King Solomon had a problem. He had "700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines" (1 Kings 11:3). When the king has 1000 -- one thousand -- wives, who rules as the queen? Also, if Jesus is the New King of Israel, who is the New Queen? The Kingdom of Heaven was the restoration and fulfillment of the Kingdom of Israel, so who is the Queen of Heaven?
But first, some back story: Adonijah and Solomon were both sons of King David. After their elder step-brothers, Amnon and Absalom had died, Adonijah considered himself the heir-apparent to the throne. Adonijah was the oldest living son of David,1 and therefore had a better claim to succeed King David to the throne. Nevertheless, Solomon fought Adonijah for the throne. Civil War had erupted and Solomon emerged victorious.
First, 1 Kings 2:13-18:
Then Adonijah the son of Haggith came to Bathsheba the mother of Solomon. And she said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably.” Then he said, “I have something to say to you.” She said, “Say on.” He said, “You know that the kingdom was mine, and that all Israel fully expected me to reign; however the kingdom has turned about and become my brother’s, for it was his from the Lord. And now I have one request to make of you; do not refuse me.” She said to him, “Say on.” And he said, “Pray ask King Solomon—he will not refuse you—to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.” Bathsheba said, “Very well; I will speak for you to the king.”
Notice some of the important parts of this passage. Adonijah is "prays" to Bathsheba, the mother of the King, that she would ask the King to grant Adonijah's "request." Also, Adonijah knows that the king "will not refuse" his mother.
So Bathsheba went to King Solomon, to speak to him on behalf of Adonijah. And (1) the king rose to meet her, and bowed down to her; then he sat on his throne, and (2) had a seat brought for the king’s mother; and she sat on his right. Then she said, “I have one small request to make of you; do not refuse me.” And the king said to her, (3) “Make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you.”She said, “Let Ab′ishag the Shu′nammite be given to Adonijah your brother as his wife.” [numbers added]
What an important passage! Several things happened in this second passage that forever affected the structure of the Kingdom of Israel. (1) We see the king "rising to meet" his mother and then "bowing down to her." The king's subjects bow to him. The king bows to no one - except his mother. Before we get to (2), I'll first address (3). The king, himself, reiterates that he "will not refuse" his mother. This is a royal tradition that King Solomon is making a permanent fixture of the kingdom. He is literally about to "enshrine" it.
(2) This is extremely important. The king "had a seat brought for the king's mother" and from then on "she sat on his right". The king placed a seat for his mother beside the throne. King Solomon didn't just have a servant bring a seat for his mother, so she could sit in his court before him. The king set the seat beside his own throne. The mother's chair became a throne in its own right, a royal office subordinate to the king's throne.
This royal office of the Queen-Mother, called the Gebirah or the "Great Lady", became a fixture of the Kingdom of Israel. It lasted for as long as the Kingdom of Israel lasted. We see in 2 Kings 24, when Judah is at last conquered by the Babylonians and the Southern Kingdom falls to King Nebuchadnezzar, that the Queen-Mother, Nehushta, is still given precedence over the wives of King Jehoiakim (see 2 Kings 24:15).Jeremiah 13:18 also narrates the fall of Israel to the Babylonians in terms of the Queen-Mother losing her crown:
Say to the king and the queen mother:
“Take a lowly seat,
for your beautiful crown
has come down from your head.”
The tragedy of this verse is finally undone at Revelation 12, where we see that the Queen's crown has been restored and fulfilled, but more on that in a bit.
THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN
So, what has this to do with the Blessed Mother, i.e. the Virgin Mary? It might be obvious to you by now, maybe not, that the Queen of the Kingdom of Israel was a prefigurement or foreshadowing of the Queen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
How did the kings of Israel, with they many, many wives, resolve the issue of who would reign as queen of their kingdoms? Every man only ever has one mother. The king'smother ruled as queen. This is the tradition of the "Queen-Mother".
This is why we call the Virgin Mary the "Queen of Heaven"! This is why we pray that Mary will intercede for us before the King, because that's her royal office.
But there's more ... lots more! Stay tuned for next week's post, which shows how the scene between Queen Bathsheba and King Solomon is repeated and fulfilled at the Wedding at Cana!
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P.S.: If you needed more proof that Mary is Queen of Heaven, just readRevelation 12:1: "And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars." This woman is then described as the mother of the Messiah, i.e. the Virgin Mary. Right there, in black and white, Mary is described as wearing a crown in Heaven. Why would Mary be wearing a crown? What is a woman called that wears a crown? A QUEEN, i.e. the Queen of Heaven!
1. Adonijah was actually the fourth son of King David. All together, David had about 18 sons according to the various accounts in Chronicles and elsewhere. David's first four sons were Amnon, by Ahinoam; Daniel (also called Chileab), by Abigail; Absalom, by Maachah; and Adonijah, by Haggith. Daniel (or Chileab) is thought to have been dead by the time Adonijah laid claim to the throne. Interestingly, Rabbinic tradition holds that Daniel-Chileab was one of only four ancient Israelites to have died without sin, the others being Benjamin, Amram, and Jesse, the father of King David.↩