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Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible

Queen of Heaven

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QUEEN OF HEAVEN (Heb. m e lekheth hash-shâmayîm ). An object of worship to the people of Jerusalem ( Jeremiah 7:16-20 ) and the Jewish exiles in Egypt ( Jeremiah 44:15-30 ). The Massoretes evidently took the first word as m e le’kheth (‘work,’ ‘creation’) supposing that the silent aleph (’) had been omitted and considered the expression a synonym for ‘Host of Heaven’ ( ts e bhâ’ hash-shâmayîm , Jeremiah 8:2 ; Jeremiah 19:13 , Zephaniah 1:5 , Deuteronomy 4:19 ; Deuteronomy 17:3 etc.). In apparent confirmation of this view we have the fact that this term seems to be used in a collective sense as equivalent to ‘other gods.’ On the other hand, many modern scholars regard malkath (‘queen’) as the correct reading, and suppose the cultus to be a worship of the Semitic Mother-goddess, the Phœnician Ashtart = the Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] Ishtar (see Ashtoreth). Indeed, Ishtar is called in Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] inscriptions Bçlit Shamç (‘lady of heaven’) and Sharrat Shamç (‘queen of heaven’); but Malkat Shamç (which is the cognate of the term under discussion, and which in Assyr. [Note: Assyrian.] means ‘princess of heaven’) is not one of her titles. The fact that cakes were offered in this worship has little evidential value, as we find this rite a frequent feature in Semitic worship. In Arabia, cakes were offered to the goddess of the evening-star and to the sun-god; and the Israelites offered bread and cakes to Jahweh (see ‘Meal-offering’ and ‘Shewbread’ in art. Sacrifice). Cf. the modern Jewish mazzôth .

W. M. Nesbit.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Queen of Heaven'. Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible. 1909.

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Friday, June 5th, 2020
the Week of Proper 4 / Ordinary 9
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