788. Verse 19. And they cast dust upon their heads, and cried weeping and mourning, saying, Woe, woe, that great city, signifies their interior and exterior grief and mourning, which is lamentation, that so eminent a religious persuasion should be altogether destroyed and condemned. By "casting dust upon the heads" interior grief and mourning are signified on account of the destruction and condemnation spoken of in what follows. By "crying out, weeping and mourning," is signified exterior grief and mourning; by "weeping" is signified mourning of soul, and by "mourning" grief of heart. By "Woe, woe, that city," is signified grievous lamentation over her destruction and condemnation. That "woe" signifies lamentation over calamity, infelicity, and condemnation, and hence "woe, woe," a grievous lamentation, may be seen (n. 416, 769, 785); and that "city" signifies that religious persuasion (n. 785; and elsewhere). That interior pain and mourning on account of the destruction and condemnation is signified by "casting dust upon the head," may be evident from the following passages:
They shall cry bitterly, and shall cast dust upon their heads, and shall roll themselves in ashes (Ezek. 27:30).
The daughters of Zion sit upon the earth, they have cast dust upon their heads (Lam. 2:10).
The friends of Job rent their mantles, and sprinkled dust upon their heads (Job 2:12).
Come down and sit in the dust, O daughter of Babel, sit on the earth, there is no throne for thee (Isa. 47:1; besides other places).
The reason of their casting dust upon their heads, when they grieved inmostly, was because "dust" signifies what is condemned, as is manifest from Gen. 3:14; Matt. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:10-12; and "dust upon the head" represented the acknowledgment that of themselves they were condemned, and thus repentance (as in Matt. 11:21; Luke 10:13). That "dust" signifies what is condemned, is because the earth over the hells in the spiritual world consists of mere dust without grass and herbage.