In symbolism the scorpion's sting tends to be fatal. The ancients believed that its bite was most painful and its venom most potent during the months of October and November while the constellation Scorpio reigns in the sky. Its sting was considered most harmful to the innocent and virgins were certain to die from it. [Pliny's Natural History] Scorpions were sometimes used as synonyms for the venomous snakes found in biblical texts, especially if these were symbols of Satan and the wicked.
The Lord led the Israelites safely through a wilderness filled with scorpions and armed His disciples with the authority to trample upon scorpions; indicating that his followers would triumph over the venomous attacks of the Devil. [Deu 8:15; Luke 10:19] He taught that just as a man would never respond to his son's request for an egg by giving the child a scorpion, neither would our heavenly Father so trick us. [Lk 11:11-12] The chemicals in a scorpion's venom may cause great anxiety in its victims. Therefore, God equates the barbs and threats of the wicked with the stings of scorpions and tells the prophet Ezekiel not to be afraid even though he dwells "among scorpions." [Ezek 2:6]
Scorpio is the eighth sign of the zodiac and rules the period between October 24 and November 22. It was thought to influence the sex organs - so much so that some early Christians believed that sexual temptations were especially hard to resist at this time of year. Hebrews called this constellation Akrab (scorpion) which also means "war." Akrab was the symbol of the tribe of Dan because Jacob had prophesied while blessing his sons that, "Dan shall be a serpent by the way, a viper by the path, that bites the horse's heels so that its rider shall fall backward." [Gen 49:17] It is thought that this prophecy refers to the heroes of Dan such as blind Samson who appeared to be rendered harmless but then struck suddenly, pulling the temple of Dagon down upon his enemies. [Judges 16:23-30]
E.W. Bullinger wrote that the signs of Scorpio and Orion represent the enmity placed between the serpent and Eve's seed in the Garden of Eden. [Gen 3:15] He equates Scorpio's sting with the bite of the serpent and Orion with the Son of Man who is crucified, thereby bruising Satan's head. He says that Scorpio's sting represents the times Satan tried to destroy the line of David and prevent the birth of the Messiah; in effect, bruising His heel. These assaults upon the line of David include: Pharaoh's decree to kill every male child born among the Hebrews [Ex 1:22]; Athaliah's murder of the royal heirs [2 Ki 11:1-3]; Haman's plot to destroy all the Jews in Persia [Esther 3:5-14]; and Herod's slaughter of the innocents. [Mat 2:16; see The Witness of the Stars by E.W. Bullinger]
Scorpio, rising at the onset of winter, is generally considered an enemy of the light and solar gods or heroes. He is usually the bad guy in mythology. The constellation of Orion is said to be the image of the Greek giant Orion, hunting companion of the goddess Artemis. It is said that he forever flees before the scorpion which Apollo, jealous of the attentions his sister paid the hunter, sent to murder him. When Helios allowed his son Phaethon to drive the chariot of the sun, Scorpio lashed out at the misguided steeds causing them to rear and toss the youth nearly out of his chariot. In Egypt, the scorpion is a symbol of Set. After killing Osiris, Set sent scorpions to kill Horus, the infant son of his victim but Isis revived the child with a magical spell. The scorpion, representing death, destruction, and wickedness, is the antithesis of the scarab which symbolizes life, the sun, goodness, and Horus. Because of this, the scarab is sometimes pictured trampling the scorpion under its feet. In Babylonian mythology, Gilgamesh found his journey to discover the secret of immortality temporarily threatened when he found his way through the mountains blocked by scorpion-men. These, however, were persuaded to let him pass.
In spite of its poisonous sting and its reputation for hatred and savagery, the scorpion was a symbol of maternal self-sacrifice and mother goddesses such as Ishtar and Isis. It was believed to die giving birth to its young since, instead of being born in the usual manner, they ate their way into this world through their mother's stomach. Among the Mayan, scorpions were emblems of female circumcision and other surgeries.
The scorpion's sting could also be directed at enemies and so amulets in the form of scorpions were worn in many cultures as a protection against evil. It was thought that the scorpion produced both venom and anti-venom. In some areas this made it an emblem of resurrection. Selket, the Egyptian goddess and protectress of the dead had the head of a scorpion.
In the Bible, the scorpion's sting is an instrument of divine retribution. When the fifth trumpet of Revelation sounds, locusts with the tails of scorpions come out of the bottomless pit to sting those people who do not have the seal of God upon their foreheads. They are allowed to punish humankind for five terrible months. [Rev 9:3-10]
Scorpions are also symbols of Africa, veracity, the earth, dialectic, and logic.
All scripture quotes are from the NKJV Bible unless otherwise indicated.
Read more about scorpions at:
Scorpion Sting Syndrome
Scorpion du jour
The Scorpion - Featured Pest
Gordon's Scorpion Page
© 1998 by Suzetta Tucker