Isaiah 29

1 WOE to Ariel, to Ariel, the city where David dwelt! add year to year; let the festivals go round.

VERSES 1-4. [The term “Ariel,” in Hebrew, signifies the lion of God, and is an appellation given to the city Jerusalem to signify the Lord in His Divine Human, and also the doctrine of celestial Truth, The “city” itself signifies the doctrine of spiritual Truth, but when called “Ariel” it denotes as above. The doctrine of celestial Truth is the doctrine of love to God and of charity to the neighbour, whereas the doctrine of spiritual Truth is the doctrine of Faith. The subject, therefore, treated of in these verses, is specifically the destruction of the celestial doctrine of the church, and the judgment upon those who have perverted it. This perversion consists chiefly in removing love and goodness, embodied in good works, from the church as the essential means of salvation, as is done by the doctrine of Justification by Faith only, or of Faith separate from Charity. It is also perverted by reducing the good of the church to what is merely moral, and thus depriving it of a spiritual principle, derived from love and charity, as the means of salvation. The doctrine of celestial Truth is also perverted by these who assume what is good in the external, as a means of promoting the merely selfish interests of the natural man, and not for the sake of securing the eternal interests of the soul. A “woe” is consequently pronounced upon all such as pervert and destroy this most holy doctrine, which is called the “Lion of God” because of its great power, signified by a “Lion,” in removing, when properly applied, everything evil and false from the church, and from the human mind. The Lord, as “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, opens the seals of the book,” [Rev. v. 5.) and executes Judgment, which is effected by this celestial doctrine of His Divine Truth. See above, Chap. xxi. 8, Exposition.]
Verse 1. Add year to year, let the festivals go round.-[This celestial doctrine will perish successively, not all at once, and it will perish although external worship (the festivals) continues to be observed at the appointed times. It is entirely destroyed when external worship is separated from internal, as was the case with the Pharisees, described in Matt. xxiii., and with those of the church at this day who are in external good, without internal or spiritual good, See Chap. i. 11-19, Exposition.]

2 Yet will I distress Ariel; and there shall be mourning and sorrow: and it shall be unto Me as Ariel.
3 And I will encamp against thee round about; and I will lay siege against thee with a mound; and I will erect forts against thee.

Verses 2, 3. [It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted these verses and explained them; but from correspondences their meaning may be easily seen. “Ariel” thus perverted, or rather those who have perverted this celestial doctrine, will be beseiged and destroyed, at the period of Judgment, by every species of falsity from evil, denoted by “encamping,” by “laying seige with a mound,” and by “erecting forts against her.” See Chap. i. 8, Exposition.]

4 And thou shalt be brought low; thou shalt speak out of the earth: and out of the dust shall thy speech feebly sound; and thy voice shall come out of the ground, like as of one that hath a familiar spirit: and out of the dust shall thy speech mutter.

Verse 4. [That to “speak out of the dust, and the voice coming out of the ground, like as of one that hath a familiar spirit,” signifies communication with the hells, and influx thence, may be seen above, Chap, viii. 19, 20, Exposition.]

6 But the multitude of thy strangers shall be like the small dust; and the multitude of the terrible ones like the chaff that passeth away: yea, it shall be suddenly, in a moment.

Verse 5. [The dispersion of false principles of doctrine, denoted by “strangers,” and of the falses of evil, signified by the “terrible ones,” is here described. See Chap. i. 7, Exposition.]

6 From Jehovah of Hosts thou shalt be visited with thunder, and with earthquake, and with a great voice; with storm, and with tempest, and with the flame of devouring fire.

Verso 6. “Devouring fire” is the fire of cupidities which arises from the love of self and of the world, because it is this fire which consumes man and devastates the church. This also was represented by “the fire from before Jehovah” which consumed the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, because they had “put strange fire into their censers.” (Lev. x. 1, 2.) To “put strange fire into their censers,” is to perform worship from some other love than from that which is heavenly. That such “strange fire” is the love of self and of the world, and the cupidities hence arising, may be seen in n. l297, 1861, 5071. A. C. 9434.
As to the meaning of “storms” and “tempests,” by which the wicked, at the time of Judgment, are taken away, see above, Chap. xvii. 13, Exposition.

7 And as a dream, a vision of the night shall be the multitude of all the nations that fight against Ariel; even all that fight against her and her ramparts, and they that distress her.
8 It shall be as when a hungry man dreameth, and lo! he eateth: but he awaketh, and his soul is empty: and as when a thirsty man dreameth, and lo! he drinketh; but he awaketh, and lo! he is faint, and his soul craveth: thus shall it be with the multitude of all the nations which fight against Mount Zion. “

Verses 7, 8. [These words imply that, in this perverted state of the church, at the period of its judgment, what is false will appear as true, and that there will be no spiritual nourishment for the soul.]
Verse 8. These things are said concerning those who are in falses from evil, and yet suppose them to be truths from good. The false from evil combating against the goods of the church, are signified by “The multitude of all the nations which fight against Mount Zion; “multitude” being predicated of truths; “nations” signifying evils; nud “Mount Zion,” the church as to the good of love. The belief that evils are good, when notwithstanding they are evils of the false, is signified by “It shall be as when a hungry man dreameth, and lo! he eateth; but he awaketh, and his soul is fasting ;” the “hungry dreaming as if he were eating,” signifies the opinion and erroneous faith conerning good; to “dream” denoting such opinion and erroneous faith, and to be “hungry, and as if he were eating,” denoting, as it were, desire for good, and to be nourished thereby; but when “he awaketh”, signifies when it is discovered what good is; “his soul is fasting,” signifies that there is no understanding of good. Similar things are said concerning truth, which are signified by “When the thirsty man dreameth, and lo! he drinketh; but he awaketh, and lo! he is faint, and his soul craveth;” to be “thirsty, and as If he were drinking whilst he dreameth,” signifying the opinion and faith, as it were, of Truth; but when “he awaketh, and lo! he is faint, and his soul craveth,” signifies that still it is not Truth but the false; the “soul” there signifying the faith of the false, by reason of Truth not being understood, for both evil and the false, as well as Good and Truth, are predicated of faith and understanding, when they are of the thought alone; for man can think so as it were to understand, and thence believe that evil is good, as well as that the false is true. Such are all those who are in falses of doctrine, and have faith only in their teachers and books, and never think whether what they are taught may not be falses and evils, but believe them to be truths and goods, because they can be confirmed; not knowing that the false and evil may be equally confirmed as Truth and Good. A. E. 750.

9 Stand ye amazed, and wonder; be ye astonished, and cry out! they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink.
10 For Jehovah hath poured out upon you a spirit of deep sleep: and He hath closed up your eyes, the prophets; and your heads, the seers hath He covered,

Verses 9, 10. Speaking of those who see nothing at all of the Truth when they hear and read it from the Word. Such persons are said to be “drunken, but not with wine; and to stagger, but not with strong drink;” “wine” signifying specifically the Truth of the spiritual and hence of the rational man; and “strong drink,” the Truth of the natural man thence derived. Because such are understood, it is therefore said-“Jehovah hath poured out” upon you the spirit of deep sleep; and He hath closed up your eyes; the “spirit of deep sleep” denoting no perception, and the “eyes closed” denoting no understanding of Truth. “The prophets, and your heads, the seers hath He covered,” signifies those who were in the doctrine of Truth, and thence wise and intelligent; “prophets” signifying those who are in the doctrine of Truth, and, abstractedly, doctrine itself; the “heads,” the wise, and, abstractedly, wisdom; and the “seer,” the intelligent, and, abstractedly, intelligence. Wonder at the greatness of their stupidity is described by “Stand ye amazed, and wonder; be ye astonished;” and lamentation on all account thereof, by a “cry out!” Such are they who are in a life of evil, and at the same tirne in principles of the false, howsoever learned they are supposed to be; for a life of evil shuts out the perception of Good, from which the life and light of thought is derived, and principles of the false shut out the understanding of Truth, whence they see only from the sensual man, and nothing from the spiritual. A.E. 376.
Prophets are here called “eyes,” and seers are called “heads,” because by eyes is signified the understanding of Truth as to doctrine, and by “seers” intelligence, the same as by “heads.” A.E. 577.

Verses 10, 11. By “prophets” are meant those who teach Truth and by them that see, or the “seers,” are meant those who see Truth who are said to be “covered” when they know nothing of Truth, and see nothing of Truth. Inasmuch as in old times they were called prophets who taught, therefore also they were called “seeing” [or seers], because to “see” signifies to understand, see n. 2150 2325. That they were called “seeing” [or seers], may be seen, 1 Sam. ix. 9; 2 Sam. xxiv. 11; they were also called “men of God,” from the signification of man [vir], see n. 158, 265; that they were called “men of God,” may be seen, 2 Kings i. 9-16. That by “prophets,” in an Internal sense, are signified those who teach, appears from Jer. xxiii, throughout, and from Ezek, xiii. throughout, where the subject particularly treated of is concerning “prophets.” The same appears also from many other places where mention is made of “prophets.” Hence also by “false prophets” are signified those who teach what is false as in Matthew;-” In the consummation of the age, many false prophets shall arise, and shall seduce many; false Christs shall arise, and false prophets shall glve great signs, and shall deceive, if possible, even the elect; (xxiv. 11, 24.) where, by “false prophets,” are meant those who teach what is false. The same is understood by the “false prophet” in the Revelation. (xvi. 13; xix. 20; xx. 10.) Hence also it may appear how much the internal sense of the Word is obscured by the ideas which are conceived from the representatives of the Jewish church; for wheresoever “prophet” is mentioned in the Word there instantly occurs the idea of prophets such as existed at that time, which idea is a great hindrance to the perception of what is signified by them. But in proportion to man’s increase in wisdom, the Idea conceived from those representatives is more easily removed as for example, where mention is made of “temple,” they who think from a deeper ground of wisdom do not perceive the temple which was at Jerusalem, but the temple of the Lord; so in the case of the “mountain of Zion,” or of “Zion” itself, they have no perception of that which was at Jerusalem, but of the Lord’s kingdom, and where “Jerusalem” occurs, they do not think of that city which was in the tribe of Benjamin and Judah, but of the holy and heavenly Jerusalem. A. C. 2534.

11 So that all the vision is to you as the words of a sealed book; which, if it is given to one that knoweth letters, saying, Read this, I pray thee: he saith, I cannot; for it is sealed.
12 Or should the book be given to one that knoweth not letters, saying, Read this, I pray thee: he saith, I know not letters.

Verses 11, 12. [The “Book” or the Word is sealed, when its genuine doctrines and its interior truths are not understood by the church. To “know letters,” or to be learned, is to know the science of correspondences, according to which the Word is inspired and written, which science constituted. the learning of ancient times. Unless this science is understood, the Word is, for the most part, as a “sealed book;” but it is opened by this science, as by the ” key of knowledge.” The intelligence of the church as to everything spiritual and heavenly can thus be immensely increased, and genuine truths can be seen in clear light by the rational mind. The blessings to the Church of the New Jerusalem, arising from the discovery of the spritual sense of the Word, will be great indeed! ]

13 Wherefore Jehovah saith, Forasmuch as this people draw near [to Me] with their mouth, and honour Me with their lips but have removed their heart far from Me; and their fear of Me is taught by the precept of men:
14 Therefore, behold, I will again deal with this people,” in a manner so wonderful astonishing, that the wisdom of their wise shall perish, and the understanding of their intelligent shall be hid.
15 Woe unto them that deeply conceal their counsel from Jehovah; whose works are in the dark, and who say, Who seeth us? and who knoweth us?

Verse 13. In respect to external worship when sopnrato from internal, see above, Chap. i. 11-19, Exposition.
Their fear of me, &c.-As to what understood in the Word by “fearing God,” see above, Chap. xi. 3, Exposltion.

16 Your perverseness is as if the potter should be esteemed as the clay. Shall the work say of the maker of it, He hath not made me? and shall the thing formed say of the former of it, He hath no understanding?

Verse 16. That a “potter’s vessel” signifies, in a good sense, what is true and in a bad sense, what is false, may be proved from the Word. When a man himself forms the “vessel,” it signifies what is false; but when the Lord forms it in man, it signifies Truth. Hence it is that in the Word a “potter’s vessel” signifies either what is false or what is true, and the “potter” is the former. The Lord Himself, from the formation of man by truths, is called in the Word a “Potter,” as in Isaiah :-“O Jehovah, Our Father! we are the clay, and Thou our Potter; and all we are the work of Thine hands.” (lxiv, 8; and xxix, 16.) In a bad sense, as in Psalm ii. 9:- “As a potter’s vessel shalt Thou break them in pieces.” By the “potter’s vessel is signified what is false from man’s own or self-intelligence, and not from the Word. (See also Isa. xxx. 10-14; xlv. 9.) A. E. 177.

17 Shall it not be but a very little while, and Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be esteemed as a forest?

Verse 17. “Lebanon” [as a forest] signifies the truths of the church in the natural man, consequently the church as to the rational understanding of Good and Truth. (A. E. 654. 730.) As a “fruitful field,” it signifies the Good and Truth of faith. (A. E. 328.) The “cedars” and “firs of Lebanon” signify the internal and the external truths of the spiritual church. A.E. 405.

18 And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book; and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity; and out of darkness.

Verse 18. The restoration of the church is here treated of. By “the deaf who will hear the words of the book,” are understood those who will obey truths and hence lead a good life; and by “the blind whose eyes will see out of obscurity and darkness,” are understood those who are not in the understanding of Truth, because in ignorance, who will then understand. That the deaf and the blind [in a literal sense] are not understood, is evident. A. E. 239.
To “open the eyes of the blind,” is to instruct those who as yet are ignorant of truths, and nevertheless desire them, who are signified by the Gentiles. A. E. 152.

19 The miserable shall increase their joy in Jehovah, and the needy amongst men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.

Verse 19. By the “miserable” and “needy” are here also signified those with whom there is a defect of Truth and Good, and who nevertheless are in the desire of those principles. Concerning these it is said that “they shall increase their joy in Jehovah, and shall exult in the Holy One of Israel,” and not concerning those who are miserable and needy as to worldly wealth. A. E. 2:18.
The needy amongst men shall exult in the Holy One of Israel. In this and in other passages where “the Holy One of Israel” is mentioned, the Lord with respect to His Divine Humanity is signified. T. C. R. 93.

20 For the terrible one ceaseth, the scoffer is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off:
21 Who cause a man to offend in a word, and lay snares for him that reproveth in the gate, and with emptiness turneth aside the just.

Verses 20, 21. That “the terrible [or violent] one” is he who offers violence to charity, is signified by “causing a man to offend [or to sin] in a word,” and by “laying snares for him that pleadeth in the gate,” &c. A. C. 6353.

22 Therefore thus saith Jehovah to the house of Jacob, who redeemed Abraham: Jacob shall not now be ashamed; his face shall not now turn pale.

Verse 22. Jacob shall not now be ashamed; his face shall not now turn pale.-By “Jacob” are understood those who are of the church: and by “his face not turning pale” is signified that they shall not be in evils and falses, but in Goods and Truths. That “paleness” signifies the absence and deprivation of spiritual life, which is when there is no Good and Truth, but evil and the false, is grounded in this circumstance, that when a man is deprived of vital heat, he then becomes pale and an image of death, as is the case in extreme terror, and in like manner when he dies; but when a man is spiritually dead, then his face either becomes red like a coal fire, or pale like a corpse. In such a manner do the infernals appear, when viewed in the light of heaven. A. E. 381.

23 But when he seeth his children, the work of Mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify My name, and they shall sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.

Verse 23. ” The Holy One of Jacob and the God of Israel” is the Lord. “His children” signify the regenerate, who will have the intelligence of Good and of Truth, as is explained in verse 24. A. C. 489.

24 They also that erred in spirit shall know intelligence, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.

Verse 24. By “spirit” is signified the understanding, and by ” heart” the will. “Spirit” is literally the breath, for spirit, breath, and wind are expressed by one term in Hebrew, Hence by “loving God with all the heart and with all the soul,” is meant with all the love and with all the understanding. That the term “spirit” signifies the understanding or Intelligence, may be seen from many passages, as from this-“They that erred in spirit shall know intelligence.” D. L. W. 383.

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