Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 8904

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8904. 'You shall not commit adultery' means that what belongs to teachings about faith and charity must not be perverted, thus that the Word must not be used to lend support to falsities and evils, also that the laws of order must not be turned upside down This is clear from the meaning of 'committing adultery'a and 'committing whoredom.' In the internal or spiritual sense they mean perverting the forms of good and falsifying the truths that belong to teachings about faith and charity. And since these things are meant by 'committing adultery', using the Word to lend support to evils and falsities is also meant, since the Word constitutes the most genuine teachings about faith and charity, and truth and good there are perverted when used to support falsities and evils. Scarcely anyone at the present day knows that these things are meant 'by committing adultery' in the spiritual sense, because few people within the Church at the present day know what the spiritual realm is and how it differs from the natural. And scarcely anyone knows of the correspondence that exists between the two, which indeed is such that an image of the one presents itself in the other, that is, the spiritual realm is represented in the natural. Consequently the spiritual exists as a soul and the natural as its body, so that through influx and the joining together that results they constitute a single entity, just as the internal man, also called the spiritual man, and the external man, also referred to as the natural man, make one in a person who has been regenerated.

[2] Since people nowadays are ignorant of such matters they cannot know what else 'committing adultery' means beyond unlawful bodily coupling. Because people nowadays are ignorant of these matters, as has been said, let the reason be stated here why 'committing adultery' in the spiritual sense means perverting what belongs to teachings about faith and charity, that is, adulterating forms of good and falsifying truths. That reason, which is deeply hidden at the present day, is that conjugial love descends from the marriage of goodness and truth, called the heavenly marriage. The love existing between goodness and truth in heaven flows in from the Lord and changes into conjugial love on earth; and this happens through correspondence. This explains why the falsification of truth is meant by 'whoredom' in the internal sense, and the perversion of good by 'adultery'. It also explains why those who are not governed by the goodness and truth of faith cannot have genuine conjugial love within them, and why those who experience the delight of life in adulterous relationships can no longer receive anything of faith. I have heard it said by angels that as soon as anyone commits adultery on earth and takes delight in doing so, heaven is closed to him, that is, he refuses to receive any longer from there anything of faith or charity. The reason why at the present day in countries where the Church exists very many people make light of adulterous relationships is that the Church is at its end, and so there is no longer any faith because there is no charity; for the one corresponds to the other. Where no faith exists there is falsity instead of truth and evil instead of good; and from this flows attitudes in which adultery is no longer considered to be an offence. For when heaven has been closed with a person such attitudes flow in from hell. See what has been stated and shown previously on these matters in 2727-2759, 4434, 4835, 4837.

[3] The meaning of 'committing adultery' in the internal or spiritual sense as falsifying and perverting the truths and forms of the good of faith and charity, and therefore also lending support to falsity and evil by using statements in the Word wrongly, becomes clear from individual places in the Word in which 'committing adultery' and 'committing whoredom' are mentioned. That meaning will be plainly evident from places quoted below, as in Ezekiel,

Son of man, make known to Jerusalem her abominations. You committed whoredom because of your renown, and poured out your acts of whoredom on every passer-by. You took some of your garments and made for yourself high places variously coloured, and on them committed whoredom. For your adornment you took vessels made of My gold and of My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself figures of the male; you committed whoredom with them. You took your sons and your daughters, whom you had borne to Me, and sacrificed them to them. Were your acts of whoredom a small matter? You committed whoredom with the sons of Egypt, your neighbours, great in flesh, and multiplied your whoredom to provoke Me to anger. And you committed whoredom with the sons of Asshur, since you were insatiable; with them you indeed committed whoredom and were not satisfied. And you multiplied your whoredom, even as far as the trading land of Chaldea; and yet you were not satisfied with this. An adulterous woman - though subject to her husband, she takes strangers. To all harlots [men] make payments; but you have made payments to all your lovers, and have bribed them to come to you from all around for your whorings. Therefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah. I will judge you with the judgements of adulteresses and of shedders of blood. Ezek 16:1

[4] Is there anyone who cannot see that falsifications of truth and adulterations of good are meant here by 'acts of whoredom'? And is there anyone who can understand a single word here unless he knows that such things are meant by 'whoredom', and also unless he knows what is meant by 'the sons of Egypt', 'the sons of Asshur', and 'Chaldea', with whom Jerusalem is said to have committed whoredom? Jerusalem, it is obvious, did not literally commit whoredom with those actual peoples; therefore what the things in this passage mean in the internal sense must be stated. 'Jerusalem' is used to mean the perverted Church, 'its garments' here being truths that are perverted; and therefore falsities that are accepted are meant by 'high places variously coloured'. 'The sons of Egypt' are factual knowledge, 'the sons of Asshur' are reasoning, and 'Chaldea' is the profanation of truth. For truths are meant by 'garments', see 1073, 2576, 4545, 4763, 5248, 5319, 5954, 6914, 6918; and worship is meant by 'high places', so that the worship of falsity is meant here by 'high places variously coloured', 796. 'Vessels for adornment. made out of gold and silver' are cognitions or knowledge of good and truth - 'vessels' being cognitions, 3068, 3079; 'gold' being good, 113, 1551, 1552, 5658, 6914, 6917; and 'silver' the truth of good, 1551, 2048, 2954, 5658 'figures of the male' means appearances and likenesses of truth, 2046; 'the sons and daughters whom they had borne' are the truths and forms of good which they perverted, 'sons' being truths, 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3373, and 'daughters' forms of good, 489, 2362, 3024. 'The sons of Egypt' are factual knowledge, by means of which the perversion is brought about, 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 2588 (end), 4749, 4964, 4967, 5700, 5702, 6004, 6015, 6125, 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692, 6750, 7296, 7779, 7926; 'Asshur' is reasoning, which by means of factual knowledge has brought about the perversion of the truths of faith and the adulteration of forms of the good of faith, 119, 1186. 'Multiplying whoredom even as far as the land of Chaldea' is even to the profanation of truth, 'Chaldea' being the profanation of truth, 1368. From all this it is evident why the expressions 'adulterous woman' and 'harlot' are used.

[5] Something similar is said about 'Babylon', in the Book of Revelation,

One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me, saying to me, Come, I will show you the judgement of the great harlot who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed whoredom, and with the wine of whose whoredom the inhabitants of the earth have become drunk Babylon the great was the mother of whores and of the abominations of the earth. Rev 17:1, 2, 5; 14:8; 18:3.

'Babylon' is those who pervert the Church's truths and forms of good for the sake of their own dominion and gain, perverting them to the point of profanation, as is clear from the meaning of 'Babel' in 1182, 1283, 1295, 1304, 1306-1308, 1321, 1322, 1326, 1327 (end). This explains why Babylon is called 'a harlot' and 'the mother of whores'. People who know nothing about the internal sense will think that 'the kings of the earth who have committed whoredom with her' means kings on earth or kingdoms. Neither kings nor kingdoms are meant however, but the Church's truths of faith; and 'to commit whoredom' with these is to pervert them. For the meaning of 'kings' as the truths of faith, see 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4575, 4581, 4966, 5044, 6148; and 'the earth' as the Church, 566, 662, 1067, 1262, 1413, 1607, 1733, 1850, 2117, 2118 (end), 2928, 3355, 4447, 4535, 5577, 8011, 8732. 'The inhabitants of the earth have become drunk with the wine of whoredom' means that those within the Church have been carried away into errors and insane ideas by falsities arising from evil. For 'being made drunk' is being led into errors by false reasonings and wrong interpretations of the Word, 1072, and 'wine' is falsity arising from evil, 6377, so that 'the wine of whoredom' is falsity resulting from the perversion of truth; and 'the earth', as shown just above, is the Church She is said 'to be seated on many waters' because she rests on falsities; for 'waters' in the genuine sense are truths, and in the contrary sense falsities, 729, 790, 8137, 8138, 8568.

[6] The fact that 'committing adultery' and 'committing whoredom' mean perverting the Church's forms of good and its truths is also quite clear from the following words elsewhere in Ezekiel,

Two women, the daughters of one mother, committed whoredom in Egypt. In their youth they committed whoredom. Oholah is Samaria, and Oholibah is Jerusalem. Oholah committed whoredom under Me and doted on her lovers, on the Assyrians her neighbours - clothed in purple, governors and leaders, all of them desirable young men, horsemen riding on horses. She bestowed her acts of whoredom on them, the choicest of all the sons of Asshur. But her acts of whoredom brought from Egypt she did not give up, for they kind lab' with her in her youth. Oholibah corrupted her love more than she, and her acts of whoredom more than her sister 's acts of whoredom; she desired the sons of Asshur. She added to her acts of whoredom, when she saw men portrayed on the wall, images of the Chaldeans, painted in vermilion. As soon as her eyes saw them she desired them. The sons of Babel came also to her, into her love-bed; they defiled her through their whoredom. Yet she multiplied her acts of whoredom when she remembered the days of her youth, in which she committed whoredom in the land of Egypt. She desired them more than their concubines did. Ezek 23:1ff.

Here also no one can fail to see that 'acts of whoredom' is used to mean spiritual acts of whoredom, that is, perversions of the good and falsifications of the truth which the Church possesses, and also that what the internal sense contains does not become evident unless one knows what is meant by 'the sons of Egypt', 'the Assyrians' or 'sons of Asshur', 'Chaldea', and 'Babel'. Those nations are plainly not the meaning but such things as belong to falsity; for the inhabitants of Samaria and Jerusalem did not literally commit whoredom with them. But what 'Egypt', 'Asshur', 'Chaldea', and 'Babel' mean has been shown and may be seen just above.

[7] From the following passages also it is clear that 'whoredoms' and 'adulteries' in the internal sense are falsifications and perversions of goodness and truth, thus adulterations of them, as in Hosea,

Contend with your mother, contend, since she is not My wife, and I am not her husband, in order that she may remove her whoredoms from her sight,b and her adulteries from between her breasts. I will not have mercy on her children, for they are children of whoredoms, because their mother committed whoredom saying, I will go after my lovers giving [me] my bread, and my water, and my wool, and my flax, my oil, and my drink. But I will lay waste her vine and her fig tree, about which she has said, These are my harlot's reward that my lovers have given me. Hosea 2:2-12

'Mother' in the internal sense here means the Church, 289, 2691, 2717, 4257, 5581, 8897, and so does 'wife', 252, 253, 409, 749, 770; but she is said 'not to be a wife' because she is steeped in perverted truths, that is, in falsities. 'Children' or 'sons' are the Church's truths, in this instance falsities since they are called 'children of whoredoms', 489, 491, 533, 2623, 2803, 2813, 3373, 3704, 4257. What 'bread', 'water', 'wool', and 'flax' mean, also 'oil' and 'drink', and 'vine' and 'fig tree' too, has been shown in their own places. In these it has been shown that they are forms of the good of love and charity, and also forms of the good and the truths of faith, interior and exterior; but that in the contrary sense they are evils and falsities, since forms of good become evils and truths become falsities when they are perverted. What 'bread' means, see 276, 680, 2165, 2177, 3464, 3478, 3735, 3813, 4217, 4735, 4976, 5915, 6118, 8410; 'water', 739, 790, 8137, 8138, 8568; 'flax' 7601; 'oil', 886, 3728, 4582; 'drink', 3069, 3168, 3772, 8562; 'vine', 1069, 5113, 6376; and 'fig tree', 4231, 5113. 'Harlot's reward' is falsity contained in religious teachings which they try to palm off as truth.

[8] In the same prophet,

My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their rod gives them a reply, for the spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have committed whoredom beneath their god. They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains and burn incense on the hills, therefore your daughters commit whoredom and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. Shall I not punishc your daughters because they commit whoredom and your daughters-in-law because they commit adultery? For the men themselves divide with whores and sacrifice with cult-prostitutes. If you commit whoredom, O Israel, do not let Judah become guilty. Hosea 4:11

'Committing whoredom beneath their god' stands for perverting truth; for 'god' in the internal sense means truth and in the contrary sense falsity, 2586, 2769, 2807, 2822, 4295, 4402, 4544, 7010, 7268, 7873, 8301, 8867. 'Mountains' and 'hills' are types of love, at this point self-love and love of the world, 795, 796, 1691, 2722, 6435; 'a piece of wood' which is 'inquired of' is the good associated with the delight belonging to some desire or other, 643; and 'a rod which gives a reply' is the illusory power that one's own understanding seems to provide, 4013, 4015, 4876, 4936, 7011, 7026. Since truths are meant in the genuine sense by 'gods' and falsities in the contrary sense falsifying truths and adulterating forms of good is meant by they went whoring after foreign gods - after baal, after Molech, after idols, Lev 20:5; Ezek 6:9; and elsewhere.

[9] From all this one may now recognize what is meant by 'adultery' and 'whoredom' in the following places: In Isaiah,

Draw nearer, sons of the sorceress, seed of the adulterer, and [of her who] committed whoredom. Whom are you mocking?d Against whom do you open your mouth wide and stick out your tongue? Are you not those born of transgression, the seed of deceit, who inflamed yourselves among the gods under every green tree? Isa 57:3-5.

In the same prophet,

It will happen at the end of seventy years, that Jehovah will visit Tyre, so that she may return to her harlot 's reward and may commit whoredom with all the kingdoms of the earth on the face of the world. Isa 23:17, 18.

In Jeremiah,

And a man has put away his wife, and she has gone from him and become another man's .., .. youe have committed whoredom with many partners. You have profaned the land with your nets of whoredom and with your wickedness. Have you not seen what estranged Israel has done? Going up onto every high mountain and under every green tree, you have committed whoredom there. Also her treacherous sister Judah, she also has gone and committed whoredom, so much so that with the voice of her whoredom she has profaned the land; she has committed adultery with stone and wood. Jer 3:1-10.

In the same prophet,

This is your lot, because you have forgotten Me and trusted in a lie. Your adulterous acts and your neighings, the wickedness of your whoredom committed on the hills, in the field - I have seen your abominations. Woe to you, O Jerusalem! Jer 13:25, 27.

In the same prophet,

Against the prophets: The land is full of adulterers; for because of a curse the land mourns, the pastures of the wilderness have dried up For both prophet and priest practice hypocrisy In the prophets of Jerusalem also I have seen a horrible obstinacy, in their committing adultery and walking in a lie; they strengthen the hands of the evil They speak a vision of their own heart, not from the mouth of Jehovah. Jer. 23:9, 10ff.

In the same prophet,

They have committed folly in Israel, and have committed adultery with their companions' wives, and have lyingly spoken in My name a word which I did not command them. Jer 29:23.

[10] From these places it is plainly evident that 'committing adultery' means explaining and perverting the truths of the Word because of self-centred desires, that is, the proprium, thus as self-love and love of the world dictate; it is therefore speaking lies, that is, falsities, as is explicitly stated. In addition to those places, in Hosea,

Do not rejoice, O Israel, for you have committed whoredom under your God - you have taken delight in a harlot's reward on every threshing-floor Hosea 9:1.

In the same prophet,

Jehovah spoke to Hosea, Go, take yourself a wife of whoredoms, and children of whoredoms; for the land has committed great whoredom by forsaking Jehovah.f Hosea 1:2.

In Nahum,

Woe to the city of blood,g because of the multitude of the acts of whoredom of a harlot with goodly grace, the mistress of sorceries, the seller of nations through her acts of whoredom, and of families through her sorceries. Nahum 3:1, 4.

In Moses,

Your sons will be shepherds in the wilderness for forty years, and will bear your acts of whoredom; according to the number of days in which you explored the land, each day for a year. You shall bear your iniquities forty years. Num 14:33, 34

[11] Because falsifications of truth and adulterations of good corresponded to acts of whoredom in the land, adulterers received the death penalty, Lev 20:10; and the daughter of a priest, if she profaned herself by committing whoredom was to be burned with fire, Lev 21:9; also no daughter in Israel was to be exposed to whoredom, Lev 19:29. In like manner one who was illegitimate was not to come into the assembly of Jehovah, down to the tenth generation of his descendants, Deut 23:2; and a harlot's reward was not to be brought into the house of Jehovah because it was an abomination, Deut 23:18, 19.

[12] All this now shows fully what 'committing adultery' means - that in the external sense it means committing acts of adultery; in the internal representative sense it means worshipping idols and other gods by means of the kinds of things the Church possesses, consequently acts outwardly and inwardly idolatrous; but in the internal spiritual sense it means adulterations of good and perversions of truth. All this shows plainly why it is that adulterous actions are intrinsically disgusting and called abominations; that is to say, they are such because they correspond to the marriage of evil and falsity, which is the hellish marriage. It also shows conversely why genuine marriages are holy - that they are such because they correspond to the marriage of goodness and truth, which is the heavenly marriage. Indeed genuine conjugial love descends from the marriage of goodness and truth, and so from heaven, that is, from the Lord by way of heaven. But adulterous love springs from the marriage of falsity and evil, and so from hell, that is, from the devil.


a Sw. Here mentions two words - adulterari and moechari - each of which describes committing adultery and is so rendered in Scriptural quotations in this paragraph.
b lit. faces
c lit. visit
d lit. Against whom do you delight yourselves?
e The Latin means she but the Hebrew means you, which Sw. has in another place where he quotes this verse
f lit. from [being] after Jehovah
g lit bloods

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