8098. And God led the people about, by the way of the wilderness. That this signifies that under the Divine auspices they were brought to confirm the truths and goods of faith through temptations, is evident from the signification of "God led," as being Providence (see n. 8093), or what is the same, the Divine auspices, and from the signification of "the way of the wilderness," as being to undergo temptations, thus to confirm the truths and goods of faith, for they are confirmed by temptations. By "wilderness" is signified where there is what is uninhabited and uncultivated (see n. 2708), in the spiritual sense, where are no good and truth, and also where truth is not yet conjoined with good. Thus by "wilderness" is signified the state of those with whom conjunction will be effected; and as conjunction is not effected except through temptations, these also are signified, but only when the number "forty" is added, whether "forty years," or "forty months," or "forty days;" for "forty" signifies temptations and their duration, whatever this may be (n. 730, 862, 2272, 2273). These things are signified by the sojournings of the sons of Israel in the wilderness forty years; moreover the temptations which they underwent are described. That they were led into the wilderness in order that they might undergo these temptations and might thus represent them, is clear from these words in Moses:
Thou shalt remember all the way in which Jehovah thy God hath led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to afflict thee, to tempt thee, to know what was in thy heart. He fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, to afflict thee, and to tempt thee, to do thee good in thy future time (Deut. 8:2, 6).
As by "forty" were signified temptations and their duration, and by the "wilderness" the state of those who undergo them, therefore when the Lord was tempted, He also went out into the wilderness, and was there forty days (Matt. 4:1, 2, seq.; Luke 4:1, 2, seq.; Mark 1:12, 13).