Salt

Not only does water take its color and shape from the objects about it, as has been shown, but some of them it dissolves in greater or less degree, and with them modifies its own quality. It dissolves little from the rocks; but salts of various kinds, sugar, and many other vegetable substances it takes up readily. And so, likewise, from a fixed, unchangeable truth, as that light and heat are from the sun, the truth of life takes almost nothing. It plays about it like water at the foot of a rock, filling itself with its colors, and adapting itself to its form; it says, “Because this is so, you must make windows in your houses, and open them towards the sun”; but it does not presume to say that the fact itself is right or wrong, practicable or impracticable. But other truths which contain suggestions as to ways of doing good-suggestions of sweetness, tartness, pungency, or other quality, are readily incorporated in the thought of life. The most important of these is the principle that goodness and truth need each other and belong together, which is the correlative of common salt. Fixed as this is, and crystalline, the truth of life recognizes it as akin to itself, incorporates it readily into itself, and suggests everywhere to inquirers how to do good, that it must be done according to the truth.

The rain that soaks through the earth, receives the particles of the earth which are most ready to unite with it, the chief element in which is common salt, and carries them to the sea, in token of the readiness of the earth to unite with the water, and of its own desire to unite with the earth in fruitfulness. With the salt we season our food, to express its willingness to unite with the fluids of the body, and this willingness is to our perception savoriness. But, when received, the salt in the body excites thirst, which is like the desire of the earth for water, and represents a deficiency of truth of life. When this is excessive, life ceases; whence came the custom in ancient times of sowing with salt the cities which were doomed to desolation-representing their lack of truth of life.

Author: JOHN WORCESTER 1875

Salted. That this signifies the longing of truth for good, is evident from the signification of “salt,” as being that longing for good which is of the love of truth (of which below); hence “salted” denotes that in which is this longing. The reason why there must be a longing of truth for good is that this longing is conjunctive of the two; for insofar as truth longs for good, so far it is conjoined with it. The conjunction of truth and good is what is called the heavenly marriage, which is heaven itself with man; and therefore when in Divine worship, and in each and all things of it, there is a longing for this conjunction, heaven is in each and all things there. Thus the Lord is in them. This is signified by the requirement that the incense should be salted. Salt has this signification from its conjunctive nature; for it conjoins all things, and from this gives them relish; salt* even conjoins water and oil, which otherwise will not combine.

[2] When it is known that by “salt” is signified a longing for the conjunction of truth and good, it can be known what is signified by the Lord’s words in Mark:

Everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt; salt is good, but if the salt have lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves (Mark 9:49, 50).
“Everyone shall be salted with fire” denotes that everyone will long from genuine love; “every sacrifice shall be salted with salt” denotes that there shall be in all worship a longing from genuine love; “salt without saltiness” signifies a longing from some other love than genuine love; “to have salt in themselves” denotes the longing of truth for good. (That “fire” denotes love, see n. 4906, 5071, 5215, 6314, 6832, 10055; and that “sacrifice” denotes worship in general, n. 922, 6905, 8680, 8936.) Who can know what it is to be salted with fire, and why the sacrifice should be salted, and what it is to have salt in themselves, unless it is known what is meant by fire, salt, and by being salted?

[3] In like manner in Luke:

Whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all his possessions, he cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is fit neither for the land, nor for the dunghill: they shall cast it out (Luke 14:33, 35).
“To renounce all his possessions” denotes to love the Lord above all things; “his possessions” denote the things which are man’s own; “salt that has lost its savor” denotes a longing from what is one’s own, thus from the love of self and the world: such a longing is “salt without savor,” not fit for anything. So also in Matthew:
Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is no longer fit for anything but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot by men (Matt. 5:13, 14).

[4] That in all worship there must be a longing of truth for good is also signified by the law that every offering of the meat offering should be salted; and that upon every offering there should be the salt of the covenant of Jehovah (Lev. 2:13). By the “meat offering,” and the “offering,” which is sacrifice, is signified worship, as above; and salt is there called “the salt of the covenant of Jehovah,” because by a “covenant” is signified conjunction (n. 665, 666, 1023, 1038, 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, 6804, 8767, 8778, 9396, 9416). Moreover, longing is the very ardor of love, thus its continuity; and love is spiritual conjunction.

[5] As the longing of truth for good conjoins, so the longing of falsity for evil disjoins, and that which disjoins also destroys; consequently by “salt” in the opposite sense is signified the destruction and devastation of truth and good, as in Jeremiah:

Cursed is the man that maketh flesh his arm; he shall not see when good cometh, but shall dwell in parched places, in a salt land which is not inhabited (Jer. 17:5, 6).

“To make flesh his arm” denotes to trust in one’s self, thus in what is one’s own, and not in the Divine (n. 10283); and as one’s own consists in loving self more than God and the neighbor, it is the love of self which is thus described: hence it said that “he shall not see when good cometh,” and that “he shall dwell in parched places, and in a salt land,” that is, in filthy loves and their longings, which have destroyed the good and truth of the church.

[6] In Zephaniah:

It shall be as Gomorrah; a place left to the nettle, and a pit of salt, and a waste forever (Zeph. 2:9).

“A place left to the nettle” denotes the ardor and burning of the life of man from the love of self; “a pit of salt” denotes a longing for what is false, which, as it destroys truth and good, is called “a waste forever.” It is said that it shall be “as Gomorrah,” because by “Gomorrah and Sodom” is signified the love of self (n. 2220).

[7] That Lot’s wife was turned into a statue of salt, because she turned her face to these cities (Gen. 19:26), signified the vastation of truth and good; for in the internal sense to “turn the face to anything” denotes to love (n. 10189); hence it is that the Lord says:

Let him not turn back to what is behind him; remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:31, 32).
The whole land thereof shall be sulphur, and salt, and a burning, according to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah (Deut. 29:22).

By “land” here, as elsewhere in the Word, is meant the church (see at the places cited in n. 9325).

[8] From this then it was that the cities which were no longer to be inhabited were after their destruction sown with salt (Judges 9:45). From all this it is evident that by “salt” in the genuine sense is signified the longing of truth for good, thus what is conjunctive; and in the opposite sense, the longing of falsity for evil, thus what is destructive.

[9] He therefore who knows that “salt” denotes the longing of truth for good and their capability of conjunction, is able to know also what is signified by the waters of Jericho being healed by Elisha by casting in salt into their outlet (2 Kings 2:10-22); for by Elisha, as by Elijah, was represented the Lord in respect to the Word (n. 2762, 8029); and by “waters” are signified the truths of the Word; by the “waters of Jericho” the truths of the Word in the sense of the letter, and likewise by the “outlet of the waters;” and by “salt” is signified the longing of truth for good, and the conjunction of both; whence comes healing. [AC 10300]

And she became a pillar of salt. That this signifies that all the good of truth was laid waste, is evident from the signification of a “pillar,” and from the signification of “salt.” In the original language a “pillar” is expressed by a word which signifies a standing still, not by one that means a pillar erected for worship, or for a sign, or for a witness; so that by the “pillar of salt” is here signified that it, namely, the truth signified by Lot’s wife, stood vastated (n. 2454). Truth is said to be vastated, or laid waste, when there is no longer any good in it, vastation itself being signified by “salt.”

[2] As most things in the Word have a double sense, namely, the genuine sense and its opposite, so also has “salt;” in the genuine sense it signifies the affection of truth; in the opposite sense, the vastation of the affection of truth, that is, of good in truth. That “salt” signifies the affection of truth may be seen in Exod. 30:35; Lev. 2:13; Matt. 5:13; Mark 9:49, 50; Luke 14:34, 35; and that it signifies the vastation of the affection of truth is evident from the following passages. In Moses:

The whole land shall be brimstone and salt, a burning; it shall not be sown, it shall not bear, neither shall any herb spring up therein; like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim (Deut. 29:23);
where “brimstone” denotes the vastation of good; and “salt” the vastation of truth: that the subject is vastation is evident from every particular.

[3] In Zephaniah:

Moab shall be as Sodom, and the sons of Ammon as Gomorrah; a place that is left to the nettle, and a pit of salt, and an eternal desolation (Zeph. 2:9);

where a “place that is left to the nettle” denotes vastated good, and a “pit of salt” vastated truth; for the expression “place left to the nettle” refers to Sodom, by which is signified evil or vastated good, and a “pit of salt” to Gomorrah, by which is signified falsity or vastated truth, as already shown. That the subject is vastation is manifest, for it is said an “eternal desolation.” In Jeremiah:

He that maketh flesh his arm shall be like a bare shrub in the solitude, and shall not see when good cometh, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, a salt land, and not inhabited (Jer. 17:5-6);
where “parched places” denote vastated goods, and a “salt land” vastated truths.

[4] In David:

Jehovah maketh rivers into a wilderness, and water springs into dry ground, a fruitful land into a salt one, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein (Ps. 107:33-34);

a “fruitful land made into a salt one” denotes the vastation of good in truth. In Ezekiel:

The miry places thereof and the marshes thereof shall not be healed; they shall be given up to salt (Ezek. 47:11);

to be “given up to salt” denotes being altogether vastated as to truth. As “salt” signified vastation, and “cities” the doctrinal things of truth (shown at n. 402, 2268, 2428, 2451), in ancient times when cities were destroyed they were sown with salt, in order to prevent their being rebuilt (Judges 9:45). The words before us therefore denote the fourth state of that church which was represented by Lot, which state was that all truth was vastated as to good. [AC 2455]

And your sons shall be orphans. That this signifies that then at the same time truths will perish, is evident from the signification of “orphans,” as being those who are in truth and not yet in good, and nevertheless long for good (see n. 9199), here those who are in truth but do not long for good, thus those with whom truths are perishing; for it is said of the evil, whose sons shall become orphans. That truths perish with those who do not long for good, is plain from what was said just above (n. 9206) about the conjunction of good and truth. With regard to this conjunction it is to be said further, that truths which are conjoined with good always have within them a longing to do what is good, and at the same time, to thereby conjoin themselves more closely with good; or, what is the same, those who are in truths always long to do what is good, and thus to conjoin good with their truths; and therefore those who believe themselves to be in truths and do not long to do what is good, are not in truths; that is, they are not in the faith of these truths, howsoever they may suppose themselves to be so.

[2] This is described by the Lord by “salt,” where He says in Matthew:

Ye are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men (Matt. 5:13);

these words the Lord says to the disciples and to the people. By “the salt of the earth” is meant the truth of the church which longs for good; by “the salt that has lost its savor” is meant truth without any longing for good; that such truth is profitable for nothing is described by “the salt that has lost its savor being thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot.” To long for good is to long to do what is good, and in this way to be conjoined with good.

[3] So in Mark:

Everyone shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its saltiness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and cherish peace one with another (Mark 9:49-50);

“to be salted with fire” denotes the longing of good for truth; and “to be salted with salt” denotes the longing of truth for good; “salt that has lost its saltiness” denotes truth without any longing for good; “to have salt in oneself” denotes to have this longing.

[4] So in Luke:

Every one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be My disciple. Salt is good; but if the salt have lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned? It is fit neither for the land, nor for the dunghill: they cast it out (Luke 14:33-35);

here in like manner “salt” denotes truth longing for good; and “salt that has lost its savor,” truth which is without any longing for good; “it is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill” denotes that it does not conduce to any use, either good or evil. Those who are in such truth are those who are called “lukewarm,” as is plain from the words which precede, that “no one can be a disciple of the Lord who does not renounce all that he has,” that is, who does not love the Lord above all things; for those who love the Lord, and likewise themselves, in an equal degree, are those who are called “lukewarm,” and who are not fit for either a good use or an evil use.

[5] In Moses:

Every offering of thy meat-offering shall be salted with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to cease upon thy meat-offering; upon every offering thou shalt offer salt (Lev. 2:13);

that “in every offering there should be salt” signified that the longing of truth for good, and of good for truth, should be in all worship. Consequently this “salt” is called “the salt of the covenant of God,” for “a covenant” denotes conjunction (n. 665, 666, 1023, 1038, 1864, 1996, 2003, 2021, 2037, 6804, 8767, 8778), and “salt” the longing for conjunction.

[6] When the one longs to be reciprocally conjoined with the other, that is, good with truth and truth with good, they then mutually regard each other; but when truth sunders itself from good, then each turns away from the other, and looks backward, or behind itself. This is signified by Lot’s wife becoming a pillar of salt, as in Luke:

Whosoever shall be upon the house, and his vessels in the house, let him not go down to take them away; and whosoever is in the field, let him likewise not turn back to the things behind him. Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:31-32).

(That this is “to look behind” one’s self, or “backward,” see n. 3652, 5895, 5897, 7857, 7923, 8505, 8506, 8510, 8516).

[7] That “salt” signifies the longing of truth, is because salt renders the earth fertile, and makes food palatable, and because there is in salt something both fiery and at the same time conjunctive; as there is in truth an ardent longing for good and at the same time for conjunction. A “pillar of salt” denotes disjunction from truth; for in the opposite sense “salt” signifies the destruction and vastation of truth (Zeph. 2:9; Ezek. 47:11; Jer. 17:6; Ps. 107:33, 34; Deut. 29:23; Judges 9:45; and 2 Kings 2:19-22). These things have been adduced in order that it may be known what is meant by the longing of truth for good, and the longing of good for truth, which are signified by “an orphan,” and “a widow.” [AC 9207]

Author: Emanuel Swedenborg