Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 6692

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

6692. 'And Pharaoh commanded all his people' means a general influx into factual knowledge opposed to the Church's truths. This is clear from the meaning of 'commanding' as an influx, dealt with in 5486, 5732, here a general influx since the command came from Pharaoh, who represents factual knowledge in general, 6015; and from the meaning of 'his people' as factual knowledge opposed to the Church's truths. The meaning of the Egyptians, to whom 'people' refers here, as factual knowledge has been demonstrated often, see 6638. The reason why factual knowledge opposed to the Church's truths is meant by 'the Egyptians' is that the representative forms and meaningful signs of the Ancient Church, a Church which had existed also among them, had been turned there into magic. For through the Church's representative forms and meaningful signs there was contact at that time with heaven. This contact existed among those who led lives filled with the good of charity, and among many it was open contact. Among those however who did not lead a good charitable life but acted in ways contrary to it, open contact sometimes existed with evil spirits who perverted all the Church's truths, and along with them destroyed all that was good, from which magic arose. This may also be recognized from the hieroglyphics among the Egyptians, who also used them in their sacred rituals. They used them as signs of spiritual things, and they used them to pervert Divine order.

[2] Magic is nothing else than the perversion of order; in particular it is the misuse of correspondences. If true order is to exist, goodness and truth as they emanate from the Lord must find acceptance in a person. When they do, true order is present in every particular aspect of the person's intentions and thoughts. But when they do not find acceptance in him as true order originating in the Lord requires and he instead believes that everything is a purposeless stream of events, or if anything does have purpose, that it is attributable to his own prudence, he perverts true order. For he makes use of what belongs to order solely for his own interests and not those of his neighbour, except insofar as his neighbour is favourably disposed towards him. This accounts for the astonishing fact that all who have become firmly convinced that everything is attributable to their own prudence and nothing at all to Divine providence are very much inclined towards magic in the next life, and also involve themselves in it as much as they can. This is especially so with those who, trusting in themselves and ascribing everything to their own prudence, have worked out many sly and cunning ways of gaining superiority over others. Once people like this have undergone judgement in the next life they are sent off to the hells of those who work magic. These hells are on the right on a level with the soles of the feet, a little way out in front and extending to a considerable distance; and the Egyptians are in the deepest ones. Here then is why 'Pharaoh', 'the Egyptians', and 'Egypt' mean factual knowledge opposed to the Church's truths.

[3] To prevent therefore any further perversion of the Church's representative forms and meaningful signs into forms of magic, the Israelite people were selected, and among them the Church's representative forms and meaningful signs were to be re-established. The nature of this people was such that it could not create magic out of them, for they were interested solely in external things and had no belief in anything internal, let alone anything spiritual. Among people like this no magic can arise such as existed among the Egyptians.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church