[Heb., sheʹmesh; Gr., heʹli·os].
The greater of earth’s two heavenly luminaries; the earth’s principal source of energy, without which life on earth would be impossible. The sun, together with the moon, also serves man as a timepiece for measuring the seasons, days and years. (Gen. 1:14-18) The sun is a gift from “the Father of the celestial lights,” who makes it shine upon all alike, the wicked and the good. (Jas. 1:17; Jer. 31:35; Matt. 5:45) Certainly the sun can be said to praise its magnificent Creator.—Ps. 148:3.
The sun is a star about 865,000 miles (1,392,000 kilometers) in diameter, more than a hundred times the diameter of the earth, and more than a million times the volume of the earth. Its average distance from the earth is nearly 93,000,000 miles (149,637,000 kilometers). The surface temperature of the sun is said to be about 11,000° F. (6,000° C.). But because of its great distance from the earth only about one two-billionth (one two-thousand-millionth) of its radiant energy reaches the earth, an amount, however, fully sufficient to provide ideal climatic conditions that make vegetable and animal life on earth possible.—Deut. 33:14; 2 Sam. 23:4.
JEHOVAH AND CHRIST MORE BRILLIANT
The surpassing brilliance and glory of Jehovah, the sun’s Creator, is indicated by the fact that his resurrected Son, in a partial revelation to Saul, presented a light “beyond the brilliance of the sun.” (Acts 26:13) In the holy city, New Jerusalem, there will be no need for the sun as light, for the “glory of God” will light it up and “its lamp” will be the Lamb.—Rev. 21:2, 23; 22:5.
GOD’S POWER OVER THE SUNLIGHT
The day Jesus was fastened to a torture stake, from the sixth hour (11 a.m. to 12 noon) until the ninth hour (2 to 3 p.m.) a darkness fell over all the land. (Matt. 27:45; Mark 15:33) Luke’s account adds that the darkness fell “because the sunlight failed.” (Luke 23:44, 45) This could not have been due to an eclipse of the sun by the moon, as some think, for the darkness occurred at Passover time, which was always the time of full moon. It is about two weeks later that the moon is new, that is, in the same direction as the sun from the earth (the time when solar eclipses occur).
Long before this occasion, Jehovah had demonstrated his ability to shut out the sunlight. This was when the Israelites were down in Egypt. During the ninth plague thick darkness enveloped the Egyptians with darkness that could “be felt.” It lasted for three days, longer than any eclipse of the sun by the moon. Also, in the nearby land of Goshen, the Israelites at the same time enjoyed light.—Ex. 10:21-23; see POWER, POWERFUL WORKS (Sun and moon stand still); SUNDIAL.
In answering his disciples’ question as to his presence and the conclusion of the system of things, Jesus predicted unusual darkening of the sun.—Matt. 24:3, 29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25; compare Isaiah 13:10; Joel 2:10, 31; 3:15; Acts 2:20; see HEAVEN (Darkening of the Heavens).
TIME AND DIRECTION
Time was often designated by references to the sun’s position. (Gen. 15:12, 17; 32:31; Deut. 16:6; Josh. 8:29; Judg. 9:33; 1 Sam. 11:9; Ps. 113:3) Direction was similarly indicated. (Deut. 11:30; Josh. 12:1) “Under the sun” was used to mean ‘anywhere (or everywhere) on earth.’ (Eccl. 5:18; 9:11) “Under the eyes” of the sun or “in front of the sun” meant in the open, for all to see.—2 Sam. 12:11, 12.
Jehovah God is called “a sun and a shield,” not that he is a nature god, but that he is the Source of light, life and energy. (Ps. 84:11) He is also spoken of as a shade to his people, so that “the sun itself will not strike” them. Here that which brings calamity is likened to the sun’s heat. (Ps. 121:6, 7) Persecution (Matt. 13:5, 6, 20, 21), also the divine anger, are sometimes represented by the scorching heat of the sun.—Rev. 7:16.
Jehovah likened rebellious Jerusalem to a woman who had borne seven sons, describing the judgment coming upon her by the figurative expression, “Her sun has set while it is yet day,” that is, before the evening of her life was reached she would experience calamity. This was fulfilled when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem. (Jer. 15:9) In similar vein, Micah prophesied against the prophets misleading Israel: “The sun will certainly set upon the prophets, and the day must get dark upon them.” (Mic. 3:6; compare Amos 8:9.) Jehovah’s Kingdom rule is pictured as so bright that it can be said, in comparison: “The full moon has become abashed, and the glowing sun has become ashamed.” (Isa. 24:23) Jesus said that, at the conclusion of the system of things, “the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—Matt. 13:39, 43; compare Daniel 12:3; see LIGHT.
During King Josiah’s cleansing work, “he put out of business the foreign-god priests, whom the kings of Judah had put in that they might make sacrificial smoke . . . to the sun and to the moon.” “Further, he caused the horses that the kings of Judah had given to the sun to cease from entering the house of Jehovah . . . and the chariots of the sun he burned in the fire.” (2 Ki. 23:5, 11) Later, the prophet Ezekiel, down in Babylon, was given a vision of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem. There he saw twenty-five men between the porch and the altar, “bowing down to the east, to the sun.” (Ezek. 8:16) Such disgusting practices brought Jerusalem to ruin in 607 B.C.E., when Jehovah’s instrument Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the city and the temple.—Jer. 52:12-14.