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.

(3) To a heathen deity, melekheth ha-shamayim, "the queen of heaven" (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17).


(4) Metaphorically, to the city of Babylon (Rome) (Revelation 18:7):

an expression denoting sovereign contempt and imaginary dignity and power.

William Baur

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