Not what goes into the mouth defiles man.
Matthew 15:1–11, 15–20 (see also Mark 7:1–23)
Then there came to Jesus the scribes and Pharisees who were from Jerusalem, saying, “Why do Thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”
But He answering said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor thy father and mother’; and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him die the death.’7
But you say, ‘Anyone may say to father or mother, “It is a gift to the temple, whatever thou mightest have profited by me.”’ And he in no way honors his father or his mother. And you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying,
“This people is near to me with their mouth,
And honors me with their lips,
But their heart is far away from me,
And in vain do they serve Me,
Teaching teachings which are the precepts of men.”8
And calling the crowd, He said to them, “Hear and understand: Not that which enters into the mouth defiles the man, but that which comes out of the mouth, this defiles the man” ....
And Peter answering said to Him, “Explain to us this parable.”
And Jesus said, “Are you also yet without understanding? Do you not yet consider that everything going into the mouth departs into the belly, and is cast out into the latrine? But the things going out from the mouth come forth from the heart, and these defile man. For out of the heart come forth evil reasonings, murders, adulteries, harlotries, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”
AE 622:5. [This parable] means that whatever enters into the thought of man’s understanding from without or from the outside, whether from objects of sight or from objects of speech or from objects of the memory, does not render him unclean, but so far as it does not belong to his affection or will, it is separated and cast out, as what is taken into the belly is cast out into the latrine.
The Lord explained these spiritual things by natural things, since the foods that are taken into the mouth and thus pass into the belly signify such things as man takes in spiritually and with which he nourishes his soul. This is why the “belly” corresponds to the thought of the understanding and signifies it. The “heart” signifies the affection of man’s will.... Only that which is made a part of a man’s affection or will is appropriated to him.
Evidently spiritual, not natural, things are meant here, for the Lord says that “out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, whoredoms, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies.” Since the falsities and evils that enter from the outside into the thoughts enter from the hells, and if not received by man with the will’s affection are cast back into the hells, it is said that “they are cast out into the latrine,” for the “latrine” signifies hell. And this is for the reason that in the hells all things are unclean, and those who are there have been cast out of heaven, which is like a man in form. Heaven is therefore called the Greatest Man and also corresponds to all things of man, while the hells correspond to what is cast out of the belly of the Greatest Man or heaven. This is why hell is meant in the spiritual sense by the “latrine.”
[In this parable as told in Mark 7:19,] the “belly” is said “to purge all foods,” because the “belly” signifies the thought of the understanding... and “foods” signify all spiritual nourishments, and the thought of the understanding is what separates unclean things from what are clean, and thus purges.
How the parables serve the heavens
AE 1066:4. The ultimate sense of the Word, which is the sense of its letter, and the fourth in order, contains in itself the three interior senses, which are for the three heavens, when a man on the earth is reverently reading the Word. Therefore, the sense of the letter of the Word is that from which and through which there is communication with the heavens, also from which and through which man has conjunction with the heavens. The sense of the letter of the Word is the basis of Divine truth in the heavens, and without such a basis the Divine truth would be like a house without a foundation; and without such a basis the wisdom of the angels would be like a house in the air. It is the sense of the letter of the Word in which the power of Divine truth consists. It is the sense of the letter of the Word through which man is enlightened by the Lord and through which he receives answers when he wishes to be enlightened. It is the sense of the letter of the Word by which everything of doctrine on the earth must be confirmed. In the sense of the letter of the Word is the Divine truth in its fullness. In the sense of the letter of the Word the Divine truth is in its holiness.
7 Exodus 20:12, Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 21:17
8 Isaiah 29:13; see also Psalm 78:36
Questions and Comments
- How does this parable and its explanation help us with the evil lusts and false notions that the hells are continually streaming into our minds? What is our responsibility?
- The Lord gives us a mind where we can distinguish unclean things from those that are clean.
- Another interpretation of Mark 7:19 is that the Lord is here doing away with the Israelitish dietary laws.
- In AE 1066, what is our responsibility? What can we do for the heavens?