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Queen Mother

QUEEN MOTHER

(gebhirah, literally, "mistress," then a female ruler, and sometimes simply the wife of a king ("queen," 1 Kings 11:19); in Daniel 5:10 the term malketha' "queen," really means the mother of the king):

It stands to reason that among a people whose rulers are polygamists the mother of the new king or chief at once becomes a person of great consequence. The records of the Books of Kings prove it. The gebhirah, or queen mother, occupied a position of high social and political importance; she took rank almost with the king. When Bath-sheba, the mother of Solomon, desired "to speak unto him for Adonijah," her son "rose up to meet her, and bowed himself unto her, and sat down on his throne, and caused a throne to be set for the king's mother; and she sat on his right hand" (1 Kings 2:19). And again, in 2 Kings 24:15, it is expressly stated that Nebuchadnezzar carried away the king's mother into captivity; Jeremiah calls her gebhirah (29:2). The king was Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Jeremiah 29:2), and his mother's name was Nehushta (2 Kings 24:8). This was the royal pair whose impending doom the prophet was told to forecast (Jeremiah 13:18). Here again the queen mother is mentioned with the king, thus emphasizing her exalted position. Now we understand why Asa removed Maacah his (grand?)mother from being queen (queen mother), as we are told in 1 Kings 15:13 (compare 2 Chronicles 15:16). She had used her powerful influence to further the cause of idolatry. In this connection Athaliah's coup d'etat may be briefly mentioned. After the violent death of her son Ahaziah (2 Kings 9:27), she usurped the royal power and reigned for some time in her own name (2 Kings 11:3; compare 2 Chronicles 22:12). This was, of course, a revolutionary undertaking, being a radical departure from the usual traditions.

And finally, the political importance of the gebhirah is illustrated by the fact that in the Books of Kings, with two exceptions, the names of the Jewish kings are recorded together with those of their respective mothers; they are as follows:

Naamah, the Ammonitess, the mother of Rehoboam (1 Kings 14:21; compare 14:31, and 2 Chronicles 12:13); Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom (1 Kings 15:2) or Absalom (2 Chronicles 11:20) the mother of Abijah; Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom, the mother (grandmother?) of Asa (1 Kings 15:10; compare 2 Chronicles 15:16); Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi, the mother of Jehoshaphat (1 Kings 22:42; compare 2 Chronicles 20:31); Athaliah, the grand-daughter of Omri, the mother of Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:26; compare 2 Chronicles 22:2); Zibiah of Beersheba, the mother of Jehoash (2 Kings 12:1; compare 2 Chronicles 24:1); Jehoaddin (Jehoaddan, 2 Chronicles 25:1) of Jerusalem, the mother of Amaziah (2 Kings 14:2); Jecoliah (Jechiliah, 2 Chronicles 26:3) of Jerusalem, the mother of Azariah (2 Kings 15:2) or Uzziah (2 Kings 15:13,30, etc.; compare 2 Chronicles 26:3); Jerusha (Jerushah, 2 Chronicles 27:1), the daughter of Zadok, the mother of Jotham (2 Kings 15:33); Abi (Abijah, 2 Chronicles 29:1), the daughter of Zechariah, the mother of Hezekiah (2 Kings 18:2); Hephzibah, the mother of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:1); Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah, the mother of Amon (2 Kings 21:19); Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath, the mother of Josiah (2 Kings 22:1); Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the mother of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31); Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah, the mother of Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:36); Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem, the mother of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8); Hamutal (Hamital), the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the mother Of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:18). The exceptions are Jehoram and Ahaz.

William Baur


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'QUEEN MOTHER'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.