The Gebirah: Our Advocating Queen Mother



This article will begin by examining the titles of Queen Mother and Advocate found in the Old Testament Scriptures and most importantly, the Kingdom of David. It will then focus on the Queen in the words of God’s messengers. Next we will examine her roles in relation to the New Covenant and our final goal will be to demonstrate her Queenship and Advocacy in light of Sacred Tradition and the magisterial documents. I wish to begin with a statement from an encyclical of Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam: Already from the earliest centuries of the Catholic Church, the Christian people have addressed suppliant prayers and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven, both when they had reason to rejoice and particularly when they were beset by serious troubles. The hope placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ, has never failed. There has never been a weakening of that faith by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with her maternal heart over the entire world, just as she is crowned with the diadem of royal glory in heavenly blessedness. {footnote} Pius XII, Ad Caeli Reginam, p. 1 {/footnote} The Queen Mother in the Old Covenant The Queenship of Mary finds its origins in the Old Testament scripture passage of Genesis 3:15, the Protoevangelium (first gospel). Mary, Our Queen, is understood to be in close association with Christ in the redemption of mankind after the Fall of Adam and Eve. Under and through the title of Co-Redemptrix: Mediatrix of All Grace, she shares subordinately with Christ his everlasting Kingship. Our Lord through his redemption receives his title of King and through this title he and Mary overcome the sin of Adam and Eve and transformed humanity’s conquering of sin and death. William G. Most best summarizes this in his article, Queen of the Universe, when he states, Jesus is the King throughout all eternity by nature and by right of conquest; through Him, with Him, and subordinate to Him, Mary is Queen of Grace, by divine relationship, by right of conquest, and by singular choice. (William G. Most, Queen of the Universe, p. 179) J.B. Carol states that a few other passages in the Old Testament scriptures that have often been connected with the Queenship of Mary, however, these are not to be used for biblical arguments but only as renderings (side note: Carol says this because at the time when his book was published, 1956, the Holy Ghost had not yet conveyed Mary’s Queenship through these passages). With that being said, we should look at these since they do make perfect sense for the Queenship of Mary. The first passage is Psalm 45:10, which states, “Here, O Daughter, consider, and incline you ear; forget your people and your father’s house…” The daughter is making reference to the queen. Eventually Mary is known as the Daughter of Zion. The next two passages come from the Book of Esther – 2:17 and 5:3. Esther 2:17 states, “…the king loved Esther more than all the woman, and she found grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.” We know that Esther is one of the women from the Old Testament that represents Mary for she too is a Queen Mother. This passage though is packed full of Marian language when it says that she was loved more than all other woman and is found with grace and favor. These are nearly the identical words when the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary at the Annunciation. Esther 5:3 states, “And the king said to her, “What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given to you, even to the half of my kingdom.” This passage relates to Queen Esther and her intercession for the Israelites. Mary is Our Queen Mother who goes before the King to intercede for us. With this being said, let us turn our direction and understand where Mary’s Queenship and Advocacy originates in the Davidic Kingdom. The Advocating Queen Mother In a region long known for its many nations and peoples, Israel’s monarchy grew alongside those other Near East kingdoms where a human king ruled. The Israelites seeing these gentile kingdoms with their kings as head wished to be like them. God’s original plan for his people was that he would be their king (1 Samuel 8:7), but the people of Israel begged, pleaded, and cried out for a human king to rule them. “We will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:19-20). God in his infinite hesed (covenant love) allowed the people to have their king. However, God allows the kingdom for his glory and the glory that would come when he would send his Son to them. Allegorically, the kingdom of Israel would lead to the kingdom of God. (Scott Hahn, Hail, Holy Queen, p. 78-79.) Most of the gentile cultures of the time practiced polygamy so it was difficult for a king to pick which wife would rule with him. Instead of a wife as queen, he chose his mother to be queen. Within the kingdom of ancient Israel, the king’s mother was given dominion over the king’s wives. The title the Queen Mother was given was the – Gebirah – or “Great Lady.” She ruled over the kingdom as queen. (Edward Sri, S.T.D, Advocate and Queen, p. 468.) There are many texts throughout the Old Testament scriptures that refer to the queen mother. Some of these include: 1 Kings 2:19, Jeremiah 13:18, and Proverbs 31. The queen mother played an important role all the time, but most of all in times of transition from one king to the next. As queen mother she had a great influence. (ibid, p. 469.) In 1 Kings 2:19, the queen (Bathsheba) sits at the right hand of the king (Solomon) on a seat (throne – royalty) which is brought to her. Before the seat is brought to her, the king stands to greet her and bows down showing respect for his mother and queen. “She served as an advocate, taking petitions from the people and presenting them to the people.” (Ibid, p. 471.) In Jeremiah 13:18, the queen mother is mentioned along side of the king – “say to the king and the queen mother: Take a lowly seat, for your beautiful crown has come down from your head.” Jeremiah is prophesying that both the king and queen would eventually lose their thrones for the way they treated the people of God. It was the primary mission of the king and queen mother to serve the people and to see to their needs. Throughout the history of Israel that was not always the case. (Ibid, p. 470.) In Proverbs 31, we see the Esheth Yahil (woman of valor). This woman is also a queen mother, who gives advice and direction to her kingly son. The queen mother was not just a “figurehead”, but guided the king on a variety of issues he would have to face on a daily basis – serving the poor, finding a wife, and even in the field of politics. The queen mother had dominion over her son’s kingdom. (ibid, p. 469, 471.) So as we have seen the queen mother holds an executive status in the kingdom where she helps her son rule. She is venerated, coroneted, and acts as the intercessory for the people, just as Mary today for the Church. As Hahn says, “As a political adviser and even strategist, as an advocate for the people, and as a subject who could be counted on for frankness, the queen mother was unique in her relationship to the king. (Hahn, p. 82) Furthermore, Marie-Michel Philipon, O.P. says, Mary, then, is queen, but queen in the way of a mother, serving all her children, guiding them in their most personal and intimate life, not so much by law and precept as by kindly prompting and persuasion, with an affectionate smile on her countenance as she goes about bestowing a mother’s tender care on all her children, on the lowliest no less than on the more fortunate. In fact, the more humble and lowly her children, the more mother she is to them. And the more we put ourselves in Mary’s guiding care, the more quickly she leads us up to God. In union with Christ, Mary guides the entire Church militant on the road to the City of God. But Mary’s rule is marked, above all, by the supreme grace of her motherhood. She rules and directs souls with the power of a mother’s smile and the irresistible attraction of a mother’s sweetness. With a mother’s intuition she is ever alert, one might say, to yield to the supremely sovereign and kingly action of her son, keeping herself in the background, for even in her own sovereign rule over the universe Mary is “more mother than queen. (St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Novissima verba, August 23, 1897). (Marie-Michel Philipon, O.P., More Mother Than Queen, p. 214.) The Queen Mother in Isaiah In Isaiah’s prophecy (7:14), we see the importance of the queen mother because this scripture passage has Davidic kingdom language. It’s important to note since it will be the Davidic kingdom that will be fulfilled in the New Covenant with Jesus and Mary. Isaiah’s prophecy comes at a time of great distress. The kingdom of Judah is on the verge of being invaded by Syria. The king of Judah, Ahaz, is scared because his kingdom is nearly over. Isaiah goes to Ahaz to reassure him that if he trusts and dedicates his kingdom to the Lord, his kingdom will be saved from the invading threat. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but out of fear and testing the Lord, he refuses (Is 7:1-12). Since Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign, Isaiah gives him one anyway when he says, Here then O house of David! Is it too late for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel (Is 7:13-14). This prophecy literally is speaking of “Emmanuel” as Christ and “the virgin” as Mary. This interpretation is what most Catholics adhere too. There are false interpretations, but this is not the time to speak of those. Furthermore, this interpretation is backed by the revelation we receive through the Gospel of St. Matthew (more on this shortly) when he speaks of the virginal conception of Christ in reference to Isaiah. The Church Fathers and the magisterial documents give their approval of this interpretation countless times. More so, the prophecy of Isaiah is speaking of Christ as Emmanuel. The prophecy is in direct correlation with Mary’s virginity and motherhood. (Carol, p. 33.) The young woman (almah) who is conceiving and bearing the child Emmanuel (Davidic king) is understood as the mother of this king. The mother bearing this kingly child would be known as the queen mother. (Sri, p.473) In reference to the term – almah, there are three points I would like to make. First, the term is always a virginal context in the Old Testament. Secondly, in the Greek Septuagint, the term – parthenos – can only mean virgin. And thirdly, divine exegesis on this passage in Matthew 1 speaks of the birth that fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah.

As Carol says, …in the other six biblical passages in which that term is used (for example, Genesis 24:43; Exodus 2:8; Canticles 1:2 and 6; Psalm 68:26; and Proverbs 30:18-19) virginity in the strict sense is implied. Furthermore, it must be recalled that the Hebrew text does not say: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. . . ,” but more exactly and literally: “Behold the virgin (is) pregnant and (is) bearing a son. . .” In other words, the young maiden is described by the prophet as retaining her virginity while conceiving and bearing her offspring. (Carol, p. 34) And as Peter Kreeft says, Mary is “the Blessed Virgin”. She makes virginity blessed. This does not lessen the value of sex and marriage; it raises their value. The point of the Virgin Birth is not something negative but something positive: Christ’s divinity. The Church has always taught that Mary is Aeiparthenos – “ever-virgin” – before, during, and after Christ’s birth. (Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity, p. 407.) The Advocating Queen Mother in the New Covenant Now that we discussed the role of the Queen Mother in the Old Covenant, let us now turn our attention to the New Covenant and how her role is played out in the kingdom of God. The New Testament scriptures that we will examine are the following: The Birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38) and Mary Visit Elizabeth (Luke 1:39-45), The Genealogy of Jesus and the Infancy Narrative (Matthew 1 & 2), The Woman and the Dragon (Revelation 12:1-6), and The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12). In his gospel, St. Luke draws many comparisons between the Davidic kingdom and the Annunciation. Mary’s primary role here is the Mother of the Messiah. St. Luke writes with great detail in his gospel when he says how Mary is betrothed to a man “from the house of David.” St. Luke wants to show that Jesus is the Davidic heir. When the angel Gabriel comes to Mary, he is coming to his queen. The announcement that he proclaims fulfills the scripture passage of 2 Samuel 7 that was professed to David. Gabriel uses the term “Son of the Most High” when speaking about the child Mary would bear. This term – “Son of the Most High” was often used in the Old Covenant to describe God. Using this title for Jesus shows how he is in a direct filial relationship with God. (Sri, p. 474) It was also a term often used to describe the Davidic king. The angel continues to explain to Mary how her child will sit on “the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32). This is in direct correlation and fulfills what the prophet (Nathan) says “He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (2 Samuel 7:13-14). The entire passage clearly shows that the child will be a king and that Mary will be the mother of the king. The theology of the queen mother in the New Testament finds it origin here at the Annunciation. (Ibid, p. 476.) Mary’s Fiat enables her role, as Co-Redemptrix and that she would be the mother of the future Davidic king. Carol says, In a very true sense, then, God made the Redemption of the world dependent upon Mary’s consent; and she gave it knowingly and willingly. This consent was undoubtedly ratified on Calvary when she stood at the foot of the cross suffering with her Son (Luke 2:35) and indeed for the selfsame purpose, namely the reconciliation of God and man. (Carol, p. 62.) Now as we look to the next passage from St. Luke’s gospel, there is one line that Elizabeth says to Mary that has a great amount of royal importance to it. The title that Elizabeth greets Mary with – “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). Elizabeth’s greeting is prophetic in the sense that Jesus is called Lord and it shows that he will be placed on an equal plane with God. She also realizes that the Mother of her Lord, who is to be the Messiah, is coming to greet her (this is the fulfillment of Araunah greeting David, see 2 Samuel 24:21). The title – “the mother of my Lord” not only is in reference to Jesus as Messiah, but there are some rather important implications for Mary as well. Elizabeth is saying that Mary is the mother of her king. Mary is not just the mother of Jesus, but also the mother of Jesus who is Lord, Messiah and King. (Sri, p. 477.) Simply put, Sri says, “In other words, Elizabeth, in greeting Mary as “the mother of my Lord,” refers to her as mother of the Messiah-king.” (Ibid, p. 477-478.) Calling her the queen mother makes perfect sense to Luke since he is connecting the royal Old Testament title with Mary. Pope Pius XII eloquently speaks on both of this Lucan verses when he says,

…the basic principle upon which Mary’s royal dignity rests, a principle already evident in the documents handed down by elders long ago and in the sacred liturgy, is without doubt her divine maternity. In the sacred scriptures we read this statement about the Son whom the Virgin will conceive: “He shall be called great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he shall be king over the house of David forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” And furthermore, Mary is called the “Mother of the Lord”. From this it is easily deduced that she too is Queen since she brought forth a Son who, at the very moment that he was conceived, was, by reason of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, even as man, King and Lord of all things. As a result, St. John Damascene could rightly and deservedly write these words: “Truly she has ce she is the mother of the Creator”. And it can likewise be said that the first one who with heavenly voice announced Mary’s royal office was Gabriel the Archangel himself. (Pius XII, #34, p. 8) Dr. Mark Miravalle also speaks of Mary’s Advocating role as Queen Mother in the Lucan Infancy Narrative, In the New Testament, with the establishment of Jesus Christ as the new and eternal King in the universal Kingdom of God (c.f. Lk. 1:32ff.), we also have the establishment of a new Queen Mother and Advocate, who is Mother of the King. The Virgin of Nazareth becomes the new “Great Lady” of all nations contained within the Kingdom of God, an as well becomes the new Advocate for all the peoples within this universal Kingdom. It is for this reason that her cousin Elizabeth greets Mary with the expression, “Mother of my Lord,” which was an ancient expression for the Queen Mother in the language of the ancient Semitic courts. (Mark Miravalle, Introduction to Mary, p. 115.) Now our attention turns to Matthew 1 & 2. Matthew begins his gospel by giving us the genealogy of Jesus Christ, which he traces back to King David. The reason Matthew does this is to show that Jesus is not just some descendant of David, but is the Son of David. Matthew’s infancy narrative is grounded in the Davidic Kingdom. Matthew refers to Jesus as the “christos” (in Hebrew, masiah) five times in the first two chapters of his gospel because he wants to prove that the Jesus is the king who has been prophesied by the prophets and that he will rule over the house of David forever. He is “the son of David”. (Sri, p. 478.) After tracing his genealogy, Matthew continues to show that both Jesus and David were born in Bethlehem. He also describes the visit by the Magi who are in search of the “newborn king.” The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh are royal in nature (see Song of Solomon 3:6). Matthew also points to the Virginal Birth of Emmanuel in Isaiah and Micah’s prophecy regarding Bethlehem. Within in the Davidic Kingdom structure, Matthew points to three ways that Jesus and his mother are royally related. Matthew first points to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Mary is acknowledged as the parthenos. This speaks of the prophecy from Isaiah and how the child Emmanuel would be born of a virgin – a queen mother. Secondly, Matthew shows numerous times how the newborn king and his mother are always with one another. The passage “the child and his mother” (vs. 11, 13, 14, 20, 21) harkens back to the Davidic kingdom and how the queen mother was introduced with her kingly son. (Ibid, p. 479.) And thirdly, Mary plays an important role when the magi come to visit the “king of the Jews” (2:2). Even though Joseph is mentioned many more times than Mary in the Infancy Narrative as a whole, it is she who plays the center role with Jesus. The reason why Mary plays a more important role than Joseph is because she is the Queen Mother to the Messianic King – Jesus Christ. Let us continue now by understanding the Queen Mother in light of Revelation 12. While critics have interpreted the “woman clothed with the sun” differently – some speak of her as a representation for the People of God in the Old Testament while others see her as the representative of the people of God generally speaking. There is no doubt that the “woman clothed with the sun” is Mary. (Ibid, p. 481.) The interpretation from a Marian perspective clearly identifies this woman as Mary since Revelation 12 speaks of the woman as a mother of the Messiah. Once this is established and understood, Revelation 12 clearly shows the Queenship of Mary. In Part 1 of Who is the Woman of the Apocalypse?, John Haffert begins by stating, “A great portent appears in the heavens: “A woman wearing the sun for a mantle, with the moon under her feet, and wearing a crown of twelve stars.” (Apoc. 12:1) The Church applies this passage of the book of the Apocalypse (now generally known as the book of Revelation) to the Mother of Jesus. What title should we give to her as she appears clothed as it were in atomic power, crowned with stars and about to give birth to the reign of her Divine Son?

If we were to go through all the litanies, all the titles of Our Lady, we would probably be forced to conclude that the one title which best describes the Woman of the Apocalypse might be Queen of the World. . . as opposed to that other “great portent”, the fiery red Dragon symbolizing the power which Jesus described as belonging to the Prince of Darkness and Prince of this world. Therefore it is little wonder that in these times, described by several of our greatest religious leaders and Popes as “apocalyptic”, the Church is emphasizing in a very special way the Queenship of Mary. (John M. Haffert, Who is the Woman of the Apocalypse?, p. 1) When we look at Revelation 12 we see various points that relate to the royalty ideas that we saw in the scripture passages above. One point of this chapter is that the son of the mother is seen as a king with a universal messianic dominion. Psalm 2 is clearly seen in Revelation 12:5 when the author speaks of a child who will “rule all the nations with a rod of iron.” As the dragon is defeated, the son is taken up to sit on a throne and is now bringing with him the kingdom of God. (Sri, p. 481) The woman is described as a queen with magnificent tendencies. Revelation 12:1 states, “And a great sign appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” To better understand the royalty theme here in Revelation, let us dissect Revelation 12:1 in greater detail. We will examine the images of the – sun, moon, and the twelve stars, the crown, and the moon under her feet. First, the sun, moon, and the twelve stars are images from the Old Testament that represent the royal dominion that the woman holds. The twelve stars on her crownrepresent the twelve tribes of Israel and in turn point to the twelve apostles and the Church. (Ibid, p. 482.) There are a few Old Testament passages that are often related to these images, however the most profound and clear passage is from Genesis 37:9-11. This is the passage where Joseph has a dream that the sun, moon, and stars would someday bow down to him. This dream comes to fruition whe