Queen Mother

(gebhirah, literally, "mistress," then a female ruler, and sometimes simply the wife of a king ("queen," 1Ki 11:19); in Da 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" (1Ki 2:19). And again, in 2Ki 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 (2Ki 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 1Ki 15:13 (compare 2Ch 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 (2Ki 9:27), she usurped the royal power and reigned for some time in her own name (2Ki 11:3; compare 2Ch 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 (1Ki 14:21; compare 1Ki 14:31, and 2Ch 12:13); Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom (1Ki 15:2) or Absalom (2Ch 11:20) the mother of Abijah; Maacah, the daughter of Abishalom, the mother (grandmother?) of Asa (1Ki 15:10; compare 2Ch 15:16); Azubah, the daughter of Shilhi, the mother of Jehoshaphat (1Ki 22:42; compare 2Ch 20:31); Athaliah, the grand-daughter of Omri, the mother of Ahaziah (2Ki 8:26; compare 2Ch 22:2); Zibiah of Beersheba, the mother of Jehoash (2Ki 12:1; compare 2Ch 24:1); Jehoaddin (Jehoaddan, 2Ch 25:1) of Jerusalem, the mother of Amaziah (2Ki 14:2); Jecoliah (Jechiliah, 2Ch 26:3) of Jerusalem, the mother of Azariah (2Ki 15:2) or Uzziah (2Ki 15:13,30, etc.; compare 2Ch 26:3); Jerusha (Jerushah, 2Ch 27:1), the daughter of Zadok, the mother of Jotham (2Ki 15:33); Abi (Abijah, 2Ch 29:1), the daughter of Zechariah, the mother of Hezekiah (2Ki 18:2); Hephzibah, the mother of Manasseh (2Ki 21:1); Meshullemeth, the daughter of Haruz of Jotbah, the mother of Amon (2Ki 21:19); Jedidah, the daughter of Adaiah of Bozkath, the mother of Josiah (2Ki 22:1); Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the mother of Jehoahaz (2Ki 23:31); Zebidah, the daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah, the mother of Jehoiakim (2Ki 23:36); Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem, the mother of Jehoiachin (2Ki 24:8); Hamutal (Hamital), the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the mother Of Zedekiah (2Ki 24:18). The exceptions are Jehoram and Ahaz.

William Baur

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