The ‘Queen of Heaven’

God pronounced severe judgment on the people of Judah and Jerusalem because they worshiped “the queen of heaven” (Jer. 7:17–20; 44:15–19). Who or what was the queen of heaven, and how did the people of Israel get involved in worship of her?

As early as the twenty-fifth century B.C., people of Ur of the Chaldees in Sumeria worshiped a mother-goddess named Ishtar.1 Around the same time the Minoans of Crete had a mother-goddess portrayed with “her divine child Velchanos” in her arms.2 Later, the people of Cyprus revered a goddess who appears to have been patterned after the Sumerian Ishtar and later adopted by the Greeks as Aphrodite,3 or Astarte.4

The Babylonians, who conquered Sumeria around the twenty-second century B.C.,5 related their religious beliefs to the heavenly bodies. They regarded the planets as gods and goddesses and equated the planet Venus with the Sumerian mother-goddess Ishtar.6

The Babylonians worshiped Ishtar as “The Virgin,” “The Holy Virgin,” “The Virgin Mother,” “Goddess of Goddesses,”7 and “Queen of Heaven and Earth.”8 They exclaimed, “Ishtar is great! Ishtar is Queen! My Lady is exalted, my Lady is Queen. . . . There is none like unto her.”9

They called her “Shining light of heaven, light of the world, enlightener of all the places where men dwell, who gatherest together the hosts of the nations”; and they claimed, “Where thou glancest, the dead come to life, and the sick rise and walk; the mind of the diseased is healed when it looks upon thy face.”10

In Babylonian mythology Ishtar wore a crown and was related to Tammuz, who sometimes was portrayed as her son and other times as her lover.11

It appears that the Sumerian-Babylonian Ishtar was the counterpart of the Egyptian Isis and the model for the Grecian Aphrodite, Roman Venus, Assyrian Nina, Phrygian and Roman Cybele, Phoenician Astarte,12 and Astarte of Syria.13 In essence they were the same mother-goddess.14

The Egyptians called Isis “the Great Mother” and “the Mother of God.”15 Isis worship spread to Italy by the second century and then throughout the entire Roman Empire. There the goddess was portrayed with her “divine child Horus” in her arms and widely acclaimed as “Queen of Heaven” and “Mother of God.”16

The people of Phoenicia worshiped Baal. Baalism included the worship of Molech with fiery sacrifices of children and the worship of Astarte, the Phoenician Ishtar Queen of Heaven.17

When the Phoenician princess Jezebel became the wife of King Ahab of the northern Kingdom of Israel, she influenced him to fully establish Baal worship in his realm (1 Ki. 16:29–33; 21:25–26). This move entangled the people of Israel in Queen-of-Heaven worship. As a result, God judged them with the Assyrian Captivity (2 Ki. 17:5–7, 16–18).

Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, became the wife of King Jehoram of the Kingdom of Judah. She influenced him to do what her father had done—fully establish Baal worship in his kingdom (2 Ki. 8:16–18). Her son, Ahaziah, the next king of Judah, did the same (2 Ki. 8:25–27), as did King Manasseh (2 Ki. 21:1–6). These actions would have entangled the people of Judah in Queen-of-Heaven worship. Thus God judged them with the Babylonian Captivity (2 Ki. 21:12–14).

ENDNOTES

  1. Will Durant, Our Oriental Heritage (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), 123–24, 1045.
  2. Will Durant, The Life of Greece (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1939), 13.
  3. Ibid., 33–34.
  4. Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 235.
  5. Ibid., 219.
  6. Ibid., 256.
  7. Ibid., 235.
  8. Ibid., 236.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid., 238–39.
  12. Ibid., 235, 266, 288, 294–95.
  13. Durant, The Life of Greece, 178.
  14. Ibid.
  15. Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 200.
  16. Will Durant, Caesar and Christ (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1944), 523.
  17. Durant, Our Oriental Heritage, 294–95, and Caesar and Christ, 41.

2 thoughts on “The ‘Queen of Heaven’

  1. Trying to put all the different peoples of the Bible and a different gods they worshiped into one coherent picture is extremely difficult. Different Names used for the same gods and the chronology of of when they changed though out time and adopted by different cultures is so mentally exhausting.

    This Dr. puts all of it into perspective in a short read. Pretty cool when you want to know all this but rather spend time study what God wants a you to know instead of figuring out these gods.

  2. Thank you. I hope many people will read your website.So few understand that what the Israelites were doing that eventually cost them captivity and eventually their nation of Israel was what we today would call The Green New Deal or “earth and nature worship”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Features

Children in the Fire

In ancient days the heathens sacrificed their children to the pagan god Molech. Thousands of years later, it’s surprising how little has changed.

The Root of Every Blessing: The Abrahamic Covenant

God made specific, unconditional promises to Abraham. Learn exactly what these promises were and how they affect you.

The Mosaic Law: A Hard Road to Travel

God’s standards are far above ours. And if you think you would have done better than the Israelites, this article is especially for you.

The Davidic Covenant

David was a man after God’s own heart. And the covenant God made with him is everlasting, as this outstanding article explains.

A Dispensational Look at the New Covenant

The Law of God is holy, just, and good. But the New Covenant is what spiritual life is
all about.


Share Your Story. Has God used The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry in your life? Share your story with us!
 

Subscription Options

1 Year Digital Subscription

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$9.99 every year

1 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$19.99 every year

2 Year Digital Subscription

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$19.99 every 2 years

2 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$39.99 every 2 years

3 Year Digital Subscription

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads

$29.99 every 3 years

3 Year Digital with Archive Access

  • *Free PDF Book Download - What on Earth is God Doing? by Renald Showers
  • *Complete Access to Our Growing Archive—Eventually Back Through Our Inaugural Issue In 1942
  • *Free Full-Issue PDF Downloads of Current Issues and Select Archives

$59.99 every 3 years

Free 1 Year Digital Subscription

Unlimited Articles

Unlimited Posts

Free