1 BEHOLD, Jehovah emptieth the earth, and maketh it waste; He overturneth the face thereof, and scattereth the inhabitants thereof.
VERSE 1. By the “earth,” when mentioned in the Word, is not meant the universal globe, but the church, and specifically that region where the church is, as formerly the land of Canaan, when the Jewish church was there, and in Europe, where the Christian church now is. A. C. 566, 662.
The reason why by the “earth” is signified the church, is, because very frequently by the “earth” is meant the land of Canaan, and in that land was the church. The heavenly Canaan is nothing else. And also when the “earth” is named, the angels who are spiritual do not think of the earth, but of the human race upon the earth, and of its spiritual state; and its spiritual state is the state of the church. In the opposite sense, when the “earth” is spoken of as being perverted and destroyed, it signifies condemnation. A. R. 285.
Verses 1, 2. Behold, Jehovah emptieth the eartli ;-and it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest, &c.-Here the “earth” stands for the church, which is “emptied and made void, and its face overturned, or perverted, and its inhabitants scattered,” &c., when there is no longer any interior truths and goods, which are signified by the “priest” and the “people;” nor exterior goods and truths, which are the “servant” and the “handmaid;” which happens when external things rule over internal. A. C. 2567.
Verses 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 18, 19, 20. Behold, Jehovah emptieth the earth, and maketh it waste; He overturneth the faces thereof, &c.-what by the “earth,” or land, is not understood the earth, but the church, must be evident to every one. The reason why the church is thus described, is, because the earths or lands in the spiritual world, upon which angels and spirits dwell, undergo such changes according to the changes of the state of the church with the inhabitants thereof, even so as “to be moved.” The reason why it is said that “Jehovah emptieth the earth, and maketh it waste,” likewise that ” in emptying it shall be emptied, and in spoiling it shall be spoiled,” is, because the earths or lands there, when the church is devastated with those who dwell upon them, altogether change their appearance. The paradises with their flowerets, verdures, and the like, with which they before flourished, disappear, and instead thereof appearances most unpleasant take place, as sands and rocky places, also heaths full of thickets and briers, with other things of a like nature, corresponding to the falses and evils which devastated the churoh. The devastation thereof as to the Good of love and charity, is signified by “emptying the earth,” and the desolation thereof as to the Truth of doctrine and of faith is signified by “making it waste” and by “spoiling it;” and the change itself by “overturning the faces thereof.” “The earth mourneth, it withereth: the world languisheth, it withereth: the earth also is polluted under her inhabitants; therefore hath a curse devoured the earth,” signifies that there shall not anything grow there or flourish, but that it shall be barren, and filled with things useless; by reason whereof the earth is said to “mourn,” to “languish,” and to be “devoured with a curse.” Whereas these things take place when they that dwell there have no longer any concern for the holy things of the church, therefore it is said-“For they have transgressed the laws, they have surmounted the statute, they have broken the everlasting covenant.” Inasmuch as the earths or lands in the spiritual world are sometimes inundated, sometimes violently shaken, and also here and there cleave asunder and open towards hell; which is beneath and lifts itself up, and as this takes place according to the quantity and quality of the falses and evils which are loved, and the consequent falsification and denial of the Goods and the Truths of the church, therefore it is said that “The floodgates from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth are shaken; the earth is utterly shattered to pieces; and the earth reeleth as a drunkard.” These things also actually take place in the spiritual world, when the state of the church is there changed into the contrary. From these considerations it may appear whence it is that, by the “earth,” here and elsewhere in the Word, is understood the church. A. E. 697. See also A. C. 1066.
2 And it shall be, as with the people, so with the priest; as with the servant, so with his master: as with the handmaid, so with her mistress; as with the buyer; so with the seller; as with the lender, so with the borrower; as with the usurer, so with the giver of usury:
Verse 2. [These words, which express the relationships in civil life, involve the insubordination and confusion which result when “the face of the earth is overthrown,” or when the church, as in the Bible version, is “turned upside down,” and all its principles are in disorder and confusion. In which case what is external rules over what is internal, and all the relationship between higher and lower principles is destroyed. This is the case at the end of a church, and especially at the period of its judgment. The same also depicts the states of the unregenerate mind, when no distinction is made between internal and external principles, and when the due subordination of the latter to the former is not considered and established; in which state nothing of heaven can be received into the mind.]
The “buyer” signifies those who procure the knowledges of Truth and Goodness. (A. C. 2967.) The “seller,” those who communicate these knowledges, (A. C. 5886.) The “lender” denotes those who instruct others; and the “borrower,” those instructed. (A. C. 9209 and 9174.) A “usurer” signifies those who do good for the sake of gain: and a “non-usurer,” those who do good from charity. Al. C. 9210.
3 The earth shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled; for Jehovah hath spoken this word.
Verses 1,2,4,5,6, 11, 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 21, 23. The earth shall be emptied, &c.-From all these verses in which the “earth” is mentioned, it is very evident that by the “earth” is not understood the earth but the church. Let all the particulars in these verses be well considered, and this will be evident. He who is in a spiritual idea when the “earth” is named, does not think of the earth itself, but of the nations there and of their quality. Those who are in heaven think still more of the earth as being the church, and this because they are spiritual. in this chapter the church, as being destroyed, is treated of. Its destruction as to the Good of love and the Truth of faith, which make the church, is signified by “Jehovah ernptying the earth, and laying it waste,” by its being “violently moved,” by its “languishing,” by its being “devoured by a curse,” by being “polluted or profaned,” by “the floodgates from on high being opened,” by its being “broken down,” by its “foundations moved,” by its “reeling like a drunkard,” &c. All these things cannot be said of the earth, nor of any nation, but of the church. A. E. 304.
Verses 3, 4, 10, 11, 12. The earth shall be utterly emptied; the earth is also polluted under her inhabitants, &c.-Here also the devastation of the church is treated of. “The earth, which shall be emptied, confounded, and polluted,” is the church; “city” is the Truth of doctrine; “house” the Good thereof; “the wine, over which there is an outcry in the streets,” is the Truth of doctrine falsified, over which there is contest and indignation. A. E. 223.
4 The earth mourneth, it withereth; the world languisheth, it withereth : the lofty people of the land do languish.
5 The earth is also polluted under her inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, they have surmounted the statute, they have broken the everlasting covenant.
Verses 4, 5. The earth mourneth; the lofty people of the land do languish. The earth is also polluted under her inhabitants, &c.-The desolation of the church as to its Truths and Goods, on account of the pride of self-derived intelligence, and the profanation of its Truths which are from Good, are thus described. The desolation is described by “mourning” and “languishing.” The church, as to truths and goods, by the “earth” and the “world.” The pride of self-derived intelligence, by “the lofty people of the land;” and the profanation of its truths which are from Good, by “the earth being polluted or profaned under her inhabitants.” A. E. 741.
Verse 5. They have broken the everlasting covenant.- The Word is the real and very covenant which the Lord makes with man, and man with the Lord ; for the Lord came down as the Word, that is, as the Divine Truth; and, specifically; the precepts of the Decalogue are the covenant of conjunction between the Lord and man, and consequently the principal medium of his salvation. T. C.R. 730.
6 Therefore hath a curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are punished: therefore are the inhabitants of the earth burnt up, and few are the men that are left.
Verses. 6, 7, 9, 10. Therefore hath a curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are punished;-the new wine mourneth, &c.-The perversion of the church is described in these words; which perversion. takes place when the false rules in the place of Truth, in consequence of which there is no longer any Good, since good is acquired by means of truths. By “the land which the curse hath devoured” is signifled the church; the “curse” denoting the perverslon thereof. By “the new wine which shall mourn,” and “the vine which shall languish,” is signified all the Truth of the church ; to “mourn” and to “languish” denoting its deprivation. That there shall no longer be any celestial delight and blessing, is signified by “All the glad in heart do sigh; with a song they shall no more drink wine.” That they shall be averse from all things which agree with Truths, is signified by “The strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it; “strong drink” here signifying what is derived from truths, and in agreement therewith. But that the doctrine of what is false shall be destroyed, is signified by “The city of emptiness is broken down;”, the “city” signifying doctrine, and “emptiness” the false. And that good and wisdom shall be no longer with man, is signified by “Every house is shut up; so that no one can enter;” which takes place when there is no Truth, but only what is false. A. E. 376.
Verse 6. Therefore are the inhabitants of the earth burnt up, and few are the men that are left.- By “the inhabitants of the earth” are signified the goods of the church, which are said to be “burnt up,” when the loves of self and of the world begin to reign; that in such case the spiritual affection of truth and wisdom thence derived would cease is signified by “few men being left.” A. E. 280. See also A.C. 477, 4287.
7 The new wine mourneth ; the vine languisheth; all that were glad of heart do sigh.
8 The joy of the tabrets ceaseth; the noise of them that exult is no more; the joy of the harp ceaseth:
9 With a song they shall no more drink wine; the strong drink shall be bitter to them that drink it.
Verses.7-9. The new wine mourneth; the wine languisheth, &c.-Treating of the devastation of the spiritual church, or of the Good and Truth of that church. Spiritual Good, which should cease, is signified by “the new wine mourning,” and” the joy of the tabrets ceasing j” and that its Truth was to cease, is signified by “the vine languishing,” and “the joy of the harp ceasing;” for by “new wine ” is signified spiritual Good, and the joy thereof by the “tabret;” and by the “vine” is signified spiritual Truth, and the joy thereof by the “harp.” Inasmuch as it is the affection of those things which should cease, it is therefore said–“All the glad in heart do sigh; the noise of them that exult is no more;” “gladnesses” and” mirths,” in the Word, signifying spiritual gladnesses and mirth, all which are from the affections of Truth and Good. It is added-“With a song they shall no more drink wine;” because by “singing” is signified testification of gladness from the affection of Truth, and by “wine” is signified Truth itself. A. E. 3:48.
Verses 7, 9. All that were glad of heart do sigh. With a song they shall no more drink wine: the strong drink [siceraJ shall be bitter to them that drink it.–By “the glad of heart sighing,” and by “not drinking wine with a song,” is signified that all internal beatitude of mind and all felicity of heart will perish, on account of the destruction of the Truth of spiritual Good. By “strong drink being bitter to those “who drink it,” is signified that the Truth of Good is become unpleasant from its falsification and its adulteration. A. E. 618
10 The city of emptiness is broken down: every house is shut up, so that no one can enter.
Verses 10, 11. By “the city of emptiness” is signified the doctrine in which is not Truth but falsity. By a “house [shut up]” is signified the good of the will, and hence of the life [destroyed]. By “an outcry in the streets over wine” is signified lamentation over the defect of Truth, and its being mixed with falsity; “wine” signifies the Truth of the church from the Word; hence it is said “in the streets,” because a “street” also signifies Truth, and where the lamentation is made. ,”Joy” and “gladness” are mentioned, because “joy” is predicated of delight from the affection of Good, and “gladness” of delight from the affection of Truth. That those delights will cease, is signified by “all joy being commixed [or desolate, see note], and by “the gladness of the earth being banished;” the “earth” signifies the church. A. E. 652.
11 There is an outcry in the streets over wine; all joy is desolate; the gladness of the earth is banished.
12 The remnant in the city is desolation; the gate is battered down by devastation.
Verses 10-12. “The city of emptiness being broken” means also the human mind deprived of Truth; “every house shut up” signifies without good; that a “house” signifies what is good, see A. C. 2233. By “the outcry over wine in the streets” is signified a state of the false; that “outcry” is predicated of falses, see A. C. 2240; that “wine ” is Truth, over which there is an outcry, because it does not exist, see A. C. 1071; that “streets” are what lead to truths, see A. C. 2336. “The gladness which is desolate” is predicated of Truth, and “the joy of the earth banished” of Good. Hence it is evident what is signified by “the remnant of the city being desolation,” and by “the gate being battered down by devastation;” the “gate” is said to be devastated when nothing but evils and falses prevail. A. C. 285l.
Verses 11, 12, 13. There is an outcry in the streets over wine, &c. By these words is described mourning over the devastation of the church as to celestial Good, and as to spiritual Good, which, in its essence, is Truth derived from celestial Good. This devastation is
compared to “the shaking of the olive-tree,” and to “the gleanings when the vintage is finished.” A. E. 919.
13 For thus shall it be in the inmost of the land, in the midst of the peoples; as the shaking of the olive, as the gleanings when the vintage is finished.
Verse 13. These things are said concerning tho church devastated as to Good and as to Truth, and in which there is nothing but the evil and the false. “In the inmost of the land,” denotes evil being through the whole of the church; and “in the midst of the peoples,” denotes the false being through the whole thereof. Therefore the church is compared with “the shaking of the olive-tree.” and with “the gleanings that are left when the vintage is finished;” the “olive-tree” signifying the Good of the church, the “vintage” the Truth thereof; and the “shakings” and “gleanings” thereof signify devastation. A. E. 313
14 These shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of Jehovah, they shall shout aloud from the sea.
15 Wherefore in the fires, glorify ye Jehovah; in the islands of the sea, the name of Jehovah the God of Israel.
Verses 14, 15. In this chapter the devastation of the church is treated of, and in these verses the institution of a New Church among the Gentiles is signified, whose joy is described by “lifting up the voice,” and by “singing for the majesty of Jehovah,” and by “shouting aloud from the sea, or from the west;” for by the “sea,” when thereby the west is understood, is signified the natural principle, because those who, in the spiritual world, dwell in the western quarter, are in natural good, but in the eastern quarter are those who are in celestial good; and since the Gentiles, amongst whom the church would be, were in natural good, therefore it is said-“In the fires [urim], glorify ye Jehovah; in the islands of the sea, the name of Jehovah the God of Israel;” by which is signified that they would worship the Lord from goods and truths in the natural man, for the term “Urim” signifies fire, and a focus by which is signified the good of love belonging to the natural man; and “the islands of the sea” signify the knowledges of Truth and Good which are of the natural man; and to ” glorify,” or to ” honour,” signifies to adore. By “Jehovah “and” the God of Israel” is understood the Lord, who is called “Jehovah” where Good is treated of, and “the God of Israel” where Truth is treated of; wherefore it is said-“In the fires [urim] , glorify ye Jehovah,” that is, from Good; and “in the islands of the sea, the name of the God of Israel,'” that is, from Truths. Hence it is evident that by “the islands of the sea” are signified the truths of the natural man. A.E. 406.
16 From the uttermost part of the earth we have heard songs, Glory to the just! But I said, My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me! the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very, treacherously.
17 The terror, the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth!
Verse 16. My leanness.-See Chap. xvii. 4, Exposition.
Verse 17. The terror, the pit, and the snare, are upon thee, O inhabitant of the earth!-“Terror” denotes disturbance and commotion of mind, whence it sticks or hesitates between evils and goods, and thence between falses and truths. The “pit” signifies the false, induced by reasonings grounded in the fallacies of the senses, to favour the delights of the love of self and of the world, The “snare” signifies the enticement and the deception of evil thence derived; that a “snare,” in the spiritual sense, is enticement and deception by the delights of the loves of self and of the world, thus the enticement and deception of evils, and this by reasonings grounded in the fallacies of the senses which favour those delights, is evident to everyone, for ensnarings and entrappings are from no other source. Neither do the diabolical crew assault anything else with man except those his loves which they render delightful by every method, until he is taken, and when he is taken, the man reasons from falses against truths, and from evils against goods; and in such case he is not content herewith, but also takes delight in ensnaring and enticing others to falses and evils. The reason why he also takes this delight, is, because in such a case he becomes one of the diabolical crew. Inasmuch as a “snare” a “gin,” a “net” signifies such things, they also signify the destruction of spiritual life, and thereby perdition, since in those loves, as was said above, all evils originate. For in the love of self, originate contempt of others in comparIson to self, and presently a scornful look and abusive speech, afterwards enmity if they do not favour, at length the delight of hatred, the delight of revenge, thus the delight of tyrannical behaviour, yea, of cruelty. This love, in the other life, rises to such an excess that unless the Lord favours it, and gives to those who are lnfluenced by it dominion over others, they not only despise Him, but treat with scorn the Word which speaks of Him, and, at length, from hatred and revenge they act against Him: and, so far as they cannot effect their purposes against Him, they practise them with fierceness and cruelty against all who profess Him. Hence it is evident what is the origin of such qualities in the diabolical crew, viz., that it is from selflove; wherefore a “snare,” as it signifies the delight of the love of self and of the world, signifies also the destruction of the spiritual life and perdition, for the all of faith and love to the Lord and the all of love towards the neighbour is destroyed by the delight of the love of self and the world where it has dominion; see what was cited, n. 9335.
That these loves are the origin of all evils, and that hell is from them and in them, and that those loves are fires there, is at this day unknown in the world, when yet it might be known from this consideration that those loves are opposite to love towards the neighbour and to love to God, and that they are opposite to humiliation of heart, and that from them alone exists all contempt, all hatred, all revenge, and all fierceness and cruelty, as every considerate person may know. A.C. 9348.
18 And it shall be, that whoso fleeth from the voice of the terror, shall fall into the pit; and whoso ascendeth from the midst of the pit, shall be taken in the snare: for the floodgates from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth are shaken.
19 The earth is grievously shaken; the earth is utterly shattered to pieces ; the earth is violently moved.
Verse 18. In this and in other passages of the Word, they who are in the false and evil are described as fleeing and in fear of being slain. Such fear is their ruling affection, because there is no one to defend them; everyone who is in the evil and the false bears hatred towards his neighbour, and hence each of them is desirous to slay another. That they who are principled in evil and the false are afraid of all others, may best appear from the case of evil spirits in another life. Such as have deprived themselves of all charity, wander about and flee hither and thither; whithersoever they go, if it be to any societies of other spirits, they are immediately discovered as to their evil nature and qualities, in consequence of the perception prevalent in another life, and are not only driven away, but likewise severely punished, even to the destruction of life, were it possible; for the evil spirits are particularly delighted in punishing and tormenting one another, and their highest satisfaction consists therein. And what has heretofore been an arcanum, all this is grounded in the very nature of evil and the false, inasmuch as whatsoever any person wishes for another returns upon himself; for evil and the false have within them the punishment of evil and the false, consequently the fear of punislunent. A. C. 390, 391.
Verses 18, 19, 20. The floodgates from on high are opened, and the foundations of the earth are shaken, &c.-That these things are not said of the earth, but of the church, must be evident to everyone; for who can understand that “the foundations of the earth are shaken,” that “the earth is moved and reeleth as drunkard,” and also that “it ‘moveth this way and that, like a lodge”? But when, instead of the earth the church is thought of, these expressions are easily understood. That the change and perversion thereof is signified, is evident from its being said-“For her transgression is heavy upon her; and she shall fall, and not rise again.” And by “the floodgates which are opened from on high,” is understood an inundation of evil and the false. A. E. 400. See also, as to “floodgates,” A. C. 767.
20 The earth reeleth like a drunkard; and moveth this way and that, like a lodge for the night: for her transgression is heavy upon her; and she shall fall, and not rise again.
21 And it shall be in that day, that Jehovah shall visit the host of the high [ones] that are on high; and on earth the kings of the earth.
Verse 20. See Chap. xix, 14, and Chap. xxviii 1-8, Exposition.
Verses 21, 23. Jehovah shall visit the host of the high [ones] that are on high, &c.-To “visit” signifies to destroy, because visitation precedes judgment, (see above, Chap. x. 3,. Exposition.) when they are destroyed who are in evils and thence in falses; by the host of the high [ones] that are on high,” are signified all the evils which originate in the love of self; the “host” denoting all evils; by “the kings of the earth ” are signified falses of every kind; the “earth,” or land, denoting the church. Hence it may appear what is signified by “Jehovah shall visit the host of the high [ones] that are on high; and on earth the kings of the earth. The reason why it is sald “The host of the high [ones] that are on high,” is because they who are principled in the love of self, in the spiritual world, seek high places. (See Chap. ii. 12-17, Expositlon.) By “the moon then being confounded,” and “the sun being ashamed, is signified there being no more reception of divine Truth and of divine Good; the “moon” and the” sun” signifying the Truth of faith and the Good of love, which are said to be “confounded and ashamed” when they are no more received, but instead thereof what is false and evil. A. E. 401.
22 And they shall be gathered together, as prisoners for the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison; and, after many days, they shall be visited.
Verse 22. They shall be gathered together, as prisoners.- [or as the bound] for the pit, &c.-The “prisoners, or the “bound in the pit,” are those who are in vastations, or those who are in temptations, All that locality [in the world of spirits] nearest under the sole of the foot and around, is called “the house of the prIson, where all those are kept who are in vastation, that is, those who have been in false doctrines, and in evil of life from false principles, and yet in good as to their intentions. Such cannot be received into heaven before they have put off these false principles, and also the delight of life which they thence derived. They who are there are let into temptations, for false principles and the delights thence derived can only be cast out by temptations. The place where they are, or rather the state in which tiley are is signified in general by “the house of the prison,” and the places themselves by “pits.” They who are in vastations are called “bound,” not that they are in any bond [or chains], but because they are not in liberty as to their former [prioresJ thoughts and affections. That such are signified in the Word by the “bound,” and by “those who are in prison,” is evident from other passages in the Word, as in Isaiah:-” I will give Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.” (xlii. 6, 7.) Where the Lord and His advent are treated of. “To open the blind eyes, and to bring out the prisoners from the prison,” &c., signifies those who are in ignorance of what is Good and True, but who nevertheless desire to know and to be imbued therewith. A. C. 5037.
As to vastations in the other life, see A. C. 1106 to 1113.
After many days, they shall be visited.-[These words signify that, after having passed through all the states necessary for their purification, they will be delivered by the Lord and elevated to His kingdom.]
23 And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun shall be ashamed; for Jehovah of Hosts shall reign on Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients [shall be] glory.
Verse 23. And the moon shall be confounded, and the sun shall be ashamed, &c.-By the “moon” and the “sun” are here also understood idolatrous worship, and also the false of faith and the evil of love [or a false faith and an evil love]. By “mountain ” and by “Jerusalem “is understood heaven and the church; and by “ancients,” or elders, are understood truths from Good, wherefore it is also said that “before them is glory,” for by “glory” is siguified Divine Truth in heaven. A. E. 270.
The moon shall be confounded, &c.-[As the destruction of the earth or of the entire church is the subject of this chapter, so the heavens, or specifically the “moon” and the “sun,” are also exhibited as being confounded and ashamed, because the “earth” signifies the church as to lts externals, and the “heavens” the church as to its internals. (See Chap. i. 2, Exposition.) The moon is said to be “confounded,” or more literally to “blush,” and the sun to be “ashamed,” which are, expressions predicable of the human countenance, because the “face” also corresponds to the interiors; and as all things in heaven and in the church are regarded by the Lord as represented by a “man,” or as having relation to the human form, (see Chap. i. 2, note.) therefore the moon is said to “blush” when divine Truth is not received by the men of the church; but instead thereof fallacies and falsities; and the sun of heaven is said to be “ashamed” when the divine Good is not received, but instead thereof evil. In other passages describing the ruin of the church, the moon is said not to cause its light to shine,” and the sun to be “darkened.” See above, Chap. xiii, 10, Exposition; see also Joel ii. 10; Matt, xxiv. 29; Rev. vi. 12. As to the peculiar terms employed in this passage of Isaiah to denote the “sun” and the “moon,” see the note, P: 257.]
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]