The New Testament Book of Revelation starts with an image of the exalted Jesus holding several stars in his hand.

I read in a commentary that there were coins at that time which showed Roman emperors holding several stars in their hand. According to the commentary, the stars signified the global reach of the Roman empire. If that was the case, the image in the Book of Revelation would have been a highly political statement.

Unfortunatly, I didn't find any images of such coins. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Stars_on_coins shows some coins where the Roman emperor is on one side, and a star on the other, but no coin like described above.

Did such coins or other similar images exist?

  • What imagery is printed in a particular bible edition (if any!) depends entirely on the people putting it together. All the modern bibles I've seen are completely devoid of any illustrations except the occasional "study bible" containing maps or childrens' editions containing cartoon depictions of events for those too young to fully understand the written word otherwise.
    – jwenting
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:34
  • 1
    @jwenting Sorry, my question wasn't clear enough. I meant that Jesus is described as holding several stars in his hand. Revelation 1,16 reads: In his right hand he held seven stars, and coming out of his mouth was a sharp, double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
    – tbleher
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:49
  • which is a very interesting quote, as the sword as tongue symbolism may well be interpreted as him being a liar... Sounds very much like a serious error in translation from the original.
    – jwenting
    Mar 27, 2013 at 14:51
  • I think the sword symbolism should rather be interpreted in light of Hebrews 4,12, which states: For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
    – tbleher
    Apr 9, 2013 at 19:55
  • 1
    @tbleher - please edit the quote into the question. That way we can delete the comments and everyone will have the information they need to understand the question in the question.
    – MCW
    Jul 2, 2017 at 20:14

2 Answers 2


John's Revelation is generally accepted to have been written sometime during the reign of Domitian (although some still argue for Nero, and many argue it was about Nero).

A quick check of still extant coins from Domitian and Nero's era shows no coins with figures holding stars. I typically see stuff like wreaths, palm branches, lightning, or various kinds of weaponry.

I'm not saying no such Roman coin existed, but it certianly does not seem to be a common theme in Roman coinage of the era.


[Disclaimer: I'm the author of the question. I just revisited this question and found some interesting new answer]

In 2015, Eleni Rovithis-Livaniou & Flora Rovithis published a relevant paper in the Romanian Astronomical Journal, titled Astronomical Symbols on Coins of the Roman Empire - Part I: 27 BC to 96 AD.

From the paper: Coins of Vespasian and Titus

Regarding the middle coin, it says: Aureus of 76 AD, Observe: HEad of Vespasian, legend CAESAR IMP VESPASIANUS, Reverse: Aeternitas standing left, holding head of Sun & Moon, lighter altar at her feet, legend AETER-NITAS.

There's also some interesting coins from Domitian: Coins from Domitian

Specificially, his son is depicted with 7 stars.

About Aeternitas, the paper notes: Aeternitas: The divine personification of eternity. It appears on the coins issued by various Roman Emperors like Vespasian, Titus, Trajan, Hardrian, and others. She appears as a young lady usually holding the Sun and the Moon.

My conclusion from that paper: it seems like when the Revelation of John was written, there were no coins which showed Roman emperors holding several stars in their hand. However, the Goddess Aeternitas was depicted with Sun and Moon in her hand. The picture in Revelation may be an allusion to that image.

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