St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Friday, July 30, 2004 ::

The Queen Mother and the Dormition

Starting next week Orthodox Christians will begin the two week fast in preparation for the Feast of the Dormition. I thought what Silouan posted on a discussion group a few weeks ago was pertinent.

Traditionally, next to the throne of the King was a second throne. Many would assume that the second throne belonged to the wife of the King, but in ancient Israel it belonged to the mother of the king.

There is an Aramaic word, "Gebirah", which means "Queen Mother". The Gebirah was an official position, one with which everyone (Jesus and His disciples included) was entirely familiar. Her role was as an advocate of the people. Anyone who had a petition or sought an audience with the King did so through her.

This role is mentioned in several passages from the OT:

1 Kings 15:13--"He also deposed his Maacah from her position as queen mother."
2 Kings 10:13--"We are kinsmen of Ahaziah," they replied. "We are going down to visit the princes and the family of the queen mother."
Jeremiah 13:18--"Say to the king and to the queen mother: come down from your throne."

Her specific place of honor and intercession is dramatically illustrated in the following passage from 1 Kings 2:13-21--

"Adonijah, son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon. "Do you come as a friend?" she asked. "Yes," he answered, and added, "I have something to say to you." She replied, "Say it." So he said: "...There is one favor I would ask of you. Do not refuse me." And she said, "Speak on."

He said, "Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite for my wife." "Very well," replied Bathsheba, "I will speak to the king for you." Then Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, and the king stood up to meet her and paid her homage. Then he sat down upon his throne, and a throne was provided for the king's mother, who sat at his right. "There is one small favor I would ask of you," she said. "Do not refuse me." "Ask it, my mother," the king said to her, "for I will not refuse you."

Of particular import are the following observations:
1.Adonijah assumed that the queen mother would approach the King on his behalf; he trusted her.
2. The reaction of the King is noteworthy: he stood up to meet her and paid her homage.
3. A throne was provided for her and she sat at his right.
4. Her power as intercessor is stressed by the repetition of the idea that the king "will not refuse her".

Update: "My heart is warmed because I'm learning to know a person and what she means to my God."

Update 2: Tom, speaking of our relationships with the saints: "It's not a matter of logical necessity, but of natural desire."

:: Karl :: 8:17:00 AM [Link] ::

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