Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 588

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588. The Lord is referred to as repenting and grieving in heart however because all human mercy seems to involve those feelings. Consequently as is the case many times elsewhere in the Word, the manner of speaking here is in accordance with the outward appearance. Nobody can know what the Lord's mercy is, for it infinitely transcends all human understanding. But one does know what human mercy is; it is repenting and grieving. And unless a person grasps the idea of mercy from some different feeling whose nature he knows, he can have no possible conception of it and so cannot learn anything about it. This is the reason why human characteristics are frequently attributed to Jehovah, or the Lord - for example, that Jehovah or the Lord punishes, leads into temptation, destroys, and burns with anger, when in fact He never punishes anybody, never leads anybody into temptation, never destroys anybody, and never burns with anger. Now seeing that such things are attributed to the Lord, repentance and grief may be attributed as well, for the attribution of the one follows on from that of the other, as is quite clear from the following places in the Word:

[2] In Ezekiel,

My anger will be accomplished, I will make My wrath die down again, and I will repent. Ezek 5:13.

Here, because 'anger' and 'wrath' are attributed to Him, 'repenting' is attributed as well. In Zechariah,

As I thought to do Evil when your fathers provoked Me to anger, said Jehovah Zebaoth, and I did not repent, so again I will think in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Zech 8:14, 15.
Here it is said that Jehovah 'thought to do evil', when in fact He never thinks to do evil to anyone, but good to every single human being. And when Moses sought to placate the facea of Jehovah, Turn from the heat of Your anger, and repent over the evil of Your people. And Jehovah repented over the evil which He said He would do to His people. Exod 32:12, 14. Here also the heat of anger, and consequently repentance, is ascribed to Jehovah. In Jonah,

The king of Ninevah [said], Who knows, God may turn and repent, and turn from the heat of His anger, and we shall not perish! Jonah 3:9.

Here similarly 'repentance' is attributed to Him because 'anger' is also.

[3] In Hosea,

My heart has turned within Me, and at the same time My repentings have been kindled; I will not execute the heat of My anger. Hosea 11:8, 9.

Here 'repentings having been kindled', said of the heart, is similar in meaning to 'He was grieved in heart'. 'Repentings' clearly stands for abundant mercy. Similarly in Joel,

Return to Jehovah your God, for He is gracious and merciful, long-suffering, abounding in mercy, and repenting of evil. Joel 2:13.

Here again 'repenting' quite clearly means mercy. In Jeremiah, It may be they will listen and every man turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the evil. Jer 26:3.

'Repent' stands for having mercy. In the same prophet,

If that nation turns from its evil, I will repent of the evil. Jer 18:8.
Here also 'repenting' stands for having mercy on them if only they would turn back, for it is man who turns the Lord's mercy away from himself. It is never the Lord who turns it away from man.


a lit. the faces

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