No explicit mention of queens is made till we read of the "queen of Sheba." The wives of the kings of Israel are not so designated. In Psalms 45:9 , the Hebrew for "queen" is not malkah , one actually ruling like the Queen of Sheba, but shegal , which simply means the king's wife. In 1 Kings 11:19 , Pharaoh's wife is called "the queen," but the Hebrew word so rendered (g'birah) is simply a title of honour, denoting a royal lady, used sometimes for "queen-mother" ( 1 Kings 15:13 ; 2 Chron 15:16 ). In Cant 1 Kings 6:8 1 Kings 6:9 , the king's wives are styled "queens" (Heb. melakhoth).
This title is properly applied to the queen-mother, since in an Oriental household it is not the wife but the mother of the master who exercises the highest authority. Strange as such an arrangement at sight appears, it is one of the inevitable results of polygamy. An illustration of the queen-mothers influence is given in ( 1 Kings 2:19 ) ff. The term is applied to Maachah, ( 1 Kings 15:13 ; 2 Chronicles 16:16 ) and to Jezetiel, ( 2 Kings 10:13 ) and to the mother of Jehoiachin or Jeconiah, ( Jeremiah 13:18 ) compare 2Kin 24:12; Jere 29:2
The Bible applies this term:
(1) To the wife of a king ("queen consort") (malkah). In the Book of Esther it is the title given to Vashti (1:9) and Esther (2:22); compare Song of Solomon 6:8 f. Another Hebrew word for queen consort is gebhirah, literally "mistress" (compare 1 Kings 11:19, the wife of Pharaoh; 2 Kings 10:13, "the children of the king and the children of the queen"). In Nehemiah 2:6 and Psalms 45:9 we find the expression sheghal, which some trace back to shaghal, "to ravish," a rather doubtful derivation. Still another term is sarah, literally, "princess" (Isaiah 49:23). The Septuagint sometimes uses the word basilissa; compare Psalms 45:9.
(2) To a female ruler or sovereign ("queen regnant"). The only instances are those of the queen (malkah) of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1-13; compare 2 Chronicles 9:1-12) and of Candace, the queen (basilissa) of the Ethiopians (Acts 8:27). In Matthew 12:42 (compare Luke 11:31) Christ refers to the queen of the south (basilissa notou), meaning, of course, the queen of Sheba.
See QUEEN OF HEAVEN.
(4) Metaphorically, to the city of Babylon (Rome) (Revelation 18:7):
an expression denoting sovereign contempt and imaginary dignity and power.
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