Spiritual Meaning of
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The signification of numbering, when said of all things of the church, which are the truths and goods of faith and love, is the setting in order and the disposing of them, consequently those who were numbered signify what has been set in order and disposed. Numbering has this signification because numbering involves survey, and that which is surveyed by the Lord is also set in order and disposed. Moreover the word by which numbering is here expressed, in the original tongue means to survey, to estimate, to observe, and also to visit, to command, to preside, thus to set in order and dispose. That these significations belong to this word is because in the spiritual sense the one thing involves the other, and the spiritual sense is the interior sense of the words, which sense is often contained in the words of languages, especially of the oriental languages.
 That in the spiritual sense, in which sense the truths and goods of faith and love are treated of, to number denotes to set in order and dispose, is evident also from the passages in the Word where numbering is spoken of, and also number, as in the following:--
The voice of a tumult of the kingdoms of the nations gathered together; Jehovah Zebaoth numbereth (setteth in order) the army of war (Isa. 13:4).
Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these; He that hath brought forth by number their army; He calleth them all by name; of the multitude of the powerful and of the might in strength, not a man is lacking (Isa. 40:26).
Jehovah who numbereth the army of the stars; He calleth all by names (Ps. 147:4).
That by numbering in these passages is signified to set in order and dispose, is plain, for it is said of Jehovah, that is, the Lord, who does not number any army, or stars, but sets in order and disposes those things which are signified by an army and by stars, which are the truths and goods of faith and love; for the subject treated of is not wars in the natural world, but wars in the spiritual world, which are wars or combats of truths from good against falsities from evil. That wars in the spiritual sense denote such combats, (AC 1664, 2686, 8273, 8295); that an army denotes the truths and goods of the church and of heaven, (AC 7988, 8019); and that stars denote the knowledges of truth and good, (AC 2495, 2849, 4697).
 When it is down what is signified by numbering, and by the sons of Israel, it can be seen why it was not allowable for David to number the people, and why after he numbered them, Gad the prophet was sent to him, who declared the penalty (2 Sam. 24:1-15); and why it is here said that everyone should give an expiation of his soul, that there be no plague in them in numbering them. For by the sons of Israel are signified the truths and goods of the church, and by numbering is signified to set in order and dispose; and because it is of the Lord alone to set in order and dispose the truths and goods of faith and of love with everyone in the church and in heaven, therefore when this is done by a man, as it was done by David through Joab, it then signifies the setting in order and disposing of such things by man, and not by the Lord, which is not to set in order and dispose, but to destroy. If the numbering of the sons of Israel had not involved such things, there would not have been any sin or guilt in numbering them.
 That by the sons of Israel are signified spiritual truths and goods, which are the truths and goods of the church and of heaven, (AC 5414, 5801, 5803, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833, 5879, 5951, 7957, 8234, 8805); in like manner by the tribes into which the sons of Israel were divided, (AC 3858, 3926, 4060, 6335, 6397). As bythe sons of Israel and by the tribes such things are signified, and these are innumerable, therefore in the Word it is said of them that:--
Their number should be as the sand of the sea, which shall not be measured, nor numbered (Hosea 1:10).
Who will number the dust of Jacob, and the number of Israel? (Num. 23:10).
Jehovah said to Abraham, I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if one can number the dust of the earth, it shall be that thy seed will be numbered (Gen. 13:16; 16:10).
Look up toward heaven, and number the stars, if thou be able to number them. So shall thy seed be (Gen. 15:5).
That by the sons of Israel, and by the seed of Abraham, was not meant their posterity; but spiritual truths and goods, which are innumerable, and also for the most part unutterable, can be seen from the fact that there was not a greater multitude of them than of other nations, which also Moses testifies:--
Not because of your multitude above all peoples hath Jehovah desired you, that He should choose you, for indeed ye are fewer than all peoples (Deut. 7:7).
 Moreover by numbering is signified to set in order and dispose, in Jeremiah:--
In the cities of Jerusalem and of Judah shall the flocks yet pass over according to the hands of him that numbereth them (Jer. 33:13);
flocks also denote the goods and truths of the church (AC 6048, 8937, 9135); according to the hands of him that numbereth, denotes according to the disposing of the Lord. In David:--
Who knoweth the vehemence of Thine anger? for numbering our days, make known what is right, that we may put on a heart of wisdom (Ps. 90:12);
to number days denotes to set in order and dispose the states of life; and days are said to be numbered when they are set in order and disposed, thus when they are finished, as in these passages:--
By the letting out of my days I shall go away unto the gates of hell; I have been numbered as to the residue of my years (Isa. 38:10);
A writing appeared before king Belshazzar: Numbered, Weighed, and Divided (Dan. 5:25);
for when to number signifies to set in order and dispose, then what is numbered signifies what is finished, as when a line is drawn under numbers on completing the calculation.
 That by numbering is signified to set in order and dispose, is because by number is signified the quality of a thing and of a state, and the quality is determined by the adjoined number; hence to number denotes to qualify, and in spiritual things qualification is effected by a setting in order and a disposing by the Lord. This is signified by number in John:--
He causeth that he give to all a mark upon their right hand or upon their foreheads, and that no one can buy or sell save he that hath the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath intelligence count the number of the beast; for it is the number of a man; namely, the number six hundred and sixty-six (Rev. 13:16-18).
 The subject treated of in this chapter is the beast out of the sea and the beast out of the earth; by the beast out of the sea is meant the truth of the church falsified by means of memory-knowledges which are from the world; and by the beast out of the earth is meant the truth of the church falsified by means of the literal sense of the Word applied to favor the evils of the loves of self and of the world; for the earth denotes the church as to good and truth (AC 9325); and the sea denotes memory-knowledge in general, (AC 28, 2120, 2850). To have his mark upon the hand and upon the forehead denotes to acknowledge all things no matter what they may be; for the forehead signifies love (AC 9936); and a name signifies all the quality of that which is being treated of (AC 1930, 3006, 3421, 6674, 8274).
 To count the number of the beast denotes to explore and know these falsified truths of the church; the number of a man signifies the subject and the state of the church; six hundred and sixty-six signifies its quality as to all truths falsified from evil, and also the profanation of what is holy, and likewise the end. To know these things, and to explore them, is the part of a wise and intelligent man, and therefore it is said, this is wisdom, let him that hath intelligence count its number; for the number six signifies the same as the number twelve, because it is the half of it (AC 3960, 7973, 8148); and twelve signifies all the truths and goods of the church in the complex (AC 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913, 7973), hence also in the opposite sense it signifies all falsities and evils in the complex. The trebling of the number six also involves the end, and the end is when truth is completely profaned.
 From all this it is very evident that numbers in the Word involve things and states, and signify quality according to the numbers fixed upon, as also in the following words in John:--
The angel measured the wall of the holy Jerusalem a hundred and forty-four cubit, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (John 21:17);
by the number fixed upon in this passage are also signified all truths and goods in the complex, for a hundred and forty-four signifies the same as twelve (AC 7973), for it arises from twelve multiplied into itself; and therefore it is here said that its measure is the measure of a man, as above that this number is the number of a man; but as truths from good are here signified, it is added that this measure is also the measure of an angel, for an angel in the Word signifies truths from good, because he is a recipient of Divine truth from the Lord (AC 8192).
from AC 10217
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|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|