Spiritual Meaning of

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The signification of a roof, is the inmost. A roof denotes the inmost because it is supreme or highest, and what is supreme or highest signifies inmost, according to what was shown above (AC 10181); and because a roof signifies the like as the head with man. For all the representatives in nature bear relation to the human form, and have a signification according to this relation (AC 9496). That the head signifies the inmost, (AC 5328, 6436, 7859, 9656, 9913, 9914). The inmost here signified by the roof of the altar of incense is the inmost of worship; for in worship there are similar things to those which are in the man himself from whom the worship proceeds; namely, an internal, a middle, and an external. The inmost is called celestial, the middle spiritual, and the external natural (AC 4938, 4939, 9992, 10005, 10017, 10068). From the correspondence these degrees are signified by the head, the breast, and the feet; in like manner by the roof, the sides, and the horns, of the altar of incense.

[2] As by the roof is signified the celestial, which is inmost, good is also signified, for good is everywhere the inmost, and truth proceeds from it, as, to speak comparatively, light does from flame. This is meant by the roof in Matthew:--

Let him that is on the roof of the house not go down to take anything out of his home (Matt. 24:17; Mark 13:15; Luke 17:31).

The subject here treated of is the last times of the church, and by being on the roof is signified the state of a man who is in good; and by going down to take anything out of the house, is signified a return to the former state (AC 3652). As in Jeremiah:--

On all the roofs of Moab, and in the streets thereof, all is mourning (Jer. 48:38);

by a mourning on all the roofs is signified the vastation of all goods with those who in the representative sense are meant by Moab, namely, those who are in natural good, who easily suffer themselves to be seduced (AC 2468); and by a mourning in the streets is signified the vastation of all truths. That streets denote truths, (AC 2336).

[3] As a roof signified good, therefore the ancients had roofs on their houses where they walked, and also where they worshiped, as can be seen in (1 Sam. 9:25, 26; 2 Sam. 11:2; Zeph. 1:5). In Moses:--

When thou buildest a new house, thou shalt make a parapet for thy roof, that thou bring not bloods on thine house if anyone fall from it. Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with mixed seed, lest the gathering from the seed which thou hast sowed, and from the produce of the vineyard, be forfeited. Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together. Thou shalt not put on a garment mixed with wool and linen together (Deut. 22:8-11).

[4] From all this it is also evident that by a roof is signified the good of love; for each of these precepts involves similar things, which are not disclosed except by means of the internal sense. This sense is that he who is in good, which is the state of a regenerate man, shall not return into a state of truth, which is his prior state, namely, during regeneration; for in this state man is led by means of truth to good, thus partly by himself; but in the later or posterior state, namely when he has been regenerated, man is led by good, that is, through good by the Lord.

[5] This is the secret which lies hidden within each of these precepts; thus the same as is contained in the Lord's words in the following passages:--

Then he who is upon the house, let him not go down to take anything out of his house; and he who is in the field, let him not return back to take his clothes (Matt. 24:17, 18).

He who is up on the roof, let him not go down into the house, neither let him enter to take away anything out of his house; and he who shall be in the field, let him no more turn back to take his raiment (Mark 13:16).

In that day, whosoever shall be upon the house, and his vessels in the house, let him not go down to take them away; and whosoever shall be in the field, let him likewise not return to the things behind him; Remember Lot's wife (Luke 17:31, 32).

[6] Who cannot see that arcana of heaven are contained in these passages? for otherwise what could he meant by its being said that they should not go down from the house, or return back from the field, and that they should remember Lot's wife? In like manner in what is said in Moses, that they should make a parapet about the roof lest blood should be shed if people fell down; and that a field should not be sown mixedly with seed, and also about the produce of a vineyard; and that they should not plough with an ox and an ass together; nor wear a garment mixed with wool and linen. For by the roof is signified good, and by being upon the house, or upon the roof, is signified the state when a man is in good; by falling from it is signified a relapse to the former state; and by bloods is signified the violence then offered to good and truth (AC 374, 1005, 4735, 6978, 7317, 7326); by a vineyard is signified the church with man; by the produce of the vineyard, a state of truth (AC 9139); by the seed of wheat or barley, a state of good (AC 3941, 7605); by an ox also is signified good, and by ploughing with an ox, a state of good (AC 2781, 9135); in like manner by wool, and by putting on a garment of wool (AC 9470); and by an ass is signified truth (AC 2781, 5741); and also by linen (AC 7601, 9959). But how the case is with this secret, see unfolded in the places cited in (AC 9274).

from AC 10184

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