Spiritual Meaning of

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That an army signifies the doctrinal things that are of truth, or that are lower truths, is because by warfare in the Word, and by war, are signified the things that are of spiritual warfare and war (AC 1664, 1788, 2686); as also by arms, such as spears, shields, bows, arrows, swords, and the like, as has been shown elsewhere. And because it is truths or doctrinal things by means of which spiritual combats are waged, therefore by armies these are signified; and also in the opposite sense things false or heretical.

[2] That both are signified in the Word by armies, may be seen from many passages as in Daniel:--

One horn of the he-goat grew exceedingly toward the south, and toward the sunrise, and toward beauty. And it grew even to the army of the heavens, and some of the army and of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them. Yea, it magnified itself, even to the Prince of the army. His army was given over with the continual sacrifice to transgression; and it cast down truth to the ground. I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said, How long shall be this vision, the continual sacrifice, and the transgression that wasteth, to give both the sanctuary and the army to be trampled down? (Daniel 8:9-13);

the horn which grew toward the south, toward the sunrise, and toward beauty, is the power of falsity from evil (AC 2832) the armies of the heavens are truths; the Prince of the army is the Lord as to Divine truth; and because in a good sense an army is truth, it is said that the horn east down of the army to the ground, and afterwards that it cast truth to the ground.

[3] Again:--

The king of the north shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and he shall come on at the end of the times of years, coming with a great army, and with much substance. And he shall stir up his power and his heart against the king of the south, with a great army and the king of the south shall war in battle with an exceeding great and mighty army; but he shall not stand, for they that eat of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow; and many shall fall down slain (Daniel 11:13, 25, 26).

The subject of this whole chapter is the war between the king of the north and the king of the south; and by the king of the north are meant falsities, as also by his army; and by the king of the south and his army are meant truths: it is a prophecy of the vastation of the church.

[4] In John:--

I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him was called faithful and true. He was clothed in a garment dipped in blood. And his armies in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen white and clean. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against him that sat upon the horse, and against his army (Rev. 19:11, 13, 14, 19);

he that sat upon the white horse denotes the Lord's Word, or the Lord as to the Word (AC 2760-2762); his armies in heaven that followed him denote the truths therefrom, consequently those in heaven who are in truths; the beast denotes the evils of the love of self; the kings of the earth and their armies denote falsities. The combats of falsity with truth are what are here described.

[5] In David:--

By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, and all the army of them by the breath of His mouth (Ps. 33:6);

the army of them, or of the heavens, denotes truths. Because truths are signified by an army, the sons of the kingdom and the angels, from the truths in which they are, are called the army of the heavens, as in Luke:--

Suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God (Luke 2:13).

In David:--

Bless Jehovah, all ye His armies, ye ministers of His that do His will (Ps. 103:21).


Praise ye Him all His angels; praise ye Him all His army (Ps. 148:2).

In Isaiah:--

Lift up your eyes on high, and see who hath created these; He that bringeth out their army by number. He calleth them all by name; of the multitude of the powerful and of the mighty not a man is lacking (Isa. 40:26).


I have made the earth and created man upon it; I, My hands have stretched out the heavens, and all their army have I commanded (Isa. 45:12);

where the army of the heavens denotes truths, thus the angels, because they are in truths, as has been shown.

[6] In the first book of Kings:--

I saw Jehovah sitting on His throne, and all the army of the heavens standing by Him on His right hand and on His left (1 Kings 22:19).

In Joel:--

Jehovah uttereth His voice before His army; for His camp is very great; for he is strong that doeth His word (Joel 2:11).

In Zechariah:--

I will encamp about My house against the army that passeth through and returneth, and no exactor shall pass through them any more. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; make a loud noise, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy King cometh unto thee (Zechariah 9:8, 9);

where the coming of the Lord is treated of; His army denotes truths Divine. It is from this and also because the Lord alone fights for man against the hells which are in the continual effort to assault him, that in the Word the Lord is so often called Jehovah Zebaoth, God Zebaoth, the Lord Zebaoth, that is, of armies," as in Isaiah:--

The voice of a tumult of the kingdoms of the nations gathered together; Jehovah Zebaoth mustereth the army for the battle (Isa. 13:4);

the kingdoms of the nations denote falsities from evils; mustering the army for the battle denotes fighting for man.

[7] Inasmuch as the twelve tribes of Israel represented the Lord's heavenly kingdom, and tribes and likewise twelve signified all things of faith in one complex, that is, all truths of the kingdom (AC 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272), therefore also they were called the armies of Jehovah; as in (Exodus 7:4; 12:17, 41, 51); and it was commanded that they should be brought out of Egypt according to their armies (Exod. 6:26); and should mete out the camp according to their armies (Num. 1:52); and should be distributed into their armies (Read Numbers 3).

[8] That by armies are signified truths, is evident also in Ezekiel:--

Persia and Lud and Put were in thine army, thy men of war; they hanged the shield and the helmet in thee, they set forth thine honor; the sons of Arvad and thine army were upon thy walls round about, and the Gammadim were in thy towers (Ezek. 27:10, 11);

speaking of Tyre, by which are signified the interior knowledges of good and truth, and thus those who are therein (AC 1201); army denotes the truths themselves; that Lud and Put are also those who are in knowledges may be seen above (AC 1163, 1164, 1166, 1195, 1231); shield and helmet are such things as pertain to spiritual combat or war.

[9] That in the opposite sense armies signify falsities, is manifest in Isaiah:--

It shall come to pass in that day that Jehovah shall visit upon the army of the height in the height, and upon the kings of the earth upon the earth (Isa. 24:21);

where the armies of the height denote falsities from the love of self. In Ezekiel:--

I will bring thee back, and put hooks in thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them completely clad, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them handling swords. Thou shalt come from thy place out of the sides to the north, thou and many peoples with thee, all of them riding on horses, a great company and a mighty army (Ezek. 38:4, 15);

speaking of Gog, by whom is signified external worship separate from internal, thus become idolatrous (AC 1151); his army denotes falsities.

[10] In Jeremiah:--

I will send against Babylon him that bendeth, bending his bow, and lifting up himself in his coat of mail; spare ye not her young men, give to the curse all her army (Jer. 51:2, 3);

Babylon denotes worship the externals of which appear holy, but the interiors are profane (AC 1182, 1283, 1295, 1304, 1306-1308, 1321, 1322, 1326); her army is the falsities of such profane interiors, as in like manner the army of Babylon in other passages (Jer. 32:2; 34:1, 21; 39:1). In Ezekiel:--

Pharaoh shall see them, and shall be comforted over all his multitude, Pharaoh and all his army, slain by the sword. For I will put the terror of Me in the land of the living (Ezek. 32:31, 32);

speaking of Egypt, by which are signified those who pervert truths by reasonings from memory-knowledges (AC 1164, 1165); his army, or the army of Pharaoh, denotes falsities therefrom the like is also signified by the army of Pharaoh in other passages (Jer. 37:5, 7, 11; 46:2; Ezek. 17:17). In Luke:--

When ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand (Luke 21:20);

where the consummation of the age is treated of, or the last time of the church, when there is no longer any faith. That by Jerusalem is signified the church, see above (AC 2117), which is compassed with armies when it is beset by falsities.

[11] Hence it is evident that by the armies of the heavens which the Jews and idolaters adored, in the internal sense were signified falsities, concerning which in the second book of Kings:--

They forsook all the commandments of their God, and made them a molten image, even two calves, and made a grove, and bowed themselves down to all the army of the heavens (2 Kings 17:16).

This is said of the Israelites and in another place it is written concerning Manasseh that:--

He built altars for all the army of the heavens (2 Kings 21:5);

and again that:--

Josiah the king brought forth out of the temple all the vessels made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the army of the heavens (2 Kings 23:4);

and in Jeremiah, that:--

They should bring out the bones of the princes, of the priests, and of the prophets, and should spread them before the sun and the moon, and all the army of the heavens, which they have loved, and which they have served, and after which they have walked (Jeremiah 8:1, 2).

And again:--

The houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah shall be unclean like Tophet, as to all the houses upon whose roofs they have burned incense unto all the army of the heavens, and have poured out drink-offerings unto other gods (Jeremiah 19:13).

And in Zephaniah:--

I will stretch out Mine hand against them that worship the army of the heavens upon the roofs (Zephaniah 1:4, 5);

for it is principally the stars that are called the army of the heavens; and that by the stars are signified truths, and in the opposite sense falsities, may be seen above (AC 1128, 1808).

from AC 3448

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