Every so often, we have to remind people that the Woman in Revelation 12 is alluding to Biblical imagery from the Book of Genesis, not to anything pagan.
“A great sign appeared… a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head, a crown of twelve stars.”
Specifically, we’re being referred to Genesis 37:5-10 —
“Joseph told his brothers a dream that he had dreamed, which made his brothers hate him more…
“‘I thought we were binding sheaves in the field, and my sheaf stood up, and your sheaves bowed to my sheaf…’
“His brothers answered, ‘Are you going to be our king? Or shall we be subject to you?’…
“He dreamed another dream, which he told to his brothers, saying, ‘I dreamed a dream where the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.’
“And when he had told this to his father and his brothers, his father [Israel/Jacob] rebuked him, saying, ‘What does this dream that you have dreamed mean? Shall I, and your mother, and your brothers, bow down to the ground before you?'”
At this point, Joseph’s biological mother Rachel is dead. But Leah is still alive, and is the highest-ranking woman in the household. She’s “the moon.” Jacob, now named Israel, is “the sun.” The eleven stars (the Hebrew says “one and ten”) are all the other sons of Israel.
Leah doesn’t get a lot of modern attention; but both Judah (and hence David) and Levi (and hence the priests) are descended from her. The rabbis liked to point out that Rachel got all the earthly attention, but that the eternal promises from God went to Leah’s sons. Leah is the “rafter” that holds up the whole roof of the house. (Although often Leah and Rachel are described as twin rafters, where both are needed.) Leah is also seen as a prophetess, because her words about her children came true.
Most importantly, though, Leah is tied to Mary by her words in Genesis 30:13, on the birth of her son Asher — “The daughters [ie, women] will call me blessed.”
So the Woman of Revelation 12, previously tied to the Ark of the Covenant, is shown to be clothed with the sun — ie, showing her descent from Israel — and she has the moon under her feet — showing that she springs from Leah. All the tribes of Israel crown her. She comes from them, but she is higher in status than all of them.
The interesting bit is that “hypokato ton podon” is the same Greek used by Matthew and Mark to translate, “The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.'” (Ps. 110:1)
The idea of the original psalm, in Hebrew, is that the enemies become a footstool. (The Septuagint translation is “hypopodion ton podon sou.”) Hypokato literally means something like “down under,” whereas “hypo” just means “under.”
But there is a Septuagint text that uses “hypokato ton podon autou” — Ps. 8:7/8:6.
The Gospel writers deliberately honor Jesus, and indicate both his divinity and His humanity as the everlasting king of the House of David, by combining Ps. 110:1 with Ps. 8:7/8:6. (1 Cor. 15:25 has Paul talking about these verses together, also.)
So…. what kind of “mighty sign” is it, if John combines Ps. 110:1, Ps. 8:7/8:6, and Rev. 12:1?
Let’s go back and look at Psalm 8, to get the context.
“O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Your Name in all the earth!
You have set Your splendor in the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babies and suckling children, You have ordained praise
Because of Your adversaries, to silence the Enemy and the vengeful.
When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars which You have established firm,
What is man [enowos] that You are mindful of him,
And the son of Adam [ben Adam] that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And have crowned him with glory [kabod] and honor.
You made him reign over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet:
Sheep, and oxen, and even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.
O LORD our Lord, how excellent is Your Name in all the earth!”
So I think we have to understand the Woman through the lens of this psalm. Even a fallen ordinary human is walking around crowned with God’s kabod, and has power over all created things, including the moon and the stars. A Christian who overcomes until the end will have the iron rod that rules the pagan nations and will wear a crown. Mary and the Church, Daughter Zion, are not any less important than that.
So why does this image of the Woman upset people?
(One last thing: Leah’s name means “cow,” and Rachel’s name means “ewe.” So if the Woman is standing on Leah, she’s standing on the cows, and one assumes, on the sheep too.)
(And walking around crowned with God’s kabod is obviously connected to the whole female headgear discussion, which supports the idea that women are indeed wearing diadems of authority, including the coming Christian authority to judge angels.)
Of course, what we usually connect to Rev. 12:1 is Songs 6:4, 10 —
“My love, you are as fair as Tirzah, lovely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with flags flying!
“Who is this who peers out [the window] like the dawn?
“Fair as the moon, pure as the sun, terrible as an army with flags flying?”
And since the Beloved is clearly Israel, we’re back with Daughter Zion again. Tirzah was the capital of Israel in the North, as Jerusalem was capital of Judah in the South. “Tirzah” means “my pleasure” or “pleasant,” and alludes to God’s promise in Isaiah 62:4 that “you shall be called ‘my delight.'”
But what did it say in Songs 6:9?
“The daughters saw her, and called her blessed.”
Hmmmmmm. Almost like we’re talking about Mary, isn’t it? Obviously there’s no reason at all to connect the Woman with Mary, noooo.