Spiritual Meaning of
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The signification of "a graven image," is that which is not from the Lord, but from what is man's own. That which is man's own of his intellect is signified by "a graven image," and that which is man's own of his will is signified by "a molten image." To have either the one or the other for a god, or to adore it, is to love above all things all that which proceeds from self. They who do this entirely disbelieve that anything of intelligence and wisdom flows in from the Divine, for they attribute all things to themselves; everything else that happens to them they ascribe either to fortune or to chance. They totally deny the Divine Providence in such things. They suppose that if there is anything of Deity present, it is in the order of nature, to which they ascribe all things. They do indeed say with their lips that some Creator God has impressed such things upon nature; but still in their heart they deny any God above nature. much are they who from the heart attribute everything to themselves and to their own sagacity and intelligence, and nothing to the Divine; and those of them who love themselves, adore what belongs to themselves and also desire to be worshiped by others, even as gods, and would do so openly if the church did not forbid. These are the formers of graven images, and the graven images themselves are what they hatch from their own, and wish to be adored as things divine.
 That these things are signified in the Word by "graven images," is evident from the passages where they are mentioned, as in Jeremiah:--
Every man is become a fool from knowledge; every founder is put to shame by his graven image; for his molten image is a lie, and there is no breath in them (Jer. 10:14; 51:17);
as by "a graven image" is signified that which does not proceed from the Lord, but from self-intelligence, therefore it is said, "Every man is become a fool from knowledge, and every founder is put to shame by his graven image;" and as in those things which are hatched from self-intelligence there is nothing of spiritual life, which is solely from the Lord, therefore it is also said, "and there is no breath in them."
 In Habakkuk:--
What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it, the molten image, and the teacher of a lie, because the maker of his invention trusteth upon this, when he maketh dumb gods? there is no breath in the midst of it (Habakkuk 2:18, 19);
here the "graven image" denotes those things which are hatched from self-intelligence, wherein there is nothing of life from the Lord.
 In Jeremiah:--
A drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up; for it is a land of graven images, and they glory in horrors; therefore the ziim dwell with the iim, and the daughters of the owl dwell therein (Jer. 50:38, 39);
speaking of Chaldea and Babel; "a drought upon the waters, and they shall be dried up," denotes truths wherein there is nothing of life; "the ziim, and the iim, and the daughters of the owl, dwell therein," denotes evils and falsities, thus those things which are of death within; from this it is that they are called "a land of graven images."
 In Isaiah:--
They that fashion a graven image are all of them vanity; and their most desirable things shall not profit; and they are witnesses to themselves, they see not nor know (Isaiah 44:9-11);
"they that fashion a graven image," denotes those who hatch out doctrines which are not grounded in truths from the Word, but in self-intelligence, of which doctrines it is said that "their most desirable things do not profit," and that "they see not nor know." In what follows (Isaiah 44:12-16) there is treated of the art of inventing and of hatching by reasonings from self-intelligence, things which they desire should be acknowledged as Divine, of which things it is thus finally said:--
The residue thereof he maketh into a god, his graven image, he adoreth it, he boweth himself down, and yet they know not, neither do they understand; and their eyes do not see, that their hearts may not understand (Isaiah 44:17, 18);
that "they know not, and understand not, and see not" denotes that truths and goods are not within, for all things which go forth from self-intelligence are not inwardly truths and goods, but falsities and evils, because they proceed from one's own, and that this at its root is evil, (AC 210, 215, 694, 874-876, 987, 1023, 1044, 1047, 1581, 3812, 4328, 5660, 5786, 8480).
 In the same:--
To whom will ye liken God? and what image will ye compare with Him. The craftsman casteth the graven image, and the founder overlayeth it with gold, and casteth silver chains. He that is destitute of an oblation chooseth wood that will not rot; he seeketh him a wise craft man to prepare a graven image that shall not be shaken (Isa. 40:18-20);
"the graven image which the craftsman casteth" denotes false doctrine which is from man's own; "the founder overlayeth it with gold, and casteth silver chains," denotes that through reasonings he makes the falsities of doctrine appear as truths.
 In the same:--
I Jehovah have called thee in righteousness, to open the blind eyes, to bring out the bound one from the prison, them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house. I am Jehovah, this is My name, and My glory will I not give to another, nor My praise to graven images (Isa. 42:6-8);
speaking of the Lord, that He is Jehovah, and that from Him is all wisdom, and nothing of it from man. That the Lord is here treated of is evident. That He is "Jehovah" here is also evident, for it is said that "Jehovah hath called Him in righteousness," and then, "I am Jehovah, this is My name, and My glory will I not give to another." That from Him is the wisdom that belongs to life, is signified by His "opening the blind eyes," and "bringing out the bound one from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house;" that nothing of wisdom is from man, is signified by "I will not give My praise to graven images."
 By "graven images" are also signified the things of self-intelligence in the following passages:--
And there cometh a chariot of a man, a pair of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babel is fallen; and all the graven images he hath broken into the earth (Isa. 21:9).
Then will ye judge unclean the covering of the graven images of their silver, and the clothing of the molten image of their gold; thou shalt scatter them as a menstruous cloth; it shall be called dung (Isa. 30:22).
Why have they provoked Me to anger by their graven images, by vanities of strangers? (Jer. 8:19).
They have called themselves, so they went for the sake of themselves; they sacrifice to the Baals, and burn incense to graven images (Hos. 11:2).
Cursed be the man that maketh a graven or molten image, an abomination to Jehovah, the work of the hands of the craftsman (Deut. 27:15).
from AC 8869
In the Word throughout mention is made of graven images and molten images. They who apprehend the Word merely according to the letter suppose that idols only are meant by these images. Nevertheless idols are not meant, but false doctrinal things of the church, such as are formed by man himself under the guidance of some love of his. The forming of these falsities to cohere, and to appear as if they were truths, is signified by a graven image. The joining of them together to favor external loves, so that evils may appear as goods, is signified by a molten image. As both are meant by the golden calf, therefore it is here said that Aaron formed it with a graving tool, by which is meant the forming of falsities so as to appear as if they were truths; and by its being said that he made the gold a molten calf. And afterward that he cast it into the fire, and it came forth a calf (verse 24), means the joining together to favor external loves so that evils may appear as goods. Such moreover is the case with all doctrine that is made from man, and not from the Lord; and it is made from man when he has as his end his own glory or his own profit; but it is from the Lord when the good of the neighbor and the good of the Lord's kingdom are regarded as the end.
 Such things are signified by graven images and molten images in the following passages. In Isaiah:--
Ye shall judge unclean the covering of the graven images of thy silver, and the clothing of the molten image of thy gold (Isa. 30:22);
the covering of the graven images of silver denotes the appearing of falsities as if they were truths; the clothing of the molten image of gold denotes the appearing of evils as if they were goods; for covering and clothing denote outward appearances which are put on, or with which things are invested. Silver denotes truth, and therefore graven images are said to be of silver; and gold denotes good (AC 1551, 1552, 5658, 6914, 6917, 9874, 9881).
The artificer casteth a graven image, and the metal-caster spreadeth it over with gold, and casteth silver chains. He seeketh unto him a wise artificer to prepare a graven image that shall not be moved (Isa. 40:19, 20);
there is here described the forming of falsities so as to cohere and to appear as if they were truths; a graven image denotes this falsity; an artificer denotes a man who forms it from his own intelligence; the metal-caster spreadeth it over with gold denotes when he causes it to appear as good; he casteth silver chains denotes by means of coherence; that shall not be moved denotes which on this account cannot be weakened and destroyed.
They that form a graven image are vanity, and their most desirable things do not profit. Who hath formed a god, and cast a molten image that profiteth not? All his fellows shall be ashamed; and the workmen themselves. He fashioneth the iron with the tongs, he both worketh in the coals and formeth it with sharp hammers, so he worketh it with his strong arm; he fashioneth wood; he stretcheth out a line; he marketh it out with a rule; he maketh it into its corners; and he marketh it out with the compasses; and maketh it into the form of a man, according to the beauty of a man, to dwell in the house (Isa. 44:9-13);
here also is described in what manner false doctrinal things are formed so that they may cohere, and appear as truths and as goods. By every detail is here described how this is effected, when done from man's own intelligence under the guidance of pleasure, of cupidity, and of love. That this is so can be seen by those who know that all things in the Word have an internal sense, by which they are spiritually understood. Otherwise to what purpose would be such a description of the forming of a graven image? That it may appear as truth and as good is signified by making it in the form of a man (vir) according to the beauty of a man (homo); for in the internal sense a man (vir) denotes truth, and a man (homo), the good of this truth.
 In Jeremiah:--
Every man is become a fool from knowledge; every metal-caster is put to shame by his graven image; for his molten image is a lie, and there is no breath in them (Jer. 10:14; 51:17);
that a graven image here denotes that which is from man's own intelligence; and a molten image that which is according to the love, is very manifest; for it is said that every man is become a fool by knowledge, and every metal-caster is put to shame by his graven image, and that his molten image is a lie; knowledge here denotes man's own intelligence, and a lie, the falsity of evil; because there is not what is Divine in them, it is said that there is no breath in them.
O sword against her horses, and against her chariots, against her treasures, that they may be plundered; a drought is upon her water that they may dry up; for a land of graven images is this (Jer. 50:37, 38);
that a land of graven images denotes the church where falsities reign, is also plainly evident from every detail there understood in its spiritual sense; without which sense, what would be a sword against horses, against chariots, against treasures, and a drought upon waters, but sounding words without any spirit in them? whereas from every detail understood in its internal sense it is plain that the destruction of the church as to truths is here described, and thus that falsities would reign therein, which are a land of graven images. For a sword denotes falsity fighting with and destroying truths; horses denote an understanding which is enlightened; chariots denote doctrinal things; treasures, the knowledges of truth and good; waters upon which is a drought, denote truths, that they are no more; and land denotes the church. That a sword denotes truth fighting against falsity; and in the opposite sense falsity fighting against true and destroying them, (AC 2799, 6353, 7102, 8294); that horses denote an understanding which is enlightened, (AC 2760-2762, 3217, 6534); that chariots denote doctrinal things, (AC 5321, 8146, 8148, 8215); treasures, the knowledges of truth and of good, (AC 10227); waters, truths, (AC 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, 5668, 8137, 8138, 8568, 9323, 10238); and land or earth, the church, (AC 9325). From this it is evident what is meant by a drought upon the waters that they may dry up, and what by a land of graven images.
 In Habakkuk:--
What profiteth the graven image, that the maker thereof hath graven it, and the molten image and the teacher of a lie, that the maker of his invention trusteth thereupon? (Habakkuk 2:18);
from these words it is also evident that by a graven image and a molten image are not meant a graven and a molten image; but falsity which is invented, and evil which falsity defends; for it is said the maker of his invention, and the teacher of a lie.
 Like things are signified by a graven image and a molten image in the following passages:--
Babylon is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath cast forth unto the ground (Isa. 21:9).
They shall all be greatly ashamed that trust in a graven image, that say unto a molten image, Ye are our gods (Isa. 42:17).
I have declared it to thee, and I made thee hear it, lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done this; my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them (Isa. 48:5).
They called themselves, and they went from their faces; they sacrificed to the baals, and burned incense to graven images (Hos. 11:2).
All the graven images of Samaria shall be ground to pieces, and all her harlot hires shall be burned with fire, and all her Idols will I make a waste (Micah 1:7).
 Inasmuch as falsities and evils of doctrine, which are signified by graven and molten images, are fabricated by man's own intelligence under the guidance of his love, therefore also in the Word they are called the work of man's hands, the work of the hands of the artificer, and the work of the hands of the workman; as in the following passages:--
They sin more and more, they make them a molten image of their silver, idols in their own intelligence, all of them the work of the artificers Cursed be the man that maketh a graven or molten image, an abomination unto Jehovah, the work of the hands of the artificer (Deut. 27:15).
Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man's hands (Ps. 115:4; 135:15).
They have burned incense unto other gods, and have bowed themselves to the works of their own hands (Jer. 1:16).
One cutteth wood out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman with the axe. They deck it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers (Jer. 10:3, 4).
 the work of the hands denotes that which is from man's own, thus that which is from his own understanding and his own will; and those things are from his own, of both understanding and will, which are of the love of self; this is the origin of all the falsities in the church. As all falsities are from what is man's own, and by the work of the hands is signified that which is from this, it was therefore forbidden to move an iron, an axe, or a graving tool, upon the stones of which the altar was built, and also the temple, as is evident in these passages:--
If thou wilt make Me an altar of stones, thou shall not build it of hewn stones; for if thou move thy tool upon it, thou shalt profane it (Exod. 20:25).
If thou shalt build to Jehovah an altar of stones, thou shalt not move an iron upon them (Deut. 27:5).
The house was built of entire stone, as it was brought; for there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any instrument of iron, heard in the house, while it was being built (1 Kings 6:7).
These things have been adduced in order that it may be known what is meant by Aaron's forming the gold with a graving tool, and making it a molten calf.
from AC 10406
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