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Hamutal: Bible

by Rhonda Burnette-Bletsch

Hamutal was the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, the consort of Josiah, king of Judah from 639 to 609 b.c.e., and the mother of two Judean kings, Jehoahaz and Zedekiah. Since most Judean regnal formulas include the name of the king’s mother and several of these women appear to wield considerable influence in political and cultic matters, the queen mother may have served as an official functionary of the royal court. Alternatively, Ben-Barak suggests that the activities of the more prominent queen mothers do not represent official roles. Rather, their prominence may be the result of personal influence earned by individual women who successfully garnered the support necessary to advance a younger son ahead of an older sibling in the royal succession.

Hamutal’s son Jehoahaz, for example, becomes king with the support of the people of the land, although he has an elder half brother (1 Kgs 23:30–36). This group of landed aristocracy is involved in succession only when the rising queen mother originates from the outlying provinces of Judah.

Presumably, the loyalties of Hamutal of Libnah and of her son would rest outside Jerusalem. Hamutal apparently does not accompany Jehoahaz when he is exiled by Necho of Egypt, because she later serves as queen mother under another son, Zedekiah (2 Kgs 24:18; Jer 52:1). Ezekiel’s lamentation on the mother (Ezekiel 19) may be interpreted as a reference to Hamutal’s involvement in her sons’ reigns. Likewise, Jeremiah’s joint criticism of the king and the queen mother (Jer 13:18) may refer to Zedekiah and Hamutal and indicate their shared authority.

Bibliography

Ackerman, Susan. “The Queen Mother and the Cult in Ancient Israel.” Journal of Biblical Literature 112 (1993) 385–401.

Berlyn, P. J. “The Great Ladies.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 24 (1996): 26–35.

Ben-Barak, Zafrira. “The Status and Right of the Gebira.” Journal of Biblical Literature 110 (1991): 23–34.

Meyers, Carol, General Editor. Women in Scripture. New York: 2000.

More on: Children, Mothers, Bible

How to cite this page

Burnette-Bletsch, Rhonda. "Hamutal: Bible." Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. 1 March 2009. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on September 2, 2014) <http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/hamutal-bible>.

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