I have been working on a new book concerning the prophecies of Isaiah, and I just found something rather bizarre in what was revealed to Emanuel Swedenborg in regards to the symbolism of the pomegranate fruit, which helps indicate he indeed was receiving information from a heavenly source concerning the symbolism of Biblical scriptures in general. I was examining Isaiah's vision of the Lord in the temple (using my new translation of the work):
It was in the year that king Uzziah died,And I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up,And His hem filled the temple (Isaiah 6:1)In general, the word "throne" represents a lower degree of order that supports a higher degree. In a spiritual sense this vision speaks of how the Divine truth of the Lord flows in from the Lord, into heaven, and into the literal sense of the Word and from thence into the minds of those who follow good and truth in the church, represented by the temple. I then focused on the word "hem" (sometimes translated as "skirt" or "train," or mistranslated as "robe" -- bad!!) which is the edge of the robe which filled the temple. The robe is a symbol of the influx of Divine truth, and the "hem" represents Divine truth in its most external natural form, which are knowledges of the memory as indicated in the commentary on Ex. 28:33:
"And upon the skirts of it thou shalt make. That this signifies in the outermosts where is the natural, is evident from the signification of the skirts or borders of the robe, as the outermosts, where the natural is. For by the robe is signified in particular Divine truth in the spiritual kingdom in its internal form, and in general the spiritual kingdom (see n. 9825); and by the skirts or borders, which are round about below, the outermost parts of it; and the outermost parts of the spiritual kingdom are natural" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9917)Now, in the practices of the Jewish temple it was commanded that pomegranates and bells be designed on the hem of the rob for the Aaronic priesthood:
And upon the hem of it you shall make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about (Ex. 28:33)So all of this seems just arbitrary decorative commands. And most people skip over passages such as this in the Bible, because they are not aware of the symbolic significance of each and every word. So what is the spiritual symbolism of pomegranates? According to Swedenborg, it was given him to know that pomegranates represent knowledges of good, and bells the knowledges of truth in memory:
"Pomegranates. That hereby are signified outward knowledges of good, is evident from the signification of pomegranates, as outward knowledges of good (see n. 9552). That pomegranates were set upon the skirts of the robe, was because the skirts signified the ultimates or outermosts of heaven and the church, and those ultimates or outermosts are outward knowledges, as is evident from what was said above (n. 9915, 9917) concerning the successive order of the goods and truths in the heavens and with man. The knowledges of good and truth which are signified by the pomegranates, are doctrinals from the Word, that are mere knowledges so far as they are in the memory which is in the external or natural man. But when they enter into the memory which is in the internal or spiritual man, as is the case when the life is lived according to them, then the doctrinals regarding truth become of faith, and those regarding good become of charity, and are called spiritual. When this comes about, they almost vanish out of the external or natural memory, and appear as if innate, because they are then implanted in the life of man, like all those things which through daily use have become as it were one's nature. From this it is plain what outward knowledges are, and what purpose they serve; consequently what use the doctrinals of the church serve so long as they are held only in the memory; for so long as they are held only as knowledge in the memory, they have a place beneath intelligence and wisdom, and they do not ascend or enter into the life until they become of faith and charity in the internal man" (Heavenly Arcana, n. 9917).So pomegranates as knowledges of good first seems like an arbitrary symbolism. But fruits in general signify good, and the color red signifies the will, and pomegranates have a hard outer shell which cannot be eaten like other fruits which indicates that it represents something external in the natural. But what are the health benefits of pomegranates? I looked it up, there are several, but I found this article from the U.S. National library of medicine:
Pomegranate Juice Augments Memory and fMRI Activity in Middle-Aged and Older Adults with Mild Memory Complaints
To quote from the article:
"Recent animal studies have reported memory and other cognitive benefits of polyphenols, found abundantly in pomegranate juice. ... While preliminary, these results suggest a role for pomegranate juice in augmenting memory function through task-related increases in functional brain activity."This was published recently, in 2013. Swedenborg wrote back in the 18th century, and the command given to Jews to put pomegranates on the hem of the priestly robes was given about 3500 years ago. Thus we can see here how the knowledge of modern science supports and confirms both the Jewish and Christian revelations concerning the spiritual sense of the Bible. It also helps show how each and every word of scripture is important, and thus care should be taken to have an accurate translation of scripture. Similar to pomegranates, another food mentioned often in the Bible that has a similar meaning is fish, which represents in general sensual affections for knowledge in the natural man, which I covered earlier in my work The Symbolism of the Psalms. Fish, we now know, contains large amount of omega-3, and many take fish oil as a supplement as it has been demonstrated to help brain function. Thus the age of Christianity took place in the Age of Pisces, in which Jesus commanded his disciples to become "fishers of men," as Christianity spread the knowledge of Jesus Christ in a simple form to those who could see things in only a natural and external way.