THE QUEEN OF HEAVEN
The biblical names of God, “Elohim” and “Yahweh,” are both masculine gender. The masculinity of the chief Deity was assumed by all ancient patriarchal societies, and it followed that He should be accorded female companionship. Heavenly consorts included the following:
The Great Mother of the Canaanite religion was the wife of the chief god, El. In the Hebrew faith, El was replaced by Elohim, and this identity meant that what had once belonged to El now belonged to Elohim, including his wife. A drawing from Kuntillet Ajrud shows a bull-headed deity standing near a woman playing a lyre, and the inscription above them reads: “I bless you by Yahweh of Samaria and His Asherah.” Yahweh, more powerful than El, had stolen his wife.
The Godhead could be defined by Hebrew terms taken from the Canaanite pantheon: El (Father), Elat (Mother), Shaddai (Son). Just as El means “God,” so does Elat/Elath means “Goddess.”
Astarte was the Canaanite Venus, and Anath was the Canaanite Athena. The first was Baal’s cousin, and the second his sister, but both were his lovers. Together with Asherah they made a divine Triad - combined as the single goddess Ashtoreth or Atargatis or Qadesh, the Queen of Heaven. Yahweh, more powerful than Baal, appropriated these goddesses to Himself. A fifth century B.C. garrison of Jewish mercenaries in Egypt worshiped two goddesses, Anathbethel and Anathyahu, who were evidently regarded as consorts of Yahu (Yahweh).
God’s “Dwelling” or “Presence,” given by the feminine word Shekhina, implied a female component of the Godhead. (God as Shekhina dwelt - shakhan - in the cloud over the Tabernacle - mishkhan.) The Shekhina took the form of Pharaoh’s daughter to draw the infant Moses out of the Nile. Legend says that her name was Batya (Bath-Yah: Daughter of God.) At the death of Moses, the Shekhina took his soul by kissing him on the mouth.
Binah is the Hebrew term “Reason,” and Sophia is the Greek word for “Wisdom.” Cabalistic Judaism and Christian Gnosticism, accepting the Zoroastrian concept of Æons or Archons, identified Wisdom as the female Companion of Yahweh. According to the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom was co-creator with Yahweh as well as His Playmate (8:22, 30). In medieval times, she was Anima Mundi, the “World Soul.” The trinitarian Godhead of mystical Judaism was Adonai (Lord), Messiah (Anointed One), and Binah or Hokhma (Wisdom). For Christian Gnostics this triad consisted of Kyrios (Lord), Christos (Anointed One), and Sophia (Wisdom).
In the cabalistic Godhead, Malkuth, “Kingdom,” is the tenth Sephira (Emanation) and can be identified as the Shekhina, the personified female “Presence” of God.
The Matron, the Lady, the Queen, the Divine Woman. The chief angel, Metatron, was her offspring. God, the King, copulates with Matronit once a week at Friday midnight. This produces a soul that may enter a child conceived by a pious couple at that time. The Talmud advises eating garlic on Sabbath eve, because it makes one happy, arouses love, increases semen, and kills jealousy.
The Hebrew letters y (Yod), h (Hey),v (Waw), h (Hey) are the Tetragrammation, YHWH This is the Divine Name, which defines the Godhead. “Y” is Father; “H” is Mother, “W” is Son, and “H” is daughter. In Cabalism Yod is Hokhma (Wisdom), Hey is Bina (Understanding), Waw is Tiferet (Beauty), and Hey is Malkuth (Kingdom).
Adam and Lilith were created at the same time, and Lilith became the man’s first wife. She refused to be his subordinate, however, and, as an owl-like creature, flew away. While Adam was created from dust, Lilith was made from filth and sediments. She was known as the First Eve and also as Naamah, “the Charmer.” She tempted Solomon without success in the guise of the queen of Sheba. The book of Cabalism, the Zohar, reads: “The Shekhina is at times called the Mother (Matronit), at times the Slave-Woman (Lilith), and at times the King’s Daughter (Malkuth).” According to Cabalism, when Matronit was separated from the King, as She followed Israel into Exile, Lilith, the Queen of the demons, attached herself to Him.
Matronit remained closely concerned with her children, the Jews. She took the form of “the Bride” and joined them each Friday at dusk. In Hebrew liturgy the Sabbath is called “the Virgin,” “the Bride,” and “the Queen.” She is joyfully welcomed each Friday night into Jewish homes and places of worship with the words, “Come, O Bride.” Shimeon ben Yohai said that Sabbath asked God why each day had its mate, while she had none. The Master of the Worlds replied, “The Community of Israel is your mate.” Ethiopian Falashas say, “The Mediatrix of Christians is Mary; ours is Lady Sabbath.” Cabalists made Her the Wife of God, however. One commentator said that the prayer on Friday means, “You betrothed the Sabbath to Yourself.”
The Knesseth Yisrael, Community of Israel, is of feminine gender and is married to Yahweh. The embodiment of Knesseth Yisrael is Matronit. The marriage state is beulah, but it has been marred at times by Israel’s infidelities with other gods.
Zion was the Mother City (hence, the divine Spouse). Her counterpart was the Daughter of Zion, who represents Israel, the Bride. The Book of Revelation says, “I saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a Bride adorned for her Husband” (21:2).
Catholic Mariolatry exalts the Jewish maiden to the status of divinity and even accords her such titles as Queen of Heaven and Mother of God. St. Peter Damian said that Mary had such charm and beauty that God sang the Canticles (Song of Songs) in her praise. St. Bonaventura did not hesitate to call Mary “the Spouse of the Eternal Father.” Also, Islam takes the Christian Trinity to be God, Mary, and Jesus.
The Church is the Bride of Christ. As “New Jerusalem” she is adorned in pure garments to meet the Bridegroom at His coming (Matthew 25:6, Luke 5:34-35, Revelation 21:2,9).
The Holy Spirit is usually called “He” in the Bible. He hovers over (fertilizes) the Cosmic Egg in the primordial waters at the Creation, and he penetrates (impregnates) the hearts of believers. As the Third Member of the Trinity, however, the Spirit takes on femininity, because the Family consists of Father, Son, and Mother.
Ref. The Hebrew Goddess by Raphael Patai, KTAV Publications, 1967, and From The Stone Age To Christianity by William Foxwell Albright, Doubleday Anchor Books, 1957