6828. And he led the flock behind the wilderness. That this signifies after they had undergone temptations, namely, they who were in the truth of simple good, is evident from the signification of a "flock," as being the church where they are who are in the truth of simple good (of which just above, n. 6827); and from the signification of "wilderness," as being a state of temptation. For a "wilderness" signifies what is but little inhabited and cultivated, and also what is not inhabited and cultivated at all, thus in the spiritual sense a man vastated as to good and desolated as to truth, consequently a man who is in temptation; for he who is in temptation is in vastation and in desolation, because the falsity and evil in him come out and darken and almost take away the influx of truth and good from the Lord; and the truth which flows in does not appear to him to have sufficient life to disperse the falsities and evils. Moreover, evil spirits are then present, who inject grief, and despair of salvation. That a "wilderness" signifies such a state, is evident from very many passages in the Word (see n. 2708); and as a "wilderness" signified a state of temptation, and the number "forty" its duration, however long or short (n. 730, 862, 2272, 2273), therefore the sons of Israel were in the wilderness forty years; and therefore the Lord was in the wilderness forty days when He was tempted (Matt. 4:2; Mark 1:13).