1 THE burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is rejected, so as to be no city; and it is become a heap of ruins.
Verse 1. Behold, Damascus is rejected, so as to be no city, &c.–By “Aram” or Syria [of which Damascus was the capital], are signified the knowledges of Good. The same appears also from Ezekiel:- “Aram was thy merchant, in the multitude of thy works: they occupied in thy fairs with emeralds, purple, and broidered work, and fine linen, and coral, and agate;” (xxvii. 16.) speaking of “Tyre,” or the possession of knowledges; where “works, emeralds, purple, broidered work, fine linen, coral, and agate,” signify nothing else but the knowledges of Good. So in Hosea :-“Jacob fled into the country of Aram and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep; and by a prophet Jehovah brought up Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved; Ephraim provoked Him to anger with bitterness;” (xii. 12-14.) where “Jacob” signifies the external church, and “Israel” the spiritual internal church; “Aram” denotes the knowledges of Good; “Egypt” denotes perverted science; and “Ephraim,” perverted intelligence;-the signification of which names could never appear from the literal sense, but only from the internal sense, in which names signify things relating to the church, as has been already observed-. So in Isaiah :-” Behold, Damascus is rejected, so as to be no city; and it is become a heap of ruins: and the fortress shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus; and the remnant of Aram [or Syria] shall be as the glory of the sons of Israel;” (xvii, 1, 3.) where the “remnant of Aram” signifies the knowledges of Good, which are called “the glory of the sons of Israel;” “Aram,” or Syria, signifies also, in an opposite sense, the knowledges of Good perverted, according to what is usual in the Word, where the same expression is frequently applied in a two-fold signification. That “Aram” is thus used in the opposite sense, may be seen in Isaiah vii. 4-6; ix, 12; Deut. xxvi. 5. A. C. 1232.
See above, as to “Syria,” Chap, vii. 4, Exposition.
How important it is to acquire the knowledges of Truth and Good [signified by “Syria” from the Word, may appear from the following considerations:-That by truths cometh love to the Lord,-by truths we receive love to our neighbour,-by truths we have heavenly intelligence and wisdom,-by truths regeneration is effected,-by truths man has power against evils and falses, and consequently against hell,-by truths there is purification from evils and falses,-by truths the church exists;-by truths heaven exists ;-by truths is the innocence of wisdom;-by truths a man has conscience;-by truths order is established;-by truths cometh the beauty of angels, and also of men with respect to the interiors of their spirits,-and that by virtue of truths man is a man. But by all this is meant truths grounded in good, and not by truths without good, and by good from the Lord. Hence everyone can see the great importance of acquiring the knowledges of Truth and Goodness. A. R: 161.
2 The cities of Aroer are deserted: they shall be for the flocks, and they shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
Verse 2. [” Aroer” was the plain of Syria, and its “cities” or towns, as subordinate to Damascus, signified various doctrinals of Truth and Goodness, which when thus “deserted and devastated,” becorne the possession of those who can make a proper use of them, denoted by “the flocks that shall lie down, and by none making them afraid,” of whom, as the “remnant of Syria,” (verse 3.) a New Church can be formed. It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted this verse. See above, Chap. v. 17, note, where a similar passage occurs. The “glory of tho sons of Israel,” are the knowledges of Truth and Good applied to the life for the purposes of salvation.]
3 And the fortress shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus; and the remnant of Syria shall be as the glory of the sons of Israel, saith Jehovah of Hosts
Verse 3. As to the meaning of “Ephraim”, see above, Chap. vii. 2, Exposition.
4 And it shall be in that day, the glory Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall be made lean.
Verse 4. To be “made thin” or slender, is to be deprived of the truths of faith; “the fatness of his flesh shall be made lean,” signifies to be deprived of the good of charity. A. C. 5200, 5204. b
[As to the theological leanness which prevails in the church at this day, from the want of the knowledges of Truth, see T. C. R. 391.]
5 And it shall be as when one gathereth the standing harvest, and his arm reapeth the ears; or as when one gleaneth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
Verses 5, 6, 11. The subject treated of in this chapter is concerning the knowledges of Truth and Good appertaining to the church, has being destroyed. Those knowledges are siguified by “Damascus,” which is here treated of, and by Aroer;” their being destroyed is described by gleanings being left in it, as in the shaking of the olive-tree; two [orJ three berrles on the head of the uppermost bough, four [orJ five on the fruitful branches; likewise by “the harvest being a heap in the day of possession,” namely, that there shall be no more than one heap, wherefore it is also called “desperate sorrow.” Hence it is evident that by “harvest” is here signified the last state of the church; that state is also signified by “morning,” for when the last state of the church is at hand, it is then morning to those who will be of the New Church, and evening and night to those who are of the Old; that this is here understood by “morning,” appears from the last verse of the chapter, where it is said-” At the time of evening, behold terror! before the morning, it [terror] is no more.” (Isaiah xvii, 14.) “Terror” signifies destruction. A. E. 911.
6 There shall be left gleanings in it, as in the shaking of the olive-tree; two [or] three berries on the head of the uppermost bough; four [or] five on the fruitful branches, saith Jehovah the God of Israel.
Verse 6. The devastation of the church is here treated of and this is said of the remaining few who are in Good and Truth. A comparison is made with “the shaking of the olive-tree,” because by the “olive-tree” is signified the church as to the good of love and its “branches” the truths thence derived. “Two, three” signify the few ‘who are in good, and thence in truths; “two” signify good, and “three” truths; and “four, five” signify the few who are in good; “four” those who are in good, and “five” a few; and because “four, five” signify the few who are in good, therefore it is said “Four, five on the fruitful branches;” for the ” fruit-bearing olive-tree” signifies those in the church who are in good as to life. As these things are signified by those numbers, therefore it is said “two, three” and “four, five,” and not “two and three” and “four and five.” A. E. 332. –
7 In that day shall a man regard his Maker; and his eyes shall look towards the Holy One of Israel:
8 And he shall not regard the altars, the work of his hands; and what his fingers have made, he shall not respect; nor the groves, nor the solar statues.
9 In that day shall the cities of his refuge be as a forsaken bough, and an uppermost branch, which they left before the sons of Israel: and there shall be desolation.
Verses 7, 8. 10. The subject here treated of is concerning the establishment of a New Church by the Lord. That they shall then be led into goods of life, and informed in truths of doctrine, is understood by “a man in that day having regard to his; Maker, and his eyes looking towards the Holy One of Israel;” the Lord is called “Maker,” by reason that He leads into goods of life, for these make a man: and He is called the “Holy One of Israel,” by reason that He teaches truths of doctrine, wherefore it is also said- “In that day shall a man regard his Maker, and his eyes shall look towards the Holy One of Israel;” man being called “man” [homo] , from the good of life, and “eyes” being predicated of the understanding of truth, thus of the truths of doctrine. That in such a case there will be no worship from self-love, in which evils of life originate, nor from self-derived intelligence, in which originate falsos of doctrine, is understood by his “not having regard to the altars, the work of his hands, and not having respect to what his fingers have made.” By “the altars, the work of his hands,” is understood worship grounded in self-love, from which evils of life are derived; and by “what his fingers have made,” is understood worship grounded in self-derived intelligence, from which are derived falses of doctrine; by “the groves and solar statues of the groves” is signified the religious principle grounded in falses and thence in evils; by “groves,” the religious principle grounded in falses, and by “solar statues,” such as is grounded in the evils of the false. A. E. 391.
Hence by these words is understood that the all of doctrine should be from the Lord, and not from the proprium of man, which is the case when a man is in the spiritual affection of Truth, that is, when he loves Truth itself, because it is Truth, and not principally because thereby he can acquire fame and a name. A. E. 585.
10 Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, and hast not remembered the Rock of thy strength, therefore shalt thou plant plants of delights, and shalt set it with strange slips:
11 In the day when thou shalt have made thy plants to grow, and in the morning when thou shalt have made thy seed to flourish; even in the day of possession shall the harvest be a heap, and there shall be desperate sorrow.
Verse 10. The Rock of thy strength, &c.-See above, Chap. xvi. 1, Exposition.
Verses 10, 11. Because thou hast forgotten the God of thy salvation, therefore shalt thou plant plants of delights, and set strange slips, &c. That to “sow” the land or the field, signifies, in the Word, to teach and to learn the truths and goods of faith, which are of the church; and that the “increase of the field” are the goods and truths thence derived, is evident from many passages in the Word, as in Isaiah xvii. 10, 11; here such things as grow upon the earth are mentioned, and that the things of the church are understood thereby is evident, namely.by “planting plants of delights,” as said of those who have ” forgotten, the God of their salvation,” are understood such things as favour the affections [of the merely natural man]; and that by “setting the earth with strange slips,” is to teach truths which are not genuine, [the end of which will, be “desperate sorrow.”] A. C. 9272.
12 Woe to the tumult of many peoples, who make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the roaring of the nations, who make a roaring like the roaring of many waters!
Verse 12. Woe to the tumult, &c.-As to “what is meant by the denunciation “Woe!” see above, Chap. i. 4, Exposition.
[” The tumult of many peoples, the noise of the seas, and the roaring of the nations,” &c., signify, by correspondence, the tumultuous collisions and reasonings which take place at the time of judgment, when the external or natural mind is laid open, and its falses and evils exposed and dispersed, as “chaff and stubble,” by the power of divine Truth. See A. E. 706.]
13 Like the roaring of many waters do the nations roar; but He shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far away ; and they shall be driven like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like the stubble before the whirlwind.
Verse 13. And they shall be driven like the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like the stubble before the whirlwind.-In the spiritual world, as well as in the natural world, there exist strong winds and storms; but the storms in the spiritual world exist from the influx of the Divine [Principle] into the lower parts of that world, where they are who are in evils and falses. That influx, as it descends -out of the heavens towards the earths, which are below, becomes more dense, and appears as clouds, and with the evil, dense and opaque, according to the quantity and quality of their evil; these clouds are appearances of the false from evil, arising from the spheres of their life; every angel and spirit being encompassed by such a sphere. When therefore the Divine [Principle] is sent forth powerfully from the Lord as a sun, and flows in into these dense and opaque clouds, there arises a storm, which is perceived by the spirits there, in like manner as storms are perceived by men in the world. It has been given me sometimes to perceive these storms, and also the “east wind,” by which the evil were dissipated and cast into the hells, when the last Judgment was performed. From these considerations it may appear what “storms,” “tempests,” and “impetuous winds” signify in the following passages. Thus in Isaiah :-” Thou shalt disperse them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the storm shall dissipate them.” (xli. 16.) And in Jererniah:-” From the storm of Jehovah anger went forth, and a whirlwind threatening to rush in; upon the head of the wicked it shall rush.” (xxiii. 19; xxx, 23.) And in David :-“I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” (Psalmlv. 8.) A. E. 419.
Like the chaff and the stubble, &c.-“Wheat” denotes the goods of love and charity; “chaff” signifies what contains nothing of good.. A. C. 3941.
14 At the time of evening, behold terror! before the morning, it is no more. This is the portion of those that spoil us, and the lot of those that plunder us.
Verse 14. “Evening” signifies the last time of the church,
when there is nothing but evils and falses, which are called “terror,” because they are hell; but the ” morning ” signifies the first time of the church, when evils and falses are not; wherefore it is said-“Before the morning, terror is no more.” A. E. 677.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]