No explicit mention of queens is made till we read of the "queen of Sheba." The wives of the kings of Israel are not so designated. In Ps 45:9, the Hebrew for "queen" is not malkah, one actually ruling like the Queen of Sheba, but shegal, which simply means the king's wife. In 1Ki 11:19, Pharaoh's wife is called "the queen," but the Hebrew word so rendered (g'birah) is simply a title of honour, denoting a royal lady, used sometimes for "queen-mother" (1Ki 15:13; 2Ch 15:16). In Song 6:8-9, the king's wives are styled "queens" (Heb melakhoth).
malkah "queen regnant" (1Ki 10:1; Da 5:10; Es 1:9); sheegal "the queen consort" (Ps 45:9; Da 5:2-3); gebirah "powerful mistress," "the queen mother." Polygamy, lessened the influence of the kings wives, whose hold on his affections was shared by others and was at best precarious; but the queen mother enjoyed a fixed position of dignity. So Bathsheba (1Ki 2:19, etc.); Maachah (1Ki 15:13); 2Ki 10:13, Jezebel; Jehoiachin's mother (2Ki 24:12; Jer 13:18; 29:2).
The functions of a queen reigning in her own right would be identical with those of a king (wh. see). The queen as the wife of a monarch in Israel held a position of comparatively little importance, whereas that of a dowager-queen ('queen-mother') commanded great influence (cf. the cases of Bathsheba, Jezebel, Athaliah).
This is applied, as now, to one reigning in her own right, as the queen of Sheba, 2Ch 9:1-12; and Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, Ac 8:27. The title was also given to the consort of a reigning sovereign, as queen Esther; and to the queen-mother, who often had great influence at court, as Bathsheba, Jezebel, etc.
This title is properly applied to the queen-mother, since in an Oriental household it is not the wife but the mother of the master who exercises the highest authority. Strange as such an arrangement at sight appears, it is one of the inevitable results of polygamy. An illustration of the queen-mother's influence is given in
ff. The term is applied to Maachah,
and to Jezetiel,
and to the mother of Jehoiachin or Jeconiah,