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Queen Mother in Old Testament

Queen Mother in Old Testament

– Answered by Father Johann Roten, S.M.

Q: Why and how is the Old Testament figure of the Queen Mother a type or model of Our Lady?

A: Comparing the queen mother tradition, as it existed in Israel to the queenship of Our Lady we can observe three principal elements:

1. A queen mother played a significant role in the establishment of her son upon the throne. "This does not simply mean that she conveyed 'royal blood' as a result of her marriage to the king, his father. There were usually many possible heirs to the throne and it often happened that the least likely candidate (from a legal point of view it was the first-born who should have succeeded to the throne) became king." Because the king had many wives, he entrusted the education of his children to their mothers. She chose the heir to the throne and hence she was responsible for his reign and closely linked with the exercise of his kingship.

Applied to Mary, we can observe that she too is closely related to Christ's kingship and her whole being is involved in the spread of His kingdom. In contrast to many of the queen mothers, Mary did not seek the throne for her Son because of any personal ambition. Her ministry was one of service, to the point of sacrificing her motherly rights for our sake.

2. The queen mother in Israel had a powerful influence in the kingdom. This power and authority flows from her status as Gebirah (queen mother) and not from her as a person. In Israel the queen mother preceded her son in existence, sometimes she would rule in his stead (Cf. 2 Kings 10:13: "We are kinsmen of Ahaziah," they replied. "We are going down to visit the princes and the family of the queen mother" and at times also abuse her authority. (Cf. 2 Jeremiah 13:18: "Say to the king and to the queen mother: come down from your throne.")

As Queen Mother Mary never rules in Christ's stead; she does not , command her Son, yet He is inclined to fulfill her wishes. Her authority in the kingdom is authentic but always dependent on the King. (Cf. John 2:5. 'Do whatever He tells you.')

3. The queen mother of Israel interceded in behalf of the subjects of the kingdom. She was their most powerful, and therefore preferred, advocate. Her specific place of honor and intercession is dramatically illustrated in the following passage from 1 Kings 2: 13-21:

"Adonijah, son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba. the mother of Solomon. "Do you come as a friend?" she asked. "Yes," he answered and added. "I have something to ask to you." She replied, "Say it." So he said, "There is one favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me." And she said, "Speak on." He said, "Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite for my wife." "Very well," replied Bathsheba, "I will speak to the king for you." Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right. "There is one small favor l would ask of you," she said. "Do not refuse me." "Ask It, my mother," the king said to her, "for I will not refuse you. So she said, "Let Abishag the Shunamite be given to your brother Adonijah for his wife."

Mary's queenly function consists in interceding on our behalf. It is anchored in her early role as Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the redeemed.

For more information see:

The Nature of the Queenship of Mary (1973) by George F. Kirwin and

L'intercession entre les hommes dans la bible hebraique by Francois Rossier (1997).

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