natural man, is called a glassy sea (Rev. 15:1, 2). That there shall be no reasoning about the truths of faith from memory-knowledges; but that truths shall be impressed on the heart, is signified by, the sea shall be no more (Rev. 21:1).

from AC 9755

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