Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 8588

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8588. 'And Meribah' means the essential nature of the complaining. This is clear from the consideration that in the original language Meribah means contention or wrangling, and 'wrangling' means complaining, 8563, 8566; and since also names mean the essential nature of something, 8587, 'Meribah' here means the essential nature of the complaining. As regards the specific temptation here and the essential nature of it, it should be recognized that those people are being described here who in temptations almost give in; that is to say, they complain against heaven, also against the Divine Himself, and at length almost cease to believe in God's providence. These things are meant in the internal sense by what has gone before and also by what follows in the present verse; they are the essential nature of the state of the temptation, meant by 'Massah', and the essential nature of the complaining in the temptation, meant by 'Meribah'. The fact that the latter is meant here by 'Meribah' is evident in David,

You called on Me in distress, and I rescued you; I answered you in the hiding place. I tested you by the waters of Meribah. Ps 81:7.

[2] But the internal historical sense, in which the religious condition of the Israelite nation is the subject, describes the nature of their attitude towards Jehovah. It was such that when they asked Him for aid they refused to plead for it, and instead demanded it. The reason for this was that when they saw miracles their acknowledgement of Jehovah as the Supreme Deity did not exist in their heart, only on their lips. The fact that there was no acknowledgement of Him in their heart is perfectly clear from the Egyptian calf which they made for themselves and worshipped, saying that these were their gods, and also from their frequent apostasy, regarding which see 8301. These are the matters that the internal historical sense describes here; but the internal spiritual sense describes the essential nature of the temptation when those undergoing it are brought to the final phase before their deliverance.

[3] The fact that the character of the Israelite nation and their religious condition are described by their contending with Moses at Massah and Meribah is also clear in David,

Do not harden your heart as in Meribah, as in the day of Massah, in the wilderness, where your fathers tempted Me; they tempted Me, and saw My work. For forty years I loathed [that] generation, and said, They are a people who err in their heart and have not known My ways, to whom I swore in My anger, They shall not enter My rest. Ps 95:8-11.

In Moses,

You shall not tempt Jehovah your God, as you tempted [Him] in Massah. Deut 6:16.

In the same author,

Furthermore in Taberah and in Massah and in Kibroth Hattaavah, you were rebels against Jehovah from the day I knew you. Deut 9:22, 24.

In the same author,

Of Levi he said, Your Thummim and your Urim shall be for the Holy Man (Vir) whom you tempted in Massah; you contended with Him at the waters of Meribah. Deut 33:8, 9

'The Holy Man' here stands for the Lord, whom they tempted, and whom Moses and Aaron 'did not honour as holy'.

[4] In the internal historical sense, in which the religious condition of the Israelite nation is the subject, Moses and Aaron do not represent God's truth, but the religious condition of that nation, whose leaders and heads they were, 7041. Since that religious condition was such as has been mentioned above, it was declared to the two that they would not lead the people into the land of Canaan. This is stated in the Book of Numbers as follows,

Jehovah said to Moses and Aaron, Because you did not believe in Me and honour Me as holy in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you will not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. These are the waters of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with Jehovah. Num 20:12, 13; 27:14.

And in the same book,

Aaron will be gathered to his people, and will not enter the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against My worda at the waters of Meribah. Num 20:24.
The like is said of Moses at Deut 32:49-51.

[5] Among that nation representative worship of God was nevertheless established because representative worship could have been established among any nation that thought the outward things of worship were holy and venerated them in a virtually idolatrous manner. For a representative has no regard to the person who represents, only to the reality represented, 1361; and that nation was by disposition such, more than any other nation, that outward things devoid of anything internal were altogether venerated by them as being holy and Divine. They were such that they revered their fathers - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and later on Moses and David - as demi-gods. In addition they venerated as being holy and Divine, and worshipped, every piece of stone or wood dedicated to their worship of God, such as the Ark, the tables there, the lampstand, the altar, Aaron's vestments, the Urim and Thummim, and later on the temple. By means of outward things such as these at that time communication of the angels of heaven with mankind was in the Lord's providence made possible; for the Church, or a representative of the Church, must exist somewhere, in order that heaven may be in communication with the human race. And since that nation more than any other could make Divine worship consist in outward things, and so could act as a representative of the Church, that nation was the one to be adopted.

[6] The communication with angels in heaven by means of representatives was effected at that time in the following way. People's outward worship was conveyed to angelic spirits who are simple and give no thought to inward values, though they are themselves nevertheless good inwardly. Such spirits are those who in the Grand Man correspond to the skin. They pay no attention at all to what is in a person inwardly, only to what is visible outwardly; and if this is seen by them to be holy they think that what is inward is so too. The more internal angels of heaven saw in these spirits the realities that were being represented, consequently the corresponding heavenly and Divine values; for they could reside with these spirits and see those values, but not with men, except through those spirits. Angels dwell with men in their inward values; but when no inward values are there, they dwell in the interiors of simple spirits; for the wisdom of angels extends only to spiritual and celestial values, which are the inward realities of representatives From this brief explanation one may recognize how communication with heaven through such a people could be made possible. But see what has been shown already on this matter:

Among the Jews the holiness of their worship was carried up outside themselves into heaven in a miraculous fashion, 4307. The descendants of Jacob were able to represent what was holy, irrespective of what they were really like, provided that the religious observances which had been commanded were carried out precisely, 3147, 3479, 3480, 3881 (end), 4208, 4281, 4288,4289, 4293, 4307, 4444, 4500, 4680, 4825, 4844, 4847, 4899, 4912, 6304, 6306, 7048, 7051, 8301 (end).


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