What does a halo around the moon mean?
“Often you can look up during a clear night and see a bright ring around the moon. These are called halos,” “They are formed by light bending or refracting as it passes through ice crystals from high-level cirrus clouds. These types of clouds do not produce rain or snow, but they often are forerunners of a low pressure system that could produce rain or snow in a day or two.”
Biblical meaning of halo around the moon
The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory. Confounded be all they that serve graven images, that boast themselves of idols: worship him, all ye gods. Psalm 97:6-7 (KJV).
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork – Psalm 19:1 (KJV).
I Lord, am in awe of your beauty, your creations, made by you, and you alone. My risen Savior and King.
Does the Bible say anything about halos?
A halo is a shape, generally circular or rayed, usually above the head of a person and indicative of a source of light. Found in numerous depictions of Jesus, angels, and other biblical characters in the history of art, many wonder what the Bible says, if anything, regarding halos.
First, the Bible does not directly speak of halos as observed in religious art. The closest expressions are found in examples of Jesus in Revelation described in glorious light (Revelation 1) or when He changed at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17). Moses had a face that shone with light after being in the presence of God (Exodus 34:29-35). However, in none of these cases is the light involved described as a halo.
Second, it is clear that the use of halos in art existed before the time of Jesus. Art in both secular and other religious contexts utilized the idea of a circle of light above the head. At some point (believed to be in the fourth century) Christian artists began to incorporate halos in their artwork involving holy people such as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph (the holy family), and angels. This symbolic use of halos was to indicate the holy nature or significance of the figures in the painting or art form.
Over time, the use of halos was extended beyond biblical characters to include saints of the church. Further divisions were also later developed. These included a halo with a cross in it to refer to Jesus, a triangular halo to indicate reference to the Trinity, square halos for those still living, and circular halos for saints. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, the halo has traditionally been understood as an icon that offers a window into heaven through which Christ and the saints can be communicated.
Further, halos have also been used in Christian art to distinguish good from evil. A clear example can be found in Simon Ushakov’s painting The Last Supper. In it, Jesus and the disciples are depicted with halos. Only Judas Iscariot is painted without a halo, indicating a distinction between holy and unholy, good and evil.
Historically, the concept of the halo has also been associated with a crown. As such, the halo can represent majesty and honor as with a king or victor in battle or competition. From this perspective, Jesus with a halo is an indication of honor, an honor extended to His followers and angels.
Again, the Bible does not indicate any specific usage or existence of halos. Historically, halos existed in art before the time of Christ in a variety of religious settings. Halos have become one artistic expression used in religious art as a way of drawing attention or honor to Jesus or various other religious figure from the Bible and Christian history.
With it not being found in the Bible
With it not being found in the Bible, the halo is both pagan and non-Christian in its origin. Many centuries before Christ, natives decorated their heads with a crown of feathers to represent their relationship with the sun god. The halo of feathers upon their heads symbolized the circle of light that distinguished the shining divinity or god in the sky. As a result, these people came to believe that adopting such a nimbus or halo transformed them into a kind of divine being.
However, interestingly enough, before the time of Christ, this symbol had already been used by not only the Hellenistic Greeks in 300 B.C., but also by the Buddhists as early as the first century A.D. In Hellenistic and Roman art, the sun-god, Helios, and Roman emperors often appear with a crown of rays. Because of its pagan origin, the form was avoided in early Christian art, but a simple circular nimbus was adopted by Christian emperors for their official portraits.
From the middle of the fourth century, Christ was portrayed with this imperial attribute, and depictions of His symbol, the Lamb of God, also displayed halos. In the fifth century, halos were sometimes given to angels, but it was not until the sixth century that the halo became customary for the Virgin Mary and other saints. For a period during the fifth century, living persons of eminence were depicted with a square nimbus.
Then, throughout the Middle Ages, the halo was used regularly in representations of Christ, the angels, and the saints. Often, Christ’s halo is quartered by the lines of a cross or inscribed with three bands, interpreted to signify His position in the Trinity. Round halos are typically used to signify saints, meaning those people considered as spiritually gifted. A cross within a halo is most often used to represent Jesus. Triangular halos are used for representations of the Trinity. Square halos are used to depict unusually saintly living personages.
As we’ve stated at the outset, the halo was in use long before the Christian era. It was an invention of the Hellenists in 300 B.C. and is not found anywhere in the Scriptures. In fact, the Bible gives us no example for the bestowal of a halo upon anyone. If anything, the halo has been derived from the profane art forms of ancient secular art traditions.