Isaiah 33

1 WOE unto thee, thou spoiler, who hast not been spoiled; and who dealest treacherously, and they have not dealt treacherously with thee! when thou shalt cease to spoil, thou shalt be spoiled; and when thou shalt make an end to deal treacherously, they shall deal treacherously with thee.

VERSE 1. There are two kinds of “desolation” or of “devastation,” or of” spoiling,” mentioned in the Word. One is predicated of the regenerate, which is apparent only; the other of the unregenerate or of the evil, and is absolute. The man who is born within the church, from earliest childhood learns out of the Word, and from the doctrinals of the church, what the Truth of faith is, and also what the Good of charity is; but when he becomes adult, he begins either to confirm in himself, or to deny in himself, the Truths of faith which he had learnt, for he then looks at thern with his own proper sight; thereby he causes them either to be appropriated to himself, or to be rejected: for nothing can be appropriated to anyone which is not acknowledged from his own proper intuition, that is, which he does not know from himself, not from another, to be so. The Truths, therefore, which he had imbibed from childhood, could not enter further into his life than to the first entrance, from which they may be admitted more interiorly, or else be cast forth abroad. With those who are regenerated, that is, who the Lord foresees will suffer themselves to be regenerated, those Truths are exceedingly multiplied, for all such are in the affection of knowing Truths, but when they accede nearer to the very act of regeneration, they are, as it were, deprived of those Truths, which are then drawn inwards, and in this case the man appears in desolaiion; nevertheless those Truths are successively remitted into the natural principle, and are there conjoined with Good, during man’s regeneration. But with those who are not regenerated, that is, who the Lord foresees will not suffer themselves to be regenerated, Truths indeed are wont to be multiplied, inasmuch as they are in the affection of knowing such things for the sake of reputation, honour, and gain; but when they come to maturer age, and submit those Truths to their own proper sight, in this case they either do not believe, or they deny, or turn them into falses; thus Truths with such are not drawn inwards, but are cast forth abroad, yet still they remain in the memory for the sake of ends in the world without life. This state is also called “desolation” or ” devastation,” but it differs from the former in that the desolation of the former state is apparent, whereas the desolation of this state is absolute: for in the former state man is not deprived of Truths, but in this latter state he is altogether deprived of them. These two kinds of “desolation” and of “devastation” are often mentioned in the Word. (See Chap. xlix. 17, 18, 19, Exposition.) How the case is with “desolation,” is evident from those who are in desolation in the other life. They are vexed by evil spirits and genii, who infuse persuasions of what is evil and false, insomuch that they are almost overflooded, in consequence of which Truths do not appear; but as the time of desolation comes to an end, they are illustrated by light from heaven, and thus the evil spirits and genii are driven away everyone into his own hell, where they undergo punishments. In Isaiah it is said- “Woe unto thee, thou spoiler; who hast not been spoiled, and who dealest treacherously,” &c.; (xxxiii. 1.) by which is meant that the “spoiler,” or those [the evil spirits] who devastate and cause devastation to the good, will, in their turn, be devastated of everything true and good in the external which they had assumed, and be cast into hell; hence it is that a “woe” is denounced against them. A. C. 5376.
To “deal treacherously,” or perfidiously; is to act against revealed Truths.. A. E. 710. See above, Chap. xxi. 2, Exposition.

2 O Jehovah, have mercy on us; we have waited for Thee: be Thou their arm every morning; even our salvation in the time of distress.

Verse 2. We often read of “morning” in the Word, and it has a various signification according to the series of things treated of in the internal sense; in the supreme sense it signifies the Lord, and also His coning; by it, in the internal sense, is signified His kingdom and church, and their state of peace; it signifies, moreover, the first state of a New Church, and also a state of love, likewise a state of illustration, consequently a state of intelligence and wisdom, find also a state of conjunction of Good and Truth, which is when the internal man is conjoined to the external. The ground and reason why “morning” has such various significations is, because in tho suprerne sense it signifles the Divine Human of the Lord; and hence it likewise signifies all those things which proceed from Him, so that He Himself is there. The reason why the Divine Human of the Lord in the supreme sense is understood by “morning” is, because the Lord is the Sun of the angelic heaven, and the Sun of that heaven does not make a progression from morning to evening, or from rising to setting, as the sun of the world does to appearances but it remains constant in its place, in front above the heavens; hence it is that it is always in the morninq, and never in the evening; and inasmuch as all intelligence and wisdom which the angels possess, exists with them from the Lord as a Sun, therefore also their state of love, and their state of wisdom and intelligence, and, in general, their state of illustration, is signified by “morning;” for those things proceed from the Lord as a Sun, and what proceeds from Hirn is Himself, for from the Divine nothing but what is Divine proceeds, and everything Divine is Himself. That the Lord is the Sun of the angelic heaven, and that from Him, as a Sun, exists all love, wisdom, and intelligence, and, in general, all illustration as to divine Truths, from which wisdom is derived, may be seen in the work concerning Heaven and Hell, n. 116-125, 126-143, 155, 156. A. E. 179.
Be Thou their arm, every morning.-That the “hands,” the “arms,” and the “shoulders” correspond to power in the Grand Man, is because the forces and powers of the whole body, and of all its viscera, relate to those members, for the body exercises its powers by the arms and the hands. Hence also it is that, in the Word, powers are signified :by the “‘hands,” the “arms,” and the “shoulders,” as might be proved by many passages, as in Isaiah:-” Be Thou their arm every morning. (See also Isa. xl. 10; xliv. 12; li. 5.) A. C. 4933. See also above, Chap. v. 25, Exposition.

3 At the voice of the tumult the peoples flee; at the lifting up of Thyself the nations are scattered.

Verse 3. “Peoples” here signify falses, and “nations” evils, which, at the time of Judgment, are said “to flee and to be scattered.” A. E. 331.

4 And your spoil shall be gathered, as the caterpillar gathereth: as the running to and fro of locusts, so shall he run upon it.

Verse 4. The false in extremes, or the most dense false, is here signified [by the “caterpillar” and] by the “locusts,” as is evident from many passages in the Word, especially from the Apocalypse, chap. ix., “where” locusts” were seen ascending from the bottomless pit. The “locust” specifically signifies the sensual principle, which is the ultimate of the life of man, or the ultimate in which terminates and upon which rests the understanding of man. Hence this ultimate is like a basis upon which interior or superior principles, which belong to the will and to the understanding of man, rest as upon their foundation. In like manner the interior and superior things of the Word, which are called spiritual and celestial, since they must have a foundation upon which they can stand and subsist, wherefore the literal sense of the Word, which is its ultimate and its basis, is natural and sensual, and is also, in a good sense, understood by the “locust;” consequently the Good and Truth of the literal sense is understood by “locusts.” Hence it was that John the Baptist “fed upon locusts,” (Matt, iii. 4; Mark i. 6.) and that the, people of Israel were “permitted to eat them.” (Lev. xi. 20-22.) A. E. 543.

5 Jehovah is exalted; yea, He dwelleth on high: He hath filled Zion with judgment and justice.

Verse 5. What is Divine is signified by what is “exalted” and” high;” hence it is that Jehovah, or the Lord, is said “to be exalted, and to dwell on high.” See also Isa. lvii. 15, and many other passages. A. C. 8153.

6 And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, the strength of [thy] salvations: the fear of Jehovah, this shall be his treasure.

Verse 6. “Wisdom” and “knowledge” signify the Good of faith conjoined with its Truth. The fear of Jehovah, a treasure,” is the Good of love. A. C. 2826.

7 Behold, the mighty men shall cry without: the angels of peace shall weep bitterly [saying],

Verses 7, 8. Inasmuch as peace is of the Lord, and in heaven from Him, therefore the angels are there called “the angels of peace:” and as there is no peace to those upon earth who are in evils and falses thence derived, therefore it is said that “they weep bitterly [saying], The highways are devastated; the wayfaring man ceaseth;” “paths” and “ways” signifying the goods of life and truths of faith; wherefore “the highways being devastated” slgnify the goods of life being no more, and “the wayfaring man having ceased.” signifies the same with respect to the truths of faith. A.. E. 365.

8 The highways are devastated; the wayfaring man ceaseth: he hath broken the covenant; he hath despised the cities; he regardeth no man,

Verse 8. The devastation of the church is here treated of. “The highways are devastated, the wayfaring man ceaseth,” signifies that the goods and truths which lead to heaven were no more; “he hath broken the covenant,” signifies that there was no conjunction with the Lord; “he hath despised the cities,” denotes that they refuse doctrine; “he regardeth no man,” signifies that they make no account of wisdom. A. E. 280.
Verses 8, 9. To “despise the cities,” denotes to despise truths of doctrine; to “regard no man,” is not to consider Truth and Good. “The earth mourneth, it langnisheth,” is the church as to Good; “Lebanon is ashamed, it withereth,” is the church as to Truth. A. E. 223.

9 The earth mourneth, it languisheth: Lebanon is ashamed, it withereth: Sharon is become like a desert; and Bashan and Carmel shake off [their leaves].

Verse 9. Where also the “earth” denotes the church, which is said to “mourn” and to “languish” when falses begin to be apprehended and acknowledged for Truths, wherefore it is said-” Lebanon is ashamed, it withereth;” by “Lebanon” is signified the same as by the “cedar,” namely, the Truth of the church. A. E. 304.
Sharon is become like a desert.-“Sharon” is the internal of the celestial church. A. C. 10,609.
Basham and Carmel, &c.-“Bashan” is the good of the natural principle. (A. C. 3923.) But what it means, in a bad sense, and what the “Oaks of Bashan ” signify, see Chap. ii. 12-17, Exposition.

10 Now will I arise, saith Jehovah; now will I lift up Myself ; now will I be exalted.

Verses 10, [The Lord’s rising to Judgment is here described, and, instead of producing the fruits represented by “Sharon,” “Bashan,” and “Carmel,” which denote the celestial, spiritual, and natural good of the church, which the wicked, or the “hypocrites,” had assumed in the external whilst they lived in the world, they will now” conceive chaff, and bring forth stubble,” which are the fallacies and falsities conjoined with the evils in their internal, which at Judgment are brought forth to their condemnation.]

11 Ye shall conceive chaff; ye shall bring forth stubble: as to your spirit, fire shall consume you.

Verse 11. “The spirit whichfire shall consume” signifies the understanding of Truth, thus intelligence; “fire” is lust or concupiscence which, because it is from evil, destroys. A. C. 9818. See also T. C. R. 156.
Verses 11, 12, 14. As to your spirit, fire shall consume you” &c.Where “fire,” in the Word, is predicated of the evil and of the hells, it signifies the love of self and of the world, and thence every evil affection and cupidity which torment the wicked after death in hell. The reason of this opposite signification of “fire” is, because the Divine Love, when it descends out of heaven, and falls into the societies where the evil are, is turned into a love contrary to the Divine Love, and thence into various burnings of concupiscences and cupidities, and thus into evils of every kind; and inasmuch as evils carry with them the punishments of evil, hence arise their torments from this conversion of the Divine Love into infernal love with the evil. The hells, where the love of self and of the world, and thence hatred and revenge, have rule, appear as in a flaming fire, both within and round about, although no fire is perceived by the diabolic crew who are in those hells; from these loves, also, the diabolic crew themselves, who are in such hells, appear with their faces inflamed and reddening as from fire. Hence may appear the signification of “fire” in the above passage, and in the following:-“Wickedness burneth like a fire: the brier and the thorn it shall consume, and it shall kindle the thicket of the wood; and they shall mount up in a volume of smoke, And the people shall be as food for the fire: a man shall not spare his brother.” (Isaiah ix. 18, 19.) And again-” All the people shall be for burning, even food for the fire.” (ix, 5.) A. E. 504.

12 And the peoples shall be as the burnings of lime; as the thorns are cut up, and burned in the fire.

Verse 12. “Thorns burned in the fire” signify falses, which catch fire and consume Goods and Truths. A. C. 9144.
As to what is understood by “thorns” and “briers,” see above, Chap. vii. 23, 24, 25, Exposition.
[“Burnings of lime” signify evils of life, and “thorns” are falses conjoined with those evils.]

13 Hear, O ye that are afar off, what I have done; and acknowledge, O ye that are near, My power.

14 The sinners in Zion are afraid; terror hath seized the hypocrites. Who among us can abide this devouring fire? who among us can abide these everlasting burnings?

Verse 13. What is meant by being “far off” and “near,” see Chap. V. 26, 28; also Chap. xxxiv, 1, Exposition.

15 He who walketh in justice, and speaketh right things; who despiseth the gain of oppressions; who shaketh his hands from holding a bribe; who stoppeth his ear from the hearing of bloodshed; who shutteth his eyes from seeing evil:

16 He shall dwell in the high places; the strongholds of the rocks shall be his place of defence: his bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.

Verses 15, 17. To “walk in justice” and to “speak right things,” signifies to live in the Good of love and charity, and to think and perceive Truths; for to “walk” signifies to live, “justice” is predicated of Good, and “right things” of Truth. To “see the King in His beauty,” signifies to attain to wisdom; for “king” denotes Truth from Good, and “beauty” its wisdom, forasmuch as in wisdom Divine Truth is in its beautiful form. “They shall behold the land far extended,” signifies the extension of wisdom into heaven; for “land” or the” earth” signifies the church and also heaven, and “far extended” signifies extension there. A. E. 453.
Who shutteth his eyes from seeing evil: thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.-To “shut the eyes from seeing evil,” denotes not to admit evil into the thought. That “the eyes should see the King in His beauty,” signifies that they should understand Truth in its own light with pleasantness; for by the “King” in this passage is not understood any king, but Truth, as may be seen above, n. 31. A.E. 152.

17 Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land far extended.

Verse 17. They shall behold the land far extended, &c.-To “see the King in His beauty,” denotes genuine Truth which is from the Lord; to “behold the land far extended” [or of far distances], signifies the extension of wisdom and intelligence. A. E. 304.

18 Thine heart shall meditate terror. Where is the scribe ? where is the weigher? where is he that numbered the towers?

Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deep speech, which thou couldst not hear; and of a barbarous tongue of no understanding.

Verses 18, 19. The above words signify remembrance of the state of the church when there is no intelligence nor wisdom, and when interior Truths are falsified. “Terror” denotes that state; “scribe” means intelligence; the “weigher” denotes wisdom; “towers” denote interior Truths; and to destroy the quality thereof by falsifications is here signified by “numbering” them. “Thou shalt not see a fierce [or obstinate] people,” signifies those who are in the falses of evil, and, abstractedly, those falses; “a people of a deep speech,” signifies falses of doctrine confirmed until they appear as Truths; “speech” denoting the Truth of doctrine, but, in the present case, the false not visible. A. E. 453.
Verse 18. Where is he that numbered the towers ?-As to the signification of “numbering,” in a bad sense, see Chap. xxii, 10, Exposition.

20 Look unto Zion, the city of our appointed feasts: thine eyes shall behold Jerusalem, a quiet habitation, a tabernacle that shall not be taken down: whose stakes shall not be removed for ever, and of whose cords none shall be plucked up.

21 But Jehovah shall be magnificent unto us, a place of rivers and of streams, and of broad spaces, in which no ship with oars shall pass, neither shall any magnificent vessel go through.

Verse 20. By ” Zion” is not understood Zion, nor by “Jerusalem ” Jerusalem, but heaven and the church, as to the Good of Love and the Truth of Doctrine. These are “a quiet habitation,” and “a tabernacle which shall not be taken down” or dissipated. By “the stakes that shall not be removed,” is signified confirmation by divine Truths; and by “the cords which shall not be plucked up [or rent asunder],” is signified conjunction by divine Good. A. E.709.
A tabernacle that shull not be taken down, &c.-The reason why a “tabernacle” signifies the church as to doctrine and worship, is, because they who were of the church in the most ancient times dwelt in tabernacles and tents, with which also they journeyed; for in those times they were mostly feeders of sheep, and the father of the family taught those who were descended from his house the precepts of charity, and thence the life of love, in tabernacles, as was the case afterwards, in temples, Hence the “tabernacle” signified the same as the “house of God,” viz., the worship of God according to doctrine, consequently also the church, inasmuch as the church is a church from a life according to doctrine, and a life according to doctrine is worship. Inasmuch as those most ancient people, with whom the church was, adored God under a human form,’ and under a human form is the Lord, they consequently worshipped Him; hence their church was a celestial church, which is distinguished from the spiritual church in this, that the celestial church, is in love to the Lord and in worship from that love, and the spiritual church is in love towards the neighbour and in worship from that love; and whereas such was the quality of the church with the most ancient people, and the doctrine of love to the Lord was taught in their tabernacles, and, hence tabernacles were loved by the Lord above temples, therefore, by command of the Lord on Mount Sinai, a tabernacle was built, in which the Israelitish nation might perform holy worship; and afterwards, in memory of this most holy worship, the “feast of tabernacles” was instituted. A. E. 799.
Verses 20, 21. By “Zion and Jerusalem.” is understood the church of the Lord; by “Zion” the church where the Good of love is the ruling principle, and by “Jerusalem” the church where the Truth of doctrine is the ruling principle. Jehovah is called “magnificent” when the men of the church are of such a nature and quality as to be receptive of divine Good and Truth from the Lord; and Zion and Jerusalem are called “a place of rivers and of streams, and of broad spaces,” when all their intelligence and wisdom, and Good and Truth, are from the Lord; “rivers” denoting wisdom, “streams” intelligence, and the “broad spaces” Truths from Good in multitude and extension. “No ship wth oars shall pass, neither shall any magnificent vessel go through,” signifies that in the church there shall be no lntelhgence and wisdom from the proprlum; for the “ship with oars” is intelligence from the proprium, because it is moved by men by means of oars; and the “magnificent vessel” is wisdom from the proprium, because man, by reason of that wisdom, glories and is proud, for a “ship,” when it is going along and paesmg through the sea, being then in its course, carrying its wealth, signifies intelligence and wisdom. That a ship is not here [literally] understood, is evident, for it is said concerning Zion and Jerusalem. A. E. 514.
As to the signification of “ships,” and especially of the “ships of Tarshish,” see above, Chap. xxiii. 1-3, Exposition.

22 For Jehovah is our Judge; Jehovah is our Lawgiver; Jehovah is our King: He shall save us.

Verse 22. The Lord is a “Judge,” because He acts from Good; He is a “Lawgiver” or “Legislator,” because He acts from Truth by that Good; and He is a “King,” because He acts from Truth; thus these things follow in order. A. C. 6372.

Thy cords are loosed; they could not well strengthen their mast; they could not spread the sail: then is the prey of a great spoil divided; the lame take the prey.

Verse 23. That “cords” and “ropes” signify conjunction mediums, see Chap: v. 18, Exposition. [When Truths are separated from Good, as in this verse, they have no longer any power to support the doctrine (ship) In which the mind of man can trust for salvation; see verse 20, where “cords” are used in a good sense.]
The lame take the prey.-By the “lame,” in the Word, are signified [In a bad sense] those who are in no good, and hence in no truth as in Isa. xxxiii. 23. In the original tongue, “to be lame” is expressed by one term, and “to halt” by another. By the “lame,” in a proper sense, are signifled those who are In natural good, into which spiritual truths cannot flow, on account of the natural appearances and fallacies of the senses; and, in the opposite sense, those who are in no natural good, but in evil, which entirely prevents the influx of spiritual Truth. But by “halting,” in a proper sense, are signified those who are in natural good in which common [or general] truths are admitted, but not particular and singular truths, because of ignorance; but, in the opposite sense, those who are in evil, and thus who do not even admit general truths. A. C. 4302.
[By the “prey” which the lame are here said to take is signified the literal sense, the spoil of the Assyrian army, which, as it signified falsified and perverted truths and adulterated goods, was taken, .according to the above extract, by the “lame” in a bad sense’ that is appropriated to the evil when separated at the time of Judgment from the good, and cast into hell, which was signified by the total destruction of the Assyrian army, as recorded in chap. xxxvii. 36.]

24 And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.

Verse 24. As to what is signified by “sickness,” “diseases,” “wounds,” “bruises” and” sores” when mentioned in the Word, see Chap. i. 6, 7, Exposition.
The people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity.-It is commonly supposed that when sins are remitted, they, are wiped away or washed off as filth is by water; but sins are not wiped Rway, but removed, that is, man is withheld from them when he is kept in good by the Lord; and, when this is the case, it appears to him as if he were without his sins, thus as if they were wiped away. And, so far as man is reformed, so far he is capable of being kept in good. How this reformation is effected, will be shewn in the following chapter on Regeneration. He who supposes that sins are remitted in any other way is greatly deceived. The evidences that accompany the remission, that is, the removal, of sins, are the following. They whose sins are remitted experience a delight in worshipping God for His own sake, and in serving the neighbour for the sake of the neighbour; in doing good for the sake of good, and in speaking truth for the sake of truth. Such persons disclaim all merit in the exercise of their charity and faith; they are utterly averse to all evils, as enmity, hatred, revenge, adultery; and not only do they shun them, but they abhor the very thought of them connected with any intention. But the evidences that sins are not remitted, or removed, are these. They whose sins are not remitted do not worship God for His own sake, or serve the neighbour for his own sake; thus they do not do good and speak truth for the sake of good and truth, but for the sake of themselves and the world. They claim merit on account of their deeds; they perceive nothing undelightful in evils, such as enmity, hatred, revenge, and adultery; and, influenced with these lusts, they cherish the thought of them in all licentiousness. H. D. N. J. 166, 167.

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