1 AND it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Retzin, king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, came up against Jerusalem to besiege it; but they could not prevail against it.
VERSE 1. All “wars,” although they are of a civil nature, are representative in heaven of states of the church, and are correspondences thereto. Such were all the wars which are described in the Word, and such also are all wars at this day. The wars described in the Word are those which were carried on by the children of Israel with various nations as with the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Philistines, the Syrians, the EgyptIans, the Chaldeans, the Assyrians; and when the cilildren of Israel, who represented the church, departed from their precepts and statutes, and fell Into the evils which were signified by those nations (for each particular nation with which the children of Israel waged war signified some particular kind of evil), then they were punished by that nation. For example, when they profaned the holy things of the church by foul idolatries, they were punished by the
Assyrians and Chaldeans, because by “Assyria and Chaldea” is slgnified the profanation of what is holy. What is signified by “the wars with the Philistines may be seen in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerncnq Faith, n. 50-54. Similar things are represented by wars at this day, wherever they are; for all the things which are done In the natural world correspond with spiritual things in the spiritual world, and all spiritual things concern the church. It is not known in this world which kingdoms in Christendom represent the Moabltes and Ammonites, which the Syrians and Philistines, and which the Chaldeans and Assyrians, and the others with whom the children of Israel carried on wars nevertheless there are kingdoms in Christendom which represent those people. But what is the quality of the church upon earth, and what are the evils into which it falls; and on account of which it is punished with wars, cannot at all be seen In the natural world, because in that world appear externals only which do not constitute the church but it is seen in the spiritual world, where internals appear which do constitute the church, and there all are conjoined according to their various states. The conflicts of those in the spiritual world correspond to wars, which on both sides are, governed correspondently by the Lord according to His Divine Providence. D. P. 251.
Kings of Judah and of Israel.-For the signification of “kings,” when mentioned in the.Word, see above, Chap. i. 1, Exposition.
The Lord was called a “Man of war,” and “Jehovah Zebaoth” or Jehovah of armies, from this circumstance, that when He was in the world, He alone, that is, of Himself, fought against the hells and subdued them. Hence it is the Lord who alone fights for man, and protects him, when he is assaulted by the hells, and this continually, especially in temptations, which are spiritual combats. In the Word,
where mention is made of “war,” in the internal sense, is meant spiritual war, which is against falses and evils, or what is the same thing, which is against the devil, that is, the hells. (See A. C. 1664, 2686.) The subject concerning the wars, or combats of the Lord against the hells, is treated of, in the internal sense, both in the histories and prophecies of the Word; in like manner concerning the wars and combats of the Lord for man. Amongst the ancients with whom the church of the Lord was, there was also a Word both historical and prophetical, which at this day is not extant. The historical Word was called The Book of the Wars of Jehovah, and the prophetical Word was called Enunciations [of Jehovah]. This Word is mentioned in Moses. (Numbers xxi. 24, 27.) That by the expression moshlem, “enunciations” or “proverbs,” at verse 27, are signified prophetical declarations, is evident from the signification of that expression in Numbers xxiii. 7, 18; xxiv. 3, 15. By the “Wars of Jehovah” are there meant the Lord’s combats and victories, when He was in the world, against the hells; and also His perpetual combats and victories afterwards for man, for the church, and for His kingdom. For the hells continually desire to raise themselves up, inasmuch as they breathe nothing else but dominion; but they are repressed by the Lord alone. Their attempts to climb upwards appear as ebullitions [or bubblings up], and as ejections [or heavings] of the back by man; but as often as they attempt this many are cast down more deeply thither. A. C. 8273.
2 And when it was told to the house of David, that Syria did rest upon Ephraim; his heart, and the heart of his people, was moved, as the trees of the forest are moved before the wind.
Verse 2. Syria did rest upon Ephraim. – The understanding of the Word, both true and false, is described in the prophetic writings, particularly in the prophet Hosea, by “Ephraim;” for the understanding of the Word in “the church is signified in the Word by “Ephraim.” Inasmuch as the understanding of the Word constitutes the church, therefore Ephraim is called” a dear son, and a pleasant child;” (Jer. xxxi. 20.) “The first-born;” (Jer. xxxi, 9.) “The strength of the head of Jehovah;” (Psalm lx, 7; cviii. 8.) “A mighty man;” (Zech. x. 7.) “filled with the bow;” (Zech. ix. 13.) and the children of Ephraim are called “armed and shooters with the bow;” (Psalm lxxviii, 9.) for by a “bow” is signified doctrine derived from the Word combating with falses. For the same reason also, “Israel set his right hand upon Ephraim, and blessed him;” and he was also “accepted in lieu of Reuben;” (Gen. xlviii, 5, 14.) and for the same reason, “Ephraim, with his brother Manasseh, under the name of their father Joseph, was exalted by Moses, in his blessing of the children of Israel, above all the rest.” (Deut. xxxiii.23-17.) But the state and nature of the church, when the understanding of the Word is destroyed, is also described in the writings of the prophets by “Ephraim,” particularly in Hosea; as in these passages:- “Israel and Ephraim shall fall in their iniquity; Ephraim shall bue desolate; Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment.” (v. 5, 9, 11, 12, 13, 24.) “O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? for thy goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.” (Hosea vi. 4.) ” They shall not dwell in the land of Jehovah, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and shall eat unclean things in Assyria.” (Hosea ix. 3.) The” land of Jehovah” is the church: “Egypt” is the scientific principle of the natural man; and “Assyria” is reasoning founded on it; therefore it is said that “Ephraim shall return into Egypt, and shall eat unclean things in Assyria.” “Epbraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; he daily increaseth lies and desolations; he maketh a covenant with Assyria, and oil is carried into Egypt.” (Hosea xii, 1.) To “feed on wind,” to “follow after the east wind,” to “increase lies and desolations, ‘” is to falsify truths, and so to destroy the church. The same is also signified by the “whoredm of Ephraim,” for “whoredom” signifies the falsification of the understanding of the Word, that is, of its genuine truth, as in these passages :-” For now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.” (Hosea v. 3.) “I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel; Ephraim hath committed whoredom there, and Israel is defiled.” (Hosea vi. 10.) ‘”Israel” means the church itself, and “Ephraim” the understanding of the Word, which determines the state and quality of the church; wherefore it is said-” Ephraim comrnitteth whoredom, and Israel is defiled.” But as the church amongst the children of Israel and Judah was totally destroyed by falsifications of the Word, therefore it is said of Ephraim-“I will give thee up, Ephraim, I will deliver thee up, Israel, I will make thee as Admah, I will set thee as Zeboim.” (Hosea ix. 8.) Now since the prophet Hosea, from the first chapter to the last, treats of the falsification of the genuine understanding of the Word, and of the consequent destruction of the church, therefore he was commanded, for the purpose of representing that state of the church, to “take unto himself a wife of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms ;” (i. 2.) and again,-to “take to himself an adulteress.” (iii.1.) We have quoted these passages for the sake of shewing and proving from the Word that the quality of the church is always determined by its understanding of the Word; and that it is excellent, and precious if its understanding be grounded on the genuine truths of the Word, but that it is destroyed, yea, filthy, ‘if it be grounded on truths falsified. T. C.. R. 247.
3 And Jehovah said to Isaiah, Go out now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the aqueduct of the upper-pool, at the highway of the fuller’s field;
4 And thou shalt say unto him, Take heed, and be still: fear not, neither let thy heart be faint, because of the two tails of these smoking firebrands; for the burning wrath of Retzin and of the Syrian, and of the son of Hemaliah.
5 Because Syria hath devised evil against thee; Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah,
6 Saying, “We will go up against Judah, and harass it; and we will make a breach into it for ourselves; and we will set a king to reign in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal:
Verse 3. The upper-pool.-The “pools” in Jerusalem signified truths such as are in the exterior and interior senses of the Word. A.E.453.
Verse 4. By ” Retzin and Syria” is signified the rational principle perverted, and by “the son of Remaliah, the king of Israel,” who is also called Ephraim, is signified tho intellectual principle perverted; the intellectual principle, signified by “Ephraim, king of Israel,” has relation to the Word; and the rational principle, signified by “Retzin and Syria,” has relation to sciences which confirm, for man, in order to have the understanding of the Word, must also have rationality; and when these two principles are perverted, they look only downwards to the earth, and outwards to the world, as sensual men do who are in the falses of evil; hence they are called “tails;” a “smoking firebrand” signifies the concupiscence of the false, and thence wrath against the truths and goods of the church. A. E. 559. See also A. C. 6952.
“Retzin, king of Syria,” denotes here the knowledges of evil; for ” Syria,” in a good sense, means the knowledges of good; thus in the opposite sense the knowledges of evil. The” son of Remaliah the king of Samaria” signifies the knowledges of the false; the latter and the former are “tails,” because lowest principles; “smoking firebrands” denote wrath, A. C. 6952.
As to the meaning of the “tail,” see a fuller Exposition below, Chap. ix. 13, 14, also at Chap. xix. 15.
By “Aram,” or Syria, are signified the knowledges of good. “Aram,” or Syria, signifies also in an opposite sense the knowledges of good perverted, according to what is usual in the Word, where the same expression is frequently applied in such a twofold signification. That “Aram ” is thus used in two senses may be seen in Isaiah vii. 4-6. A. a. 1232.
7 Thus saith the Lord Jehovih, It shall not stand, and it shall not be.
8 For the head of Syria shall be Damascus, and the head of Damascus, Retzin; and within threescore and five years Ephraim shall be broken, that he be no more a people.
9 And the head of Ephraim shall be Samaria, and the head of Samaria, Remaliah’s son. If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established.
10 And Jehovah spake yet again to Ahaz, saying,
Verse 7. Lord Jehovih.-See Chap. iii. 15, Exposition and note.
Verse 8. For the head of Syria shall be Damascus, and the head of Damascus, Retzin, &c.— “Damascus” was the principal city of Syria, as appears from Isaiah vii. 8; by which is signified nearly the same as by Syria. The last border of the land of Canaan, but beyond Dan, is signified by “Damascus,” as in Amos v. 26, 27. The border of the holy land, or of the Lord’s kingdom, towards the north, is also called the “border of Damascus.” (Ezek. xlvii. 16.) A. C. 1715.
11 Ask thee a sign from Jehovah thy God; ask it either in the depth [beneath], or in the height above.
12 And Ahaz said, I will not ask; neitherwill I tempt Jehovah.
13 And Isaiah said, Hear ye now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, that you should weary my God also?
Verses 11, 14. Ask thee a sign, from Jehovah thy God, &c.-The reason why these things were said to Ahaz, king of Judah, is, because the king of Syria and the king of Israel made war against him, even unto Jerusalem: on whose side also was the tribe of Ephraim: but still they did not prevail, by reason that the “king of Syria” there represented the external or natural [principle] of the church, the “king of Israel” the internal or spiritual [principle] thereof, and “Ephraim” the intellectual [principle]; but in this case those three principles, namely, the natural, spiritual, and intellectual, perverted, which were desirous to assault the doctrine of Truth, signified by the “king of Judah and Jerusalem,” wherefore they did not succeed. But in order that Ahaz might be assured of their attempt being in vain, it is said to him that be might “ask a sign,” that is, a testification that he might be assured; and option was given him whether it should be from heaven or from hell, which was signified by ” the depth beneath” or in ” the height above;” for the king was evil; but whereas “Jerusalem,” by which is signified, the doctrine of Truth from the Word, was not to be destroyed by such before the advent of the Lord, therefore a miraculous sign was given to him, testifying concerning that subject, viz., that “a virgin should conceive, and bring forth a Son, whose name should be IMMANUEL,” or God with us. That that church should afterwards be destroyed follows in that chapter. A. E. 706.
14 Wherefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son; and she shall call His name IMMANUEL.
Verse14. A virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and she shall call His name IMMANUEL.-That by “the Child born and the Son given, here and in chap. ix., is understood the Lord as to the Divine Human is evident; [see Matt. i. 23.] and that the Lord as to that [principle] also is God, thus that His Human is Divine, is manifestly declared for it is said, that “His name shall be called God, God-with-us, the Father of Eternity.” Besides these passages, many others might also be adduced to confirm that the Lord by Father, In the Word, meant His own Divine Principle, which was the life or soul of His Human and not another [Person] separate from Himself; neither could He mean any other; hence the Divine and. Human in the Lord, according to the doctrine received In the Christian world are not two but one Person, altogether as soul and body, as is expressed in clear terms in the Athanasian Creed; and whereas God and Man in the Lord, are not two, but one Person, and so united as soul and body, it follows that the Divine [Principle] which the Lord had from conception was what He called Father, and the Divine Human what He called Son, consequently, that each was Himself A.E.852.
15 Butter and honey shall He eat, that He may know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good:
16 For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil, and to choose the good, the land, whose two kings thou abhorrest, shall be forsaken.
17 But Jehovah shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days such as have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed, from Judah, namely the king of Assyria.
Verses 14-16. That the “Son whom a virgin shall conceive and bear, and whose name shall be called GOD-WITH-US,” is the Lord as to His Human, is manifest. The appropriation of divine good spiritual and natural, as to the Human, is understood by “butter and honey shall He eat; divine good spiritual by “butter,” and divine good natural by “honey,” and appropriation by “eating;” and inasmuch as it is known how to refuse, or to reprobate evil, and to choose good in proportion as Divine Good spiritual. and natural is approprIated, therefore it is said that “He may know to refuse or to reprobate evil and choose good.” That the church was deserted and vastated as to all Good and Truth by scientifics falsely applied, and by reasonings thence derived, is signified by the “land which they shall abhor, being then deserted by or from before her two kings;” the “land” signifies the church; the desertion thereof is understood by being “deserted and abhorred;” and the “two kings,” who are the king of Egypt and the king of Assyria, signify scientifics ill applied, and reasosings thence derived; the king of Egypt those scientifics, and the king of Assyria those reasonings. That these are the kings who are here understood is evident from what presently follows in the same chapter, verses 17, 18, where Egypt and Assyria are mentioned ; these things also are what principally devastate the church. A. E. 617. See also 619.
That the “left” signify remains, see above, Chap. 1. 9, Exposition.
Verse 16. By “the land being forsaken is signified the church, or the true doctrine of faith. A. C. 566.
That these things are said of the Lord and of His coming is known. The “butter and honey which He shall eat” signify the goods of love; “butter” the good of celestial and spiritual love, and “honey” the good of natural love. By these things is understood that the Lord would appropriate to Himself the Divine, even as to His Humanity. To” eat “signifies to appropriate; that “the land would be forsaken or deserted before He knew to refuse evil and to choose good,” signifies that nothing of the church would remain upon the earth, when He should be born; and because those, where the church was, rejected all divine Truth, and perverted all things of the Word, and explained them to favour their own purposes of self-love,wherefore it is said of the land, that is, the church, “which thou abhorrest before her two kings;” “kings” signify the Truths of heaven and the church; “two kings,” the Truth of the Word in its internal or spiritual sense, and the Truth of the Word in its external or natural sense. “Milk” (in verse 22), signifies Truth by which is Good; and because “butter” is Good thence derived, it is said that “of the abundance of milk [which the young cow and the two sheepwould give] everyone left in the midst of the land should eat” which signifies that all Truth should be of Good, [that is, derived from Good and Influenced by it.] A. E. 304.
18 And it shall be in that day, that Jehovah shall hiss for the fly that is in the extremity of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria:
19 And they shall come, and they shall rest all of them on the rivers of desolation, and in the clefts of the rocks, and on the thickets, and on all the courses.
Verses 18, 19. Jehovah shall hiss for the fly that is in the extremity of the rivers of Egypt,&c.-Thus is described the church vastated by scientifics falsely applied, and by reasonings thence derived, whereby the knowledges of truth from the good are perverted. The “fly in the extremity of the rrvers of Egypt signifies the false in the extreme parts or principles of the natural man. The extremes of the natural man are what are called things sensual, for the natural man is interior, middle, and exterior; the interior communicates with the spiritual man by means of the rational principle, but the exterior communicates with the world by the bodily senses, and the middle depends upon the senses of the body, and thence derives all that belongs to it; thefalses which are therein, and thus derived, are ‘signified by “the fly in the extremity of the rivers of Egypt;” but by “the bee in the land of Assyra” are signified false reason!ngs thence derived; for by “Assyria ” is signified the rational principle, and by “Egypt,” the scientific principle of the na!ural man; and inasmuch as the rational principle derives all that it has from the scientifics of the natural man, hence the reasonings thereof are signified by “bees;” because bees suck out and derive their store from the flowers, as the rational [principle] of man does from the scientifics of the natural; here, however, by “bees” are signified false reasonings, because the rational principle collects what belongs to it from scientifics falsely applied. The reason why these things are likened to “flies” and “bees” is also grounded in correspondence, for, in the spiritual world, there appear flying insects of various kinds, but they are appearances from the ideas of the thoughts of spirits; and amongst the noxious are flies and bees of such a kind. The flies in “the extremity of the rivers of Egypt” derive their correspondence from their birth being from the filth of rivers. It is said that “they shall come and rest in the rivers of desolations, and in the clefts of the rocks,” and thereby is signified that the falses originating in scientifics and in reasonings thence derived, shall reside where there are no truths, but a faith originating in the false; “the rivers of desolations” denoting where there are no truths, and “the clefts of the rocks” denoting where is the faith of what is false it is also said “in all shrubs and in all courses,” and thereby is signified that the lmowledges and perceptions of truth are falsified by them; the “shrubs” denote the knowledges of truth, and “courses or ducts,” perceptions which are falsified when the falses above mentioned flow in. No one could see the arcana contained in these words, except from the internal sense, and at the same time from seeing and knowing what is in the spiritual world. A. E. 410. See also A. C. 7441.
20 In that day the Lord shall shave with a hired razor, by those beyond the river, by the king of Assyria, the head, and the hair of the feet; and it shall also consume the beard.
Verse 20. Treating of the state of the church in its end, when the Lord was about to come.That reasonings grounded in falses would then deprive the men of the church of all wisdom and spiritual intelligence is described by the above words; the reasonings are signified by “the king of Ashur in the passages of the river,” viz., Euphrates; the deprivation of essential Wisdom and intelligence thence derived, is signified by the hairs of the head and of the feet being shaved by a hired razor,” and by the “beard being consumed” for by “hairs” are signified natural things into which spiritual things operate and into which they close, wherefore they signify, in the Word, the ultimates of wisdom and intelligence; the “hairs of the head,” the ultimates of wisdom; the “beard,” the ultimates of intelligence; and the “hairs of the feet,” the ultimates of science; when these ultimate things do not exist, things prior cannot exist, as when there is no basis to a column, or foundations to a house. That they who have deprived themselves of intelligence by reasonings from fallacies and from falses, appear in the spiritual world as bald, may be seen above, n. 66. A. E. 569.
21 And it shall be in that day, that a man shall keep alive a young cow, and two sheep; .
22 And it shall be, that for the abundance of milk which they shall produce, he shall eat butter: for butter and honey shall everyone eat that is left in the midst of the land.
Verse 21. That “pasture,” on which sheep and oxen feed, denotes Good and Truth which recreate and sustain the soul or spirit of man, is plain from the Lord’s words in John x. 9, there “pasture” signifies the goods and truths pertaining to those who acknowledge the Lord and seek life from Him alone. Thus to “find pasture,” signifies to be taught, illustrated, and nourished in divine Truths. A. C. 6078. See also A. R. 914.
Because a shepherd signifies one who leads to the good of charity by the truth of faith, in the supreme sense a “Shepherd” denotes the Lord Himself. (Jolin x. 11.) A. C. 6426.
Verse 22. The abundance of milk which they shall produce &c— Treating of the New Church to be established by the Lord; and by “butter and honey” is signified spiritual and natural good, and by “eating” is signified to appropriate, as above; by” milk” is signified what is spiritual from a celestial origin, from which those goods are. A.E. 617.
“Milk” signifies the truth by which is good, and inasmuch as butter signifies the good thence derived, therefore “for the abundance of milk shall everyone eat butter that is left in the midst of the land” signifies that all Truth shall be of or from Good. A.E.304.
23 And it shall be in that day, that every place, where there were a thousand vines for a thousand pieces of silver, shall be for briers and thorns.
24 With arrows and with the bow shall they come thither; for the whole land shall become briers and thorns.
Verses 23, 24. Describing the church vastated as to all Truth and Good. The quality of the church before, when genuine truths, which are truths from good, were in abundance, is described by there being a “thousand vines for a thousand pieces of silver;” a “thousand vines ” denoting truths from good in abundance, and a “thousand pieces of silver” denoting their very high estimation as being genuine; “silver” signifies truth and a “thousand” signifies many, consequently, abundance. But what became the quality of the church when it was vastated as to all Truth and Good is described by these words :- “With the arrows and with the bow shall he come thither because, the whole land is a place of briers and thorns;” the “arrows” denote falsities destroying truths, and the “bow” is the doctrine of the false; a “place of briers” signifies the false from evil, and a “place of thorns,” the evil from the false; the “land” is the church. A.E. 357.
25 But as to all the mountains which are weeded with the mattock, thither shall not come the fear of briers and, of thorns: but it shall be for the sending forth of the ox, and for the treading of sheep.
Verse 25. The mountains which are weeded with the mattock, &c.-By “the mountains which are weeded with the mattock” are signified those who do good from the love of good; that the false and the evil shall not be with them, but good, as well natural as spiritual, is signified by “there not coming thither the fear of the briers and thorns, but it shall be for the sending forth of the ox and the treading of the sheep,” or thither shall the ox be sent, and there the sheep shall tread; the” ox” signifying natural good, and the “sheep” spiritual good. A. E. 304.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg [Compiled by J. H. Smithson 1860]