THE SYMBOLISM OF THE PHILISTINES IN SCRIPTURE
The revelation of the spiritual sense of scripture in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg reveal much concerning the hidden symbolism of scripture. Some of this symbolism had been guessed at before, and he confirms some of these interpretations; but also new things were revealed. It was known to the Protestants in the 16th century that the appropriation of Divinity in the vicarship and priesthood in Roman Catholicism was symbolized in scripture by Babylon: this identification was confirmed in Swedenborg's visions which he published in the 18th century, long before America became a world power. But what is not known, is that the religious system of faith separate from charity, which the Protestants follow, is represented by the Philistines in the Bible:
There are two evil religious systems into which every church degenerates in process of time; the one adulterates the goods of the church, and the other falsifies its truths. The religious system which adulterates the goods of the church, derives its origin from the love of rule; and the other, which falsifies the truths of the church, has its origin from pride in one's own intelligence. The religious system which takes its origin from the love of rule, is meant in the Word by Babylonia; that which has its rise from pride in one's own intelligence, is meant in the Word by Philistia. It has been known who those of Babylonia are at the present day, but it has not been known who those of Philistia are. They are of Philistia who are in faith and are not in charity. (Doctrine concerning Faith, n. 45, in Doctrines of the New Jerusalem)In ancient times, the Philistines degenerated into one of faith alone:
...in the Ancient Church, and afterward, they were called Philistines who applied themselves little to life, but much to doctrine, and who in process of time even rejected the things which are of life, and acknowledged as the essential of the church the things which are of faith, which they separated from life; consequently who made light of the doctrinals of charity, which in the Ancient Church were the all of doctrine, and thus obliterated them, and instead thereof talked much of the doctrinals of faith, and placed the whole of religion in these; and inasmuch as they receded thus from the life which is of charity, or from charity which is of life, they were preeminently called the uncircumcised; for by the uncircumcised were signified all who were not in charity, however they might be in doctrinals (Heavenly Arcana, 3412.2)
That the Philistines signify in general a memory of the knowledges of faith, and in particular those who place faith and salvation in knowledges alone, which they make matters of memory, may be seen in Isaiah: Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of thee, because the rod that smote thee is broken; for out of the serpent root shall come forth a basilisk, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent (xiv. 29). Here the root of the serpent stands for external knowledges, the basilisk for evil from the falsity thence, and the fruit, a fiery flying serpent, is their works, which are called a fiery flying serpent because they come of lusts. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1197.3)It should be noted that Philistia was a sea-faring nation that did much trade:
In Joel: What are ye to Me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Will ye render Me a recompense? . . . Swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head. Inasmuch as ye have taken My silver and My gold, and have carried into your temples My goodly desirable things; the children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the sons of the Javanites that ye might cause them to remove far from their border (iii. 4-6). Here it is evident what is meant by the Philistines, and by all Philistia, or all the borders of it. Silver and gold here are spiritual and celestial things of faith; goodly desirable things are knowledges of them. That they carried them into their temples, is that they possessed and proclaimed them; and that they sold the sons of Judah and the sons of Jerusalem, signifies that they had no love and no faith. Judah in the Word is the celestial of faith, and Jerusalem the spiritual of faith therefrom, which were removed far from their borders. So also in other places in the prophets, as in Jeremiah xxv. 20; xlvii. 1, to the end: Ezek. xvi. 27, 57; xxv. 15, 16; Amos i. 8; Obad. 19; Zeph. ii. 5; Ps. lxxxiii. 3, 4, 7. And concerning Caphtorim in Deuteronomy ii. 23; Jer. xlvii. 4; Amos ix. 7. (Heavenly Arcana, n. 1197.4)Those who are in faith alone honor belief alone, and are in the pride of their own intelligence. Thus the Philistines worshipped Dagon, whose upper portion was a man, and lower portion was a fish:
Among the Philistines, for example, Dagon was worshipped (spoken of in 1 Sam. v.), whose image was in the upper part like a man, and in the lower like a fish; so devised because a man signifies intelligence, and a fish knowledge, and these make a one. (Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, n. 23 in Doctrines of the New Jerusalem)Modern scholarship has some doubt about the form of Dagon, stating that the name in the earliest ancient texts means "grain". Then when the worship of Dagon migrated to coastal cities, he was represented as part fish. But it makes no difference, as the seed of grain has a similar meaning, signifying truth obtained from knowledge (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5402). Another interesting point about Dagon: it would seem that Dagon, at least in some ancient cities of the Middle East, was part of a trinity:
In Ugarit around 1300 BC, Dagon had a large temple and was listed third in the pantheon following a father-god and El, and preceding Bail Sapan (that is the god Haddu or Hadad/Adad). Joseph Fontenrose first demonstrated that, whatever their deep origins, at Ugarit Dagon was identified with El. (from Wikipedia)I will try and summarize some of the symbolism concerning the Philistines and their god found in the writings of Swedenborg. The head of Dagon represents the pride of self intelligence, or faith alone. Thus when the Philistines captured the ark of the covenant, and brought it into the temple of Dagon, later their god Dagon was found fallen over with its head and arms decapitated. Likewise, after David defeated Goliath, a giant among the Philistines, he cut off Goliath's head. This same religious system is represented in the Apocalypse by the beast that rises out of the sea (Rev. 13), whose head receives a deadly wound and yet healed. This signifies that despite the fact that scripture speaks against faith or belief alone, it is justified and kept alive by the false prophet, who tells people to make an image of the beast. This is the false religious doctrine of faith alone of the Protestants. All this time, Christians are expecting a future Antichrist to appear, not realizing this passage represents a false doctrine right in the midst of their very church. You can see this constantly in the preachings of Protestant ministers: they preach faith alone saves, but then when they see that their church falls into inaction or moral laxity, they then revert to sermons to encourage their church to take an active role in their spiritual faith. This inconsistent theology is known to them, but they do not reveal it to their church. Thus the constant dichotomy in their sermons: for it is impossible to live like a statue in faith alone.
THE STORY OF SAMSON
One of the deadliest enemies of the Philistines was Samson, a Nazirite of Israel, who killed many Philistines. Samson received strength from his hair, and when he was shaven by Delilah he lost his strength. This signifies the power of the Divine truth in the outward sense of scripture, which loses its power once the Protestants distort it in the doctrine of faith alone. Baldness of the head signifies lackness of understanding. The Philistines then capture Samson, and then blind him. Blindness signifies spiritual blindness. This lasts for a period of time while Samson is in captivity, but eventually his hair starts to grow back and receives his strength back. When in captivity, Samson is a grinder at the mill. What is the symbolism of grinding wheat at a mill? As was said before, grain signifies truth obtained from knowledge. Thus its easier to see what grinding wheat means: "To take the mill and grind meal means to bring forth doctrinals from the truths" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 4335). The captivity of Samson grinding at the mill signifies a spiritual state of captivity, where one is blind to the truth, but if one reads scripture and realizes the doctrine of faith alone is false, the strength of the power of the Word begins to return in one's life.
In the end, Samson's strength returns to him, and decides to take down many Philistines in his own death:
Now the lords of the Philistines gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice. And they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands Samson our enemy!"
When the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said: "Our god has delivered into our hands our enemy, The destroyer of our land, And the one who multiplied our dead."
So it happened, when their hearts were merry, that they said, "Call for Samson, that he may perform for us." So they called for Samson from the prison, and he performed for them. And they stationed him between the pillars.
Then Samson said to the lad who held him by the hand, "Let me feel the pillars which support the temple, so that I can lean on them."
Now the temple was full of men and women. All the lords of the Philistines were there: about three thousand men and women on the roof watching while Samson performed.
Then Samson called to the LORD, saying, "O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray! Strengthen me, I pray, just this once, O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!"
And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars which supported the temple, and he braced himself against them, one on his right and the other on his left.
Then Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he pushed with all his might, and the temple fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead that he killed at his death were more than he had killed in his life. (Judges 16:23-30)
THE ATTACK OF SEPTEMBER 11
And this is where an odd spiritual correspondence occurs between scripture and the attack of September 11. Has anyone noticed this? I am not sure, but take note of the following:
1. Samson takes down the temple of Dagon by destroying two pillars. The two towers of the World Trade Center also form "two pillars".
2. There were 3,000 Philistines who died when the temple collapsed. In the terrorist attacks of September 11 there were exactly 2,996 people who died.
3. Samson was blind and in captivity when he took down the two pillars. The 1993 attempted attack on the World Trade Center was instigated by a blind sheik, who is in captivity. Moreover, it was recently reported that Osama bin Laden was blind in one eye.
4. Samson was once an ally of the Philistines, and had married a daughter of the Philistines. Likewise Osama bin Laden was a former ally of the United States in Afghanistan.
5. Delilah betrayed Samson for 1100 shekels of silver. The attack occurred on September 11, and Flight 11 was the first plane to slam into one of the towers.
6. Drop the letter N from the name SAMSON. You can then form the name OSAMA.
7. Samson attacked the Philistines, as they oppressively ruled over those of Israel. And why did the attack on the World Trade Center occur? It was for the cause of the Palestinians, who are oppresively ruled over by Israel. Palestine was of course named after the Philistines, and includes the ancient city where the original temple of Dagon collapsed.
Assume this association is not just a coincidence, that it was allowed to happen to represent the sinful nature of the doctrine of faith alone. Does it justify the attack? No it does not. God permits evil in many situations, so that we can see the sins we have committed and change our own ways. Perhaps its not enough to state that the doctrine of faith alone is a false heresy of the Christian Church. Perhaps it takes a disaster of epic proportions to wake people up to the fact that God does not approve of this kind of faith, which is truly not faith: it is spiritual apathy. And not just any disaster: something perhaps foreseen over 3,000 years ago. What kind of faith is it that allows you to live however you please? It is much harder to self examine oneself, and admit one's faults, and turn away from them. Even harder to admit faults in one's own religion.
Even when people's intentions are evil, God does not stop free will, instead He will bend human actions to fit His own purpose, that many more in the future will be saved. For evil to be removed, it must first appear, then it must be acknowledged, and then one must turn against it. The biggest evil is pride: there is pride on an individual level, and there is pride on a national level. Pride comes before the fall. Don't be so proud of your faith. See if there are faults within it, and turn to the truth.
I do take a train that goes into New York, and I have heard that several people who used to take the train died in the attack. I have seen the American flags in front of fire stations for those heroes who attempted to save other people's lives. I see several graveyards when I look out the window. So why did so many innocent people die? Its a hard thing to hear, but perhaps it will cause people to self examine themselves more, and question their own beliefs, before we reach our own final destination. Let not their deaths be in vain.
There is a remarkable similarity between the deaths of the Philistines by Samson and the World Trade Center attack; more remarkable given the fact that a revelation was given to Swedenborg in the 18th century stating how the Philistines represent those who follow the doctrine of faith alone, which became the primary faith of worship in America. As the events of Samson and the Philistines occurred over 3,000 years ago, and was recorded in the Bible for a reason, I am calling it THE prophecy of September 11. There were many precognitive dreams before the event, but this symbolic representation in an ancient historical event is much more older, and more significant than all of them. I clearly remember the morning of September 11: I had this dream of flying sharks flying through the air in a city with skyscrapers, devouring people. Who would have thought there was also a prophetic association between the attack of September 11, and an ancient story concerning the Philistines and their fish-god Dagon?