Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 9937

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

9937. 'And Aaron shall bear the iniquity of the holy things' means a consequent removal or shifting away of falsities and evils with those who are governed by good derived from the Lord. This is clear from the representation of 'Aaron' as the Lord in respect of the good of love, dealt with in 9806, and from the representation of 'the priestly office' in which Aaron served as all the service performed by the Lord as the Saviour, dealt with in 9809; from the meaning of 'bearing the iniquity' as a removal of falsities and evils with those who are governed by good, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'the holy things' as the gifts which they offered to Jehovah or the Lord to expiate them from sins, those gifts being burnt offerings, sacrifices, and minchahs. It is plain that these should be understood by 'the holy things', for it says, Which the children of Israel shall sanctify, even in all their gifts of holy things. The reason why 'bearing the iniquity' means a removal or shifting away of falsities and evils, or sins, with those who are governed by good is that what is said refers to the Lord; for the Lord is represented by Aaron, and all the work of salvation by his service or priestly office. It is well known in the Church that the Lord is said to have borne sins on behalf of the human race, yet there is no knowledge of what to understand by bearing iniquities and sins. Some think it means that He took the sins of the human race onto Himself and allowed Himself to be condemned even to death on a cross, and that since, because of this, the condemnation for sins was cast onto Him, people in the world have been made free from condemnation. It is also thought that condemnation was taken away by the Lord through His fulfilling the law, for the law would have condemned everyone who did not fulfill it.

[2] But no such ideas should be understood by 'bearing iniquity', for every individual person's deeds await him after death, when he is judged according to the essential nature of those deeds either to life or to death. The essential nature of them depends on his love and faith, for love and faith constitute the life of a deed. No one's deeds therefore can be taken away by transference onto another who will bear them. From these considerations it is evident that something other than those ideas should be understood by 'bearing iniquities'; but what should be understood may be recognized from the actual bearing of iniquities or sins by the Lord. The Lord bears them when He fights on behalf of a person against the hells; for no one is able by himself to fight against them. Rather the Lord alone does so, indeed constantly for every individual person, yet differently with each one according to their reception of Divine Good and Divine Truth.

[3] When He was in the world the Lord fought against all the hells and completely subdued them, as a result of which also He became Righteousness. By doing that He has rescued from damnation those who receive Divine Good and Truth from Him. If the Lord had not done so no person could have been saved, for the hells are unceasingly present with a person, exercising control over him to the extent that the Lord does not shift them away. And He shifts them away to the extent that the person refrains from evils. He who is victorious once over the hells is victorious forever over them; and to achieve this the Lord made Divine His Human. The One therefore who alone fights for a person against the hells - or what amounts to the same thing, against evils and falsities, since they arise from the hells - is said to bear sins; for He bears that burden, alone. The reason why 'bearing sins' also means moving evils and falsities away from those who are governed by good is that this is the consequence. For the more remote the hells are from a person, the more remote evils and falsities are, since falsities and evils come, as has been stated, from the hells - evils and falsities being sins and iniquities. For the implications of all this, see what has been shown above in 9715 and 9809, where the Lord's merit and righteousness, and also the subjugation of the hells by Him, are dealt with.

[4] The reason for its being said that Aaron would bear iniquities was that He represented the Lord, while his priestly office represented the Lord's entire work of salvation, see 9806, 9809; and the work of salvation consists primarily in rescuing and delivering a person from hell, and so in shifting evils and falsities away. The expression 'a shifting of evils and falsities away' is used because deliverance from sins or forgiveness of them is nothing other than a shifting away of them; for they still remain with the person. But to the extent that the good of love and the truth of faith are implanted evil and falsity are shifted away. The situation in this is like that with heaven and hell. Heaven does not annihilate hell or those who are there, but moves it away from itself; for the good and truth received from the Lord are what compose heaven, and they are what move hell back. The situation is similar with a person. In himself a person is an embodiment of hell, but when he is being regenerated he becomes an embodiment of heaven; and to the extent that he becomes an embodiment of heaven, hell is moved away from him. It is commonly supposed that evils, that is, sins, are not shifted away in that manner, but that they are completely separated from a person. But those who think this do not know that in himself the whole of a person is nothing but evil, and that to the extent that the person is maintained by the Lord in good, the evils that are his appear as though they have been obliterated. For when a person is maintained in good he is withheld from evil. Yet nobody can be withheld from evil and maintained in good except one in whom the good of faith and charity received from the Lord is present, that is, one who allows himself to be regenerated by the Lord. For through regeneration heaven is implanted with a person, and through this the hell residing with him is moved away, as stated above.

[5] From all this it may again be recognized that 'bearing iniquities', when the Lord is the subject, means fighting constantly for a person against the hells, thus constantly moving them away, for that removal of them goes on unceasingly not only while a person is in the world but also forever in the next life. No mere human being is able to move evils away in that manner, for by himself no one is able to move even the smallest amount of evil away, less still to move the hells, and least of all to do so forever. But see what has been shown previously about these matters -

Evils with a person are not completely separated from him, but they are moved away to the extent that he is governed by good received from the Lord, 8393, 9014, 9333-9336, 9444-9454. While in the world the Lord overcame the hells by means of conflicts brought about by temptations, and thereby set all things in order; He was stirred by Divine Love to do this, in order that the human race might be saved; and He also thereby made Divine His Human, see the places referred to in 9528 (end). The Lord fights for a person in temptations, which are spiritual conflicts against evils that come from hell, 1692, 6574, 8159, 8172, 8175, 8176, 8273, 8969.

In what way the Lord bore the iniquities of the human race when He was in the world, that is, fought with the hells and subdued them, and in so doing acquired Divine power to Himself to remove them with all who are governed by good, and that He thereby became merit and righteousness, is described in Isaiah 59:16-20, and also 63:1-9, for explanations of which, see 9715, 9809.

[6] From all this, once it is understood, people may then know what all those things mean that are stated regarding the Lord in Chapter 53 of the same prophet, a chapter dealing from beginning to end with the state of temptations He underwent, thus with the state He was passing through when He was engaged in conflict with the hells. For temptations are nothing other than conflicts with them. This state is described in [verses 4-6, 9-12, of] that chapter in the following way,

He bore our griefsa and carried our sorrows. He was pierced because of our transgressions and bruised because of our iniquities. Jehovah has laid onb Him the iniquity of us all. So He consigned the wicked to [their] grave. The will of Jehovah will prosper by means of His hand. Out of the distressc of His soul He will see and be satisfied, and through His wisdom He will justify many, because He has carried their iniquities. So He has borne the sin of many.

The Lord is also called there [in Isa 53:1] the arm of Jehovah, by which Divine Power is meant, 4932, 7205.
'Carrying griefs, sorrows, and iniquities', and 'being pierced and bruised because of them' self-evidently means the state of temptations; for at that time there are experiences involving distress of mind, anguish, and despair, which cause the pain described in those verses. The hells bring such feelings about; for in temptations they assault the actual love of the one against whom they fight. Everyone's love is the inmost core of his life. The Lord's love was that of saving the human race; and this love was the Essential Being (Esse) of His life, since the Divine within Him was that love. This too is so described in Isaiah, where the Lord's conflicts are the subject, in the following words,

He said, Surely they are My people. Therefore He became their Saviour. In all their affliction He suffered affliction; because of His love and His compassion He redeemed them, and took them and carried them all the days of eternity. Isa 63:8, 9.

[7] The description of the Lord's suffering of such temptations when He was in the world is brief in the Gospels, but in the Prophets, and especially in the Psalms of David, it is extensive. The Gospels merely state that He was led into the wilderness, where He was then tempted by the devil, and that He was there forty days, and was with the beasts, Mark 1:12, 13; Matt 4:1. But the fact that He had been undergoing temptations from earliest childhood through to the end of His life in the world, that is, had been engaged in conflicts with the hells, was not revealed by Him, as accords with the following words in Isaiah,

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. He is led like a lamb to the slaughter, and like a sheep before its shearers is dumb, He did not open His mouth. Isa 53:7.

His final temptation was in Gethsemane, Matt. 26; Mark 14, followed by the passion of the Cross. Through this temptation He completely subdued the hells, as He Himself teaches in John,

Father, rescue Me from this hour. But on account of this I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name. [Then] a voice came from heaven, [saying,] I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. Then Jesus said, Now is the judgement of this world, now will the prince of this world be cast outdoors. John 12:27, 28, 31.

'The prince of [this] world' is the devil, thus all hell. 'Glorifying' means making Divine the Human. The reason why only the temptation after the forty days in the wilderness is mentioned is that 'forty days' means and implies temptations to completeness, thus over a number of years, see 8098, 9437. 'The wilderness' means hell, 'the beasts' He fought with there being the devil's crew.

[8] The removal of sins with those who are governed by good or who have repented was represented in the Jewish Church by the he-goat called Azazel. Aaron was to lay his hands on its head and to confess the iniquities of the children of Israel and all transgressions in respect of all their sins, after which he was to send it into the wilderness; thus the he-goat was to bear on itself all their iniquities into a land of separation, Lev 16:21, 22. 'Aaron' here represents the Lord, 'the he-goat' means faith, 'the wilderness' and 'a land of separation' hell, and 'bearing the iniquities of the children of Israel to that place' removing and casting them into hell. Nobody can know that such things were represented except from the internal sense. For anyone can see that the iniquities of the entire assembly could not have been carried off into the wilderness by any he-goat; for what did a he-goat have in common with iniquities? But since everything representative at that time was a sign of such things as belong to the Lord, heaven, and the Church, so were these things that were done with the he-goat. The internal sense therefore teaches what those things imply, namely that the truth of faith is the means by which a person is regenerated, consequently by which sins are removed. And since faith or belief in what is true is derived from the Lord, the Lord Himself is the One who accomplishes that removal of them, as accords with what has been stated and shown in the Preface to Genesis 22, and also in 2046, 3332, 3876, 3877, 4738. Aaron represents the Lord, see 9806, 9808; and 'a he-goat of the she-goats' is the truth of faith, 4169 (end), 4769. The reason why 'the wilderness' is hell, is that the camp where the children of Israel were meant heaven, 4236; and for the same reason also the wilderness is called 'a land of separation' or a land that is cut off. 'Bearing iniquities into that land' or into the wilderness accordingly means casting evils and falsities into hell from where they come; and they are cast into that place when they become so remote that they cannot be seen, which is what happens when a person is withheld from them because he is maintained in good by the Lord, as accords with what has been stated above.

[9] The same thing as is meant by casting out sins into the wilderness is also meant by casting them into the depths of the sea, as in Micah,

He will be merciful to us, He will sink our iniquities, and He will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. Micah 7:19.

'Depth of the sea' too means hell.

[10] From all this it is now evident that the words saying that Aaron was to bear the iniquity of the holy things means a removal or shifting away of sins from those who are governed by good derived from the Lord, and that this removal of them is done constantly by the Lord. This is what 'bearing iniquities' means, as also in another place in Moses,

Jehovah said to Aaron, You and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary. Also you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity of your priesthood. The children of Israel shall no longer come near the tent of meeting, or else they will bear sin and die.d But Levites shall perform the work of the tent, and these shall bear their iniquity. Num 18:1, 22, 23.

'Bearing' or 'carrying' is used with a similar meaning in Isaiah,

Hearken to Me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel who have been carried from the womb. Even to [your] old age I am the Same, and even to grey hair I will carry [you]; I have made, and I will carry, and I will bear, and I will deliver. Isa 46:3, 4.

[11] 'Bearing iniquity' means making expiation, thus removing sins, in Moses,

Moses was annoyed with Eleazar and Ithamar, because the he-goat of the sin-sacrifice had been burnt, saying, Why have you not eaten it in a holy place, since Jehovah has given it to you to bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make expiation for them before Jehovah? Lev 10:16, 17.

For the meaning of 'expiation' as cleansing from evils, thus removal from sins, see 9506. Also Aaron was commanded to make expiation for the people, and to pardon their sins, Lev 4:26, 31, 35; 5:6, 10, 13, 16, 18; 6:7; 9:7; 15:15, 30. But bearing sins, when the phrase is not used in reference to the priesthood, means being damned, and so means dying, Lev 5:1,17; 7:18; 17:16; 19:8; 20:17, 19, 20; 22:9; 24:15; Num 9:13; 18:22; Ezek 18:19, 20; 23:49.


a lit. sicknesses
b lit. has caused to run to
c lit. labour
d lit. no longer come near the tent of meeting to bear sin, dying

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church