Isaiah 20

1 IN the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (whither he was sent by Sargon, king of Assyria,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it ;

VERSE 1. As to the meaning of “Assyria,” in a spiritual sense, see above, Chap. xix. 23-25, Exposition.” This is a continuation of what is said in the former chapter, verses 1-18. In this chapter, human wisdom, or human philosophy, and its nakedness is treated of; which, when taken away [at the Judgment], desperation ensues, and it becomes evident that no help can come from that source. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 50.)

2 At that time Jehovah spake by the hand of Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go, and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

Verse 2. Naked and barefoot.-As to this representation it should be known that at that time it was customary for the prophets, in this manner, to represent those things concerning which they prophesied. For the arcana of heaven thus representatively fell amongst those spirits who then governed men. Similar representations were at that time amongst spirits, which the prophets had also to assume, because the men of the church were external. Wherefore we read of Saul, that “whilst he was prophesying, he lay upon the ground naked the whole day and night.” (1 Samuel xix. 24.) And of other prophets we read that they made ridiculous gestures. These representations, however, were heavenly; but, as was said, such as occurred amongst spirits who were nearest in association with men. Of these representations many notable things might be said. From the same cause it was that all the rites of the church consisted of representatives, which thus came from heaven, and returned to heaven, provided they were natural things made significative by correspondences. This also is the reason why the language of the prophets consists of such perpetual representatives; and if these representatives are not known, the things said by the prophets can by no means be understood. Without a knowledge of those things, the letter is in some cases dead, without any intelligible souse. But when the things relating to the internal man are discovered, then these shades of the letter disappear, and truths are seen naked, or come forth in their ow light. [Swedonborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 50.)
Verses 2-4. None can see what is secretly treasured up in these words concerning the church and heaven, unless he knows the spiritual sense of them; for in every single thing of the Word somewhat appertaining to heaven and the church is contained, inasmuch as the Word is spiritual; wherefore it shall be explained. By “prophet” is here understood the doctrine of the church; by “putting off sackcloth from upon his loins,” or by presenting the loins naked, is understood to discover filthy loves; by the usual “sackcloth” of the prophet are here understood the breeches which cover, and by the “loins” are signified those loves; by “putting off the shoe from the foot,” or unshoeing the soles of the foot, is signified to discover the filthy things of nature. By “the king of Assyria leading the captivity of Egypt, and the exiles of Ethiopia” is understood that the perverted rational [principle] will confirm evils and falses, by scientitics and by fallacies; by “the young men and old,” is understood by all things, as well general as particular; by “naked and barefoot,” is understood that they are deprived of all truth and all good; by “uncovered hind-parts, or buttocks, are understood the evils of self-love; by “the nakedness of Egypt,” are meant the falses thence derived. Hence it is manifest what is here treated of appertaining to the church and heaven, namely, that the perverted rational, which is the rational that denied a God, and attributes all things to nature, confirms itself by scientifics and by fallacies, until it is without any understanding of Truth and all will of Good. That by “prophet,” in the Word, is understood doctrine, may be seen, A. C. 2534, 7269. That by the loins are slgnified the loves in each sense, n. 3021, 4280. That by the “feet” are signified the natural things appertaining to man, and by the “soles of thefeet” those which are in the ultimates, n.2162, 3147. That by “shoes” are signified the same things, as to the covering of them, 1748 1860. That by the “king of Assyria” is signified the rational [principle] in both senses, n. 119, 1186. That by “Egypt” is signified the scientific [principle] , which is of the natural man, also in each sense, the good and the evil, n. 1164. 1165. That by
” Ethiopia,” or Cush, are signified the fallacies of the senses, n. 1163, 1164. A. E. 240.
[By the “filthy things of nature” being discovered, as signified by “putting off the shoe from the foot,” are meant things which in themselves are natural and allowable, such as eating, drinkingg, sexual intercourse, &c.; but which, when abused, and not enjoyed under the government of rational and spiritual principles become filthy and abominable. Every abuse of these lower appetites is laid bare at the time of Judgment.]
Verses 2, 3. Go, and loose the sackcloth from thy loins, &c.- Without the spiritual sense it is impossible for anyone to know why the prophet Isaiah was commanded to “loose the sackclothe from off his loins,” and to “put off his shoe from his foot,” and to “go naked and barefoot three years;” and why the prophet Jeremiah was commanded to “buy himself a girdle, and put it on his loins, and not to draw it through the waters, but to go to the Euphrates, and hide It there in a hole in the rock;” (Jer. xiii. 1-7.) or why Esekiel the prophet was commanded to “make a razor pass upon his head, and upon his beard, and afterwards to divide them, and to burn a third part in the midst of the city, and to smite a third part with the sword, and to scatter a third part in the wind, and to bind a little of them in his skirts, and, at last, to cast them into the midst of the fire;” (Ezek. v. 1-4) or why the same prophet was commanded to be upon his left side three hundred and ninety days, and upon his right side forty days, and to make himself a cake of wheat, and barley, and millet, and fitches, with cow’s dung, and eat it; and in the meantime to raise a rampart and a mound against Jerusalem, and besiege it;” (Ezek. iv. 1-15.) or why Hosea was twice commanded to “take to hirnself a harlot to wife;” (Hosea i. 2-9; iii. 2, 3.) with several other things of a like nature. Moreover, who can know, without “the spiritual sense, what is signified by all things appertaining to the tabernacle, as by the ark, the mercy-seat, the cherubim, the candlestick, the altar of incense, the shew-bread on the table, and the veils and curtains? Or who would know, without the spiritual sense, what is signified by Aaron’s holy garments, as by his coat, his cloak, the ephod, the urim and thummim, the mitre, and several things besides? Or, without the spiritual sense, who would know what is signified by all those particulars which were enjoined concerning burnt-offerings, sacrifices, meat-offerings, and drink-offerings; and also concerning Sabbaths and feasts? The truth is, that nothing was enjoined, be it ever so minute, but what was significative of something appertaining to the Lord, to heaven, and to the church, From these few instances, then, it may be plainly seen that there is a spiritual sense in all and every part of the Word. S.S. 16.

3 And Jehovah said, As My servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years, as a sign and a wonder, upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia ;
4 So shall the king of Assyria lead the captivity of Egypt, and the exiles of Ethiopia, young men and old, the naked and barefoot, with their hind-parts uncovered, [even] the nakedness of Egypt.
5 And they shall be terrified and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory.

Verses 3, 4. “Egypt” and “Ethiopia” are not understood Egypt and Ethiopia, but by “Egypt” is understood the external or natural principle as to scientifics, and by “Ethiopia” the external or natural principle as to worship, which, when it is destitute of an internal spiritual principle, is also destitute of Truth and Good; for all the Truth and all the Good appertaining to the natural or external man, is from influx through the spiritual man from the Lord, and when it is destitute of Truth and Good, then the natural or external man, as to those things which are there, is as a man naked and barefoot. That there will be only reasonings from falses, and that these things will destroy, is signified by “the king of Assyria leading the captivity of Egypt, and the exiles of Ethiopia, the naked and barefoot.” That all innocence should perish, and all wisdom, is signified by “the young men and old, whom the king of Assyria shall lead away;” their total and plenary destruction was represented by the prophet “going three years naked and barefoot;” “three years” signifying an entire period from beginning to end, consequently total destruction. A. E. 532.
As to the spiritual signification of “Ethiopia.,” or Cush, see above, Chap. xviii. 1, Exposition.
What is further understood by being “naked,” and by “nakedness,” see below, Chap. xlvii. 3, and lviii. 7, Exposition.
What “Egypt” signifies, in a spiritual sense, see above, Chap. xix. 1, Exposition.
As to “three years,” and, in general, the number “three,” see above, Chap. xv. 5, Exposition.
Verses 4-6. So shall the king of Assyria lead the captives of Egypt, &c.-No one can perceive from these words anything appertaining to the church, but only somewhat obscurely historical, which is scarcely discernible, as that “the king of Assyria shall lead away Egypt and Ethiopia into captivity,” and that “the dwellers of some island should grieve in heart ;” but such circumstances, here and elsewhere treated of, have relation to the concerns of the church, which concerns are evident when it is understood that the “king of Assyria” signifies the rational principle perverted, nnd thence ratiocination from false scientifics which favour the delight of the natural loves, whereupon the natural man grieves because it is thereby perverted; for by “the king of Assyria shall lead away the captivity of Egypt, and the crowds [or exiles] of Ethiopia,” or Cush, is signified that the rational principle perverted will claim to itself the scientifics of the natural man, and confirm itself thereby, and by its delights which they favour. The “king of Assyria” denotes the rational principle perverted; to “lead Egypt captive, and carry away the crowd or exiles of Ethiopia,” denotes to apply them to itself and confirm itself through ratiocinations. “Egypt” is the scientific principle of the natural man; (see above, Chap. xix., Exposition.) and “Ethiopia,” or Cush, the delight which it favours. That the goods of truth of the natural man grieve thereat, or that the natural man, in whom are the goods of truth, grieves, is signified by the words following, namely, by their “being in terror, and ashamed of Ethiopia their expectation, and of Egypt their glory,” and by “what the inhabitant of this Island shall say in that day.” By the “inhabitant of the island” is denoted the good of truth in the natural man, or the natural man in whom is the good of truth; the “inhabitant” signifying Good, and the “island.” Truth, both in the natural man, as may be seen above. That there is such a sense in these words can scarcely be credited by some, nevertheless it is really the case. A. E. 406.

6 And the inhabitant of this island shall say in that day, Behold, such is our expectation, to which we fled for help, that we might be delivered from the king of Assyria! and how shall we escape?

Verse 6. Such is our expectation, &c.-When those who have trusted to themselves and to their own intelligence, and not to the Lord and His Word, see themselves thus naked and carried into captivity, by the cupidities of reasoning (Assyria) from false and negative principles, they are covered with shame, and aro deprived of those things in which they had trusted as the ground of their expectation. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 51.)

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