7296. 'And Pharaoh also called the wise men and sorcerers' means a misuse of Divine order. This is clear from the meaning of 'the wise men' as those with a knowledge of spiritual realities and of their correspondence with natural things; (since these things were of a mystical nature those who studied and taught them were called 'the wise' among them. And because the Egyptians devoted themselves to such things they called themselves 'a son of the wise' and 'a son of the kings of old', as is evident in Isaiah,
How do you say to Pharaoh, I am a son of the wise, a son of the kings of old?
The Egyptians called a body of knowledge about spiritual realities wisdom, as did the Chaldeans also, Jer 50:35;)and from the meaning of 'sorcerers' as those who pervert Divine order, thus those who pervert the laws of order. The fact that sorcery and magic have no other meaning than this may be recognized from sorcerers and magicians in the next life, where there are large numbers of them. For people who during their lifetime have used guile and devised many tricks to cheat others, and being successful have at length attributed all things to their own prudence, acquire a knowledge in the next life of magical practices. These are nothing but misuses of Divine order, especially of correspondences; for Divine order requires that every single thing should possess some correspondence. Hands, arms, and shoulders, for example, correspond to power, and therefore a rod does so too; and knowing this they fashion rods for themselves and also, in representative form, produce shoulders, arms, and hands, and then use them to exercise magical power. They can do the same with thousands of other things. A misuse of order and of correspondences exists when things that belong to order are not applied to good ends but to evil ones, for example to exercising control over others and bringing about their destruction; for salvation, thus the doing of good to all, is the end that order holds in view. From this one may see what one is to understand by a misuse of order, meant by 'the sorcerers'.