Spiritual Meaning of
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That the number twelve signifies faith, or the things of love and the derivative faith in one complex, might also be confirmed by many passages from the Word, as from the twelve sons of Jacob and their names, the twelve tribes of Israel, and the Lord's twelve apostles; but concerning these of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter, especially in Genesis 29 and 30.
from AC 577
The signification of twelve is all things of faith or of the church (AC 577, 2089, 2129, 2130). That all numbers in the Word signify actual things, may be clearly seen from the number twelve, which so often occurs. This number, wherever it occurs in the Word, signifies all; as for instance the twelve tribes in the Old Testament, and the twelve apostles in the New, signify all things of faith, and thus all things of the church. So here twelve princes signify all the primary things of this church, and these are represented by so many sons of Ishmael.
 That twelve has this signification may be seen from the passages adduced in the sections above cited, as also from the following passages in the Word. In John:--
I heard the number of those who were sealed out of every tribe of the sons of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand (Rev. 7:4, 5);
and so on; where by twelve thousand sealed out of every tribe nothing else is signified than that all who are in faith, that is, who are in the good of faith, are saved. Again:--
A woman encompassed with the sun, and the moon under her feet and upon her head a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1);
the woman denotes the church (AC 252, 253); the sun, celestial love; and the moon, spiritual love (AC 30-38, 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495); the twelve stars denote all things of faith. Stars are the knowledges of good and truth which are of faith, (AC 2495, 2849).
The holy city, New Jerusalem, had twelve gates, and upon the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits (twelve times twelve), which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls (Rev. 21:2, 12, 14, 16, 17, 21);
here by the holy city nothing else is signified than the Lord's spiritual kingdom; and by gates, wall, foundations are signified the things of charity and faith; and by twelve, so often mentioned, are signified all of these things; that neither twelve tribes nor twelve apostles are signified, must be evident to every one. Again:--
In the midst of the street of it, and on this side of the river and on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month (Rev. 22:2);
the twelve fruits are all things of charity.
 In Matthew:--
Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, that ye who have followed Me in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28);
here apostles are not meant by apostles, nor thrones by thrones, nor tribes by tribes, but all things that are of faith (AC 2129). Moreover in the Word of the Old Testament, where twelve tribes are mentioned, it is all things of the church that are signified; and the case is the same with the twelve stones according to the names of the twelve tribes of Israel in the Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:21); and with the twelve loaves of the show bread set in order upon the table (Lev. 24:5, 6); and so in other instances.
from AC 3272
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|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|