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Prophets and Psalms, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1761], tr. by J.E. Schreck [1900], at

Prophets and Psalms


The Historical Parts of the Word [The Historical parts of the Word, like the prophetical parts, contain a spiritual sense within themselves, in which there is nothing Historical of the world, as in the sense of the letter, but there are heavenly things which relate to the church, and in the highest sense to the Lord, just like the prophetical parts. The Historical parts there are representative, and all the senses with their expressions are correspondences. It ought to be known, that all the churches, down to the Coming of the Lord, were representative churches; they represented the church, and in the highest sense, the Lord; it is from this that the Word is spiritual and Divine. But the representative churches ceased when the Lord came into the world, because all things of the Word, those that are prophetical, as also those that are Historical, signified and represented Him and this is why the Lord is called "the Word." There were three notable changes of the representative churches: the first, which was before the "flood," shall be called the Most Ancient Church; the second, which was after the "flood," the Ancient Church; and the third, which followed the Ancient, the Israelitish and Jewish church. The Most Ancient Church is described briefly by "Adam" and His posterity; the Ancient Church, by "Noah" and His posterity; and the Israelitish and Jewish church by the Historical portions of the Word. The former churches are described in like manner, but by more interior correspondences, in the Word that is mentioned by Moses; but this Word has been effaced, and in its place the Word was given that exists at the present day. The church that followed these three is the Christian church, which church is internal, differing from the Jewish church as a moonlight night differs from a dark night. But as this church has come to its end, by the accomplishment of the last judgment, a new church is now being instituted by the Lord, which is called, in Revelation, the "new Jerusalem," to which the things that are being published by me at the present day will be of service; it is also being instituted elsewhere. The Historical parts of the Word involve in a summary the things that follow.]


Genesis Chapter 1 [1-31] In the spiritual sense the new creation or the regeneration of the men of the Most Ancient Church is here described; the process of their regeneration from firsts to lasts is here contained in its order.


Chapter 2 [Genesis] [1-25] The intelligence and wisdom of those men, while they were being regenerated, is described; for that church was a celestial church, the first of all on this earth.


Chapter 3 [Genesis] [1-24] Fall and end of that church, as they departed from the celestial to the natural man, from this they had intelligence from what was their own [proprium] in place of intelligence from the Lord.


Chapter 4 [Genesis] [1-26] Division of that church, which took place between those who made everything of the church and thus of salvation to consist in the mere doctrine and knowledge [scientia] of cognitions (who were "Cain"); and those who made it to consist also in a life of love and charity (who were "Abel"); and, abstractly, that a mere knowledge [scientia] of doctrinals, like faith alone, when all of religion is made to consist in it alone, slays charity. But those who made a church out of mere doctrine, and did not at the same time make it consist in life, were rejected.


Chapter 5 [Genesis] [1-32] Divisions and changes in that church are described, being meant by the "posterity of Adam from Sheth."


Chapter 6 [Genesis] 1-6, [?7], 10-12 [?11-13] End of that church, when there was no longer any truth or good, because they were in their own intelligence; [8-10, 14-22] and the beginning of a new church, which is meant by "Noah" and His "three sons."


Chapter 7 [Genesis] [1-24] The destruction of the Most Ancient Church is described by the "flood," and the beginning of a new one, by the "ark" and its preservation.


Chapter 8 [Genesis] [1-22] The end of the Most Ancient Church, and the beginning of the Ancient Church.


Chapter 9 [Genesis] 1-17 Precepts and statutes for that church. 18-28 [29] That church is "Noah," its celestial is "Shem," its spiritual is "Japheth," and its natural is "Ham."


Chapter 10 [Genesis] [1-32] As that church spread over a great part of the Asiatic world, and consequently there were divisions, these are described by the "posterity of Noah," or of His "three sons."


Chapter 11 [Genesis] 1-9 The beginning of Babylon and its destruction. [10-32] Continuation respecting the various states of that church and the nature of them even to the end, when it became idolatrous and magical.


Chapter 12 [Genesis] 1-8 The institution of the Israelitish and Jewish church, which was from Eber, and therefore was called the Hebrew church, and its first institution from Abram, who was commanded to go into the land of Canaan, for the reason that all places in that land, and those round about it, had been allotted spiritual significations by the men of the Most Ancient Church, and these were to be mentioned by name in the new Word that was to be written among them, in which the names of those places were to be employed. [9-20] The first instruction of that church, which is the instruction of the natural man, by means of knowledges [scientiae] which are meant by "Egypt," in which country Abram was at that time.


Chapter 13 [Genesis] [1-18] Growth in the knowledges [cognitiones] of the church, and separation of spiritual knowledges, which are "Abram," from natural knowledges, which are "Lot."


Chapter 14 [Genesis] 1-17 Combat in the natural man, between the truths and goods and the evils and falsities there, and when victory hung on the side of the evil or of hell, the spiritual man attacked them and overthrew them. 18-24 Thus the natural man became spiritual-natural, and removed evils and falsities from Himself.


Chapter 15 [Genesis] 1-6 Since there was as yet only multiplication of truth, and not the fructification of good, and thus not the church, He was urgent that the church might exist with Him; 7-21 but it is foretold what the church and its conjunction with the Lord would be, namely, that it would be perverted.


Chapter 16 [Genesis] [1-16] Conjunction of the truth and good of the natural man, from which there would be only an external church, which is rational. But concerning all this see Arcana Coelestia, where [it is explained that] these things pertaining to the church signify things pertaining to the Lord; for all things of the Word in the spiritual sense treat of the church and heaven, but in the celestial sense of the Lord.