247. In many places in the prophets the church with the Israelitish and Jewish nation is described as wholly destroyed and reduced to nothing by their having falsified the meaning or understanding of the Word; for nothing else destroys a church. The understanding of the Word both true and false is described in the Prophets by "Ephraim," especially in Hosea; for in the Word "Ephraim" signifies the understanding of the Word in the church. As the understanding of the Word constitutes the church, Ephraim is called:
A dear son and a pleasant child (Jer. 31:20);
The firstborn (Jer. 31:9);
The strength of the head of Jehovah (Ps. 60:7; 108:8);
Mighty (Zech. 10:7);
Filled with a bow (Zech. 9:13);
and the sons of Ephraim are said to be,
Armed and shooters with the bow (Ps. 78:9);
for a bow signifies doctrine from the Word fighting against falsities. Therefore also,
Ephraim was transferred to Israel's right hand, and blessed; and was accepted in the place of Reuben (Gen. 48:5, 11 seq.);
and therefore, Ephraim, with his brother Manasseh, in the blessing of the sons of Israel by Moses, under the name of their father Joseph, was exalted above them all (Deut. 33:13-17).
 But what the church is when the understanding of the Word is destroyed, is also depicted in the Prophets by "Ephraim," especially in Hosea, as in the following passages:
Israel and Ephraim shall fall; Ephraim shall become a desolation; Ephraim is oppressed and crushed of judgment (Hos. 5:5, 9, 11-14).
O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? for your mercy is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away (Hos. 6:4).
They shall not dwell in the land of Jehovah; but Ephraim shall return into Egypt, and shall eat what is unclean in Assyria (Hos. 9:3).
"The land of Jehovah" is the church; "Egypt" is the knowing faculty of the natural man; "Assyria" is reasoning therefrom; and these two together falsify the interior understanding of the Word; therefore it is said that "Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and shall eat what is unclean in Assyria."
 Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind; he daily multiplieth lies and destruction; they make a covenant with Assyria and oil is carried into Egypt (Hos. 12:1).
"To feed upon the wind," "to follow after the east wind," and "to multiply lies and destruction," is to falsify truths and thus destroy the church. "Ephraim's whoredom" has a like signification, since "whoredom" signifies falsification of the understanding of the Word, that is, of its genuine truth; as in the following:
I have known Ephraim; that he hath surely committed whoredom, and Israel is defiled (Hos. 5:3).
I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel; there Ephraim hath committed whoredom and Israel hath become defiled (Hos. 6:10).
Israel is the church itself, and Ephraim is the understanding of the Word, from which and according to which is the church; therefore it is said "Ephraim hath committed whoredom, and Israel is defiled."  As the church with the Israelitish and Jewish nation became wholly destroyed by falsifications of the Word, it is said of Ephraim:
I must give thee up, Ephraim. I must deliver thee, Israel. I must make thee as Admah. I must set thee as Zeboim (Hos. 11:8).
Since then the prophet Hosea, from the first chapter to the last, treats of the falsification of the genuine understanding of the Word, and the destruction of the church thereby; and since "whoredom" signifies falsification of truth therein; that prophet was commanded to represent this state of the church by,
Taking a harlot to himself for a wife, and begetting children by her (Hos. 1), and again by,
Taking a woman who was an adulteress (Hos. 3).
These passages are presented in order to show and prove from the Word, that the church is such as is the understanding of the Word in it; excellent and precious if the understanding of it is from genuine truths out of the Word; but destroyed and even filthy if from truths falsified.