Spiritual Meaning of

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By "`wilderness" is signified where there is what is uninhabited and uncultivated (AC 2708), in the spiritual sense, where are no good and truth, and also where truth is not yet conjoined with good. Thus by wilderness is signified the state of those with whom conjunction will be effected; and as conjunction is not effected except through temptations, these also are signified, but only when the number forty is added, whether forty years, or forty months, or forty days; for forty signifies temptations and their duration whatever this may be (AC 730, 862, 2272, 2273). These things are signified by the sojournings of the sons of Israel in the wilderness forty years; moreover the temptations which they underwent are described. That they were led into the wilderness in order that they might undergo these temptations and might thus represent them, is clear from these words in Moses:--

Thou shalt remember all the way in which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee, to tempt thee, to know what was in thy heart. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6).

As by forty were signified temptations and their duration, and by the wilderness the state of those who undergo them, therefore when the Lord was tempted, He also went out into the wilderness, and was there forty days (Matt. 4:1, 2; Luke 4:1, 2; Mark 1:12, 13).

from AC 8098

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