According to scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, Holy Scripture (God’s Word) contains several distinct levels of meaning. Swedenborg even wrote many volumes of work to provide an abundance of evidence that the words of the sacred narratives within the Holy Bible actually contain these distinct levels of communication.
After almost forty years of studying Swedenborg’s writings I am firmly convinced of the truth of his theological investigations concerning the deeper meanings contained within the biblical stories. After all, since God is Infinite, His Word must also contain infinite depth.
Also, since God is a spiritual being, His words must contain a spiritual and heavenly quality within the natural sense of the terrestrial language used. Swedenborg further maintained that the higher meaning of a word is an exact similitude (correspondence) of its worldly meaning, raised to its logical abstraction. In other words, the biblical narratives contain rational symmetries between their distinct levels of meaning.
This is nothing less than symbolism under scientific law.
Every now and then I come across a word where Swedenborg offers an anti-intuitive translation of its deeper, spiritual meaning and makes me scratch my head. The word “bruising” is just such a word.
I often associate the word “bruising” with a negative connotation. It usually means some kind of hurtful, superficial wound. But Swedenborg states that in Scripture, the word “bruising” can also have a positive signification.
(And thou shalt bruise of it small – Exodus, 30:34-38.)
Swedenborg compares “bruising” with the word “grinding” (such as in a mill to prepare grains). Both words have a similar spiritual translation and convey the idea of preparing or disposing something for greater usefulness. I can plainly see this elevated interpretation with “grinding” but “bruising” still felt like something quite foreign to the notion of an application to increased usefulness.
Then I realized, as a gardener, that sometimes seeds with particularly hard shells have to be scored or bruised to help them germinate. When something germinates it obviously creates increased utility.
On further contemplation I remembered that in the Garden of Eden it was predicted that a Savior would come and have His heel bruised by the Serpent. This “bruising” prepared the Lord God for the greatest use of all—human salvation!
I also suspect it will take a bunch of bruised human egos to embrace the idea that Holy Scripture contains such relevant depth!