(AC) - A Disclosure of the Hidden Treasures of Heaven Contained in the Holy Scripture or Word of the Lord, Together with Amazing Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels

AC 643

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643. But as regards the signification itself of the words: that "gopher wood" signifies concupiscences, and the "mansions" the two parts of man, is evident from the Word. Gopher wood is a wood abounding in sulphur,* like the fir, and others of its kind. On account of its sulphur it is said that it signifies concupiscences, because it easily takes fire. The most ancient people compared things in man (and regarded them as having a likeness) to gold, silver, brass, iron, stone, and wood-his inmost celestial to gold, his lower celestial to brass, and what was lowest, or the corporeal therefrom, to wood. But his inmost spiritual they compared (and regarded as having a likeness) to silver, his lower spiritual to iron, and his lowest to stone. And such in the internal sense is the signification of these things when they are mentioned in the Word, as in Isaiah:
For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron; I will also make thine officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness (Isa. 60:17).
Here the Lord's kingdom is treated of, in which there are not such metals, but spiritual and celestial things; and that these are signified is very evident from the mention of "peace" and "righteousness." "Gold" "brass" and "wood" here correspond to each other, and signify things celestial or of the will, as before said; and "silver" "iron" and "stone" correspond to each other, and signify things spiritual or of the understanding.
[2] In Ezekiel:
They shall make a spoil of thy riches and make a prey of thy merchandise; thy stones, and thy wood (Ezek. 26:12).
It is very manifest that by "riches" and "merchandise" are not meant worldly riches and merchandise, but celestial and spiritual; and the same by the "stones" and "wood"-the "stones" being those things which are of the understanding, and the "wood" those which are of the will. In Habakkuk:
The stone crieth out of the wall, and the beam out of the wood answereth (Hab. 2:11).
The "stone" denotes the lowest degree of the understanding; and the "wood" the lowest of the will, which "answers" when anything is drawn from sensuous knowledge [scientifico sensuali]. Again:
Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; and to the dumb stone, Arise, this shall teach. Behold it is fastened with gold and silver, and there is no breath in the midst of it. But Jehovah is in the temple of His holiness (Hab. 2:19-20).
Here also "wood" denotes cupidity; "stone" denotes the lowest of the understanding, and therefore to be "dumb" and to "teach" are predicated of it; "there is no breath in the midst of it" signifies that it represents nothing celestial and spiritual, just as a temple wherein are stone and wood, and these bound together with gold and silver, is to those who think nothing of what they represent.
[3] In Jeremiah:
We drink our waters for silver; our wood cometh for price (Lam. 5:4).
Here "waters" and "silver" signify the things of the understanding; and "wood" those of the will. Again:
Saying to wood, Thou art my father; and to the stone, Thou hast brought us forth (Jer. 2:27).
Here "wood" denotes cupidity, which is of the will, whence is the conception; and "stone" the sensuous knowledge [scientifico sensuali], from which is the "bringing forth." Hence, in different places in the Prophets, "serving wood and stone" is put for worshiping graven images of wood and stone, by which is signified that they served cupidities and phantasies; and also "committing adultery with wood and stone" as in Jeremiah (3:9). In Hosea: My people inquire of their wood, and the staff thereof declareth unto them; because the spirit of whoredoms hath led them away (Hos. 4:12),
meaning that they make inquiry of graven images of wood, or of cupidities.
[4] In Isaiah:
Topheth is prepared from yesterday, the pile thereof is fire and mulch wood, the breath of Jehovah is like a stream of burning sulphur* (Isa. 30:33). Here "fire" "sulphur" and "wood" stand for foul cupidities. In general, "wood" signifies the things of the will which are lowest; the precious woods, such as cedar and the like, those which are good, as for example the cedar wood in the temple, and the cedar wood employed in the cleansing of leprosy (Lev. 14:4, 6-7); also the wood cast into the bitter waters at Marah, whereby the waters became sweet (Exod. 15:25), concerning which, of the Lord's Divine mercy in those places. But woods that were not precious, and those which were made into graven images, as well as those used for funeral piles and the like, signify cupidities; as in this place does the gopher wood, on account of its sulphur. So in Isaiah:
The day of vengeance of Jehovah; the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into sulphur,* and the land thereof shall become burning pitch (Isa. 34:9).
"Pitch" stands for dreadful phantasies; "sulphur" for abominable cupidities.
* The word "sulphur" was formerly used not exclusively as the name of brimstone, but also as a general term for inflammable substance. The classification of gopher here with the fir (abies), which is a turpentine tree, would seem to imply that the inflammable constituent of the gopher also was turpentine, and that this is what is meant here by "sulphur." See Lord Bacon's "History of Sulphur, Mercury, and Salt." [Note in the Rotch edition.]


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