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The woman clothed with the sun

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  • The woman clothed with the sun

    And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.
    (Revelation 12:1-5 ESV)
    In another thread in this section one poster claimed that the woman described here is Mary. It is clear that the child was Jesus, so this is would seem to be a possibility if it weren't for the next verse.
    and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
    (Revelation 12:6 ESV)
    Did anything like this ever happen to Mary? Or this?
    And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
    (Revelation 12:13-17 ESV)
    Mary never experienced anything like this. But if the woman is actually Israel, all of this makes sense. Satan hates the Jews because they brought the Messiah into the world and he is doing all he can to destroy them.
    Clyde Herrin's Blog

  • #2
    Well, as this is all open to interpretation, my thoughts are that satan also hates Mary. And he certainly wants to make war on her offspring, and those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. This might be one of the reasons Catholics say that praying the rosary is the scourge of the devil.

    The revelations are clearly not literal descriptions of our everyday material plane existence, so it's hard to make simple relations between the two. Those revelations seem pretty esoteric, and I'm not certain what they are referring to. But what is clear is that they are talking about Jesus, and his mother, which happens to be Mary.
    Comment>

    • #3
      Originally posted by theophilus View Post
      And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads seven diadems. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she bore her child he might devour it. She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne.
      (Revelation 12:1-5 ESV)
      In another thread in this section one poster claimed that the woman described here is Mary. It is clear that the child was Jesus, so this is would seem to be a possibility if it weren't for the next verse.
      and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
      (Revelation 12:6 ESV)
      Did anything like this ever happen to Mary? Or this?
      And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.
      (Revelation 12:13-17 ESV)
      Mary never experienced anything like this. But if the woman is actually Israel, all of this makes sense. Satan hates the Jews because they brought the Messiah into the world and he is doing all he can to destroy them.
      In Rev 12:1 we read “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars”

      Who is this woman? Three different suggestions are proposed; Mary, symbolic of Israel, symbolic of the Church. It is possible that she represents all three. Such “fusion imagery” is common in the Bible, especially in apocalyptic literature.

      For example in Rev 4:6-8 the four beasts around the throne are a fusion of the elements of the cherubim in Ezekial 10:1-14 and the Seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-6.

      Like the cherubim in Ezekial they have faces of a man, an ox, a lion and an eagle, like the Seraphim they had six wings.

      The elders around the throne are 24 (Rev 4:4) because they are a fusion of the 12 patriarchs and the 12 apostles.

      Polyvalent symbolism is also a feature of Revelation. For example the seven heads of the beast in Rev 17:3 represent seven hills and also seven kings (Rev 17:9)

      It would not be surprising therefore if the woman in Rev 12 is a fusion and/or polyvalent symbolism with elements of Israel and the Church present. Primarily though the woman must be Mary, the mother of Jesus.

      The woman is identified as giving birth to a son, “a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod”– reference to Psalm 2:9 & Rev 11:15. Moreover “Her child was caught up to God and his throne” so the child is clearly Jesus and therefore the woman is Mary.

      Moreover two “characters” in this episode are clearly real singular characters - Jesus and Satan- and so it is reasonable that the third (the woman) is real and singular also, not just symbolic of a group.
      Comment>

      • #4
        Just sharing the Geneva's Bible Study Note:

        Revelation 12:1

        And (1) there appeared a great wonder in heaven; (2) a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

        (1) Until now it has been the general prophecy, comprehended in two parts, as I showed in (Rev. 11:1-19). Now will be declared the first part of this prophecy, in this and the next chapter and the latter part in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth chapters. To the first part, which is about the conflicting or militant Church belong two things. The beginning and the progress of the same in conflicts and Christian combats. Of which two the beginning of the Church is described in this chapter, and the progress of it in the chapter following. The beginning of the Christian Church we define as the first moment of the conception of Christ, until the time in which this church was weaned and taken away from the breast or milk of her mother: which is the time when the Church of the Jews with their city and temple was overthrown by the judgment of God. So we have in this chapter the story of 69 years and upwards. There are three parts to this chapter. The first, is the history of the conception and pregnancy in (Rev 12:1-4). The second, a history of the birth from (Rev 12:5-12). The third is about the woman who gave birth, to the end of the chapter. These several parts each have their conflicts. Therefore in the first part are two verses: and another of the lying in wait of the dragon against the child about to be born, in the next two verses. In the first point are these things, the description of the mother (Rev 12:1) and the pains of childbirth in (Rev 12:2) all shown to John from heaven. (2) A type of the true holy Church which was at that time in the Jewish nation. This Church (as is the state of the Catholic church) did in itself shine with glory given by God, immutable and unchangeable, and possessed the kingdom of heaven as the heir of it.
        Here's a note from the ESV Reformation Study Bible:

        The woman calls imagery of Joseph's dream Genesis 37:9,10 and the picture of Jerusalem bringing forth the Messiah and His remnant (Isaiah 54:1-4; 66:7-13;Mic 5:3. The OT saints collectively are in view. Mary the mother of Jesus is included in this group, but only as an outstanding member of the whole. The later history shows that the NT saints also are included Rev 12:13-17. The light-bearing character of the woman foreshadows the glory of the New Jerusalem Rev 21:11, 22-27. In her privileges, the church now partakes in the blessings that will be consummated at Christ's return. In the meantime, she is buffeted by Satan.
        God bless,
        William
        Comment>

        • #5
          Originally posted by Bede View Post

          Moreover two “characters” in this episode are clearly real singular characters - Jesus and Satan- and so it is reasonable that the third (the woman) is real and singular also, not just symbolic of a group.
          That sounds pretty logical to me too. While I can not make clear sense of the story, whether it is symbolic or a spiritual occurrence, to me the main players here seem to be Jesus, satan, and Mary.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Marie View Post
            satan also hates Mary
            But she is in Heaven, so he can't hurt her. Israel is still on earth. Satan is the source of all the antiSemitism that exists and is trying to destroy the Jews.
            Clyde Herrin's Blog
            Comment>

            • #7
              Originally posted by Marie View Post

              That sounds pretty logical to me too. While I can not make clear sense of the story, whether it is symbolic or a spiritual occurrence, to me the main players here seem to be Jesus, satan, and Mary.
              Actually I've realised there are four characters in the story. I forgot Michael the Archangel. That makes three clearly identified as individuals and even more reason to identify the woman as an individual - Mary, the mother of Jesus.
              Comment>

              • #8
                Originally posted by theophilus View Post
                and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1,260 days.
                (Revelation 12:6 ESV)
                Did anything like this ever happen to Mary?
                Mary did have to flee into the desert to escape from Herod.

                Another point.
                According to my sources there is nowhere in the Bible is Israel identified as a woman who gave birth to the Messiah.
                On the other hand Mary, who did give birth to the Messiah is twice addressed as 'woman' - John 2:4 and John 19:26.
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                • #9
                  Ok I have read the whole revelation 1 to 22. I'll preface this with - I am not studied in the Bible, history, Christian theology, etc, at all. But this is my interpretation:

                  This is a revelation. Like a prophesy of what is going to occur in the future. John says he is taken in Spirit, and sees all these things that he describes to us. So I believe, these things are all literal on the spiritual plane, as he is describing them. How they play out on the material plane can be of debate, but I believe everything to be literal descriptions of what will be occurring (or possibly is already occurring) in the spiritual world.

                  "A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head." This is happening in Heaven, in the spiritual world (where Jesus currently resides). All of this is happening in spirit.

                  "She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.... The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne."

                  It is clear the child is Jesus, and that the description is of the mother, who he is birthed from. So, while to say she is Mary, who already lived and died, might feel like a stretch, what is clear (to me) is that we are talking about a female, a woman, who is the MOTHER of Jesus. So while it feels odd to call her Mary (a dead woman with human attributes) it does not feel odd to call her the spiritual Mother of Jesus.

                  It is also clear (to me) that satan hates this woman, the mother, and "pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child" and "was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring—those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus."

                  Also clear to me is that this woman is protected by God, and taken care of. "The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days."

                  So, all this points out to me that we are talking about the spiritual Mother of God. As on the earth plane he already had a mother, Mary, I don't see how he can have a second different mother. So to me, I feel we are talking about the Spirit of his Mother.
                  Comment>

                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bede View Post
                    It would not be surprising therefore if the woman in Rev 12 is a fusion and/or polyvalent symbolism with elements of Israel and the Church present. Primarily though the woman must be Mary, the mother of Jesus.
                    The only problem with that is there is no evidence only your speculation. Since the woman is not identified, it is only the clues in the text itself that matter.

                    (1) The imagery of the Son, Moon and Stars are taken from Gen 37:9: "Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me."

                    (2) The image of Israel of the eagle's wings is taken from Ex. 19:4: "You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself."

                    (3) The image of Israel as a woman in pangs of birth are numerous in the O.T.

                    "As a pregnant woman about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so were we in your presence, Lord. We were with child, we writhed in labor, but we gave birth to wind. We have not brought salvation to the earth, and the people of the world have not come to life." (Isa. 26:17-18)

                    "I hear a cry as of a woman in labor, a groan as of one bearing her first child - the cry of Daughter Zion gasping for breath..." (Jer. 4:31)

                    This type of imagery is even found out side of the Bible: "For Zion, the mother of us all, is in deep grief and great distress" (2 Esdras 10:7). This passage is very interesting given what Paul says in Gal. 4:26: "But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother."

                    Originally posted by Bede View Post
                    The woman is identified as giving birth to a son, "a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod" - reference to Psalm 2:9 & Rev 11:15. Moreover "Her child was caught up to God and his throne" so the child is clearly Jesus and therefore the woman is Mary.
                    Only if you ignore the context and the imagery. This woman ought to be understood in contrast to the whore of Babylon in chapter 17 who too is referred to as a "woman" seven times. I know of no one who actually takes the whore of Babylon literally to be a woman. The contrast between the two is simple. The whore represents false religion while the woman in chapter 12 represents the true community of faith. This is made clear from verse 17: "Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring - those who keep God’s command and hold fast their testimony about Jesus."

                    Originally posted by Bede View Post
                    Moreover two "characters" in this episode are clearly real singular characters - Jesus and Satan- and so it is reasonable that the third (the woman) is real and singular also, not just symbolic of a group.
                    You must mean except for the clear references to O.T. imagery none of which are every applied to Mary. Your point that Rev. 12 identifies three individuals (i.e. Jesus, Michael, Satan) does not support your claim but works against it. Since those three are identified, there is no reason not to identify the woman by name if it is indeed Mary. However there is every reason not to identified the woman by name if she is not Mary.
                    Last edited by Origen; 05-16-2016, 05:42 AM.
                    Comment>

                    • #11
                      Off topic but also interesting to me, is that Jesus judges the Churches. This just makes me think of all the different denominations. Jesus judges each church individually, not against each other. Also what stood out to me, is the words:

                      "I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first."

                      That just stands out to me. There are lots of denominations and each one is thinking they are doing right, and Jesus judges all of them, for what they are doing right by him, and where they are not.

                      Sorry, off topic.
                      Comment>

                      • #12
                        There is an interesting article on this subject by Dr. Edward Sri. After noting the data given in the passage he sgoes through the possibilities for the woman:
                        1. "The woman is a symbol for the Church. This ecclesial interpretation is supported by the depiction of the woman being protected and nourished by God in Revelation 12:13–16—imagery that describes God protecting His People in the New Covenant age. However, the ecclesial interpretation by itself does not make sense of all the data, for Revelation 12:1–5 portrays the woman as the mother of the Messiah. If the woman represents the Church, we must ask, how could the Church give birth to Christ? Rather, it should be the other way around!
                        2. The woman is a symbol for Israel. This view makes sense of the woman’s crown of 12 stars, which recalls the 12 tribes of Israel. It also explains the birth pains image, which recalls the Daughter Zion prophecies about the trials God’s People would face. However, seeing the woman exclusively as Israel fails to explain 12:13–16, which portrays the woman fleeing into the desert to be protected and nourished by God after the messianic child has been enthroned in heaven. These verses clearly describe what God does for His People of the New Covenant after Christ’s coming, not the Israel of the Old era.

                        Therefore, although the woman is depicted in ways that recall Israel and the Church, interpretations that identify her only as a collective group do not make sense of her entire portrait in Revelation 12. Furthermore, since the other two main characters are identified as individuals (the male child being Jesus, and the dragon Satan), it seems unlikely that the third major character is only a symbol for a collective group. Rather, if the dragon and the child represent individuals, the woman also is likely to be an individual. Thus, we will see how a third interpretive option which identifies the woman as Mary is preferable.
                        1. The woman is Mary. On a most basic level, there must be room for seeing Mary in this scene. While the woman still may have some symbolic meaning pointing to Israel or the Church, we must keep in mind that she is portrayed as the mother of the Messiah. And wouldn’t reference to the Messiah’s mother bring to mind Mary? It seems virtually impossible that the earliest Christians would have not seen Mary at all in this woman. As one commentator asks, "Is it conceivable that a Christian author of the late first century could speak about the Mother of Christ while prescinding entirely from the Virgin Mary?"[3]

                        A Marian interpretation avoids the pitfalls of views that see the woman not as an individual at all, but only as a symbol for the People of God. Such an either-or proposition itself is foreign to the biblical worldview in which individuals often symbolically represent collective groups (e.g., Romans 5:19, where Adam represents all humanity, and Psalm 44:4, where Jacob stands for all of Israel). Given this biblical notion of individuals representing larger groups of people, the woman in 12 could be understood as both an individual (Mary) and a representative of God’s People as a whole. And Mary is just the right person to embody both the Old and New Covenant since she herself stands at the hinge between the and the New. If there was one woman in salvation history who could represent both Israel and the beginning of the New Covenant People of God, it would be Mary."

                        He then links this to the scene at the cross which I also found interesting but it's too long to quote here.

                        For the full article see - Decoding the Woman of the Apocalypse

                        Comment>

                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bede View Post
                          The woman is a symbol for Israel. This view makes sense of the woman’s crown of 12 stars, which recalls the 12 tribes of Israel. It also explains the birth pains image, which recalls the Daughter Zion prophecies about the trials God’s People would face. However, seeing the woman exclusively as Israel fails to explain 12:13–16, which portrays the woman fleeing into the desert to be protected and nourished by God after the messianic child has been enthroned in heaven. These verses clearly describe what God does for His People of the New Covenant after Christ’s coming, not the Israel of the Old era.
                          Ah, so it is a problem of chronology. The problem is that the chronology does not fit Mary either. The woman flees to the wilderness after the son snatched up to God and to his throne (vs. 5). The is no record or evidence that Mary did such.

                          Originally posted by Bede View Post
                          Therefore, although the woman is depicted in ways that recall Israel and the Church, interpretations that identify her only as a collective group do not make sense of her entire portrait in Revelation 12.
                          This is what always happen when those who know nothing apocalyptic literature force very literal interpretation upon a highly symbolic literature.

                          Originally posted by Bede View Post
                          Furthermore, since the other two main characters are identified as individuals (the male child being Jesus, and the dragon Satan), it seems unlikely that the third major character is only a symbol for a collective group. Rather, if the dragon and the child represent individuals, the woman also is likely to be an individual.
                          There is simply no reason not to identify the woman as Mary if it is Mary. It makes no sense. There is no propose in keeping the woman's identity secret. Moreover it ignore the contrast between this woman and the woman of chapter 17.

                          Originally posted by Bede View Post
                          Thus, we will see how a third interpretive option which identifies the woman as Mary is preferable.
                          Not really. There is really nothing there that makes that link. None of the imagery in chapter 12 is every applied to Mary.
                          Last edited by Origen; 05-16-2016, 07:22 AM.
                          Comment>

                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Origen View Post
                            None of the imagery in chapter 12 is every applied to Mary.
                            None of the imagery in chapter 12 is ever applied to Mary?

                            Mary is not the mother of Jesus?

                            Mary didn't give birth to a male child who was taken up to God and his throne?
                            Comment>

                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Bede View Post
                              None of the imagery in chapter 12 is ever applied to Mary?

                              Mary is not the mother of Jesus?

                              Mary didn't give birth to a male child who was taken up to God and his throne?
                              So you think that is imagery?

                              Comment>
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