Isaiah 21

1 THE burden of the desert of the sea. Like the whirlwinds of the south rushing along; from the desert he cometh, from the terrible land.
2 A grievous vision is revealed unto me: the treacherous dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth! Go up, O Elam; besiege,
O Media! I have made all her sighing to cease.

VERSE 1. As to the meaning of “burden,” see Chap. xiii. 1, Exposition.
The desert of the sea:-The “sea” signifies a gathering together, or a collection of scientifics from which come reasonings concerning Truth; the “sea” also ‘signifies the natural and sensual principles, for these are the things which contain. Truth in the natural or external man is Truth in science, and the knowledges of Truth in the external or natural man are called scientifics; whereas Truth in the spiritual or internal man is Truth in faith. For by virtue of Truth, science is made truth in faith, when it is elevated out of the natural or external into the spiritual or internal. Hence it is that truths appertaining to a man in childhood, are truths in science; but in adult age, if he suffers himself to be regenerated, they become truths in faith, for the internal man is successively opened even to that age. The ground and reason ‘why” sea” denotes the gathering together of scientifics, is, because” waters,” “fountains,” and “rivers” signify truths, ‘hence their being gathered together denotes “seas.” That this is the case, is also manifest from the passages ill the Word where mention is made of the “sea” or “seas,”as in David :–” The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. He hath founded it upon the seas, and upon the rivers He hath established it.” (Psalm xxiv. 1, 2.) Where the “earth” and the “world” denote the church; the “seas” upon which He hath founded the world, are cientific truths; the” rivers” upon which He hath established it, are the truths of faith. That the earth, world, seas, and rivers are not there meant, is evident; for the world is not founded upon the seas, nor established upon rivers. Many passages might be adduced in proof of the spiritual signification of “sea,” when mentioned in the Word; but there is space only for one from Jeremiah:- “The sea came up over Babel; by the multitude of the waves thereof she was covered. The cities thereof are reduced to desolation.” (li. 42, 43.) “Babel” denotes worship which in externals appears holy, but in internals is profane. (See above, Chap. xiii. and xiv., Exposition.) The “sea coming over Babel” denotes the false grounded in scientifics, and hence denials; the “cities which are reduced to desolation” are doctrinals. A. C. 9755.

As to the spiritual signification of “sea,” see above, Chap. xi. 9 and 15, Exposition; also below, Chap. lvii. 20.
Like the whirlwinds of the south rushing alonq, &c.-the winds which exist in the spiritual world appear to arise there from different quarters, some from the south, some from the north, and some from the east. Those which are from the south disperse truths with those who are in falses, and those which are from the east disperse goods with those who are in evils. The reason of the winds dispersing them, is, because winds exist from a strong and powerful influx of the Divine through the heavens into the lower parts of the spiritual world, and here the influx comes, it fills truths and goods, that is the minds; both, internal [mentes] and external [animos] of those who are in Truths and Goods, with the Divine; wherefore they, in whom the interiors of the mind [mens] and of the animus are merely falses, and outwardly truths mixed with falses and goods mixed with evils, cannot sustain such influx from the Divine, whence they betake themselves into their own falses and evils which they love, and reject the truths and goods which they do not love, except for the sake of self and, for the sake of appearances. A. E. 419. See also above, Chap, xvii. 13, Exposition.
From the desert, from the terrible land.-[These words depict the church as devastated by Babylon, or by dominion grounded in self-love. (See Chap, xiii. and xiv., Exposition.) The church is a desert when its truths are falsified and perverted, and a terrible land when its goods are adulterated and profaned. The “vision” of such a land is, indeed, grievous.]

Verses 1, 6, 7, 9. The burden of the desert of the sea, &c.-The “desert of the sea “signifies the vanity of those scientific things [or more knowledges], which are acquired not for the purposes of use [to the spiritual life]. The “chariot of asses” signifies a heap of particular scientifics, and a “chariot of camels” a heap of general scieutifics, which are in the natural man. The vain reasonings which are with those who are signified .by “Babel,” (verse 9.) are thus described. A.C. 3048.

Verse 2. A grievous vision is revealed unto me, &c.-See Chap, i. 1, Exposition, as to the true nature of the “visions” of the prophets.
The treacherous dealetlh treacherously, &c.-To act “treacherously,” or perfidiously, is to act against revealed. Truths; [and to “spoil” is to act against what is Good.] A. E. 710.
Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media!-That by “Elam” is signified the science which is of the natural man, is evident from those passages in the Word where “Elam ” is named, as in Jeremiah-” Behold, I will break the bow of Elam; the chief of their might.” (xlix. 35.) By “Elam” is understood the science which is of the natural man, and hence his trust; by his “bow” is signified his science, from which, as from doctrine, he fights; by “the chief of his might” is signified his trust. For science is of no avail [to salvation] unless it serve the rational and spiritual man. A. E. 357.
By “Elam,” in a good sense [when the science or knowledge of Truth is made to serve the spiritual man], is signified faith from charity, as is evident from the essence of the internal church. The internal church is that with which charity is the principle from which it thinks and acts. The first offspring of charity is faith, for from this, and from no other source is faith. Thus it is said-” I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence the king and the princes, saith the Lord; and I will bring again the captivity of Elam:” (Jere xlix. 38, 39.) And in Isaiah :-” Go up, O Elam; besiege, O Media!” (xxi. 2.) In which passage the devastation of the church by Babel, is treated of, which: devastation is signified by “the treacherous dealing treacherously, and the spoiler spoiling. “. “Elam” there is the internal church, and “Media” the external, or external worship in which is internal. That” Media.” [or Madai] is such a church, or such a worship, is evident from Gen. x. 2, where he is called “the son of Japheth.” A. C. 1228.

3 Therefore are my loins filled with pain; pangs have seized me, as the pangs of a woman ill travail: I am so bent down, that I cannot hear; I am so dismayed, that I cannot see.

Verse 3. Speaking of the last state of the church; when the Truths and Goods thereof cannot be received, except with much painful effort, by reason of the evils and falses which then hinder. The “loins,” which are said to be “filled with pain,” signify the marriage of Good and Truth, from which is heaven and the church; which are said to be “filled with pain” when Truth cannot be conjoined with Good. Those hindrances therefore are signified by “the pangs, as of a woman in travail, which have seized her.” A. E. 721. See also above, Chap. xiii. 6-8, Exposition.

4 My heart is bewildered; terror has affrighted me: the night of my pleasure hath he turned into horror unto me.

Verse 4. [These words depict the consternation of those who, at the time of judgment, are in merely natural or external good, without an internal spiritual principle. This merely natural good they had assumed for selfish purposes in the world, and for the sake of appearance; but at the judgment it is taken away, and they are left to the horror of their own states.]

5 The table is prepared, the watch is set; they eat, they drink: arise, O ye princes; anoint the shield!

Verse 5. Arise, O ye princes; anoint the shield!- The reason why the “weapons of warfare” were anointed, was, because they signified truths fighting against falses; and as truths from good are what prevail against falses, and not truths without good, wherefore the weapons were “anointed with oil,” which signifies good. On which account the “arms of war” represented the truths by which the Lord combats with man against falses from evil, which are from hell.
A. E. 315. See also A. C. 9954; A. R. 779.

6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, station a watchman; whatever he shall see, let him declare.
7 And he saw a chariot with a couple of horsemen, a chariot of asses, and a chariot of camels; and he observed diligently with extreme diligence:

Verses 6-9. The subject here treated of is concerning the advent of the Lord, and concerning a New Church on the occasion. By “a lion upon the watch-tower,” is signified the guard and providence of the Lord; wherefore it is said-” I stand continually upon the watch-tower, and on my ward have I continued whole nights.” By “a chariot with a couple of horsemen,” is signified the doctrine of Truth from the Word; and by “hearkening” [or observing], is signified a life according thereto. That a “chariot” signifies the doctrine of Truth, may be seen, A. C. 2760, 2762, 5321.
That “horseman” signifies the Word as to understanding, may be seen, n. 2760, 6401, 6534. A. E. 278.

8 And he cried out, A Lion! O my lord, I stand continually upon the watch-tower, and on my ward have I continued whole nights:

Verse 8. That a “lion” signifies the Good of celestial love, and hence Truth in its power, and that, in the opposite sense, it signifies the evil of self-love in its power, may be demonstrated from those passages in the Word where a “lion” is mentioned. A. C. 6367.

9 And, behold, here cometh a chariot of men, with a couple of horsemen. And he answered and said, Babylon is fallen! is fallen! and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken to the ground.

Verse 9. Babylon is fallen! is fallen! and all the graven imaqes of her gods he hath broken to the ground-As to the signification of “Babylon,” see above, Chap. xiii. and xiv., Exposition.
By “graven images” are signified the doctrines which are formed from man’s own intelligence, and not from the Word. A. C. 8869. See below, Chap. xl. 19, 20, Exposition; also above, Chap. ii. 20.
It ought to be known that the church becomes a Babylon when charity and faith cease, and the love of self begins to rule in theirstead; for this love, in proportion as it is unchecked, rushed on, aiming to domineer not only over all which it can subject to itself on earth, but even over heaven; nor does it rest there, but it chmbs the very throne of God, and transfers to itself His Divine Power. That it did this even before the Lord’s coming, appears from chapters xiii, and xiv., explained above. But the “Babylon” there treated of was destroyed by the Lord when He was in the world, as well by those who constituted it being reduced to mere idolators, as by a last Judgment upon them in the spiritual world, which is understood by the prophetic sayings that “Lucifer,” who there is Babylon, “was cast into hell,” and that “Babylon has fallen;” and moreover by “the writing on the wall,” and “the death of Belshazzar;” and also by “the stone hewn from the rock,” which destroyed the statue of which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed. But the “Babylon” treated of in the Apocalypse is the Babylon of this day, which arose after the Lord’s coming, and is known to be amongst the Papists. This Babylon is more pernicious and more abominable than that whlch existed before the Lord’s coming, because it profanes the interior truths and goods of the church, which the Lord revealed to the world when He revealed Himself. How pernicious, and how inwardly abominable modern Babylon is, may appear from the description given of It above, P. 163. L. J. 54, 55.

10 O my threshing, and the son of my floor! what I have heard from Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, that I have declared unto you.

Verse 10. “Threshing” signifies [when predicated of Judgment] to dissipate evils, A. E. 316.
[“The son [or chaff] of my floor” denotes the falses in connection with the evils to be dissipated. Hence the process of Judgment is described by “the winnower’s fan,” and by “purging the threshing-floor.” Matt. iii. 12. See Chap. v. 1, note.]
Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel.-That “the God of Israel” is the Lord as to the Divine Human, is, because they who are of the spiritual church have natural ideas concerning. everything spiritual and celestial, and also concerning the Divne Being Himself; wherefore unless they thought of the Divine Being as of a Natural Man, they could not be conjoined to Him by anything of affection. For if they did not think of the Divine Being as of a Natural Man, they would either have no ideas or enormous ideas concerning Him, and would thus defile what is Divine. Hence it is that by “the God of Israel” is understood the Lord as to the Divine Human, and indeed as to the Divine Natural. A. C. 7091.

11 The burden of Dumah. He calleth unto me from Seir, Watchman, what of the night?Watchman, what of the night?

Verse 11. The sons of Ishmael were Nebajoth, the first-born, Kedar, Abdeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. (See Gen. xxv. 13, 14.) That these signify all things of the spiritual church, especially among the Gentiles, is evident from this representatlon of those who are here named; some of them are mentioned In the Word, especially in the Prophets, as Nebajoth, Kedar, Dumah, and Tema, and there they signify such things as are of the spiritual church, especially among the Gentiles. This also “appears from this, that there were twelve of them; and by “twelve are signified all things of faith, thus of the church. The reason why by those nations are signified the things which are of the spiritual church, is, because the ancient church, which was amongst them, was the spiritual church. (See A. C. 1238, 2385.) But although their doctrinals and rituals were various, nevertheless, they formed one church, because they did not make faith but charity the essential. But in process of time, as charity ceased, that of the church which was arnongst them became nothing; there remained, however, a representative of the church from them, with a variety [of signification] according to that of the church which had been amongst them. Hence it is that when these people are named in the Word, [as in Isa. xxi. 11, 14; lx. 6, 7.] they themselves are not meant, but only that of the church which had been amongst them is signified by them. A. C. 3268.
[By “Dumah,” therefore, are signified all such in the church as are in simple good, or, well-disposed, but who are without truths; and they are here exhorted “to inquire and to come” to the church, and thus to be instructed in truths.]

Verses 11, 12. By a “watchman,” in an internal sense, is meant one who observes the internal states of the church and its changes, thus every prophet is a watchman. By “night” is understood the last state of the church; by “morning,” its first state. By “Seir,” from which the watchman cried, is signified the illumination of the Gentiles who are in darkness; that “Seir” has this signification, may be seen demonstrated in A. C. 4240; and that “night” is the last state of the church, see above, Chap. xv. 1, Exposition. “The morning cometh, and also the night,” signifies that the men of the New Church have illumination, whilst those of the Old have night. .A. C. 10,134. See also A. E. 179.

12 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night. If ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.

Verse 12. The morning cometh, and also the night, &c.-When the light of Truth does not appear, and the Truth is not received, there is a state of. the church like evening and night; but when the light of Truth appears, and the Truth is received, there is a state of the church in the world like morning and day. Hence it is that these two states of the church are called “evening” and” morning,” and “night” and “day” in the Word, as might be proved from many passages. Since such things are understood by “evening” find “morning,” therefore the Lord, in order to fulfil the Word, was also buried in the evening, and rose again in the morning. Con. L. J. 13.

13 The burden of Arabia. In the forest at night shall ye lodge, O ye [travelling] companies of Dedanim.
14 To meet the thirsty bring ye forth water, O ye inhabitants of the land of Tema; with bread come before the fugitive.

Verses 13, 14. To “lodge at night in the forest,” is, as said of Arabia, to be desolate as to good; for “Arabia,” in a good sense, signifies those who are in celestial things, that is, who are in the, goods of faith; but to “spend the night in a forest” there, signifies to be no longer in these goods. Hence the desolation which is also described by “fleeing from the face of swords, and from the face of the drawn sword,” &c. (Verse 15.) The celestial things that is, the goods of faith, or what is the same thing, the works of charity which they have [or ought to have], are signified by “bringing forth water to the thirsty, and coming with bread before the fugitive.” A. C. 3240.

Verses 13-15. To “spend the night in the forest,” when predicated of the “companies of Dedanim,” who are those that are in knowledges, (see A. C. 3240, 3241.) is to be devastated as to Truth. The “inhabitants of the land of Tema” signify those who are in simple Good, as is the case with the well-disposed Gentiles, who, as is evident, were from Tema the soil of Ishmael. “Kedar” stands for those who are in simple Truth, of whom it is said that ” they shall flee from the face of swords, and from the face of the grievous war,” by which is signified that they will not sustain the combats of temptations, because no longer in Good. A. C. 3268.

15 For from the face of swords shall they flee: from the face of the drawn sword; and from the face of the bended bow; and from the face of the grievous war.
16 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Within a year, as the years of a hireling, shall all the glory of Kedar be consumed;
17 And the remainder of the number of the bows of the mighty sons of Kedar shall be diminished: for Jehovah the God of Israel hath spoken it.

Verse 15. By a “sword,” in the above passage, is signified Truth combating and destroying; this destruction appears especially in the spiritual world, where they who are in falses cannot sustain the Truth, but are in a state of anguish, as if they struggled with death, when they come into the sphere of light, that is, into the sphere of Divine Truth; and thus also they are deprived of truths, and devastated. As most expressions in the Word have also an opposite sense, so likewise has the “sword,” and in that sense it signifies the false combating against Truth, and destroying it. A. E. 131.

Verses 15-17. The subject here treated of, in the spiritual sense, is concerning the knowledges of Good, that they would perish, and that few would remain. By ” Kedar,” or Arabia, are signified those who are in the knowledges of Good, and, abstractedly, those knowledges themselves. That the knowledges of Truth would perish by falses and by the doctrine of the false, is signified by “they shall flee from the face of swords, from the face of the drawn sword; and from the face of the bended bow;” the “sword” is the false combating and destroying, and the “bow” is the doctrine of the false. That the knowledges of Good would perish, is signified by these words:- “Because of the grievousness of the war, shall all the glory of Kedar be cousumed;” “the grievousness of war” denoting the state of assault [or temptation], and “all the glory of Kedar being consumed” denotes devastation. And that few knowledges would remain, is described by “the remainder of the number of the bows of the mighty sons of Kedar shall be diminished;” the “bow of the mighty” denoting the doctrine of Truth, derived from knowledges which prevail against falses. A. E.357.
Verse 16. As the years of a hireling.-See above, Chap, xvi, l4, Exposition.

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