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AC 3858

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3858. As in what now follows the twelve sons of Jacob are treated of, and the twelve tribes of Israel were named from them as their fathers, it is here to be premised what the tribes signify, and why there were twelve. No one has yet known the arcanum herein concealed, because it has been believed that the histories of the Word are bare histories, and that there is no more of the Divine therein than that they can serve as examples for the application of holy things. Hence also it has been believed that the twelve tribes signify nothing but divisions of the Israelitish people into so many distinct nations or general families, when yet they involve Divine things; that is to say, so many universal divisions of faith and love, consequently things relating to the Lord's kingdom in the heavens and on earth, each tribe involving some distinct universal; but what each signifies will appear from what presently follows, where the sons of Jacob are treated of, from whom these tribes were named. In general the twelve tribes signified all things of the doctrine of truth and good, or of faith and love; for these (that is, truth and good, or faith and love) constitute the Lord's kingdom; for the things of truth or faith are the all of thought therein, and the things of good or love are the all of affection; and because the Jewish Church was instituted in order that it might represent the Lord's kingdom, therefore the divisions of that people into twelve tribes signified these things. This is a mystery never before disclosed.
[2] That "twelve" signifies all things in general, was shown above (n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272); but that "tribes" signify those things which are of truth and good, or of faith and love, thus that the "twelve tribes" signify all things of these, may be here confirmed from the Word, before they are described separately. In John:
The holy city New Jerusalem had twelve gates, and over the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel; and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. He measured the city with the reed unto twelve thousand furlongs; and he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is of an angel. The twelve gates were twelve pearls (Rev. 21:12, 14, 16-17, 21).
That the holy city, or New Jerusalem, is the Lord's New Church, is manifest from all the particulars thereof. In some of the foregoing chapters the state of the church is described, as it would be before its end. This chapter treats of the New Church, and therefore the gates, wall, and foundations of the city are nothing else than things of the church, which are those of charity and faith, for these constitute the church.
[3] Everyone can see that by the "twelve" so often mentioned in the above passage, and also by the "tribes," and likewise the "apostles," are not meant twelve, or tribes, or apostles, but by "twelve" all things in one complex (as may be seen above, n. 577, 2089, 2129, 2130, 3272); and in like manner by the number "a hundred and forty and four," for this is twelve times twelve. And as by "twelve" are signified all things, it is evident that by the "twelve tribes" are signified all things of the church; which as before said are truths and goods, or faith and love; and in like manner by the "twelve apostles," who also represented all things of the church, that is, all things of faith and love (as may be seen above, n. 2129, 3354, 3488, 3857. This number is therefore called the "measure of a man, that is, of an angel," by which is meant a state of truth and good. (That "measure" signifies state, see above, n. 3104. That "man" signifies that which is of the church, is evident from what was said above concerning the signification of "man," n. 478, 479, 565, 768, 1871, 1894; and also from the fact that the Lord's kingdom is called the Grand Man, and this by virtue of good and truth which are from the Lord, on which subject see at the close of the chapters, n. 3624-3648, 3741-3750. That "angel" signifies the same, may be seen above, n. 1705, 1754, 1925, 2821, 3039.)
[4] As in John, so also in the Prophets of the Old Testament is the New Jerusalem treated of, and there in like manner it signifies the Lord's New Church-as in Isa. 65:18-19 seq.; in Zech. 14; especially in Ezek. 40-48; where by the "New Jerusalem," the "new temple," and the "new earth," are described in the internal sense the Lord's kingdom in the heavens, and His kingdom on earth which is the church. From what is said in these chapters in Ezekiel it is plainer than elsewhere what is signified by "earth," by "Jerusalem," by "temple," and by all things therein, and also what by the "twelve tribes;" for the division of the land is treated of, and its inheritance according to tribes, and also the city, its walls, foundations, and gates, and all things that will belong to the temple therein. From these passages we may here quote only what is said concerning the tribes:
The Lord Jehovih said, This is the border whereby ye shall inherit the land according to the twelve tribes of Israel. Ye shall divide this land according to the tribes of Israel. And it shall come to pass that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the sojourners who sojourn in the midst of you. They shall cast lot with you for an inheritance in the midst of the tribes of Israel (Ezek. 47:13, 21-23). As for the land, it shall be to the prince for a possession in Israel; and My princes shall no more afflict My people and they shall give the land to the house of Israel according to their tribes (Ezek. 45:8).
Concerning the inheritances, and how they were assigned to the several tribes, which are there also mentioned by name, see chap. 48:1, etc. And concerning the gates of the city, according to the names of the tribes of Israel, see the same chapter, verses 31 to 34.
[5] That by "tribes" there, are not meant tribes, is very plain, for the ten tribes were already at that time dispersed through the whole earth, neither did they afterwards return, nor can they ever return, for they are become Gentiles; and yet mention is made of each tribe, and how they should inherit the land, and what should be the boundaries of each; namely, what boundary for the tribe of Dan (verse 2); what for the tribe of Asher (verse 3); what for Naphtali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah; what should be the inheritance of the Levites; what the boundary of Benjamin; what of Simeon, of Issachar, of Zebulun, and of Gad (verses 4-29); also that the city should have twelve gates according to the names of the tribes of Israel; that three should be toward the north, for Reuben, Judah, and Levi; three toward the east, for Joseph, Benjamin, and Dan; three toward the south, for Simeon, Issachar, and Zebulun; and three toward the west, for Gad, Asher, and Naphtali (verses 31-34). Thus it is evident that by the "twelve tribes" are signified all things of the Lord's kingdom, or all things of faith and love, for these as before said constitute the Lord's kingdom.
[6] Because the "twelve tribes" signified all things of the Lord's kingdom, therefore also the twelve tribes by their encampments, and also by their journeyings, represented that kingdom. Concerning these we read in Moses that they should encamp according to the tribes around the tent of the assembly; toward the east, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; toward the south, Reuben, Simeon, and Gad; toward the west, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin; and toward the north, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali; and that as they encamped, so they journeyed (Num. 2). That in this they represented the Lord's kingdom, is very plain from the prophecy of Balaam:
When Balaam lifted up his eyes, and saw Israel dwelling according to their tribes, the spirit of God came upon him, and he uttered his enunciation and said, How goodly are thy tabernacles, O Jacob, thy habitations, O Israel! As the valleys are they planted, as gardens by the river side, as the lignaloes which Jehovah hath planted, as cedar trees beside the waters (Num. 24:2-6).
That Balaam spoke these words from Jehovah, is expressly stated (Num. 22:8, 18-19, 35, 38; 23:5, 12, 16, 26; 24:2, 13).
[7] From all this it is evident what was represented by the inheritances of the land of Canaan according to the tribes, concerning which we read in Moses that Moses was to take the sum of the congregation of the sons of Israel according to their fathers' houses, from twenty years old, everyone that went forth into the army of Israel; and that the land should be distributed by lot; according to the names of the tribes of their fathers they should receive inheritance (Num. 26:7-56; 33:54; 34:19-29); and that the land was divided by Joshua, by lot, according to the tribes (Josh. 13, 15-19). That as before said the Lord's kingdom was thus represented is manifest from all the particulars; for the "land of Canaan" signifies this kingdom (see n. 1585, 1607, 3038, 3481, 3705).
[8] The reason why the sons of Israel are called "armies," and it is said that they should "encamp according to their armies," and should "journey according to their armies" (Num. 2:4-30), is that an "army" signified the same, namely, truths and goods (see n. 3448); and the Lord is called "Jehovah Zebaoth," that is, "Jehovah of Armies" (n. 3448). Hence they were called the "armies of Jehovah" when they went forth out of Egypt; as in Moses:
It came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all the armies of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt (Exod. 12:41).
It must be evident to everyone that they who were of such a quality in Egypt, and afterwards in the wilderness, were called the "armies of Jehovah" only representatively, for they were in no good or truth, being the worst of all nations.
[9] From the same ground it is very plain what is signified by the "names of the twelve tribes" in Aaron's breastplate, which was called the Urim and Thummim, concerning which we read in Moses that there should be four rows therein, that there should be twelve stones, and these stones according to the names of the sons of Israel, twelve according to their names; and that the engravings of a signet should be to each over its name for the twelve tribes (Exod. 28:21; 39:14); for Aaron represented the Lord's Divine priesthood; for which reason all the things with which he was invested signified Divine celestial and spiritual things. But what they signified will of the Lord's Divine mercy appear where they are treated of. In the breast plate itself, inasmuch as it was most holy, there were representations of all things that are of love and faith in the Lord: these are the Urim and Thummim. The reason why the names were engraved on precious stones was that "stones" in general signify truths (n. 1298, 3720); and "precious stones," truths which are transparent from good (n. 114); and as the "names" of the several tribes signified the quality, therefore a particular kind of stone was assigned for each tribe (Exod. 28:17-20; 39:8, 10-13), which stone by its color and transparency expressed the quality that was signified by each tribe; hence it was that Jehovah or the Lord gave answers by the Urim and Thummim.
[10] By the "two onyx stones" that were on the two shoulders of the ephod were represented the same, but in a lesser degree than by the twelve stones on the breastplate; for the "shoulders" signified all power, thus the omnipotence of the Lord (n. 1085); but the "breast," or the "heart and lungs," signified Divine celestial and spiritual love; the "heart," Divine celestial love; and the "lungs," Divine spiritual love; as may be seen above (n. 3635), and at the end of this chapter, where the Grand Man is treated of, and its correspondence with the province of the heart and with that of the lungs. Concerning the "two stones on the shoulder of the ephod," we read in Moses:
Thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the sons of Israel; six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, according to their generations. Thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod, stones of memorial for the sons of Israel (Exod. 28:9-10, 12; 39:6-7).
[11] Because the tribes signified what is of truth and good, or of faith and love, and each tribe signified some universal thereof, and the tribe of Levi signified love (as will appear from the explication of verse 34 of this chapter), it may from this be known what was signified by placing rods, one for each tribe, in the tent of assembly, and by Levi's rod alone blossoming with almonds; concerning which we read in Moses:
Take twelve rods, one rod for each head of their fathers' houses, and let them be left in the tent of meeting; and thou shalt write Aaron's name upon the rod of Levi. And the rod of Aaron was in the midst of the rods. On the morrow, behold the rod of Aaron for the tribe of Levi blossomed, and brought forth a blossom so that the flower flowered, and bare almonds (Num. 17:2-8);
this signified that love is the essential and the principal of all things in the Lord's kingdom, and that from it is all fructification. The reason why Aaron's name was upon it, was that Aaron represented the Lord as to His Divine priesthood. (That by the "Lord's priesthood" is signified the Divine good, which is of His love and mercy; and by the "Lord's royalty," the Divine truth which is from the Divine good, may be seen above, n. 1728, 2015, 3670.)
[12] From what has now been adduced it may be seen what "tribes" and "twelve tribes" signify in the following passages. In John:
I heard the number of them which were sealed, a hundred forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Asher were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Naphtali were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Manasseh were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Zebulun were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand; of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand (Rev. 7:4-8).
In Moses:
Remember the days of eternity; understand the years of generation and generation. When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of man, He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel (Deut. 32:7-8).
In David:
Jerusalem is built as a city which is compact together; whither the tribes go up, the tribes of Jah, a testimony unto Israel, to confess unto the name of Jehovah (Ps. 122:3-4).
[13] In Joshua:
Behold the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth before you into Jordan. Take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, when the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of Jehovah, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off; they shall stand in one heap (Josh. 3:11-13).
Take out of the midst of Jordan, out of the place where the priests' feet stood ready, twelve stones, and carry them over with you, every man a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of Israel; that this may be a sign that the waters of Jordan were cut off. Moreover Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan, in the place where the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood (Josh. 4:3-9).
Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of Jehovah came, saying, Israel shall be thy name; and he built an altar in the name of Jehovah (1 Kings 18:31-32).
[14] That "tribes" signify the goods of love and truths of faith, is evident also from the Lord's words in Matthew:
Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and glory (Matt. 24:30);
where by "all the tribes of the earth mourning," is signified that there would no longer be any acknowledgment of truth and of the life of good, for the subject treated of is the consummation of the age. In like manner in John:
Behold He cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also who pierced Him and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of Him (Rev. 1:7).
What is signified by "coming in the clouds of heaven" may be seen in the preface to the eighteenth chapter; see further what was shown me from experience concerning twelve (n. 2129, 2130).
[15] The reason why all things of faith and love are called "tribes," is that the same expression in the original tongue signifies also a "scepter" and a "staff." That a "scepter," and also a "staff," signifies power, will of the Lord's Divine mercy be shown elsewhere. Hence the name "tribe" involves in it that goods and truths have within them all power from the Lord. For this reason also the angels are called "powers," and likewise "sovereignties," for "princes" signify the primary things of charity and faith, as do the "twelve princes" descended from Ishmael (Gen. 25:16-see n. 2089, 3272), and also the "princes" who presided over the tribes (Num. 7; 13:4-16).
[16] From what has been hitherto said concerning the twelve tribes, it may be known why the Lord's disciples, who were afterwards called "apostles," were twelve in number; and that they represented the church of the Lord as to goods and truths in like manner as did the tribes (n. 2129, 3354, 3488, 3857). That Peter represented faith; James, charity; and John, the works of charity, may be seen above (preface to chapter 18 and to chapter 22, also n. 3750). This likewise is very plain from what the Lord said concerning them and to them.


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