My heart is stirred by a noble theme
as I recite my verses for the king;
my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer.
You are the most excellent of men
and your lips have been anointed with grace,
since God has blessed you forever.
Daughters of kings are among your honored women;
at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.
Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention.
Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.
Psalm 45, 1-2, 9-11
Then Bethsabee came to king Solomon, to speak to him for Adonias:
and the king arose to meet her, and bowed to her, and sat down upon
his throne: and a throne was set for the king’s mother, and she sat on
his right hand.
1 Kings 2, 19
“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called
the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the
throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Luke 1, 31-33
In the historic period of ancient Israel, there stood a throne next to the one occupied by the king in the royal house of David. This throne at his right was reserved for the king’s mother who served as queen. The position of the Queen Mother or “Great Lady” (Gebirah) was a privilege of the highest honor and authority for a woman of the kingdom of Judah. The Gebirah was an extremely powerful and influential figure in ancient Jewish culture; she directed all domestic matters and had the final word among all the women of the royal household – including the king’s wives. Unlike the Queen Mother, the king’s spouses were given the primary task of bearing and raising their husband’s offspring and potential heirs to the throne.
The Gebirah alone acted as a close adviser to her son and as an advocate to the people. Anyone who had a petition to present or sought an audience with the king was formally expected to approach him through the mediation of his mother and by her patronage. This was the case when Adonijah sought a high-ranking bride from his half-brother Solomon through Queen Mother Bathsheba’s intercession. Solomon’s gesture of placing his mother’s throne at the right of his is believed by many Catholics to be a foreshadowing of Mary’s Assumption and Coronation in Heaven, where she acts as our Queen Mother and advocate next to the heavenly throne of her divine Son and King in the order of grace (Mk. 10:40).
Historically, what was temporally instituted in the Kingdom of Judah foreshadowed the kingdom that God would establish from all eternity and which should embrace people from all the nations of the earth with Christ as the King of kings. There is no reason why our Lord and King, the son of David, would abolish an office to which his mother was entitled to by Divine sanction. God’s plan would certainly lack perfection if there were no eternal Queen Mother sitting on a heavenly throne next to her royal Son. What God had prepared in the Old Dispensation was for fulfilling in the New. The office of the Gebirah continued to exist from the time of King Solomon while there were righteous Davidic kings ruling in Judah until 587 B.C., the year when the southern kingdom of Judah fell to the Babylonians.
God did not promise an uninterrupted Davidic monarchy, but rather an unbroken line of descendants of David who would be eligible to inherit his throne. Its re-establishment is forever with Jesus having ascended to the throne for all eternity. Jesus could trace his line only legally through Joseph since the latter was not his natural father. But as the fruit of Mary’s womb, he could trace his bloodline back to David and rightfully claim his royal inheritance as foretold: ‘The LORD has sworn in truth to David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of your body will I set on your throne’ (Ps. 132:11; Lk. 1:42). This is one reason why God chose to become incarnate by being “made of a woman” (Gal. 4:4), and why the Son had to have a natural mother in his humanity.
It was all part of God’s perfect plan. God did promise David an eternal dynasty, despite the northern kingdom’s rejection of Solomon’s son Rehoboam and the destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, which finally brought an end to the temporal rule of the Davidic kings in anticipation of the Messiah and the culmination of the Davidic kingdom in the New Dispensation with Jesus as King and Mary as his Queen Mother. (2 Sam. 7: 8-13).
The kingdom of Israel (David and Solomon ruled when Israel was still united.) prefigures the kingdom of Heaven despite the interruption in the Davidic monarchical line of succession. It was because of their wickedness and unjust rule, King Jehoiachin and the Queen Mother Nehusta eventually lost their crowns and were taken captive into exile by Nebuchadnezzar along with all the high-ranking people of Judah and its defeated warriors (Jer. 13: 18; 22: 24-26). King Zedekiah’s demise would soon follow because of his wickedness after having reigned over the lowest and poorest remnants of his kingdom. And his mother Queen Hamital would have to relinquish her crown as well at the fall of her son at the hands of the Babylonians and Chaldeans after her son’s rebellion against the Babylonian king (2 Kgs. 24: 12-24).
However, God’s kingdom would not end, now that the Davidic monarchy should temporally cease with Zedekiah, the parental uncle of Jehoiachin. Jeremiah makes God’s intentions clear in his metaphor of the two baskets of figs which prophetically alludes to the coming of God’s heavenly kingdom (Jer 24). The crowns which the Davidic kings and their queen mothers had to forfeit should forever be replaced on the heads of the King of kings and the Queen of queens in God’s eternal kingdom of the New Dispensation. God’s oath to David came to be realized in Jesus, the son of Mary. ‘And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” (Lk 1:31-32). ‘And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” ‘(Lk 1:42); ‘Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh’ (Rom 1:3); ‘Remember that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and was descended from David’ (2 Tim 2:8). Jesus’ bloodline can be traced only through his mother Mary, who alone has provided all the genetic material and our Lord’s flesh. His blood mixed with his mother’s royal blood in her womb.
St. Luke has quite a different account of the genealogy of Jesus from what we have in the Gospel of Matthew. Unlike Matthew, he wrote his Gospel to address the Gentiles who weren’t under the Mosaic Law. Jewish law stipulated that genealogies were to be through the line of the males, not the females. ‘So, Moses and Aaron took these men who had been designated and assembled the whole community on the first day of the second month. Every man of twenty years or more then declared his name and lineage according to clan and ancestral house’ (Num. 1:17-18).
In Luke 3:23-38, the genealogy goes from Jesus, through David, and back to Judah, continuing all the way back to Adam, and then finally to God. Luke, however, shows the descendant of David to be Nathan (v. 31) rather than Solomon, as in Matthew. This suggests the possibility that Luke’s genealogy is for a person other than Joseph; so, in that case, he would be tracing Jesus’ ancestry through Mary’s side of the family. We read: And Jesus himself was beginning about the age of thirty years; being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph, who was of Heli [Eli] who was of Mathat. (Lk.3, 23). This verse seems to say that Heli (Eli) is Joseph’s father, yet in the Gospel of Matthew we have Joseph being the son of Jacob.
So how can Joseph have two fathers? Surely, he had only one father. Certainly, the two Gospels can’t be contradicting each other. We have good reason to conclude, therefore, that to trace the bloodline of Jesus through Heli, we would first have to go through Mary, His mother. Heli would be the biological father of Mary, and the father – in – law of Joseph. Even though the name of Mary isn’t listed, to comply with Jewish social custom and legal procedure, it surely is implied. The Greek word used for “as it was supposed” is 'nomizo,' which means “to hold by custom or usage.”
We know that Jesus truly descended from David by bloodline, which could only have happened by his being the Son of Mary – the fruit of her womb. Luke’s genealogy through Mary is implied, but it is certain by the fact that Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ blood father. There was no human intercourse for the conception of Jesus, and so the Davidic bloodline couldn’t be traced through Joseph, apart from his legal Davidic lineage. Since it was customary to trace the son’s lineage through the father, God chose Joseph to be Mary’s husband and the earthly father of Jesus. She could marry Joseph because it was also customary for a couple of the same tribe to wed (Num. 36:6-7). Seeing that Luke traces Jesus’ genealogy through Mary all the way back to God through David and Adam, it is most appropriate to designate Mary not only as the Mother of God but also as the Queen Mother of God’s heavenly kingdom because of her royal blood which Jesus our Lord and King received through her.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house,
they saw the child with his mother Mary.
Then they prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Matthew 2, 10-11
The Judeo-Christians of the nascent Church perceived Mary to be the anti-type of the Gebirah in the royal line of David, and they saw the fulfillment of this institution in her Divine Maternity (Lk. 1:31-33, 35). St. Matthew affirms the continuation of this Jewish tradition in the New Dispensation by emphasizing Mary, the mother of Jesus, was with her Son when other kings came from afar to pay him tribute and present their gifts to him. Upon appearing to Mary, the archangel Gabriel did say to her: “The Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28). The Mother and the Son are portrayed as being closely related to each other in the Kingdom of Heaven by their royal line of descent.
Matthew's narrative is suggestive of the truth that anyone, including royal figures, who seeks access to the King and presents himself to him must do so with the Queen Mother at his side. No Gospel narrative is the least concerned with anything incidental or contains theologically insignificant elements. The phrase "mother of Jesus" isn't used as a kind of filler for the sake of providing colorful detail to a story, but rather a means to highlight the significance of their relationship. Mary’s filial relationship with Jesus is historical and eschatological in aspect, and so, the Gospel narrative confirms a traditional belief held by the first Christian Ecclesia as an offshoot of its past Judaic heritage: The Virgin Mary is "with" Jesus by being his mother. She was chosen to be the mother of our Lord and King to be intimately associated with him in his redemptive work and monarchical rule over all nations in the Messianic age.
This narrative highlights a royal affair that consists of characters of royal lineage, including Mary, from whom Jesus acquires the legitimacy of his royal pedigree and through whom his royal inheritance. Mary is her Son’s guarantor of his rightful claim to King David’s throne – not Joseph, which explains why his obvious presence there isn’t even mentioned. There is something about the Virgin Mary that Matthew wishes to underscore without any needless narration. Her maternal presence points to the pre-eminent royal office she holds by the grace of God in His heavenly kingdom.
At any rate, the Jews, who were the first to embrace the Christian faith, undeniably recognized Mary’s royal dignity and her privileges by her being the mother of their Lord and King in the line of David. They must have held the mother of their Lord (Adonai) in the highest esteem, whose efficacious patronage mustn’t be ignored. The deference they continued to show Mary after her Dormition and Assumption body and soul into heaven is clearly expressed in the words of her kinswoman Elizabeth: “Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”. And it is by Mary’s mediation or implicit advocacy that the infant John the Baptist is graced and leaps in his mother’s womb at the sound of her greeting (Lk. 1:43-44). It was customary for the Judeans to address the Gebirah as the “mother of my Lord” and King, especially when petitioning her for favors they sought to receive from her son (2 Sam 24:21).
‘Under your mercy we take refuge, O Mother of God.
Do not reject our supplications in necessity,
but deliver us from danger,
O you alone pure and alone blessed.’
Sub Tuum Praesidium
And coming to her, the angel said:
“Hail, full of grace!
The Lord is with thee.”
Luke 1, 28
The angel Gabriel did indeed acknowledge Mary’s royal dignity when he must have greeted her in genuflection. In the original Greek text, we have 'chaire kecharitomene': “Hail, O favored one by grace.” In ancient times, this form of salutation, “Hail” (chaire), was normally used for greeting and acclaiming royal figures. The term expressed loyalty and allegiance. Only on one other occasion in the New Testament is this expression used, and that is when the Roman soldiers mock Jesus by placing a crown of thorns on his head and a reed in his hand, because they had heard that Jesus claimed to be the king of the Jews: “Hail, King of the Jews!”: 'chaire basileus ton ioudaion' (Jn. 19:3). The angel greeted and praised the mother of our Lord in this manner since Mary is also the Queen of Angels.
Now, the word chaire can also be translated as “rejoice”, but sacred Scripture is often polyvalent. Words and symbols do in fact sometimes carry more than one underlying meaning. We can reasonably assume that this Greek word has a twofold meaning with respect to Mary. The word “rejoice” does apply to her from the perspective of her being designated as Daughter Zion, the personification of the virgin spouse of YHWH, Israel, from whom the Messiah comes into the world. We find it in the first part of Mary’s Canticle of Praise in Luke 1:46-49 which parallels the prophecies of Isaiah (61:10), Zechariah (2:10-11), and Zephaniah (3:14) about the restoration of Israel from exile through God’s saving intervention. With respect to Mary’s royal Davidic lineage, the word “Hail” is also proper, since it is on this occasion that the angel announces to Mary that she will conceive and bear a Son who shall eternally inherit the throne of his father David by being born of her ancestry (Lk. 1:31-33).
Gird your sword upon your hip, mighty warrior!
In splendor and majesty ride on triumphant!
In the cause of truth, meekness, and justice
may your right hand show your wondrous deeds.
Your arrows are sharp;
peoples will cower at your feet;
the king’s enemies will lose heart.
Your throne, O God, stands forever;
the king’s enemies will lose heart.
Your throne, O God, stands forever;
your royal sceptre is a sceptre for justice.
You love justice and hate wrongdoing;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings.
Psalm 45, 4-8
Solomon was the first king to grant his mother a high place in the administration of his kingdom, which he rightfully inherited from his father David who started his royal dynasty on Divine authority rather than by maternal privilege. He had no Queen Mother because he never inherited his throne. It was given to him by God in anticipation of the coming Messiah (2 Sam. 5:1-4). Yet, David promised his wife Bathsheba that her son Solomon would inherit his throne instead of Adonijah, the son of his other wife Abishag the Shunammite (1 Kgs. 1:28-31) and, by doing so, his royal dynasty would continue beginning with her as the guarantor of the ruling legitimacy of the king.
Again, there no longer was a maternal guarantor in line after the Jews were freed from captivity in Babylon and restored as a nation in Palestine. So, despite the interruption in the dynastic line of Davidic kings, this royal office of the Queen Mother could only be re-instituted by God Himself, if the dynasty were to continue with the Messiah inheriting David’s throne. Without the Gebirah, Jesus could still be king of his heavenly kingdom, but not of the House of David. There could be no continuing dynasty without the Virgin Mary being his Queen Mother. Our ‘Great Lady’ is indeed the trigger sign spoken of by the prophets about the restoration of the Davidic kingdom.
The Bible does not record the name of David’s mother, but in ancient Judaic tradition, the Talmud does (Baba Bathra, 91 a.). Her name was Nitzevet (Nisbeth), the daughter of Adael. The name Nitzevet derives from the Hebrew word 'nitzav,' which means “to stand.” We find the source in the Hebrew Bible: “For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf rose [nitzbat] upright; and behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf” (Gen. 37:7). Solomon apparently was the first king to grant his mother a high place in the administration of his kingdom which he rightfully inherited from his father David. However, David’s mother accompanied him to his coronation and stayed close to him during his reign to encourage and counsel him when facing his enemies in turbulent times. Nitzevet stood upright alongside her son and never deserted him while he ruled. She served as a precursor to what would eventually become a national institution in Solomon’s reign. Her name foreshadows the deference with which even the king’s wives were to approach the Gebirah.
Hence, unlike the Queen Mother, the king’s wives were not granted the prerogatives of a counselor and an advocate but were merely assigned the task of bearing and raising the king’s children, notably his sons who might become eligible heirs to the throne. The Gebirah was the most important woman in the kingdom of Judah and wielded the greatest influence over her son the king, more than all his wives combined. She was the sheaf which all other sheaves made obeisance to. So, sacred Scripture confirms the historic Christian tradition of the Virgin Mary’s Queenship in Heaven to be authentic. It is in Heaven where our Blessed Queen Mother continues to serve as Advocatrix and Mediatrix of all saving grace by her prayerful intercession alongside the throne of grace.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head.
She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth…
The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth,
so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth
to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.”
And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
Revelation 12, 1-5
The “great sign” or “Great Lady” John sees in heaven is that of the restoration of the Davidic Messianic kingdom in the person of the Blessed Virgin Mary herself giving birth to the Messiah King. The nativity of Christ is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophetic signs of the restoration. Since the child who is born of the woman in the Apocalypse is our Messiah King, she must literally and historically be the Virgin Mary, though, from an allegorical perspective, the woman who appears can represent Israel and the Church (Rev. 12:5; Ps. 2:9). What is striking in this vision is that the woman is crowned, and she is the mother of a male child who will “rule all nations with a rod of iron.” In the ancient Davidic kingdom, only one member of the royal court was crowned besides the king himself, that being his Queen Mother who reigned with him enthroned by his side.
The Queen Mother was a “genuine, tangible, and biological representation” of the Davidic King’s royal lineage, so not unlike the Child (Jesus) and the Dragon (Satan), the woman (Mary) isn’t some corporate symbol or representation (Gary G. Michuta: Making Sense of Mary: Sophia). She’s as personal and real as the two other figures are, not only in Revelation 12 but also in Genesis 3:15 – the first Messianic prophecy. Saying “a great sign appeared in heaven” is another way of saying the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in heaven body and soul, she herself being the prophetic sign of the restoration of the Davidic kingdom by giving birth to our Messiah-King (Isa. 7:14).
Mary literally and historically gave birth to Jesus in joy in Bethlehem (Isa. 66:7-9) and figuratively in sorrow on Calvary (Jer. 4:10, etc.). In other words, it was after his crucifixion that Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to take his seat at the right hand of God. The royal authority of the male child was established after he was “caught up” into heaven (Rev. 12:5, 10). Mr. Michuta points out that during his public ministry, Jesus spoke of Calvary as being the place where the “prince of this world” or the Devil would be judged and “cast out” from heaven as our accuser, while he himself would be “lifted up” (Jn. 12:31-33; Rev. 12:9, 12). Our Lord and King’s enthronement in the kingdom of heaven by his ascension is forever, and since the King and his Queen Mother share similar fortunes and misfortunes, his blessed Mother Mary has been also lifted up into heaven by her glorious Assumption body and soul to take her royal seat at the right hand of her Son.
Thus, it was our Gebirah who the evangelist saw in heaven wearing her royal crown. Without Mary’s throne being situated alongside the throne of her Son, our Lord, and King, there can be no restoration of the Davidic monarchy and kingdom in view of God’s promise to David’s wife Bathsheba. The Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Heaven has been preordained by God from of old to guarantee her Son’s eternal claim to David’s throne. This Catholic belief is confirmed in sacred Scripture: “Go forth, ye daughters of Zion, and see King Solomon in the diadem wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals” (Song of Sol 3:11).
Marshal your troops now, city of troops, for a siege is laid
against us. They will strike Israel’s ruler on the cheek with a rod.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the
clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over
Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” Therefore,
Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor bears a son,
and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites.
Michah 5, 1-3
Early Sacred Tradition
“O Virgin most pure, wholly unspotted, O Mary, Mother of God, Queen of the universe, thou art
above all the saints, the hope of the elect and the joy of all the blessed. It is thou who hast reconciled
us with God; thou art the only refuge of sinners and the safe harbour of those who are shipwrecked;
thou art the consolation of the world, the ransom of captives, the health of the weak, the joy of the
afflicted, and the salvation of all. We have recourse to thee, and we beseech thee to have pity on us.
St. Ephraim of Syria
Prayer to the Immaculate Queen
(ante A.D. 373)
“Hail, our desirable gladness;
Hail, O rejoicing of the Churches;
Hail, O name that breathes out sweetness;
Hail, face that radiates divinity and grace;
Hail, most venerable memory…”
St. Theodotus of Ancyra
(ante A.D. 446)
“Raised to heaven,
she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart,
interceding for us before her Son and God.”
St. Theoteknos of Livias
(ante. 560 AD)
“The bright spiritual dawn of the Sun of Justice, [our Lady Mary], has gone to dwell and shine in His
brilliance; she is called there by the one who rose from her, and who gives light to all things.
Through her, that overwhelming radiance pours the rays of His sunshine upon us, in mercy and
compassion, rekindling the souls of the faithful to imitate, as far as they can, His divine kindness
and goodness. For Christ our God, who put on living and intelligent flesh, which He took from the
ever-Virgin and the Holy Spirit, has called her to Himself and invested her with an incorruptibility
touching all her corporeal frame; He has glorified her beyond all measure of glory, so that she, His
holy Mother, might share His inheritance…“the Queen of mortal man, the most holy Mother of God.”
St. Modestus of Jerusalem
On the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God
(ante A.D. 634)
“Concerning the holy and much-lauded ever-virgin one, Mary, the Mother of God, we have said
something in the preceding chapters, bringing forward what was most opportune, viz., that strictly
and truly she is and is called the Mother of God. Now let us fill up the blanks. For she being pre
ordained by the eternal prescient counsel of God and imaged forth and proclaimed in diverse
images and discourses of the prophets through the Holy Spirit, sprang at the pre-determined time
from the root of David, according to the promises that were made to him. For the Lord has sworn, He
says in truth to David, He will not turn from it: of the fruit of Your body will I set upon Your throne.
And again, Once have I sworn by My holiness, that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for
ever, and His throne as the sun before Me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a
faithful witness in heaven. And Isaiah says: And there shall come out a rod out of the stem of Jesse
and a branch shall grow out of his roots… “Must there not therefore be a Mother of God who bore
God incarnate Assuredly she who played the part of the Creator’s servant and mother is in all
strictness and truth in reality God’s Mother and Lady and Queen over all created things.”
St. John of Damascus
An Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, 4:14
(ante A.D. 749)
Salve Regina Caeli!