Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 6997

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6997. 'And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Moses' means leniency. This is clear from the meaning of 'the anger of Jehovah' as not anger but the opposite of anger, which is mercy or in this instance leniency. The absence of any anger in Jehovah is evident from the consideration that He is love itself, goodness itself, and mercy itself, while anger is the opposite and is also a failing, which is inapplicable to God. For this reason when anger in the Word is attributed to Jehovah or the Lord, the angels do not discern anger but either mercy or the removal of the wicked from heaven. Here they discern leniency because what is said is addressed to Moses, who represents the Lord when He was in the world in respect of Divine Truth.

[2] The Word attributes anger to Jehovah or the Lord because of the very general truth that all things come from God, thus the bad as well as the good. But this very general truth, which young children, older ones, and simple people need to have, must at a later stage be clarified. That is to say, it must be shown that bad things are assignable to man, though they may seem to be assignable to God, and have been declared to be so to the end that people may learn to fear God, so as not to be destroyed by wicked things they themselves do, and may then come to love Him. Fear must come before love in order that love may have holy fear within it; for when fear is instilled into love that fear is made holy by the holiness of love. Once it is made holy it is not a fear that the Lord will be angry and punish them, but a fear that they may act contrary to Goodness itself; for to do that will torment their conscience.

[3] Furthermore it was by means of punishments that the Israelites and the Jews were compelled to fulfill the external and formal requirements of religious laws and commands. This led them to think that Jehovah was angry and punished them, when in fact they themselves through their idolatrous behaviour were the ones who brought such things upon themselves and cut themselves off from heaven. Their own behaviour brought about their punishments, as it also says in Isaiah,

Your iniquities cause division between you and your God; and your sins hide [His] face from you. Isa 59:1.

And since the Israelites and the Jews were confined to the fulfillment of external requirements and knew nothing internal they continued to believe that Jehovah was angry and punished them. For people who concern themselves only with things of an external nature but not with anything internal do everything out of fear and nothing out of love.

[4] From all this one may now see what 'the anger' and 'the wrath' of Jehovah are used to mean in the Word, namely punishments, as in Isaiah,

Behold, the name of Jehovah comes from afar, burning with His anger, and the heaviness of the burden. His lips are full of indignation, and His tongue like a burning fire. Isa 30:27.

'Anger' stands for reproof, and for a warning in order that evils may not destroy them. In the same prophet,

In an overflowing of anger I hid My face from you for a moment. Isa 54:8.

'An overflowing of anger' stands for temptation, during which evils bring pain and torment. In Jeremiah,

I Myself will fight with you with an outstretched hand and a strong arm, and in anger, and in fury, and in great indignation. Lest My fury go forth like fire, and burn so that there is none to quench it because of the wickedness of your works. Jer 21:5, 12.

In the same prophet,

. . . to fill those places with the corpses of people whom I smote in My anger and in My wrath. Jer 33:5.

In Zephaniah,

I will pour out onto them My indignation, all My fierce anger,a for in the fire of My zeal the whole earth will be devoured. Zeph 3:8.

In David,

He let loose on them His fierce anger,b indignation, fury, distress, and a mission of evil angels. Ps 78:49.

[5] In addition to these there are many other places in which, as in these, 'anger , 'wrath', 'fury', and 'fire' are used to mean states of punishment or damnation into which a person casts himself when he enters into evil ways. For it is in keeping with Divine order that rewards should go with ways that are good, and therefore that punishments should go with those that are evil, so much so that they are bound up in one another. Punishment and damnation are also meant by the day of Jehovah's anger in Isa 13:9,17; Lam 2:1; Zeph 2:3; Rev 6:17; 11:18; also by the wine of God's anger and the cup of God's anger in Jer 25:15, 28; Rev 14:10; 16:19; as well as by the winepress of God's anger and fury in Rev 14:19; 19:15.

[6] The fact that punishment and damnation are meant by 'anger' is also evident in Matthew,

Brood of vipers, who has shown you to flee from the anger to come? Matt 3:7.

In John,

He who does not believe in the Son will not see life, but the anger of God rests upon him. John 3:36.

In Luke,

In the final period there will be great distress over the earth, and anger on that people. Luke 21:23.

From these places it is evident that 'the anger of Jehovah' means forms of punishment and damnation. The reason why 'anger' is used to mean leniency and mercy is that all forms of punishment that the evil suffer arise because of the Lord's mercy shown towards the good to protect them from harm done by the evil. Yet the Lord does not inflict punishments on the evil; rather, it is they who inflict them on themselves since evils and forms of punishment in the next life are bound up with one another. The evil especially inflict punishments on themselves when the Lord acts mercifully towards the good, for at such times the evils and the resulting punishments are on the increase in them. This explains why instead of 'the anger of Jehovah', which means forms of punishment suffered by the evil, angels understand mercy.

[7] From all this one may recognize what the Word in the sense of the letter is like and also what God's truth in its most general form is like - that it presents matters in ways that accord with outward appearances. The reason for this is that man is by nature such that he believes what he can see and apprehend with his senses, but does not believe and for that reason does not accept what he cannot see or apprehend with his senses. This is why the Word in the sense of the letter presents matters in accordance with outward appearances; nevertheless it has genuine truths concealed in its more internal recesses, while in its inmost recesses it conceals God's truth itself going forth directly from the Lord, and so Divine Good, which is the Lord Himself.


a lit. all the wrath of My anger
b lit. the wrath of His anger

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