The Blessed Virgin Mary:


"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!"Luke 1:28

So Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him about Adonijah; the king got up to meet her and bowed before her; he then sat down on his throne; a seat was brought for the king's mother, and she sat down on his right.  1 Kings 2:19

The title Gebirah (Gebira), meaning "Great Lady" or "Queen Mother" was a royal title and an office which was bestowed upon the mothers of the Kings of Israel, but limited to those Queens who were mothers of kings in the line of King David.  When the monarchy divided into the two kingdoms of Judah in the south and Israel in the north, the institution of the Gebirah was not practiced in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  The Northern Kingdom was ruled by 9 ruling houses (dynasties) but Judah continued to be ruled by the House of David.

The royal kings of Israel and the House of David had many wives and no single wife of the king had the influence that his mother enjoyed as the chief confidant of her son.  It is not clear exactly what position of authority was accorded the mothers of the kings of Israel/ Judah, but scholars believe that Queen mothers of the ruling House of David were crowned, occupied a throne next to their sons, and that both state and religious functions required their presence and attention.  There is evidence from other kingdoms in antiquity that the queen mother was the most highly placed person in the kingdom next to the king [i.e. in Egypt, in the Hittite Empire, etc.].  We do know from Scripture that these women exercised their influence from the time their sons ascended the throne and sometimes even into the reign of their grandsons as in the case of Maacah in 1 Kings 15 during the reign of her grandson Asa.  It is significant that every mother of a Davidic king is listed along with her son in Sacred Scripture.  The name of each Davidic Queen Mother is given in the introduction to each reign of the Davidic Kings of Judah [i.e. 1 Kings 14:21; 15:9-10; 22:42; 2 Kings 12:2; 14:2; 15:2; 15:33; 18:2; 21:2; 21:19; 22:1; 23:31; 23:36; 24:8; 24:18; also see the Chart of the Kings and Queen Mothers of Judah].

The Gebirah, the Queen Mother of the Kingdom of Judah, was the most important and influential woman in the royal court and the king's chief counselor.  The Hebrew word, gebirah, is found fifteen times in the Old Testament [Genesis 16:4, 8, 9 (used for Sarah, wife of Abraham); 1 Kings 11:19 (used for the Egyptian Queen Mother); 15:13; 2 Kings 5:3; 10:13; 2 Chronicles 15:16; Psalm 123:2; Proverbs 30:23; Isaiah 24:2; 47:5, 7; Jeremiah 13:18; 29:2].   In Sacred Scripture the mother of the Davidic king is listed along with her son in the books of 1 &2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles when he assumes the throne.  The only queen mothers not listed are those of King Jehoram, who married  wicked Athaliah, daughter of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel of Israel  [2 Kings 8:17-18],  King Ahaz [2 Kings 16:2-3], and King Asa [1 Kings 15:10].  In the case of Jehoram and Ahaz, their mothers may have died prior to their sons assuming the throne of David, and in the case of Asa, his grandmother is named as the Gebirah, his mother having died or perhaps his grandmother, the former Gebirah, did not relinquish her power and authority upon the succession of her grandson.

Some Biblical passages which refer to the office of the Gebirah [all passages are quoted from the New Jerusalem Bible translation]:

Jesus Christ is the heir of King David, He is the fulfillment of the covenant promises made to David in 2 Samuel 7:16; 23:5, and repeated to Mary in Luke 1:26-36 [see the chart comparing the promises to David and Mary in the Chart section on the New Testament/ Mary].  Mary's son rules from the Kingdom of the heavenly Jerusalem.  It is fitting that His mother should enjoy the same role that other Davidic Queen mothers enjoyed, that is the royal office of the heavenly Gebirah.  It is in this sense that Catholics call her "the Queen of Heaven" and not in the pagan sense of that title as it is translated in English and found in Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 18, 19, & 25; which is a designation for an Egyptian goddess.  Since Jeremiah uses both terms, the Hebrew title Gebirah for the Queen mother of a Judahite king of the House of David, and the Hebrew word "queen" = meleketh for the Egyptian goddess, it is obvious there one does not equate to the other.

Sacred Scripture indicates that the Gebirah assumed a throne along side her son [see 1 Kings 2:19] and exercised her role as counselor [2 Chronicles 22:3] and intercessor to the king [1 Kings 2:13-21.  In times of conquest both the king and his mother represented royal power and both were deposed [2 Kings 24:12].  The Gebirah was clearly the most important woman in the Kingdom of Judah; a king had many wives, but only one mother.  The Gebirah of the eternal Davidic Kingdom of Jesus Christ is Mary of Nazareth.  Upon her Assumption into heaven Her Son placed her in her well deserved place beside His throne as mother of the King of kings.  She appears in this role in Revelation 12:1 'clothed with the sun and standing on the moon.  As Christ's mother she reflects His light just as the moon reflects the light of the sun and she calls all her children in the family of the Church to follow her Son and to do, as she advised the servants at the wedding at Cana, whatever He tells you [John 2:5]. 

"Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sins, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death."  The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son's Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: "In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but you were joined to the source of Life.  You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death." Catechism of the Catholic Church # 966 [quoting Pius XII, Munificentissimus Deus (1950); Revelation 19:16; and from the Byzantine Liturgy, Troparion, Feast of the Dormition.

Additional information on the institution of the Davidic Gebirah may be found in these resources:

  1. Birth of the Messiah, Father Raymond Brown, New York: Doubleday, 1993.
  2. Ancient Israel, Father R. De Vaux, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961.


Michal Hunt, Copyright © 2002, revised 2006 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.

Revised August 2006, on the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

June 2007; additional recommended resource: Queen Mother: A Biblical Theology of Mary's Queenship, Edward Sri, Emmus Road, 2005.

Also see the document: The Virgin Mary's Role in Salvation History