Jesus' Precepts and Deeds through His Three Years of Teaching

At the inn outside Jerusalem

- Chapter 16 -
The spiritual meaning of the cleansing of the temple.

s told here, this is a rather brief account of the historical, natural course the two events recorded in the second chapter had taken, for some other things had happened here and there which were insignificant and would only prolong this account unnecessarily and besides would not render the matter more important or provide any deeper knowledge. So only a brief explanation of the spiritual meaning of the second event is required, and this second chapter may be considered finished as far as the two main events are concerned which are described to the reader and hearer.
The spiritual meaning of the first event at Cana-in-Galilee has already been given, so that only the spiritual meaning of the second event must be dealt with. And this is as follows:
The temple represent man in his natural-worldly sphere. In the temple, as also in man, there is the Holy of Holies. Hence also the exterior of the temple should be kept hallowed and pure so that the innermost, as the Holy of Holies of the temple as well as of man, many not be desecrated.
The Holy of Holies of the temple is, to be sure, covered by a thick curtain and only the high priest may on certain occasions enter the Holy of Holies by himself. But the curtain and also the rarely allowed visit to the Holy of Holies is a protection against its desecration. For if someone sins with his body he not only defiles his body, but also his soul and through it his spirit which in every human being represents, and really is, the innermost and holiest. This Holy of Holies in man, just as the same in correspondence in the temple, has been placed as the same in correspondence in the temple, has been placed deeply behind a thick curtain, and only pure love for God, which in every man is God's truest high priest, is allowed to penetrate into this Holy of Holies unpunished and lift the curtain. If, however, this sole high priest in man becomes defiled by attaching himself to impure worldly things, making common cause with them, how can the Holy of Holies remain undefiled if it is visited by an unclean high priest?
If, therefore, in the temple as well as in man everything has become unclean, man is no longer able to cleanse it, for if the broom is full of filth and dirt, how can it be used for cleaning a room? Then, I am afraid, I Myself must take this work in hand and cleanse the temple by force, and that through all kinds of painful experiences like various illnesses and apparent accidents, so that the temple might be cleansed.
"Dealers" and "buyers" are the low, unclean passions in man, the cattle offered for sale represents the lowest animal sensuousness and at the same time also the resulting great foolishness and blindness of the soul whose love may be compared to that of an ox that even lacks the sensual procreative and sexual love and is only motivated by the grossest polyp-like gluttonous love and whose cognition is equal to the well-known intellectual power of the sheep.
And what do the money-changers and their money dealings denote? -They denote and represent in man all that emerges from man's already quite brutish self-love, for the animal loves only itself, and a wolf will devour another if he is hungry. These "money-changers", or such brutish self-love, must therefore also be painfully and forcefully removed from man, and everything that animates this love must be upset and scattered.
Why not completely destroyed? Because also this type of love must not be deprived of its freedom, for the noble seed or the grain of wheat will grow best in a field well manured with such dung and yield a rich harvest. If all the manure were removed from the field to cleanse it, as it were, from all the dirt, the grain of wheat would prosper only poorly and be sure to yield a very bad harvest.
The dung which is initially carried onto the field in heaps has to be spread sot hat as to serve the filed. If it were left lying in great heaps, it would suffocate everything where it is lying and be of no use to the other parts of the field.
This is at the bottom of the story of the cleansing of the temple in the Gospel. And because of this I only scattered the money of the money-changers and did not destroy it completely, which I could easily have done.
What then do the pigeon-dealers inside the temple denote who too had to withdraw and return to the places originally allocated to them?
They are to be understood as the external virtues consisting in all kinds of ceremony, custom, courtesy, etc, in a purely worldly sense which, however, men's blindness raises to an inner life value and tries to make true life to strike roots therein.
The pigeon is a creature of the air, and since it was used in the orient often as a carrier of mail, especially in matters of love, and because of that already with the ancient Egyptians as a hieroglyph represented tender and nice conversation, it served as a symbol for such conversation in the temple and was at the same time an ordinary and correspondingly symbolic sacrificial creature, which was usually sacrificed in the temple by young married couples when their first child had been born, as a sing that they now had done away with such external messages, niceness and ceremonial airs and passed into true, inner, life-giving love.
However, according to the order of all things the outermost belongs to the outermost. The bark being something quite dead, must never be contained in the marrow of the tree, but everything that belongs to the bark must also be deposited in the bark. The bark is most useful to the tree when in a proper measure in its rightful place. If someone would push the bark into the marrow of the tree having first removed the marrow, the tree would soon have to dry up and die.
And thus as an indication that men should not make external virtues a matter of inner life, whereby noble man would become no more than a conversation-puppet (warehouse), these pigeon-dealers, as in a broad sense all formalities, endeavouring to raise their merchandise to the status of inner life-values, were also expelled from the temple by My and ordered to their proper place, only in a somewhat gentler way.
So this is the spiritual meaning of the cleansing of the temple; and from the correct and unchangeable correspondence between man and temple, it can also be recognised that no man, but only God alone, as eternal wisdom, who sees and knows everything can ever act and speak like this.
But why does not the Lord remain in the temple after such a sweeping?
Because He alone knows what man's inner being must be like so that Hew may take up permanent residence in man. Besides, after such a cleansing, man must not be deprived of his freedom lest he become a puppet.
Therefore, the Lord cannot yet entrust Himself to such a forcefully cleanswept inner man, for He alone knows what is required for a full restoration of the inner man. That is why the sweeper walks out of the temple and, as if accidentally, flows from the outside into man's within not submitting to man's request to stay with and within him which would only support man's indolence. Man has to awaken to complete spontaneity, thereby only becoming a perfect man, which will be described in detail in the next chapter.