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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Queen of Heaven.

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In Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 44:17-19; Jeremiah 44:25, the Heb. מְלֶכֶת הִשָּׁמִיַם, meleketh hash-shamayim, is thus rendered in the A. V. In the margin is given "frame or workmanship of heaven," for in twenty of Kennicott's MSS. the reading is מְלֶאכֶת, of which this is the translation, and the same is the case in fourteen MSS. of Jeremiah 44:18, and in thirteen of Jeremiah 44:19. The latter reading is followed by the Sept. and Peshito Syriac in Jeremiah 7:18, but in all the other passages the received text is adopted, as by the Vulg. in every instance. Kimchi says א is wanting, and it is as if מלאכת workmanship of heaven,' i.e. the stars; and some interpret the queen of heaven,' i.e. a great star which is in the heavens." Rashi is in favor of the latter; and the Targum renders throughout "the star of heaven." Kircher was in favor of some constellation, the Pleiades or Hyades. It is generally believed that the "queen of heaven" is the moon (comp. "siderum regina," Horace, Carm. Sec. 35, and "regina coeli," Apul. Met. 11:657), worshipped as Ashtaroth or Astarte, to whom the Hebrew women offered cakes in the streets of Jerusalem. Hitzig (Der Proph. Jeremia, p. 64) says the Hebrews gave this title to the Egyptian Neith, whose name in the form Ta-nith, with the Egyptian article, appears with that of Baai Hamman, on four Carthaginian inscriptions. It is little to the purpose to inquire by what other names this goddess was known among the Phoenician colonists; the Hebrews, in the time of Jeremiah, appear not to have given her any special title. The Babylonian Venus. according to Harpocration (quoted by Selden, De Dis Syris [ed. 1617], synt. 2, cap. 6, p. 220), was also styled "the queen of heaven." Mr. Layard identifies Hera, "the second deity mentioned by Diodorus, with Astarte, Mylitta, or Venus," and with the "queen of heaven,' frequently mentioned in the sacred volumes...

The planet which bore her name was sacred to her, and in the Assyrian sculptures a star is placed upon her head. She was called Beltis, because she was the female form of the great divinity, or Baal; the two, there is reason to conjecture, having been originally but one, and androgyne. Her worship penetrated from Assvria into Asia Minor, where its Assyrian origin was recognised. In the rock tablets of Pterium she is represented; as in those of Assyria, standing erect on a lion, and crowned with a tower or mural coronet, which, we learn from Lucian, was peculiar to the Shemitic figure of the goddess. This may have been a modification of the high cap of the Assyrian bas-reliefs. A figure of Astarte found in Etruria represents her as winged (Rawlinson, Herod. ii, 404). To the Shemites she was known under the names of Astarte, Ashtaroth, Mylitta, and Alitta, according to the various dialects of the nations among which her worship prevailed" (Nineveh, ii, 454, 456, 457). It is so difficult to separate the worship of the moon- goddess from that of the planet Venus in the Assyrian mythology when introduced among the Western nations that the two are frequently confused. Movers believes that Ashtoreth was originally the moon- goddess, while according to Rawlinson (Herod. i, 521) Ishtar is the Babylonian Venus, one of whose titles in the Sardanapalus inscriptions is "the mistress of heaven and earth" (see Onias, De מלכת השמים [Alt. 1666]). (See ASHTORETH).

With the cakes (כִּוָּנַים, carvvanmi; Sept. χαυῶνες which were offered in her honor, with incense and libations, Selden compares the πίτυρα (A. V. bran") of Ep. of Jeremiah 43, which were burned by the women who sat by the wayside near the idolatrous temples for the purposes of prostitution. These πίτυρα were offered in sacrifice to Hecate while invoking her aid for success in love (Theocr. ii, 33). The Targum gives כִּרְדּוּטַין, kanrdutin, which elsewhere appears to be the Greek χειριδωτὸς, a sleeved tunic. Rashi says the cakes had the image of the god stamped upon them, and Theodoret that they contained pine-cones and raisins. (See CAKE).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Queen of Heaven.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/q/queen-of-heaven.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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