Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5291

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5291. 'And let him take up a fifth part of the land [of Egypt]' means which are to be preserved and then stored away. This is clear from the meaning of 'taking up a fifth part' as that which implies something similar to taking tenths. In the Word 'taking tenths' means preserving remnants, and preserving remnants is a gathering together and then storing away of forms of truth and good. For remnants are the forms of good and truth that the Lord has stored away in the interior man, see 468, 530, 560, 561, 661, 1050, 1906, 2284, 5135, and 'tenths' is used in the Word to mean remnants, 576, 1738, 2280, and so also is 'ten', 1906, 2284. And the number five, which is half of ten, is likewise used to mean the same. Half or twice any number when used in the Word holds the same meaning as the number itself. Twenty for example holds the same meaning as ten, four the same as two, six the same as three, twenty-four the same as twelve, and so on. A multiplication of a number also holds the same meaning. A hundred or a thousand for example holds the same as ten; seventy-two and also a hundred and forty-four hold the same as twelve. Therefore what it is that composite numbers hold within them may be seen from the simple numbers of which they are the products. What the more simple numbers hold within them may be seen in a similar way from their integers. Five for example may be seen from ten, two and a half from five, and so on. In general it should be recognized that multiples hold the same meaning as their factors, yet more completely, while quotients hold the same meaning as their dividends, yet less completely.

[2] As regards the number five specifically, this has a dual meaning. First, it means that which is little and consequently something; second, it means remnants. It receives its meaning of that which is little from its relationship with other numbers meaning that which is much, namely a thousand and a hundred, and therefore ten also. For 'a thousand' and 'a hundred' mean that which is much, see 2575, 2636, and so therefore does 'ten', 3107, 4638, as a consequence of which 'five' means that which is little, and also something, 649, 4638. But 'five' means remnants when it has a connection with ten, 'ten' in this case meaning remnants, as stated above. For all numbers used in the Word have spiritual realities as their meaning, see 575, 647, 648, 755, 813, 1963, 1988, 2075, 2252, 3252, 4264, 4495, 4670, 5265.

[3] Anyone who does not know that the Word has an internal sense which is not visible in the letter will be utterly astonished by the idea that spiritual realities too are meant by the numbers used in the Word. The specific reason for his astonishment is his inability to use numbers to give shape to any spiritual idea, when yet the spiritual ideas known to angels present themselves as numbers, see 5265. The identity of those ideas or spiritual realities to which numbers correspond can, it is true, be known; but the origin of such correspondence remains hidden, such as the origin of the correspondence of 'twelve' to all aspects of faith, the correspondence of 'seven' to things that are holy, as well as that of 'ten' and also 'five' to forms of good and truth stored up by the Lord within the interior man, and so on. Even so, it is enough if people know simply that such a correspondence does exist and that by virtue of that correspondence each number used in the Word denotes something present in the spiritual world, consequently that what is Divine has been inspired into them and so lies concealed within them.

[4] Examples of this are seen in the following places where 'five' is mentioned, such as the Lord's parable in Matt 25:14 and following verses about the man who, before going away to a foreign country, placed his resources in the hands of his servants. To the first he gave five talents, to the second two, and to the third one. The servant who received five talents traded with them and earned five talents more. In a similar way the one who received two earned two more; but the servant who received one hid his master's moneya in the earth. The person whose thought does not extend beyond the literal sense knows no other than this, that the numbers five, two, and one have been adopted merely to make up the story told in the parable and that they entail nothing more, when in fact those actual numbers hold some arcanum within them. The servant who received the five talents means those people who have accepted forms of good and truth from the Lord and so have received remnants. The one who received the two talents means those who at a more advanced stage in life have linked charity to faith, while the servant who received the one means someone who receives faith alone devoid of charity. Regarding this servant it is said that he hid his master's moneya in the earth - the reason for this description being that the moneya he is said to have received means in the internal sense truth which is the truth of faith, 1551, 2954; but faith that is devoid of charity cannot earn any interest, that is, it cannot be fruitful. These are the kinds of matters that numbers hold within them.

[5] Much the same is contained in other parables, such as the parable in Luke 19:12 and following verses regarding someone who journeyed to a far country to receive a kingdom. He gave his servants ten minas and told them to trade with these until he came back. When he returned the first said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten minas'. He said to him, 'Well done, good servant; because you have been faithful over a very little, be over ten cities'. The second said, 'Sir, your mina has made five minas', and to him too he said, 'You also, be over five cities'. The third had kept his mina stored away in a handkerchief. But the master said, 'Take the mina from him and give it to him who has ten minas'. Here in a similar way 'ten' and 'five' mean remnants, 'ten' rather more, 'five' somewhat less. The one who kept his mina stored away in a handkerchief describes those who acquire the truths of faith but do not join them to the good deeds of charity, so that these truths do not gain interest or become fruitful at all.

[6] The same meaning exists in other places where the Lord uses these numbers, such as the place where He refers to what one of those invited to a supper said,

I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going away to test them. Luke 14:19.

Also in the place where He refers to what the rich man said to Abraham,

I have five brothers; send [Lazarus] to speak to them, lest they come into this place of torment. Luke 16:28.
And in the place where He talks about ten virgins, five of whom were wise and five were foolish, Matt 25:1-13.
The following words spoken by the Lord in a similar way contain such numbers,

Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division; for from now on there will be in one house five divided; three against two, and two against three. Luke 12:51, 52.
And the following details given in the historical narrative also contain such numbers - the Lord fed five thousand people with five leaves and two fishes; He commanded them to sit down in groups of a hundred and groups of fifty; and after they had eaten they collected twelve baskets of broken pieces, Matt 14:15-21; Mark 6:38
and following verses; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:5-13.

[7] It is hardly credible that the numbers included in such details, since these belong to a historical narrative, have a spiritual meaning. That is, five thousand, the number of people, has a spiritual meaning; so does five, the number of leaves, as well as two, the number of fishes. A hundred, and likewise fifty, the numbers of people sitting down together, each have a spiritual meaning; and so lastly does twelve, the number of baskets containing broken pieces. Though it may seem incredible, every detail holds some arcanum. Every single thing occurred providentially, to the end that Divine realities might be represented by them.

[8] In the following places too 'five' means things of a similar nature in the spiritual world, and it corresponds to such in both senses, the genuine sense and the contrary one: In Isaiah,

Gleanings will be left in it, as in the shaking of an olive tree,b two or three berries on the top of the [highest] branch, four or five on the branches of a fruitful tree. Isa 17:6, 7.

In the same prophet,

On that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt which speak in the lips of Canaan and swear to Jehovah Zebaoth. Isa 19:18.

In the same prophet,

One thousand at the rebuke of one, at the rebuke of five you are fleeing, until you remain like a flagstaff on top of a mountain, like a signal upon a hill. Isa 30:17.

In John,

The fifth angel sounded, at which point I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key of the pit of the abyss. It was given the locusts which were coming out from there, that they should not kill the people who did not have the seal of God on their foreheads, but that they should torment them five months. Rev 9:1, 3, 5, 10.

In the same book,

Here is intelligence, if anyone has wisdom: The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sits; and there are seven kings. Five have fallen; and one is, the other has not yet come. And when he comes he must remain a short time. Rev 17:9, 10.

[9] The number five holds a similar representative meaning in the following places,

The valuation for a man or for a woman was determined by their ages - between one month and five years, and between five years and twenty years. Lev 27:1-9.
If a field was redeemed, one-fifth was to be added. Lev 27:19.
If tithes were redeemed, again one fifth was to be added. Lev 27:31.
The firstborn who were in excess [of the Levites] were to be redeemed for five shekels [each]. Num 3:46-end.
The firstborn of an unclean beast was to be redeemed with the addition of one-fifth. Lev 27:27.
In the case of any wrongs that were done one-fifth was to be added as a penalty. Lev 22:14; 17:13, 15; Num 5:6-8.
Anyone who stole an ox or one of the flock, and who slaughtered it or sold it, had to restore five oxen for an ox, and four of the flock for one of the flock. Exod 11:1.

[10] The fact that the number five contains some heavenly arcanum, as does ten also, is evident from the cherubs referred to in the first Book of Kings,

In the sanctuary Solomon made two cherubs of olive wood, each ten cubits high. The wing of one cherub was five cubits, and the wing of the other cherub five cubits; ten cubits from the tips of the wings of one to the tips of the wings of the other. Thus a cherub was ten cubits; both cherubs were the same size and same shape. 1 Kings 6:23-25.

The same fact is evident from the lavers around the temple, and also from the lampstands, described in the same book,

Five bases for the lavers were placed on the right side of the house,c and five on the left side of the house.c Also, five lampstands were placed on the right, and five on the left in front of the sanctuary. 1 Kings 7:39, 49.

The bronze sea was ten cubits from one brim to the other, and five cubits high, and thirty cubits in circumference. 1 Kings 7:13.

All this was prescribed so that holy things might be meant spiritually not only by the numbers ten and five but also by thirty, for although geometrically this number giving the circumference is not right for the stated diameter, it nevertheless implies spiritually what is meant by the rim of a vessel.

[11] All numbers mentioned in the Word mean things existing in the spiritual world, as is clearly evident from the numbers used in Ezekiel, where a new land, a new city, a new temple, and a detailed measuring of these by the angel are described; see Chapters 40-43, 45-49. Numbers are used in these chapters to describe practically every sacred object, and therefore anyone unacquainted with what those numbers hold within them can know scarcely anything about the arcana present there. The number ten and the number five occur there in Ezek. 40:7, 11, 48; 41:2, 9, 11, 12; 42:4; 45:11, 14, in addition to the multiplications of such numbers, namely twenty-five, fifty, five hundred, and five thousand. As regards the new land, the new city, and the new temple mentioned in those chapters, these mean the Lord's kingdom in heaven, and therefore His Church on earth, as is clear from every detail mentioned there.

[12] All the references above to 'five' have been gathered together for the reason that here and in what follows the subject is the land of Egypt, where, in the seven years of abundance, a fifth part of the corn was to be gathered and preserved for use in the succeeding years of famine. This demonstrates that 'the fifth part' means the forms of good and truth which a person has received from the Lord, who has stored them away and preserved them in that person for future use when there is a famine, that is, when there is an absence and deprivation of goodness and truth. For unless the Lord stored away in a person such forms of good and truth, there would be nothing to raise him up in a state of temptation and vastation and consequently to make it possible for him to be regenerated, so that he would be left without any means of salvation in the next life.


a or silver
b The Latin means fig tree, but the Hebrew means olive tree, which Sw. has in other places where he quotes this verse.
c lit. beside the shoulder of the house towards the right/left

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