439. And there were stings in their tails, and their power was to hurt men five months, signifies subtle falsifications of the Word, by which, for a short time, they darken and fascinate the understanding, and thus deceive and captivate. By "stings in their tails" are signified subtle falsifications of the Word; by "stings," subtlety; and by "tails," the truths of the Word falsified (n. 438). By "the power to hurt," is signified that by means of these they can induce stupor, that is, they can darken and fascinate the understanding, and thus deceive and captivate; "for their tails were like scorpions," and by "scorpions" such things are signified (n. 425). By "five months" is signified for a short time, as above (n. 427). This takes place when they quote and apply anything from the Word; for the Word is written according to correspondences, and correspondences are in part appearances of truth, containing within them genuine truths. If these truths are not known in the church, many things may be taken from the Word, which at first appear as if in agreement with heresy; but when genuine truths are known in the church, then the appearances of truth are rendered manifest, and genuine truths come to view. But before this is done, a heretic, by various things drawn from the Word, may obscure and fascinate the understanding, and thus deceive and captivate. That this is done by those who assert that man's sins are remitted, or, in other words, that he is justified by an act of faith, concerning which no one knows anything, and this in a moment, and if not before, even at the last hour of death, might be illustrated by examples, but this is not the place to do so. By "stings" are signified falsities from evil, doing hurt, also in Amos:
Behold, the days shall come upon you, when they shall take you away with stings (Amos 4:2).
And in Moses:
That they should extirpate the inhabitants of the land, lest they should be thorns in their eyes, and stings in their sides (Num. 33:55).
"Thorns," "briers," "brambles," and "thistles," also signify falsities of evil, from their stings.