Ear17_500_381 The external ear is an organ for receiving and collecting the vibrations which we recognize as sound. This outer ear is composed of elastic, vibratory cartilage, covered closely with a protecting skin, and thrown into sweeping folds, no doubt conforming to the natural sweeps of a๋rial undulations, and designed to catch them all, coming from every direction, and conduct them to the inner ear. This is a conduction of vibrations, not of air; and it is accomplished partly by the reception of the vibrations by the cartilage itself, and partly by the reflection and concentration of these vibrations into the column of air leading into the auditory tube. No doubt the vibrations of the cartilage and those of the adjacent air make one; and, as the cartilage reflects and turns the little waves towards the inner ear, it accompanies them with sympathetic tremblings to the bony passage, and, on the under side, even half-way, through the passage; nor does it leave them till it has had time to impart its tremulous sympathy to the bone itself, with which it is strongly and closely connected.

Across this bony tube, at a distance of a little less than an inch from the surface of the skull, is stretched a membrane commonly called the drum of the ear. It is really a triple membrane, composed of a fibrous layer in the middle stretched from bone to bone, covered outside by a delicate continuation of the skin which lines the tube, and inside by another delicate membrane continuous with the lining of the middle cavity of the ear.

Upon this drum, or tympanum, arc concentrated all the motions which have been gathered from the atmosphere, which are now imparted to the drum by the air itself, which is in contact with it; by the lining membrane of the tube, which forms the outer skin of the drum; and by the tremblings of the bone in which the circumference of its middle layer iis inserted. The sounds that thus come to the drum of the ear are a confused mass, in immense variety as to force, pitch and quality, mingled together apparently in hopeless perplexity. It is like the stream of fluids brought to a gland — as, for instance, by the portal vein to the liver — there to be strained and sorted; the worthless to be cast out, the better sort to be put to a low use, and the pure, refined stream to be sent into the circulation for the benefit of the life of the body.

In the ear the stream to be examined is not a stream of fluid, but of motion; and we must look not for open passages, but for conductors of vibrations.

  In the drum of the ear, with its adjacent bony wall, the expectant mass of vibrations is collected, searching for avenues of entrance. Conspicuous among these avenues is a chain of three small bones, one end of which is attached to the middle of the drum, at the point of greatest motion, and the other, in shape like the flat plate of a stirrup, is continuous as to its periosteum with another little membranous window on the opposite side of the chamber across which the chain is extended. That inner membranous window is the entrance to another chamber, properly called the inner ear, whose wonderful structure we will consider presently. The chamber crossed by the chain of bones. is called the middle car. The bones are arranged as a series of levers in such a manner that whatever motion is imparted to them by the drum is carried to the inner window with a somewhat diminished range of motion, but proportionately increased force.

They seem capable of receiving and transmitting every variety and form of atmospheric tremble; but, however rapidly the tremblings may succeed one another, only one pulsation can be conveyed at a time, and thus the pulsations to be examined are in a degree strained of their conflicting elements, arranged in a sequence, and transmitted distinctly to the inner ear. Other vibrations not thus conveyed successively and distinctly by the bones, are transmitted more obscurely by the air which fills the middle ear, and also by its lining membrane and bony walls, and are received obscurely by the free rim of the membranous window to which the chain is applied, by another membranous window, called the round window, and by the bony wall of the inner ear. The most violent vibrations, which, if allowed to act with unmodified force would injure the inner ear, are as it were rejected by the way of the Eustachian tube, which leads from the middle ear to the pharynx; and perhaps are neutralized in part by the air of the large air cells in the mastoid process, which opens into the middle car opposite to the Eustachian tube.

The particular stream of pulsations which shall be received by the little bones is in a considerable degree determined by small muscles, which, by pulling upon the bones, regulate the tension of the membranes, and thus tune them to receive most distinctly the sounds selected. In this, too, the ear resembles the glands, every one of which draws to itself a stream of such materials as it desires.

It is in part because the ear has this power of selection that the Lord commands us, “Take heed what ye hear.”

It is by the action of these muscles that we are enabled to attend to the sounds of a single instrument in an orchestra, one part in a choir, one voice in a company, an individual bird or cricket in the chorus of a summer's day; which sound thus chosen is carried to the inner ear distinctly by the chain of bones, and is accompanied obscurely by the other sounds.

Arrived at the oval window of the inner ear, the current of pulsations finds ready admittance, and permeates with its successive thrills a delicate fluid which fills all the chambers of the inner ear, containing freely suspended in itself minute stony particles. And, first, it is received in a somewhat spacious ante-room, or vestibule, whose wall is loosely lined with an inner wall of membrane plentifully supplied with fibres of the auditory nerve.

As the pulsations advance successively to the inner chambers, their more subtile elements will be disclosed and set free; but here at the entrance their general quality is first perceived, as to its loudness or softness, continuity or interruptions to which general perception the simple form of the anteroom is well adapted.

From the part of the vestibule sometimes called the utriculus,” open three semi-circular canals. These, like the vestibule, enclose loose membranous linings which repeat their own forms, and which, in a bulb-like swelling at one end of each canal, contain a large supply of nervous fibres.

At present the scientific view of these canals is that their use is not as or-ans of hearing, but as means of preserving the equilibrium. No doubt they have this use; but it is not so easy to believe that they have no part in the function of hearing. The eyes, also, in some persons, are an important means of equilibration; but no one can doubt that this is secondary to their function of sight. In the eyes, however, the assistance in preserving the equilibrium is dependent on the sight; but this service from the canals does not at all depend upon the hearing, but upon the motion of the fluid contents.

The membranous canals exist in fishes, and their bony walls also in reptiles, which have scarcely a trace of the inmost part of the ear, the cochlea, which receives its full development only in warm-blooded animals, and especially in mammals.

If the canals do have any part in the hearing, probably it is to distinguish articulations; for the first process in analysis should be to measure the last modification given to the tones, which, in speaking, is by the mouth in forming words. It seems as if the canals lying on three sides of a cube could measure any form that could be given by the mouth.

Having received from the stream of sound the impression of force and quantity in the vestibule, and possibly of the forms of its articulations in the canals, there remain to be distinctly perceived its pitch and musical quality, and those more delicate thrills within the tones, which express the interior affection of the speakers or singers, and which are commonly attributed wholly to the “overtones,” but may in part have another origin. For this analysis, we have left an instrument of exquisite adaptation to the purpose called “the cochlea.”

Into the hollow centre of a spiral staircase, resembling in its outer covering two and a half turns of a snail-shell, enters a large nerve, which extends its fibres plentifully over the elastic, bony stairs. These delicate plates of bone are attached at their inner ends to the core of the shell. At the lower part, where the diameter is large, they are long; but they diminish with the spiral to the top, like the diminishing teeth of the comb of a musical-box. At their outer end they are free, but there the membranes which cover them above and below separate, and leave a triangular space between them as they run divergently to the outer wall of the shell. In this little spiral chamber, coiled at the outer edge of the stairs, is a most delicate apparatus of nervous fibres and cells and hairs, almost too minute for the microscope, called the “organ of Corti.”

We must not forget to notice that the shell is filled above and below the staircase with conducting fluid, which passes freely from one side to the other through an opening over the stairs; that the space over the staircase opens immediately into the vestibule; and that under the staircase is the membrane of the round window, communicating with the middle ear.

The elastic, bony fibres of the staircase are sufficient in number and variety to harmonize in vibration with musical tones of any shades of pitch which we have the power to appreciate; and at their extremities lies an apparatus distinctly more minute and exquisite, capable of appreciating an inner music within the music, if such there may be.

The organ of Corti does not exist in birds; though they undoubtedly can distinguish variations of pitch quickly and accurately.

It is still a question among physiologists, whether the vibrations which are perceived as sound affect the bones and fluids of the ear as to their masses or as to their particles, — whether for example, the little chain of the middle ear is shaken as a chain, or communicates the thrills of sound by the vibrations of the particles of bone and membrane of which the chain is composed.

Swedenborg believed that both motions existed, — that the larger forms of motion and of sound were communicated by the general motions of the bones and fluids, and that a more subtile tremor permeated the very substance of the bones, membranes, and fluids.

The things extracted or secreted from the stream of sound by the laboratory of the ear are not fluids or solids, but motions; they are not even forms of fluids or solids, as are the impressions received by the organs of touch, taste, and smell; but they are forms of living activity. And these varieties of living motion are distinctly communicated to the fibres of the auditory nerve, and by them imparted to the brain. The portion of the brain which is the seat of the conscious reception of sounds through the ear, lies quite near, in what is called the Superior tempero-sphenoidal convolution. But an important part of the auditory nerve goes direct to the cerebellum, which is the seat of the affections of the life, and of involuntary motion, and there has a tendency to produce immediate impulsive action in response to its impulses.

The optic nerves are cerebral nerves, having no direct communication with the cerebellum. They minister, therefore, primarily to the intelligence but the auditory nerves minister directly to the affections as well as to the intelligence. Probably the conscious hearing, with intelligent reception of the ideas conveyed by the sounds, is in the convolution of the cerebrum especially devoted to this sense. Other effects of warning or guidance or direction, are produced through the cerebellum, and by indirect communication with other parts of the cerebrum.

“The things which enter by the sense of sight, enter into man’s understanding and enlighten him;... but the things which enters by the sense of hearing, enter into the understanding and at the same time into the will; wherefore by the hearing is signified perception and obedience. Hence it is that in human language it is a received form of expression to speak of hearing any one, and also of giving ear to any one; likewise of being a hearer, and of hearkening; and by hearing any one is understood to perceive, and by giving ear to any one is meant to obey; as also by being a hearer; and both are signified by hearkening. This form of expression has flowed down from the spiritual world, in which the spirit of man is; but whence this is in the spiritual world shall also be explained. They who, in the spiritual world, are in the province of the ear, are forms of obedience from perception;...and the province of the ear is in the axis of heaven, and therefore into it, or into those who are there, the whole spiritual world flows, with the perception that it must so be done; for this is the reigning perception in heaven; hence it is that they who are in that province are forms of obedience from perception.
“That the things which enter by hearing, enter immediately by the understanding into the will, may be further illustrated by the instruction of the angels of the celestial kingdom, who are the wisest. Those angels receive all their wisdom by hearing, and not by sight; for whatever they hear of Divine things, from veneration and love, they receive in the will and make of their life.... From these things it is manifest that hearing is given to man chiefly for receiving wisdom, but sight for receiving intelligence; wisdom is to perceive, will, and do; intelligence is to learn and perceive.” (AE 14, also HH 270, 271)

“The spirits who correspond to the hearing, or who constitute the province of the ear, are they who are in simple obedience, that is, who do not reason whether a thing be so, but because it is so said by others, they believe that it is so... There are many varieties of the spirits who correspond to the ear, that is, to its functions and offices; there are those who relate to each little organ in it, to the external ear, to the membrane which is called the drum of the ear, to the interior membranes which are called windows (fenestrae), to the malleus, the stapes, the incus, the canals, the cochlea, and to parts still deeper, even to those substances which are nearer to the spirit, and which at length are in the spirit, and lastly are intimately conjoined with those who belong to the internal sight, from whom they are distinguished by this, that they have not so much discernment, but assent to them as if passive.” (AC 4653)

“There was a spirit who spoke with me at the left auricle, at its hinder part, where are the elevating, muscles of the auricle; he told me that he was sent to say that he does not at all reflect upon the things which others say, provided he takes them in with his ears. It was said that such as attend little to the sense of a thing, are they who belong to the cartilaginous and bony part of the external car.” (AC 4656)

“To the interiors of the ear belong those who have the sight of the inner hearing, and obey what its spirit there dictates, and express its dictates fitly.”

After describing some who seem to have been perversions of the faculty, he says that one came to him who was said to have been “a person of the highest reputation in the learned world, and it was given me to believe that it was Aristotle.”
Swedenborg perceived that the things which he had written were from interior thought, and that the philosophical terms which he invented were not mere terms with him, as they were with many of his followers, but were descriptive of interior things “and that he was excited to such things by the delight of affection and the desire of knowing the things which were of thought, and that he followed obediently the things which his spirit had dictated; wherefore he applied himself to the right ear.”

After relating some intelligent conversation with him concerning analytical knowledge, and about the Lord, Swedenborg, continues,—

“A woman appeared to me, who stretched out her hand, wishing to stroke his cheek; when I wondered at this, he said that when he was in the world such a woman often appeared to him, who as it were stroked his cheek, and that her hand was beautiful. The angelic spirits said that such women sometimes appeared to the ancients, and were called by them Pallades, and that she appeared to him from spirits who when they lived as men in ancient times, were delighted with ideas and indulged in thoughts, but without philosophy, and because such spirits were with him, and were delighted with him because he thought interiorly, they presented representatively such a woman.” (AC 4658)

These things are said to illustrate the quality of men who relate to the inner ear, namely, that they have an interior perception of truth as if it were told to them; and that they speak and write it obediently, delighting in it, and perceiving that it is true because it agrees with their interior life.
In the Greatest Man they are in the outer ear who love to receive by hearing and impart what they receive without discrimination of quality, though as they are a part of heaven, they must have greater general delight in receiving and faithfully repeating good things. The drum of the ear loves to collect in a summary, in which all particulars are fairly and fully presented, all that comes from the outer reporters. The bones love to draw from that summary whatever coheres in a sequence, and with an inflexible stiffness to prevent anything from passing which will not make part of a receivable sequence. The vestibule loves to perceive and to transmit to the brain and to the whole heaven its impressions of the power and quantity of the truth received. As organs of equilibration, the correspondence of the semi-circular canals is perhaps indicated by the common expression "to keep a level head,” that is, to keep a clear sense of our position and relation to circumstances, and of what is to be done. If they have any part in the hearing, as suggested, it is likely to be a part relating definitely to what is to be done, and this, perhaps, is the discernment of articulation. And the cochlea loves to know the inner wisdom and purpose of the instruction, in its effect upon the harmony of the heavens and their openness to receive interior life from the Lord, which effects conjunction with Him.

All the desire of the heavens for these things is concentrated in the ears; and the ears, in turn, transmit to the desiring angels the instruction they receive, with their own love for it, and desire to obey it. As to whence come the sounds to the angels of the ears, we have no instruction. But they may come in part from spirits and men outside of the heavens; for we read that the thoughts of these from affection are heard in heaven: —

“The supplication, although tacit, of those who supplicate from the heart, is heard as a cry in heaven. This is the case when men only think, and more when they bemoan themselves, from a sincere heart. ... It is the same with those who mourn; (dolent for docent) they are heard in heaven as crying. Not only the thoughts, but more especially the affections, which are of good and truth, speak in heaven.... Affections for evil and falsity are not at all heard in heaven, even if the man who supplicates from them cries aloud with his hands tightly closed, and raises them and his eyes to heaven. These are heard in hell, and there also as “cries if they are ardent.” (AC 9202, see also SE 4821)
Affections and prayers that are only individual, we should suppose would be heard only by individuals or small societies; but those that express general states of the community might be heard by larger bodies.
Also those in the province of the ears may be affected by the speech of those in the provinces of the lungs and the mouth, who utter the Word of the Lord and thoughts of Divine wisdom from it.

To the inner ear, besides the interior wisdom received from this source, may there not come also interior perceptions of wisdom from the Lord Himself, as we now receive them from spirits and angels?




What is the nature of the correspondence between the soul and the body, or between the things of the spirit which is within man and those of his body which are without him, may be plainly seen from the correspondence, influx, and communication of the thought and perception, which are of the spirit, with the speech and hearing, which are of the body. The thought of a man who is speaking is nothing but the speech of his spirit, and the perception of the speech is nothing but the hearing of his spirit. When man is speaking, his thought does not indeed appear to him as speech, because it conjoins itself with the speech of his body, and is in it; and when man hears, his perception appears merely like hearing in the ear. This is the reason why most persons who have not reflected know no otherwise than that all sense is in the organs of the body, and consequently that when these organs fall to decay by death, nothing of sense survives, whereas the man (that is, his spirit) then comes into his veriest life of sensation.

[2] That it is the spirit which speaks and hears has been made very manifest to me from conversations with spirits. Their speech communicated to my spirit fell into my interior speech, and thence into the corresponding organs, and there terminated in an endeavor which I have sometimes plainly perceived. Hence their speech was heard by me as sonorously as the speech of a man. Sometimes when spirits spoke with me in the midst of a company of men, some of the spirits supposed that as their speech was heard so sonorously, they would be heard by the other people who were there present; but they were informed that such was not the case, because their speech flowed into my ear by an internal way, and human speech flows in by an external way. This shows how the spirit spoke with the prophets-not as a man with a man, but as a spirit with a man, that is, in him (see Zech. 1:9, 13; 2:2, 7; 4:1, 4, 5; 5:10; 6:4; and in other places). But I know that these things cannot be comprehended by those who do not believe that man is a spirit, and that the body merely serves this spirit for uses in this world. Those who have confirmed themselves in this unbelief are unwilling even to hear about any correspondence, and being in denial, if they do hear of it they reject it, and are rather made sad that anything should be taken away from the body. [AC4652]

The spirits who correspond to the hearing, or who constitute the province of the ear, are those who are in simple obedience, that is, those who do not reason whether a thing is so, but believe it to be so because it is said by others to be so: hence they may be called "obediences." The reason of their being such is that the hearing is to speech as the passive is to its active, thus as one who hears a speaker and acquiesces. Hence also in common speech, to "give ear to anyone" is to be obedient, and to "hearken to the voice" is to obey; for the interior things of man's speech have in great part derived their origin from correspondence, for the reason that man's spirit is among spirits in the other life, and thinks there; although man is altogether ignorant of this, and a corporeal man is not willing to know it.

[2] There are many differences among the spirits who correspond to the ear, that is, to its functions and offices. There are those who bear relation to each of its little organs-some to the external ear, some to the membrane called the drum of the ear, some to the interior membranes which are called windows, some to the hammer, to the stirrup, to the anvil, the cylinders, and the cochlea; and there are those who bear relation to parts still more interior, even to those substantiated parts which are nearer to the spirit, and finally to those which are in the spirit; and last of all they are inmostly conjoined with those who belong to the internal sight, from whom they are distinguished by their not having so much discernment, but giving as it were a passive assent to them. [AC4653]

There were spirits with me who flowed in very strongly into my thought when it was exercised upon such things as were of Providence, and especially when I was thinking that the things I awaited and desired were not coming to pass. The angels said that they were spirits who when they lived in the body and prayed for anything and did not obtain it were indignant, and gave way to doubts concerning Providence, and yet when out of this state they acted piously as told to do by others, and were thus in simple obedience. It was said that such belong to the province of the external ear or auricle, and they also appeared there when they spoke with me. [AC4654]

I have likewise frequently noticed spirits near my ear, and also as if within it. Their being noticed as within it, is because it so appears, the state in the other life being what produces the appearance. All these spirits were simple and obedient. [AC4655]

There was a spirit who spoke with me at my left auricle at its hinder part where are its elevator muscles. He told me that he was sent to inform me that he does not reflect at all upon the things which others are speaking, but merely takes them in with his ears. When he was speaking he as it were belched out his words, and also said that this was his manner of speaking. From this it was given to know that there was nothing interior in his speech, thus little of life; and that this was the reason of the belching. It was said that those who attend little to the sense of a thing are those who belong to the cartilaginous and bony part of the external ear. [AC4656]

There are spirits who have sometimes spoken with me, but by muttering, and this quite near the left ear, as if they wished to speak in the ear so that no one would hear. But it was given me to tell them that this is not proper in the other life, because it shows them to be whisperers, and to have become imbued with the habit of whispering; and very many of them are of such a character as to observe the vices and faults of others, and tell them privately to their associates, or whisper them in the ear when others are present; and they see and interpret everything wrongly, and set themselves before others; and for this reason they can by no means be admitted into the company of good spirits, who are not such as to hide their thoughts. It was said that in the other life such speaking is heard louder than open speech.  [AC4657]

To the interiors of the ear belong those who have the sight of the interior hearing, and who obey the things which its spirit there dictates, and give fit utterance to its dictates. What their character is has also been shown. A kind of penetrating sound was observed from below, near the left side even to the left ear. I noticed that it was spirits who were thus striving to come forth, but of what character they were I could not know. But when they had struggled forth they spoke with me, saying that they had been logicians and metaphysicians, and that they had immersed their thoughts in such things with no other end but that of hearing themselves called learned, and of thus coming to honors and wealth, and they lamented that they were now leading a miserable life because they had imbibed such things without any other use, and thus had not perfected their rational by their means. Their speech was slow, and had a muffled sound.

[2] Meanwhile two were speaking with each other above my head; and when it was asked who they were, it was said that one of them was a man most renowned in the learned world, and it was given me to believe that it was Aristotle. Who the other was, was not told. The former was then let into the state in which he was when he lived in the world; for everyone can be easily let into the state of his life which he had in the world, because he takes all the state of his life with him. But to my surprise he applied himself to my right ear, and there spoke hoarsely, but still sanely. From the meaning of what he said I observed that he was of a genius quite different from those schoolmen who first rose up, in that the things which he wrote he had hatched out from his own thought, and thereby had brought forth his philosophy; so that the terms which he invented, and which he gave to the subjects of his thought, were forms of expression by which he described interior things; and also that he had been stirred to such things by the delight of affection, and the desire of knowing the things which are of thought, and that he followed obediently what his spirit dictated. For this reason he came to my right ear. It is different with his followers, who are called schoolmen, and who do not advance from thought to terms, but from terms to thoughts, thus in a contrary way. And many of them do not advance to thoughts, but stay in the mere terms, and if they apply these, it is to prove whatever they wish, and to impose on falsities an appearance of truth, in accordance with their desire of persuading. Hence to them philosophy is the means of becoming insane rather than of becoming wise, and hence they have darkness instead of light.

[3] I afterwards spoke with him about analytic science, and it was given me to say that a child speaks more things philosophically, analytically, and logically in half an hour than he would be able to describe in volumes (because all the things of human thought and thence of human speech are analytical, the laws of which are from the spiritual world), and that he who wishes to think artificially from terms is not unlike a dancer who wants to learn to dance from a knowledge of the motor fibers and muscles; but if while he dances his attention were fixed on this knowledge he could scarcely move a foot; and yet without this knowledge he moves all the motor fibers scattered throughout his entire body, and in adaptation to them the lungs, the diaphragm, the sides, the arms, the neck, and all the rest, for describing all of which volumes would not suffice; and the case is similar with those who desire to think from terms. These things he approved, saying that if things are learned in this manner, they proceed in inverted order, and he added, If anyone desires to be a fool let him proceed so; but rather let him continually think of use, and from within.

[4] He then showed me what idea he had of the Supreme Deity, namely, that he represented Him to himself with a human face and encompassed about the head with a radiant circle; and that he now knows that the Lord is that very Man, and that the radiant circle is the Divine going forth from Him, which flows not only into heaven, but also into the universe, and disposes and rules these; adding that He who disposes and rules heaven, also disposes and rules the universe, because the one cannot be separated from the other. He also said that he had believed in one only God, whose attributes and qualities had been distinguished by as many names as were worshiped as gods by others.

[5] A woman was seen by me who stretched out her hand, wishing to stroke his cheek. When I wondered at this, he said that when he was in the world such a woman was often seen by him, who as it were stroked his cheek, and that her hand was beautiful. The angelic spirits said that such women were sometimes seen by the ancients, and were called by them Pallases; and that she appeared to him from the spirits who, when they lived as men in ancient times, were delighted with ideas and indulged in thoughts, but without philosophy. And because such spirits were with him, and were delighted with him because he thought interiorly, they therefore presented to view such a woman representatively.

[6] Lastly he told what kind of idea he had entertained respecting man's soul or spirit, which he called pneuma - namely, that it was an unseen vital something, as of ether.  And he said that he had known that his spirit would live after death, because it was his interior essence, which cannot die, because it can think; and further that he could not think distinctly concerning it, but only obscurely,. because he had no knowledge respecting it from any other source than from himself, and a very little also from the ancients. Moreover, Aristotle is among sane spirits in the other life, and many of his followers are among the foolish. [AC4658]

 And said, Because Jehovah hath heard. That in the supreme sense this signifies providence; in the internal sense, the will of faith; in the interior sense, obedience; in the external sense, hearing; in the present case faith in the will, which is from the Lord alone, is evident from the signification of "hearing." That "to hear" is of the sense of hearing, it is needless to explain; but that in the interior sense "to hear" is obedience, and in the internal sense faith in the will, is evident from many passages in the Word (as will be seen presently); and also from the nature of hearing in respect to that of sight. That in the interior sense "sight" is understanding, and in the internal sense, faith in the understanding, may be seen above (see n. 3863); and this because the quality of things becomes apparent by the internal sight, and thereby they are apprehended by a kind of faith, but an intellectual kind. In like manner when the things which are heard penetrate to the interiors, they are also changed into something like sight, for what is heard is seen interiorly; and therefore by "hearing" there is also signified that which is signified by "sight," namely, that which is of the understanding, and also that which is of faith; but the hearing at the same time persuades that the case is so, and affects not only the intellectual part of man, but also his will part, and causes him to will that which he sees. Hence it is that "hearing" signifies the understanding of a thing, and at the same time obedience; and in the spiritual sense, faith in the will.

[2] As all this is latent in hearing, namely, obedience and faith in the will, therefore these likewise are signified in common speech by "hearing," "hearkening," and "attending;" for "to hear" is to be obedient; and "to hearken to anyone" is also to obey. For the interior things of a matter are sometimes thus contained within the expressions of man's speech, for the reason that it is the spirit of man which thinks and perceives the meaning of the expressions of speech, and this is in a certain communion with spirits and angels, who are in the first principles of the expressions. Moreover, such is the circle of things in man, that whatever enters by the ear and eye, or by the hearing and sight, passes into his understanding, and through the understanding into the will, and from the will into act. And in like manner the truth of faith first becomes the truth of faith in memory-knowledge; afterwards the truth of faith in the will; and lastly the truth of faith in act, thus charity. Faith in memory-knowledge, or in the understanding, is "Reuben," as already shown; faith in the will is "Simeon;" and when faith in the will becomes charity it is "Levi."

[3] That in the supreme sense "to hear" signifies providence, may be seen from what has been said above (n. 3863) concerning "seeing," as being in the supreme sense foresight; for the Lord's foreseeing is the seeing from eternity to eternity that the case is so; but the Lord's providing is the directing that it be so; and is the bending of man's freedom to good, insofar as He foresees that man will suffer himself to be bent in freedom (see n. 3854).

[4] That by "Jehovah hearing," from which Simeon was named, in the interior sense is signified obedience, and in the internal sense faith in the will from the Lord alone, is manifest from very many passages in the Word; as from the following. In Matthew:

Behold a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him (Matt. 17:5);

"to hear Him" denotes to have faith in Him, and to obey His commandments; thus to have faith in the will. In John:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that the hour cometh when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. Marvel not at this; for the hour cometh in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice (John 5:25, 28);

"to hear the voice of the Son of God" denotes to have faith in the words of the Lord, and to will them. They who have faith of the will, receive life; wherefore it is said, "they that hear shall live."

[5] Again:

He who entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep; to him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they shall hear My voice, and there shall be one flock, and one shepherd. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:2-3, 16, 27);

"to hear the voice" manifestly denotes to obey from faith of the will. Again:

Everyone that is of the truth heareth My voice (John 18:37);

where the same thing is meant. In Luke:

Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. If they hear not Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rose from the dead (Luke 16:29, 31);

"to hear Moses and the Prophets" denotes to know the things contained in the Word, and to have faith therein; thus also to will them; for to have faith and not to will, is to see and not to hear, but to have faith and to will is both to "see"* and to "hear;" wherefore both "seeing" and "hearing" are mentioned together in the Word throughout; and by "seeing" is signified the same as by "Reuben;" and by "hearing" the same as by "Simeon;" for they are joined together as brother to brother.

[6] That "seeing" and "hearing" are mentioned together, is evident from the following passages. In Matthew:

Therefore speak I to them by parables; because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand, and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive; for this people's heart is waxed gross, and with ears they have heard dully, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart. But blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear. Verily I say unto you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear the things which ye hear, and have not heard them (Matt. 13:13-17; John 12:40; Isa. 6:9).

In Mark:

Jesus said to the disciples, Why reason ye because ye have no bread? Do ye not yet comprehend, neither understand? Have ye your heart yet hardened? Having eyes, see ye not? And having ears, hear ye not? (Mark 8:17-18).

[7] In Luke:

Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God; but to others in parables; that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear (Luke 8:10).

In Isaiah:

The eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be opened (Isa. 35:5).


And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of thick darkness, and out of darkness (Isa. 29:18).


Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see (Isa. 42:18).


Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears (Isa. 43:8).


The eyes of them that see shall not be closed, and the ears of them that hear shall hearken (Isa. 32:3).


Thine eyes shall see thy teachers, and thine ears shall hear a word (Isa. 30:20-21).


He that stoppeth his ear from hearing of blood, and shutteth his eyes from seeing evil, shall dwell on high (Isa. 33:15-16).

In Ezekiel:

Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of the house of rebellion, that have eyes to see, and see not; that have ears to hear, and hear not (Ezek. 12:2).
In these passages mention is made of both "seeing" and "hearing" because the one follows the other; that is, faith in the understanding which is "seeing," and faith in the will which is "hearing;" otherwise it would have been sufficient to mention one only; and from this it is also evident why one son of Jacob was named from "seeing" and another from "hearing."

[8] That "seeing" signifies faith in memory-knowledge or in the understanding; and "hearing," faith in obedience or in the will, is from the correspondences in the other life, and the derivative significatives; for those who are intellectual and are thence in faith belong to the province of the eye; and those who are obedient and thence in faith belong to the province of the ear. That this is the case will be seen at the close of the chapters, where of the Lord's Divine mercy the Grand Man, and the correspondence of all things in the human body therewith, will be described.

[9] Hence then it is that in the internal sense the "eye" is the understanding (n. 2701); and that the "ear" is obedience, and in the spiritual sense the derivative faith, or faith in the will; as is evident also from the following passages. In Isaiah:

Yea, thou heardest not yea, thou knewest not; yea, from that time thine ear opened not itself (Isa. 48:8).


The Lord Jehovih will waken mine ear to hear, as they that are taught; the Lord Jehovih hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious (Isa. 50:4-5).


In attending attend to Me, and eat ye that which is good, that your soul may delight itself in fatness; incline your ear, and come unto Me; hear that your soul may live (Isa. 55:2-3).

In Jeremiah:

To whom shall I speak and testify, that they may hear; behold their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken (Jer. 6:10).


This thing I commanded them, saying, Hear ye My voice and I will be your God, and ye shall be My people; and they heard not, nor inclined their ear (Jer. 7:23-24, 26).


Hear the word of Jehovah, O ye women; and let your ear receive the word of His mouth (Jer. 9:20).


Ye have not inclined your ear, and have not obeyed Me (Jer. 35:15).

In Ezekiel:

Son of man, all My words that I have spoken unto thee, receive in thy heart, and hear with thine ears (Ezek. 3:10).


I will set my zeal against thee, and they shall deal with thee in fury; they shall take away thy nose and thine ears (Ezek. 23:25);

"to take away the nose and the ears" denotes the perception of truth and good, and the obedience of faith. In Zechariah:

They refused to hearken, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and made their ears heavy, that they should not hear; and their heart have they set as adamant, that they might not hear the law (Zech. 7:11-12).

[10] In Amos:

Thus saith Jehovah, As the shepherd snatcheth out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the sons of Israel be snatched away in Samaria, in the corner of a bed, and on the end of a couch (Amos 3:12);

"to snatch the two legs" denotes the will of good; and the "piece of an ear," the will of truth. That a "piece of an ear" denotes this can as before said be seen solely from the correspondences in the other life, and the derivative significatives, according to which is the internal sense of the Word, and also the rituals in the Israelitish and Jewish Church. Hence it was that when Aaron and his sons were inaugurated into the ministry, it was commanded, among other things, that Moses should take of the blood of a ram, and should put it on the tip of Aaron's ear, and upon the tip of the ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot (Exod. 29:20). By this ritual was represented the will of faith, into which also as priest he was to be initiated. That this ritual was holy, everyone may know, because it was enjoined upon Moses by Jehovah; and so also putting blood on the tip of the ear was holy. But what particular holy thing this signified can be known only from the internal sense of things in the Word, which sense here is that the holy of faith from the will must be preserved.

[11] That by the "ear" is signified obedience, and in the internal sense the consequent faith, is still more plainly evident from the ritual respecting a servant who was not willing to depart from service; concerning whom we read in Moses:

If a manservant or maidservant shall not be willing to depart from service, his master shall bring him unto God, and shall bring him to the door, or unto the doorpost, and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall serve him forever (Exod. 21:5-6; Deut. 15:17);

"boring the ear through with an awl at the doorpost" signifies serving or obeying perpetually; in the spiritual sense it signifies not to will to understand truth, but to will truth from obedience, which relatively is not freedom.

[12] As in the internal sense the obedience of faith is understood by "ears," and obeying by "hearing," it is evident what is signified by these words of the Lord, so often uttered by Him:

He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear (Matt. 13:9, 43; Mark 4:9, 23; 7:16; Luke 8:8; 14:35; Rev. 2:7, 11, 29; 3:13, 22).

[13] That in the supreme sense "to hear" signifies providence, and "to see" foresight, is evident from the passages in the Word where "eyes" and "ears" are predicated of Jehovah or the Lord; as in Isaiah:

Incline Thine ear, O Jehovah and hear; open Thine eyes, O Jehovah and see (Isa. 37:17).

In Daniel:

O my God, incline Thine ear and hear; open O Jehovah Thine eyes and see our wastes (Dan. 9:18).

In David:

O God, incline Thine ear unto me, and hear my speech (Ps. 17:6).


Incline Thine ear unto me, and save me (Ps. 71:2).


Turn Thine ear to my prayers because of Thy truth, answer me because of Thy righteousness (Ps. 143:1).

In Jeremiah:

O Jehovah, Thou heardest my voice; hide not Thine ear at my sighing, at my cry (Lam. 3:55-56).

In David:

O Jehovah, hide not Thy faces from me in the day of my distress; incline Thine ear to me; in the day when I cry, answer me (Ps. 102:1-2).

It is known that Jehovah has not ears nor eyes like a man, but that it is some attribute predicable of the Divine that is signified by the "ear" and by the "eye," namely, infinite will and infinite understanding. Infinite will is providence, and infinite understanding is foresight; these are what are understood by "ear" and "eye" in the supreme sense, when they are attributed to Jehovah. From all this it is now manifest what in every sense is signified by "Jehovah hath heard," from which Simeon was named. [AC3869]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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