Adonai-Bezek: Dealing with Evil and Falsity


The following notes were used as preparation for the audio version of this sermon.


Judges 1:1-7
1 NOW after the death of Joshua it came to pass that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, “Who shall be first to go up for us against the Canaanites to fight against them?” 2 And the LORD said, “Judah shall go up. Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand.” 3 So Judah said to Simeon his brother, “Come up with me to my allotted territory, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I will likewise go with you to your allotted territory.” And Simeon went with him. 4 Then Judah went up, and the LORD delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek. 5 And they found Adoni-Bezek in Bezek, and fought against him; and they defeated the Canaanites and the Perizzites. 6 Then Adoni-Bezek fled, and they pursued him and caught him and cut off his thumbs and big toes. 7 And Adoni-Bezek said, “Seventy kings with their thumbs and big toes cut off used to gather scraps under my table; as I have done, so God has repaid me.” Then they brought him to Jerusalem, and there he died.

Arcana Coelestia 1574
[3] In the Book of Judges,

After the death of Joshua the children of Israel inquired of Jehovah, saying, Who will go up for us against the Canaanite to start and fight against him? And Jehovah said, Judah shall go up; behold, I have given the land into his hand. And Judah said to Simeon his brother, Go up with me into my lot, and let us fight against the Canaanite, and I will also go with you into your lot And Simeon went with him, and Judah went up. and Jehovah gave the Canaanite and the Perizzite into their hand. Judg. 1:1-5.

Here ‘Judah’ also represents the Lord as regards celestial things, and ‘Simeon’ as regards derivative spiritual things. ‘Canaanite’ is the evil, and ‘Perizzite’ the falsity, that were overcome. This is how this reply, or Divine oracle, is to be understood.

Apocalypse Explained 1099
[3] By love is meant love to the Lord, and loving the Lord does not mean to love the Lord as a person. Man is not conjoined with heaven by this love alone, but by the love of the Divine Good and Divine Truth, which are the Lord in heaven and in the church; and the love of these does not consist in knowing and understanding them, nor in thinking about them and speaking of them, but in willing and doing them, because they are commanded by the Lord, and therefore, because they are of use. Nothing is complete until it is done, and what is done is the end, and the end is that for the sake of which the love is cherished; therefore from the love to will and do something, there exists the love of knowing, and understanding and thinking about it.

1. Correspondences/Representation of
a) land of Canaan (low lying; root: to bend the knee; humiliated)
b) Joshua (Jehovah Saviour)
c) Canaanites – Perizzites – evils and the falsity they produce; what is of the natural (proprium) and opposed to heavenly principles.
d) Sons of Israel – truths of the Word in the natural

2. Overview of what the Book deals with
a) range of stories that deal with the theme of “things that remain undone” – what we find is that the Israelites rather than ridding the land of the Canaanite found ways of living alongside them (intermarried, adoption Canaanite gods)
– cycles of falling into states in which evils and falsities gain the upper hand
– realising the “horror of the situation” looking to the Lord for a deliverer, these deliverers are what are called the Judges (Gideon, Deborah, Samson).
key saying in the book of Judges – “Everyone did what was right in their own eyes” – unfortunately this often meant do what was in one’s own interests rather than following what the Lord commands in His Word.

3. Spiritual Themes
i) complacency
ii) settling for our own solutions to the issues we face, or managing the symptoms rather than address the cause
iii) temporal form of “peace” valued over eternal form i.e. avoiding spiritual work or the need to make an effort to address the things in our life at the causal level that are opposed to the life of heaven.

Chpt 1 opens with insights into what’s required of so far as living a spiritual life is concerned

In the historical sense we see that Joshua has died = great warrior/leader whose campaigns against the inhabitants of the land were largely successful – however at his death the job of eradicating all the Canaanite tribes was far from completed
there was still work to do…

this corresponds to change of state; transition; reordering required; such changes lead to the arising of questions – what happens now? what are we to do?

Questions arise when the map or concepts we have held to are no longer able to provide clarity for our life = Joshua was a particular form of understanding of the Word suited to a specific kind of application – just as Moses was before him – but now something new is required and whenever something new is required it is prefigured by questioning. Questions open the door for something new to flow in?


Opens with instruction as to how evils in our life are to be approached and dealt with

Our attention is to be directed to the Lord = we do that through working with the Word –

v1. we need to acknowledge that the Canaanite is in the land and that we in ourselves have no idea about how to deal with these things. This forms the question through which an answer can be received

v2. The answer comes as, “The LORD said..” – note something is spoken into being and this describes influx from the Word for the Word is the LORD – the Logos who is in the Beginning with God and is God. By speaking into our life through the Word the Lord creates conditions by which the Canaanite in us can be identified and dealt with. Without engaging with the Word we have no way of seeing the true states of our inner landscape.

v2. Judah shall go up; Indeed I have delivered the land into his hand. (note Judah and Canaanite contrasted) Judah = celestial = love to the Lord = when we love the Lord we have the Land for it is found in loving the Lord. => Judah (love to the Lord) shall go up = arise i.e. put in the first place.

v3. This love enlists Simeon (hearing) – faith in the will or obedience – for to love the Lord is to love His Word and to love his Word is to practice it – as brother he reps truths from celesital good (rep Judah) – the celestial and spiritual are brothers – love to the Lord embraces love of the neighbour – to love the Lord (Judah) means to do good from our understanding of truths (Simeon)

We do good to our neighbour when we apply the Word to the life of our mind

AE 244 …filthy…loves with their evils cannot be removed except by the two loves, which are the love to the Lord and the love towards the neighbor; from these man inclines to love the Lord above all things, and the neighbor as himself. These two loves are pure loves, since they are out of heaven from the Lord. Moreover, from these all goods flow; so far, therefore, as man is in these, so far the filthy loves into which he is born are removed, even until they do not appear; and they are removed by the Lord by means of truths.

AC 10336.4 All who love the Lord above all things and their neighbour as themselves do what is good and true for goodness and truth’s sake. For as has been stated above, goodness and truth are the Lord Himself; therefore since they love what is good and true, that is, since they are moved by love to will and do it, they love the Lord.

AC 10645.4 …such as are the truths of faith by means of which the understanding is formed, and such as are the goods of love by means of which the will is formed, such is the man; for man is man from the understanding and the will. If therefore his understanding has been formed by means of truths Divine, and these truths become of his faith; and if his will has been formed by means of goods which become of his love, it follows that then heaven is in the man, and that the Lord can dwell with him as in His heaven. For the Divine truths which make the understanding and the Divine goods which make the will are from the Lord, or are the Lord’s, and the things that are the Lord’s are Himself. From this it is evident that to believe in the Lord is to imbue one’s understanding with the truths of faith; and that to love the Lord is to imbue one’s will with the goods of love; and that this cannot be done except by learning truths from the Lord, by willing them, and by doing them. Whether you say willing and doing, or loving, it is the same, for that which a man loves, he wills; and that which he actually wills, he loves.

v4. These two loves represented by Judah and Simeon form a one in our life when we make an effort to live from the Word with a view to allowing it to shine a light on our life so that our evils can be seen and removed through acts of repentance. When Judah goes up – when we put the practise of the Word in the first place – the Lord / Word delivers us from the Canaanites and the Perizzites or the love of self and the false ideas which when believed keeps false persuasions in place through which the love of self thrives.

eg For evil to remain present in us it has to be seen as good (justified) and therefore must have access to persuasive rationalisations that convince us that what we want to remain alive for us is something “good” of value and worth holding onto…

v5. Adoni-Bezek (Heb. to spread flashes of light = false light – pride in ones own intelligence) Name = two parts – a title lord-bezek – evil and its falsities. Justifications rationalisations (have to be fought against) As more external evils are uncovered and their arguments fall so what sits beneath begins to be exposed and come under the gaze of the true light of the Word/Logos

Take any negative emotion = anger, resentment, being offended, the desire to repay a hurt => none of this is from heaven – all of it is from hell – but it presents as something you have a right to feel – someone offends you – your proprium says you have a right to feel offended – this is Adoni-Bezek

v6. We need the Word in dealing with our inner world (mixed motives and subtle rationalisations) As Adoni-Bezek becomes exposed he flees – (heb = noos = to flit or disappear / vanish away) The principle here in pursuing and capturing is that when we are in the work of dealing with evils and falsities we need to keep in the effort of pursuit = examining our motives and taking responsibility for the them – to capture them is to then see them in the light of what truths show them to really be – i.e. as evils not to be treated lightly –

v6. Removal of thumbs and great toes – to be under the thumb is to be under the power/will of another

AC 10062 [4] Because the thumb, like the hands, meant the power that belongs to truth springing from good, it was the practice in ancient times among the nations, and also among the Israelite people, to cut off the thumbs and big toes of their enemies, Judg. 1:6, 7; this represented the removal of all power from them. In the thumb furthermore resides the main power of the hand, for when the thumb has been cut off the hand no longer has the strength to fight in battle.

AE 298.13 [14] On account of this signification of the right hand, when Aaron and his sons were inaugurated into the priesthood, the blood was sprinkled upon their right ear and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of the right foot (Exod. xxix. 20). By the blood here is signified Divine truth from Divine good; by the right ear, the perceptive [faculty] of truth from good; by the right hand and the right foot are signified the intelligence and power of truth from good in the internal or spiritual man, and in the external or natural man; and by the thumb and great toe, what is full. [15] Because as most things in the Word have also an opposite sense, so also has the right hand; and in that sense it signifies falsity from evil, and reasoning and combat thereof against truth from good.

Thumbs => rationalisations / conclusions from false appearances / intellectual powers
Toes => lusts of the natural mind (of the will/life corresp. walking)

v7. Law of retaliation – evil has its own destruction within itself – which can only come to the fore when truths are acknowledged through their application to the inner life of the mind. – Brought to Jerusalem where he dies => when we look to have the principles of the HD rule our thinking what is represented by Adoni-Bezek can no longer trouble us.


About David Millar

My passion revolves around supporting people to engage with the Lord's Word, or Divine truths in the form of sacred texts, to cultivate an intentional spiritual practice. Through the works penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) we find that the Biblical texts contain a deeper meaning that, once understood, enables them to be applied in ways that open the human mind to the realisation of its spiritual potential. The goal of the Divine Life is to free each and every human being from the pain of self centred living and bring them into the experience of all that is heavenly through the promotion of what is genuinely good and true. The material shared here is offered in the pursuit of that aim.
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