Spiritual Meaning of

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 Spice, Oil, Anointing

The signification of spices, is interior truths, which are the truths of internal good; the signification of oil, is the good of love (AC 9473); and the signification of anointing, is inauguration to represent; for the things that were to represent holy things were anointed with perfumed oil, and so were inaugurated; as is evident from the following words in Exodus:--

Take unto thee of the chief spices, noble myrrh, perfumed cinnamon, sweet-scented calamus, cassia, olive oil. And thou shalt make it an oil of anointing of holiness, an ointment of ointment; it shall be an oil of anointing of holiness, with which thou shalt anoint the tent and all the vessels thereof, the lampstand and the vessels thereof, the altar of incense, the altar of burnt-offering and all the vessels thereof, and the laver and the base thereof. Thus thou shalt sanctify them, that they may be the holy of holies. And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons (Exod. 30:23-31).

The reason why these things were holy after they had been anointed, was that they then represented holy things; from which it is evident that the anointing was an inauguration to represent.

[2] That the anointing was done with oil was because oil signified celestial good; and celestial good is the good of love from the Lord, and consequently the good of love to the Lord. This good is the very essential in each and all things of heaven and eternal life. The reason why this oil was made perfumed by spices was that it might represent that which is acceptable; for odor signifies perception; and an agreeable and sweet odor, an acceptable perception (AC 925, 1514, 1517-1519, 3577, 4624-4634, 4748). And as all the perception of good is by means of truth, therefore spices were employed, by which are signified interior truths (AC 4748, 5621).

[3] It shall be briefly stated further why the oil of anointing, and also the incense, were to be made sweet-scented. Oil, as before said, signifies the good of love; and spice, internal truth. The good which is of love does not come to perception except through truths, for truth is the witness of good, and is also the revelation of good, and may be called the form of good. The case herein is as with the will and the understanding in man. The will can manifest itself only through the understanding, for the understanding receives the good of the will, and makes it clear. Moreover the understanding is the form of the will, and truth belongs to the understanding, and good to the will. From all this it can be seen why the oil of anointing was made perfumed, and also the incense. But the difference between them is that the perfume of the oil of anointing signifies the acceptableness of internal perception, whereas the perfume of the incense signifies the acceptableness of external perception; for the perfume of the oil of anointing was unaccompanied by smoke, thus it presented its sweet odor without any external appearance; but the perfume of the incense was accompanied with smoke.

from AC 9474

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