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One of the titles of the Blessed Virgin Mary is sometimes attributed with is the title Queen of Heaven. Her coronation as Queen of Heaven is the last Glorious Mysteries in the Rosary and whose feast day falls on August 22. This title may irk non-Catholic Christians who may point out that in the Bible the title of “Queen of Heaven” is given to a pagan goddess (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25). This article explains how Catholics should respond to this charge.
Most books of the Old Testament were originally written in Hebrew and Hebrew has four words translated as “queen” in English. They are (1) gebira (1 Kings 11:19; 15:13, 2 Kings 10:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16, Jeremiah 13:18; 29:2), (2) malkah (1 Kings 10:1, 2 Chronicles 9:1, Esther 1:9, 2:17 etc.), (3) melekheth (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25) and (4) shegal (Nehemiah 2:6, Psalm 45:9). Another word, sara, is generally translated as lady (Judges 5:29) or princess (Lamentations 1:1) and only once translated as queen (Isaiah 49:23). Among these four words we shall focus on gebira, the feminine of gebir (Genesis 27:29, 37), which means lord or master. Gebira, as its masculine meaning suggests, 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), the gebira played an important role and she had power and influence. King Solomon, the bible recounts, was the first King to seat his mother, Bathsheba, at his right hand (1 Kings 2:19). Solomon’s half brother, Adonijah, requested Bathsheba to speak on his behalf to King Solomon (1 Kings 2:13-18). The verse indicates the role of the 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. The New Testament tells us that Jesus will be given the kingdom of David and his Kingdom will have no end (Luke 1:32-33). His Kingdom is in heaven and it exists on earth in His Church. Therefore, it logically follows that Mary, His mother, naturally becomes the Gebira of the New Testament. This is the reason why Catholics believe that she is the Queen of Heaven. Like the 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 which cited in Hebrews 1:8-9. Coincidentally, 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 Queenship of Mary in heaven. In the book of Jeremiah in verses 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 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.
By Wibisono Hartono
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