1 AND it came to pass in the fourteenth year of king Hezekiah, that Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came up against all the fortified cities of Judah, and took them.
[THE account here given of “the besieging of the cities of Judah by the king of Assyria,” signifies, as shewn in former chapters, the hostility of man’s rational principle, when not regenerate, against the Lord and the truths of His Word, which invariably tends to destroy the church in the aggregate, and everything belonging to heaven and the church in man, as Sennacherib intended to destroy Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and to take the people away into captivity. The final judgment on such a state of opposition and hostility is here described by “the destruction of the Assyrian army,” and finally by “the destruction of Sennacherib himself by his own sons in his own country.” (Chap. xxxvii. 38.) The historical narratives of the Word have an internal sense, as well as the prophetic declarations. A general or summary idea of the contents of this chapter will be found, as given by Swedenborg, in the margin. The particulars have not been expounded by him, as only the verses 6, 17, and 22 of this chapter, and the corresponding verses in 2 Kings xviii. are found quoted in his works. From a knowledge of correspondences, however, as a fixed rule of Scriptural interpretation, much, as, to the internal sense, may be gathered. By elevating the mind above the historical facts, to a contemplation of their spiritual sense, it will be seen that there are at all times many Assyrians In the church, and especially at its end, and that everyone is in danger of being ” led captive to Assyria,” (2 Kings xviii. 11.) when he begins to doubt the Truths of the Word, and to indulge in doubtful and negative reasonings respecting them. By the conceit and pride of our self-love and self-intelligence, we are very prone to this Assyrian state of arrogance, rebellion, and blasphemy, as described In this chapter, against the Lord and His Word.
The great principles to be assumed in right thinking and reasoning respecting the Truths of the Word, and respecting the Spiritual and Divine things revealed therein, are as follow:-1. That there is One God, who is infinite Love and Wisdom, or infinite Goodness and Truth and that this One God is the Lord JESUS CHRIST, “in whom all the fulness of the Godhead (all the Divine Trinity) dwelleth bodily;” (Col. ii. 9.) the Creator, Redeemer, and Saviour of mankind, 2. That the Word is Divine and revealed from the Lord Himself for the purpose of saving the human race, and that it is ” full of spirit and of life,” and is the fountain of wisdom to angels and to men. 3. That there is a life after death,-a heaven and a hell. 4. That man is created to become an inhabitant or an angel of heaven, And that he becomes an angel in the degree that he acknowledges God in heart, in life, and in worship, and lives according to the precepts and truths of His Word. 5. That he must shun all evils from hell as opposed to God, as contrary to His Will and Word, and as destructive of his own salvation and eternal happiness. 6. That he must love and do good as coming from God, and agreeable to His will. 7. That he must shun evil and do good as of himself, in the full belief that the power to do so is from God and that all the merit and praise of so living and doing belong to Him alone. To enter upon the reading and study of the Word with these great principles of thought and of action, is to be led into the way of Truth and of Heaven, and to avoid the evils of a negative rationalism.
That the difference between reasoning from negative and reasoning from affirmative principles may be well understood, we will adduce the following extracts.]
Verse 1. There are two principles from which men think; a negative principle and an affirmative. Those think from a negative principle who believe nothing unless they are convinced of its truth by things rational and scientific, yea, by things sensual; but those think from an affirmative principle who believe things to be true because the Lord has declared them in His Word, consequently who have faith in the Lord. They who are in a negative principle in regard to the Truth of what is written in the Word, and who say in their hearts that they will then believe when they are persuaded by things rational and scientific, are in such a state of mind that they never believe, no, not even when convinced by the bodily senses, as by the sight, the hearing, and the touch, for they always frame new reasonings against such convictions, whereby at length they totally extinguish all faith, and at the same time turn the light of the rational principle into darkness, because into false principles. But they who are in an affirmative principle, that is, who believe what is contained in the Word to be true because the Lord has declared it, are in such a state of mind that, by things rational and scientific, yea, by things of sense, their faith may be continually confirmed, and their ideas illustrated and corroborated. This is the case with every one who is in an affirmative principle, inasmuch as a man has no light but by means of things rational and scientific; with these latter, doctrine thus truly lives, and of them it is said that “they are healed, and bring forth;” (Gen. xx, 17.); but with the former, doctrine is entirely dead, and of them it is said that “the womb is entirely shut up.” (Gen. xx, 18.)
Hence it is evident what it is to enter into the doctrine of Faith by things rational, and what to enter into things rational from the doctrine of Faith; but let this be illustrated by examples. It is deducible from the doctrine of the Word, that the first and principal point of doctrine is love to the Lord and neighbourly love or charity. They who are in an affirmative principle respecting this doctrine, may enter at pleasure into things rational and scientific, yea, into things sensual, for the confirmation of it, and the more they enter into such things, the more they are confirmed, for universal nature is full of confirming proofs; but they who deny this first and principal point of doctrine, and wish first to be convinced of it by things scientific and rational, never suffer themselves to be convinced, because they deny it in heart, and are continually insisting on some other principle, which they believe essential. At length, by confirmations of their own favourite principle, they so blind themselves, that they do not even know what love to the Lord is, or what is neighbourly love; and inasmuch as they confirm themselves in things contrary thereto, they also finally confirm themselves in this, that there cannot be any other love attended with delight but self-love and the love of the world, and their confirmation herein is such, that, if not in doctrine, yet in life, they embrace infernal love instead of heavenly love. But with those who are neither in a negative principle, nor in an affirmative, but in a doubtful one before they deny or affirm, the case. is as was mentioned above, n. 2568, viz., that “they who incline to a life of evil, fall into a negative principle; but they who incline to a life of good, are led into an affirmative.”
Let us take also another example from one of the primary points of the doctrine of Faith, that all Good is from the Lord, and all evil from man, or from self. They who are in an affirmative principle respecting “this point of doctrine, may confirm themselves therein by many considerations both rational and scientific; for instance, by this, that it is impossible for any good to flow in from any other source than from essential Good, that is, from the Fountain of Good, consequently from the Lord, and that this must needs be the beginning or origin of good; and this he may illustrate to himself by all things which are truly good in himself, in others, in the community at large, yea, in the universe of creation. But they who are In a negative principle confirm themselves in whatever is contrary to the above doctrine by all things which come under their consideration, insomuch that at length they do not know what good is, but dispute with each other concerning the highest Good, being in deep ignorance that celestial and spiritual Good, which is from the Lord, is that Good by which every inferior good is vivified, and that hence delight is truly delightful: some also conceive that if good was not from themselves, it could not possibly come from any other source. Let us take also another example. It is one of the primary points of the doctrine of Faith, that they who are principled in love to the Lord and in charity towards their neighbour, are in a capacity to receive the truths of doctrine, and to have faith in the Word, but not they who are principled in self-love and the love of the world; or, what is the same thing, that they who are principled in good are in a capacity to believe, but not they who are principled in evil. Such as are in an affirmative principle respecting this point of doctrine, have it in their power to confirm it by innumerable considerations both rationally and scientifically; -rationally, by this consideration, that Truth and Good agree together, but not Truth and evil, and that as in evil there is every false principle, so also from evil comes every false principle, and that if in some cases there be still Truth, it is in the lips, and not in the heart;-scientifically, by many considerations, as for instance that truths shun evils, and that evils spue out truths. But they who are in a negative principle confirm themselves in this persuasion, that everyone, of whatever nature and quality he be, even though he live in continual hatred, in the delights of revenge, and in deceit, is capable of believing like others, and this until they reject altogether the good of life from doctrine, which being rejected they believe nothing.
For the further illustration of this subject, let us take another example respecting the Word. They who are in an affirmative principle respecting the Word, that it is so written as to contain an internal sense, which does not appear In the letter, may confirm themselves herein by many rational considerations, as by the following: that by the Word man has connection with heaven; that there are correspondences of things natural with things spiritual, and. that these latter things do not appear as they really are; that the ideas of interior thought are altogether different from natural ideas which fall into expressions of speech; that man, even during his abode in the world, may be in heaven (inasmuch as he was born to live in both), by means of the Word which is for both; that an influx of a certain Divine light attends some, flowing into their intellects and affections, whilst the Word is being read; that it is necessary somewhat should be written which came down from heaven, and consequently that that somewhat cannot be such in its origin as it is in the letter; . that nothing can be holy, but by virtue of a holiness from within. They may also confirm themselves herein by scientific considerations, as by the following: that in old time men were principled in the doctrine of representatives, and that the writings of the ancient church were according to such doctrine; also that hence the writings of many amongst the Gentiles were according to the same doctrine; and that from this ground the style of those writings became venerable, and was esteemed as holy in the church, and as learned amongst the heathen: the books of several authors may likewise be appealed to as instances of this kind of writing. But they who are in a negative principle if they do not deny all this, still they do not believe it; and they persuade themselves that the Word is such as it is in the letter, to appearance indeed of a worldly nature, yet still that it is spiritual; but wherein its spirituality consists, is of no concern to them, though for manifold reasons they are willing to assert it; and this they can confirm by many arguments.
In order that the subject here treated of may be accommodated to the apprehension of the simple, it may be expedient to illustrate it scientifically by the following example. They who are in an affirmative principle respecting sight or vision, as not appertaining to the eye, but to the spirit, which, by means of the eye, as by an organ of its body, sees the things that are in the world, may confirm themselves herein by many considerations, as for instance by the following: that the things heard in discourse have relation to a certain interior sight, and are transmuted into it, which could not be the case unless there existed an interior sight or vision; also, that whatever is the subject of thought, is seen by an interior sight, by some persons more clearly; and by others more obscurely; besides that objects are presented to the imagination not unlike the objects of sight; and further, that unless the spirit, which is in the body, saw that which the eye, as an organ, admits to be seen, the spirit in another life could see nothing, when yet it must needs be that it will there see numberless astonishing things which the eye of the body is utterly incapable of seeing; moreover they may reflect on dreams, especially on those of the Prophets, in which several things were seen as distinctly as by the bodily sight, and yet not by the bodily eyes; lastly, if they have a taste for, and are versed in philosophical investigations, they may confirm themselves in the above truth by this consideration, that things exterior cannot enter into things interior, as things compounded cannot enter into the simple parts whereof they are compounded; consequently the things appertaining to the body cannot enter into the things appertaining to the spirit; and in like manner by several other considerations, till at length they are persuaded that sight or vision belongs to the spirit, and not to the eye, except from the spirit.
But they who are in a negative principle call all these things phantasies; and when they are told that a spirit exerts and enjoys a more perfect sight or vision than man does in the body, they ridicule such an idea, and make light of it, believing that they must then live in darkness when they are deprived of bodily sight, although the contrary is true, and they are then in light. From the above examples it appears manifest what it is to enter from truths into things rational and scientific, and what to enter from things rational and scientific into truths, viz., that the former case is according to order, but the latter contrary to order; and that when it is effected according to order, then man is enlightened, but when contrary to order, then he is blinded. Hence it is clear of how much concern it is that truths be known, and be believed, for by truths man is enlightened, whereas by false principles be is blinded; by truths there is opened an immense and almost unbounded plain to the rational principle, but by false principles there is opened no such plain, although it appears otherwise; hence the angels enjoy so great wisdom, because they are in truths, for Truth is the essential light of heaven. They who have blinded themselves by this, that they are unwilling to believe anything which they cannot comprehend by the senses, till at length they believe nothing, were formerly called “serpents of the tree of knowledge,” for they reasoned much from things sensual and the fallacies therein originating, which gain easy admittance to man’s apprehension and faith, and thereby they seduced many, see n. 195, 196. In another life they are readily distinguished from other spirits by this circumstance, that on every subject relating to faith, they reason whether it be true or not true, and though it is shewn them a thousand and a thousand times to be true, still they raise arguments of a doubting negative nature in opposition to every confirming proof, and this to eternity; they are, in consequence, blinded to such a degree that they are bereft of common sense, that is, they cannot comprehend what is Good and True; and yet everyone of them is under a persuasion that he has more wisdom than all in the universe besides, making wisdom to consist in this, that they can· penetrate into and fathom what is Divine by virtue of their own natural powers and principles. Many who have been accounted wise in the world are more especially of this sort; for in proportion as anyone excels in powers of genius and in science, and is in an affirmative principle, he is in a capacity of becoming more wise than others. To cultivate the rational principle by sciences, is in no wise forbidden, but it is forbidden to close up the mind against the admission of the truths of faith, which are the truths of the Word. This subject is much treated of in the internal sense of the Word, especially in the prophetic writings, where “Assyria” and “Egypt” are spoken of; for by “Assyria” is signified reasoning, see n. 119, 1186; and by ” Egypt” science, see n. 1164, 1186, 1462.
Concerning those who, by things scientific and rational, would enter into the doctrinals of faith and things divine, and are thereby made insane, it is thus written in Isaiah :-” I will mingle the Egyptians with the Egyptians: and they shall fight, every man against his brother, and every man against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom,” &c. (See above, Chap. xix. 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 14; xxx. 1-3; xxxi. 1, 3, 8:) So in Jeremiah :-” My people hath done two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, which do not hold water. Is not Israel a servant? If he be home-born, why, is he become a spoil? Dost thou not do this to thyself by forsaking Jehovah thy God, at the time when He leadeth thee in the way? And now what hast thou to do with the way of Egypt, to drink the waters of Sihor? or what hast thou to do with the way of Assyria, to drink the waters of the river? O generation, see ye the Word of Jehovah! Have I been a wilderness unto Israel? a land of darkness? Wherefore have My people said, We shall have rule; We will not come further to Thee? Why departest thou in strength to change thy way? Thou also shalt be ashamed of Egypt, as thou wast ashamed of Assyria.” (ii. 13, 14, 17, 18, 31, 36.) Again, in the same Prophet: “Hear the Word of Jehovah, ye remains of Judah: Thus saith Jehovah of Zebaoth, the God of Israel: If ye in setting set your faces to come into Egypt, and shall come to sojourn there; then it shall come to pass, the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there ill the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall there stick close to you in Egypt, that ye shall there die; and they shall all be men [Viri] who have set their faces to come into Egypt, to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and the pestilence: and none of them shall survive or escape from before the evil which I bring upon you.” (xlii. 15-17, and the following verses.) So in Ezekiel:-” And let all the inhabitants of of Egpt know that I am Jehovah, because they have been a staff of a reed to the house of Israel; in taking hold of thee with the hand, thou shalt be broken, and shalt rend all their shoulder; and in leaning yourselves upon it, thou shalt be broken, and shalt make all their loins to stand: wherefore thus saith the Lord, Jehovah, Behold, I bring upon thee the sword, and I will cause it to cut off from thee man and beast; and the land of Egypt shall be for a desolation and a wasteness, and they shall know that I am Jehovah; because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it.” (xxix. 6-9, and the following verses.) So in Hosea:-“Ephraim was like a foolish dove; they called upon Egypt, they departed to Assyria: when they shall go, I will spread My net over them. Woe unto them! because they have wandered from Me.” (vii. 11-13.) Again, in the same Prophet:-” Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: eyery day he multiplieth a lie and desolation; and they make a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried into Egypt,” &c. (xii. 1, 2.) In all these passages by “Assyria,” as was shewn, is signified reasoning; by “Egypt” and “Pharaoh,” science; by “Ephraim,” the intellectual principle; and it is described, in these and several other passages in other parts of the Word, what is the nature and quality of man’s rational principle when he reasons concerning the truths of faith from a negative principle. The same is implied in what is written in Isaiah, chap. xxxvi. and xxxvii., how “Rabshakeh, being sent by the king of Assyria, spake against Jerusalem and king Hezekiah,” and how “the angel of Jehovah then smote in the camp of the king of Assyria a hundred and eighty and five thousand,” whereby is signified what is the overthrow and slaughter of man’s rational things, when he reasons against Divine things, howsoever it may appear to himself that he is wise in so doing. This reasoning is also called, throughout the Word, “whoredom” with the sons of Egypt, and with the sons of Assyria, as in Ezekiel:-” Thou hast committed whoredom with the sons of Egypt, thy neighbours, great in flesh; and hast multiplied thy whoredoms: and hast committed whoredom- with the sons of Assyria;, and yet wast not satisfied.” (xvi. 26, 28; xxiii. 3, 5-21.) See A. C. 2406.
But concerning those who, from the doctrine of faith, enter into things rational and scientific, and thereby become wise, it is thus written:-“In that day there shall be an altar to Jehovah in the midst of the land of Egypt,” &c. (See above, Chap. xix., 18-25, Exposition.) Speaking of the spiritual church, the spiritual principle whereof is “Israel,” the rational principle “Assyria,” and the scientific principle “Egypt,” which three principles constitute the intellectual things of that church; wherefore it is said-“In that day shall Israel be a third, together with Egypt and Assyria; a blessing in the midst of the land: whom Jehovah of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be My people, Egypt, and Assyria, the work of My hands; and Israel, Mine inheritance!” That things rational and scientific serve those who are in an affirmative principle, as means of becoming wise, was represented and signified by what was enjoined to the sons of Israel, that “they should borrow of the Egyptians vessels of gold, and vessels of silver, and raiment.” (Exod. iii. 22; xi. 2; xii. 35, 36.) In like manner by what is said in the Word throughout, that “they should possess the goods, houses, vineyards, oliveyards, and several other things belonging to the Gentiles;” and also that “the very gold and silver, which was taken from the Gentiles, should be holy,” as in Isaiah:-” It shall be at the end of seventy years, that Jehovah will visit Tyre, and she shall return to her meretricious gain; and she shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the earth that are upon the face of the ground. But her merchandise and her meretricious gain shall be holy to Jehovah: it shall not be treasured up, nor shall it be kept in store; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before Jehovah, for food sufficient, and for clothing [as of] old.” Where the “merchandise of Tyre” denotes, knowledges, see n. 1201; which, to those who are in a negative principle, are for “meretricious gain,” but to those who are in an affirmative principle, are “holy.” (See above, Chap. xxiii. 17, 18, Exposition.) The like is also meant by these words of the Lord:-” Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye shall fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. If ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon; who will commit to your trust the truel” (Luke xvi, 9, 11.) A. C. 2588.
The king of Assyria came up against all the fortified cities of Judah.—A “city” and “a fortified or defenced city” signifies the doctrine of Truth defending against falses. A. E. 219, 220, 233.
2 And the king of Assyria sent Rabshakeh from Lachish to Jerusalem, to the king Hezekiah, with a great army: and he stood at the aqueduct of the upper pool, in the highway of the fuller’s field.
Verse 2. The aqueduct of the upper pool.-As to the meaning of the “pools” at Jerusalem, both the upper and the lower, see above, Chap. vii. 3; xxii. 9, Exposition.
3 And there came out unto him Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder.
4 And Rabshakeh said unto them, Say ye, I pray you, to Hezekiah, Thus saith the great king, the king of Assyria, What confidence is this in which thou confidest?
5 Thou hast said, (but they are vain words,) I have counsel and strength for the war: now in whom dost thou confide, that thou rebellest against me?
Verse. 3. And there carne out unto liim Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household.-See Chap. xxii. 17-25, Exposition.
And Shebna the scribe.-See Chap. xxxiii. 18, 19, Exposition.
6 Behold; thou confidest in the staff of this broken reed, in Egypt; on which, if a man lean, it will pierce his hand, and go through it: such is Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to all that confide in him.
7 But if thou say to me, We confide in Jehovah our God; is it not He, whose high places and whose altars Hezekiah hath removed, and hath said unto Judah and to Jerusalem, Before this altar shall ye bow yourselves down?
Verse 6. By “Egypt” is signified the natural man separate from the spiritual, and the scientific thereof, which, when separate from the intelligence of the spiritual man, becomes foolish, and is applied to confirm evils of every kind, whence it also becomes false. This, therefore, is what is called “the staff of a broken reed;” “reed,” as was said, denoting Truth in the ultimate of order, which is the scientific sensual; its being “bruised” signifies what is broken and not in coherence with any interior truth, which can alone cause consistency; “staff” denotes the power thence of perceiving and of reasoning concerning truths. Hence it may appear what is signified by “on which, if a man lean, it will pierce his hand, and go through it;” to “lean upon that staff” denotes to confide in a self-derived power of perceiving Truth, and of reasoning concerning it from the proprium; and “to pierce the hand, and to go through it,” signifies to destroy all intellectual power, and to see and seize upon mere fallacies instead of truths, “Such is Pharaoh, king of Egypt, to all that confide in him,” signifies that such is the natural man separate from the spiritual, as to his scientifics and intelligence thence derived, and reasoning from intelligence. A. E. 627.
8 Enter now, I pray thee, into an agreement with my lord the king of Assyria; and I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou canst on thy part set riders upon them.
Verse 8. I will give thee two thousand horses, if thou canst on thy part: set riders upon them.—As to the signification of “horses” and “riders;” see Chap. xxxi. 1, Exposition. [As the “horse” corresponds to the understandinq, and his “rider” to intelliqence, it may be seen that these words of the boasting Rabshakeb signify the pride of self-intelligence, or of the intelligence of the merely natural man separate from the spiritual, and its defiance and hostility to the intelligence of the spiritual man derived solely from the truths of the Word. The “people of Israel,” or the true members of the church, can never “ride upon the horses of Assyria,” in a bad sense, or upon the understanding when governed and guided by negative principles. It is their privilege and blessing to ride upon the “white horse,” (Rev. vi. 2; xix. 11.) or to have their intelligence derived from the pure truths of the Word, and thus to “go forth conquering and to conquer.”]
9 How then wilt thou turn away the face of one captain of the least of my lord’s servants, and put thy trust in Egypt for chariots and for horsemen?
Verse 9. And put thy trust in Egypt, &c.-See Chap. xxx. 1-3; xxxi, 1, Exposition.
10 And am I now come up without Jehovah against this land to destroy it? Jehovah hath said unto me,Go thou up against this land, and destroy it.
Verse 10. Jehovah hath said unto me, Go thou up against this land, and destroy it.-[These words involve the idea that it is the church itself which cherishes in its own bosom the falses from negative principles which destroy it. This “destruction,” at the time of judgment, is said to come from Jehovah, because it so appears; hence it is that “anger” and “vengeance,” &c. are ascribed in the Word to Him. See Chap. i. 24, Exposition.]
11 Then said Eliakim, and Shebna, and Joah unto Rabshakeh, Speak, we pray to thy servants in Syriac; for we understand it: and speak not unto us in Jewish, in the ears of the people who are upon the wall.
Verse 11. Speak, we pray thee, to thy servants in Syriac, &c.-[To “speak in the Syriac, and not in the Jewish language,” or to “speak in a language not understood by the people on the wall,” involves the idea that those who reason from negative principles against the truths of the Word, commonly speak and write so as not to be understood by the multitude who are in the simple acknowledgment of the Word in its literal sense, which is the “wall of Jerusalem.” (A. E. 811, 1307, 1311.) This non-understanding of “the language of Assyria by the people on the wall” is of the Lord’s Providence, lest everything of the Word should be falsified and profaned, and thus the church and the means of salvation be utterly destroyed, which would inevitably come to pass if those who are in the simple acknowledgment of the Word in the letter were to be led, captive by negative principles against it. It is also of the Lord’s Providence -that false creeds and erroneous doctrines are not understood by the people. Thus the tripersonal creed of Athanasius, which is the-basis of the orthodoxy, so-called, of nearly all Christian churches, is, professedly not understood by the people, nor even by the clergy themselves. The case is, the same as to nearly all erroneous doctrines, such as the dogma of “Justification by Faith alone,”—of the Vicarious Atonement,-of Predestination, &c. These doctrines, although called orthodox, speak a “language” which the people cannot understand, and which they scarcely ever read, but who remain in the simple acknowledgment of the Word in the letter; which they do read, and by means of which, in proportion to their fidelity to the Divine precepts, they are kept in consociation with heaven, and are eventually, after they have been instructed by angels, in the world of spirits, in the genuine doctrines and, truths of the Word, saved and raised up to heaven. For it is better to be in the simple acknowledgment of the Word in the letter, and in obscurity as to spiritual intelligence, than to be under the influence of erroneous dogmas, or to understand the language of a negative rationalism.]
12 And Rabshakeh said; Hath my lord sent me to thy lord and to thee, to speak these words? and not to the men that sit on the wall, that they may eat their own excrements, and drink their own urine, together with you?
Verse 12. [These words; denoting the dreadful extremities of a siege, involve, by correspondence, the idea that all negative reasonings have a direct tendency to immerse the men of the church in mere self-love, and, to cause them to feed upon its cupidities and lusts, in their worst and lowest form, which is that of merely corporeal and filthy pleasures, to which “excrement” and “urine” correspond. (See A. C. 943, 954, 1096, 5395.) In this state, to which Rabshakeh desired to reduce “the people on the wall of Jerusalem,” everything of the church is utterly devastated and reduced to contempt. In connection with this subject, we may here state that the act of “making urine against the walls of Jerusalem,” of which we read in 1 Samuel xxv, 22, 34; 1 Kings xiv, 10; xvi. 11; xxi, 21; 2 Kings ix. 8; is, by correspondence, to treat the letter of the Word, and the external worship of the church, with scorn and contempt, which is followed by the utter destruction of all who are in such a state. In Matt. xxvi, 67, and in xxvii. 30, it is said, “they did spit upon Him,” and “in His face,” to denote the contempt in which they held the Lord and His Word. But the act mentioned above signifies the lowest possible degree of contempt. The merely natural man, to the Word is for the most part “foolishness,” (1 Cor. ii. 14.) may from these statements be induced to think contemptuously of it, and to prevent his children from reading it, but let him know that the Word is written by correspondences between things natural and spiritual, and that the lowest degree of contempt in which a thing call be held, can only be expressed according to the divine style of inspiration, I in which the Word is written, in such a form. In a new translation of the Word, these and other vulgar forms of speech may now be expressed in a more refined mode, well understood by all, and thus probably the objection, so far, of the refined natural man, may be removed. We cannot do a greater injury to the states of others, and especially to the states of children, than by insinuating into their minds anything of contempt against the Word.]
13 Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in Jewish, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria.
14 Thus saith the king, Let not Hezekiah deceive you; for he will not be able to deliver you.
15 And let not Hezekiah make you confide in Jehovah, saying, Jehovah will certainly deliver us; this city shall not be given up into the hand, of the king of Assyria.
16 Hearken not unto Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make peace with me, and come out unto me: and eat ye everyone of his own vine, and everyone of his, own fig-tree; and drink ye everyone the waters of his own cistern:
17 Until I come and take you to a land like your own land; a land of corn and of wine, a land of bread and of vineyards.
18 Nor let Hezekiah persuade you, saying, Jehovah will, deliver us. Have the gods of the nations delivered each his own land from the hand of the king of Assyria?
Verses 13-18. Then Rabshakeh stood, and cried with a loud voice in Jewish, and said, Hear ye the words of the great king, the king of Assyria, &c.-[These words imply that a negative rationalism endeavours to persuade those who are in the simple belief of the Word in the letter, to rebel against the Lord and His Word, as represented by “king Hezekiah placing his trust in Jehovah, saying, Jehovah will surely deliver us; this city shall not be delivered into the land of the king of Assyria.” The promise which Rabshakeh gives to the people on the wall that, “if they would come out to him, he would give them a land like their own land, a land of corn and of wine,” &c., signifies that they should have an abundance of things Good and True; but in such case all these things would only be the semblance of things Good and True in the external man, and not at the same time in the internal, and which, consequently, at the time of judgment, would be utterly dispersed.]
19 Where are the gods of Hamath and of Arpad? where are the gods of Sepharvaim ? Have they delivered Samaria out of my hand?
20 Who are there among all the gods of these lands, that have delivered their land out of my hand, that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?
Verse 19. That the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgasites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arpadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites, were so many several nations, significative of so many different kinds of idolatry, appears from several passages in the Word; for these were the inhabitants of the land of Canaan, who, by reason of their idolatries, were rejected, and in part extirpated. Nevertheless, in the internal sense of the Word are not signified those nations, but the idolatries themselves prevalent among them, and, in general, those idolatries as prevalent with any people whatsoever; in particular, as prevalent amongst the Jews. For they who make worship to consist merely in things external, and are altogether unwilling to be instructed in things internal, and reject them when they are instructed, are most prone to every species of idolatry; as appears plainly from the case of the Jews. In internal worship alone there is a bond which withholds man from idolatry; but when that bond is removed, then there remains no other restraining power. There are, however, idolatries, not only of an external sort, but also such as are of a more interior nature. External idolatries are eagerly embraced by those who cultivate external worship without internal; the more interior kinds of idolalry are embraced by those who cultivate an external worship the interiors of which are defiled. Both these kinds of idolatries are signified by these nations. Interior idolatries are so many several falsities and evil lusts, which men love and adore and which are thus in the place of the gods and idols worshipped amongst the Gentiles. But what particular kinds of idol-falsities and lusts are signified by these nations, viz., the Jebusites, Amorites, Girgasites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arpadites, Zemarites, and Hamathites, it would be tedious here to explain. By the Divine Mercy of the Lord, the particular signification of each nation will be shewn in order as mention of it occurs. A. C. 1205.
21 And they were silent, and did not answer him a word; for the king’s command was, saying, Answer him not.
Verse 21. To be “silent” and “not to answer,” signifies not to receive, and not to reciprocate. (A. C. 2941; see also 2919, 2957.) In this case, not to receive and not to reciprocate ideas of blasphemy against the Lord and His Word.
22 Then Eliakim, the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah, the son of Asaph, the recorder, came to Hezekiah with rent garments, and told him the words of Rabshakeh.
Verse 22. With rent garments, &c.-As to the signification of these words in the spiritual sense, see Chap. xxxvii. 1, Exposition.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]