Isaiah 46

1 BEL boweth down, Nebo falleth; their idols are [delivered] to the beasts and the cattle: your burdens are loaded [upon them]: a weight to the weary [beast].
2 They fall, they bow down together; they cannot deliver the burden: their soul is gone into captivity.

Verse 1. [“Bel,” or “Belus,” called also “Baal,” was the chief idol or god of the Babylonians; and was worshipped in the celebrated tower of Babylon. (Comp, Jer.l. 2; li. 44.) This idol, as representing the idolatrous principle of the Babylonians, would correspond, as an image, to the love of power and preeminence grounded in the love of self. (See Chap. xiii. and xiv., Exposition.) At the period of Judgment, which is here described as about to come over Babylon, represented by the invasion of Cyrus, this idol would bow or fall down, as Dagon, the idol of the Philistines, did before the ark of God. (1 Sam. v. 2, 3, 7.) “Nebo” was an idol god of the Chaldeans, therefore a correlative of “Bel;” for as Babylon, in its perverse sense, signifies the adulteration and profanation of all the Goods of the Word and of the church, so Chaldea denotes, in a bad sense, the falsification and profanation of all its Truths. See above, Chap. xliii. 14, and especially Chap. xlvii. 1, Exposition.]
Verses 1,2. “Their idols are [delivered] to the beasts and the cattle,” signifies that their falses are infernal falses, and thence, evils; “They fall, they bow down together,” signifies that [at the Judgment] they shall fall to pieces. “Their soul is gone into captivity,” denotes that they go into hell, where they will be secluded from all Truth. A.E. 811.
For the meaning of “captivity” see Chap. xlv. 13; lxi 1, Exposition.

3 Hearken unto Me, O house of Jacob; and all ye, the remnant of the house of Israel: ye that have been borne [by Me] from the womb, that have been carried from the belly.
4 And, even to old age, I am the same; and even to grey hairs, I will carry you: I have made, and I will bear; I will carry, and I will deliver you.

Verse 3. Natural “births,” when mentioned in the Word, involve spiritual births, as is plain from the following passages:-” We have been pregnant; we have been in pain; we have, as it were, brought forth wind; we have not wrought deliverance for the land,” &c. (lsa. xxvi. 18.) “Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause to bring forth? saith the Lord: shall I cause to bring forth; and shut the womb?” &c. (Isa. lxvi. 7-10; see also Isaiah xliv. 2; Ezek. xxx. 15, 16; Hosea xiii, 13; Psalm xxii. 9; lxxi. 6; John iii. 3-7.) From this ground it is that the Lord is called “Father,” as in Isa. ix. 6; lxiii. 16; John x. 30; xiv. 8, 9 ; and such as are in Goods and Truths from Him are called “sons,” and “born of God,” and “brethren one among another;” (Matt. xxiii. 8.) and the church is called “mother.” (Hosea ii. 2, 5; Ezek. xvi. 45.) T. C.R. 583.
Respecting “regeneration” and its process, see Chap. i. 2; viii. 3,Exposition.
Verses. 3, 4. Treating of the reformation of the church, and of the regeneration of the men of the church, by the Lord. The church is signified by “the house of Jacob” and by “the house of Israel” the external church by “the house of Jacob,” and the internal church by “the house of Israel. By them that are “borne from the womb” are signified those who are being regenerated by the Lord; and by them that are “carried from the belly” are signified the regenerate. Inasmuch as the man who is being regenerated is first, conceived by the Lord, and afterwards born, and lastly educated and perfected, and inasmuch as regeneration is in this respect like to the natural generation of man, therefore by being “borne from the Womb” is signified the state of the man to be regenerated, from conception to nativity; the nativity itself, and afterwards education and perfection, being signified by being “carried from the belly, even unto, old age, I m the same; and even to grey hairs, I will carry.” Like things are signified by “I have made, and I will bear; I will carry, and I will deliver you;” but by the former expression is understood regeneration by the Goods of love and by charity, and by the latter regeneration by Truths from those Goods. By “delivering” is understood to take away and remove evils and falses, which are from hell. A. E. 710.

5 To whom will ye liken Me, and make Me equal? and to whom will ye compare Me, that we may be like?

Verse 5. It may be expedient here to say what is meant by a “likeness” or a resemblance of those things which are from the Divine Being. Such resemblances are made by men when they speak divine things with the mouth, and also in work do such things as are commanded “by the Divine, and thereby induce a belief that they are in Good: and in Truth, when yet in heart they altogether entertain other thoughts, and will only what is evil; such are dissemblers, hypocrites, and the deceitful. These are they who make likenesses or resemblances of those things which are from the Divine. In the other life, evil spirits make resemblances of those things which are from the Divine, by presenting a likeness, and appearance in externals in which there is nothing within of what is Divine. Dissemblers, hypocrites, and the deceitful learn this in the other life, and in general all who, from frequent use, have contracted a habit of speaking otherwise than they think, and of doing otherwise than they will: Some, by such practices, are desirous to acquire reputation, that they may seem good, and thereby deceive; some, that they may acquire authority. A. C. 8870.

6 They lavish gold out of the bag, and weigh out silver with the reed; they hire a founder, and he maketh it a god: they worship; yea, bow themselves down to it.

Verse 6. By a “reed” [the beam of the balance] is meant Truth in ultimates. By ultimate Truth, or Truth in the ultimate of order, is meant sensual Truth, such as is in the literal sense of the Word, for those who are merely sensual. Divine Truth in its descent proceeds according to degrees, from the supreme or inmost, to the lowest or ultimate. The Divine Truth, in the supreme degree, is such as is the Divine which proximately proceeds from the Lord, thus such as is the Divine Truth above the heavens, which, being infinite, cannot come to the perception of any angel. But the Divine Truth of the first degree is what comes to the perception of the angels of the third or inmost heaven, and is called Divine Truth celestial; from this is derived the wisdom of those angels. The Divine Truth of the second degree is what comes to tho perception of the angels of the second or middle heaven, and constitutes their wisdom and intelligence; is called Divine Truth spiritual. The Divino Truth of the third degree is what comes to the perception of the angels of the ultimate or first heaven, and constitutes their intelligence and science; and is called Divine Truth celestial and spiritual-natural. But the Divine Truth of the fourth degree is what comes to the perception of the men of the church who are living in the world, and constitutes their intelligence and science; this is called Divine Truth natural, and the ultimate of this is called Divine Truth sensual. These Divine Truths, according to their degrees in order, are in the Word; and the Divine Truth in the ultimate degree, or in the ultimate of order, is such as is the Divine Truth in the literal sense of the Word which is for children and for the simple, who are also sensual. This Divine Truth is what is understood by a “reed” or a “cane;” and inasmuch as explorations with all are effected by this ultimate Divine Truth, as was said above, therefore rneasurings and weighings, in the representative churches, were performed by “reeds” or “canes,” by which that Divine Truth is signified. That measurings were performed by “reeds” has been shewn above; that weighings were performed by the same, appears in Isaiah:-“They weigh out silver with the reed,” &c. (xlvi. 6.) A. E. 627.
They hire a founder, and he maketh it a god, &c.-That “idols of gold” signify falses as to things divine, see Chap. ii. 20, Exposition.
That to “hire” and a “hireling” signify those who acquire Truths from merely mercenary motives, originating in the love of selfish honour and of worldly gain, see Chap. xvi. 14, Exposition.

7 They bear him upon the shoulder; they carry him; they set him down in his place, and he standeth: from his place he does not remove; to him that crieth unto him, he does not answer, neither save him from his distress.

Verse. 7. [As the “hands,” “arms,” and “shoulders” correspond to power, to “bear the idol on the shoulder” and to “carry it,” signifies the maintaining and defence of the falses and false dogmas denoted by the “idols,” which fill the power and talent with which the abettors of false dogmas can uphold them; but that these “idols” have no power whatever to effect anything for the spiritual life, is understood by “to him that crieth unto him, he does not answer, neither save him from his distress.”]

8 Remember this, and shew yourselves men; bring it again to heart, O ye transgressors!

Verse 8. lt does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted this passage, but it means, we apprehend, to be valiant for the Truth, in opposition to those who make idols or who maintain false principles of doctrine.]

9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me;
10 From the beginning making known the end; and from ancient times, the things that are not yet done: saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.
11 Calling from the east the bird, and from a distant land the man of My counsel: as I have spoken, so will I bring it to pass; I have purposed it, and I will do it.
12 Hearken unto Me, O ye stubborn of heart; ye that are far from justice:

Verse 9.. For I am God, and there is none else, &c.-See above, Chap. xlv. 14, 15, Exposition.
Verses 9, 11. -By the “bird” which He shall call from the East is signified the Truth of the Word, which, because it is from the Good of love, is said to be “called from the East;” the “East” denoting the Good of love. What else can be meant by “God’s calling a bird from the East, and a man of counsel from a distant land [or of far distance]”? The “man of counsel” denotes a man who is intelligent from Truths, which are from the Good of love. A.. E. 1100.
As to the “bird” here intended, which is not a “ravenous bird,” as in the Common Version, see Chap. xviii. 6, Exposition.

13 I will bring My justice near, it shall not be far distant; and My salvation shall not tarry: and I will give in Zion salvation; to Israel My glory.

Verse 13. My salvation shall not tarry: and I will give in Zion salvation; to Israel My glory.-” “Salvation ” is eternal life for by “eternal life” in the Word is understood eternal salvation. Everything of salvation and of eternal life is from the Lord, and is His both with man and with angel; for all the Good of love and all the Truth of faith which are with a man, are not man’s but the Lord’s with him; for it is the Divine Proceeding, which is the Lord in heaven with the angels, and in the church with man. Hence it is evident how it is to be understood that “salvation” is ascribed to the Lord, and that the Lord Himself is Salvation, as in lsa. xlvi. 13; xxv. 9; xlix. 6; and in many other passages. A. E. 460.
To Israel My glory.- That “glory” (or beauty or splendour) is the Divine Truth, as received by angels and men, see above, Chap, iv, 2; vi. 2, 3, Exposition.
[It is necessary to distinguish between “glory” (cavod) and beauty or splendour (tipharah). “Glory” is the Divine Truth in the internal form, but “beauty” or “splendour” (decus) is also the Divine Truth, but in the external form; for the splendour and beauty of Divine Truth appearing in externals is understood by “beauty” (decus). Hence it is that the Word, in the internal sense, is called “glory,” but in the internal sense, in respect to splendour hence derived, it is called “beauty.” See A. C. 9815.]

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