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Twelve_336_221 And I heard the number of them which were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, signifies all who acknowledge the Lord to be the God of heaven and earth, and  are in truths of doctrine from the good of love from Him through the Word. That these are signified by "a hundred and forty and four thousand out of the twelve tribes of Israel," is, because "the twelve tribes of Israel" signify the church from those who are in good and truth from the Lord, and acknowledge Him as the God of heaven and earth. By the number "one hundred and forty-four thousand," all these are meant; for by this number the same is signified as by twelve, since it arises by multiplying "twelve" into "twelve," and then by multiplying it by "one hundred" and by "one thousand"; and any number whatever multiplied into itself, and then by "ten," "one hundred," or "one thousand," has a like signification as the original number; therefore the number "one hundred and forty-four thousand" signifies the same as "one hundred and forty-four," and this the same as "twelve," because "twelve" multiplied by "twelve" make "one hundred and forty-four"; so likewise "the twelve thousand sealed out of each tribe," being multiplied by "twelve," make "one hundred and forty-four thousand." The number "twelve" signifies all, and is predicated of truths from good, because "twelve" is the product of "three" and "four" multiplied by each other, and the number "three" signifies everything as to truth, and the number "four" everything as to good; hence "twelve," in this instance, signifies everything as to truth from the good of love.

[2] That all numbers signify the adjuncts of things, determining their quality or quantity, may appear manifest from numbers in Revelation, which, were they without some specific signification, would yield no sense whatever in many places. From what has been said it may be seen, that by "one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed," and by "twelve thousand out of each tribe," is not to be understood that so many were sealed and elected out of the tribes of Israel, but all who are in the truths of doctrine from the good of love from the Lord. This is what is signified in general by "the twelve tribes of Israel," and also by "the Lord's twelve apostles"; but, in particular, some truth from good is signified by each tribe, and by each apostle. But the signification of each particular tribe shall be explained presently. Since the twelve tribes signify all the truths of doctrine from the good of love from the Lord, they also signify all things of the church; on which account the twelve tribes of Israel represented the church, as did also the twelve apostles.

[3] As "twelve" is predicated of the truths and goods of the church, therefore the New Jerusalem, by which is meant the Lord's New Church, is described by the number twelve in every particular, as that:

The length and breath of the city was twelve thousand furlongs; that the wall thereof was one hundred and forty-four cubits (Rev. 21:16).
One hundred and forty-four is twelve multiplied by twelve.
That there were twelve gates; and the gates were of twelve pearls; that over the gates there were twelve angels; and the names written of the twelve tribes of Israel; that the wall had twelve foundations; and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; and they consisted of twelve precious stones; as also that the tree of life was there, bearing twelve fruits according to the twelve months. (Rev.12-13, 21).

Concerning all these particulars, see chapters 21 and 22. From such as are here treated of the New Heaven is formed, and the New Church is forming by the Lord; for they are the same who are mentioned in chapter 14, where it is written of them:

And I saw, and, behold, the Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand. And they sung a new song before the throne, and no one could learn that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth, for they are virgins, and follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth (Rev. 14:1, 3-4).

[4] Because "the twelve tribes" signify the Lord's church as to all its truths and goods, therefore the number "twelve" became a number of the church, and was used in its holy ceremonies and solemnities, as:

In the breastplate of judgment, in which were the Urim and Thummim, there were twelve precious stones (Exod. 28:21).
That twelve loaves of faces were put upon the table in the tabernacle (Lev. 24:5-6).
That Moses built an altar below Mount Sinai, and erected twelve pillars (Exod. 24:4).
That twelve men were sent to explore the land of Canaan (Deut. 1:23).
That twelve men brought twelve stones out of the midst of Jordan (Josh. 4:1-9, 20).
That twelve princes at the dedication of the altar brought twelve chargers of silver, twelve bowls of silver, twelve censers of gold, twelve oxen, twelve rams, twelve lambs, and twelve he-goats (Num. 7:84, 87).
That Elijah took twelve stones, and built an altar (1 Kings 18:31-32).
That Elijah found Elisha ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, and himself among the twelve, and that then he cast his mantle upon him (1 Kings 19:19).
That Solomon placed twelve oxen under the brazen sea (1 Kings 7:25, 44).
That he made a throne, and twelve lions standing at the steps of it (1 Kings 10:19-20).
That on the head of the woman who was clothed with the sun there was a crown of twelve stars (Rev. 12:1).
From what has been said it may now be evident, that by "one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed, twelve thousand out of each tribe," are not meant so many in number of the Jews and Israelites, but all who are of the New Christian Heaven, and the New Church, who will be in truths of doctrine from the good of love through the word from the Lord. [AR 348]

That in the Word numbers and measures signify things celestial and spiritual, is very evident from the measurement of the New Jerusalem and of the Temple, in John, and in Ezekiel. Any one may see that by the "New Jerusalem" and the "new Temple" is signified the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens and on earth, and that the kingdom of the Lord in the heavens and on earth is not subject to earthly measurement; and yet its dimensions as to length, breadth, and height are designated by numbers. From this any one may conclude that by the numbers and measures are signified holy things, as in John: -

There was given me a reed like unto a rod; and the angel stood, and said unto me, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein (Rev. 11:1).

And concerning the New Jerusalem: -

The wall of the New Jerusalem was great and high, having twelve gates, and over the gates twelve angels, and names written, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel; on the east three gates, on the north three gates, on the south three gates, on the west three gates. The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. He that talked with me had a golden reed, to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. The city lieth four square, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth. And he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs; the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal. He measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Rev. 21:12-17).

[2] The number "twelve" occurs here throughout, which is a very holy number because it signifies the holy things of faith (verse 3), and as will be shown at the twenty-ninth and thirtieth chapters of Genesis. And therefore it is added that this measure is the "measure of a man, that is, of an angel". It is the same with the new Temple and new Jerusalem in Ezekiel which are also described as to their measures (Ezekiel 40:3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 22, 25, 30, 36, 42, 47; 41:1-26; 42:5-15; Zech. 2:1, 2). Here too regarded in themselves the numbers signify nothing but the holy celestial and spiritual abstractedly from the numbers. So with all the numbers of the dimensions of the ark (Exod. 25:10); of the mercy seat; of the golden table; of the tabernacle; and of the altar (Exod. 25:10, 17, 23; 26:1-37; 27:1); and all the numbers and dimensions of the temple (1 Kings 6:2, 3), and many others.

[AC 648]

Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer. That this signifies that the evils and falsities did not appear in childhood, but that they served the apparent goods and truths, is evident from the representation and signification of "Chedorlaomer", and also of those who served (verse 1); and also from the signification of "twelve". "Chedorlaomer", together with those named above (verse 2), signifies the apparent goods and truths in the Lord, thus His external man in respect to these things. "Chedorlaomer" here denotes all that are named above (verse 2) in the complex, as is evident also from what follows, as also from the circumstance that he was king of Elam, the signification of which has been given already, as being faith from charity; here therefore truth and good; for faith and the things of faith are nothing but truths, and charity and the things of charity are goods

[2] but here the goods of infancy, which, although they appear good, are not good so long as hereditary evil contaminates them. That which is inherent and which adheres is from the love of self and the love of the world. Whatever is of the love of self and of the love of the world then appears as good, but is not good; but still it is to be called good so long as it is in an infant or a child who does not yet know what is truly good. The ignorance excuses, and the innocence makes it appear as good. But the case is different when the man has been instructed, and knows what good and evil are. Such good and truth as are in a child before he has been instructed, are signified by "Chedorlaomer".

[3] By their "serving twelve years" is signified all the time that there are such good and truth; for in the internal sense "twelve" signifies all things that pertain to the faith of charity, or to faith from charity, much the same as "Elam" (Gen. 10:22). And so long as such good and truth are in a man, whether it be in his childhood or at any other age, evils and falsities can effect nothing; that is, evil spirits do not venture to do anything, or to introduce any evil; as is evident with infants, well disposed children, and the simple in heart; with whom, even though evil spirits, or the worst of the diabolic crew, were present, they could effect nothing at all, but are in subjection; which is here signified by their serving chedorlaomer twelve years.

[4] The reason of their being then in subjection and serving is that the man has not yet acquired to himself a sphere of cupidities and falsities. For evil spirits and genii are not allowed to operate except into those thing which a man has procured to himself by his acts, and not into those which are from inheritance; and therefore before the man procures such spheres to himself, the evil spirits serve; but as soon as he procures them, they pour themselves in upon him, and endeavor to rule; for they are then in his very sphere, and find there a certain delight, or their very life. Where the carcass is, there are the eagles. [AC 1667]

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.

[2] 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]

From all this it can now be seen what was signified by "the twelve precious stones" in the breastplate of judgment, namely, all the goods and truths of heaven in their order. Heaven is divided into two kingdoms, the celestial and the spiritual. The good of the celestial kingdom was represented by the first two rows, which were on the right side of the breastplate; and the good of the spiritual kingdom by the following two rows, which were on the left side. The internal good of the celestial kingdom is the good of love to the Lord, and this good is what is meant by "the celestial love of good;" and the external good of the celestial kingdom is the good of mutual love, and this good is what is meant by "the celestial love of truth." The internal good of the spiritual kingdom is the good of charity toward the neighbor, and this good is what is meant by "the spiritual love of good;" and the external good of the spiritual kingdom is the good of faith, and this good is what is meant by "the spiritual love of truth" (That goods and truths in this order constitute the heavens, see n. 9468, 9473, 9680, 9683, 9780.)

[2] From this it is now evident what was represented by the twelve stones, which were called "the Urim and Thummim." But in what manner Divine truths, which were answers, were shown by them, will be told below (n. 9905). That the good of love was in the first place among them, and the truth of faith in the last place, is evident from the first stone, which was a ruby, and the last, which was a jasper; thus from the color of the first stone which was red, and of the last stone which was white, both of them being translucent. (That "red" signifies the good of love, see n. 3300, 9467; and that "white" signifies the truth of faith, n. 3301, 3993, 4007, 5319.)

[3] The like that was signified by the stones in the breastplate was also signified by the materials interwoven in the ephod. The ephod was woven of blue, of crimson, of scarlet double-dyed, and of fine linen, as appears from the sixth verse of the present chapter; and by "the blue" was signified the truth of celestial love, by "the crimson," the good of celestial love, by "the scarlet double-dyed," the good of spiritual love, and by "the fine linen," the truth of spiritual love (n. 9833). The reason was that "the ephod" signified heaven in ultimates, in like manner as "the breastplate" (n. 9824); but the goods and truths are there enumerated in a different order, because "the ephod" signified the spiritual heaven, while "the breastplate" signified the whole heaven from first to last. And as the Habitation with the Tent also represented heaven (n. 9457, 9481, 9485, 9615), therefore the materials of which the curtains and the veils were interwoven consisted in like manner of blue, of crimson, of scarlet double-dyed, and of fine linen (see Exod. 26:1, 31, 36, and 27:16; also n. 9466-9469).

[4] Be it known further that in a general sense "the SAPPHIRE" signifies the external of the celestial kingdom, and "the ONYX" the external of the spiritual kingdom; and as these two stones had this signification, they were the middle stones of the last rows; namely, the sapphire was the middle stone of the second row, and the onyx the middle stone of the fourth row. The stones of the second row signified the external good of the celestial kingdom, which is called "the celestial love of truth," and the stones of the fourth row signified the external good of the spiritual kingdom, which is called "the spiritual love of truth;" as may be seen from what has been said about them in this article above.

[5] That "the sapphire" signifies the external of the celestial kingdom is evident from the passages in the Word where it is mentioned, as in the book of Exodus:

Seventy of the elders saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet as it were a work of sapphire, and as the substance of heaven in respect to cleanness (Exod. 24:10).

Thus is described the external of the celestial kingdom, for it is said "under His feet," by which is meant what is external; and where "the God of Israel" is, that is, the Lord, there is heaven. In Isaiah:

O thou afflicted, and tossed with tempests, and not comforted, behold I set thy stones with antimony, and lay thy foundations in sapphires (Isa. 54:11).

In this chapter the subject treated of is the celestial kingdom; "the foundations which are laid in sapphires" denote the external things of this kingdom, for the foundations are laid underneath.

[6] In Jeremiah:

Her Nazirites were whiter than snow; they were brighter than milk, their bones were more ruddy than pearls, a sapphire was their polishing (Lam. 4:7).

The Nazirites represented the celestial man; therefore it is said that "a sapphire was their polishing;" the "polishing" denotes what is external. In Ezekiel:

Above the expanse that was over the head of the cherubs was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone; and upon the likeness of the throne was as it were the appearance of a man sitting upon it (Ezek. 1:26; 10:1).

Here also the external of the celestial kingdom is described by "a sapphire;" for that which is above the expanse, or round about it, denotes what is without; the inmost being denoted by "him that sitteth upon the throne."

[7] As "the sapphire stone" signifies the external of the celestial kingdom, so "the onyx stone" signifies the external of the spiritual kingdom. Therefore this was the stone that was put on the two shoulderpieces of the ephod with the names of the sons of Israel engraved upon it (see verses 9 to 14 of this chapter); for by the ephod was represented the external of the spiritual kingdom (n. 9824). As in a general sense "the onyx" and "the sapphire" signified the external things of the two heavens, they were placed, as before said, in the middle of the three stones of the second and fourth rows; for the middle involves the whole (as was shown above in connection with the robe, by which in a general sense was represented the spiritual kingdom, because it was in the middle, n. 9825). As these two stones involve all that is signified by the rest in these rows, therefore it is said in Job:
Wisdom cannot be compared to the gold of Ophir, to the precious onyx, and the sapphire (Job 28:16). [AC 9873]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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