The Way It Happened

Revelation 12:1-2, Israel as a Woman in Labor, Part I of II

A great and wondrous 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. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth.

//Who is this mysterious woman in heaven? In my book about Revelation, I wrote the following:

“Some have prematurely compared the woman to Mary, the mother of Jesus. But Mary’s status within the Christian story grew over time; at the writing of Revelation, she played a part nowhere near the “Virgin Mary, Mother of God” status now portrayed in Catholic tradition. As far as we know, the birth stories we read in Matthew and Luke had not yet even surfaced.

“We can make easier sense of John’s vision if we consider the woman as simply the true believers of Israel, God’s chosen few. This alludes to Joseph’s dream in Genesis 37, where the sun and the moon denote Joseph’s father and mother, and the twelve stars represent him and his eleven brothers” –Revelation: The Way It Happened, p. 139

I offer little explanation for this interpretation in my book, but Israel is actually depicted as a woman in labor several times in the Bible. Here are some examples:

Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children. –Isaiah 66:8-9

For I have heard a voice as of a woman in travail, and the anguish as of her that bringeth forth her first child, the voice of the daughter of Zion, –Jeremiah 4:31

Be in pain, and labour to bring forth, O daughter of Zion, like a woman in travail –Micah 4:10

What is it that makes this interpretation so interesting? More tomorrow.

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