Rev: 12: 1: And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:

Rev: 12: 2: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Rev 12:3: And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.

Rev 12:4 And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.

Rev 12:5 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and [to] his throne.

Rev 12:6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred [and] threescore days.

Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.

Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.

Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, [ye] heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.

Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man [child].

Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Rev 12:15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.

Rev 12:16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.

Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

I am a bit confused here by the transition of the woman to the earth. Why on earth she needed to go down to the earth? It looks like in the very beginning of this chapter she was in the heaven, but then for some reason, along with Satan's being translated to the earth, has also fled to the earth. Why didn't she stay in the heaven?

Perhaps, my confusion can easily be clarified by looking at some specifics of the Greek text.

So, I have two questions here:

1) Does the text really imply that she in this chapter started out in the heaven, but ended up on the earth, or not?

2) Does the text somehow indicate whether the wilderness in Rev.12:6 and the wilderness in Rev. 12:14 are one and same thing? Could it be that the first one is in the heaven, and the second one on the earth?

5 Answers 5


The greek word for heaven (ουρανω) used frequently in these verses can mean the heavenly realm (i.e. the realm of the divine and spiritual) or the literal sky. What is confusing as you say is that John is seeing visions in the 'sky' and in these vision scenes 'the sky' or land may also appear 'in the sky'. This can leave us wondering when is the sky just the theatre of John's vision and when is the sky a part of that scene in the theatre of the sky in which he sees them?

In the case you mention it would seem at first that the woman is in the sky (of the vision in the sky) because she is clothed with the sun and has the moon under her feet, but this is not necessarily the case as when she flees to the wilderness she still must be clothed with the sun and the moon under her feet, for this is simply her appearance. Therefore when John sees this woman in the sky, we need to think where this woman first appears in the theater of the sky in which he sees her. As the whole vision is broadly based on a temple scene in Jerusalem with the regular land surrounding it and its nearby deserts, one possible original location to place the woman is in the temple itself, or at least on the earth, but not in the desert earth. The woman is an earthly person, not an angel. This woman is about to give birth to a man, so we imagine her on the earth on that account as well. So the thing that makes the most sense is that she is a women in Jerusalem, possible in the temple but not the inner temple, this is where Jesus walks around the lamp-stands in heaven. After giving birth, her son rises very high up past the sky. Then the dragon, having been thrown down to the earth chases her to the desert.

In any case as the vision is in the sky, we do not have to imagine the woman starting in the sky and coming down to earth. Rather she is on the earth in the vision that John sees in the sky. When John sees horses riding on the earth, it is also a scene he sees in his vision in the sky as are all his visions.


This is the Spiritual 'Mother' of the Messiah, and also Spiritual Israel. She is also the Church of Jesus Christ, and the True Mother of all those who accept Her Son.

Since the Context is Figurative(a woman with 12 stars on her head, and the moon under her feet) it is clear we are not talking about Jesus's earthly mother, Mary. We therefore must interpret correctly what these symbols mean, for they describe the truth that God is trying to convey to us.

This mother was 1st seen in Genesis 3:15, when God told Satan,"And I will put emnity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. It shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel."

Eve was the mother of all the living, and yet more than Eve is being communicated. This 'woman' will deliver the Messiah who will crush the head of Satan and rule the world. She has 12 stars-the 12 Tribes of Israel, and also the 12 apostles. The moon is under her feet; since the moon reflects the glory of the sun, so she reflects the glory of God. The red serpent reflects Satan, which is evil, murderous; the 7 Heads with the crowns on the Heads means that the 'Head' kingdoms were ruling at this time: Rome is the 6th Head. The 10 horns are colonies of Rome, and at the appointed time they will receive the crowns-meaning they will rule, and not the heads.

The serpent is anxious to devour the man-child before He can begin His ministry; we see this with Herod, and also with Augustus who declared a census-just as Christ is being born. Joseph travels to Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecies of Christ's birth. The 3rd part of heaven are those angels which followed Satan in the rebellion, and were cast out of the '3rd' Heaven-God's throne, and are now in the 2nd heaven or earth. Her child(Christ) was caught up to Heaven; however, she remains on earth where God protects her; by sending her to the wilderness. This is the place from which the church is kept from the ways of the Beast, by going to the out of the way places, it maintains it's integrity and fresh vision.

  • Why/how is the sign in heaven if these things are taking place on earth?
    – user2027
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 19:40
  • @Sarah - A sign in heaven showing things that will take place on earth - seems logical to me.
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 22:48
  • I agree, I think it should stated in the answer though.
    – user2027
    Commented Dec 18, 2013 at 23:52
  • 1
    Perhaps I wasn't clear: by 'if it is Mary' I only ever meant a woman who represents Israel or something else perhaps, not that it is literally or figuratively Mary of Nazareth only, and then warps into something else: Mary as representative of the Church, for example, wouldn't be equivalent to it being just Mary. Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 15:54
  • 1
    Insightful are Pope St. Pius X's words, "No one of us does not know that that woman signifies the Virgin Mary, who brought forth our Head with her virginity intact. But the Apostle continues: 'And being with child, she cried out, laboring in birth, and was in pain to be delivered. ' Therefore John saw the Most Holy Mother of God already enjoying eternal happiness, and yet laboring from some hidden birth. With what birth? Surely ours, we who, being yet detained in exile, are still to be brought forth to the perfect love of God and eternal happiness" Commented Oct 11, 2018 at 15:54

Does the woman in Revelation 12 go down to the earth from the heaven?

As troublesome as symbolic language may be, it is there for a reason; here it is used to describe a sign/wonder that was seen in heaven. This sign relates to events that will take place on earth. John is doing his best to describe 21st century events from the perspective of his 1st century mind. All that he "sees," he sees happening in heaven; it is not taking place on earth at the time he sees it. Think of it in terms of a preview of coming attractions, a short trailer for a portion of the last 7 years of human history. Nothing "real" is taking place, only a vision of that which "will" happen.

Everything John sees here he sees in a vision in heaven, and we have his own testimony on that (verses 1, 3, and 7). Much of the confusion is eliminated (though not all my any means) if we can correctly identify the players depicted in the symbolism of the vision.

V. 1

WOMAN = Israel TWELVE STARS = Genesis 37:9 = The twelve tribes of Israel. In the Genesis account, the sun and the moon are used with reference to Jacob and to Rachel. The twelve stars are quite naturally the twelve patriarchs of Israel.

Though Catholic doctrine has the woman as Mary the mother of Yeshua, that exegesis is strained and should not be given serious consideration since Yeshua has already been born, crucified, died, buried, resurrected, and has ascended to the right hand of the Father. Mary, too has already lived, died, and been buried taking her out of the equation entirely.

V. 3

The dragon is Satan (cf. verse 9). The seven heads and ten horns is the Antichrist. Seven crowns = seven kingdoms (cf. 17:10).

V. 4

The child is the 144,000 Jews. Again, symbolism is being utilized here.

V. 5 The man child cannot be Yeshua. Yeshua, as previously noted, has already been born, and we are now speaking of things to come (cf. 4:1). Alford states that “the Man-Child is the Lord Jesus Christ, and none other” (The Greek Testament, 4: 668). However, from the book of Daniel the ninth chapter, we know that the 70th week is focused on the Jews and Jerusalem (Daniel 9:24). Since the 70th week had not occurred any time prior to the ascension of Yeshua, there is no word magic that can allow for the birth of Yeshua here in the middle of the 70th week of Daniel.

VS. 6, 14

Verses 6 and 14 are dealing with the same woman (Israel) and the same wilderness. The woman (Israel) is going to swiftly (eagles wings) arrive at some divinely appointed spot in the wilderness, and there enjoy divine protection for the last three and one half years of the great tribulation period.

All of this was seen by John, in a vision, in heaven.

  • "John is doing his best to describe 21st century events" - Do you insist on the century being exactly the 21st one?
    – brilliant
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 16:42
  • Not at all. I always assume Yeshua is coming back soon, and this being the 21st century I use that. Depending on when he actually comes, and when the 70th week is, it could be the 22nd, 28th, or the 30th century. But we are currently in the 21st so my faith spurs me on. :-)
    – DrFry
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 17:07
  • “Think of it in terms of a preview of coming attractions…only a vision of that which ‘will’ happen.” What is the basis for your assumption that these verses describe a future event?
    – Josh
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 19:32
  • @josh Daniel's 70th weeks has not yet happened. It is depicted as occurring (being fulfilled) in the book of revelation.
    – DrFry
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 19:51

The woman does not literally go down to the earth from heaven. These are all symbols. For example:

  • Both the woman and the dragon are described as signs in heaven (Rev 12:1, 3). The word “sign” (sémainó) means “to give a sign.” It implies something that is not literal.
  • She is clothed with the sun (Rev 12:1). People are not clothed with the sun. It might relate to Jesus’ face, which “was like the sun shining in its strength” (Rev 1:16).
  • She stands on the moon (Rev 12:1) – not literally.
  • She has “a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1) – not literal stars.
  • She was “with child” (Rev 12:2) – not literally. Another article shows that Revelation here converts God's promise in Genesis 3, of the woman’s seed which will crush the head of the serpent, into a symbol. The woman, then, symbolizes the people of God, from the time of Adam and Eve, that longed for the promised Messiah.
  • She does not go to a literal wilderness. The wilderness is a symbol of obscurity and deprivation.
  • She is opposed by a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns (Rev 12:3-4) – not a literal dragon. See - The identity of the beasts with seven heads of the Book of Revelation.
  • The dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth (Rev 12:4) – not literal stars or a literal tail. The stars symbolize angels or people and the tail might be interpreted in terms of Isaiah 9:15 as “the prophet who teaches falsehood.”
  • The dragon intended to “devour her child” (Rev 12:4) – not literally. This symbolizes that Satan (see Rev 12:9) was also expecting the messiah. He knew that the Messiah was promised to crush his head. He, therefore, attempted to cause the Messiah’s mission to fail in any way possible.

Given the symbolic nature of this vision and the entire book of Revelation, we must not think that the woman literally stands on the moon or go to a literal wilderness.


Woman is present in heaven before creation. Man and woman were made in the image of the Elohim the plurality of God yet God is one. Woman was not an after thought during the 'week of creation'. We see her taken out of Adam as she was taken out of Yeshua. What happens on earth is made in the image of what happens in heaven. Whilst we can see the allusion to Mary the mother who gave birth to Yeshua and we can also see the presence of Israel (12 tribes) in the Revelation 12 woman we must be aware that this vision is clearly a part of the end times. The Woman in Revelation 12 will have the son of Yeshua who will be caught up with the Raptured saints - the Body of Christ. The woman will be taken to a place of safety in the wilderness which the Father has prepared for her and He will make her ready for her husband Yeshua when He returns with the wedding party. This woman is identified with Israel and Jerusalem she is the wife who went astray, the one divorced by God via Israel 10 tribes scattered amongst the nation and she is also identified as one widowed by God. Just as Israel and Judah (two tribes) went astray from God and lay with other Gods this woman represents their shame but she is redeemed by Her Husband - Yeshua as He went to the Cross for her. REad the story of Hosea for a better picture. Hosea played out the divine drama. Just as Israel (12 tribes) are God's children they are from the Woman of God. When Yeshua returns to reign for 1000 years He will establish the family of God in the Flesh as it should have been done had not Satan mixed his seed with woman's seed in the beginning. Yeshua will re-establish the family unit as it was meant to function without the presence of Sin. The Family unit is at the heart of God. The role of woman will be fulfilled as it was meant to be in the millennium without the shame of Eve.

  • "Just as Israel and Judah (two tribes) went astray..." - I can get that Judah is one tribe, but how is Israel another one tribe?!
    – brilliant
    Commented Dec 18, 2014 at 0:33

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