Spiritual Meaning of

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That in the internal sense to sell is to alienate the things of faith and charity, consequently those which make a man of the internal church, may be seen from the fact that in the spiritual world there is no buying or selling such as there is on earth, but the appropriation of good and truth which is signified by buying, and the alienation of them which is signified by selling. By selling is also signified the communication of the knowledges of good and of truth, for the reason that by trading is signified the procuring and communication of these knowledges (AC 2967, 4453), but in this case the selling is said to be not by silver.

[2] That to sell denotes alienation is evident from the following passages in the Word. In Isaiah:--

Thus hath said Jehovah, Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have sent away? or who is there of My usurers to whom I have sold you? Behold, for your sins ye have been sold, and for your transgressions has your mother been sent away (Isa. 50:1);

mother denotes the church; and selling, to alienate. In Ezekiel:--

The time is come, the day is come near; let not the buyer be glad, and let not the seller mourn; for wrath is upon all the multitude thereof. For the seller shall not return to the thing that is sold, though their life be yet among the living (Ezek. 7:12, 13);

speaking of the land of Israel, which is the spiritual church; the seller denotes him who had alienated truths and had insinuated falsities.

[3] In Joel:--

The sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem have ye sold to the sons of the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their borders. Behold I will stir them up out of the place whither ye have sold them, and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, who shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off (Joel 3:6-8);

speaking of Tyre and Sidon; to sell here also denotes to alienate. In Moses:--

Their Rock hath sold them, and Jehovah hath shut them up (Deut. 32:30);

to sell plainly denotes to alienate; rock in the supreme sense is the Lord as to truth, in the representative sense it is faith; Jehovah is the Lord as to good.

[4] As in the spiritual sense to buy is to procure for one's self, and to sell is to alienate, therefore the kingdom of heaven is compared by the Lord to one who sells and buys, in Matthew:--

The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a treasure hidden in the field; which when found, a man hideth, and in his joy he goeth away and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of the heavens is like unto a merchant man seeking beauteous pearls; who when he had found one precious pearl, went away and sold all that he had, and bought it (Matthew 13:44-46);

the kingdom of the heavens denotes the good and the truth with man, thus heaven with him; field denotes good; and pearl, truth; to buy denotes to procure and appropriate these to himself; to sell all that he hath, denotes to alienate his own which he had before, thus evils and falsities, for these are of one's own.

[5] In Luke:--

Jesus said unto the young prince, Yet lackest thou one thing; sell all that thou hast, and distribute to the poor, then wilt thou have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me (Luke 18:22);

in the internal sense by these words is meant that all things of his own, which are nothing but evils and falsities, must be alienated, for these things are all that he hath; and that he should then receive goods and truths from the Lord, which are treasure in heaven.

[6] In like manner what is said in the same:--

Sell your means, and give alms; make you purses that wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not (Luke 12:33);

everyone sees that there is another sense in these words, because for anyone to sell his means would be at this day to make himself a beggar, and to deprive himself of all capacity any longer to exercise charity, besides being unable to avoid placing merit therein; and it is an established truth that there are rich in heaven as well as poor. The other sense which is within these words is that which was told just above.

[7] As to sell signified to alienate the things of the church, it was therefore the law that:--

A wife married from the female captives, if she did not please, should be sent away whither she would, but should not in any case be sold for silver, and no profit be made of her, because he had afflicted her (Deut. 21:14);

a wife from the female captives denotes alien truth not from a genuine stock, but which may be adjoined in some way with the good of the church appertaining to man; yet this truth if in some respects not in agreement may be removed, but not alienated, because it has been in some measure conjoined. This is the spiritual meaning of this law.

[8] So with the following law:--

If a man be found who hath stolen a soul of his brethren of the sons of Israel, and hath made gain therein, and hath sold him, the thief shall be killed, that thou mayest put away the evil from the midst of thee (Deut. 24:7);

thieves of the sons of Israel denote those who acquire for themselves the truths of the church, not with the end of living according to them, and thus teaching them from the heart, but of making profit for themselves thereby: that such a thief is damned is signified by its being said that he shall die.

from AC 5886

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