542. 'And the dragon stood before the woman about to bring forth, that after she had brought forth he might devour her offspring' signifies that those who are understood by 'the dragon' are doing their utmost to extinguish the doctrine of the New Church at its first appearance. Who are understood by 'the dragon' may be seen above (n. 537); that by 'the woman' is signified the New Church (n. 533); that by 'to bring forth' is signified to receive goods and truths of doctrine out of the Word (n. 535). That by the 'offspring' that she would bring forth is signified the doctrine of the New Church, will be seen in the following paragraph. By 'to devour' is signified to extinguish, because by the 'offspring' doctrine is signified, and when 'devour' is said of the offspring, to extinguish is said of the doctrine. This [happens] at its first appearance because it is said that 'the dragon stood before the woman, that after she had brought forth he might devour her offspring'.