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That Ephraim is the new understanding in the natural, is plain from very many passages in the Word, especially in the prophet Hosea, which treats much of Ephraim, and in which we read as follows:--

I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me, in that thou hast wholly committed whoredom, O Ephraim, Israel is defiled. Israel and Ephraim shall go to ruin by their iniquity; Judah shall also go to ruin with them. Ephraim shall become a solitude in the day of reproof. And I am as a moth to Ephraim, and as a boring-worm to the house of Judah. And Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, and Ephraim went to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb; and this one could not heal you (Hosea 5:3, 5, 9, 12, 13).

Again in the same prophet:--

When I healed Israel, then was the iniquity of Ephraim unveiled, and the evils of Samaria; for they have wrought a lie; and a thief cometh, and a troop spreadeth itself abroad. And Ephraim was like a silly dove without heart; they called Egypt, they went to Assyria. When they shall go I will spread my net over them (Hosea 7:1, 11, 12).


Israel is swallowed up; now shall they be among the nations as a vessel wherein is no desire; when they went up to Assyria, a wild ass alone; Ephraim winneth him loves with a harlot's hire (Hosea 8:8, 9);

Israel shall not dwell in the land of Jehovah, and Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat what is unclean in Assyria (Hosea 9:3);

Ephraim hath compassed me about with a lie, and the house of Israel with deceit; and Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints; Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; every day he multiplieth a lie and wasting, and they make a covenant with the Assyrian, and oil is carried down into Egypt (Hosea 11:12; 12:1);

besides many other passages in the same prophet concerning Ephraim (Hosea 4:17-19; 5:3, 5, 9, 11-14; 7:8, 9; 9:8, 11, 13, 16; 10:6, 11; 11:3, 8, 9; 12:8, 14; 13:1, 12; 14:8).

[6] In all these passages by Ephraim is meant the intellectual of the church, by Israel its spiritual, and by Judah its celestial; and it is because the intellectual of the church is signified by Ephraim that it is so often said of him that he goes away into Egypt, and into Assyria; for by Egypt are signified memory-knowledges, and by Assyria reasonings from these; both being predicated of the understanding. Egypt signifies memory-knowledge, (AC 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 2588, 3325, 4749, 4964, 4966); and also that Assyria signifies reason and reasoning, (AC 119, 1186),

[7] In like manner in the following passages by Ephraim is signified the understanding of the church:--

Exult greatly, O daughter of Zion; sound, O daughter of Jerusalem behold thy King cometh to thee. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and I will cut off the battle how; He shall speak peace against the nations; and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth. I will bend Judah for Me, I will fill Ephraim with the bow, and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, with thy sons, O Javan (Zech. 9:9, 10, 13);

said of the coming of the Lord and of the church of the Gentiles. To cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem denotes to cut off all the understanding of the church; to fill Ephraim with the bow denotes to give a new understanding. That a chariot signifies what is of doctrine may be seen above (AC 5321), a horse, what is of the understanding (AC 2760-2762, 3217, 5321); and a bow also what is of doctrine (AC 2685, 2686, 2709); for what is of doctrine depends on what is of the understanding, for it is believed as it is understood, the understanding of the doctrine determining the quality of the faith.

[8] Hence also the sons of Ephraim are called shooters with the bow, in David:--

The sons of Ephraim, who were armed and shooters with the bow, turned back in the day of battle (Ps. 78:9).

In Ezekiel:--

Son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the sons of Israel his companions; then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and of all the house of Israel his companions; afterward join them for thee one to another into one stick, that the two may become one in my hand. Behold I will take the stick of Joseph that is in the hands of Ephraim and of the tribes of Israel his companions, and will add those who are upon it with the stick of Judah, and I will make them one stick, that they may be one in My hand (Ezek. 37:16, 17, 19);

where also by Judah is meant the celestial of the church, by Israel its spiritual, and by Ephraim its intellectual. That these are made one through the good of charity, is signified by one stick being made out of two. A stick of wood is the good of charity and consequently the good of works, (AC 1110, 2784, 2812, 3720, 4943),

[9] In Jeremiah:--

There shall be a day that the watchman from the mountain of Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, let us go up to Zion unto Jehovah our God. I will be a father to Israel, and Ephraim My firstborn is he (Jer. 31:6, 9).

In the same:--

I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself, Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a calf unaccustomed; turn Thou me, that I may be turned. Is not Ephraim a precious son to Me? is he not a child of delights? For after I have spoken against him, I will surely remember him again (Jer. 31:18, 20).

In the same:--

I will bring back Israel to his habitation, that he may feed in Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be sated in the mountain of Ephraim and in Gilead (Jer. 50:19).

In Isaiah:--

Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim, and to the fading flower and to the glory of his adornment, which are upon the head of the valley of the fat ones that are troubled with wine (Isa. 28:1).

[10] In these passages also by Ephraim is signified the understanding of the church. The understanding of the church is the understanding the men of the Church have of truths and goods, that is, of the doctrinal things of faith and charity; thus their notion, concept, or idea about them. Truth itself is the spiritual of the church, and good is its celestial; but truth and good are understood differently by different men; such therefore as is the understanding of truth, such is the truth with everyone. It is similar with the understanding of good.

[11] What the will of the church is that is signified by Manasseh, may be known from its understanding, which is Ephraim. It is with the will of the church as with its understanding, namely, that it is varied with each person. Manasseh signifies this will in Isaiah:--

In the wrath of Jehovah Zebaoth the land is darkened, and the people is become like food for the fire; no man shall spare his brother; they shall eat every man the flesh of his own arm: Manasseh, Ephraim; and Ephraim, Manasseh: they together are against Judah (Isa. 9:19-21);

where every man eating the flesh of his own arm, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Ephraim, Manasseh denotes that the will of the man of the church will be against his understanding, and his understanding against his will.

[12] In David:--

God hath spoken by His holiness: I will exult, I will divide Shechem, and met' out the valley of Succoth. Gilead is Mine, and Manasseh is Mine; and Ephraim is the strength of My head (Ps. 60:6, 7).


Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, Thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up Thy might (Ps. 80:1, 2);

where also Ephraim denotes the understanding of the church, and Manasseh its will. The same is plain also from the blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh by Jacob before his death (Gen. 48:13-20); and also from Jacob's accepting Ephraim in place of Reuben, and Manasseh in place of Simeon (Gen. 48:3, 5); for by Reuben was represented the understanding of the church, or faith in the understanding and in doctrine (AC 3861, 3866), and by Simeon, faith in act, or obedience and will to do the truth, from which and by which is charity, and thus truth in act, which is the good of the new will (AC 3869-3872).

[13] The reason why Jacob, then Israel, blessed Ephraim in preference to Manasseh, by putting his right hand upon the former and his left upon the latter (Gen. 48:13-20), was the same that Jacob had for diverting to himself the birthright of Esau, and the same as in the case of Perez and Zerah the sons of Judah by Tamar, when Zerah, who was the firstborn, came forth after Perez (Gen. 38:28-30). This reason was that the truth of faith, which is of the understanding, is apparently in the first place during man's regeneration, and then the good of charity, which is of the will, is apparently in the second place; and yet good is actually in the first place, and is manifestly so when the man has been regenerated (AC 3324, 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3701, 4243, 4244, 4247, 4337, 4925, 4926, 4928, 4930, 4977).

from AC 5354

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