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The signification of stone in a wide sense is truth, concerning which see (AC 643). Stones have signified truth for the reason that the boundaries of the most ancient people were marked off by stones, and that they set up stones as witnesses that the case was so and so, or that it was true; as is evident from the stone that Jacob set up for a pillar (Gen. 28:22; 35:14), and from the pillar of stones between Laban and Jacob (Gen. 31:46, 47, 52), and from the altar built by the sons of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh, near the Jordan, as a witness (Josh. 22:10, 28, 34). Therefore in the Word truths are signified by stones; insomuch that not only by the stones of the altar, but also by the precious stones upon the shoulders of Aaron's ephod and upon the breastplate of judgment, there were signified holy truths which are of love.

[2] As regards the altar,--when the worship of sacrifices upon altars began, the altar signified the representative worship of the Lord in general; but the stones themselves represented the holy truths of that worship; and therefore it was commanded that the altar should be built of whole stones, not hewn, and it was forbidden that any iron should be moved upon them (Deut. 27:5-7; Josh. 8:31); for the reason that hewn stones, and stones on which iron has been used, signified what is artificial, and thus what is fictitious in worship; that is, what is of man's own or of the figment of his thought and heart. This was to profane worship, as is plainly said in (Exodus 20:25). For the same reason iron was not used upon the stones of the temple (1 Kings 6:7).

[3] That the precious stones upon the shoulders of Aaron's ephod, and in the breastplate of judgment, signified holy truths, has been shown before (AC 114). The same is evident in Isaiah:--

Behold I will make thy stones to lie in carbuncle, and I will lay thy foundation in sapphires, and will put rubies for thy suns (windows), and thy gates in gem-stones, and all thy border in stones of desire; and all thy sons shall be taught of Jehovah, and great shall be the peace of thy sons (Isaiah 54:11-13).

The stones here named denote holy truths, and therefore it is said all thy sons shall be taught of Jehovah. Hence it is said in John that the foundations of the wall of the city, the holy Jerusalem, were adorned with every precious stone, and the stones are named (Rev. 21:19, 20). The holy Jerusalem denotes the kingdom of the Lord in heaven and on earth, the foundations of which are holy truths. In like manner the tables of stone, on which the commands of the Law, or the Ten Words, were written, signified holy truths; and therefore they were of stone, or their foundation (fundus) was stone, concerning which see (Exodus 24:12; 31:18; 34:1; Deut. 5:22; 10:1), for the commands themselves are nothing else than truths of faith.

[4] As then in ancient times truths were signified by stones, and afterwards, when worship began upon pillars and altars, and in a temple, holy truths were signified by the pillars, altars, and temple, therefore the Lord also was called a Stone; as in Moses:--

The Mighty One of Jacob, from thence is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel (Gen. 49:24).

In Isaiah:--

Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tried Stone of the corner, of price, of a sure foundation (Isaiah 28:16).

In David:--

The Stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner (Psalms 118:22).

The like is signified in Daniel by the stone cut out of the rock, which brake in pieces the statue of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:34, 35, 45).

[5] That stones signify truths, is evident also in Isaiah:--

By this shall the iniquity of Jacob be expiated, and this shall be all the fruit, to take away his sin; when he shall put all the stones of the altar as chalkstones that are scattered (Isaiah 27:9)

the stones of the altar denote truths in worship, which are dispersed. Again:--

Make ye level the way of the people; flatten out, flatten ye out the path; gather out the stones (Isaiah 62:10);

Way and stone denote truths. In Jeremiah:--

I am against thee, O destroying mountain; I will roll thee down from the rocks, and will make thee into a mountain of burning; and they shall not take of thee a stone for a corner, nor a stone of foundation (Jeremiah 51:25, 26).

This is said of Babel; a mountain of burning, is the love of self. That a stone should not be taken from it, means that there is no truth.

from AC 1298

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