ARMIES >> Goods in Truths >> Angels
WEAPONS >> Truths, KNIFE >> Truth of Faith,
POLISHED ARROW >> Truth of Doctrine
SWORD >> Truth of Faith Combating >> Vastation of Truth
Opposite Sense >> Falsities Combating
According to their armies. That this signifies according to the genera and species of good in truths, is evident from the signification of "armies," as being the truths which are of faith (see n. 3448). But the goods of the spiritual church are in their essence nothing else than truths, for these are called goods when the life is according to them. Hence by "armies," when said of the regenerate within the spiritual church, are signified the goods of truth, or goods in truths. The reason why it is said that the sons of Israel were to be "led forth according to their armies," is that it is said of them when going out of Egypt; in the internal sense when they come out of combats with falsities, thus after they have waged spiritual warfare. By their being "led forth according to their armies" is properly meant that they were to be classified as to goods in truths, thus into classes according to the qualities of good, and this in order that they might represent the Lord's kingdom in the heavens, where all have been classified and allotted a place in the Grand Man according to the quality of the good, both generically and specifically.
 From the heavens (as all there have been classified according to goods) it can be seen how manifold and various good is, for it is so various that one is never in the like good with another; nay, if myriads of myriads were multiplied to eternity, the good of one would not be like that of another; just as one person has not the like face as another; moreover, in the heavens good forms the faces of the angels. That there is perpetual variety is because every form consists of various distinct things, for if two things were exactly alike, they could not be two things, but one. Hence also it is that in nature there is never one thing in every respect like another.
 That which makes good so various is truth; for when truth is conjoined with good it qualifies it. The reason why truth is so manifold and various that it can so greatly vary good, is that truths are countless, and interior truths are in a different form from exterior truths, and because the fallacies which are of the external senses adjoin themselves, and also falsities which are of concupiscences. Seeing then that truths are so countless, it can be seen that by means of the conjunctions so many varieties arise that one thing can never be the same as another. This is clear to him who knows that from only twenty-three letters, put together in different ways, there can arise the words of all languages, and even with a perpetual variety if there were thousands of languages. What then may not arise from thousands and myriads of various things such us truths. And this is confirmed by the common maxim, "many men, many minds," that is, there are as many diversities of ideas as there are men. [AC 7236]
That all the armies of Jehovah went forth from the land of Egypt. That this signifies that they who were in truth and good and were still detained there, were taken out, is evident from the signification of "going forth from the land of Egypt," as being to be taken out and liberated from infestations (that "to go forth" denotes to be taken out, is evident; and also that "the land of Egypt" denotes infestations, see n. 7278); and from the signification of "the armies of Jehovah," as being the truths and goods of the spiritual church, thus those who are in truth and good (n. 3448, 7236). That truths and goods are "the armies of Jehovah," is evident in Daniel:
There went out one little horn of the he-goat, and it grew exceedingly toward the south, and toward the east, and toward comeliness; and it grew even to the army of the heavens; and some of the army and of the stars it cast down to the earth, and trampled upon them. Yea, it exalted itself even to the Prince of the army. And the army was delivered upon the continual sacrifice unto transgression, because it cast forth truth into the earth. Then I heard a holy one speaking, How long shall the holy thing and the army be given to be trampled on? He said unto me, Until the evening and the morning, two thousand three hundred; then shall the holy thing be justified (Dan. 8:9-14);
it is here clearly evident that "armies" denote truths and goods; for it is said that it "cast down to the earth some of the army and of the stars," and afterward that it "cast forth truth into the earth," and that "the army was to be trampled on until the evening and the morning," that is, until the coming of the Lord.
 As truths and goods are the "armies of Jehovah," therefore the angels are called His "armies" in these passages:
Micah the prophet said, I saw Jehovah sitting on His throne, and the whole army of the heavens standing by Him (1 Kings 22:19).
Bless Jehovah, ye His angels, mighty in strength. Bless Jehovah, all ye His armies, ye ministers of His (Ps. 103:20-21);
where the angels are called "armies" from the truths and goods in which they are. Nor were the angels only called "the armies of Jehovah," but also the luminaries of heaven, as the sun, moon, and stars, and this because by the "sun" was signified the good of love, by the "moon" the good of faith, and by the "stars" the knowledges of good and truth. That these luminaries are called "armies" is manifest in the book of Genesis:
And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the army of them (Gen. 2:1);
where by "army" are meant all the luminaries of heaven; but in the internal sense, in which is here described the new creation of man, are meant truths and goods.
 In like manner in David:
Praise ye Jehovah, all His angels; praise ye Him, all His armies. Praise ye Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all ye stars of light (Ps. 148:2-3).
That the "sun" denotes the good of love; the "moon" the good of faith, see n. 1529, 1530, 2441, 2495, 4060, 4696, 5377, 7083; and that the "stars" denote the knowledges of good and truth, n. 1808, 2120, 2495, 2849, 4697.
 That the "sun, moon, and stars" signify goods and truths, is because in heaven the Lord is a sun to the celestial angels, and a moon to the spiritual angels (n. 1521, 1529-1531, 3636, 3643, 4300, 4321, 5097, 7078, 7083, 7171, 7173), and because the angelic abodes shine like the stars, according to these words in Daniel:
Then shall the intelligent shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that make many righteous, as the stars forever and to eternity (Dan. 12:3).
 As from truths and goods the angels are called "the armies of Jehovah," and so also the sun, moon, and stars; and as all truth and good proceed from the Lord; therefore in the Word the Lord is called "Jehovah Zebaoth" that is, "of armies" (n. 3448). He is so called also from the fact that He fights for man against the hells. From all this it can now be seen what is meant in the internal sense by "the armies of Jehovah." That the sons of Jacob, who went forth out of Egypt, were not these armies, but that they represented them, is evident from their life in Egypt, in that they did not know Jehovah, not even His name, until this was told to Moses out of the bramble (Exod. 3:13-16); and also that they, equally with the Egyptians, were worshipers of a calf, as may be concluded from the thirty-second chapter of Exodus; and also from their life in the wilderness, in that they were of such a character that they could not be introduced into the land of Canaan; thus were as far as possible from being the armies of Jehovah. [AC 7988]
By their armies. That this signifies these distinct according to the quality of good from truth, is evident from the signification of "armies," as being goods and truths (of which above, n. 7988); "by their armies" signifies that they who are represented by the sons of Israel were made distinct according to the quality of good from truth. (That all in the other life are distinct and conjoined according to goods, see n. 7833, 7836, 8003.) It is said "according to the quality of good from truth," because all good has its quality from truth, and is thereby varied (n. 3804, 4149, 5345, 5355, 6916).[AC 8019]
And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. That this signifies the good of love and the truth of faith, is evident from the signification of "fire," as being the good of love (see n. 934); and from the signification of a "knife," as being the truth of faith. That the knife used upon the victims in the sacrifices signified the truth of faith, may be seen from the signification of a "sword" or "little sword" in the Word; for instead of "knife" it is said "little sword." Both have the same signification, but with the difference that the knife used for sacrifices signified the truth of faith, but a sword truth combating; and as a knife is rarely mentioned in the Word, for a secret reason to be mentioned presently, we may show what a "sword" signifies. A "sword" in the internal sense signifies the truth of faith combating, and also the vastation of truth; and in the opposite sense falsity combating, and the punishment of falsity.
 I. That a "sword" signifies the truth of faith combating, may be seen from the following passages. In David:
Gird Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O mighty One, prosper in Thy glow and Thy majesty, ride upon the word of truth, and Thy right hand shall teach Thee wonderful things (Ps. 45:3-4);
where the Lord is treated of, the "sword" denoting truth combating. In the same:
Let the merciful exult in glory, let them sing upon their beds; let the high praises of God be in their throat, and a two-edged sword in their hand (Ps. 149:5-6).
Jehovah hath called Me from the womb; from the bowels of My mother hath He made mention of My name, and He hath made My mouth like a sharp sword, and hath made Me a polished arrow (Isa. 49:1-2);
a "sharp sword" denotes truth combating; and a "polished arrow," the truth of doctrine (see n. 2686, 2709). In the same:
Asshur shall fall by the sword not of a man; and the sword not of man shall devour him; and he shall flee before the sword, and his young men shall become tributary (Isa. 31:8);
"Asshur" denotes reasoning in Divine things (n. 119, 1186); the "sword not of a man, and not of man," falsity; the "sword before which he shall flee," truth combating.
 In Zechariah:
Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee; I who have bent Judah for Me as a bow, I have filled Ephraim, and have stirred up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Javan, and I will make thee as the sword of a mighty man, and Jehovah shall be seen over them, and His arrows shall go forth as the lightning (Zech. 9:12-14);
the "sword of a mighty man" denotes truth combating. In John:
In the midst of the seven candlesticks was one like unto the Son of man; He had in His right hand seven stars; out of His mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was as the sun shining in his strength (Rev. 1:13, 16).
These things saith He that hath the sharp two-edged sword; I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth (Rev. 2:12, 16);
the "sharp two-edged sword" manifestly denotes truth combating, which was therefore represented as a "sword going out of the mouth."
 In the same:
Out of the mouth of Him that sat upon the white horse proceeded a sharp sword, that with it He should smite the nations; and they were slain by the sword of Him that sat upon the horse, which came forth out of His mouth (Rev. 19:15, 21);
where it is manifest that the "sword out of His mouth" is truth combating. (That He who sat upon the white horse is the Word, and thus the Lord who is the Word, may be seen above, n. 2760-2763.) Hence it is that the Lord says in Matthew:
Think not that I came to send peace on the earth; I came not to send peace, but a sword (Matt. 10:34).
Also in Luke:
Now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet; and he that hath none, let him sell his garment, and buy a sword; they said, Lord, behold here are two swords; and Jesus said, It is enough (Luke 22:36-38);
where nothing else is meant by a "sword" than the truth from which and for which they would combat.
 In Hosea:
In that day will I make a covenant for them with the wild beast of the field, and with the fowl of the heavens, and with the creeping thing of the ground; and I will break the bow, and the sword, and the war out of the land; and will make them to lie down securely (Hos. 2:18);
where the Lord's kingdom is treated of; by "breaking the how, the sword, and the war," is signified that there is no combat there respecting doctrine and truth. In Joshua:
Joshua lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him, and his sword drawn in his hand; and he said to Joshua, I am prince of the army of Jehovah; and Joshua fell on his face to the earth (Josh. 5:13-14).
This was when Joshua entered with the sons of Israel into the land of Canaan, by which is meant the entrance of the faithful into the Lord's kingdom. Truth combating, which is of the church, is the "drawn sword in the hand of the prince of the army of Jehovah."
 But that by "little swords" or "knives" is signified the truth of faith, may be seen from the fact that they were used not only in the sacrifices, but also in circumcision. For use in circumcision they were of stone, and were called "little swords of flint," as is manifest in Joshua:
Jehovah said unto Joshua, Make thee little swords of flint, and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time. And Joshua made him little swords of flint, and circumcised the sons of Israel at the hill of the foreskins (Josh. 5:2-3).
That circumcision was a representative of purification from the love of self and the world, may be seen above (n. 2039, 2632); and as this purification is effected by the truths of faith, therefore little swords of flint were used (n. 2039 at the end, 2046 at the end).
 II. That a "sword" signifies the vastation of truth, is evident from the following passages. In Isaiah:
These two things are befallen thee; who shall bemoan thee? Desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword; who will comfort thee? Thy sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets (Isa. 51:19-20);
"famine" denotes the vastation of good; and the "sword" the vastation of truth; to "lie at the head of all the streets," is to be deprived of all truth. (That a "street" is truth may be seen above, n. 2336; and what vastation is, at n. 301-304, 407-408, 410-411.) In the same:
I will number you to the sword, and ye shall all bow down to the slaughter; because I called, and ye did not answer; I spake, and ye did not hear (Isa. 65:12).
 In the same:
By fire and by the sword will Jehovah judge all flesh, and the slain of Jehovah shall be many (Isa. 66:16);
the "slain of Jehovah" denote those who are vastated. In Jeremiah:
Spoilers are come upon all the hillsides in the wilderness, for the sword of Jehovah devoureth from the one end of the land; even to the other end of the land no flesh hath peace; they have sown wheat, and have reaped thorns (Jer. 12:12-13);
the "sword of Jehovah" plainly denotes the vastation of truth. In the same:
They have lied against Jehovah, and said, It is not He, neither shall evil come upon us, neither shall we see sword nor famine; and the prophets shall become wind, and the word is not in them (Jer. 5:12-13).
 In the same:
I will visit upon them; the young men shall die by the sword, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine (Jer. 11:22).
In the same:
When they offer burnt-offering and meat-offering I will not accept them; for I will consume them by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence. And I said, Ah, Lord Jehovih, behold the prophets say unto them, Ye shall not see the sword, and ye shall not have famine (Jer. 14:12-13).
In the same:
The city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans that fight against it, because of the sword, and of the famine, and of the pestilence (Jer. 32:24, 36).
In the same:
I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence among them, until they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers (Jer. 24:10).
 In these passages by "the sword, the famine, and the pestilence" vastation is described; by the "sword" the vastation of truth, by the "famine" the vastation of good, and by the "pestilence" a wasting away even to consumption. In Ezekiel:
Son of man, take thee a sharp sword, a barber's razor shalt thou take it unto thee, and shalt cause it to pass upon thy head, and upon thy beard; and take thee balances to weigh, and divide them. A third part shalt thou burn with fire in the midst of the city; a third part thou shalt smite with the sword round about it; and a third part thou shalt scatter to the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. A third part shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee; and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee; and a third part I will scatter to every wind, and I will draw out a sword after them (Ezek. 5:1-2, 12, 17).
Here the vastation of natural truth is treated of, which is thus described. In the same:
The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within; he that is in the field shall die by the sword, and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him (Ezek. 7:15).
 In the same:
Say to the land of Israel, Thus said Jehovah, Behold I am against thee, and will draw forth My sword out of its sheath, and will cut off from thee the just and the wicked. Because I will cut off from thee the just and the wicked, therefore shall My sword go forth out of its sheath, it shall not return any more. The word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus said Jehovah, Say a sword, a sword, it Is sharpened and also furbished; it is sharpened to slaughter a slaughter; it Is furbished that it may be as lightning. Son of man, prophesy and say, Thus said the Lord Jehovih to the sons of Ammon, and to their reproach; and say thou, A sword, a sword is drawn for the slaughter, it is furbished to devour because of the lightning, whiles they see vanity unto thee, whiles they divine a lie unto thee (Ezek. 21:3-5, 8-10, 28-29).
Nothing else is here signified by the "sword" than vastation, as is manifest from the particulars in the internal sense.
 In the same:
The king of Babel shall break down thy towers with his swords; by reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee; by reason of the noise of the rider, and of the wheel, and of the chariot, thy walls shall shake; with the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets (Ezek. 26:9-11).
What Babel is, may be seen above (n. 1326); and that it vastates (n. 1327). In David:
If he turn not, God will whet His sword, He will bend His bow, and make it ready (Ps. 7:12).
I said, Ah Lord Jehovih surely deceiving Thou hath deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall have peace; and the sword hath reached even to the soul (Jer. 4:10).
 In the same:
Declare ye in Egypt, and make it to be heard in Migdol, Stand forth and prepare thee, for the sword shall devour round about thee (Jer. 46:14).
A sword is upon the Chaldeans, and upon the inhabitants of Babel, and upon her princes, and upon her wise men; a sword is upon her boasters, and they shall be foolish; a sword is upon her mighty men, and they shall be dismayed; a sword is upon her horses, and upon her chariots, and upon all the mixed multitude that is in the midst of her, and they shall become as women; a sword is upon her treasures, and they shall be robbed; a drought is upon her waters, and they shall be dried up (Jer. 50:35-38);
a "sword" manifestly denotes the vastation of truth, for it is said, "a sword is upon the wise men, upon the boasters, upon the mighty men, upon the horses and the chariot, and upon the treasures," and that "drought is upon the waters, and they shall be dried up."
 In the same:
We have given the hand to Egypt, to Asshur, to be satisfied with bread. Servants have ruled over us, there is none to deliver us out of their hand; we got our bread with our lives, because of the sword of the wilderness (Lam. 5:6, 8-9).
He shall not return into the land of Egypt, and Asshur he shall be his king, because they refused to return to Me, and the sword shall hang over his cities, and shall consume his bars, and shall devour them, because of their counsels (Hos. 11:5-6).
I have sent among you the pestilence in the way of Egypt, I have slain your young men with the sword, with the captivity of your horses (Amos 4:10);
"in the way of Egypt" denotes the memory-knowledges which vastate, when they reason from them on Divine things; the "captivity of the horses" denotes the intellectual faculty deprived of its endowment.
 III That a "sword" in the opposite sense signifies falsity combating, may be seen in David:
My soul lieth in the midst of lions, the sons of men are set on fire; their teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword (Ps. 57:4).
Behold they belch out with their mouth, swords are in their lips, for who doth hear? (Ps. 59:7).
Thou art cast forth out of thy sepulchre as an abominable branch, as the raiment of the slain, that are thrust through with the sword, that go down to the stones of the pit, as a carcass trodden under foot (Isa. 14:19);
where Lucifer is treated of. In Jeremiah:
In vain have I smitten your sons, they received no correction; your own sword hath devoured your prophets, like a destroying lion. O generation, see ye the word of Jehovah: have I been a wilderness unto Israel? (Jer. 2:30-31).
 In the same:
Go not forth into the field, and walk not in the way, for there is the sword of the enemy, terror is on every side (Jer. 6:25-26).
In the same:
Take the cup of the wine of fury, and cause all the nations to whom I send thee to drink it; and they shall drink, and reel, and be mad because of the sword that I will send among you. Drink ye and be drunken, and spew and fall, and rise no more because of the sword (Jer. 25:15-16, 27).
In the same:
Go up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; let the mighty men go forth: Cush and Put that handle the shield, and the Ludim that handle and bend the bow. For that is a day of the Lord Jehovih of Armies, a day of vengeance; and the sword shall devour, and be satisfied, and shall be drunken with their blood (Jer. 46:9, 10).
 In Ezekiel:
They shall strip thee of thy garments, and take the jewels of thy glory, and shall leave thee naked and bare; and they shall bring up an assembly against thee; and they shall stone thee with stones, and thrust thee through with their swords (Ezek. 16:39-40);
where the abominations of Jerusalem are treated of.
Woe to the worthless shepherd that leaveth the flock; the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye; his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened (Zech. 11:17).
Against me have they thought evil; their princes shall fall by the sword, because of the rage of their tongue; this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt (Hos. 7:15-16).
 In Luke:
There shall be great distress upon the land, and wrath unto this people; for they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and be led captive among all the nations; and at length Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the nations (Luke 21:23-24);
where the Lord is speaking of the consummation of the age; and in the sense of the letter, of the dispersion of the Jews and the destruction of Jerusalem; but in the internal sense, of the last state of the church. By "falling by the edge of the sword," is signified that there is no longer any truth, but mere falsity; by "all nations" are signified evils of every kind, among which they should be led captive; that "nations" are evils may be seen above (n. 1259, 1260, 1849, 1868); also that "Jerusalem" is the church (n. 2117), which is thus "trodden down."
 IV. That a "sword" also signifies the punishment of falsity, is evident in Isaiah:
In that day Jehovah with His hard, and great, and strong sword, will visit upon leviathan the long serpent, and upon leviathan the crooked serpent, and will slay the whales that are in the sea (Isa. 27:1);
where those are treated of who by reasonings from sensuous things and from memory-knowledges enter into the mysteries of faith; the "hard and great and strong sword" denotes the punishments of the falsity therefrom.
 Where we read that they were "given over to the edge of the sword and slain by it," sometimes both man and woman, boy and old man, ox and herd, and ass, in the internal sense the punishment of the condemnation of falsity is signified (as in Josh. 6:21; 8:24-25; 10:28, 30, 37, 39; 11:10-12, 14; 13:22; 19:47; Judges 1:8, 25; 4:15-16; 18:27; 20:37; 1 Sam. 15:8, 11; 2 Kings 10:25; and other places). Hence it was commanded that a city which should worship other gods should be smitten with the sword, be utterly destroyed, and be burnt up with fire, and be a heap forever (Deut. 13:13, 15-17); the "sword" denoting the punishment of falsity; and "fire" the punishment of evil. The angel of Jehovah standing in the way against Balaam with a drawn sword (Num. 22:31) signified the truth which resisted the falsity in which Balaam was; and for that reason also he was killed with a sword (Num. 31:8).
 That a "sword" in the genuine sense signifies truth combating, and in the opposite sense falsity combating, also the vastation of truth, and the punishment of falsity, has its origin from the representatives in the other life; for when anyone there speaks what he knows to be false, there then immediately come down over his head as it were little swords, and strike terror; and besides, truth combating is represented by things that have a point, like swords; for indeed truth without good is of this nature, but when together with good it has a rounded form and is gentle. From this origin it comes to pass that whenever a "knife," or "spear," or "little sword," or "sword" is mentioned in the Word, to the angels there is suggested truth combating.
 But the reason that a knife is seldom mentioned in the Word, is that there are evil spirits in the other life who are called "knifers," at whose side there appear knives hanging; for the reason that they have such a brutal nature that they wish to cut everyone's throat with the knife. Hence it is that "knives" are not mentioned, but "little swords" or "swords;" for as these are used in combats, they suggest the idea of war, and thus of truth combating.
 As it was known to the ancients that a little sword, a little lance, and a knife signify truth, the nations to whom this came by tradition were accustomed to pierce and lacerate themselves with little swords, little lances, or knives, at the time of their sacrifices, even to blood; as we read of the priests of Baal:
The priests of Baal cried with a loud voice, and cut themselves after their manner with swords and little lances, even till the blood gushed out (1 Kings 18:28).
That all the weapons of war in the Word signify things which belong to spiritual combat, and each one something specific, may be seen above (n. 2686).
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)