Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I would like some information on the importance of the Queen Mother during the reign of the Davidic kings. I’ve heard Scott Hahn’s explanation that I Kings 2:19 shows the importance of the Queen Mother, (and thereby, Mary’s Queenship) but I wonder if anyone could point me to some reliable Jewish sources that would concur and describe the role and function of the Queen Mother w/ a King of Israel. Thanks so much, Kate
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The following is from a class at our church: I hope you enjoy.
Have you ever wondered why we as Catholics give so much devotion to Mary, why we treat her as Queen of Heaven? After all, Mary is Jesus’ mother, not His wife, and we all recognize that Jesus reigns as king in Heaven. The problem is, we are looking at kings and queens through the eyes of Medieval Europe, instead of through the Jewish eyes of ancient Israel.
When Solomon was king of Israel, he had over seven hundred wives, and hundreds of concubines, so who was his queen? They couldn’t all be queen. King Solomon had only one mother, Bathsheba. Thus, the mother traditionally reigned over Israel with the king, her son. She was called Gebirah, or “queen mother.” An example of this is found in 1 Kings 2:19-21, when Bathsheba comes to King Solomon to make a petition. He bows down to her, and then has her sit at his right hand. In their culture, where one was seated denoted one’s social status. To sit at King Solomon’s right hand meant that Queen Bathsheba was second in authority.
The queen mother had a special role in the kingdom of Israel - advocate. She brought the needs of the people before the king. We will again use Queen Bathsheba as our example. In 1 Kings 2:13-18, Adonijah asks Bathsheba to bring a request to King Solomon. Adonijah knows to go to Bathsheba, because she, as the queen mother, has the king’s ear. Bathsheba proceeds to make supplication to King Solomon in verses 19-21. Solomon says to Bathsheba, “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” (v. 20). Solomon has Bathsheba sit at his right hand, reserved for those second in command, and then tells her that he will do whatever she wants! This foreshadows the intercessory role of the Mother of Jesus, the greatest and last King of Israel. She, like her Old Testament counterparts, brings the petitions of her children before the throne of Jesus Christ in heaven.
Dear NotWorthy - Thanks so much for your reply - something I find interesting is that although Solomon says he will not refuse the request of his mother ((I KIngs 2:20) - he *does *refuse her request. Adonijah (who had unrightly proclaimed himself King instead of his brother Solomon) wanted Bathesheba to ask her son (Soloman) if Abishag could be his wife. This was a very loaded question, since Abishag had been declared the wife of David shortly before the King’s death (although the marriage had never been consumated). Adonijah knows the great significance, and possible insult to Solomon, of taking a “widow” of their father as his wife.
Likely, Bathsheba knows the implications of asking such a request of her son, but she makes Adonijah’s request known to Solomon. Solomon shows her great respect - bows down to her, places a throne at his right side and has her sit, and listens to her request. But here’s the thing - he does not honor her request. Not only that, he has Adoonijah executed because of the request (I Kings 2:24-25).
So in reference to Jesus as King and Mary as Queen, this seems to indicate that Jesus will listen respectfully to all her requests, but as King of the Universe, He will becide if the requests will be honored or not. . . and maybe if we ask Mary to make unjust requests of Jesus,* we* (like Adonijah*)* will be held responsible.
Can anyone please suggest respected Jewish texts that explain the role and function of the Davidic Queen Mother? I feel this would be very helpful in explaining this concept to my Protestant brothers and sisters. Thanks so muck, Kate
Here’s an article from Chistianity Today:
…The coronation of Mary in heaven should be understood against the Jewish background of early Christianity. In Judah, partly because of the Fourth Commandment (Ex. 20:12), the mother of the anointed king had a function of considerable importance, and her name is with only two exceptions associated with the accession of the king in the official annals.6 The king’s mother bore the powerful and prestigious title of Gebirah7 and received honors of the first order. She had an official place at the court, was mistress of the harem, had enough power to seize complete control over the nation (as did Athaliah in 842 B.C., 2 Kgs. 11:1-3), was sent into exile with the king (as was Nehushta in 597 B.C., Jer. 29:2), and could be deposed (as was King Asa’s idolatrous grandmother, Maacah, who first became queen mother during the reign of her son Abijam,1 Kgs. 15:2, 10,13, 2 Chron. 15:16). The was a monarchical institution and had a throne and a crown.8 As Jesus is the ultimate King of the Jews, fulfilling the messianic prophecy in 2 Samuel 7:10-17, it would be strange indeed if Mary did not have this crown as the ultimate queen mother. The monarchical nature of the kingdom of God, complete with queen mother, may be difficult to appreciate for those who live in a democratic culture, but it was something accepted as natural in early Christendom, as witnessed by the art and literature.
6. See 1 Kings 14:21; 15:2,10; 22:42; 2 Kings 8:26; 9:6-7,22; 12:1; 14:2; 15:2,33; 18:2; 22:1; 23:31,36; 24:18.
- Literally “lady” or “mistress,” used six times in the Bible and always as the title of a queen, whether the wife (1 Kgs. 11:19) or mother of a king (1 Kgs. 15:13, 2 Kgs. 10:13, 2 Chron. 15:16, Jer. 13:18, 29:2). It ought to be noted that the title is used only once in reference to the wife of a king, and even there it is used of Tahpenes, the queen of Egypt, and not of a queen of Judah, where the title is associated more with the queen mother.
- Compare Jeremiah 13:18, where the prophet proclaims to the eighteen-year-old Jehoiachin and the queen mother, Nehushta, “Say to the king and to the queen mother, ‘Come down from your thrones, for your glorious crowns will fall from your heads.’”
Finally, a reference to a Jewish source:
(found on this link: catholic-pages.com/bvm/hahn.asp )
The gebirah is the Hebrew term for the Queen Mother. I found in another book, The Graphic History of the Jewish Heritage, that the gebirah, the Queen Mother “occupied a unique and powerful position” throughout the history of ancient Israel’s monarchy. He gives as an example Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, who was enthroned, which we will look at in just a moment.
Kate - Re Likely, Bathsheba knows the implications of asking such a request of her son, but she makes Adonijah’s request known to Solomon. Solomon shows her great respect - bows down to her, places a throne at his right side and has her sit, and listens to her request. But here’s the thing - he does not honor her request. Not only that, he has Adoonijah executed because of the request (I Kings 2:24-25).
Re Bathsheba knowing the implications - note that someone who takes a bath under the king’s window is not the sharpest tack in the box. I think that she was a bit of a flake.
Re Honoring her request - note that Solomon had already pledged to honor it [1 Kng 2:20] he could not break his word; especially he could not break his word to his mother without violating the Fourth Commandment.
However, he could, and did, make sure that Adonijah did not benefit from his keeping his word. It wasn’t breaking his promise if Adonijah wasn’t there to receive Abishag. This is in keeping with Solomon’s reputation for wisdom; he knew how to get out of tough spots while remaining within the law.
Psalm 44:10-18 “The daughters of kings have delighted thee in thy glory. The queen stood on thy right hand, in gilded clothing; surrounded with variety. Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline thy ear: and forget thy people and thy father’s house. And the king shall greatly desire thy beauty; for he is the Lord thy God, and him they shall adore. And the daughters of Tyre with gifts, yea, all the rich among the people, shall entreat thy countenance. All the glory of the king’s daughter is within in golden borders, Clothed round about with varieties. After her shall virgins be brought to the king: her neighbours shall be brought to thee. They shall be brought with gladness and rejoicing: they shall be brought into the temple of the king. Instead of thy fathers, sons are born to thee: thou shalt make them princes over all the earth. They shall remember thy name throughout all generations. Therefore shall people praise thee for ever; yea, for ever and ever.”
Hmmm, if the Lord thy God is the king, who could this queen be? And who is praised for ever and ever? :hmmm: If I remember correctly, there was this one lady who said, all generations would call her blessed–maybe it’s her…