Apocalypse Explained (Tansley) n. 556

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556. And their teeth were as the teeth of lions.- That this signifies that sensual things, which are the ultimates of the intellectual life, are to them apparently powerful over all things, is evident from the signification of teeth, which denote things sensual, which are the ultimates of the natural life as to the understanding, of which we shall speak presently; and from the signification of lions, which denote the truths of the church as to power, but which in this case, denote falsities destroying truths, thus also as to power, see above (n. 278). Falsities are here denoted, because by the locusts are signified the corporeal sensual who are in the falsities of evil. The reason why they appear to themselves to be in understanding, and thence in power over all things, is, that the persuasive [power] itself, treated of above, resides in the Sensual, which is the ultimate of the natural life. For this [Sensual], or the sensual man, is in self-confidence, and in the belief that he is wiser than others, for he cannot weigh and explore himself, because he does not think interiorly; and when he is persuaded of this, then this confidence and belief are in every thing which be utters. Hence because the tone of his utterance is derived from these, it fascinates and infatuates the minds of others, for the tone of confidence and belief produces such an effect which is particularly manifest in the spiritual world, where a man speaks from his spirit. For the affection of self- confidence, and of the belief derived therefrom that a thing is so, is in the spirit of man, and the spirit of man speaks from affection. It is otherwise in the natural world, in which the spirit of man speaks by means of the body; and, on account of the world, brings forth such things as are not from the affection of his spirit, which he rarely manifests, lest the quality thereof should be known. This is the reason that it is not known in the world, that there exists a persuasive [power] of such an infatuating and suffocating quality as is in the spirit of the sensual man, who believes himself to be wise above others. From these things it is evident why by their teeth being like the teeth of lions is signified that sensual men appear to themselves to be as it were in understanding, and thence in power over all things. That teeth signify things sensual, which are the ultimates of the natural life as to knowledge (scientia), is evident from the correspondence of teeth, upon which see Heaven and Hell (n. 575), and the Arcana Coelestia (n. 5565-5568).

[2] That teeth have this signification is also evident from the following passages of the Word;

as in David:

"My soul, I lie down in the midst of lions: whose teeth are spear and darts, and their tongue a sharp sword" (Psalm lvii. 4).

Lions signify those who by means of falsities destroy the truths of the church; their teeth, which are spear and darts, signify the scientifics (scientifica) which they apply to confirm falsities and evils, and so to destroy the truths and goods of the church. Their tongue a sharp sword, signifies crafty reasons from falsities, which are called a sharp sword, because a sword signifies falsity destroying truth.

[3] Again:

"O God, destroy their teeth, in their mouth; break out the jaw teeth of the young lions" (Psalm lviii. 6).

Their teeth in their mouth signify the scientifics from which they produce falsities; the jaw teeth of the young lions signify the truths of the Word falsified, which in themselves are falsities, and by means of which they are especially capable of destroying the truths of the church.

[4] So in Joel:

"A nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the jaw teeth of a great lion. It reduces my vine to wasteness, and my fig-tree into foam" (i. 6, 7).

By a nation coming up upon the land is here signified evil devastating the church, a nation denoting evil, and land denoting the church; by their being strong, and without number, is meant that they are powerful and manifold, the term strong being used of the power of evil, and without number, of the power of falsity; whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, signifies destroying falsities; the jaw teeth of a great lion, signify [truths] falsified; by reducing the vine to wasteness and the fig-tree into foam, is signified the destruction of truths spiritual and truths natural, truths spiritual are those of the spiritual sense of the Word, and truths natural those of the sense of its letter: see also above (n. 4036), where this is explained. The teeth of lions in these passages, signify the same things as the teeth as of lions here in the Apocalypse. Teeth properly signify those things which are in the memory only, and which are brought forth thence; for those things which are in the memory of the sensual man correspond to the bones and teeth.

[5] Again, in Daniel:

"A second beast like to a bear," came up from the sea, and it had three ribs in the mouth of it between the teeth of it: and it was said unto it, Arise, devour much flesh. Afterwards, a fourth beast came up, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth: it devoured and ground in pieces, and trampled the residue with the feet of it" (vii. 5, 7).

The beast which came up from the sea, means the love of dominion to which holy things serve as the means, and the four beasts signify the successive increase thereof.

This second beast, like a bear, signifies the second state, when such dominion is confirmed by means of the Word. Those who do this also appear in the spiritual world like bears. The three ribs in the mouth between the teeth, signify all things of the Word, which they apply, and which they understand only according to the letter. The three ribs denote all things of the Word, in the mouth, denotes which they apply in teaching, between the teeth of it, denotes which they only understand as to the letter, that is, according to the quality of the sensual man. And it was said unto it, Arise, devour much flesh, signifies, that they applied many things, and thereby destroyed the genuine sense of the Word. By the fourth beast which came up from the sea, dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly, is signified the fourth and last state, when, by holy things, as means, they established for themselves a dominion over heaven and earth. This state being profane, and of a powerful nature, is called dreadful and terrible, and strong exceedingly. Its great iron teeth signify falsities from the sensual man, which are hard against the truths and goods of the church. By devouring and grinding in pieces, is signified, that they perverted and destroyed; and by trampling the residue with the feet, is signified, that what they could not pervert and destroy they defiled and blotted out through the evils of natural and corporeal loves; the other details concerning these beasts, are explained above (n. 316:15).

[6] Again, in Moses:

"I will also send the tooth of beasts upon them, with the poison of the crawling things of the earth" (Deut. xxii. 24).

The Israelitish and Jewish people were threatened with this amongst many other evils, if they did not keep and do the statutes and commandments. By the tooth of beasts, are signified falsities from evils of every kind; and the poison of the crawling things of the earth, signifies those who kill, and altogether extinguish spiritual life. Beasts, in the Word, signify such things as pertain to the natural man, and crawling things of the earth, the things that pertain to the sensual man; and when these are separated from the spiritual man, they are simply falsities from evils, because they are such things as belong to the body only, to which they adhere, and to the world, to which they are closely related; and in spiritual things all thick darkness arises from the body and the world.

[7] Again, in David:

"Arise, O Jehovah; save me, O my God; for thou smitest all mine enemies upon the cheek; thou breakest the teeth of the ungodly" (Psalm iii. 7).

Here, by smiting the enemies on the cheek, is signified the destruction of the interior falsities of those who are against the goods and truths of the church, such persons, with their falsities of evil, being meant by enemies in the Word. To break the teeth of the ungodly signifies to destroy exterior falsities, which are founded upon the fallacies of the senses, and confirmed by them.

[8] Since in David the expressions to smite the cheek, and break the teeth occur, and by them is signified to destroy interior and exterior falsities, the meaning of smiting on the cheek in Matthew is evident:

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat (tunica = chiton), let him have thy robe (pallium = imation) also; and, whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to every one that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away" (v. 38-42).

That these words are not to be understood according to the letter, is evident to every one. For who is bound by Christian love, to turn the left cheek to him who smites the right, and to give the robe to him who would take away the coat? In a word, who is there who is not allowed to resist evil? But because all things which the Lord uttered, were in themselves celestial Divine, it is evident that these words, as well as the rest which the Lord spoke, contain a celestial sense. The reason why the law was given to the sons of Israel, that they should give an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth (Exod. xxi. 23, 24; Levit. xxiv. 20; Deut. xix. 21), was, that they were external men, and were consequently only in the representatives of things celestial, and not in celestial things themselves, and therefore they were not in charity, in mercy, in patience, or in any spiritual good, and hence were in the law of retaliation. For the heavenly law, and consequently the Christian law, which the Lord taught in the Evangelists, is:

"All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them; this is the law and the prophets" (Matthew vii. 12; Luke vi. 31).

Because this is the law in heaven, and from heaven in the church, therefore also every evil has with itself a corresponding punishment, called the punishment of evil, which is in the evil, as if conjoined with it. From this proceeds the punishment of retaliation, which was prescribed to the sons of Israel, because they were external and not internal men.

Internal men, as the angels of heaven are, do not desire to retaliate evil for evil, but from heavenly charity they forgive, for they know that the Lord defends against the evil all who are in good, that He defends according to the good which they possess, and that He would not defend, if, on account of the evil done to them, they were to be fired by enmity, hatred, and revenge, for these things turn protection aside. These, therefore, are the things involved in the above words of the Lord, but their signification shall be given in order.

[9] An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, signifies, that in the measure that one takes away from another the understanding of truth, and the sense of truth, in the same measure they are taken away from himself, the eye signifying the understanding of truth, and a tooth, the sense of truth, for the tooth denotes truth and falsity, as found in the sensual man. That he who is in Christian-good, will permit an evil person to take those things away as far as he can, is described in the reply which the Lord gives upon the same subject; the precept not to resist evil, signifies, that it is not to be resisted with violence, nor retaliated, for the angels do not fight with the evil, much less do they return evil for evil, but they permit them to do it, because they are defended by the Lord, and hence no evil from hell can possibly hurt them. But whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also, signifies, that if any one shall desire to injure the perception and understanding of interior truth, it should be permitted so far as he makes the attempt, the cheek signifying the perception and understanding of interior truth, the right cheek the affection, and thence perception thereof, and the left, the understanding thereof, and because the cheek is mentioned, therefore also smiting is named, by which is meant to injure. For all things connected with the mouth, as the throat, the mouth itself, the lips, the cheek bones, the teeth, signify such things as pertain to the perception and understanding of truth, because they correspond to them, therefore they are used to express such things in the sense of the letter of the Word, which consists of pure correspondences. If any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy robe also, signifies that, if any one desire to take away the interior truth in thee, that he shall be allowed also to take away exterior truth, the coat (tunica = chiton), signifying truth interior, and the robe (pallium = imation), truth exterior. This also the angels do when they are with the evil, for the evil cannot take away any thing of truth and good from the angels, but they can from those, who on that account burn with enmity, hatred and revenge, for these evils avert and reject the protection which is from the Lord. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain, signifies, if any one desire to lead away from truth to falsity, and from good to evil, that he shall not be opposed, because he is not able to accomplish it, a mile signifying the same as a way, namely, that which leads away and leads. Give to every one that asketh thee, signifies that it should be permitted; and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away, signifies, to instruct if any one desire to be instructed, for the evil desire this in order that they may pervert and deprive, which, however, they cannot do. This is the spiritual sense of the above words, wherein those things now explained lie deeply hidden, which are more especially for the angels, who perceive the Word only according to its spiritual sense; they are also for men in the world who are in good, when the evil try to seduce them. That the evil opposed to those whom the Lord defends are such, I have been permitted to know by much experience; for they have continually laboured with all their might, and in every possible way, to deprive me of truths and goods, but in vain.

From what has been stated, it may be in some degree evident that by a tooth is signified truth or falsity in the Sensual, which is the ultimate of the intellectual life of man. That this is signified by a tooth, is evident from the Lord's reply, where in the perception and understanding of truth are treated of, which the evil try to take away from the good.

[10] That teeth have this signification is further evident from the following passages; as in Jeremiah:

"In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten the wild grape, and the teeth of the sons are made blunt. But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the wild grape, his teeth shall be made blunt" (xxxi. 29,30; Ezek. xviii. 2, 3, 4).

That this means that the sons and descendants shall not incur punishment for the evils of their parents, but every one for his own evil, is clear. By eating the wild grape is signified to appropriate to themselves the falsity of evil, for a wild grape, which is a bitter and bad grape, denotes the falsity of evil, and to eat, signifies to appropriate to oneself; and by the teeth being made blunt, is signified to be thence in the falsity of evil. For the teeth here, as above, signify falsities in ultimates, or in the sensual man, in which the evils of the parents, which are called hereditary, principally lie concealed with the children, and to be made blunt, signifies the appropriation of falsity from evil. For man is not punished on account of hereditary evils, but for his own, and if he causes hereditary evil to become actual evil in himself, wherefore it is said, "Every man shall die for his own iniquity; every man that eateth the wild grape, his teeth shall be made blunt."

[11] So in Job:

"All men abhor me; my bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth" (xix. 19, 20).

These words, in the sense of the letter, mean, that he became both lank and lean; but the spiritual sense, signifies that temptations so suppressed the interiors of his mind, that he became sensual, and thought only in things most external, but still did not think falsities but truths; this is signified by escaping with the skin of his teeth, teeth without skin denoting falsities, but with skin, not falsities, because still in some degree clothed.

[12] So in Amos:

"I have given to you emptiness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places" (iv. 6).

By emptiness of teeth in cities, is denoted a scarcity of truth in doctrines; and by want of bread in [all] places, a scarcity of good from these in the life.

[13] So in Zechariah:

"I will take away her bloods out of her mouth, and her abominations from between her teeth" (ix. 7).

This is spoken concerning Tyre and Zidon, which signify the cognitions of truth and good, here, these falsified. By taking away bloods from the mouth is signified the falsifications of the cognitions of truth; and by abominations from between the teeth, are signified the adulterations of the cognitions of good; the cognitions of good are also truths, for to know good is from the understanding, and the understanding is of truth.

[14] So in David:

"The waters had overwhelmed us, the waters of the proud had gone over our soul. Blessed be Jehovah, who hath not given us a prey to their teeth" (Psalm cxxiv. 4, 5, 6).

By waters overwhelming, are signified the falsities which inundate, and, as it were, overwhelm man when he is in temptations; hence, it is said, "Blessed be Jehovah, who bath not given us a prey to their teeth," that is, to the hells which, by means of falsities, destroy truths, thus, to destroying falsities.

[15] Again, in Job:

"I brake the jaw teeth of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth" (xxix. 17).

These words of Job are spoken concerning himself, and by his saying, "I brake the jaw teeth of the wicked," is signified that he fought against falsities, and conquered them, the jaw teeth of the wicked signifying scientifics from the sense of the letter of the Word, applied to confirm falsities by means of which truths are destroyed. His delivering others from falsities by instructing them, is signified by, I plucked the spoil out of his teeth.

[16] Since the teeth signify falsities in things outermost, by gnashing of teeth is signified, to combat with vehemence and anger from falsities against truths, in the following passages.

Thus in Job:

"He teareth me in his wrath and hateth me: mine enemy gnasheth against me with his teeth; he sharpeneth his eyes against me" (xvi. 9).

And in David:

"The lame whom I knew not are gathered together against me, they tear me, nor are they silent. They gnashed against me with their teeth" (Psalm xxxv. 15,16).


"The wicked plotteth evil against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth" (Psalm xxxvii. 12).


"The wicked shall see, and be grieved: he shall gnash with his teeth and melt away" (Psalm cxii. 10).

And in Micah:

"Against the prophets that make my people err, that bite with their teeth" (iii. 5).

And in Lamentations:

"All thine enemies have opened their mouth against thee," O daughter of Jerusalem: "they have hissed and gnashed with the tooth" (ii. 16).

And in Mark:

A certain one said to Jesus, "I have brought unto thee my son, who hath a dumb spirit; and wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth and gnasheth with his teeth, and pineth away: I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not." And Jesus said unto him, "Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him" (ix. 17, 18, 25).

He who does not know the spiritual sense of the Word, may suppose that it is said in the above passages that they gnashed their teeth, merely for the reason that they were angry and intended evil, because they then pressed their teeth together; but it is said that they gnashed their teeth because the endeavour to destroy and the act of destroying truths by means of falsities are meant; this is said in the Word because the teeth signify falsities in outermost things, and gnashing signifies eagerness in fighting on behalf of them. This effort and act are also from correspondence.

[17] Such also was the deaf and dumb spirit which the Lord cast out; for all spirits are from the human race, and this spirit was from that kind of men, who had fought eagerly for falsities against truths; for this reason he who was obsessed by him foamed, and gnashed with his teeth. He is called by the Lord deaf and dumb, because he did not wish to perceive and understand truth, for such are signified by the deaf and dumb. And being firm and obstinate against truths, and having confirmed himself in falsities, therefore that spirit could not be cast out by the disciples; for they could not dissipate the falsities for which he had fought, since they were not yet in the fitting state, therefore the disciples were on that account rebuked by the Lord. That this spirit was of such a nature, but not the one obsessed by him, is signified by the spirit tearing him, and by the obsessed pining away, and also by the fact that the Lord commanded the spirit to enter no more into him.

[18] From these considerations it is evident what is signified by gnashing of teeth, mentioned in Matthew viii. 12; xiii. 42, 50; xxii. 13; xxiv. 51; xxv. 30; Luke xiii. 28. By the gnashing of teeth in the hells is meant the continual disputation and combating of falsities amongst themselves, and against truths, consequently of those who are in falsities, conjoined with contempt of others, enmity, derision, scorning, blaspheming and these also break forth into attempts to tear each other in pieces, for every one fights for his own falsity from the love of self, of erudition, and of fame. These disputations and combats are heard outside those hells as gnashings of teeth, and are also turned into gnashings of teeth when truths flow in thither out of heaven; more may be seen upon this subject in the Heaven and Hell (n. 575).

[19] It is from this fact that the teeth of the evil correspond to falsities in the ultimates of their intellectual life, which are called corporeal sensual, that the spirits who are of such a nature appear deformed in the face, of which the teeth form a prominent part, standing out and extended like a grating in a kind of a gaping grin, and this because such grinning of teeth corresponds to the love and desire of fighting on behalf of falsities against truths.

[20] Teeth correspond to the ultimates of the intellectual life of man, which are called sensual, and these are in falsities of evil when they are separated from the truths of the interior understanding, which are called spiritual, but they correspond to truths of good in the Sensual when these are not separated, therefore, in the Word, they also signify ultimate truths, as in Job (xix. 19, 20); Amos (iv. 6), explained above.

[21] And because the Lord glorified His whole Human, that is, made it Divine, therefore it is said of Him, in Moses,

"Red in the eyes from wine, and white in the teeth from milk" (Genesis xlix. 12).

By red in the eyes from wine, signifies that His Intellectual was Divine Truth from Divine Good; and by white in the teeth from milk, is signified that His Sensual similarly was Divine Truth from Divine Good; for by Shiloh in that chapter [v. 10] is meant the Lord.

[22] Because teeth correspond to the ultimates of the intellectual life, which are called sensual, therefore good spirits and angels have teeth equally as men, but with them they correspond to truths in the ultimate Sensual, for the Sensual with them is not separated from the truths of the interior understanding which are called spiritual.

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