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QUEEN MOTHER

(gebhirah, literally, "mistress," then a female ruler, and sometimes simply the wife of a king ("queen," 1 Ki 11:19); in Dan 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 Ki 2:19). And again, in 2 Ki 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, Jer 29:2), and his mother's name was Nehushta (2 Ki 24:8). This was the royal pair whose impending doom the prophet was told to forecast (Jer 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 Ki 15:13 (compare 2 Ch 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 Ki 9:27), she usurped the royal power and reigned for some time in her own name (2 Ki 11:3; compare 2 Ch 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 Ki 14:21; compare 14:31, and 2 Ch 12:13); Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom (1 Ki 15:2) or Absalom (2 Ch 11:20) the mother of Abijah; Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom, the mother (grandmother?) of Asa (1 Ki 15:10; compare 2 Ch 15:16); Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi, the mother of Jehoshaphat (1 Ki 22:42; compare 2 Ch 20:31); Athaliah, the grand-daughter of Omri, the mother of Ahaziah (2 Ki 8:26; compare 2 Ch 22:2); Zibiah of Beersheba, the mother of Jehoash (2 Ki 12:1; compare 2 Ch 24:1); Jehoaddin (Jehoaddan, 2 Ch 25:1) of Jerusalem, the mother of Amaziah (2 Ki 14:2); Jecoliah (Jechiliah, 2 Ch 26:3) of Jerusalem, the mother of Azariah (2 Ki 15:2) or Uzziah (2 Ki 15:13,30, etc.; compare 2 Ch 26:3); Jerusha (Jerushah, 2 Ch 27:1), the daughter of Zadok, the mother of Jotham (2 Ki 15:33); Abi (Abijah, 2 Ch 29:1), the daughter of Zechariah, the mother of Hezekiah (2 Ki 18:2); Hephzibah, the mother of Manasseh (2 Ki 21:1); Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah, the mother of Amon (2 Ki 21:19); Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath, the mother of Josiah (2 Ki 22:1); Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the mother of Jehoahaz (2 Ki 23:31); Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah, the mother of Jehoiakim (2 Ki 23:36); Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem, the mother of Jehoiachin (2 Ki 24:8); Hamutal (Hamital), the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the mother Of Zedekiah (2 Ki 24:18). The exceptions are Jehoram and Ahaz.
William Baur
Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Definition for 'queen mother'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". bible-history.com - ISBE; 1915.

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