Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 10603

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10603. 'Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first ones' means the kind of outward form that the Word, the Church, and worship take on account of that nation. This is clear from the meaning of 'tablets of stone' as the outward form that the Word takes, dealt with in 10453, 10461 (the outward form the Word takes is its literal sense), the reason why the outward form that the Church and worship take is also meant being that the Church owes its existence to the Word, as worship does too (for all the truth of faith and all the good of love which constitute the Church, and worship as well, must come from the Word; and since the Word possesses an outward form and an inner substance, so too do the Church and worship); from the meaning of 'hewing them', when done by Moses, as making the outward form such as it is on account of that nation, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'like the first ones' as in imitation of them, for the first were made by Jehovah but these by Moses.

[2] Moses' breaking of the ones that had been made by Jehovah, when he saw that nation worshipping the golden calf in place of Jehovaha, was providential, because it was impossible for the outward form of the Word, meant by 'the two tablets of stone', to be properly written among that nation, which at heart was wholly idolatrous. This is why the first tablets were broken and Moses was then told to hew others in imitation of the first. They are said to be in imitation of them because the inward sense remained the same, only the outward sense was changed. The inward sense is meant when it says that Jehovah wrote on these tablets the same words as were on the previous ones.

[3] To make this matter easier to understand let the ways in which the outward or literal sense was changed on account of that nation be demonstrated here. On account of this nation altars, burnt offerings, sacrifices, minchahs, and drink offerings were commanded, and therefore are referred to in both the historical sections and the prophetical parts of the Word as the holiest things of worship. But they were in fact no more than concessions made to that nation, for they began with Eber and had been completely unknown in the representative Ancient Church, see 1128, 2180, 2818.

[4] It was also on account of this nation that Divine worship was performed solely in Jerusalem, and that therefore this city was considered to be holy, and was also called holy, in both the historical sections and the prophetical parts of the Word. The reason for this was that at heart this nation was idolatrous, and therefore unless they had all come together in that city at every particular feast each would have worshipped in his own place some gentile god, or a carved or molded image.

It was on account of this nation too that performing holy worship on mountains and in groves, as the ancients had done, was forbidden. This was so that they would not set up idols there or worship the actual trees.

[5] It was likewise on account of this nation that a man was permitted to marry a number of wives, which had been completely unknown in ancient times, and also to put his wives away on various grounds. Consequently laws were laid down regarding such marriages and divorces which would not otherwise have found their way into the outward sense of the Word, which is why in Matt 19:8 the Lord declares these laws in the outward sense to be Moses' and a concession because of the hardness of their hearts.

It is on account of this nation that Jacob and also the twelve sons of Israel are referred to so many times as the only chosen ones and heirs, for example in Rev 7:4-8, and in other places, in spite of what they were really like, as described in the Song of Moses, Deut 32:15-43, and also in places throughout the Prophets, and by the Lord Himself; not to mention other things responsible for the outward form the Word takes on account of that nation.

[6] This particular outward form is what is meant by the two tablets hewn by Moses. The fact that this outward form or sense nevertheless holds the inward Divine sense unchanged within it is meant when it says that Jehovah wrote on these tablets the same words as were on the first ones.


a In this instance Sw. does not use a capital letter for the Divine name in this particular expression; i.e. he writes jehovah, not Jehovah.

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