Recently I have developed a slight obsession with the television series Game of Thrones. (I may or may not have finished the whole series in less than 2 weeks…) For those who don’t know about this fantastically amazing series, Game of Thrones is based off George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series. As with most things, Biblical allusions can be found in this TV show, even if they aren’t completely obvious at first.
For those of you who haven’t watched the series, here’s a quick summary of first two seasons:
The Whore of Babylon
“Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, ‘Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.’ And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls, holding in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the impurities of her sexual immorality.” Revelations 17:1-4
Melisandre, or the Red Woman, can be seen as a direct example of what most people refer to as the whore of Babylon, who is mentioned Revelations chapter 17. In the show, “Melisandre is a Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, a deity little-worshiped in Westeros. Hailing from Asshai, a county located in the far east of the continent of Essos, she claims to wield powerful magical abilities, particularly the power of prophecy. Some years ago she crossed the Narrow Sea and came to the court of Stannis Baratheon on the island stronghold of Dragonstone, to preach her faith. Stannis and the majority of his household have now converted to her religion, and she has become a close adviser to Stannis himself.” (Melisandre). Throughout seasons 2 and 3, she frequently uses her mysterious powers as a priestess to seemingly help Stannis Baratheon, the brother of the dead king. There are several instances where she does several questionable or outright terrifying things. One case is where she convinces that in order to win the war, Stannis must betray his wife and impregnate Melisandre in order for her to birth a mysterious shadow thing that will ultimately kill his other brother, Renly. She also has many people burned as sacrifices to the Lord of Light that she claims to serve, convinces Stannis to arrest anyone who questions her, and kidnaps Stannis’ illegitimate nephew in order to use his blood to kill his enemies. In the series, it is clear that she has clouded Stannis’ judgment, although her true motives are not known at this point in time. But, if she has any connection to the woman mentioned in Revelations, she will more than likely ultimately betray Stannis at some point.
The Slaughter of the Innocents
“The Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” Matthew 2:16
After the death of his “father” Robert Baratheon, Joffrey takes the throne, much to everyone’s dismay. As Joffrey begins his role as king of Westeros, it becomes apparent that his is cruel, ruthless, and merciless. After hearing rumors about his true parentage, Joffrey, afraid that he will lose his throne, orders the City Watch to murder all of Robert’s illegitimate children (Joffrey Baratheon). This can be seen as a direct allusion to Herod’s Slaughter of the Innocents. This allusion goes even further, since one boy, Gendry, manages to escape the slaughter, as does Jesus. It is unclear at this time whether or not Gendry will be any threat to Joffrey.
After reading through all four gospels, by this point we all know who Judas was and why he’s important. While there are several betrayals throughout the series, one of the most prominent ones is Petyr Baelish’s betrayal of Eddard Stark. After realizing that Joffrey is not Robert’s true heir, Eddard enlists the help of Petyr in order to install Robert’s brother Stannis on the throne instead of Joffrey. However, when Eddard makes his move after Robert’s death, Petyr, who is in control of the City Watch, turns on him, kills Eddard’s guards, and holds a knife to Eddard’s throat (Petyr Baelish). He then convinces Joffrey to imprison Eddard by telling him that he plans to take away his throne. This betrayal ultimately leads to Eddard Stark’s execution. Like Judas, Petyr betrays someone who seemed to be a friend in order to gain something. However, unlike Judas, Petyr betrays Eddard in order to have a chance with his wife, who was his childhood crush.
There are several other Biblical allusions in the series other than the three I mentioned. From Melisandre as the whore of Babylon, to Joffrey’s version of the slaughter of the innocents, to Petyr’s Judas-like betrayal of Eddard, Biblical allusions add a deeper understanding to the plot of the series.