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who have no spiritual intelligence. The greatest intellects the world has ever seen have been most deeply exercised on subjects connected with God and life,--truth as it belongs to a higher than physical plane. All truth comes from God; and that truth can only be shallowly perceived which does not lead the mind to the contemplation of God, and the heart to reverence Him. Just as the soul is the life of the body, so spiritual wisdom is the life of all knowledge. The dearth of spiritual intelligence is the direst calamity that can befall human minds. It is described in the Word as a curse—“Therefore night shall be unto you, that ye shall not have a vision; and it shall be dark unto you, that ye shall not divine; and the sun shall go down over the prophets, and the day shall be dark over them. Then shall the seers be ashamed, and the diviners confounded; yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is no answer from God.” (Micah iii. 6, 7.)
“The truths of faith ought to have the first place, and confirming scientifics the second; inasmuch as nothing of truth is believed if the latter be in the first place.” Arcana Cælestia, 6015, on Isaiah xxx. 2, 3.
“ Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there.” To arise is to be elevated from a state of inferior truth or goodness to a state which is relatively superior. (A.C. 2388, 2401.) “Arise, get thee out of this land.” (Gen. xxxi. 13.) “Arise, go up to Bethel (the house of God] and dwell there.” (Gen. xxxv. 1.) “Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan.” (Josh. i. 2.) “Arise, shine, for thy light is come. The glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.” (Isa. lx. 1.) “Arise, take up thy bed and go thy way.” (Mark ii. 11.) “I will arise, and say unto my father, Father, I have sinned.” (Luke xv. 18.) “ Arise, let us go hence.” (John xiv. 31.)
R“ Zarephath of Zidon.” Zidon signifies “exterior knowledges of spiritual things." Tyre and Zidon were the ultimate borders of Philistia, and severally represent interior and exterior knowledges of spiritual things. In this sense they are mentioned in Jeremiah xlvii. 4; Joel iii. 4, 5; Ezekiel xxxii. 30-32, xxvii. 8, xxviii. 24, 26; Zechariah ix. 2, and Isaiah xxiii. 2—4. (A. C. 1201.) From the mere sensual appearances of things, to even exterior knowledge of spiritual things, was an ascent. In the former state there were none to receive the teachings of the prophet, or the blessings of the Word ; in the latter state there was “the widow.” This denotes that those who are in utter ignorance of spiritual truth cannot become conscious partakers of spiritual blessings without arising out of that state. To know that we need knowledge implies at least some knowledge of our needs.
ELIJAH THE TISHBITE.
"A widow to sustain thee.” A widow signifies
“One who is without protection, because she is without a husband; for, in the spiritual sense, by widow is signified one who is in good and not in truth; for by man is signified truth, and by his wife good; consequently, by widow is signified good without truth, and good without truth is without protection, for truth protects good; this is the signification of widow when it occurs in the Word.”—Apocalypse Revealed, 764.
“The widow of Zarephath represented those out of the church who desire truth.”—Arcana Cælestia, 4844.
“Unto these the Word of the Lord is sent," for such are willing to sustain the prophet, that is, to receive the truth.
Swedenborg thus summarises the whole of this narrative :“ The famine which was in the land in consequence of the want of rain, represented the vastation of truth in the church; the widow in Zarephath represented those out of the church who desire truth; the cake which she was commanded to make for him, in the first place, represented the good of love to the Lord, whom out of her scantiness she loved above herself and her son; the barrel of meal signifies truth derived from good ; and the cruse of oil, charity and love. Elijah represents the Word, by which such things are produced.”
Expounding Luke iv. 24–26, he says :
The widow represents “those out of the church who desire truth; but the widows who were within the vastated church, to whom Elijah was not sent, are they who are not in truth, because not in good; for where good is not there neither is truth, and howsoever, in such cases, it may appear in the external form as truth, yet it is as a shell without a kernel.”—Arcana Cælestia, 4844. The whole paragraph from which we cite this extract will eminently repay perusal, as beautifully illustrating the spiritual signification of widowhood, and the uses of the term in the Word of God.
Elijah the prophet is sent to the widow of Zarephath: the Word of God, rejected by those who are Israelites by birth, ostensibly members of the church, is directed by the Divine Mercy to those who, while desiring to do good, are ignorant of the truth. These are the poor" unto whom “the Gospel is preached ;” (Matt. xi. 5.) “the poor in spirit, whose is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. v. 3.) Philistine though she be, this widow is more willing to receive the Lord, in receiving His servant, than are the children of Israel, who, though they are heirs of the promises, shall be shorn of their inheritance. This circumstance has a national application, and the history of races exemplifies it;the history of the Jews proves it. “ The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matt. xxi. 43. It has also an individual application : the Holy Spirit will not always strive with men.” (Gen. vi. 3.) The
blessings we reject shall be offered to those who will accept them, and great shall be their reward.
When first seen by the prophet the widow "is gathering of sticks." Wood corresponds to “good, as well the good of love to the Lord, as the good of charity towards our neighbour; therefore it was commanded (Ezek. xxxvii. 16–22.) to write Judah and Joseph upon the two pieces of wood which were to be made one.”—Arcana Cælestia, 3969.
“Forasmuch as wood signifies good, and in an opposite sense evil, therefore the Lord was pleased to suffer crucifixion or suspension upon wood, in order to represent the destruction of good in the church, and that thus evil from infernal love should be represented, [by the act of the Jews in crucifying Him] from which comes condemnation and malediction. See Deuteronomy xxi. 20—23."- Apocalypse Explained, 655.
Thus the action of the widow was also representative of her state of desire to love the Lord, and to have charity toward her neighbour. This is still more emphatically expressed by the widow's remark to Elijah (verse 12.)—“I am gathering two sticks.” Two signifies conjunction; as the two olive trees, and the two sons of oil, (Zech. iv. 2, 3, 4.) denote as the good of love to the Lord, and the good of charity towards our neighbour.” (A. E. 75.)
“Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” A part of the description of the saved, as given by the Lord, is—“I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink;” (Matt. xxv. 35.) and He further declares that~ Whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only, in the name of a disciple, verily, I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.” (Matt. x. 42.) This shows that whatever we do “unto the least of these His brethren, we do unto the Lord,” whom they represent. As water signifies truth, so the words in relation to the widow, when spiritually understood, denote, firstly, her willingness to communicate of all the small store of truth in her possession. Even water must have been a scarce possession in those days of drought. It denotes, secondly, that such widows are ever willing to ascribe to the Lord the gift of truth which they have received from Him, and to use it in His service by deeds of charity. It denotes, thirdly, exploration of her state as to truth by the Lord, represented by the prophet. She has a little, and is willing to share it with the “man of God," she “goes to fetch it.”
“Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.” This signifies farther exploration, and as to good ; for bread denotes goodness. This was shown above.
“ As the Lord thy God liveth” denotes the most solemn declaration. It is interesting to observe that, although the widow most probably had no previous acquaintance with Elijah, yet she appears to have perceived that Elijah was a servant of “ Jehovah God.” This fact denotes that those who are in the good of love to the Lord, and the good of charity to man, together with even a small amount of spiritual knowledge, can perceive the truth when it is presented to them, and that such will also receive the Word of God.
“I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse.” There is an important distinction between meal or flour, of which bread is composed, and bread made of meal or flour. Just as bread implies a farther process than the production of meal or flour, so bread corresponds to a more advanced state of goodness than the materials of which it is composed. To make a cake, the meal must be mixed with water, and baked by heat. Meal signifies "truth derived from good;” (A. C. 4844.) water represents the truths of faith ; their being mixed signifies conjunction; their being kneaded together signifies intimate union; the dough being baked corresponds to its being subjected to the operation of love to God, which is spiritual fire. Thus the cake represents celestial good, “ the good of celestial love." (A. E. 147.) The widow's words are therefore accurately descriptive of her state. She was possessed of a little meal, a little “truth derived from good,” a little oil, “ charity and love ;" she was seeking for two sticks, the good of obedience, or goodness brought down into the life, that she might dress the food for herself and her son.
“Her son.” Widowed though she was by the loss of her husband, she had yet a son. Posterity in the Word is representative of spiritual increase, which consists of knowledge of the truth and affections of goodness. Man is generally representative of truth, and woman of love. A husband and wife represent truth and goodness that are mutually conjoined or married. Sons and daughters severally represent those truths and affections which spring or proceed from the marriage of goodness and truth in the soul. Hence the blessings continually pronounced upon Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Ephraim, were of posterity, because posterity represents spiritual increase in goods and truths. Therefore, also, it was esteemed a reproach among the Jews for a wife to be barren. Hence, likewise, those glorious statements of the Psalmist—"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in His ways; for thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands ; happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful
vine by the sides of thy house; thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold that thus shall the man be who feareth the Lord.” (Psalm cxxviii. 1—4.) “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man who hath his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm cxxvii. 3–5.) However true these words are in their literal sense, they are far more comprehensively true in their spiritual meaning, as denoting the blessedness of those in whom goodness and truth have “increased and multiplied and replenished the earth.”
“The fruit of the womb,” says Swedenborg, “signifies in the literal sense natural offspring, but in the spiritual sense, spiritual offspring, which is science, intelligence, and wisdom, for into these man is re-born when he is regenerated; hence it is that by births, by sons and daughters, and other names pertaining to nativity, are signified spiritual nativity, that is, to regeneration; for the angels, who perceive the Word spiritually, are unacquainted with any other birth or fruit of the womb.”— Apocalypse E.xplained, 622.
This spiritual increase is possible to all; it is a command enjoined on all; and it is a blessing promised to all. Such increase in spiritual wisdom, in the knowledge of truth, and the attainment of goodness, will be the spiritual offspring of the soul becoming regenerate.
The general signification of son is therefore truth; the specific signification of son is “the rational part of man of which truth is predicated.” (A. C. 2066, 2772.) Truth may dwell in a man's memory, and yet never have entered into his reason,—may be remembered, and yet not understood ; as, also, it may be understood, and yet have not entered into his life, by his having regulated his conduct thereby. À son signifies that state of reception in which the truth has been rationally received, understood, and made one's own. It is a “living truth,” and thus represents a higher degree than that to which water or meal corresponds. The “widow's son” represents this degree of truth in her. This is not repetition ; for while the son, in common with other things, denotes truth, it signifies truth of a higher quality, or, what is the same thing, truth more interiorly received.
The idea of “a little” is still preserved in the fact that she is possessed of only one son, and he a child. The whole is consistent and harmonious. In Zarephath there dwelt a widow having only a handful of meal and a little oil, and who is comforted by possessing one son. In the general state of external knowledge of spiritual things, there