In the modern sense, a title given either to a wife of a king or to a female monarch. In the Bible the title has a usage limited to women outside the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. The Hebrew word most nearly expressing the idea of “queen” as it is understood today is mal·kahʹ. But it was rare in the Orient for a woman to possess ruling authority. The queen of Sheba may have been one with such power. (1 Ki. 10:1; Matt. 12:42) In the Christian Greek Scriptures “queen” is translated from the word ba·siʹlis·sa, the feminine form of the word for “king.” The title is applied to Queen Candace of Ethiopia.—Acts 8:27.
In the Hebrew Scriptures mal·kahʹ is more often used with reference to a queen consort, or the leading wife of a king of a foreign power. Vashti, as the chief wife of King Ahasuerus of Persia, was a consort queen rather than a ruling one. She was replaced by the Jewess Esther, making Esther consort queen and, while Esther had royal dignity, she was not an associate ruler (Esther 1:9, 12, 19; 2:17, 22; 4:11) and any authority she might have had was by the king’s grant.—Compare Esther 8:1-8, 10; 9:29-32.
The Hebrew word gevi·rahʹ translated “queen” in some versions, means, more correctly, “lady” or “mistress.” In the instances where the title is used it seems to apply mainly to the mother or grandmother of the king, such women being given royal respect, for example, Jezebel the mother of King Jehoram of Israel. (2 Ki. 10:13) When Solomon’s mother approached him with a request, he bowed to her and had a throne set for her at his right. (1 Ki. 2:19) The “lady” could be deposed by the king, as was Maacah the grandmother of King Asa of Judah, whom he removed from being “lady” because she had made a horrible idol to the sacred pole.—1 Ki. 15:13.
No woman could legally become head of state in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. (Deut. 17:14, 15) However, Athaliah, the daughter of wicked King Ahab of Israel and his wife Jezebel, after the death of her son Ahaziah king of Judah, destroyed all the kingdom heirs except Ahaziah’s son Jehoash, whom Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba hid. She then reigned illegally for six years, until executed on orders from High Priest Jehoiada.—2 Ki. 11:1-3, 13-16.
In Babylon the throne was confined to kings. At Daniel 5:10, the “queen” (mal·kaʼʹ) was apparently, not the wife, but the mother of Belshazzar, as indicated by the fact that she was familiar with events regarding Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar’s grandfather. As the queen mother, she possessed a certain amount of royal dignity and was greatly respected by all, including Belshazzar.
Early Egyptian heads of state were men. “Queens” were actually consorts. Tahpenes the wife of Pharaoh is called “lady” at 1 Kings 11:19. Hatshepsut ruled as queen only because she refused to surrender her regency when the heir, Thutmose III, became of age. After her death, Thutmose III obliterated or destroyed all her monuments. Later, however, during the time of Ptolemaic (Macedonian) reign over Egypt, there were ruling queens.
IN FALSE WORSHIP
The apostate Israelites of Jeremiah’s day forsook Jehovah, their real King, and idolatrously made cakes, drink offerings and sacrificial smoke to the “queen [Heb., meleʹkheth] of the heavens,” possibly the pagan goddess Ashtoreth.—Jer. 7:18; 44:17, 18.
Babylon the Great is shown, at Revelation 18:7, to be saying boastfully, “I sit a queen [Gr., ba·siʹlis·sa],” sitting on “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” (Rev. 17:15) She maintains her control through her immoral relations with earthly rulers, even as did many queens of the past.—Rev. 17:1-5; 18:3, 9; see BABYLON THE GREAT.
As “bride” of the King Christ Jesus, his congregation in effect becomes his “queenly consort” in heaven, enjoying royal dignity. (Eph. 5:23-27, 32, 33; Rev. 19:7, 8; 21:9-14) Since Hebrews 1:8, 9 applies Psalm 45:6, 7 to Christ Jesus, it seems likely that the “queenly consort” (Heb., she·ghalʹ) of verse 9 is prophetic of his bride class.