Spiritual Meaning of

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 Six hundred thousand

The signification of the number six hundred thousand, is all things of faith in one complex; for this number arises from six and also from twelve, and twelve signifies all things of faith and charity (AC 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272, 3858, 3913). It is for this reason that the sons of Jacob were twelve, and that their posterity were distinguished into twelve tribes, and also that twelve disciples were adopted by the Lord, namely, to represent all things of faith and charity. Concerning the tribes (AC 3858, 3862, 3913, 3926, 4060, 6335, 6337, 6640, 7836, 7891); concerning the disciples, (AC 3354, 3488, 3858, 6397).

[2] That here six hundred thousand has a similar signification, is because a number greater or less, or multiplied, or divided, involves the like as the simple numbers from which it is derived (AC 5291, 5335, 5708). This is very clear from the number twelve, which has a like signification whether divided into six, or multiplied to seventy-two, or to one hundred and forty-four--that is, twelve times twelve,--or to twelve thousand, or to one hundred and forty-four thousand, as the one hundred and forty-four thousand spoken of in John:--

I heard the number of the sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel, out of each tribe twelve thousand (Rev. 7:4, 5);

here by the sons of Israel are not meant the sons of Israel, nor by tribes tribes, nor by number number, but such things as are in the internal sense, namely, all things of faith and charity, and thus by each tribe specifically one genus or one class, according to what has been unfolded in regard to the contents of the twenty-ninth and thirtieth chapters of Genesis.

[3] In like manner in the same:--

Behold the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with Him a hundred and forty and four thousand, having the name of His Father written upon their foreheads. They sang a new song before the throne, and no one could learn the song save the hundred and forty and four thousand bought from the earth. These are they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were bought from men, the firstfruits to God and the Lamb (Rev. 14:1, 3, 4).

From this description it is clear that they who are in charity are meant by the hundred and forty and four thousand, and it is also clear that this number merely designates state and quality.

[4] For this number designates the like as twelve, because it arises from twelve thousand and twelve multiplied together; in like manner as the lesser number one hundred and forty-four, which is twelve times twelve, in the same:--

He measured the wall of the holy Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, a hundred and forty and four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Rev. 21:2, 17);

that in the spiritual sense the wall of the holy Jerusalem does not mean a wall, but the truth of faith defending the things of the church, (AC 6419); for which reason also it is said that it was a hundred and forty and four cubits. That such is the meaning is very clear, for it is said that this measure is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel, and by man and by angel is signified everything of the truth and good of faith.

[5] And the same is evident from the twelve precious stones of which was the foundation of the wall, and from the twelve gates, each of which was a pearl (Rev. 21:19-21), for by precious stones are signified the truths of faith which are from the good of charity (AC 643, 3720, 6426), as likewise by a gate and also by a pearl. From this then it is evident that a lesser and a greater number involve the like as the simple number from which they come. That all numbers mentioned in the Word signify real things, see (AC 482, 487, 575, 647, 648, 755, 813, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2252, 3252, 4264, 4495, 4670, 5265, 6175).

[6] From all this it can now be seen that the number six hundred thousand men going forth out of Egypt has also such a signification. That this number signifies such things scarcely anyone can believe, for the reason that it is a matter of history, and everything historical keeps the mind continually in the external sense, and withdraws it from the internal sense. Nevertheless this number has such a signification, for there is not even a syllable, nor yet one jot or one point in the Word, which is not in itself holy, because it infolds in itself what is holy. Everyone sees that there is nothing holy in the mere historical fact.

from AC 7973

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