(AC) - A Disclosure of the Hidden Treasures of Heaven Contained in the Holy Scripture or Word of the Lord, Together with Amazing Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels

AC 2722

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2722. He planted a grove in Beersheba. That this signifies doctrine thence with its knowledges and its quality, is evident from the signification of a "grove," and from the signification of "Beersheba." As regards groves: in the Ancient Church holy worship was performed on mountains and in groves; on mountains, because mountains signified the celestial things of worship; and in groves, because groves signified its spiritual things. So long as that church, namely, the Ancient, was in its simplicity, their worship at that time on mountains and in groves was holy, for the reason that celestial things, which are those of love and charity, were represented by things high and lofty, such as mountains and hills; and spiritual things, which are therefrom, by things fruitful and leafy, such as gardens and groves; but after representatives and significatives began to be made idolatrous, by the worship of external things without internal, that holy worship became profane; and they were therefore forbidden to worship on mountains and in groves.
[2] That the ancients held holy worship on mountains is evident from the twelfth chapter of Genesis, where we read of Abraham:
He removed thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the sea, and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar, and called on the name of Jehovah (Gen. 12:8, n. 1449-1455);
and also from the signification of a "mountain," as being the celestial of love (n. 795, 796, 1430). That they also held holy worship in groves is evident from what is stated in this verse: "Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the God of eternity;" and also from the signification of a "garden," as being intelligence (n. 100, 108, 1588); and of "trees," as being perceptions (n. 103, 2163). That this was forbidden is evident from the following passages. In Moses:
Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any tree beside the altar of Jehovah thy God which thou shalt make thee, and thou shalt not set thee up a pillar; which Jehovah thy God hateth (Deut. 16:21-22).
In the same:
The altars of the nations shall ye break down, and dash in pieces their pillars, and cut down their groves (Exod. 34:13);
and they were commanded to burn the groves of the nations with fire (Deut. 12:3).
[3] And as the Jews and Israelites, among whom the representative ritual of the Ancient Church was introduced, were solely in externals, and at heart were nothing but idolaters, neither knowing nor wishing to know what anything internal was, nor the life after death, nor even that the Messiah's kingdom was a heavenly one, therefore whenever they were in freedom they held profane worship on mountains and hills, and also in groves and forests; and likewise in place of mountains and hills they made for themselves high places, and in place of groves carved representations of a grove, as is evident from many passages in the Word. As in the book of Judges:
The sons of Israel served Baalim and the groves (Judg. 3:7).
In the book of Kings:
Israel made groves provoking Jehovah (1 Kings 14:15).
And in another place:
Judah built them high places, and pillars, and groves, upon every high hill, and under every green tree (1 Kings 14:23).
And again:
Israel built them high places in all their cities, and set up pillars and groves upon every high hill, and under every green tree (2 Kings 17:9-10).
And again:
Manasseh king of Judah reared up altars for Baal, and made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel, and set the carved image of the grove which he had made in the house of God (2 Kings 21:3, 7);
from which it is manifest that they also made for themselves carved images of a grove. That these were destroyed by king Josiah may be seen in the same book:
Josiah caused all the vessels that were made for Baal and for the grove, and for the sun and the moon, and for all the army of the heavens, to be brought out of the temple of Jehovah, and he burnt them without Jerusalem, and the houses which the women had woven there for the grove (2 Kings 23:4-5, 7, 14-15).
He also cut down the groves which Solomon had made, and likewise the grove in Bethel which Jeroboam had made (2 Kings 23:4, 6-7, 13-15). That king Hezekiah also demolished such things may be seen in the same book:
Hezekiah king of Judah removed the high places, and brake the pillars, and cut down the grove, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent which Moses had made (2 Kings 18:4).
[4] That the brazen serpent was holy in the time of Moses is evident; but when the external was worshiped it became profane, and was broken in pieces, for the same reason that worship on mountains and in groves was forbidden. These things are still more evident in the Prophets. In Isaiah:
Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree; sacrificing the children in the rivers under the crags of the rocks; thou hast also poured out a drink-offering to the rivers, thou hast offered a gift; upon a high and lofty mountain hast thou set thy habitation, and thither wentest thou up* to offer sacrifice (Isa. 57:5-7).
In the same:
In that day shall a man look unto his Maker, and his eyes shall see the Holy One of Israel; and he shall not look to the altars the work of his hands, neither shall he see that which his fingers have made, and the groves and the sun images (Isa. 17:7-8).
In Micah:
I will cut off thy graven images and thy pillars out of the midst of thee, and thou shalt no more bow thyself down to the work of thy hands; and I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy cities (Micah 5:13-14).
In Ezekiel:
That their slain may be among their idols, round about their altars, upon every high hill, on all the tops of the mountains, and under every green tree, and under every tangled oak, the place where they did offer an odor of rest to all their idols (Ezek. 6:13).
[5] From all this it is now manifest from what origin idolatrous worship came, namely, the worship of objects that were representative and significative. The most ancient people who were before the flood saw in each and everything-in mountains, hills, plains, and valleys, gardens, groves, and forests, rivers and waters, fields and plantations, trees and animals of every kind, and the luminaries of heaven-something representative and significative of the Lord's kingdom; but they never dwelt with their eyes, still less with their minds, on these objects; but these things served them as means for thinking about the celestial and spiritual things in the Lord's kingdom; and this to such a degree that there was nothing at all in universal nature that did not serve them as such means. The real fact is that everything in nature is representative, which is an arcanum at this day and scarcely believed by anyone. But after the celestial which is of love to the Lord had perished, the human race was then no longer in that state-namely, that from objects as means they could see the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord's kingdom.
[6] Yet the ancients after the flood knew, from traditions, and from collections made by certain persons, that these things had such a signification; and as they were significative they esteemed them holy. Hence came the representative worship of the Ancient Church; which church, being spiritual, was not in the perception that a thing was so, but was in the knowledge of the fact; for it was relatively in obscurity (n. 2715). Nevertheless they did not worship outward things, but by means of outward things they called to mind inward things; and hence when they were in those representatives and significatives, they were in holiness of worship. They were able to be so because they were in spiritual love, that is, in charity, which they made an essential of worship; and therefore holiness from the Lord could flow into their worship. But when the state of the human race had become so changed and perverted that they removed themselves from the good of charity, and thus no longer believed that there was any heavenly kingdom, or any life after death, but that men were in a similar condition with animals, save only that they could think (as is also believed at this day), then the holy representative worship was turned into idolatry, and the outward things were worshiped. Hence with many Gentiles at that time, and also with the Jews and Israelites, the worship was not representative, but was a worship of the representatives and significatives; that is, of the outward things without the inward.
[7] As regards groves in particular, among the ancients they were of various signification, and indeed according to the kinds of trees in them. Groves of olive-trees signified the celestial things of worship; groves of vines signified the spiritual things of worship; but groves of fig-trees, cedars, fir-trees, poplars, and oaks, signified various things relating to what is celestial and spiritual. In the passage before us mention is made simply of a grove or plantation of trees; and this signifies the things of reason that were adjoined to doctrine and its knowledges; for trees in general signify perceptions (n. 103, 2163), but when they are predicated of the spiritual church they signify knowledges, for the reason that the man of the spiritual church has no other perceptions than those which come through knowledges from doctrine or the Word; for these become of his faith, and thus of conscience, from which he has perception.
* Ibi obtulisti, but eo ascendisti, Apocalypse Explained 405. [Rotch ed.]


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