Hail Holy Queen
One of the titles of Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of Heaven. Her coronation as Queen of Heaven is the last Glorious Mysteries in Rosary and on 22 August Catholics celebrate its feast. This title may irk non-Catholic Christians who may point out that the title of Queen of Heaven is given to a pagan goddess (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25).
Most Old Testament’s books were originally written in Hebrew and it has four words translated as “queen” in English:
gebira (1 Kings 11:19; 15:13, 2 Kings 10:13, 2 Chronicles 15:16, Jeremiah 13:18; 29:2)
malkah (1 Kings 10:1, 2 Chronicles 9:1, Esther 1:9, 2:17 etc.)
melekheth (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25)
shegal (Nehemiah 2:6, Psalm 45:9).
Another word, sarah, is generally translated as lady (Judges 5:29) or princess (Lamentations 1:1 of RSV and KJV – NIV translates it as queen) and only once translated as queen (Isaiah 49:23 of RSV, KJV and NIV).
Among these four words we pay attention on gebira, the feminine form of gebir (Genesis 27:29, 37), which means lord or master. Isaac told Esau that his younger brother, Jacob, will be his lord (gebir). Thus gebira means a lady who has power to rule. Some Bibles translate gebira as “queen mother” because she is the mother (or grandmother) of the king, not his wife, except in 1 Kings 11:19 where gebira refers to the wife of the Pharaoh. In the Davidic kingdom (or Judah), gebira played important role and she had power and influence. Solomon might the first who seated his mother, Bathsheba on his right (1 Kings 2:19). His half brother, Adonijah, requested Bathsheba to speak on behalf of him to the King (1 Kings 2:13-18). While he did not get his wish and paid it with his life, the verse indicates the role of gebira as mediator to the King. King Asa removed Maacah, his mother because she abused her power (1 Kings 15:13). On the death of her son (king Ahaziah) Athaliah did not want to lose her power and had all her grandsons murdered (2 Kings 11:1). One survived and later became king Joash (2 Kings 11:2, 12). The name of most Davidic kings’ mother is always mentioned after that of the king (1 Kings 14:21; 15:2, 9; 22:42; 2 Kings 8:26; 12:2; 14:2; 15:2, 33; 18:2; 21:1, 19; 22:1; 23:31, 36; 24:8, 18). From Jeremiah 13:18 we know that both king and gebira had crowns, indicating their power. In New Testament Christ will be given the kingdom of David and it will have no end (Luke 1:32-33). Then Mary, His mother, naturally becomes gebira and this is the reason why Catholics believe that she is Queen of Heaven. Like gebira in Jeremiah 13:18 she also has crown in heaven. Furthermore the Church understands that the woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and crowned with twelve stars (Revelation 12:1) refers to Mary.
One of the Messianic Psalms applied to Christ is Psalms 45:6-7, cited in Hebrews 1:8-9. Yet Psalms 45:9 also mentions the Queen who sits at His right hand in gold of Ophir. While the Hebrew word for queen in this verse is shegal, to Catholics this verse also refers to the Queen-ship of Mary in heaven.
Coming back to Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 19, 25, the word translated as queen in “queen of heaven” is not gebira but melekheth and is therefore not applicable to Virgin Mary. After all, if there are false Christs (or Messiahs) and false prophets (Matthew 24:24) it should not surprise us that we also have false queens of heaven. Scripture uses the word “lion” to describe Christ as the lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5) and God (Hosea 5:14, 11:10). Yet the same title is applied to devil (1 Peter 5:8), wicked man (Psalms 10:9) and wicked ruler (Proverbs 28:15, Zephaniah 3:3). Even the same word for God in Hebrew (Elohim, plural for gods) is applied to (false) gods (Jeremiah 43:12, Daniel 1:2, Hosea 3:1, 14:3, Nahum 1:14). In New Testament the same title, priest (Greek hiereus), is applied to Christ (Hebrews 4:14), to all believers (1 Peter 2:5,9, Revelation 1:6), as well as to the pagan priests of Zeus (Acts 14:13).