Recently I had a dream of a female angelic being with a sword, which I described in A Clairvoyant Dream of an Angel and a Celtic Fairy Tale and later in An Angelic Visitation at Death and a Funeral. I was looking for any other possible symbolic meaning to the dream, and found in scripture the story of the dream of Solomon, which is followed by a judgment by sword upon two women. This is described in 1 Kings 3. Below is the hidden spiritual meaning behind the dream of Solomon, according to the spiritual sense of scripture as revealed to Swedenborg in the 18th century. I could not find an exact quote of the passage from the books of Swedenborg in my library, but luckily we have other similar passages where we can discover the hidden spiritual meaning.
THE MEANING OF SOLOMON'S MARRIAGE WITH PHAROAH'S DAUGHTER
The passage of 1 Kings 3 begin's with Solomon's marriage to the daughter of Pharoah, king of Egypt, and the building of Solomon's temple. Solomon built three main houses: the temple at Jerusalem, a house in Lebanon, and another house for Pharoah's daughter, his wife. Behind these historical events there is a hidden spiritual meaning:
"Because Solomon represented the Lord in relation to both the celestial and the spiritual kingdoms, and as all who are of both these kingdoms are in intelligence and wisdom through the knowledges (cognitiones) of truth and good and knowledges (scientifica) that confirm these, therefore,
Solomon took the daughter of Pharaoh to wife, and brought her into the city of David (1 Kings iii. 1);
And afterwards he built for the daughter of Pharaoh a house beside the porch (1 Kings vii. 8);
By this also was represented that knowledge (scientia), upon which all intelligence and wisdom is based, is signified by "Egypt" in a good sense. And as every man of the church has a spiritual, a rational, and a natural, therefore Solomon built three houses, the house of God or the temple to stand for the spiritual, the house of the forest of Lebanon for the rational (for a "cedar" and thence "Lebanon" signifies the rational), and the house of the daughter of Pharaoh for the natural. These arcana are not apparent in the historical sense of the Word, but still they lie concealed in its spiritual sense." (Apocalypse Explained, n. 654.33)
King David represents the Lord during the time he fought against the powers of hell, but King Solomon represents the Lord ruling in peace in heaven. The three houses built by Solomon represent three levels or three spiritual degrees in each person:
- The lowest natural, which dwells in knowledges and external appearances of the senses. This is represented by Egypt, an ancient civilization that was the repository of ancient knowledge.
- The rational, a higher level of thinking above knowledge alone. This also represents those who do good by the truth. The higher spiritual flows into the lower natural through the rational mind. This is represented by the house of Lebanon.
- The higher spiritual self, which is primarily in love towards others and thence in wisdom. In other passages Swedenborg calls this the "celestial," which only comes forth in love.
The spiritual progression of each person is from the natural, to the rational, to the spiritual. Most never go beyond the natural, which are knowledges and pleasures of the senses.
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE SACRIFICES AT GIBEON
The pool of Gibeon, mentioned in 2 Sam. 2:13
Right after the marriage to the daughter of Pharoah, Solomon proceeds to Gibeon and offers animal sacrifices there. In the book of Joshua, the Israelites entered into a covenant with the Gibeonites, where they would be slaves to them and draw water and be hewers of wood. In the spiritual sense, "Gibeon" signifies those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge alone:
"To draw waters is to be instructed, to understand, and to be wise. Again: Bring ye waters to him who is thirsty, ye inhabitants of the land of Tema (xxi. 14). To bring waters to him who is thirsty means to instruct. Again: The afflicted and the needy seek waters, and there are none, and their tongue faileth for thirst (xli. 17). They that seek waters, are they who desire to be instructed in truths; that there are none, signifies that no one has truths. Moreover, by those drawing waters were represented in the Jewish Church those who continually desire to know truths, but for no other end than the knowing, caring nothing for the use from knowing them. Such were held among the lowest, and were represented by the Gibeonites (concerning whom see Joshua ix. 21, 23, 27)." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 3058)At Gibeon, Solomon offers a thousand animal sacrifices upon the altar (1 Kings 3:4). In the spiritual sense, this signifies an advancement of one's spiritual state to seeking to use knowledge for the sake of good or usefulness, this is representing by the altar. All animal sacrifices, in the spiritual sense, means surrendering something of one's lower natural, and this is why the flesh of animals was burned upon the altar.
The marriage of Solomon with the daughter of Egypt represents the state in which one who is spiritual who gathers and makes use of knowledge that is in conjunction with one's spiritual life. Knowledges are first sought and gained to confirm one's inner reality of spirituality of love and truth, and then when they are looked upon to serving some use, this is signified by the sacrifice of animals at the high place of Gibeon.
THE SPIRITUAL MEANING OF THE DREAM OF SOLOMON
Dream of Solomon, by Luca Giordano
After the sacrifices at Gibeon, Solomon next receives a dream from the Lord:
At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” (1 Kings 3:5-14)Note here everything in particular follows in a series. First Solomon marries a daughter of Pharoah, which is conjunction with an affection for gaining knowledge. Then he sacrifices at Gibeon, which is a desire to make use of knowledge for good. Then he has a dream, where he describes himself as a child. A child signifies a state of learning knowledge. A dream, in the spiritual sense, signifies Divine revelation and influx, through obscure perception (Heavenly Arcana, n. 5219). As one learns knowledge, if one seeks to make use of it for good, the Divine flows in from the higher spiritual and elevates knowledge into understanding, and from thence into wisdom. Wisdom is making use of knowledge to apply it to one's life. However the perception of this is at first obscure, until one applies it to life:
THE JUDGMENT OF SOLOMON ON TWO PROSTITUTES
The Judgment of Solomon, by Peter Paul Rubens
Following the dream of Solomon, there is the famous story of the judgment of Solomon upon two harlots or prostitutes. Behind the literal story there is a spiritual meaning, but it is worth quoting the story in full as the literal sense is interesting in itself:
"Then two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. The one woman said, “Oh, my lord, this woman and I live in the same house, and I gave birth to a child while she was in the house. Then on the third day after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. And we were alone. There was no one else with us in the house; only we two were in the house. And this woman's son died in the night, because she lay on him. And she arose at midnight and took my son from beside me, while your servant slept, and laid him at her breast, and laid her dead son at my breast. When I rose in the morning to nurse my child, behold, he was dead. But when I looked at him closely in the morning, behold, he was not the child that I had borne.” But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king. Then the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son that is alive, and your son is dead’; and the other says, ‘No; but your son is dead, and my son is the living one.’” And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice." (I Kings 3:16-28)So that is the literal story. What is the internal spiritual meaning? Harlots, or prostitutes, in the spiritual sense signify falsification of truth, which is distinct from committing adultery. There are three main types of falsifications of the truth, which Swedenborg enumerates in the following passage:
"In the Word frequent mention is made of committing whoredom, and thereby is signified illegitimate conjunction with truth, and by committing adultery is signified illegitimate conjunction with good. Thus by committing whoredom is signified the falsification of truth, and by committing adultery the adulteration of good. The falsification of truth is effected in a threefold manner: — First, if man is in evil of life and acknowledges truths of doctrine; for in this case evil is inwardly in the truths, and evil falsifies truth, since evil dissipates what is heavenly and Divine out of truths and implants what is infernal; from which is falsification.In the judgment of Solomon upon two prostitutes, a wise and discerning choice is made. It is the toughest and most important choice one makes in one's life: what is the most true religion? What is the truth one should follow in life? It is a tough choice, because to find out one must identify the falsehood of evil and remove it. The following is the spiritual sense, but at this point I will just provide the answer without quoting the works of Swedenborg (the main ones are Heavenly Arcana and Apocalypse Revealed and Explained):
"Secondly, if man is at first in truths as to doctrine and afterward accedes to the falsity of other doctrine, which is effected only with those who are in evil of life, since evil seeks falsity and eagerly seizes upon it for truth. Thirdly, if man who is in evil as to life and in falsities as to doctrine seizes upon the truths of other doctrine, he also falsifies truths, inasmuch as he does not acknowledge truths for the sake of truths, but for the sake of something of gain, honor, or reputation." (Heavenly Arcana, n. 10648.2-3)
One woman represents one who has fallen into an evil way of life with its falsehood, but encounters a truth and nurtures it. She ceases to be a harlot and becomes a mother, that is, she rejects her past life and starts living according to the truth. Three days signifies a most holy state, where one is sanctified by the truth by withdrawing from evil.
The other woman represents one who is the evil of life and its corresponding falsehood. Those in this state suffocate and extinguish truth by their falsehoods; this is represented by her child being suffocated in bed. However this also represents those who seize upon other truths and make it their own to serve their own needs and purposes, thus falsifying the truth. The child, representing truth, is held captive, or in a state where the child's identity and thus the truth is unknown. The babies are exchanged: this represents those who declare a falsehood as the truth and make the truth appear as a falsehood. It represents those who want to take away the truth from others for their own selfish purposes. This happens at night, which represents a state of obscurity and unawareness. It represents a state of not knowing which religion is true.
The woman of the living child representing those who had departed from evil and falsehood towards an affection for truth, realizes upon waking up that the dead baby is not theirs. This is in the morning, which signifies a new state of enlightenment. This represents those who have discovered a new truth, and begin to love it, and to reject the falsehood that is presented as truth. But they also realize that those in an evil way of life with its falsehood wish to take it away. This can represent a state of those who belong to a false religion, who then see the truth and love it, but they begin to realize that those of that false religion wish to falsify the truth they have discovered and keep them captive in darkness.
This then leads to a conflict - the two women argue as to who is the mother, and this signifies a state of conflict and temptation as what truth or what religion one should follow. A "mother" in the spiritual sense signifies a church, and to argue as to who is the mother is to be in a state of trying to determine what religion is true.
To end the state of doubt and temptation they both go to the king, which in the spiritual sense signifies Divine spiritual truth. That this is so, is indicated by the fact that Solomon just had a dream in which the Lord promised to give him wisdom. On one's own one can determine nothing, and in this situation it is necessary to seek a higher level truth from the Divine. For Solomon to ask for a sword, signifies Divine truth that fights against falsehood.
What the spiritual truth reveals, if that if a competing affection for falsity from an evil life continues, the child - the innocence of truth - will be profaned, by acknowledging a false mother, a false religion. For the woman to give up the child to the other woman, signifies the desperate hope that truth would still continue to live in conjunction with a falsehood from evil. However any affection for falsity from an evil life will extinguish and kill any truth that does not agree with its affection for falsehood. Given this situation, the Divine truth represented by the king reveals it is necessary to reject the affection for falsehood from an evil life. When this rejection occurs, the child is united with the woman who is the true mother. The woman is no longer a harlot, but a mother. This signifies that once an affection for falsehood from an evil life is rejected, truth will become united with its affection in love, and it will becomes a spiritual affection for the truth from love, which is signified by mother.
Thus the story of Solomon, with a sword applied to divide the child between two mothers, represents the hard choice one needs to make in departing from a way of falsehood to the way of truth. It is a very hard choice to make, and one that cuts to the heart.
OTHER HIGHER SPIRITUAL APPLICATIONS
Dont judge a book by its cover
When one looks at the spiritual sense of this story, what is interesting is something else that was hidden: the woman who is the mother of the living child may in fact not have been a prostitute at all, but only appeared that way, or she could have been misled into that way of life. Genesis 38 contains the odd and funny story of Judah and his daughter-in-law Tamar. Judah refuses to give his sons to Tamar, and in the end Tamar pretends to be a prostitute and seduces Judah, not knowing her true identity. Nine months later, when Judah hears that Tamar is with child, he wants to burn her alive while pregnant. Tamar then reveals that Judah is the father of the child. In the spiritual sense there is something hidden here, and it has to do with the religion of Judaism: Judaism is but an external representation of a spiritual church. These external rituals the Jews profaned with their idolatry, and this is represented by Judah thinking Tamar is a prostitute. But this is a false appearance, for hidden within the Jewish rituals there are symbolic representations of the true spiritual church.
A similar thing happened with the virgin Mary. When Jesus was born, the Jewish pharisees declared him to be an illegitimate child, the child of a harlot. But this again is a false appearance, a false judgment from their own evil. For Jesus was not an illegitimate child, but rather the Son of the living God. And this is the other hidden meaning within the story of the judgment of Solomon: a false accusation was made by the Jews, and skeptics, against Christianity, that the child was illegitimate, and thus it is a dead religion. But those who are wise and discerning like Solomon, can see this is not true, but rather that Jesus is the Son of God.
So indeed, the judgment of Solomon is one that cuts to the heart and soul, and it is the most important discerning decision one can make. Never judge a book by its cover, for hidden within the book may be a story that will surprise you.