In Jeremiah - Who is the "Queen of Heaven"? Is this a reference to a god in chaldea or somewhere else?

NKJV, Jeremiah 44:25 - Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying: ‘You and your wives have spoken with your mouths and fulfilled with your hands, saying, “We will surely keep our vows that we have made, to burn incense to the queen | לִמְלֶ֣כֶת of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her.” You will surely keep your vows and perform your vows!’

Why is their inconsistency - even in the book of Jeremiah?

2 Chronicles 9:12 - לְמַֽלְכַּת

Esther 1:9 - הַמַּלְכָּ֔ה

Song of Solomon 6:8 - Queens | מְּלָכ֔וֹת

Isaiah 49:23 - Queens (Princesses?) | וְשָׂרֽוֹתֵיהֶם֙

Jeremiah 13:18 - וְלַגְּבִירָ֖ה - Noble Woman or Queen?

Daniel 5:10 - Queen | מַלְכְּתָ֕א


3 Answers 3


This "queen of heaven" is unlikely to be Babylonian goddess, since the story takes place in Egypt, and the worshipers came directly from Judea. The people are a little more specific on who she is when they say

But we will certainly do whatever has gone out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem (44:17 NKJV)

Apparently, this goddess was known to them in Judah and Jerusalem. So she was probably a Canaanite god, or possibly from neighboring nations such as Sidon and Moab who were sometimes worshipped in Judah (II Kings 23:13). According to Wikipedia, some scholars identify her as Asherah, Anath, or Ashtoreth, but I'm not aware of any compelling evidence for a specific identification.

The Masorah vowelizes מְלֶכֶת as if it were the word מְלֶאכֶת (the construct state of מְלָאכָה), meaning "the work of heaven," not "the queen of heaven." The Masorah seems to interpret the verse to mean that they were worshiping the heavens by doing "the work of heaven" (apparently whatever work it took to offer incense), but not worshiping a particular goddess. (This is also clearly the reading of the Peshitta: ܠܦܘܠܚܢ ܫܡܝܐ. As user33515 notes, the Septuagint reads "queen," as in the NKJV rendering.) The ordinary vowelization for "queen" in the construct state is, as in the verse from Chronicles you mentioned, מַלְכַּת.

The words הַמַּלְכָּה and מְלָכוֹת are the undeclined singular and plural forms for "queen." מַלְכְּתָא is Aramaic. וְשָׂרֽוֹתֵיהֶם from Isaiah and וְלַגְּבִירָה from Jeremiah are synonyms for, or at least overlap with the meaning of "queen" - they're simply different lexical items.

  • 1
    The Septuagint translators seem to have read "queen"
    – user33515
    Commented Nov 20, 2017 at 21:14
  • What is usually translated as «heavenly kingdom» is actually heavenly queen in LXX η βασιλεια. This could be the Σοφία the knowledge or wisdom through whom the work of heaven is done. It is the queen that should embody the wish of the Heavenly Father in pater noster. ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου· γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς come your queen and embody(give birth to) your wish in heaven as on earth
    – grammaplow
    Commented Dec 25, 2023 at 6:09

Jeremiah and the priests of post-exilic Judah/Jerusalem were trying to rid their land of various cults in order to present their own as the only one (this is on the way to monotheism). They attacked cultic sites and this verse seems to be an attack on women who worshipped a female goddess. Which goddess is a question I cannot answer. Some have said Astarte, but maybe it was Asherah.

  • Welcome to BHSX. Thanks for your answer. Please take the tour to better understand the type of answer required here. This answer needs some references to support your assertions.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 7, 2020 at 2:45

This is not my own information, but according to another answer here, an article written by Avram Yoehoshua states that Herodotus said:

The Arabians acknowledge no other gods than Bacchus and Urania (i.e. the Queen of Heaven)...

The parentheses seem to be an insertion of the one quoting Herodotus and not Herodotus himself. It seems like Avram Yoehoshua is actually taking this quote of Herodotus from Alexander Hislop in “The Two Babylons” Chapter 6, Section 2. To my best knowledge that seems to be the origin of this reference, and likely the connection to the Queen of Heaven was his insertion, as it's generally written surrounded by [brackets] instead of (parantheses).

You can find a similar reference to this connection in the wikipedia article on Aphrodite Urania, but the place where it makes the explicit claim about this, there is no citation:

The Greek Aphrodite is Urania, the Semitic "queen of the heavens"

Traditionally, Jeremiah is thought to have been written between the 6th and 7th centuries BC, so Greek mythology is old enough to allow this sort of cross-pollination of deity. However, solidifying this connection as true requires a lot more information.

Hopefully this provides enough terms to enable a deeper dive.

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