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Taken from: Wikipedia - Queen of heaven (antiquity)
Queen of Heaven was a title given to a number of ancient sky goddesses in the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, in particular Anat, Isis, Innana, Astarte, Hera and possibly Asherah (by the prophet Jeremiah). Elsewhere, Nordic Frigg also bore this title. In Greco-Roman times Hera, and her Roman aspect Juno bore this title. Forms and content of worship varied. The title Queen of Heaven is used by Catholics and Orthodox Christians for Mary.
Isis was venerated first in Egypt. As per the Greek historian Herodotus, writing in the fifth century BCE, Isis was the only goddess worshiped by all Egyptians alike, and whose influence was so widespread by that point, that she had become completely syncretic with the Greek goddess Demeter. It is after the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great, and the Hellenization of the Egyptian culture initiated by Ptolemy I Soter, that she eventually became known as 'Queen of Heaven'. Lucius Apuleius confirmed this in Book 11, Chap 47 of his novel known as The Golden Ass, in which his character prayed to the "Queen of Heaven". The passage says that the goddess herself responded to his prayer, in which she explicitly identified herself as both the Queen of Heaven and Isis.
Inanna was the Sumerian Goddess of love and war. Despite her association with mating and fertility of humans and animals, Inanna was not a mother goddess, and is rarely associated with childbirth. Inanna was also associated with rain and storms and with the planet Venus.
Queen of Heaven is a title used for goddesses central to many religions of antiquity. Inanna's name is commonly derived from Nin-anna "Queen of Heaven" (from Sumerian NIN "lady", AN "sky"), although the cuneiform sign for her name (Borger 2003 nr. 153, U+12239 𒈹) is not historically a ligature of the two. In some traditions Inanna was said to be a granddaughter of the creator goddess Nammu or Namma.. These difficulties have led some early Assyriologists to suggest that Inanna may have been originally a Proto-Euphratean goddess, possibly related to the Hurrian mother goddess Hannahannah, accepted only latterly into the Sumerian pantheon, an idea supported by her youthfulness, and that, unlike the other Sumerian divinities, she at first had no sphere of responsibilities. The view that there was a Proto-Euphratean substrate language in Southern Iraq before Sumerian is not widely accepted by modern Assyriologists. In Sumer Inanna was hailed as "Queen of Heaven" in the 3rd millennium BC. In Akkad to the north, she was worshipped later as Ishtar. In the Sumerian Descent of Inanna, when Inanna is challenged at the outermost gates of the underworld, she replies:
Her cult was deeply embedded in Mesopotamia and among the Canaanites to the west.
The goddess, the Queen of Heaven, whose worship Jeremiah so vehemently opposed, may have been possibly Astarte. Astarte is the name of a goddess as known from Northwestern Semitic regions, cognate in name, origin and functions with the goddess Ishtar in Mesopotamian texts. Another transliteration is ‘Ashtart; other names for the goddess include Hebrew עשתרת (transliterated Ashtoreth), Ugaritic ‘ṯtrt (also ‘Aṯtart or ‘Athtart, transliterated Atirat), Akkadian DAs-tar-tú (also Astartu) and Etruscan Uni-Astre (Pyrgi Tablets).
According to scholar Mark S. Smith, Astarte may be the Iron Age (after 1200 BC) incarnation of the Bronze Age (to 1200 BC) Asherah.
Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, the sphinx, the dove, and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked. Astarte was accepted by the Greeks under the name of Aphrodite. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte's greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite's most common byname. Asherah was worshipped in ancient Israel as the consort of El and in Judah as the consort of Yahweh and Queen of Heaven (the Hebrews baked small cakes for her festival):
Hebrew Bible references
Worship of a "Queen of Heaven", in Hebrew Malkath haShamayim (מלכת השמים) is recorded in the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, circa 628 BC, in the context of the Prophet condemning such religious worship as blasphemy and a violation of the teachings of the God of Israel. In Jeremiah 7:18:
In Jeremiah 44:15-18:
It should be remembered in this context that there was a temple of Yahweh in Egypt at that time that was central to the Jewish community at Elephantine in which Yahweh was worshipped in conjunction with the goddess Anath (also named in the temple papyri as Anath-Bethel and Anath-Iahu).
The goddesses Asherah, Anath and Astarte first appear as distinct and separate deities in the tablets discovered in the ruins of the library of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra, Syria), although some Biblical scholars who have not explored the earlier documented evidence tend to jumble all these goddesses together.
John Day states that "there is nothing in first-millennium BC texts that singles out Asherah as 'Queen of Heaven' or associates her particularly with the heavens at all."
1. Histories 2.42
2. Histories 2.156
3. R.E Witt, "Isis in the Ancient World", 1997, ISBN 0-8018-5642-6
5. Fiore, Silvestro. Voices From the Clay: the development of Assyro-Babylonian Literature. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1965.
6. Jacobsen, Thorkild. The Treasures of Darkness: a History of Mesopotamian Religion. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1976.
7. Wolkstein, Diane and Noah Kramer, Samuel, "Inanna: Queen of Heaven and Earth" - a modern, poetic reinterpretation of Inanna myths
8. Harris, Rivkah (1991), "Inanna-Ishtar as Paradox and a Coincidence of Opposites" (History of Religions, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Feb., 1991)), pp. 261-278
9. Rubio, Gonzalo (1999), "On the Alleged "Pre-Sumerian Substratum" (Journal of Cuneiform Studies, Vol. 51, 1999 (1999)), pp. 1-16
10. Smith, Mark S (2002), The early history of God : Yahweh and the other deities in ancient Israel (2nd ed.), Grand Rapids WI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., ISBN 0-8028-3972-X
11. William G. Dever, "Did God Have a Wife?" (Eerdmans, ISBN 0-8028-2852-3,2005) - see reviews of this book by Patrick D. Miller, Yairah Amit.
12. Jeremiah 7:17–18
13. Jeremiah 44:17
14. Biblegateway, Jeremiah 7, 18.
15. Biblegateway, Jeremiah 44.
16. Dr. Raphael Patai: "The Hebrew Goddess": Duke University Press: third edition
17. Day, John. Yahweh and the gods and goddesses of Canaan. Continuum International Publishing Group - Sheffie (26 Dec 2002). ISBN 978-0-8264-6830-7, p. 146.