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 Sepulchre, Burial

The signification of a sepulchre in the internal sense of the Word signifies life or heaven, and in the opposite sense death or hell. That it signifies life or heaven, is because the angels, who are in the internal sense of the Word, have no idea of a sepulchre because they have none of death; and therefore instead of a sepulchre they perceive nothing else than continuation of life, and thus resurrection-for man rises again as to his spirit, and is buried as to his body (AC 1854). And because burial signifies resurrection, it also signifies regeneration, for regeneration is man's first resurrection, as he then dies in respect to the former man, and rises again as to the new. By regeneration a man from being dead becomes alive; hence comes the signification of a sepulchre" in the internal sense. That the idea of regeneration occurs to the angels when the idea of a sepulchre is presented, is plain also from what was said above about little children (AC 2299).

[2] That in the opposite sense a sepulchre signifies death or hell, is because the evil do not rise again into life; and therefore when the evil are treated of and a sepulchre is mentioned, no other idea then occurs to the angels than that of hell; this is the reason why hell in the Word is also called a sepulchre.

[3] That a sepulchre signifies resurrection, and also regeneration, is plain in Ezekiel:--

Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Behold I will open your sepulchres, and cause you to come up out of your sepulchres, O My people and I will bring you to the ground of Israel. And ye shall know that I am Jehovah, when I have opened your sepulchres, and caused you to come up out of your sepulchres, O My people; and shall put My spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you on your own ground (Ezekiel 37:12-14);

where the Prophet treats of the bones that were made to live, and in the internal sense of regeneration. That he treats of regeneration is plainly evident, for it is said, when I shall put My spirit in you and ye shall live, and I shall place you on your own ground. Sepulchres here denote the former man and his evils and falsities, to open, and to come up out of which, is to be regenerated. Thus the idea of a sepulchre perishes and is as it were put off, when the idea of regeneration or of the new life comes in.

[4] That the sepulchres were opened, and many bodies of the saints that were sleeping arose and went forth out of their sepulchres after the Lord's resurrection, and entered into the holy city, and appeared unto many (Matt. 27:52, 53), involves what is similar, namely resurrection because of the Lord's resurrection, and in a more interior sense every resurrection. That the Lord raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44) also involves the raising up of a new church from the Gentiles; for all the miracles wrought by the Lord, because they were Divine, involved states of His church. The signification also is singular where it is said that the man who was cast into the sepulchre of Elisha, when he touched his bones, revived (2 Kings 13:20, 21); for by Elisha was represented the Lord.

[5] As burial signified resurrection in general, and every resurrection, therefore the ancients were very solicitous about their burials and the places where they should be buried--as Abraham, that he should be buried in Hebron in the land of Canaan; also Isaac and Jacob, with their wives (Gen. 47:29-31; 49:30-32); and Joseph, that his bones should be carried from Egypt into the land of Canaan (Gen. 50:25; Exod. 13:19; Josh. 24:32); David, and the kings who came after him, that they should be buried in Zion (1 Kings 2:10; 11:43; 14:31; 15:8, 24; 22:50; 2 Kings 8:24; 12:21; 14:20; 15:7, 38; 16:20). The reason of this was that the lad of Canaan and Zion represented and signified the Lord's kingdom, and burial represented and signified resurrection; but that the place effects nothing in regard to resurrection must be evident to every one.

[6] That burial signifies resurrection to life, is also plain from other representatives, as that there should be no wailing for the wicked, and that they should not be buried but cast out (Jer. 8:2; 14:16; 16:4, 6; 20:6; 22:19; 25:33; 2 Kings 9:10; Rev. 11:9); and that wicked persons who had been buried should be cast forth from their sepulchres (Jer. 8:1, 2; 2 Kings 23:16-18). In the opposite sense however, a sepulchre signifies death or hell (Isa. 14:19-21; Ezek. 32:21-23, 25, 27; Ps. 88:5, 6, 11, 12; Num. 19:16, 18, 19).

from AC 2916

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