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November 9, 2007 / vivator

Hail Holy Queen

One of the titles of Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of Heaven.  Her coronation as Queen of Heaven is the last Glorious Mysteries in Rosary and on 22 August Catholics celebrate its feast.  This title may irk non-Catholic Christians who may point out that the title of Queen of Heaven is given to a pagan goddess (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25). 

Most Old Testament’s books were originally written in Hebrew and it has four words translated as “queen” in English: 

gebira (1 Kings 11:19; 15:13, 2 Kings 10:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16, Jeremiah 13:18; 29:2)

malkah (1 Kings 10:1, 2 Chronicles 9:1, Esther 1:9, 2:17 etc.)

melekheth (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25)

shegal (Nehemiah 2:6, Psalm 45:9). 

Another word, sarah, is generally translated as lady (Judges 5:29) or princess (Lamentations 1:1 of RSV and KJV – NIV translates it as queen) and only once translated as queen (Isaiah 49:23 of RSV, KJV and NIV).

Among these four words we pay attention on gebira, the feminine form of gebir (Genesis 27:29, 37), which means lord or master.  Isaac told Esau that his younger brother, Jacob, will be his lord (gebir).  Thus gebira means a lady who has power to rule.  Some Bibles translate gebira as “queen mother” because she is the mother (or grandmother) of the king, not his wife, except in 1 Kings 11:19 where gebira refers to the wife of the Pharaoh.  In the Davidic kingdom (or Judah), gebira played important role and she had power and influence.  Solomon might the first who seated his mother, Bathsheba on his right (1 Kings 2:19).  His half brother, Adonijah, requested Bathsheba to speak on behalf of him to the King (1 Kings 2:13-18).  While he did not get his wish and paid it with his life, the verse indicates the role of gebira as mediator to the King.  King Asa removed Maacah, his mother because she abused her power (1 Kings 15:13).  On the death of her son (king Ahaziah) Athaliah did not want to lose her power and had all her grandsons murdered (2 Kings 11:1).  One survived and later became king Joash (2 Kings 11:2, 12).  The name of most Davidic kings’ mother is always mentioned after that of the king (1 Kings 14:21; 15:2, 9; 22:42; 2 Kings 8:26; 12:2; 14:2; 15:2, 33; 18:2; 21:1, 19; 22:1; 23:31, 36; 24:8, 18).  From Jeremiah 13:18 we know that both king and gebira had crowns, indicating their power.  In New Testament Christ will be given the kingdom of David and it will have no end (Luke 1:32-33).  Then Mary, His mother, naturally becomes gebira and this is the reason why Catholics believe that she is Queen of Heaven.   Like gebira in Jeremiah 13:18 she also has crown in heaven.  Furthermore the Church understands that the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and crowned with twelve stars (Revelation 12:1) refers to Mary.

One of the Messianic Psalms applied to Christ is Psalms 45:6-7, cited in Hebrews 1:8-9.  Yet Psalms 45:9 also mentions the Queen who sits at His right hand in gold of Ophir.  While the Hebrew word for queen in this verse is shegal, to Catholics this verse also refers to the Queen-ship of Mary in heaven.

Coming back to Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25, the word translated as queen in “queen of heaven” is not gebira but melekheth and is therefore not applicable to Virgin Mary.  After all, if there are false Christs (or Messiahs) and false prophets (Matthew 24:24) it should not surprise us that we also have false queens of heaven.   Scripture uses the word “lion” to describe Christ as the lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5) and God (Hosea 5:14, 11:10).  Yet the same title is applied to devil (1 Peter 5:8), wicked man (Psalms 10:9) and wicked ruler (Proverbs 28:15, Zephaniah 3:3).   Even the same word for God in Hebrew (Elohim, plural for gods) is applied to (false) gods (Jeremiah 43:12, Daniel 1:2, Hosea 3:1, 14:3, Nahum 1:14).   In New Testament the same title, priest (Greek hiereus), is applied to Christ (Hebrews 4:14), to all believers (1 Peter 2:5,9, Revelation 1:6), as well as to the pagan priests of Zeus (Acts 14:13).



Leave a Comment
  1. John / Feb 17 2008 11:01 am

    Mark 6:3 speaks of the brothers and sisters of Jesus in the context of his mother Mary. How then can she continue to be a virgin. Furthermore in Luke 2 she speaks of Jesus as her Saviour. Why does she do so if she heself is perfect. On where does the Bible call her Queen of heaven.

  2. John / Feb 17 2008 11:04 am

    Revelation 12:1 clearly refers to the dream of Joseph and hence is a reference to the whole of the nation of the Jews. The passage itself says that it was a sign not an actual event so we must take it figurativly rather than literaly.

  3. vivator / Feb 17 2008 6:21 pm

    For John, you can read my posts on immaculate conception and Mary’s perpetual virginity. You can find them in “Virin Mary” category and they answer your questions. As for Quen of Heaven title for Mary, Scripture explicitly does not apply the title to her. In the same way you may says that Christ is your personal saviour – the word personal nevers appears in Scripture.

  4. Jude / May 26 2008 11:59 pm

    John…the word brother and sisters is used many times, especially as ‘brethren’ it’s not literally brothers and sisters, similarly how people call others ‘bro’ nowadays.

    This should be fairly obvious. She continues to be a virgin because the Bible has not indicated otherwise. If you are going to use Matthew 1:25 against me, I suggest you read the latin and greek versions before throwing the english version at me, because i can assure you that the meaning is quite different in latin and greek, greek being the original scripture.


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