Swedenborg Study.com

Online works based on the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg


Previous: 38. Representative Countries Up: The Language of Parable Next: 40. Houses and Cities

39. Palestine

If I speak of our journeying to the heavenly Canaan, every one understands me to mean our progress towards a spiritual, heavenly state of life; for we all accept the Holy Land as a type of that life. (AR 285; AC 1413, 1585, 3686, 4447) We have already seen how the idea of heavenly life became associated with the land of Canaan. It was the home of heavenly people of the Golden and Silver Ages. Even the physical features of the land were formed to be representative of spiritual states, and were so understood by the wise people of those innocent ages, and by the angels. Palestine afterwards became the home of the children of Israel; for their story was to be a grand parable of spiritual life, and it was necessary that every name of mountain, or river, or town, which entered into that story should be full of heavenly meaning. This also was a reason why the land became the Lord's own home, that all names in the Gospels might be representative of heavenly things. (AC 5136, 6516, 10559)

The holiness of the land centers about one place, Jerusalem; the place which the Lord chose out of all the tribes, to put His name there; the place where the temple was built and towards which all the people looked in prayer. Jerusalem with the stronghold of Zion, and the temple, and the Mount of Olives standing guard above it, represents a state of peculiar nearness to the Lord. (AC 2534 end)  "They that trust in the LORD shall be as Mount Zion, which cannot be removed, but abideth forever. As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about his people from henceforth even forever." (Ps. cxxv. 1, 2; AE 405, 449, 629; AC 1585) The Bible often speaks of going up to Jerusalem and going down from Jerusalem. The words remind us that Jerusalem is one of the mountain towns upon the crest of land which forms the central mass of Palestine; but is there some deeper reason of this phrase,"going up to Jerusalem"? (AC 3084 4539)

From Jerusalem the ground slopes westward to the sea-shore plain of Philistia, and eastward breaks abruptly down into the deep valley of the Jordan, sunk far below the level of the sea. Should we expect to find that these low-lying districts bordering the sea and river represent states of life as interior as Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives?

We read, "A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves." (Luke x. 30). We go down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when we turn from a Sunday state to a week-day state; from an interior state of worship, to practice what we have learned in external, natural affairs. Do we not fall among thieves, who make us forget the truths we have learned and nearly destroy our spiritual life? (AE 458, 444, 584)

In this plain of Jordan, at the very lowest point in the land, the children of Israel entered when they came from Egypt, and from that low level climbed up into the hills which were to be their home. (Josh. iii. 16) It shows that our conquest must begin by making right the external things which are within our reach; these open the way to more interior victories. (AE 700; AC 1585, 9325) In this same region John the Baptist called the people to reform their outward life in preparation for the Lord who should lead them into interior things of heaven. (Matt. iii; TCR 677; AC 4255)

The sea-coast of Palestine was occupied by the Phoenicians whose home was Tyre and Sidon, and the Philistines who were a branch of the same people. The Phoenicians were sailors and traders. They brought home treasures from distant countries, and they served a good use in extending learning and other influences of civilization. (Ezek. xxvii) Here is another low-lying region on the extreme border of Canaan, one which was never really conquered. Must it represent an interior state of life, or an external one, in contact with the world? Do the situation on the sea-shore and the seafaring tastes of the people tell us anything of the state which the district represents? These are indications of a natural state, content with natural, worldly life, devoted especially to matters of natural knowledge. The activity of the Phoenicians as traders is representative of an active interest in becoming acquainted with people of all states, loving both to gather in and to impart all kinds of knowledge of life. Egypt represents the memory of knowledge; Assyria, the rational arrangement of knowledge; Phoenicia, the delight in acquiring and imparting knowledge. (AC 1201, 9340; AE 275, 576)

We read of Tyre: "Behold thou art wiser than Daniel; there is no secret that they can hide from thee; with thy wisdom and with thine understanding thou hast gotten thee riches, and hast gotten gold and silver into thy treasures; by thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches." (Ezek. xxviii. 3-5; AC 2967; AR 759; AE 236, 840) We think of this faculty of gathering knowledge in its right place as a servant of the spiritual life, when we read of the friendly treatment of Abraham by the Philistines (Gen. xx.; AC 9340, 2504), and of Hiram's help to Solomon, in bringing treasure from distant countries, and in furnishing stones and cedars for the temple of the Lord. (1 Kings v., ix. 26-28; AE 514)

But Tyre and Sidon afterward used their gains to enrich the temples of their idols, and the Philistines were among the most persistent enemies. of the Israelites. This reminds us how easily we are made proud by learning, and forget to value it only as a help in good life. Read on in the passage from Ezekiel which we were quoting. "By thy great wisdom and by thy traffick hast thou increased thy riches, and thine heart is lifted up because of thy riches" (Ezek. xxviii. 5), and much more in the same chapter. This self-confident intellectual power opposing the spiritual life and defying the Lord, is typified by Goliath. (I Sam. xvii.; AE 242, 817; AC 2967)

We have looked from Jerusalem to the eastern and western borders of the Holy Land. We must think a little about the heart of the land and its divisions. Take a map which shows you the allotment of the land to the tribes, and consider the tribes in the order of the birth of Jacob's sons. (Gen. xxix. 32, to xxx. 24, xxxv. I6-I8) The twelve sons, considered in the order of their birth, represent the successive developments of heavenly life. (AC 3860-3862, 3939; AE 431; AR 349) First come childlike states, then states of maturer strength, and last of all the truly spiritual states. The first group of sons are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah. These represent the childlike steps in regeneration; Reuben (which relates to sight), the first understanding of heavenly things; Simeon (hearing), obedience; Levi (adhering), love; Judah (confession), loving service of the Lord. All these of a simple, childlike kind. (AC 7231, 3875-3881; AE 434) The map shows you the allotments of Simeon and Judah together in the southern part of the land, with Reuben by their side, just across the border. Reuben's place outside suggests that the knowledge of heavenly things, which Reuben represents, is not in itself heavenly, but is introductory to obedience and loving service which are heavenly. In the lot of Reuben is Mount Nebo, from which Moses saw the promised land, but was told, "I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither." (Deut. xxxiv. 1-4) Remember that the tribes were permitted to dwell beyond Jordan only on condition that they would first help their brethren to gain possession of their inheritance. (Num. xxxii. 20-23; Josh. xxii. 1-6) The more natural states which they represent are good only as they take a secondary place, helpful to the spiritual life. (AE 440; AC 4117) What part of the land seems to have relation to innocent states of childlike affection? The southern part, where Simeon and Judah found their homes. You do not find an allotment marked with the name of Levi, for the Levites were scattered as priests through all the tribes (Josh. xxi); a suggestion that innocent love from the first heavenly states endures through all which follow, serving as a bond of union between them and the Lord. (AE 444)

After the first group of sons which represent the first, childlike steps in heavenly life, follow others which represent maturer states - states of rational development, of conflict, of victory, of joyful usefulness. There is Dan (the judge), a knowledge of the letter of the law. You find this tribe's final home in the extreme north of the land. Naphtali (strife), is next in order, suggesting states of spiritual strife, temptation. Then Gad (a troop), suggesting the youthful sense of power in our first labors; a self-confident and not very humble sense, as is suggested by the allotment to Gad beyond the border of the land. Next come Asher (happiness), and Issachar (reward); and as you trace the allotment of the tribes on the map you notice that Issachar received the rich plain of Esdraelon, the garden of the land. Then Zebulon (union), which suggests fullness of character resulting from the union of truth with good in faithful life. All these tribes which represent the maturer rational states of life have their homes together in the north. We must associate this part of the land with these states, as we associated the southern part with the innocent, childlike affection. (AC 3920-3961, 3971; AE 432-450; AR 349-359)

Two more sons remain, Joseph and Benjamin, the sons of Jacob's old age and his favorite children. They represent the truly spiritual state which is last attained-Joseph the love for the Lord which makes that state wise, and Benjamin the wisdom which gives that love expression. (AC 3969, 5469; AE 448, 449; AR 360, 361) We look on the map to find the homes of these tribes. Joseph is represented by his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, the latter with a double inheritance on both sides of Jordan. Ephraim and Manasseh represent the two elements of practical intelligence and practical goodness, to which spiritual love for the Lord gives rise as it descends into life. (AC 6275, 6295) Manasseh on both sides of the river suggests that external goodness is pleasing to the Lord when it comes from a spiritual origin and is the companion of goodness within. (AE 440) But notice where the lots of Joseph and Benjamin fall. They fill the space between the northern group and the southern, till Benjamin comes back to the very border of Judah. Does it not remind us how a regenerating life after its strife and victory returns again to the innocent love of childhood, now made wise by experience? (AC 5411, 4585, 4592; AE 449)

And here in the lot of Benjamin, which means the wisdom and expression of spiritual love, is Jerusalem, where from the assembled people the united voice of prayer and praise ascended to the Lord. But as this state is not reached except through conflict, so Jerusalem did not become the center of government and worship till the victories of David were won. (AC 4592, 2909; AE 449; AR 361.)

Now, with the map still before you, let me ask two questions. After the days of Solomon the land was divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. If we draw a line across the map just above Jerusalem, we have Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Remembering the spiritual states associated with the different parts of the land, what spiritual separation does this division of the kingdoms seem to represent? On the one side are the states of innocent childlike affection, together with that wise innocence which has become again as a little child; on the other side are the maturer states of rational power, of conflict and victory, and finally, practical intelligence and goodness from a spiritual origin. The line across the map perhaps suggests disagreement between childhood's innocence and the life of mature years. It suggests also the distinctness and the frequent conflict between the faculties of love and understanding in ourselves. In a broad sense the two kingdoms Israel and Judah represent the spiritual and celestial kingdoms of heaven. (AC 4292, 4750; AE 433; AR 96.)

Still with the map before you, recall the places where the Lord made His earthly home. Where was the Lord born? "In Bethlehem of Judaea." (Matt. ii. 5, 6.) We have already learned to associate this part of the land with childhood's innocent love. Does the place of the Lord's birth tell us of the state in which He was born? (AC 4592, 4594; AE 449.) We have thought of the journey into Egypt, as teaching us that the Lord as a child must learn in external ways, especially from the letter of the Word. (Chapter 38) Afterward, for nearly thirty years, His home was Nazareth, in the tribe of Zebulon. This tribe tells of the union of truth with good in, life. Does not the Lord's home in Nazareth through these quiet years, tell us that He was faithfully living the commandments and in so doing was bringing down into the world the Divine love of good? "By Zebulon in the highest sense is signified the union of the Divine itself and the Divine Humanity in the Lord." (AE 447; AR 359.) "And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulon and Nephthalim." (Matt. iv. 13, 14.) The coming down from the retired mountain home to the busy seashore, fitly expresses the change from silent, interior labor to outward manifestation of Divine power in miracles and in teaching. And what are we told about the states through which the Lord now was passing, by the fact that He made His home "in the borders of Zebulon and Nephthalim"? Naphtali means the strife by which evil was subdued, and Zebulon represents the heavenly marriage which was thus completed. (AE 439, 447; AR 354, 359) "And it came to pass. when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem." (Luke ix. 51) We traced the circle of regeneration in a finite life, from childlike affection, through temptation and victory to the wisdom of spiritual love. So the Lord passed from the Divine innocence of Bethlehem, through the temptations and victories of Galilee to the glorification at Jerusalem, when His Humanity became the perfect revelation of Divine love. (AC 2534, 1585, 3084; AE 449)

Previous: 38. Representative Countries Up: The Language of Parable Next: 40. Houses and Cities

Crown of Revelations
Rebirth, Reincarnation
The Holy Center
Salvation in the Gospels
Psychology of Marriage
Precious Stones
The Human Mind
The Moral Life
Saul, David & Solomon
Bible Lost & Found
The Human Soul
Genesis and Exodus
City of God
Swedenborg Cosmology
Ultimate Reality
The Pattern of Time
Means of Salvation
NC: Sex and Marriage
Book with Seven Seals
My Lord and My God
Philosopher, Metaphysician
Inspiration of Genesis
Words In Swedenborg
Book Expo
Missionary Talks
Tabernacle of Israel
A Brief View of the Heavenly Doctrines
Ancient Mythology
Odhner: Creation
Ten Commandments
Christ and The Trinity
Discrete Degrees
Body Correspondences
Language of Parable
The Ten Blessings
Creation in Genesis
The Third Source
Noble's "Appeal"
Life After Death


• Back • Home • Up • Next •

39. Palestine

Webmaster: IJT@swedenborgstudy.com