THRONE (Heb. כִּסֵּא ,כִּסֵּה ,כֵּס; Dan. כָּרְסֵא; cf. Akk. kussû), an elevated chair symbolizing the importance and supreme authority of the person seated on it. Thrones were usually elaborate, made from the most expensive materials, and adorned with the personal symbols of the king, of the patron gods of the king, or of the land in which he ruled, or with a description of his deeds and the deeds of his forefathers. In general the throne was set up in a special hall in the palace, the throne hall, which was considered the final and most important place which a common man could reach in his lifetime. Both gods and kings are depicted on various monuments as seated on high thrones. With the widespread use of the word "throne" it became equivalent in meaning to the kingdom itself. In the story of Pharaoh and Joseph, Pharaoh emphasizes to his viceroy: "only with respect to the throne shall I be superior to you" (Gen. 41:40b). The establishment of David as king of Israel is described as the establishment of the throne of David (ii Sam. 3:10), and the act of occupying the throne came to indicate the succession to the kingship (i Kings 1:46).
The God of Israel is described metaphorically as sitting upon a royal throne. That He is all-present is expressed by the figure of speech, "Heaven is My throne and earth My footstool" (Isa. 66:1a). From another point of view, however, Jerusalem is called the throne of the Lord (Jer. 3:17).
Only one throne is described in detail in the Bible: the throne of Solomon (i Kings 10:18–20; ii Chron. 9:17–19). This throne is described as an elevated seat which had six steps leading up to it. It was made partly of ivory and was overlaid with gold. The throne had a backrest and arms, alongside which were statues of lions. There were also six statues of lions on either side of the steps. According to the Bible no other contemporary king had a similar throne.
Most of the royal thrones which are depicted on monuments from the Ancient Near East are elevated, have high backrests and numerous decorations, and together with their footstools constitute each a single entity.
A very elaborate throne was found in the tomb of Tutankhamen in Egypt. It is made of wood; its feet are in the shape of lions' feet, and its arms are shaped like lion heads. The back and the sides are decorated with the symbol of the king and of the kingdom (see Carter and Mace, in bibl.). The throne of the king of Tyre is depicted on his coffin (see Montet, in bibl.). This throne has a handrest decorated with sphinxes with outstretched wings. The throne of the king Barrakab of Samʿal is square and decorated and has no handrests (see von Luschan, in bibl.). An Assyrian throne is depicted on the relief of the conquest of Lachish by *Sennacherib. In this graphic description, the king sits on a high elevated throne and his feet rest on a wooden footstool. The legs of the throne and its other features are carved and ornamented with various decorations. King Darius is depicted sitting on a throne which has no arms but has an upholstered backrest.
H. Carter and A.C. Mace, The Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen, 1 (1923), plates 2, 62, 63; P. Montet, Byblos et l'Egypte… Atlas (1929), plates 128–141; F. von Luschan, Ausgrabungen in Sendschirli, 4 (1911), plate 60.
throne / [unvoicedth]rōn/ • n. a ceremonial chair for a sovereign, bishop, or similar figure. ∎ (the throne) used to signify sovereign power: the heir to the throne. ∎ humorous a toilet. ∎ (thrones) (in traditional Christian angelology) the third-highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy. • v. [tr.] (usu. be throned) poetic/lit. place (someone) on a throne: the king was throned on a rock.
throne, chair of state or the seat of a high dignitary. The throne was at first a stool or bench and later became an ornate armchair, usually raised on a dais and surmounted by a canopy. Often lavishly decorated, thrones have been made of a variety of materials, including wood, stone, ivory, and precious metals. Ancient Greek thrones were simple in form, with rectangular or curving legs and rosette adornments; they were adapted by the Etruscans, who made them more comfortable, and also by the Romans, who made them more ornate. The thrones of the East were usually more elaborate and fantastic in conception than those of Europe. In ancient times the Indian throne was a combined throne-altar, serving both a royal and a religious purpose. Thrones of the Renaissance in Europe were heavily ornamented with precious stones. Napoleon's throne was a gilded chair displaying eagles, lions, and other symbols. The throne of Great Britain is an oak chair in the House of Lords. At St. Peter's in Rome is the bronze papal throne designed by Bernini. The throne of a bishop is called a cathedra and the church in which it is maintained is thus a cathedral.
In traditional Christian angelology, thrones are the third-highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy.
Great White Throne the throne of God, with allusion to Revelation 20:11.
Throne of Grace the place where God is conceived as sitting to answer prayer, as in Hebrews 4:16.
See also power behind the throne.
Hence throne vb. (arch.) ENTHRONE XIV; be enthroned XVII.