Behold a terror of great darkness falling upon him. That this signifies that the darkness was terrible, and that “darkness” means falsities, is evident from the signification of “darkness,” as being falsities, to be explained presently. The state of the church before its consummation, when the sun was “going down,” is described by the “terror of great darkness;” but its state when the sun had gone down is described by the “thick darkness” and the other things mentioned in verse 17.
 The same is thus described by the Lord in Matthew:
The sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken (Matt. 24:29).
This does not mean that the sun of the world will be darkened, but the celestial which is of love and charity; nor the moon, but the spiritual which is of faith; nor that the stars will fall from heaven, but that the knowledges of good and truth with the man of the church will do so, for these are “the powers of the heavens;” nor will these things take place in heaven, but on earth; for heaven is never darkened.
 That “a terror of great darkness fell upon him,” means that the Lord was horrified at so great a vastation. So far as anyone is in the celestial things of love, so far does he feel horror when he perceives a consummation. So it was with the Lord, above all others; for He was in love itself, both celestial and Divine.
 That “darkness” signifies falsities is evident from very many passages in the Word; as in Isaiah:
Woe unto them that put darkness for light, and light for darkness (Isa. 5:20);
“darkness” denotes falsities, and “light” truths. In the same:
He shall look onto the land, and behold darkness, distress, and the light is darkened (Isa. 5:30);
“darkness” denoting falsities, and “the light darkened” the truth not appearing.
 In the same:
Behold, darkness covereth the earth, and thick darkness the peoples (Isa. 60:2).
The day of Jehovah, it is darkness, and not light. Shall not the day of Jehovah be darkness, and not light? and thick darkness and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:18, 20).
The great day of Jehovah is near; that day is a day of wrath, a day of straitness and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and thick darkness, a day of cloud and shade (Zeph. 1:14-15).
In these passages, the “day of Jehovah” denotes the last time and state of the church; “darkness and thick darkness” falsities and evils.
 The Lord likewise calls falsities “darkness” in Matthew:
If thine eye be evil, thy whole body is* darkened. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness (Matt. 6:33).
“Darkness” here denotes the falsities which take possession of those who are in knowledges; and the meaning is, how great is this darkness above that of others, or of the Gentiles,, who have not knowledges.
 Again in Matthew:
The sons of the kingdom shall be cast out into the outer darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13).
“The outer darkness” denotes the more direful falsities of those who are in the church; for they darken the light, and bring up falsities against truths, which Gentiles cannot do. In John:
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light appeareth in the darkness, but the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:4-5).
“The darkness” here denotes falsities within the church.
 Falsities outside of the church are also called “darkness,” but such as can be illuminated. Such are spoken of in Matthew:
The people that sat in darkness saw a great light, and to them that sat in the region and shadow of death, did light spring up (Matt. 4:16);
“darkness” here denoting the falsities of ignorance, such as are those of the Gentiles.  In John:
And this is the judgment, that the Light is come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their works were evil (John 3:19);
“the Light” denotes truths, and “the darkness” falsities; and “the Light” denotes the Lord, because all truth is from Him; and “the darkness” the hells, because all falsity is from them.
Jesus said, I am the Light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in the darkness (John 8:12).
Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness seize upon you, for he that walketh in the darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me may not abide in the darkness (John 12:35, 46).
“The light” denotes the Lord, from whom are all good and truth; “the darkness” falsities, which are dispersed by the Lord alone.
 The falsities of the last times, which are called “darkness” in the verse before us, or of which the “terror of great darkness” is predicated, were represented and signified by the darkness that came upon the whole earth, from the sixth hour to the ninth [at the crucifixion], and also by the sun being then darkened, by which was represented and signified that there was then no longer either love or faith (Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44-45).1839.
Est: but elsewhere erit, as n. 9051. And there shall be thick darkness over the land of Egypt. That this signifies a complete privation of truth and good, is evident from the signification of “thick darkness,” as being a complete privation of truth and good. In various places in the Word mention is made of “darkness” and also at the same time of “thick darkness,” and then “darkness” is predicated of falsity, and “thick darkness” of evil together with it. But the word by which “thick darkness” is expressed in this verse means the densest darkness, by which in the internal sense are signified such falsities as spring from evil. Such falsities arise with those who have been of the church, and have lived a life of evil contrary to the precepts of faith which they have known. The evil from which these falsities spring, is against the church, against heaven, and against the Lord, thus is diametrically against good and truth. This state is now described by “thick darkness.”
 That in the Word both “darkness” and “thick darkness” are mentioned together, and that “darkness” then denotes the privation of truth, and thick darkness the privation of both truth and good, can he seen from the following passages. In Isaiah:
Judgment is far from us, and righteousness overtaketh us not; we await the light, but behold darkness; and brightnesses, but we walk in thick darkness. We grope for the wall like the blind, yea, we grope as they that have no eyes; we stumble at noonday as in the twilight; among the living we are as the dead (Isa. 59:9-10);
“judgment is far from us,” and “righteousness overtaketh us not,” denotes that there is neither truth nor good; (that “judgment” is predicated of truth, and “righteousness” of good, see n. 2235, 3997); “to await the light” denotes to await truth; and “to await brightnesses” denotes to await the good of truth, for the brightness of light is from good. That “darkness” is here opposed to “light” and “judgment,” thus to truth; and that “thick darkness” is opposed to “brightness” and “righteousness,” thus to good, is evident; and therefore “darkness” denotes the privation of truth, and “thick darkness,” the privation of both truth and good. In Amos:
Is not the day of Jehovah darkness, and not light? and thick darkness and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:20);
where the meaning is similar.
The day of Jehovah cometh, a day of darkness and thick darkness, a day of cloud and obscurity (Joel 2:1-2).
The day of Jehovah is a day of wasting and devastation, a day of darkness and of thick darkness (Zeph. 1:15);
where “darkness” denotes the privation of truth; and “thick darkness,” the privation of truth and good; if “thick darkness” signified nothing more than “darkness,” it would be an empty repetition, which would be far from the Holy Word.
 It is common in the Word to find two expressions of one thing, one of which relates to truth, or to falsity; and the other to good, or to evil. So in Isaiah:
He shall look unto the earth, and behold distress and darkness, dimmed with distress, and driven in thick darkness (Isa. 8:22).
 “Darkness” also signifies ignorance of truth, such as there is with the Gentiles; and “thick darkness,” ignorance of good; in Isaiah:
In that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes of the blind shall see out of thick darkness and out of darkness (Isa. 29:18).
If thou satisfy the afflicted soul, thy light shall rise up in the darkness, and thy thick darkness shall be as the noon day (Isa. 58:10);
(that “darkness” denotes falsities, see n. 7688).7711.
And the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars, so that the third part of them was darkened, signifies that by reason of evils from falsities and of falsities from evils, they did not know what love is, or what faith is, or any truth. By “the third part” is signified all (n. 400); by “the sun” is signified love (n. 53); by “the moon” is signified intelligence and faith (n. 332); by “stars” are signified the knowledges of truth and good from the Word (n. 51); by “being darkened” is signified not to be seen or known by reason of evils from falsities and falsities from evils. Evils from falsities are with those who assume the falsities of religion, and confirm them till they appear as truths, and when they live according to them they do evils from falsities, or the evils of falsity. But those have falsities from evils, who do not regard evils as sins; and still more those who, by reasonings from the natural man, and more still from the Word, confirm with themselves that evils are not sins. The confirmations themselves are falsities from evils, and are called the falsities of evil.
 The reason that “darkness” signifies this is because light signifies truth; and when the light is extinguished, there comes darkness. In confirmation the passages will first be adduced, where similar things to those here in Revelation are said of “the sun, the moon, and the stars,” and of “the darkness” arising from the extinction of them:
The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Jehovah cometh (Joel 2:31).
The stars of the heavens and their constellations shall not shine with their light; the sun shall be darkened in his rising; and the moon shall not make her light to shine (Isa. 13:10; see also 24:23).
When I shall extinguish thee, I will cover the heavens; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not make her light to shine; all the luminaries of light in the heavens will I make black over thee, and I will set darkness upon thy land (Ezek. 32:7-8).
The day of Jehovah is near; the sun and the moon are blackened, and the stars shall withdraw their brightness (Joel 2:10).
Immediately after the affliction of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven (Matt. 24:29; Mark 13:24-25).
Who, that elevates his mind, cannot see that the sun, the moon, and the stars of the world are not meant in these cases?
 That falsities of various kinds are signified by “darkness,” is evident from these passages:
Woe to them that desire the day of Jehovah; it is a day of darkness and not of light: is not the day of Jehovah darkness, and not light, thick darkness, and not brightness? (Amos 5:18, 20).
The day of Jehovah is a day of darkness and thick darkness, a day of cloud and of cloudiness (Zeph. 1:15).
In that day He shall look down upon the earth, which, behold, is darkness; and the light shall grow dark in its ruins (Isa. 5:30; 8:22).
Behold, darkness covereth the earth, and thick darkness the peoples (Isa. 60:2).
Give glory to Jehovah, before He cause darkness: we wait for light, but He maketh it thick darkness (Jer. 13:16).
We wait for light, but behold darkness, and not brightness; we walk in thick darkness; we stumble at noon as in the twilight, as if dead among the living (Isa. 59:9-10).
Woe to them that put darkness for light, and light for darkness (Isa. 5:20).
The people walking in darkness see a great light (Isa. 9:2; Matt. 4:16).
The dayspring from on high hath appeared to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:78-79).
If thou give thy soul to the hungry, then shall thy light rise in the darkness, and thy thick darkness shall be as the noonday (Isa. 58:10).
In that day the eyes of the blind, who are in thick darkness and darkness, shall see (Isa. 29:18; 42:16; 49:9).
Jesus said, I am the light of the world; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life (John 8:12).
Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness seize upon you: I am come a light into the world, that everyone that believeth in Me should not abide in darkness (John 12:35, 46).
When I sit in darkness Jehovah is a light unto me (Micah 7:8).
This is the judgment, that light hath come into the world; but men loved the darkness more than the light (John 3:19; 1:4-5).
If the light [lumen] that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness (Luke 11:34-36).
This is your hour, and the power of darkness (Luke 22:53).
By “darkness” in these places is signified falsity arising either from ignorance of the truth, or from a false principle of religion, or from a life of evil. Concerning those who are in the falsities of religion and thence in evils of life, the Lord says that they shall be cast into outer darkness (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). [AR413]
And there was thick darkness. That this signifies when hatred was in the place of charity, is evident from the signification of “thick darkness.” In the Word “darkness” signifies falsities, and “thick darkness” evils (as shown just below). There is “darkness” when falsity is in the place of truth; and there is “thick darkness” when evil is in the place of good, or what is precisely the same, when hatred is in the place of charity. When hatred is in the place of charity, the thick darkness is so great that the man is quite unaware that it is evil, still less that it is so great an evil as in the other life to thrust him down to hell, for they who are in hatred perceive a kind of delight and as it were a kind of life in it, and this delight and life themselves cause him scarcely to know but that it is good, for whatever favors a man’s pleasure and cupidity, because it favors his love, he feels as good, and this to such a degree that when he is told that it is infernal he can scarcely believe it, still less when he is told that such delight and life are in the other life turned the stench of excrement and cadavers. And still less does he believe that he is becoming a devil and a horrible image of hell; for hell consists of nothing but hatreds and such diabolical forms.
 Yet anyone might know this who possesses any faculty for thinking, for if he should describe or represent, or if he could in any manner picture, hatred, he would do it no otherwise than by diabolical forms, such as those who are in hatred also become after death, and, wonderful to say, such men are capable of declaring that in the other life they shall come into heaven; some merely for saying that they have faith, when yet there are in heaven none but forms of charity, and what these are may be seen from experience (n. 553). Let all such therefore consider how these two forms, of hatred and of charity, can agree together in one place.
 That “darkness” signifies falsity, and “thick darkness” evil, may be seen from the following passages in the Word. In Isaiah:
Behold, darkness covereth the earth, and thick darkness the peoples (Isa. 60:2).
Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Jehovah cometh, a day of darkness and thick darkness (Joel 2:1-2).
That day is a day of wrath, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and thick darkness (Zeph. 1:15).
Shall not the day of Jehovah be darkness and not light, and thick darkness and no brightness in it? (Amos 5:20).
In these passages “the day of Jehovah” denotes the last time of the church, which is here treated of; “darkness” denotes falsities, “thick darkness” evils; both therefore are mentioned; otherwise it would be a repetition of the same thing, or an unmeaning amplification. But the word in the original language that in this verse is rendered “thick darkness” involves falsity as well as evil, that is, dense falsity from which is evil, and also dense evil from which is falsity. [AC1860]
And the land was darkened. That this signifies that falsity was brought in where truth was, is evident from the signification of “darkness,” as being falsities (see n. 1839, 1860, 4418, 4531); thus “to be darkened” is to be in falsity; and as the devastation of those who have been of the church and have known truths, but have lived a life of evil, is here treated of, therefore by “the land was darkened” is signified falsity where truth was. Truth in the internal sense is signified by “light,” and therefore falsity is signified by “darkness;” for truth and falsity are opposites, like light and darkness; and they who are in truth actually have light, and they who are in falsity actually have darkness. The light in which they are who are in falsity in the other life, becomes thick darkness at the presence of the light of heaven, and thicker darkness with those who have been of the church, because they had been in falsity against the truth of faith, according to the Lord’s words:
If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matt. 6:23).
The sons of the kingdom shall be cast forth into the outer darkness (Matt. 8:12);
“the sons of the kingdom” denote those who are of the church; “the outer darkness” denotes more grievous falsities; it is called “outer” because falsities in the outermosts or extremes are more grievous.
 That falsities are called “darkness,” is evident from many passages in the Word, as in the following:
The light is come into the world, but men have loved the darkness more than the light; for their works were evil (John 3:19).
Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness take hold of you; I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in Me may not abide in the darkness (John 12:35, 46);
Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness (Isa. 5:20).
Give glory to Jehovah your God before He bring darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the mountains of twilight, then ye shall await light, but He will put it into the shadow of death, He will put it into thick darkness (Jer. 13:16).
When I shall extinguish thee I will cover the heavens, and I will blacken the stars thereof; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not make her light to shine; all the luminaries of light of heaven will I make black over thee, and will set darkness upon thy land (Ezek. 32:7, 8).
The day of Jehovah cometh, it is near, a day of darkness, and of thick darkness, a day of cloud and of obscurity (Joel 2:1, 2; Amos 5:18-20).
This day is a day of wrath, a day of wasting and devastation, a day of darkness and thick darkness (Zeph. 1:15).
In these passages “darkness” signifies falsities. In the Word “darkness” also signifies ignorance of truth, such as the Gentiles are in who have not the Word and know nothing of the Lord. [AC7688]
And Moses came near unto the thick darkness where God was. That this signifies the conjunction still of the truth of spiritual good with truth Divine, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being truth Divine beneath heaven conjoined with truth Divine in heaven, consequently mediating (see n. 8760, 8787, 8805), thus the truth of spiritual good, for this is truth Divine beneath heaven, in which truth is the spiritual church that is represented by the sons of Israel-this truth is represented by Moses as the head of that church (n. 7041); from the signification of “coming near,” as being conjunction, for to come near unto the Divine is to be conjoined therewith; and from the signification of “thick darkness,” as being truth Divine relatively to those who are of the spiritual church, also relatively to that people which Moses was in charge of as their leader. That truth Divine is thick darkness to that church and that people, is because they are not in any light in respect to truths Divine.
 In the first place, those who are of the spiritual church believe that they are in light; but that they are in obscurity, nay, in thick darkness, in respect to truth Divine, is evident from the fact that they do not know from any internal perception that what the church says is true, but merely from the fact that the church says so; and this they confirm with themselves whether it be false or true; and he who is not in any internal perception concerning truth Divine is in thick darkness, or what is the same thing, to him Divine truth is thick darkness. For example, they who are of the spiritual church do not know, nor desire to know, that there is any internal sense of the Word; and if perchance they were to believe it, it would not be from any internal perception that it is so, but from persuasion from some other source.
 To take another example: they who are of the spiritual church say that faith is the only means of salvation, even without charity and its goods. This they believe because the church says so, nor do they come to such a light of perception as to perceive that there is no faith except where there is charity, and that the one belongs to the other as consort to consort; consequently that charity is an essential of the church, because it is of good. From this also it is plain in what obscurity, or in what thick darkness, the spiritual church is. And because they are in this thick darkness they divide the church into as many churches as there are diverse doctrines concerning the truths of faith; which they would not do if they were in light. For he who is in light never doubts, still less denies, that love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor are essentials of the church, and that upon them are based all the truths of the Word, consequently all the truths of faith. The case is similar with all the other truths which hang upon this and are called truths of faith. (But these things have been more plainly shown above, n. 2708, 2715, 2831, 2849, 2935, 2937, 3241, 3246, 6289, 6427, 6865, 6945, 7233. That they who are of the spiritual church do not attain unto the first threshold of the wisdom, or unto the first ray of light, in which they are who are of the celestial church, see n. 2718, 3833, 6500.)
 Another reason why Moses is said to have entered into thick darkness when he came near unto God, is that Moses as a leader represented the Israelitish and Jewish people, which was in such thick darkness concerning internal truths as to be wholly ignorant of them, for they made everything of worship and everything Divine to consist in external things. This is the reason why to them the Divine was thick darkness; for it is known to everyone that the Divine is never in darkness, but in light, for the Divine is light itself; and therefore when it is called “thick darkness” it is relatively to those who are in no light, for unto such the Divine truths make the light of heaven appear no otherwise; because they are not believed, and are even denied. And the Divine appears unto everyone according to the quality of his life and faith, consequently as light to those who are in light, and as thick darkness to those who are in thick darkness. (That the Israelitish and Jewish people was of such a quality, see n. 3479, 3769, 4281, 4293, 4307, 4314, 4316, 4433, 4680, 4825, 4832, 4844, 4847, 4865, 4903, 6304; also that the Lord appeared unto them upon Mount Sinai in smoke, in a cloud, and in thick darkness, in accordance with their quality, n. 1891, 6832, 8814, 8819.) [AC8928]
And where thou dwellest, where Satan’s throne is, signifies their life in thick darkness. That by “Satan” is meant the hell of those who are in falsities may be seen above (n. 97); and to be in falsities is to be in spiritual thick darkness. “Spiritual thick darkness,” “the shadow of death,” and “darkness” are nothing else but the states of those in hell, who are in the falsities of evil; therefore, in the Word, falsities are described by them; from which it may appear, that by “Satan’s throne” is signified mere thick darkness. But by thick darkness here is not meant that they are in mere falsities, but that they are in no truths of doctrine; for truths of the doctrine, which are from the Word, are in light, therefore not to be in truths is not to be in light, consequently to be in thick darkness. That truths are in the light of heaven, may be seen in Heaven and Hell (n. 126-140); and in Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Sacred Scripture (n. 73, 104-113).
 The Word in many places treats of those who are in “darkness,” in “the shadow of death,” and in “thick darkness,” whose eyes the Lord will open; and by them are meant the Gentiles, who were in good works, but not in any truths, because they did not know the Lord, nor did they have the Word. Exactly similar to these are they in the Christian world, who are in works alone and in no truths of doctrine, therefore they cannot be called anything else than Gentiles; they know the Lord indeed, but yet do not approach Him, and they have the Word, but yet do not search for the truths therein. By “I know where thou dwellest” is signified to know their quality, because in the spiritual world everyone dwells according to the quality of his affection. Hence it may appear, that by “thou dwellest where Satan’s throne is” is signified the life of their good in thick darkness.
 Satanic spirits also have power through those in the spiritual world who are in works alone, but without them they have none; for they adjoin them to themselves, provided one of them says, I am thy neighbor, and on this account good offices ought to be extended to me; on hearing this they approach, and give aid; nor do they inquire who and what he is, because they do not have truths, by which alone one can be distinguished from another. This also is signified by “thou dwellest where satan’s throne is.”AR110.
And His kingdom became dark, signifies that nothing but falsities appeared. By “darkness” falsities are signified, because “light” signifies truth; that “darkness” signifies falsities, by which are evils, and “thick darkness,” falsities from evils, see above (n. 413). Therefore by “the kingdom of the beast became dark” is signified that nothing but falsities appeared. That they who have confirmed faith separated from charity, falsify the whole Word, may be seen above (n. 136, 610). That they are not in any truths (n. 489, 501, 653), but in mere falsities (n. 563, 597, 602). But the falsities of their faith do not indeed appear before themselves as darkness, that is, as falsities, but they appear to them as if they were lucid, that is, as truths, after they have confirmed them; but nevertheless while they are viewed from the light of heaven, which discloses all things, they appear as darkness. For which reason, when the light of heaven flows into their dens in hell, the darkness is such that they cannot see one another; on which account every hell is closed so as not to leave a crevice open, and then they are in their own light [lumen]. The reason why they do not appear to themselves to be in darkness but in light, although they are in falsities, is because their falsities, after confirmation, appear to them as truths, hence comes their light; but it is the light of infatuation, such as is the light of the confirmation of what is false. This light corresponds to that to which owls and bats owe their sight, to which darkness is light and light darkness, yea, to which the sun itself is thick darkness. Such eyes do they have after death, who in the world confirmed themselves in falsities to such a degree as to see falsity as truth and truth as falsity. [AR695]
The reverse is true of those in the hells. Those who are there do not look to the Lord as a sun nor as a moon; but they look backward away from the Lord to that dense darkness that is in the place of the sun of the world, and to the darkness that is in the place of the earth’s moon. Those that are called genii look to that dense darkness that is in the place of the world’s sun, and those called spirits look to the darkness that is in the place of the earth’s moon.# It has been shown above (n. 122) that the world’s sun and the earth’s moon are not seen in the spiritual world, but in place of that sun a dense darkness over against the sun of heaven, and in place of that moon a darkness over against the moon of heaven. For this reason the quarters with those in the hells are opposite to the quarters of heaven. The east to them is where that dense darkness and darkness are, the west is where the sun of heaven is, the south is to their right, and the north to their left, and this also in every turning of their bodies. Nor can they face otherwise, because the whole bent and consequent determination of their interiors tends and strives that way. It has been shown above (n. 143) that the bent and consequent actual determination of the interiors of all in the other life are in harmony with their love. The love of those in the hells is the love of self and the world, and these loves are what are signified by the world’s sun and the earth’s moon (see n. 122); and these loves are opposite to love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor;## and this is the cause of their turning themselves backwards away from the Lord to this dense darkness. Moreover, those in the hells dwell likewise in accordance with their quarters, those who are in evil from love of self dwelling from their east to their west, and those who are in the falsities of evil from their south to their north. But more will be said about this below, where the hells are treated of.
Who and what those are who are called genii, and who and what those are who are called spirits (n. 947, 5035, 5977, 8593, 8622, 8625).
Those that are in the loves of self and of the world turn themselves backwards from the Lord (n. 10130, 10189, 10420, 10702).
Love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbor make heaven, while love of self and love of the world make hell, because the two are opposite (n. 2041, 3610, 4225, 4776 6210, 7366, 7369, 7490, 8232, 8678, 10455, 10741-10745). [HH151]
Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)