It is claimed that Maacah is the mother of Asa, king of Judah from 908 to 867 B.C.E., which is problematic because the same woman is alleged to be the mother of Asa’s father. Maacah’s role appears most clearly as an official functionary in the Judean cult when Asa removes her from her position as gebirah (“great lady”) after she makes a cult object associated with the goddess Asherah.
The regnal formula of Asa, king of Judah from 908 to 867 B.C.E., claims that his mother is Maacah the daughter of Abishalom (1 Kgs 15:10). This is problematic because the same woman is alleged to be the mother of Asa’s father, Abijah/Abijam (1 Kgs 15:2). An alternative tradition, calling Abijah’s mother Micaiah the daughter of Uriel of Gibeah, is most likely an attempted harmonization of this difficulty (2 Chr 13:2). Either Abijah and Asa are brothers, not father and son, or Maacah was Asa’s grandmother, not his mother. Thus, Maacah is the wife of Rehoboam (2 Chr 11:20–23), whose favored status with her husband ensured Abijah’s succession. This tradition also offers the variant spelling “Absalom” for Maacah’s father. If this refers to the half-Geshurite son of David, Maacah and Rehoboam’s marriage would be politically advantageous. After serving as queen mother during Abijah’s short reign, Maacah continues in that position under her son or grandson, Asa. If Asa is her grandson, this atypical retention of Maacah’s title adds support to the contention that the queen mother was an official functionary in the Judean court and not simply the female parent of the king. Maacah’s role appears most clearly as an official functionary in the Judean cult when Asa removes her from her position as gebirah (“great lady”) after she makes a cult object associated with the goddess Asherah. Ackerman suggests that the primary and generally accepted responsibility of the queen mother’s office was to devote herself to the cultic worship of Asherah. Thus, the lack of biblical evidence for this office might be partly explained by the Bible’s reluctance to admit Asherah worship was ever part of the official royal court.
Ackerman, Susan. “The Queen Mother and the Cult in Ancient Israel.” Journal of Biblical Literature 112 (1993): 385–401.
Andreasen, Niels-Erik. “The Role of the Queen Mother in Israelite Society.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 45 (1983): 179–194.
Ben-Barak, Zafrira. “The Status and Right of the Gebirah.” Journal of Biblical Literature 110 (1991): 23–34.
Meyers, Carol, General Editor. Women in Scripture. New York: 2000.
Spanier, Kitziah. “The Queen Mother in the Judean Royal Court: Maacah—A Case Study.” In A Feminist Companion to Samuel and Kings. Edited by Athalya Brenner, 186–195. Sheffield, England: 1994.