Isaiah 57

1 THE just perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and the men of holiness are taken away, and none understandeth; for on account of evil is the just taken away.
2 He entereth into peace; they rest upon their beds, [each] walking in his uprightness.

VERSE 1. Mention is frequently made in the Word of “a just one,” of “justice,” and of “justifying,” but what is specifically signified by these expressions is not yet known. The reason why it is not known is, because hitherto it has been unknown that by every single expression in the Word are signified such things as are of the internal church and of heaven, thus which are of the internal man; for in the internal man is the internal of the church and heaven; also that those interior things in the Word differ from its exterior things, which are of the letter, as spiritual things differ from natural, or celestial things from earthly,-the difference of which is so great that before the natural man there scarcely appears a likeness, although, there is full concordance. Inasmuch as this has been unknown, it could not be known what is signified by “just,” by “justice,” and by being “justified,” in the spiritual and celestial sense, in the Word. It is believed by those who are considered as oracles in the church, that he is just and justified who is acquainted with the Truths of faith derived from the doctrine of the church and from the Word, and hence is in trust or confidence that he is saved by the justice of the Lord, and that the Lord had justice in consequence of fulfilling all things of the law; and that He had merit because He endured the cross, and thereby expiated and redeemed man. By this Faith alone man is believed to be justified; and it is believed further that “these” are they who in the Word are called “just.” But there are no others who are called “just,” in the Word, except those, who from the Lord are in the Good of charity towards the neighbour, for the Lord alone is just, because alone “Justice;” therefore man, so much as he receives of Good from the Lord, that is, so much of the Lord as he has appertaining to him, and according to its quality, so much he is just, and justified. The Lord being made “Justice'” consisted in His making His Human [principle] Divine by His own proper power of his Divine [principle], appertaining to the man who receives it, is the “justice” of the Lord appertaining to him, and is the essential Good of charity towards the neighbour; for the Lord is in the Good of love, and by it in the Truth of faith, because the Lord is Divine Love itself. The Good of charity towards the neighbour is exterior good, which is signified by “just;” and the Good of love to the Lord is interior good, which is signified by “innocence.” That the Good of love towards the neighbour from the Lord is what is “just” in a proper sense, may be manifest from the passages in the Word where mention is made of “just,” and of “justice,” and of being “justified,” as in Matthew:-“Then shall the just answer, saying, When saw we Thee hungry, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink?” &c. (xxv. 37-40, 46.) In this passage they are called “just” who have performed the Goods of charity towards the neighbour, which are there recounted; and that the Goods of charity are the Lord appertaining to them, is said manifestly-“Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these Myy brethren, ye have done it to Me.” And in Isaiah:-“The just perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart,” &c. (lvii. 1.) A. C. 9262.
Verses 1, 2. These words signify that the faithful are separated from the evil, and thus have “peace” in themselves. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 141.)
Verse 2. He entereth into peace.-See Chap. ix. 6; xxxii. 17, 18, Exposition.
They rest upon their beds, [each] walking in his uprightness.-As to the signification of a “bed,” both in a good and in a bad sense, see Chap. xxviii, 20, Exposition.

3 But as for you, draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and of her who hath committed whoredom.

Verses 3 to the middle of 13 describe the unfaithful, who place hope in themselves and trust in their works. (Swedenborg’s Notes on Isaiah, p. 141.)
Verse 3. For the signification of “sorcery” or witchcraft, see Chap. xlvii. 9, 12, Exposition.
The seed ef the adulterer.–Adulteries are most profane, and from hell; but marriages are most holy, and from Heaven. Adulterers cannot come into heaven, and in their hells they live in filth and in excrements; when anyone commits adultery on earth heaven is closed against him, and he then holds in aversion the Goods and Truths of the Word and of the church, and hates the worship of the Lord; and this because the love of adultery is derived from the marriage of the evil and the false, which is infernal. To “commit adultery and whoredom,” in a spiritual sense, signifies the perversion of the Truths and the adulteration of the Goods of the Word; hence it is that “adulteries” and “whoredoms” are so often mentioned in the Word, especially in the Prophets (see Hosea throughout), and the Jews were said to “commit adultery with stones and stocks,”
(Jer. iii. 9.) and also “with idols,” (Ezek. xxiii. 37.) which can only be understood in a spiritual sense. A. C. 9961, 2733-2755, 10,175.
Verses 3,4. Draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, &c.-By “the sons of the sorceress” and “the seed of the adulterer,” are signified falses from the Word, when falsified and adulterated; by the “sons of the sorceress,” falses from the falsification of tho Word, and by the “seed of the adulterer,” falses from the adulteration thereof. The Word is said to be falsified when the Truths thereof are perverted, and to be adulterated when the Goods thereof are in like manner perverted; likewise when the Truths are applied to the loves of self. By “sons of transgression” and “the seed of falsehood,” are signified falses flowing from those former falses; by “sporting themselves,” is denoted the delight, derived from falsification; by “making wide the mouth,” is meant the delight of the thoughts therein originating, and by “drawing out the tongue,” the delight of teaching and propagating them. A. E. 768.

4 Against whom do ye sport yourselves? Against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? Are ye not the sons of transgression, the seed of falsehood?

Verses 4, 5. Are ye not the sons of transgression, the seed of falsehood? slaying the sons in the rivers, &c.-The “sons of transgression” denote the falses which destroy the Truths of faith; they are therefore also called the “seed of falsehood,” for “falsehood,” or a lie, is the false. (A. C. 8908.) And therefore it is said of them that “they inflame themselves with idols [gods] under every green tree,” by which words, in the internal sense, is meant worship grounded in falses; for “idols” [gods] denote falses; (A. C. 4402, 4544.) and a “green tree” signifies the perceptivity of the false, derived from a perverse understanding; (A. C. 2722.) hence, therefore, it is also said-“Ye slay the sons in the rivers,” by which words is meant the extinction of the Truths of faith by falses; for to “slay” is to extinguish, and “those that are born,” or the “sons,” are the Truths of faith, and “rivers” denote falses, A. C. 9156.

5 Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree; slaying the sons in the rivers under the cliffs of the rocks?

Verse 5. No one can know what these things signify without the internal sense. In this sense, by being “inflamed with idols [gods] under every green tree,” is signified to worship God from every false principle which occurs; to be “inflamed with idols [gods] ” denotes ardent worship; “every green tree” is every false principle which occurs, for “tree” signifies knowledges and perceptions,-in the present case, knowledges and perceptions of what is false. By “slaying the sons in the rivers under the cliffs of the rocks,” is signified to extinguish Truths by falses from self-derived intelligence; “sons” denote Truths, “rivers” self-derived intelligence, “cliffs of the rocks” denote falses, and by the expression “under the cliffs of the rocks” is signified from the sensual principle, in which is the lowest natural lumen; for they who are in this lumen only, stand under the craggy [or broken places] of rocks, and do not see any Truth, and if it is spoken they have no perception thereof. In such a station have I seen them in the spiritual world; whence it is evident that to “slay the sons” is not here understood by those words, but to extinguish Truths. A. E. 411.
Verses 5, 6, 9. Worship from evils and falses which are from hell, is here treated of ” Gods” [or idols], in the internal sen so, are falses ; for those who worshipped other gods, called upon them indeed by name, but, nevertheless, it was the falses from evils which they worshipped. That “strange gods,” in the Word, are falses, may be seen, n. 4402; a “green tree” is everything relating to the perception, knowledge, and confirmation of the false, n. 2272, 2972; “green” is the sensitive principle; to be “inflamed” is the ardour of worship, for “fire,” from which inflaming comes, is love in both senses, n. 5215, 6832. To “pour forth a drink-offering is worship from the falses of evil. To “offer a gift to the king in oil” is to worship Satan from evils; a “gift in oil” is a meat-offering, or an oblation [minchah]; to “increase perfumes” is to multiply incense, by which adoration is signified; wherefore it is also said-“Thou hast debased thyself to hell.” A. C. 10,137.

6 In the smooth [things] of the valley is thy portion; these, these are thy lot: even to these hast thou poured out, a drink-offering, thou hast offered a meat-offering. Can I receive comfort in these things?

Verse 6. That what is “smooth” is predicated, in a good sense, of what is True, and, in the opposite sense, of what is false, may be proved from the following passages:-“Inflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree; in the smooth [things] of the valley is thy portion;” (Isaiah lvii. 5, 6.) where to be “inflamed” is said of evil, and “the smooth [things] of the valley” of what is false. Again:-“Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongue they speak smooth things [flatter];” (Psalm v. 9.) “their throat an open sepulchre” is predicated of evil; “the tongue speaking smooth things” is said of the false. (See also Psalm lv, 21.) A. C. 3527.
See above, Chap. xxx. 10:-“Speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits; “where it is evident that “smooth things” signify falses. See the Exposition.

7 Upon a high and lofty mountain hast thou placed thy bed: even thither hast thou gone up to offer sacrifice.

Verse 7. And in Hosea:–“They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills.” (iv. 13.) In these passages, by “worship upon mountains and hills,” is signified worship from evils find falses. Hence also it was that the Gentiles in Greece fixed Helicon in a high mountain, and Parnassus in a hill below it, and believed that the gods and their goddesses dwelt there; this they derived from the ancients in Asia and especially in the land of Canaan, which was not far remote, with whom all worship consisted of representatives. A. E. 405.

8 And behind the door and the door-post hast thou placed thy memorial: for [departing] from Me, thou hast discovered thyself [to another]; thou hast ascended, and enlarged thy bed; thou hast made [a covenant] with them; thou lovest their bed; thou hast provided a place for it.

Verse 8. [It does not appear that Swedenborg has quoted this clause of the verse, but from the correspondence of “writing on the door-posts and on the gates,” as mentioned in Deut. vi. 9; xi. 20, we may in some degree see the signification of these words. In the spiritual sense “the door” and the “door-post” signify natural Goods and Truths, by which there is an introduction to spiritual things; (A. C. 7847.) but, in a bad sense, they signify false and evil principles, which lead to idolatries, and to all kinds of perversion of what is Good and True. To “write on the door-posts” has a similar signification to the “binding of the commandments as a sign upon the hand, and as frontlets between the eyes,” (Deut. vi. 8.) because the angels regard everything in relation to the human form, (A. C. 7847.) which was a memorial to the people of Israel that they should always keep the divine precepts both in their understanding and in their life. Thus to “place the memorial of idols behind the door and the door-post,” is to have the life so immersed in idolatries, or in the perversions of what is Good and True from the Word, that is, in evils an d falses, as to admit nothing into the mind, which is the “house,” but what is in harmony with such a state of sinful depravity.]
These words signify idolatry, and worship founded in false doctrines; for all worship grounded in false doctrine is idolatry. Hence it is that a “bed,” which corresponds to doctrine, is so often mentioned in these verses. See Chap. xxviii. 20, Exposition.

9 Thou hast offered a gift to the king in oil, and hast increased thy perfumes; and thou hast sent thy messengers far off, and hast debased thyself to hell.
10 Thou art wearied in the length of thy way; thou hast not said, I despair: thou hast found the life of thy hand; wherefore thou hast not become weak.
11 And whom hast thou dreaded and been afraid of, that thou shouldst lie, and hast not remembered Me, and laid it to thy heart? Is it not that I have been silent even of old, and thou dost not fear Me?
12 I will declare thy justice and thy works, which do not profit thee.

Verse 9. Thou hast sent thy messengers far off, &c.-What is meant by being “far off,” see Chap, v. 26, 28; and what by being “near,” see Chap. xxxiv, 1, Exposition.
Verse 12. Is it not that I have been silent even of old, and thou dost not fear Me?-For the signification of the ” fear of God,” in the internal sense, when mentioned in the Word, see Ohap. xi.· 3, Exposition.

13 When thou criest out, let the collection [or thine idols] deliver thee; but the wind shall carry them all away; vanity shall take them off: but he who trusteth in Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit the mountain of, My holiness;

Verse 13. But the wind shall carry them [the idols] all away, &c. As to “winds” and “tempests” in the spiritual world, at the period of Judgment, see Chap. xvii. 13, Exposition.
He who trusteth in.Me shall possess the land, and shall inherit the mountain of My holiness.-Forasmuch as a “mountain” signifies the Good of love, and, in the supreme sense, the Divine Good, and from the Divine Good proceeds the Divine Truth, therefore the “mountain of Zion” was above Jerusalem, and by the “mountain of Zion,” in the Word, is signified thechurch which is in the Good of love to the Lord; and by “Jerusalem,” the church which is in Truths from that Good, or the church as to doctrine. Hence also Jerusalem was called the “mountain of holiness,” and the “hill;” for by the “mountain of holiness” is signified spiritual Good, which in its essence is Truth from Good, in like manner as by a “hill,” as may appear from the above passage. A. E. 405.
That to “possess the land,” meaning Canaan, signifies heaven, see A. C. 2658, 9338.

14 And it shall be said, Cast up, cast up; sweep the way; remove the stumbling-block from the way of My people.

Verse 14. Sweep the way; remove the stumbling-block from the way of My people.-The reason why to “sweep” denotes to prepare and to be filled is, because nothing else is required of man but to “sweep the house,” that is, to reject the lusts of evils and the persuasions of what is false thence originating; in this case he is filled with good things, for Good from the Lord continually flows in, but into the “house,” or into man, purged from such things as impede influx, that is, which either reflect, or pervert, or suffocate the inflowing Good. Hence it was a customary formula of speaking with the ancients to “sweep or purge the house,” also to “sweep and prepare the way;” and by “sweeping the house” was meant to purge themselves from evil, and thus to prepare themselves for the entrance of Goods; whereas to “sweep the way” meant to prepare themselves for the reception of Truths; for by the “house” was signified Good, see n. 3128, and by “way” Truth, see n. 627, 2333; as in Isaiah:-“The voice of one proclaiming in the wilderness, Sweep ye [prepare] the way of Jehovah! make straight in the desert a highway for our God!” (xl. 3.) Again, in the same Prophet:-“Cast up, cast up; sweep [prepare] the way; remove the stumbling-block from the way of My people.” (lvii. 14.) Again:-“Pass through, pass through the gates; cast up, cast up the way, gather out the stones.” (lxii. 10.) So in Malachi;” Behold, I send My angel, and he shall sweep [prepareJ the way before Me; and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to the temple.” (iii. 1.) In these passages, to “sweep the way” denotes to make themselves ready, and to prepare to receive Truth. The subject here treated of is concerning the coming of the Lord, for whom they were to prepare themselves, in order to receive the Truth of faith, and thereby the Good of charity, and thus eternal salvation. So in David:-” Thou hast caused a vine to come forth out of Egypt; Thou hast driven out the nations, and planted it; Thou hast swept before it, and hast caused its root to be rooted, and it hath filled the land;” (Psalm lxxx. 8, 9.) speaking, in the supreme sense, of the Lord; the “vine out of Egypt” is Truth from scientifics; to “drive out the nations” is to purge from evils; to “sweep before it” is to make ready that Goodnesses may fill. To “sweep the house” also, in an opposite sense, is applied to man, to signify one who deprives himself of all things Good and True, and who is thereby filled with things evil and false, as in Luke:-“The unclean spirit, if he doth not find rest saith I will return to my house whence I came forth. And if he cometh and findeth it swept and adorned, then he departeth and taketh seven other spirits worse than himself; and entering in, they dwell there.” (xi. 24-26; see also Matt. xii. 43-45.) A. C. 3142.

15 For thus saith the High and Lofty One, inhabiting eternity, and whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and with him also that is contrite and of a humble spirit; to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Verse 15. That by what is “high” is sicuified what is Divine, is, because by “high and lofty” is understood heaven where the Divine [Being] is; hence in the Word it is said of Jehovah, or the Lord, that He “dwells on high,” and He Himself is called the “Highest,” as in Isaiah.:-“Jehovah is exalted; yea, He dwcelleth on high. (xxxiii. 5.) Again:-“Thus saith the High and Lofty [One], inhabiting eternity, and whose name is holy: I dwell in the high and holy place. [lvii, 15.) And In David:-“Jehovah sent from high and snatched me out.” (Psalm xviii. 16.) Hence Jehovah is called the “Highest.” (Deut. xxxii. 8; Dan. iv. 17, 32, 34.) Inasmuch as “high” signified heaven, and the Divine [Being] therein, therefore divine worship, by those who were of the representative church, was instituted on mountains and high places; and on that account also [was performed] in the heights, which they likewise built for themselves, and of which mention is made in the historical and prophetical parts of the Word throughout, as In Ezekiel:-“Thou hast built to thyself an eminence, and hast made to thyself what is high in every street; upon every head of a way thou hast built thine eminence:” (xvi. 21, 25, 31.) The reason why the Divine [Being] was signified by “high” is, because by the “starry heaven” was understood the angelic heaven, and it was also beheved that it was. there; but the wiser amongst them knew that heaven was not on high, but where the Good of love is and this within in man, wheresoever he was. That “high things” denote the interiors, or the Goods which are there, see n. 450, 1735. A.C. 8153.

16 For I will not contend for ever, neither will I be always angry: for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.

Verse 16. That to “contend” [litigate], in the Word, signifies contention or litigation concerning Truths, and, in general, for Truths against falses, and also defence and liberation from falses, is evident from the following passages, as in Jeremiah:-“A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for Jehovah hath a controversy [or disputation] with the nations: He will enter into judgment with all flesh; He will deliver the impious to the sword. Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest shall be raised up from the sides of the earth.” (xxv. 31, 32.) The perverse state of the church is thus prophetically, described; the “noise” is the contention for falses against Truths, and for evils against Goods; the “earth” is the church; the “controversy of Jehovah against the nations” is the contention of the Lord for Truths against falses, and for Goods; against evils, thus also their defence; “nations” are falses and evils; the “sword” is the false combating and conquering; “great tempest” is the false ruling; the “sides of the earth” are where falses burst forth from evil. Again, in the same Prophet:-“Jehovah shall contend for their cause, that He may give rest to the earth;” (1. 34.) where to “contend for their cause” denotes to defend Truths against falses, and to liberate the “earth” denotes the church, which has rest when it is in Good and thence in Truths. Again:-“Thou, O Lord, hast pleaded the causes of my soul; Thou hast liberated my life;” (Lam. iii. 58.) where to “plead the causes of the soul” denotes to defend and liberate from falses. A. C. 9024.

17 For the iniquity of his covetousness was I angry, and I smote him: hiding Myself, and I was angry; but he went on perversely in the way of his heart.

Verse 17. For the iniquity of his covetousness [or lucre] was I angry. What is meant by “lucre,” see Chap. lvi. 11, Exposition., By “anger,” when said of the Lord, see Chap. ix. 12, 17, 21, Exposition.

18 I have seen his ways, and I will heal him; and I will lead him, and will restore consolations to him, and to his mourners.

Verses 18, 19. That to “heal,” when predicated of the Lord, signifies that He alone preserves from evils, is evident from the signification of healing, which is to cure and also to preserve from evils; for when “diseases” signify evils, to “heal” signifies healing and preservation from them, as is evident from many passages, as in Jeremiah:-“Heal me, O Jehovah, that I may be healed; save me, that I may be saved.” (xvii. 14.) And in David:-“Thou hast turned all his bed in his sickness; I said, Jebovah, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee.” (Psalm xli. 3, 4.) And in Isaiah:-“By His wounds we are healed.” (liii, 5.) A.C. 8365.

19 I create the fruit of the lips: Peace, peace to him that is afar off, and to him that is near, saith Jehovah; and I will heal him.

Verse 19. The “fruit of the lips” signifies doctrine. A.C. 1286. As to the further signification of the “lips”, see Chap. vi. 5-7, Exposition.

20 But the wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.

Verse 20. By the “troubled sea,” which is here predicated of the wicked, are signified reasonings from falses; and by the “waters which cast up mire and dirt,” are signified the falses themselves, from which are evils of life and falses of doctrine. A. E. 275. See also A. C. 6669.

21 There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

Verse 21. That they have “peace” who are in Good and thence in Truths, and not those who are in evils and thence in falses, is evident from the above passage. A. E. 365. What the nature of true “peace” is, see Chap. ix, 6; xlviii. 18, 22, Exposition.

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