Here on the desk beside me is a copy of the book, QUEEN MOTHER: A BIBLICAL THEOLOGY OF MARY’S QUEENSHIP. By Edward Sri (Emmaus Road Publishing, 827 North Fourth St., Steubenville, Ohio 43952, 2005).
This work is his doctoral thesis defended and approved February 20, 2001 at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, Rome. The book is heavily footnoted – there are 116 pages of text and 85 pages of footnotes in very small print.
Beginning on p. 50, Sri covers “The Queen Mother’s Influence in the Kingdom” which he breaks down into three categories: Royal Authority, Advocate, and Counselor. I will cover the first aspect of her influence in this post.
Sri demonstrates the royal authority of the Queen Mother by referring to three passages of scripture:
1 Kings 2:19
When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.
“This account reveals the sovereign prerogatives of the queen mother. As one scholar points out, ‘Nowhere else in the Bible does the king honor someone as Solomon does the Gebirah.’ Note how the king rises and bows as the queen mother enters, and not his commitment to her petitions. Most of all, Bathsheba’s seat at the king’s right hand has the greatest significance. In the Bible, to sit at the right hand is to be given the place of ultimate honor. ‘She was seated at his right, the place offered to the king by God (Psalm 110:1), i.e., she took precedence above all others.’ Thus, the queen mother sitting at the king’s right hand symbolizes her sharing in the king’s royal authority and illustrates how she holds the most important position in the kingdom, second only to the king.” (Ibid., p. 51)
2 Kings 11:1-3
1 When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram [a] and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. 3 He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.
“Ahaziah’s sudden death after a short one-year reign left the kingdom with sons who were too young to rule. This power vacuum left the door open for Athaliah, who used her influence in the kingdom to secure full dynastic authority for herself. She massacred the royal family and proceeded to rule the kingdom for seven years (while Jehosheba kept one royal son in hiding). The fact that Athaliah was able to get away with this and continue to rule the kingdom in the absence of a king points to her strong power base and demonstrates the high ranking of the queen mother’s office” (Ibid., p51-52).
Jeremiah 13:18, 20
18 Say to the king and to the queen mother, "Come down from your thrones, for your glorious crowns will fall from your heads… 20 Lift up your eyes and see those who are coming from the north. Where is the flock that was entrusted to you, the sheep of which you boasted?
In his article published in This Rock magazine, Sri states:
“Her royal office is also described by the prophet Jeremiah, who tells how the queen mother possessed a throne and a crown, symbolic of her position of authority in the kingdom… It is significant that God directed this oracle about the upcoming fall of Judah to both the king and his mother. Addressing both king and queen mother, Jeremiah portrays her as sharing in her son’s rule over the kingdom.” (Is Mary’s Queenship Biblical?, Edward P. Sri, PhD, This Rock, 1998, catholic.com/thisrock/1998/9812fea2.asp ).
Expanding on this further in his doctoral thesis, Sri asks:
"Why would the queen mother be addressed in this oracle? Again, this points to her preeminent position in the kingdom. By addressing both the king and his mother, this passage seems to recognize the queen mother’s important role in the royal court. First, in ominous royal imagery pointing to their downfall, the king and queen are told to ‘take a lowly seat’—symbolizing how they both will soon lose their thrones. Second, both are told that they will lose their crowns—again foreshadowing their imminent fall from authority (Jer. 13:18; cf. Jer. 22:26, 29:2). Third, it is interesting to note how this oracle portrays the people of Judah has being shepherded by both the king and queen mother. ‘Where is the flock that was given to you, your beautiful flock?’ Thus, the prophet seems to understand that the queen mother had a shared role in ruling the kingdom.” (Queen Mother, p. 52)
In closing, the influence of the queen mother’s royal authority in the Davidic kingdom is clearly demonstrated from scripture. Her advocacy (seen in the account of Solomon and Bathsheba), as well as her role as counselor (see Proverbs 31), can be demonstrated as well.