Good queen mothers, bad queen mothers : the theological presentation of the queen mother in 1 and 2 Kings.




Brewer-Boydston, Ginny.

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The regnal formulas in 1-2 Kings list the name of the mother of the king for Judah, signaling an importance on the part of the queen mother and her place within the theological presentation of the books. This dissertation investigates the multiple passages in which the mother of the king appears outside of the regnal formulas through literary criticism and integrates that study with a theological discussion of the regnal formulas in order to demonstrate the narrative’s view of the queen mother’s place in the monarchy. As the gĕbîrâ, the queen mother held a sanctioned position within the Judean court and had such great influence upon her son that she too receives blame as part of the monarchy for the fall of Judah. The books of Kings depict Maacah (1 Kgs 15), Athaliah (2 Kgs 11), and Nehushta (2 Kgs 24), the only queen mothers to appear outside of the formulas, as wicked and acting in the same manner as the kings who receive a negative or qualified evaluation of their reigns. The books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel depict Nehushta (Jer 13, 22, 29) and Hamutal (Ezek 19) as wicked as well. Jezebel, appearing only in Kings (2 Kgs 9), receives the same treatment. These texts combine to show a mythos surrounding the queen mother, that she is a wicked queen mother by virtue of her son ruling during the divided monarchy. Three other queen mothers, who are not from the divided monarchy, appear in other biblical texts: Bathsheba (1 Kgs 1-2), Lemuel’s mother (Prov 31), and Belshazzar’s mother (Dan 5). Also, Genesis depicts Sarah as a proto-queen mother (Gen 16-21). The texts characterizes these women as good queen mothers, acting in a contradictory manner from the queen mothers of the divided monarchy. The queen mother outside of the divided monarchy can be a good queen mother even if she is foreign. These good queen mothers contrast with the wicked queen mothers and strengthen the mythos that the queen mother of the divided monarchy is wicked and she holds such a powerful, influential position that she is at fault, along with her son, for the exile of the nation.