Clothed With the Sun

From The Days of Vengeance, by David Chilton.
Pages 296-297, 300-303

—<Quote begins>—

The Serpent and the Seed of the Woman (12:1-6)

  1. And a great sign appeared in heaven: a Woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars;
  2. and being with child she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.
  3. And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red Dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems.
  4. And his tail sweeps away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the Land. And the Dragon stood before the Woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her Child.
  5. And she gave birth to a Son, a male, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron; and her Child was caught up to God and to His Throne.
  6. And the Woman fled into the wilderness where she has a place prepared by God, so that there they may nourish her for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.


It is important to recognize the relationship of all this to the very obvious astronomical symbolism in the text. The word St. John uses for sign was the term used in the ancient world to describe the constellations of the Zodiac; St. John’s model for this vision of the Church is the constellation of Virgo, which does have a “crown” of twelve stars.[1] It seems likely that the twelve stars also represent the twelve signs of the Zodiac, from ancient times regarded as symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel; in Joseph’s famous dream his father, mother, and the twelve tribes were symbolized by the sun, the moon, and twelve stars or constellations (Gen. 37:9).[2] We have already seen how the divine arrangement of Israel’s tribes around the Tabernacle (Num. 2) corresponded to the zodiacal order of the constellations.[3] The Seventh Trumpet of 11:15 brought us to Rosh Hashanah: the Day of Trumpets, the first day of the seventh month, the first day of the new year, the Day of the enthronement of the King of kings in the New Creation. The statement that Virgo is “crowned” with the twelve constellations, therefore, “means that she is the one among the twelve who reigns at the time,” i.e. during the seventh month, just as “the Scorpion’s claws seem about to catch the Virgin.”[4] In terms of astral symbolism, therefore, the birth of the Messiah takes place on the Day of Trumpets.

It is interesting that by pursuing several lines of very convincing evidence, Prof. Ernest Martin carefully and painstakingly narrows down the probable date of Christ’s birth to sometime in September, 3 B.C.[5] Martin then adds the icing to the cake: “In the period of Christ’s birth, the Sun entered the head-position of the Woman about August 13, and exited from her feet about October 2. But the Apostle John saw the scene when the Sun ‘clothes’ or ‘adorns’ the Woman. This surely indicates that the position of the Sun in the vision was located somewhere mid-bodied of the Woman – between the neck and knees. (The Sun could hardly be said to ‘clothe’ the Woman if it were situated in her face or near her feet.)

“The only time in the year that the Sun could be in a position to ‘clothe’ this celestial Woman (to be mid-bodied) is when it was located between about 150 and 170 degrees along the ecliptic. This ‘clothing’ of the Woman by the Sun occurs for a 20-day period each year. This 20-degree spread could indicate the general time when Christ was born. In 3 B.C., the Sun would have entered this celestial region about August 27 and exited from it about September 15. If John in the Book of Revelation is associating the birth of Christ with the period when the Sun is mid-bodied to the Woman, then Christ would have had to be born within that 20-day period. From the point of view of the Magi (who were astrologers), this would have been the only logical sign under which the Jewish Messiah might be born – especially if he were to be born of a virgin. Even today, astrologers recognize that the sign of Virgo is the one which has reference to a messianic world ruler to be born of a virgin….

“But there is a way to arrive at a much closer time for Christ’s birth than a simple 20-day period. The position of the Moon in John’s vision could pinpoint the nativity to within a day – perhaps to an hour period or less. This may seem absurd, but it is entirely possible.

“The key is the Moon. The apostle said it was located ‘under her feet.’ What does the word ‘under’ signify in this case? Does it mean the Woman of the vision was standing on the Moon when John observed it or does it mean her feet were positioned slightly above the Moon? John does not tell us. This, however, is not of major consequence in using the Moon to answer our question because it would only involve the difference of a degree or two. Since the feet of Virgo the Virgin represent the last 7 degrees of the constellation (in the time of Christ this would have been between about 180 and 187 degrees along the ecliptic), the Moon has to be positioned somewhere under that 7-degree arc. But the Moon also has to be in that exact location when the Sun is mid-bodied to Virgo. In the year 3 B.C., these two factors came to precise agreement for less than two hours, as observed from Palestine or Patmos, on September 11. The relationship began about 6:15 P .M. (sunset), and lasted until around 7:45 P .M. (moonset). This is the only day in the whole year that this could have taken place.”[6]

An added bonus: Sundown on September 11, 3 B.C., was the beginning of Tishri 1 in the Jewish calendar – Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Trumpets![7] Martin summarizes: “The central theme of the Day of Trumpets is clearly that of enthronement of the great King of kings. This was the general understanding of the day in early Judaism – and it certainly is that of the New Testament. In Revelation 11:15 the seventh angel sounds his ‘last trump’ and the kingdoms of this world become those of Christ. This happens at a time when a woman is seen in heaven with twelve stars around her head and the Sun mid-bodied to her, with the Moon under her feet. This is clearly a New Moon scene for the Day of Trumpets.”[8]

[1] The twelve stars are: “(I) Pi, (2) Nu, (3) Beta (near the ecliptic), (4) Sigma, (5) Chi, (6) Iota – these six stars form the southern hemisphere around the head of Virgo. Then there are (7) Theta, (8) Star 60, (9) Delta, (10) Star 93, (11) Beta (the second magnitude star), (12) Omicron – these last six form the northern hemisphere around the head of Virgo. All these stars are visible ones that could have been seen by observers.” Ernest L. Martin, The Birth of Christ Recalculated (Pasadena, CA: Foundation for Biblical Research, 2nd ed., 1980), p. 159.

[2] See Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, iii.vii.7, where he explains the twelve stones in the high priest’s breastplate, representing the twelve tribes of Israel (Ex. 28:17-21), in terms of the Zodiac.

[3] See comments on Revelation 4:7; cf. Ernest L. Martin, The Birth of Christ Recalculated, pp. 168f.

[4] Farrer, The Revelation of St. John the Divine (Oxford: At the Clarendon Press, 1964), p. 141.

[5] It is generally held that Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., and therefore that Christ was born in 6 or 7 B.C. Martin, however, presents a detailed and persuasive case for Herod’s death occurring in 1 B.C. See his Birth of Christ Recalculated, pp. 26-131.

[6] Ibid., pp. 146f. What about December 25, the traditional date of the Nativity? As Martin demonstrates, there were numerous startling astronomical phenomena taking place during the years 3-2 B.C. Chief among these celestial events was the fact that Jupiter, recognized by Jews and Gentiles alike as the “Planet of the Messiah,” was located in Virgo’s womb and standing still, directly over Bethlehem, on December 25, 2 B.C., when the Child was a little over a year old. (Matthew states that the holy family was settled in a house, not in a stable, by the time the Magi visited [Matt. 2:11]. Moreover, Herod ordered the slaughter of the innocents “from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the Magi” [Matt. 2:16], indicating that the Child was no longer a newborn.) For a full account of the astronomical events of 3-2 B.C., see Martin, pp. 4-25, 144-77.

[7] Ibid., pp. I52ff.

[8] Ibid., p. I58.

—<Quote end>—

That’s a lot of evidence!

And now, you know why the greatest astrologers of the time – the Magi – were so interested in the birth of the Messiah.

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