Queen of Heaven
QUEEN OF HEAVEN (Heb. melekheth ha-shāmayim). Some controversy surrounds the philology and significance of this title, but it seems best to regard it as the female deity to whom, with their families’ aid and connivance, Hebrew women made offerings (
QUEEN OF HEAVEN (מְלֶ֣כֶת הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם). An object of Jewish worship in the time of Jeremiah.
Most of the information regarding this cult comes from outside the Bible. The only Biblical clues available are in
The problem is compounded by the use of the unusual MT form (מְלֶ֣כֶת) of the word “queen.” Some consider this an erroneous writing of the normal מַלְכָּה, H4893. Others, including LXX trs., understood it to be מְלָֽאכֶת, meaning “handiwork,” hence τῃ̂ στρατιᾳ̂ του̂ οὐρα̂νου, “to the army of heaven” in
It is well accepted that this was a borrowed deity. Several of Israel’s neighbors had consorts for their male deities—goddesses and a queen of heaven. In Assyria, the goddess Ishtar was called the “lady of heaven,” whereas in the Ugaritic lit. she is “queen of heaven.” The Canaanite Astarte, or Ashtoreth, was a wellknown fertility goddess. This seems to be the domain of the queen of heaven mentioned in
E. O. James, The Cult of the Mother Goddess (1959); The Ancient Gods (1960), 77-106.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)