Spiritual Meaning of

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That in the Word a thousand signifies much and countless, and when predicated of the Lord what is infinite, is manifest from the following passages. In Moses:--

I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons, upon the third and upon the fourth generation of them that hate Me, and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments (Exod. 20:5, 6; 34:7; Deut. 5:9, 10).

And in Jeremiah:--

Jehovah showeth mercy unto thousands, and recompenseth the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their sons after them (Jeremiah 32:18).

In these passages by thousands is not signified any definite number, but what is infinite, for the Lord's mercy is infinite, because Divine. In David:--

The chariots of God are two myriads, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them, Sinai in holiness (Ps. 68:17);

where myriads and thousands denote things innumerable.

[3] In the same:--

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and a myriad at thy right hand; it shall not come nigh thee (Ps. 91:7);

where also a thousand and a myriad denote things innumerable; and as it is concerning the Lord, who in the Psalms is meant by David, they denote all who are His enemies. In the same:--

Our garners are full, affording all manner of food, our flocks bring forth a thousand and ten thousand in our streets (Ps. 144:13);

where also a thousand, and ten thousand, that is, a myriad, denote things innumerable. In the same:--

A thousand years in Thine eyes are as yesterday when it is past (Ps. 90:4);

a thousand years denote what is without time, and therefore eternity, which is infinity of time. In Isaiah:--

One thousand from before the rebuke of one, from before the rebuke of five shall ye flee, until ye be left as a mast upon the top of a mountain (Isaiah 30:17);

where one thousand denotes many without any definite number; and five a few (AC 649). In Moses:--

Jehovah the God of your fathers make you a thousand times as many more as ye are, and bless you (Deut. 1:11);

where a thousand times denotes numberless, as in common speech, in which also a thousand is used for many; as when it is said that a thing has been said a thousand times, or done in a thousand ways. In like manner in Joshua:--

One man of you shall chase a thousand, for Jehovah your God fighteth for you (Joshua 23:10).

[4] As in computation a thousand is a definite number, it appears in the prophecies, especially when connected with history, as if a thousand meant simply a thousand, when yet it signifies many or innumerable, apart from any fixed number; for historical matters are of such a nature as to determine the ideas into the nearest and proper significations of the words, as also to the names given; when yet real things are signified in the Word by numbers as well as by names (AC 482, 487, 575, 647, 648, 755, 813, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2252). Hence also it is supposed by some that by the thousand years in (Revelation 20:1-7) there are meant a thousand years or a thousand periods, for the reason as already said that things prophetic are there described under the form of history; when yet by the thousand years nothing is there meant except an indeterminate large amount, as elsewhere also infinity of time, or eternity.

from AC 2575

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