Spiritual Meaning of

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 Riches, Wealth

That riches and wealth denote the things of intelligence and wisdom, consequently also the knowledges of truth and good, which moreover are called spiritual wealth and riches, is evident from the passages in the Word where they are mentioned, as in Isaiah:--

I will visit upon the fruit of the pride of the king of Assyria, for he hath said, In the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I am intelligent; whence I will remove the bounds of the peoples and will ravage their treasures; as a nest shall my hand find the wealth of the peoples (Isa. 10:12-14);

the subject here treated of in the internal sense is those who trust in their own intelligence, and do not believe that true wisdom comes from heaven, but from themselves. The king of Assyria denotes reasoning, here from self-intelligence (AC 1186); hence to ravage the treasures and the wealth of the peoples denotes to destroy those things which are truths of intelligence and wisdom.

[5] Again:--

A prophecy concerning the beasts of the south. They carry their wealth upon the shoulder of asses, and their treasures upon the back of camels, unto Egypt (Isa. 30:6, 7);

the beasts of the south denote those who are within the church, thus are in the light of truth from the Word, but who nevertheless do not read the Word except merely for the sake of memory-knowledge, and not for the sake of the use of life; for the south denotes where is the light of truth, thus where the Word is (AC 3195, 3708, 5672, 9642); an ass denotes memory-knowledge, and likewise a camel, and also Eat. That an ass has this signification, (AC 5492, 5741, 7024); also a camel, (AC 3048, 3071, 3143, 3145, 4516); and Egypt, (AC 9391). That these prophetic words are to be understood in a spiritual sense can be seen from the fact that without this sense no one knows what is meant by the beasts of the south, or by carrying their wealth on the shoulder of asses, and their treasures on the back of camels, and this unto Egypt.

[6] In the same:--

I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places, that thou mayest know that I am Jehovah (Isa. 45:3);

the treasures of darkness, and hidden wealth of secret places denote such things as belong to heavenly intelligence and wisdom, which have been hidden from the natural man.

[7] In Jeremiah:--

The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron. O My mountain in the field, I will give thy property and all thy treasures for a spoil (Jer. 17:1, 3);

Judah is called a mountain in the field because with Judah was the representative of the celestial church; for a mountain denotes the love of the celestial church (AC 6435); and a field denotes the church (AC 2971, 3766, 7502, 9139, 9295); the property, and the treasures, which were to be given for a spoil, denote all the truths and goods of the church, which were to be dispersed.

[8] Again:--

Because of thy confidence in thy works, and in thy treasures, thou also shalt be taken (Jer. 48:7);

here also treasures denote the doctrinal things and knowledges of the church.

[9] Again:--

O sword against her horses, and against her chariots, and against the promiscuous crowd that is in the midst of her! O sword against her treasures, that they may be snatched away! A drought is upon her waters, that they may be dried up (Jer. 50:37, 38).

These words are spoken against the Chaldeans, by whom are meant those who are in external worship without internal, thus who profess the truths of the Word with the lips, but at heart deny them. A sword denotes falsity fighting against truths (AC 2799, 4499, 6353, 7102, 8294); horses denote the understanding (AC 2760-2762, 3217, 5321); chariots denote what is of doctrine (AC 5321, 8215); the treasures that were to be snatched away denote the truths and goods of the church that would be perverted and would perish by being connected with the evils of the loves of self and of the world; a drought upon her waters denotes the deprivation and consumption of the truths of faith. That water denotes the truth of faith, (AC 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 8568, 9323).

[10] Who cannot see that the literal sense is not the genuine sense of these words? for what holiness, or what of the church or of heaven, or who sense, is there in these expressions - that a sword should be against the horses, against the chariots, against the promiscuous crowd, against the treasures, and that a drought should be upon the waters that they should be dried up? Wherefore from these and all other things of the Word it can be plainly seen that a spiritual sense, which differs from the natural, is in every detail, and that without this sense the Word cannot be called holy, and in very many places it cannot even be apprehended.

[11] Again:--

O Babel, who dwellest upon many waters, great in treasures (Jer. 51:13).

Babel denotes those who possess the Word and from this all the goods and truths of the church, but who connect them with the love of self, and thus profane them (AC 1326); which was also represented by the king of Babel taking all the vessels of the temple, which were of gold and silver, and drinking out of them, and then praising the gods of gold and silver (Dan. 5:2). Hence Babel is said to dwell upon many waters, great in treasures; waters denote truths, and in the opposite sense falsities (AC 2702, 3058, 4976, 8568, 9323). This is more fully described in the Apocalypse, where the riches of Babylon, which are there called merchandise, are enumerated (Rev. xviii).

[12] In Ezekiel:--

I will bring Nebuchadnezzar against Tyre. With the hoofs of his horses shall he trample all thy streets. They shall snatch away thy wealth, and plunder thy merchandise (Ezek. 26:7, 11, 12);

by Tyre is meant the church in respect to the knowledges of good and truth (AC 1201); by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babel is meant the profanation that vastates (AC 1327), which takes place when by means of a wrong application the truths and goods of the church serve as means to favor the evils of the loves of self and of the world; for then the evils of these loves are within the heart, and the holy things of the church are in the mouth; the hoofs of the horses denote the outermost natural things, which are merely sensuous memory-knowledges (AC 7729), and streets denote the truths of faith (AC 2336); wealth and merchandise denote the knowledges of good and truth.

[13] As by Tyre are signified the knowledges of good and truth (AC 1201), therefore where Tyre is treated of in the Word, various kinds of merchandise and riches are also treated of, as in the same prophet:--

Tarshish was thy trader, by means of the multitude of all kinds of wealth, in silver, iron, tin, and lead. Damascus was thy trader for the multitude of all thy wealth. By the multitude of thy wealth and of thy merchandise thou didst enrich all the kings of the earth (Ezek. 27:12, 18, 33).

In thy wisdom and in thine intelligence thou hast made wealth for thyself, gold and silver in thy treasuries; by the multitude of thy wisdom thou hast multiplied wealth for thyself (Ezek. 28:4, 5);

speaking also of Tyre; by which it is very evident that by wealth and riches in the Word are meant spiritual wealth and riches, which are the knowledges of good and truth, thus which are the means of wisdom.

[14] So in these passages:--

Tyre hath gathered silver as dust, and gold as the mire of the streets. Behold the Lord will impoverish her, and will shake off her wealth into the sea (Zech. 9:3, 4).

The daughter of Tyre shall offer thee a gift. O daughter of the king; the rich of the people shall intreat thy faces (Ps. 45:12).

In this passage the church is described in respect to the affection of truth, and is called the daughter of the king, for a daughter denotes the church as to affection (AC 2362, 3963, 6729, 9055); and a king denotes truth (AC 1672, 2015, 2069, 3670, 4575, 4581, 4966, 6148); therefore it is said that the daughter of Tyre shall offer a gift, and the rich of the people shall intreat thy faces; the rich of the people denote those who abound in truths and goods.

[15] In Hosea:--

Ephraim said, Surely I am become rich, I have found for me wealth (Hosea 12:8);

where by becoming rich and finding wealth is not meant that he was enriched with worldly riches and wealth, but with heavenly; for by Ephraim is meant the intellectual of the church, which is enlightened when the Word is read (AC 5354, 6222, 6238, 6267).

[16] In John:--

And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, Because thou sayest, I am rich, and I have been enriched, and I need no aid, and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and needy, and blind, and naked; I counsel thee to buy of Me gold purified in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white garments, that thou mayest be clothed (Rev. 3:14, 17, 18).

The subject here treated of is the church which makes everything of the church consist in bare knowledges, and from this exalts itself above others, when yet knowledges are nothing but means for amending and perfecting the life; wherefore he who possesses them without a life according to them, is wretched, miserable, needy, blind, and naked; to buy gold purified in the fire denotes to procure from the Lord genuine good, and white garments, denotes to procure from the Lord genuine truths from this good. That gold denotes the good of love, (AC 9874); and that garments denote the truths of faith, (AC 4545, 5248, 5319, 5954, 9212, 9216, 9814, 9952).

[17] In Jeremiah:--

I Jehovah give to everyone according to his ways, according to the fruits of his works. As the partridge gathereth, but beareth not, so he getteth riches, but not with judgment; In the midst of his days he shall desert them; and in the end of his days he shall become a fool (Jer. 17:10, 11);

the subject here treated of is those who acquire knowledges without any use in view than that they may get riches, that is, that they may know them; when yet it is the life which they ought to be devoted to. This is meant by gathering as the partridge and yet not bearing, and by getting riches, but not with judgment.

[18] In Luke:--

Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all his property, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:33);

he who does not know that in the internal sense property denotes spiritual riches and wealth, which are knowledges from the Word, cannot possibly know otherwise than that in order that he may be saved he must deprive himself of all wealth; when yet this is not the sense of these words: by property are here meant all things which are from man's own intelligence, for no one can be wise from himself, but only from the Lord; wherefore to renounce all property denotes to attribute nothing of intelligence and wisdom to self; and he who does not do this cannot be instructed by the Lord, that is, be His disciple.

[19] As by property, riches, wealth, silver, and gold, are signified those things which belong to intelligence and wisdom, therefore also the kingdom of heaven is compared by the Lord to treasure hid in a field (Matt. 13:44); and it is said that they should make to themselves treasure in the heavens that faileth not, because where the treasure is there is the heart (Matt. 6:19-21; Luke 12:33, 34).

[20] They who do not know that by the rich are meant those who possess the knowledges of truth and good, thus who have the Word; and that by the poor are meant those who do not possess these knowledges, but who nevertheless desire them, cannot know otherwise than that by the rich man who was clothed in crimson and fine linen,and by the poor man who was cast forth at his entrance (Luke 16:19-31), are meant a rich and a poor man in the common meaning of these terms, when yet by the rich man is there meant the Jewish nation which had the Word; by the crimson with which he was clothed is meant genuine good (AC 9467); and by the fine linen, genuine truth (AC 5319, 9469, 9596, 9744); and by the poor man cast forth at the entrance are meant those who are outside the church and have not the Word, and yet long for the truths and goods of heaven and of the church.

[21] From this also it is plain that by the rich are meant those who have the Word, consequently Divine truths; as also in the prophetic utterance of Mary in Luke:

God hath filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He hath sent empty away (Luke 1:53);

here the hungry denotes those who are in other places called the poor, thus who have no bread and water, and consequently who are in hunger and thirst, that is, who do not know good and truth and yet long for them. By bread and water in the Word are signified good and truth (AC 9323); and by hungering and thirsting, thus by hunger and thirst, is signified the longing for these.

[22] Such are also meant by the poor in other places, as in the following:--

Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens. Blessed are ye that hunger, for ye shall be sated (Luke 6:20, 21).

The master of the house said to the servant, Go out into the streets and highways of the city, and bring in the poor, and the maimed, and the lame, and the blind (Luke 14:21).

To the poor the Gospel shall be preached (Luke 7:22).

The poor hear the Gospel (Matt. 11:5).

Then the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down confidently (Isa. 14:30).

The needy of men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel (Isa. 29:19).

I will leave in the midst of thee a people miserable and poor, who shall hope in the name of Jehovah; they shall feed and shall rest, none making them afraid (Zeph. 3:12, 13).

The poor and the needy seek water, but there is none; their tongue faileth for thirst. I Jehovah will hear them. I will open rivers upon the hillsides, and I will set fountains in the midst of the valleys (Isa. 41:17, 18).

[23] The afflicted and the needy seeking water denote those who long for the knowledges of good and truth; water denotes truth; the longing is described by their tongue failing with thirst; and the abundance which they will have, by rivers being opened upon the hillsides, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. From all this it is further evident that heavenly things, which are truths of faith and goods of love, are meant by earthly things, which are waters, rivers upon the hillsides, fountains in the valleys, and that the latter is the literal sense of the Word, but the former the spiritual sense; and that through this sense the Word is Divine, and that without it, it is not Divine.

[24] The signification of wealth and of riches as being what belongs to intelligence and wisdom, is also from correspondence; for among the angels in heaven all things appear as if they shone with gold, silver, and precious stones, and this because they are in the intelligence of truth and in the wisdom of good; for the interiors of the angels are presented to view in this way from the correspondence. More over with the spirits who are below the heavens there is an appearance of riches according to the state of the reception of truth and good from the Lord.

from AC 10227

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