4257. Lest he come and smite me, the mother upon the sons. That this signifies that it is about to perish, is evident without explication. "To smite the mother upon the sons" was a form of speech among the ancients who were in representatives and significatives, signifying the destruction of the church and of all things that are of the church, either in general or in particular with the man who is a church. For by "mother" they understood the church (see n. 289, 2691, 2717), and by "sons" the truths that are of the church (see n. 489, 491, 533, 1147, 2623, 3373). Hence "to smite the mother upon the sons" denotes to perish altogether. Man also perishes altogether when the church and what belongs to the church in him perishes, that is, when the affection of truth, which is properly signified by "mother," and which produces the church in man, is destroyed.