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A great sign

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was seen in heaven—a

woman clothed

with the sun,

with the moon

under her feet,

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and on her head a crown

of twelve stars.

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An important and veiled teaching tool was seen in heaven—a woman whose most visible attribute was

her brilliant glory,

all types of majesty and authority are under her control, and her nobility is such that she exercises sovereign rule

over all other rulers, including all the tribes of Israel.



A “sign” meant something that had meaning beyond its surface level or appearance; it pointed to something beyond itself. I am assuming that the purpose behind it is to teach, thus a “great sign” really means “an important and veiled teaching tool.” We have already seen in Revelation that Jesus is God’s “witness/martyr” and God points at all of Scripture, represented by Moses and Elijah, as witnesses. Here God calls forth something else the readers will be familiar with, yet He makes clear to them that there is more here than what they had originally thought, for it is a sign of something deeper.


Clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet”: There is a double meaning here. The sun and moon were given authority to rule over the day and the night so their use as symbols of authority figures was quite natural. When the sun, moon and stars, are mentioned together, it was a picture of all sources of glory and authority apart from God Himself.

3: “twelve stars”

There is a double meaning here also. In Genesis 37 Joseph had a dream in which the sun (his father) the moon (his mother) and 11 stars (his brothers) bowed down to him. Since then the tribes of Israel were sometimes referred to as 12 stars. However, when stars were used in conjunction with the sun and moon, as they are here, there is a global reach of this image; it means all created entities of glory and authority. This global aspect does not eliminate the idea of this representing the 12 tribes of Israel, it is just another layer to the imagery.