696. And they gnawed their tongues for distress, signifies that they could not endure truths. By distress is not meant distress from falsities, for these do not give them any distress, but distress from truths is meant, thus that they could not endure them. By "gnawing* their tongues" is signified that they would not hear truths, "the tongue" signifying the confession of truth, because the tongue serves the thought for speech, and spiritually for confession; "to gnaw the tongue" signifies to detain the thought from hearing truths. That this is the signification of "gnawing the tongue" cannot be confirmed from the Word, by reason that the expression does not occur anywhere else, but it has been granted me to know this from experience in the spiritual world, where, if anyone speaks the truths of faith, those spirits who cannot bear to hear truths keep their tongues between their teeth, and also bite their lips, and induce others likewise to press their tongues and lips with their teeth, and this to such a degree as to produce distress. From these considerations it is evident, that by "gnawing their tongues for distress," is signified that they could not endure truths. That the tongue, as the organ of speech, signifies thought and confession, and also the doctrine of truth, see above (n. 282).
* The original Latin has "lambebant" for "mandebant."