Isaiah 18

1 WOE to the land shadowing with wings! which is beyond the rivers of Cush;
2 Which sendeth ambassadors on the sea, and in vessels of rushes on the face of the waters : Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation distracted and spoiled; to a people terrible from the first, and hitherto; a nation meted out by line, and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!

VERSES 1, 2. What is meant by “the land shadowing with wings,” and “the land which the rivers have spoiled,” no one can know, unless it be known that the “land” denotes the church, and that the ” rivers” denote falses. “The land shadowing with wings” is the church which is in thick darkness as to divine Truths; these are signified by [the darkening of] “wings,” as may be seen above, Chap. viii. 8, Exposition; “beyond the rivers of Cush” [or Ethiopia] , signifies as to knowledges from the literal sense of the Word, which are falsified. “The nation trodden down, to which the messengers should go, whose land the ricers had spoiled,” signifies those out of the church who are in falses from ignorance; “rivers” denoting Truths of doctrine, and, in an opposite sense, falses; that “the messengers should go to them,” signifies that they should be invited, in order that the church may be amongst them. A. E. 304.

“The land shadowing with wings” is the church, which by reasonings from scientifics darkens itself; “beyond the rivers of Cush,” signifies knowledges by which it confirms its false principles; (see A. E. 1164.) “which sendeth ambassadors on the sea;” denotes to consult scientifics, signified by the “sea;” (see A.C. 28.) “in vessels of rushes on the face of the waters,” which” vessels” signify the vilest [or most common] receptacles of Truth, [which are merely sensual ideas and conceptions.] A. C. 6723.
That by “Cush” [or Ethiopia,] are signified the interior knowledges of the Word, by which they confirm false principles, is evident from Jeremiah:”Egypt riseth up like a flood, and his waters are moved like the rivers; and he saith, I will go up, and will cover the earth; I will destroy the city and the inhabitants thereof. Come up, ye horses; and rage, ye chariots; and let the mighty men come forth; Cush and Puth, that handle the shield.” (xlvi. 8, g.) Here “Egypt” stands for those who believe nothing [spiritual] except they understand it from scientifics; hence come all doubtful, negative, and false principles which is to “ascend,” to “cover the earth,” and to “destroy the city.. ” “Cush” signifies the more universal or interior knowledges of the Word, by which false principles are confirmed ; and ” Puth ” stands for knowledges from the literal sense of the Word, which are according to the appearances of the senses. A. C. 1164

3 All ye inhabitants of the world, and ye dwellers on the earth, when the standard is lifted up on the mountains, behold! and when the trumpet is sounded, hearken!

Verse 3. By the” inhabitants of the world,” and “dwellers on the earth,” are signified all in the church who are in Goods and Truths, as above. The coming of the Lord is signified by “when the standard is lifted up on the mountains, behold! and when the trumpet is sounded, hearken! “-” the standard upon the mouutains and the sounding of the trumpet” signifying convocation to the church. A.E. 741.
As to the various meaning of a “standard,” see above, Chap. xiii. 2, Exposition.

4 For thus hath Jehovah said unto me: I will sit still, and consider in My habitation; like the serene heat in the sunshine, like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.
5 For before the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the blossom bas become a swelling grape, He shall cut off the shoots with pruninghooks, and the branches lIe shall take off, He shall cut away.

Verse 4. The “cloud of dew” signifies Truth from Good fructifying. A. E. 594.
“Like the serene heat in the sunshine, and like the heat of harvest.” These words, as the planting of a New Church is treated of, stand for love and charity. A. C. 934.

6 They shall be left together to the bird of the mountains, and to the beasts of the earth: and the bird shall abhor it; and every beast of the earth shall despise it.

Verse 6. Speaking of “the land shadowed with wings,” by which is understood the church, which, from the obscurity in which it is, catches at imaginary things for spiritual Truths, and thence, by reason of ignorance, comes into the negation thereof. By “birds and beasts” are also here signified thoughts of Truth-and affections of Good, as well- rational as natural, which are said to “abhor and despise it” [such a state of the church]; that such “abhorring and despising” cannot be predicated of birds and beasts, is manifest, but of the affections of Good and thoughts of Truth, that is, of those that are in them, A. E. 650.

7 At that time shall a gift be brought to Jehovah of Hosts, from a people distracted and spoiled; and from a people terrible from the first, and hitherto; a nation meted out by line, and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled; to the place of the name of Jehovah of Hosts, to the mountain of Zion.

Verse 7. The subject here treated of is concerning the invitation of all to the church, wherefore also “people” and “nation” are named. ” The mountain of Zion” signifies the church, to which they are invited; by “a people distracted and spoiled,” are signified those with ‘whom truths are taken away, altered, or perverted by those who are in falses of doctrine; by “a nation meted out by line, and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled,” are signified those with whom goods are treated in like manner : “rivers” denoting falses and reasonings from them. A. E. 33.

By offering a “gift” on the altar, is signified all Divine Worship, by reason that Divine Worship, with the Jewish nation, consisted principally in offering burnt-offerings and sacrifices [as gifts]; by which were therefore signified all things of Worship, H. D. N. J. 214, 221.

Worship does not consist in prayers, and in external devotion, but in a life of charity; prayers are only its externals, for they proceed from man by [or through] his mouth; wherefore such as the man is as to life, such are his prayers. It is of no consequence that he puts himself in a posture of humility, kneeling on his ‘knees, and groaning when he prays, for these are external things; and unless external things proceed from internal, they are only gestures and sounds without life, There is an affection in every single thing which man speaks, and every man, spirit, and angel is his own affection, for the affection of each is his life; it is the affection itself which speaks, and not the man without it; wherefore, such as the affection is, such is. the prayer. Spiritual affection is what is called charity towards the neighbour; in that case there is true worship; prayer is what proceeds from it.
Hence it may be manifest that the essential of worship is a life of charity, and its instrumental is gesture and prayer; or that the life of charity is the primary of worship, and prayer is its secondary. From which consideration it is evident that they who place all Divine Worship in oral piety, and not in actual piety, are in a great error. Actual piety consists in acting from a principle of sincerity and rectitude, and from a principle of justice and equity in every work and in every function, and this because it is commanded by the Lord in the Word; for thus man in all his works has respect to heaven and to the Lord, with whom he is thereby conjoined. But to act with sincerity and rectitude, with justice and equity, merely from the fear of the law, or the loss of reputation, of honour, and of gain, without at all thinking of the Divine Law, of the precepts of the Word, and of the Lord, and yet to pray devoutly in temples, is external piety, which, howsoever holy it appears, is still not piety, but is either hypocrisy, or is some pretence derived from habit, or is something persuasive grounded in a false principle that Divine Worship consists in that alone; for it does not look to heaven and to the Lord with the heart, but only with the eyes, the heart looks to self and the world, and the mouth speaks from habit of the body alone and its memory; by such worship man is conjoined to the world and not to heaven, and to self and not to the Lord. A. E. 325.

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]