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The signification of repenting, when said of Jehovah, is to be merciful. That to repent denotes to be merciful is because Jehovah never repents, for He foresees and provides all things from eternity. Repentance is applicable only to him who does not know the future, and who, when the thing comes to pass, finds that he has erred. Yet it is so said in the Word concerning Jehovah, because the sense of the letter is taken from such things as appear with man, because it is for the very simple, and for little children, who at first go no further. Both the simple and little children are in the most external things, with which they begin, and in which afterward their interiors terminate. Wherefore the Word in the letter is to be understood differently by those who have become wiser.

[2] In this respect the Word resembles man, whose interiors terminate in flesh and bones, which contain them, insomuch that man could not subsist unless these served as a basis or support, for he would have no ultimate in which interior things might terminate, and on which they might rest. The case is similar with the Word. It must have an ultimate in which interior things may terminate; and this ultimate is the sense of the letter; while its interiors are the heavenly things which are of the internal sense. From this it is now plain why from the appearance presented to man it is said that Jehovah repents, when yet He does not repent.

[3] That repenting is said of Jehovah is evident from many passages in the Word, as from the following:--

If (that nation) do evil in My eyes, that it obey not My voice, I will repent of the good wherewith I said I would benefit them (Jer. 18:10).

It may be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, and it repent Me of the evil which I purpose to do unto them because of the wickedness of their works (Jer. 26:3).

When Mine anger is consummated, and I make My wrath to rest upon them, it shall repent Me (Ezek. 5:13).

Jehovah repented, and said, It shall not be (Amos 7:3, 6).

Jehovah shall judge His people, and shall repent Him for His servant (Deut. 32:36).

The king of Nineveh said, Who knoweth whether God will not turn back and repent, that He may turn back from the heat of His anger, that we perish not? And they turned from their evil way; therefore it repented God of the evil which He had said He would do to them, that He did it not (Jonah 3:9, 10).

It repented Jehovah that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart (Gen. 6:6).

It repenteth Me that I have made Saul to be king; for he hath turned away from following Me (1 Sam. 15:11, 35).

[4] In these passages Jehovah is said to have repented, when yet it cannot be that He repents, because He knows all things before He does them; from which it is evident that by repenting is signified mercy. That Jehovah never repents is also evident from the Word, as in these passages:--

Jehovah is not a man that He should lie, nor the son of man that He should repent. Hath He said, and shall He not do? or hath He spoken, and shall He not establish it? (Num. 18:19).

The unconquered One of Israel doth not lie, nor repent; for He is not a man that He should repent (1 Sam. 15:29).

That repenting, when said of Jehovah, denotes mercy, is plain in these passages:--

Jehovah is gracious and merciful, long suffering, and great in compassion, who is wont to repent of the evil (Joel 2:13).

God is gracious and merciful, and great in kindness, and repenteth Him of the evil (Jonah 4:2).

from AC 10442. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel Thy servants. That this signifies for the sake of heaven and the church, is evident from the signification of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, as being the Lord in respect to the Divine Human, thus to His Divine in heaven and in the church. And as the Divine of the Lord makes heaven and the church, therefore by these names are also signified heaven and the church. That these things are signified in the Word by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, (AC 1965, 3305, 4615, 6098, 6185, 6276, 6589, 6804, 6847); and likewise by Israel, (AC 4286, 4570, 8805, 9340). That such things are signified by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is evident from the Lord's words in Matthew:--

I say unto you that many shall come from the east and the west, and shall recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the heavens (Matt. 8:11);

where to recline with them denotes to be in heaven where the Lord is. That such is the signification is evident also from the fact that names do not enter heaven, but the heavenly and Divine things which are signified by them (AC 10216, 10282).

from AC 10441

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