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Bullock and Calf

Spiritual Meaning of Bullock, Calf

The signification of bullocks, is the good of innocence and of charity in the external or natural man. That beasts that were sacrificed signified the quality of the good and truth from which was the worship, (AC 922, 1823, 2180, 3519). That gentle and useful beasts signify the celestial things of the good of love, and the spiritual things of the truth of faith, and that on this account they were employed in the sacrifices, (AC 9280). That a bullock signifies the good of innocence and of charity in the external or natural man, is because animals of the herd signified affections of good and truth in the external or natural man, and those of the flock, affections of good and truth in the internal or spiritual man (AC 2566, 5913, 6048, 8937, 9135). The animals of the flock were lambs, she-goats, sheep, rams, he-goats; and those of the herd were oxen, bullocks, and calves. Lambs and sheep signified the good of innocence and of charity in the internal or spiritual man; consequently calves and bullocks, being of a more tender age than oxen, signified the like in the external or natural man.

[2] That bullocks and calves signify this good, is evident from the passages in the Word where they are mentioned; as in Ezekiel:--

The feet of the four living creatures, a straight foot; and the sole of their feet as the sole of a calf's foot; and they glittered like the appearance of burnished brass (Ezek. 1:7);

speaking of the cherubs, which are described by the four living creatures. That the cherubs denote the guard or providence of the Lord to prevent any approach to Himself except through good, (AC 9277). External or natural good was represented by the straight foot, and by the sole of the foot being like the sole of a calf's foot; for the feet signify the things of the natural man; the straight foot those which are of good, and the sole of the feet those which are ultimate, in the natural man. That the feet have this signification, (AC 2162, 3147, 3761, 3986, 4280, 4938-4952, 5327, 5328); also that the heels, soles, and hoofs denote the ultimate things in the natural man, (AC 4938, 7729). The reason why the soles of the feet glittered like the appearance of burnished brass, was that brass signifies natural good (AC 425, 1551), and brass glittering as though burnished, signifies good resplendent from the light of heaven, which is truth Divine proceeding from the Lord. From what has been said it is evident that by a calf is signified the good of the external or natural man.

[3] In like manner in John:--

Round about the throne were four animals full of eyes before and behind. And the first animal was like a lion, and the second animal like a calf, and the third animal had a face like a man, and the fourth animal was like a flying eagle (Rev. 4:6, 7);

here also by the four animals which are cherubs, is signified the guard and providence of the Lord to prevent His being approached except through the good of love; the guard itself is effected by means of truth and its derivative good, and by means of good and its derivative truth. Truth and its derivative good, in the external form, are signified by the lion and the calf; and good and its derivative truth, in the internal form, are signified by the face of a man and by the flying eagle. That a lion denotes truth from good in its power, (AC 6367), consequently the calf denotes the good itself thence derived.

[4] In Hosea:--

Return ye unto Jehovah; say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and accept good, and we will repay the bullocks of our lips (Hosea 14:2);

no one can know what is meant by repaying the bullocks of the lips unless he knows what is signified by bullocks and by lips. That it denotes confession and thanksgiving from a good heart, is evident; for it is said, return ye unto Jehovah, say unto Him accept good, and then, we will repay the bullocks of our lips, denoting to confess Jehovah from the goods of doctrine, and to give thanks to Him; for the lips denote the things of doctrine (AC 1286, 1288).

[5] In Amos:--

Ye draw the dwelling of violence; they lie upon beds of ivory, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall (Amos 6:3, 4);

here are described those who are in abundance of the knowledges of good and truth, and yet live an evil life; eating the lambs out of the flock denotes to learn and appropriate to one's self the goods of innocence that belong to the internal or spiritual man; eating the calves out of the midst of the stall denotes to learn and appropriate to one's self the goods of innocence that belong to the external or natural man. That eating denotes to appropriate (AC 3168, 3513, 3596, 3832, 4745); and that lambs denote the goods of innocence, (AC 3519, 3994, 7840). And as lambs denote the interior goods of innocence, it follows that calves out of the midst of the stall denote the exterior goods of innocence; for in the Word, especially in the prophetic Word, it is usual to treat of truth wherever good is treated of, on account of the heavenly marriage (AC 9263, 9314); and also to speak of external things where internal things are spoken of. Moreover the stall (used for fattening) and fat signify the good of interior love (AC 5943).

[6] In like manner in these passages:--

Unto you that fear My name shall the sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; that ye may go forth, and grow like calves of the stall (Mal. 4:2).

The father said of the prodigal son who had returned repentant in heart, Bring forth the chief robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be glad (Luke 15:22, 23);

one who apprehends only the sense of the letter, will believe that nothing deeper is hidden here; when yet each particular infolds heavenly things; as that they should put on him the chief robe; that they should put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and should bring the fatted calf, and kill it, so that they might eat and be glad. By the prodigal son are meant those who have been prodigal of heavenly riches, which are the knowledges of good and truth; by his return to his father, and his confession that he was not worthy to be called his son, is signified repentance of heart and humiliation; by the chief robe which was to be put upon him are signified general truths (AC 4545, 5248, 5319, 5954, 6914, 6917, 9093, 9212, 9216); and by the fatted calf general goods corresponding to these truths. The like is signified by calves and bullocks in other passages (Isa. 11:6; Ezek. 39:18; Ps. 29:6; 69:31), also in the burnt-offerings and sacrifices (Exod. 29:11-14; Lev. 4:3-12 and 13-21; 8:14-17; 9:2; 16:3; 23:18; Num. 8:8-12; 15:24-26; 28:19, 20; Judges 6:25-28; 1 Sam. 1:25; 16:2; 1 Kings 18:23-26, 33).

[7] The reason why the sons of Israel made for themselves a golden calf, and worshiped it instead of Jehovah (Exod. 32), was that the Egyptian idolatry remained in their hearts, although they confessed Jehovah with their mouths. Chief among the idols of Egypt were heifers and bull-calves of gold, for the reason that a female calf signified memory-truth, which is the truth of the natural man; and a bull-calf the good of this truth, which is the good of the natural man; and also because gold signified good. This good and this truth were effigied there by male and female calves of gold. But when the representatives of heavenly things there had been turned into idolatries, and at last into magic, then in Egypt, as in other places, the very effigies which had been representative became idols, and began to be worshiped. Hence came the idolatries of the ancients, and the magical arts of Egypt.

[8] For the Ancient Church, which succeeded the Most Ancient Church, was a representative church, all the worship of which consisted in rites, statutes, judgments, and commandments that represented Divine and heavenly thing, which are the interior things of the church After the flood this Ancient Church was spread through much of the Asiatic world, and was also in Egypt. But in Egypt the memory-knowledges of this church were cultivated, where by the Egyptians excelled all others in the knowledge of correspondences and representations, as can be seen from the hieroglyphics, and from the magical arts and idols there; and also from the various things related about Egypt in the Word. Hence it is that by Egypt in the Word is signified memory-knowledge in general, both as to truth and as to good; also the natural, for memory-knowledge belongs to the natural man. The same was signified also by a female and a male calf.

[9] That the Ancient Church, which was a representative church, was spread through many kingdoms, and was also in Egypt, (AC 1238, 2385, 7097); that the memory-knowledges of the church were especially cultivated in Egypt, and that therefore by Egypt in the Word is signified memory-knowledge in both senses, (AC 1164, 1165, 1186, 1462, 4749, 4964, 4966, 5700, 5702, 6004, 6015, 6125, 6651, 6679, 6683, 6692, 6693, 6750, 7779, 7926); and as memory-truth and its good are the truth and good of the natural man, therefore by Egypt in the Word is also signified the natural, (AC 4967, 5079, 5080, 5095, 5160, 5276, 5278, 5280, 5288, 5301, 6004, 6015, 6147, 6252).

[10] From all this it is now evident that female and male calves were among the chief idols of Egypt, for the reason that female and male calves signified memory-truth and its good, which belong to the natural man, in like manner as does Egypt itself; so that Egypt and a calf had the same signification, wherefore it is said of Egypt in Jeremiah:--

Egypt is a very beautiful she-calf; destruction is come out of the north. Also her hired men in the midst of her are like he-calves of the stall (Jer. 46:20, 21);

a she-calf denotes the memory-truth of the natural man; the hired men who are he-calves denote those who do what is good for the sake of profit (AC 8002); thus he-calves denote such good as in itself is not good, but is the delight of the natural man separate from the spiritual. This is the delight in which were the sons of Jacob, being in itself idolatrous; and therefore they were permitted to make this known and testify it by the adoration of a calf (Exod. 32).

[11] This is also described in David:--

They made a calf in Horeb, and bowed themselves to a molten image; and they changed their glory into the effigy of an ox that eateth the herb (Ps. 106:19, 20);

by making a calf in Horeb and bowing themselves to a molten image is signified idolatrous worship, which is that of rites, statutes, judgments, and commandments, in the external form only; and not at the same time in the internal. That that nation was in external things without anything internal, (AC 9320, 9373, 9377, 9380, 9382); and that therefore they were idolatrous in their hearts, (AC 3732, 4208, 4281, 4825, 5998, 7401, 8301, 8871, 8882). By their changing their glory into the effigy of an ox that eateth the herb is signified that they estranged themselves from the internal things of the Word and of the church, and worshiped what is external, which is mere memory-knowledge devoid of life; for glory denotes what is internal of the Word and of the church (AC 2135a, 5922, 8267, 8427); the effigy of an ox denotes a semblance of good in the external form, for an effigy denotes a semblance, thus that which is devoid of life; and an ox denotes good in the natural, thus good in the external form (AC 2566, 2781, 9134); to eat the herb denotes to appropriate this to one's self as a mere matter of memory; for to eat denotes to appropriate (AC 3168, 3513, 3596, 4745); and the herb denotes memory-knowledge (AC 7571).

[12] As such things were signified by the golden calf, that was worshiped by the sons of Israel instead of Jehovah, therefore Moses proceeded with it in the following manner:--

Your sin, the calf which ye made, I took, and burnt it with fire, and crushed it, grinding it well, until it was as fine as dust; and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that came down from the mountain (Deut. 9:21);

no one knows why the golden calf was so dealt with, unless he knows what is signified by being burned with fire, crushed, ground, and made as fine as dust; and what by the brook that came down from the mountain, into which the dust was cast. There is here described the state of those who worship external things without anything internal; namely, that they are in the evils of the loves of self and of the world, and in the falsities thence derived, in respect to what is from the Divine, thus in respect to the Word. For the fire by which the calf was burned denotes the evil of the love of self and of the world (AC 1297, 1861, 2446, 5071, 5215, 6314, 6832, 7324, 7575); the dust into which it was crushed, denotes the consequent falsity confirmed from the sense of the letter of the Word; and the brook from Mount Sinai denotes truth Divine, thus the Word in the letter, for this comes down from it. For those who are in external things without anything internal explain the Word in favor of their own loves, and see therein earthly things, and nothing of heavenly things, like the Israelites and Jews of old, and also of this day.

[13] Similar things were also represented by the calves of Jeroboam in Bethel and in Dan (1 Kings 12:26-33; 2 Kings 17:16), of which we read in Hosea:--

They have made a king, but not by Me; they have made princes, and I knew it not; their silver and their gold have they made into idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath deserted, for this also is from Israel, the workman made it, and it is no God, for the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces (Hosea 8:4-6);

the subject here treated of is the perverted understanding and distorted unfolding of the Word by those who are in external things without anything internal; for they remain in the sense of the letter of the Word, which they wrest so as to favor their own loves and the principles taken from them.

[14] Making a king, but not by Me; and making princes, and I knew it not denotes to hatch truth and primary truths from their own light, and not from the Divine, for in the internal sense a king denotes truth (AC 1672, 2015, 2069, 3009, 4581, 4966, 5044, 5068, 6148); and princes denote primary truths (AC 1482, 2089, 5044); making their silver and their gold into idols denotes to pervert the memory-knowledges of truth and good from the literal sense of the Word, in favor of their own cupidities, and still to worship them as holy, although, being from their own intelligence, they are devoid of life; for silver denotes the truth, and gold the good, that are from the Divine, thus that belong to the Word (AC 1551, 2954, 5658, 6914, 6917, 8932); and idols denote doctrinal things from man's own intelligence which are worshiped as holy, and yet have no life in them (AC 8941) from which it is evident that by a king and princes, and also by silver and gold, are signified falsities from evil; for those things which are from man's own are from evil, and consequently are falsities, although outwardly they appear like truths, because taken from the literal sense of the Word. From this it is evident what is signified by the calf of Samaria which the workman made, namely, good in the natural man and not at the same time in the spiritual man; thus that which is not good, because applied to evil. The workman made it, and it is no God, denotes that it is from man's own, and not from the Divine; to be broken in pieces denotes to be dispersed.

[15] Similar things are meant by calves in Hosea:--

They sin more and more, and make them a molten image of their silver, even idols in their own intelligence, wholly the work of the craftsmen; talking to them, sacrificing men, kissing calves (Hosea 13:2).

From all this it is now evident what is signified by a calf, and a bullock, in the following passages:--

The unicorns shall come down with them, and the bullocks with strong ones, and their land shall be drunken with blood, and their dust shall be made fat with fatness (Isa. 34:7).

The defenced city is solitary, the habitation is abandoned and forsaken like a wilderness; there shall the calf feed, and there shall he lie down, and consume the branches thereof; the harvest thereof shall wither (Isa. 27:10).

From the cry of Heshbon even unto Elealeh, even unto Jahaz, have they uttered their voice, from Zoar even unto Horonaim, a she-calf of three years old; for the waters of Nimrim also shall become desolations (Jer. 48:34).

My heart crieth out for Moab; her fugitives are even unto Zoar, a she-calf of three years old; for in the ascent of Luhith with weeping he shall go up (Isa. 15:5).

Ephraim is a she-calf that is taught, that loveth to thresh (Hos. 10:11).

Rebuke the wild beast of the reed, the congregation of the strong ones, among the calves of the peoples, trampling under foot the fragments of silver; He hath scattered the peoples, they desire wars (Ps. 68:30);

[16] the subject here treated of is the arrogance of those who wish to enter from memory-knowledges into the mysteries of faith, and who are not willing to acknowledge anything but that which they themselves hatch therefrom. As they do not see anything from the light of heaven which is from the Lord, but only from the light of nature which is from man's own, they seize on shadows instead of light, on fallacies instead of realities, and in general on falsity instead of truth. As they think insanely, because from the lowest things, they are called the wild beast of the reed; and as they reason with vehemence, they are called the congregation of the strong ones; and as they disperse the truths that are still remaining and scattered among the goods of those who are in the truths of the church, it is said of them that they trample under foot the fragments of silver among the calves of the peoples, and further that they scatter the peoples, that is, the church itself with its truths; the lust of attacking and destroying these truths is meant by desiring wars. From all this it is again evident that calves denote goods.

[17] In (Zechariah 12:4) it is said, I will smite every horse of the peoples with blindness; and by the horse of the peoples are signified the intellectual things of truth with those who are of the church, because a horse denotes the understanding of truth (AC 2761). But it is here said, trampling under foot the fragments of silver, and scattering the peoples among the calves of the peoples; and by trampling under foot and scattering" is signified to cast down and disperse (AC 258). By silver is signified truth, (AC 1551, 2954, 5658, 6112, 6914, 6917, 7999, 8932); and by peoples those of the church who are in truths, (AC 2928, 7207), therefore the truths of the church, (AC 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581). Thus by the calves of the peoples are signified the goods of the will with those who are of the church.

[18] Moreover, that calves signify goods, is evident in Jeremiah:--

I will give the men that have transgressed My covenant, who have not established the words of the covenant which they have made before Me, of the calf which they cut in twain, that they might pass between the parts thereof; the princes of Judah, and the princes of Jerusalem, the royal ministers and the priests, and all the people of the land, who have passed between the parts of the calf; I will even give them into the hand of their enemies, that their carcass may be for food to the bird of the heavens, and to the beast of the earth (Jer. 34:18-20);

no one can know what is meant by the covenant of the calf, and what by passing between the parts thereof, unless knows what is signified by a covenant, by a calf, by its being divided into two parts; also what is signified by the princes of Judah and of Jerusalem, by the eunuchs, the priests, and the people of the land. It is evident that some heavenly secret is infolded. Nevertheless this secret can appear to the understanding when it is known that a covenant denotes conjunction, a calf good, a calf cut in twain good proceeding from the Lord on the one side, and good received by man on the other; and that the princes of Judah and of Jerusalem, with the royal ministers and the priests, and the peoples of the land, denote the truths and goods of the church from the Word; and that to pass between the parts denotes to conjoin. From all these things, when they are known, it is evident that the internal sense of these words is, that there was no conjunction of the good proceeding from the Lord with the good received by man through the Word, consequently through the truths and goods of the church with that nation; but that there was disjunction, for the reason that they were in external things without anything internal.

[19] The like was involved in the covenant of the calf with Abram, of which we read in the book of Genesis:--

Jehovah said unto Abram, Take thee a she-calf of three years, and a she-goat of three years, and a ram of three years, and a turtle-dove, and a young pigeon. And he took him all these and divided them in the midst, and laid each part of it over against the other; and the birds he did not divide. And the fowls came down upon the bodies, and Abram drove them away. And it was when the sun was setting, that a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and behold a terror of great darkness falling upon him. And in that day Jehovah made a covenant with Abram (Gen. 15:9-12, 18);

a terror of great darkness falling upon Abram signified the state of the Jewish nation, in that they were in the greatest darkness in respect to the truths and goods of the church from the Word, because they were in external things without anything internal, and consequently were in idolatrous worship. For one who is in external things without anything internal is in idolatrous worship, because when he is in worship, his heart and soul are not in heaven, but in the world; and he does not worship the holy things of the Word from heavenly love, but from earthly love. This state of that nation is what is described in the prophet by the covenant of a calf which they had cut into two parts, and between which they passed.

from AC 9391