IVORY >> Natural or Rational Truth >> Divine Truth in Ultimates
PEARL >> Knowledges of Truth
ONE PEARL OF GREAT PRICE >> Knowledge or Acknowledgment of the Lord
ELEPHANT >> Love of Justice, TUSKS >> Knowledge of what is Just
OYSTER >> Affection for Spiritual Protection
Ivory and pearl seem to belong among the stones and jewels, but they are both from the animal kingdom. Ivory is from the tusks of the elephant, and pearl is found in the shell of an oyster. We must give a thought to the animals which produce them.
The elephant is the largest and strongest of the land animals now living. It has other marked physical peculiarities; do you think of one? The curious trunk which serves the elephant in place of hands. But strictly, what is the trunk? It is the elephant's nose which is so wonderfully developed. Do you think of another peculiarity? The tusks. And what are they? They are two teeth from the elephant's upper jaw, which grow so large and strong that they become very formidable weapons. We find further that elephants are wonderfully intelligent, having a quick perception quite equal to any animal, and they are easily trained to do useful work. Their patience sometimes is exhausted, and then they become furious and can hardly be restrained. They seem to have a remarkable memory of wrongs done to them, and there are many stories told of their revenge for injustice which they have received.
Animals as a class correspond to what? To the warm, sensitive affections of our own hearts, some of them good, some bad. The elephant then corresponds to some affection,, and evidently a strong one) - one which is useful and which yet is liable to be aroused even to fury. What can this affection be? The wonderful development of the elephant's nose and teeth may help us to decide.
What spiritual faculty corresponds to the nose? Quick perception of the quality of people and things. (AC 4403, 46244633) And the teeth? The opening of our food by the teeth corresponds to critical examination of what is offered us for belief and acceptance, to see what its real inwardness is, and to discover anything amiss which may lie concealed in it. The teeth by which we make this critical examination are our well-established principles of right and. justice by which we judge. (Chapter 6) The tusks of the elephant represent such knowledge of justice; far more than is needed to examine the spiritual food offered for our own acceptance, but reaching out to explore the affairs of life around us to discover their true quality. The elephant therefore corresponds to an affection with remarkable perception of the quality of people and things, and with very strong and firmly established knowledge of right and justice with which to lay open and explore them. Do not these qualities accord well with the elephant's keen sense of justice, and his indignation at being imposed upon?
We must conclude that the elephant corresponds to a strong love of justice, which is quick to detect and expose fraud, and which is easily aroused to indignation. The tusks are the knowledge of what is just and right, by which judgment is made and injustice exposed. This fixed knowledge of right and justice is beautifully pictured by the firm, white ivory. It has almost the fixity of those facts to which stones correspond. But as the tusk is a part of an animal, and in its core contains a sensitive nerve, so this knowledge of justice is a living thing which not only knows but keenly feels what is unjust. (AE 253, 1146; AR 774; AC 1172, 6188)
We read of, the days of Solomon, that "once in three years came the navy of Tarshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks." (1 Kings x. 22) "Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. . . . There was not the like made in any kingdom." (18-20) No doubt the workmanship was like the gold and ivory work of the Greeks, in which the gold adorned but only partly concealed the ivory. The gold served also to join the pieces of ivory together. The throne is evidently a symbol of the king's rule; and what elements or qualities of his rule are represented by the ivory and the gold? The ivory suggests the fixed principles of right, and the gold the kindness which both adorns them and unites them in a common purpose of judgment from love. But we are anticipating our next lesson. One further thought. Solomon in all his glory is a type of "one greater than Solomon," and his throne represents the Lord's Divine rule. The gold is then the loving kindness of the Lord's rule, and the ivory its absolute rightness. (AR 229; AE 253, 514) The same lesson is taught us in these words of the Psalm: "Justice [which in the Bible sense means love] and judgment are the foundation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face." (Ps. lxxxix. 14, xcvii. 2; AE 298)
Pearl is from the oyster. To what kingdom does the oyster belong? Animal. Then it corresponds to some affection. Is it good or bad? Good; it is harmless and useful. But it is not a highly organized creature, and it lives in the sea; which suggest that the affection to which the oyster corresponds is not a very interior and spiritual one, but comparatively low and external, allied to the mental fishes, which are affections for worldly life and for gathering natural knowledge. (Chapter 19) It is, then, some natural affection, and rather a low one at that, which is the spiritual oyster.
Is it an affection for doing some active use? What does the oyster love to do? To lie still and feel safe in its strong shell. It seems an embodiment of passive enjoyment in ease and safety. The formation of pearls about intruding objects which cannot be otherwise excluded is another and a remarkable illustration of this same characteristic, showing the oyster's supreme concern for comfort. It is bound at any cost to be free from irritation and annoyance.
Is therein us any such enjoyment? Among the many enjoyments in activity, is there a pleasure in lying still and feeling safe? Is it not somewhat like the feeling with which we draw up to the fireside on a stormy night and enjoy the thought of a good, tight roof between us and the weather? And we know a nobler satisfaction of a similar kind: a peaceful sense of protection from the annoyances of evil, through the power of the Lord. This is the oyster in its best sense. The pearl is the fact or knowledge of the Lord's saving power, which grows in strength and beauty day by day. (AR 727, 916; AE 1044, 1325; HH 307; NJHD 1)
Does not this knowledge deserve to be ranked with the noblest wisdom, as the pearl takes its place among the gems? "No mention shall be made of coral or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies." (Job xxviii. 18; AE 717) And yet this knowledge has a tender quality which does not belong to the sparkling jewels. It is the product of life; it has been learned through the painful consciousness of evil, and the suffering of temptation. At the center of the pearl is the hurtful thing from which it gives protection. So about our consciousness of evil forms day by day our knowledge of the Lord's power to save, which is the spiritual pearl.
In a parable the Lord said: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man seeking goodly pearls: who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it." (Matt. viii. 45, 46) This is one of a series of parables which liken the kingdom of heaven to many different things. Each parable points out some special quality of heaven. And what quality of heaven does this parable reveal? Its peaceful security from all things that offend; the consciousness of our own weakness, but of the power of the Lord to save. This surely is one element in the blessedness of heaven. (AR 727, 916; AE 444, 840, 863, 1044, 1325)
In the description of the holy city, it is said: "And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl." (Rev. xxi. 21) The twelve gates are the knowledge gained in many different ways, of the Lord's power to save. The gate is of one pearl, because this knowledge includes all, and is the sum of all. In keeping the Lord's commandments we feel and know His power to save; we pass the gate of pearl. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie." (Rev. xxii. 14, 15; AR 727, 916; AE 1325)
Is the knowledge that we are safe and comfortable liable to abuse? May it be made to minister to a spirit of indolence and self-indulgence? Would not this be the forbidden casting of pearls before swine? (Matt. vii. 6; AE 1044; AR 727) Yes, even the fact of safety in the Lord's salvation, the precious pearl of heaven's gate, is trampled under the feet of swine when it is scornfully rejected or when it is made to excuse an evil and indulgent life.
Author: WILLIAM WORCESTER 1897
And all thyine wood, and every vessel of ivory, signifies that they no longer have these, because they have not the natural goods and truths, to which such things correspond. These things are similar to those which were explained above (n. 772, 773); with the difference only that by those named first spiritual goods and truths are meant, which are treated of above (n. 772); and that by those mentioned in the second place celestial goods and truths are meant, as explained just above (n. 773); and that by these now mentioned, which are "thyine wood and vessels of ivory," natural goods and truths are meant.
 For there are three degrees of wisdom and love, and thence three degrees of truth and good. The first degree is called celestial, the second spiritual, and the third natural. These three degrees are in every man from birth, and also in general they are in heaven and in the church; which is the cause of there being three heavens, the highest, the middle, and the lowest, altogether distinct from each other according to those degrees; in like manner the Lord's church on earth. But what its quality is with those who are in the celestial degree, and what in those who are in the spiritual degree, and what in those who are in the natural degree, does not belong to this place to explain, but see concerning them in The Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Love and Wisdom, chapter 3, where degrees are treated of; here only that with those who are of Babylon there are not spiritual goods and truths, nor celestial goods and truths, and not even natural goods and truths. That spiritual things are mentioned in the first place, is because many among them can be spiritual, provided they hold the Word holy in heart, as they say with their mouth; but they cannot become celestial, because they do not approach the Lord, but approach living and dead men, and worship them. This is the reason why the celestial things are named in the second place.
 By "thyine wood" is signified natural good, because "wood" in the Word signifies good, and "stone" truth; and "thyine wood" takes its name from two, and "two" also signifies good. That it is natural good, is because wood is not a costly material, like gold, silver, precious stone, pearl, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, stone likewise. It is the same with ivory, by which natural truth is signified. "Ivory" signifies natural truth, because it is white, and can be polished, and because it protrudes from the mouth of an elephant, and likewise makes his strength. That "ivory" may be the natural truth of that good which is signified by "thyine wood," it is said "a vessel of ivory;" for by "a vessel" that which contains is signified; here truth the containant of good.
 That "wood" signifies good may be in some degree evident from these passages:
That the bitter waters in Marah were made sweet by wood cast in (Exod. 15:25).
That the tables of stone, on which the Law was written, were laid up in an ark made of shittim wood (Exod. 25:10-16).
That the temple at Jerusalem was covered and sheathed within with wood (1 Kings 6:10, 15).
That the altar in the wilderness was made of wood (Exod. 27:1, 6).
Besides from these:
The stone crieth out from the wall, and the beam of wood answereth (Hab. 2:11).
They shall seize thy wealth, and make a prey of thy merchandise, and thy stones and thy woods shall they put into the midst of the sea (Ezek. 26:12).
It was said to the prophet, that he should take one piece of wood, and write upon it the name of Judah and of the sons of Israel; and also the name of Joseph and Ephraim; and should make them into one piece (Ezek. 37:16, 19).
We drink our waters for silver, and our wood cometh for a price (Lam. 5:4).
If anyone goeth into a forest with a companion, and his axe falleth from the wood upon his companion, that he die, he shall flee into a city of refuge (Deut. 19:5).
This was because "wood" signifies good, and thus that he had not put his companion to death from evil, or with evil intention, but from an error, because he was in good; besides other places.
 But by "wood" in the opposite sense is signified what is evil and cursed; as that they made graven images of wood, and adored them (Deut. 4:23-28; Isa. 37:19; 40:20; Jer. 10:3, 8; Ezek. 20:32); also that hanging upon wood was a curse (Deut. 21:22-23). That "ivory" signifies natural truth may be evident from the passages where ivory is mentioned; as Ezek. 27:6, 15; Amos 3:15; 6:4; Ps. 45:8. [AR 774]
That by "Dedan" are signified the knowledges of the lower celestial things that are in rituals, is evident from the following passages in the Word. In Ezekiel:
The sons of Dedan were thy traders; many isles were the mart of thy hand; they brought thee for a present horns of ivory, and ebony (Ezek. 27:15).
"Horns of ivory, and ebony" are in the internal sense exterior goods, which are of worship, or of rituals. In the same:
Dedan was thy trader in garments of freedom for the chariot; Arabia and all the princes of Kedar (Ezek. 27:20-21).
Here in like manner "garments of freedom for the chariot" are exterior goods, or goods of rituals. In Jeremiah:
Their wisdom is become stinking; flee ye, they have turned themselves away, they have let themselves down to dwell in the deep, O inhabitants of Dedan (Jer. 49:7-8).
Here "Dedan" in the proper sense denotes rituals in which there is no internal worship or adoration of the Lord from the heart, of which it is said that they "turn themselves away and let themselves down to dwell in the deep." From these passages it is now evident that knowledges of spiritual things are signified by "the sons of Cush;" and knowledges of celestial things by "the sons of Raamah." [AC 1172]
And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head. That this signifies that he turned to those things which are of the interior natural, is evident from the signification of "bowing oneself," as here being to turn himself; and from the signification of "bed," as being the natural (of which in what follows). Thus the "head of the bed" is what is higher in the natural, that is, what is interior; for by "head" when mentioned in the Word is signified what is interior, and this in respect to the body, which is exterior. By his turning himself to those things which are of the interior natural, is signified that natural truth, which is "Jacob," was being elevated to spiritual good, which is "Israel," according to what was said and unfolded above (n. 6183).
 That a "bed" denotes what is natural, is because the natural is beneath the rational, and serves it as a bed; for the rational as it were lies down upon the natural; and because the natural is thus spread out underneath, it is called a "bed," as also in Amos:
As the shepherd hath rescued out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the sons of Israel be rescued that dwell in Samaria, In the corner of a bed, and on the end of a couch (Amos 3:12);
"in the corner of a bed" denotes in the lowest of the natural; and "on the end of a couch" denotes in what is sensuous. For by the "people Israel," whose metropolis was Samaria, was represented the Lord's spiritual kingdom. Of this it is said, as of the father Israel here, that it is "upon the head of the bed," for spiritual good, which is represented by the father Israel, is the "head of the bed." But when they turn themselves thence to those things which are of the lowest natural and which are of the sensuous, it is then said that they are "in the corner of the bed," and "on the end of the couch."
 Again in the same prophet:
They that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches; but they are not grieved for the breach of Joseph (Amos 6:4, 6);
"beds of ivory" denote the pleasures of the lowest natural, which are those of the proud; "not to be grieved for the breach of Joseph," is to have no concern about the dissipation of good from the internal. So in David:
If I come into the tent of my house, If I go up upon the couch of my bed (Ps. 132:3);
the "tent of my house" denotes the holy of love (n. 414, 1102, 2145, 2152, 3312, 4128, 4391, 4599); "to go up upon the couch of the bed" denotes upon the natural, to the truth which is from the good of love. Everyone can see that "coming into the tent of the house," and "going up upon the couch of the bed," is a prophetic saying, which cannot be understood without the internal sense. [AC 6188]
And pearls, signifies the knowledges of good and truth which are of the Word with them. By "pearls," in the spiritual sense, are signified the knowledges of good and truth both celestial and spiritual which are from the Word, particularly from the sense of its letter; and because "pearls" signify those knowledges, they are therefore named after "purple and scarlet," and after "gold and precious stones." The same knowledges are signified by pearls in the following passages:
The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a merchant seeking beautiful pearls; who, when he had found one precious pearl, went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46).
By this is signified knowledge concerning the Lord.
The twelve gates of the wall of the New Jerusalem were twelve pearls, everyone of the gates was one pearl (Rev. 21:21).
"The gates of The New Jerusalem" signify introduction into the New Church, and introduction is effected by the knowledges of good and truth from the Word.
Neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and rend you (Matt. 7:6).
By "swine" are signified they who only love worldly riches, and not spiritual riches, which are the knowledges of good and truth from the Word. Because by "Babylon" is signified that religious persuasion by which all the knowledges of good and truth derived from the Word were rejected, it is said of her:
And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over Babylon, for no one buyeth their merchandise; the merchandise of gold and silver, of precious stone and of pearls (Rev. 18:11-12). [AR 727}
Verse 21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was of one pearl, signifies that the acknowledgment and knowledge of the Lord, conjoins into one all the knowledges of truth and good, which are from the Word, and introduce into the church. By "the twelve gates" are signified the knowledges of truth and good in a summary, by which man is introduced into the church (n. 899, 900). By "twelve pearls" is also signified the knowledges of truth and good in a summary (n. 727), hence it was that "the gates" were "pearls;" the reason why "each of the gates was of one pearl" is because all the knowledges of truth and good, which are signified by "gates" and by "pearls," have relation to one knowledge; which is their containant, which one knowledge is the knowledge of the Lord. It is called one knowledge, although there are many which constitute that one knowledge; for the knowledge of the Lord is the universal of all things of doctrine and thence of all things of the church; from it all worship derives its life and soul, for the Lord is the all in all of heaven and the church, and thence in all things of worship.
 The reason why the acknowledgment and knowledge of the Lord conjoins into one all the knowledges of truth and good from the Word, is because there is a connection of all spiritual truths, and if you will believe it, their connection is like the connection of all the members, viscera, and organs of the body; wherefore as the soul contains all these in their order and connection, so that they are felt no otherwise than as one, so, in like manner, the Lord holds together all spiritual truths with man. That the Lord is the very gate, by which men are to enter into the church and thence into heaven, He Himself teaches in John:
I am the door; by Me if anyone enter in, he shall be saved (John 10:9).
And that the acknowledgment and knowledge of Him is the pearl itself, is meant by these words of the Lord in Matthew:
The kingdom of the heavens is like unto a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who when he had found one precious pearl, went and sold all that he had, and bought it (Matt. 13:45-46).
"One precious pearl" is the acknowledgment and knowledge of the Lord. [AR 916]
How heaven is conjoined with man by means of the Word I will illustrate by some passages from it. "The New Jerusalem" is described in the Apocalypse in these words:
I saw a new heaven and a new earth, and the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. And I saw the holy city New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. The city was foursquare, its length as great as its breadth; and an angel measured the city with a reed, twelve thousand furlongs; the length, the breadth, and the height of it are equal. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty-four cubits, the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. The building of the wall was of jasper; but the city itself was pure gold, and like unto pure glass; and the foundations of the wall were adorned with every precious stone. The twelve gates were twelve pearls; and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass (21:1, 2, 16-19, 21).
When man reads these words he understands them merely in accordance with the sense of the letter, namely, that the visible heaven with the earth is to perish, and a new heaven is to come into existence; and upon the new earth the holy city Jerusalem is to descend, with all its dimensions as here described. But the angels that are with man understand these things in a wholly different way, that is, everything that man understands naturally they understand spiritually.  By "the new heaven and the new earth" they understand a new church; by "the city Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven" they understand its heavenly doctrine revealed by the Lord; by " its length, breadth, and height, which are equal," and "twelve thousand furlongs," they understand all the goods and truths of that doctrine in the complex; by its "wall" they understand the truths protecting it; by "the measure of the wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel," they understand all those protecting truths in the complex and their character; by its "twelve gates, which were of pearls," they understand introductory truths, "pearls" signifying such truths; by "the foundations of the wall, which were of precious stones," they understand the knowledge on which that doctrine is founded; by "the gold like unto pure glass," of which the city and its street were made, they understand the good of love which makes the doctrine and its truths transparent. Thus do the angels perceive all these things; and therefore not as man perceives them. The natural ideas of man thus pass into the spiritual ideas with the angels without their knowing anything of the sense of the letter of the Word, that is, about "a new heaven and a new earth," "a new city Jerusalem," its "wall, the foundations of the wall, and its dimensions." And yet the thoughts of angels make one with the thoughts of man, because they correspond; they make one almost the same as the words of a speaker make one with the understanding of them by a hearer who attends solely to the meaning and not to the words. All this shows how heaven is conjoined with man by means of the Word:  Let us take another example from the Word:
In that day there shall be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria shall come into Egypt and Egypt into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve Assyria. In that day shall Israel be a third to Egypt and to Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land, Which Jehovah of hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be My people the Egyptian, and the Assyrian the work of My hands, and Israel Mine inheritance (Isaiah 19:23-25).
What man thinks when these words are read, and what the angels think, can be seen from the sense of the letter of the Word and from its internal sense. Man from the sense of the letter thinks that the Egyptians and Assyrians are to be converted to God and accepted, and are then to become one with the Israelitish nation; but angels in accordance with the internal sense think of the man of the spiritual church who is here described in that sense, whose spiritual is "Israel," whose natural is the "Egyptian," and whose rational, which is the middle, is the "Assyrian."#
Nevertheless, these two senses are one because they correspond; and therefore when the angels thus think spiritually and man naturally they are conjoined almost as body and soul are; in fact, the internal sense of the Word is its soul and the sense of the letter is its body. Such is the Word throughout. This shows that it is a medium of conjunction of heaven with man, and that its literal sense serves as a base and foundation.
# In the Word "Egypt" and "Egyptian" signify the natural and its knowledge (n. 4967, 5079, 5080, 5095, 5160, 5460, 5799, 6015, 6147, 6252, 7355, 7648, 9340, 9391). "Assyria" signifies the rational (n. 119, 1186). "Israel" signifies the spiritual (n. 5414, 5801, 5803, 5806, 5812, 5817, 5819, 5826, 5833, 5879, 5951, 6426, 6637, 6862, 6868, 7035, 7062, 7198, 7201, 7215, 7223, 7957, 8234, 8805, 9340). [HH307]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)