Deeper Meaning of Dives

The “trickle down” idea, where wealth descends from the rich to the poor, is quite clearly shown to us in the Bible, in the story of Dives and Lazarus. Dives was a rich man. Lazarus begged for crumbs from the table of Dives. Alas, “trickle down” never happened. (Maybe Lazarus used to comfort himself with the thought, “Trickle down is just around the corner.”) (Background: Dismal Christmas Sales, Ersjdamoo’s Blog entry of January 11, 2014.)

But what does the parable of Dives and Lazarus more deeply mean? Lazarus desired to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Lazarus was “full of sores.” Moreover, “the dogs came and licked his sores.” (Luke 16: 20-21)

“But against any of the children of Israel shall not a dog move his tongue…” (Exodus 11: 7) A dog not moving his tongue can signify no lamentation (no wailing because no woes for the children of Israel), as opposed to the “great cry which shall be in the land of Egypt,” (Exodus 11: 6) which denotes lamentation. [1] The dogs licking the sores of Lazarus indicate pity (and also perhaps hunger).

The nations outside the Jewish church were called “dogs” by the Jews, and were accounted most vile. That they were called “dogs” is manifest from the Lord’s words to the Greek woman, the Syrophenician, whose daughter was grievously troubled with a demon: It is not good to take the children’s bread, and cast it to the dogs. But she said, Certainly, Lord; but even the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master’s table. (Matt. 15:26, 27; Mark 7:27, 28) [2]

In like manner in Luke: There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and lived in good cheer and splendor every day. But there was a poor man named Lazarus, who was cast at his door, full of sores, and desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table; yet even the dogs came, and licked his sores (Luke 16:19-21). [3] Again we see “dogs” as the lowest of creatures. Yet even they showed more pity than did Dives.

In the parable of Lazarus and Dives, Lazarus is not the same Lazarus who was raised from the dead. However it is no accident that the name for the poor beggar is Lazarus. Nothing written in the Word is there by chance. That he was called “Lazarus” was from the Lazarus who was raised from the dead by the Lord, of whom it is said that the Lord “loved him” (John 11:1-3, 5, 36), that he was the Lord’s “friend” (John 11:11), and that he “reclined at table with the Lord” (John 12:2) [3]

The name “Dives” translates from Latin as rich, wealthy, opulent.

When the poor man Lazarus died, he was carried up by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died, and was buried; and when he was in hell he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom; and he cried and said, Father Abraham have mercy on me. (Luke 16:22-24). [4]

Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of the heavens (Matthew  8:11). “Abraham’s bosom” is a poetic description of tremendous love. Lazarus carried by the angels into “Abraham’s bosom” conveys something impossible to truly describe with human speech.

In Luke: The rich man said to Abraham, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame (Luke 16:24). By the “fire of hell” is not meant such fire as is in the world. In the Word no such fire is meant, but the fire which is of love, thus which is of man’s life, proceeding from the Lord as a sun; which fire, when it enters into those who are in things contrary is turned into the fire of cupidities, which are those of revenge, hatred, and cruelty, springing forth from the love of self and of the world. This is the fire which torments those who are in the hells. [5]

Unfortunately for Dives, between he and Lazarus there was “a great gulf fixed.” Lazarus may have wanted to bring water to Dives, but could not traverse the great gulf. (Luke 16: 26) In the afterlife it was fixed that Lazarus and Dives stood afar off. “Afar off”, for Dives, signifies remoteness from good and truth, which are from the Divine. In Luke: In hell the rich man lifting up his eyes saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (Luke 16: 23) [6]

——- Sources ——-
[1] Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg. Num. 7784
[2] Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg. Num. 9231.2
[3] Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg. Num. 9231.3
[4] Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg. Num. 3703.4
[5] Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg. Num. 6832.9
[6] Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg. Num. 8918.3

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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