BSB Luke 2:

33The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. 34Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, 35so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

If so, why?

If not, what does it mean that a sword would pierce her soul?

  • Homicide would result from a sword piercing the body, not the soul.
    – Nigel J
    Sep 23, 2018 at 0:31
  • That sounds like the beginning of an answer.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 23, 2018 at 0:43

1 Answer 1


I have always understood that this prophecy referred to Mary's grief at the crucifixion of her beloved son; that is, it is an indirect reference to Jesus' death. If so, it was fulfilled when Mary (John 19:25). Further, while Mary Magdalene was crying at the Jesus' tomb on Sunday morning, I am confident that Jesus Mother was just as grief stricken, if not more so. It is in this sense that her soul was "pierced". (As pointed out by Nigel J, a sword (rhomphaia - large Thracian sword) can only pierce the flesh.) Compare 1 Tim 6:10 for a similar idea (but for different reason).

Further, this prophecy of Simeon appears to echo those of Isaiah 52:14 and 53:12 of the suffering servant and so become the earliest NT prophecy of Jesus' suffering and death.

I am unaware how Mary met her death, but tradition suggests that John, who became bishop of Ephesus adopted he as his mother and she presumably lived there. However, I do not know if her death was natural or homocide. I suspect the former.

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