Monday, August 29, 2016

The Sun and Moon as a Binary Set

Alice C. Linsley

The Sun and the Moon were considered a binary set among Abraham's Horite Hebrew ancestors. That means that the ancient Ha'biru thought of the Sun and the Moon as entities that naturally belong together, as male and female belong together. The sun represented the male principle observed in creation. It was believed to inseminate the earth and to overshadow those divinely appointed to rule. The Sun and the Moon ruled over separate dominions of day and night, but they were not perceived as being equal (dualism). The Sun was made to be the greater light (Gen. 1:16).

Study of the solar imagery in Genesis reveals that the Sun was a significant symbol for the ancient Hebrew ruler-priests. The Sun was the emblem of the Creator and the Creator's divine son. The "Seed" of Genesis 3:15 is the son of God who was expected to be born of a dedicated virgin who conceived by divine overshadowing. That is what is depicted in ancient images of Hathor, the mother of Horus. That is what was fulfilled in the Virgin Mary who conceived by the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. This is portrayed in paintings of the Annunciation with the Spirit hovering over Mary in the form of a dove.

Bishop's crozier with solar serpent, a symbol of divine appointment

In Genesis, we find the Sun linked to the Moon only once: "God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars." (Gen. 1:16) There are other allusions to the Sun in Genesis and none of these link the Sun to the Moon. The superiority of the Sun is reflected in the fact that the Sun is referenced or alluded to at least 10 times in the first 37 chapters of Genesis.

In Deuteronomy the Sun is linked to the Moon and stars, reflecting the astronomical interests of the Neo-Babylonians. In Exodus, the Sun is depicted as a bronze disk or a coiled serpent on Moses' staff.The golden serpent on the uraeus crown of Pharaoh was a symbol of Pharaoh's divine appointment by solar overshadowing.

Some peoples of the ancient world thought of the Sun and the Moon as the eyes of the Creator who dwelt "on high" or in the heavens. The Sun was regarded as the Creator's right eye and the Moon was the left eye. They were not regarded has having equal strength. The right eye was said to be have better vision than the left eye.

The Sun was associated with masculine virtues. This is because it is the stronger and the greater light (Genesis 1:16). The sun's rays are like seeds that fall to earth and cause plants to grow. In other words, the sun was said to inseminate the earth. The meteoritic iron found on the earth's surface was worn by chiefs and rulers because it represented power from on high.

The Moon was associated with feminine virtues because it is the Sun's companion, as the wife is to her husband. It is the smaller and weaker light in the sky. Because the Moon affects water, tides, and body fluids in a repeating cycle there is a natural association of the Moon with the periodicity of the female's menstrual cycle. Many ancient peoples associated pregnancy with the Moon. The Moon influences the female's monthly cycle which is why menstruation is called le moment de la lune ("the time of the moon") in French. The Moon also stimulates female lactation.

The Sun is empirically observed as greater in size and strength to the Moon, and the Moon reflects the greatness of the Sun (refulgent light). Likewise, the "mighty men of old" under whom science and technology advanced in the ancient world built their kingdoms through their queens. These rulers appeared with skin darkened by the Sun as a sign of divine overshadowing by which they received their and authority. However, their queens appeared with their skin covered in white powder to represent the Moon.

The solar symbolism of the Bible is masculine, never feminine. The Sun cradled between the bull's horns is a symbol of divine appointment among the Horite Hebrew and is represented by the Canaanite Y in the names of many of the Hebrew clan chiefs.

The Y designates a divinely appointed ruler (deified "son" of God), which is why it appears in the Hebrew names of many Biblical rulers: Yaqtan (Joktan); Yishmael (Ishmael); Yishbak; Yitzak (Isaac); Yacob (Jacob); Yosef (Joseph); Yetro (Jethro); Yeshai (Jesse), Yonah (Jonah), and Yeshua (Joshua/Jesus).

In the ancient world, only one female wore that symbol as her headdress: Hathor, the mother of Horus, who was called the "son" of God. She is a foreshadowing of the Virgin Mary. When Mary inquired how she should become a mother, was told by the angel Gabriel that she would be overshadowed (Luke 1).

Among Abraham's ancestors the Sun was honored as the Creator's symbol or emblem. They conceived of God as the Great Chief who daily makes his circuit between the two wives/households dawn and dusk. This is why none of the rulers listed in Genesis placed their wives on an east-west axis, except for the Lamech who posed himself as God's equal. Bible scholar Theodore Gaster noted this belief. He explained that the names of Lamech's two wives, Ada and Tzillah, refer to dawn and dusk (The Schocken Bible, Vol. 1, p. 28).


  1. Michael,

    This blog is dedicated to an anthropological approach to the Bible. Those who follow the work already have a good background in this emerging field. You might want to explore what this approach involves.

    Genesis 1:6 speaks of the Sun as the greater light that rules the day. This implies masculine because the male of the species is anatomically larger than the female. In the ancient world objects commonly were perceived as reflecting male or female attributes. This is evident in many languages even today. For example, the Spanish word for ship is el barco (masculine), but the Spanish word for boat is la barca (feminine). A pond is el charco (masculine), but a puddle is la charca (feminine). The Spanish word for Sun is el sol (masculine) and the Spanish word for Moon is la luna (feminine).

    In terms of the biblical understanding of complementarity, the Sun and the Moon are not equals (dualism) because the Sun is the greater light and the Moon reflects the greater light (reflugence). This is the main distinction between the binary worldview of the Bible and the dualism of Asian religions.

    If you are seriously interested in this research, I encourage you to look at topics of interest to you using the Indices.

    Best wishes to you!

  2. Alice, thank you for your response.

    I have studied Anthropology, and I am a student of the Bible (and always will be). I understand the anthropological approach and have taught it to students in my own teaching.

    I am unaware of any passage in the Hebrew Cannon where it says the sun is a male and the moon is a female. Hebrew language, which Genesis is written in, does not as far as I am aware make any such distinction. The Sun ruled the day and the Moon ruled the night, the Bible and Hebrew culture speaks against women ruling or holding positions of authority as such (although there were female judges). The Moon is a lesser light but it governs the night, can you provide a verse that says it was female?

    Thank you for the links. I am seriously interested in this research, as I am sure you are now aware, and that is why I made a request for you to provide references in your writings. Doing this will help me, and others, to make up our own minds.

  3. Michael,

    I'm glad to have you as a reader of Biblical Anthropology. I hope this site will be helpful and interesting.

    You asked for a passage in the Hebrew Canon that indicates the masculine gender for the Sun. Consider this:

    In the book of Genesis the Sun - Shemesh - is masculine, as in Genesis 19:23. A much later Hebrew word for the Sun is Chammah, and this is feminine. It is clear that the Sun was regarded as having masculine attributes among Abraham and his ancestors.The binary worldview of Genesis comes from them and is older than the Hebrew language.

    Abraham’s ancestors were Nilotic peoples who regarded the Sun as the symbol of the Creator. Both the Creator and the Sun were called Ra, and Ra is said to be the "Father" of Horus. The masculine designation is emphatic.

    The masculine terminology is also apparent in Psalm 19:4-6:

    …the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber; It rejoices as a strong man to run his course. Its rising is from one end of the heavens, And its circuit to the other end of them; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

    The ancient Sumerians were culturally like the cattle-herding, Proto-Saharan Nilotes. In the Sumerian language, the word for the Sun was Utu and he is called a “son” of Nanna and Ningal.

    You asked me to provide a verse that says that the Moon had a feminine gender. Suffice it to say that in a "binary set" such as the Sun and Moon, when one entity in the set is masculine, its complement is feminine.

    I don't quote verses, as do Biblicists. It is counter-productive when it comes to establishing an accurate anthropological picture. For example, consider these remarks by St. Paul. In 1 Tim. 2:11,12 he says, "A woman must learn in quietness and full submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet." In 1 Corinthians 14:34, Paul writes, "women are to be silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. Yet in addressing the proper attire of women in the church, Paul says that when a woman prophesies she is to do so with her head covered (1 Cor. 11:5). Which of these would be quoted by those who espouse the woman's rights?

    Consider another example. Deuteronomy 23:1 states "No one who has been emasculated by crushing or cutting may enter the assembly of the LORD." Yet in Isaiah 56:4,5 we read "For thus says the LORD, 'To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.'" Those who seek to exclude would quote the passage from Deuteronomy and ignore that Isaiah passage. The serious Bible student always takes into consideration the larger picture.

  4. Another confirmation of sun/moon and male/female duality is in the interpretation of Joseph's dream in which the sun, moon, and stars bowed to his star. Jacob naturally interprets the sun to represent himself, the moon as a symbol of his wife, and the stars his children.


Your comments are welcome. Please stay on topic and provide examples to support your point.