Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1311

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1311. That 'Jehovah came down' means judgement on them is clear from the meaning of the previous verses, and of those that follow, and also from the meaning of 'coming down' when used of Jehovah. Previous verses dealt with building a city and the tower of Babel, those that follow deal with the confounding of lips and with dispersion, while 'coming down' when used of Jehovah has reference to the time when judgement takes place. Jehovah or the Lord is present everywhere and knows everything from eternity. Consequently it cannot be said of Him that 'He comes down to see' except in the literal sense where things are stated as they appear to man to be. But this is not the case in the internal sense. In that sense a matter is presented not according to appearances but as it is in itself. Consequently 'coming down to see' in this verse means judgement.

[2] Judgment is used of the time when evil has reached its furthest limit, which in the Word is called coming to a close or the time when iniquity has come to a close. For the fact of the matter is that every evil has its limits to which it is allowed to extend. When it is carried beyond those limits it incurs the punishment of evil. This applies both in particular and in general. The punishment of evil is what is then termed judgement. And since it seems at first as though the Lord does not see or notice the existence of evil - for when someone commits evil without getting punished he imagines that the Lord does not care, but when he does suffer punishment he supposes that this is when the Lord sees for the first time, and indeed that it is the Lord who is punishing him - these are the appearances which lead to the use of the expression 'Jehovah came down to see'.

[3] 'Coming down' is used of Jehovah because 'the most high', or His being 'in the highest', are phrases used of Him This too is phraseology based on appearances, for He dwells not in the highest but in inmost places, and therefore in the Word most high and inmost are identical in meaning. Judgement itself, or the punishment of evil, takes place at a lower or the lowest level. This is why He is spoken of as 'coming down', as He also is in David,

O Jehovah, bow Your heavens and come down.a Touch the mountains and they will smoke; send out lightning and scatter them. Ps 144:5, 6.

This too stands for the punishment of evil, which is judgement. In Isaiah,

Jehovah Zebaoth will come down to fight on Mount Zion and on its hill. Isa 31:4.
In the same prophet, You will come down, the mountains will dissolve at Your presence. Isa 64:3.

Here likewise 'coming down' stands for the punishment of evil, that is, for judgement. In Micah,

Jehovah came forth out of His place, and He came down and trod upon the lofty places of the earth; and the mountains melted beneath Him. Micah 1:3, 4.


a The first Latin edition adds three words which mean and I will speak with You, but no phrase such as this occurs at this point in the Psalm quoted.

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