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The Queen of Babylon

Original Publication Date
February 3, 2024
Updated
Feb 3, 2024 5:34 PM
Tags
Character StudyWomanDanielPersiaBabylon
Bible References

Daniel 5

Status
Done

Introduction

There are many women in the Bible who are nameless but have powerful stories. The Queen of Babylon is unique among these nameless women. Her story isn’t particularly tragic, like 👤The Unnamed Concubine. She isn’t immediately relatable, like the woman at the well. Nor is she held up as an example of faith, like the woman with the issue of blood. I’ve never heard a sermon preached about this queen. And yet, she gives us a glimpse at the true meaning of being a help mate.

Her Story

Not much is said about the queen of Babylon in the Bible. In fact everything we are told about her is given in Daniel 5:10-12. In these verses, she is referred to as the queen, which means she was either the mother or primary wife of Belshazzar, king of Babylon.[1] Essentially, she is brought in by the lords, governors, and other men of power to comfort her husband in his distress. The reason for the king’s distress is a message from the Most High God that cannot be deciphered or interpreted by the wise men of his kingdom. It is the queen who suggests they call upon Daniel and reminds us of the great deeds he has done previously.

That’s it. That’s all we know about her.

It seems very mundane but there is a lot to be said about the role this woman played in the narrative. Much like Abigail,—who also ends up married to a king—the queen points out her husband’s transgression and aids in making the most of a situation. From this, the following is of note:

  1. Men of power could not calm the king and deferred to his wife for this task. Countless studies have shown that men are less likely to be vulnerable to other men; in some cases they reserve conversations that make the feel vulnerable for a wife or girlfriend but in many, they won’t open up at all. In our current day with the rise of singleness, the suicide rate is growing rapidly for men in particular.[3][4][5]
  2. The queen is very gentle in her approach of the topic. She begins the conversation just as her intended purpose would suggest, by comforting and reassuring Belshazzar.
  3. The king should have been familiar with Daniel, but it is actually the queen who is able to steer him in the right direction. Daniel was well known at court during the time of Nebuchadnezzar, who is described as Belshazzar’s father in Daniel 5:2—though he was likely Belshazzar’s grandfather.[2] Belshazzar should have been aware of who Daniel was and who The Most High is. Yet, he is mocking the very God Nebuchadnezzar said should not be mocked (Daniel 3:29).
  4. We aren’t told her relationship with God, but she is aware that Daniel is the one the king needs in that moment. Whether she was converted by Daniel and his friends’ actions earlier in her life or not, God put the message of direction in her mouth. God could have put that message in the mouth of any of the men present with the king, but he chose this woman instead.

Who Was the Queen

Unlike some ancient kingdoms Babylon kept a decent amount of records so we can look up information on Belshazzar and hopefully find out information about his wife. Encyclopedia Britannica gives some information about Belshazzar, but does not mention his wife or relationships. It does however tell us that Nitocris, daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, was his mother. If she is the queen discussed here, we now understand why she is more familiar with Daniel than Belshazzar.[6]

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Note, skeptics would attack this point in that there is no concrete proof of who is who. Extra-biblical sources that speak of Nitocris generally refer to her as either of the wife or daughter of Nebuchadnezzar, leaning toward daughter. However there is ambiguity within both the extra-biblical sources and the Bible itself. If this topic interests you I suggest A Question of Faith

References & Footnotes

  1. Belshazzar was a co-regent with his father, thus the title of queen may have been retained by his father’s wife. If the title did apply to his own wife, kings typically had multiple wives and/or concubines. However, only one was favored and considered queen. Usually it was this woman’s child that was named heir to the throne.
  2. According to extra-Biblical historical text, Nabonidus was Belshazzar’s father and Nebuchadnezzar was Nabonidus’ father-in-law. Biblically father is used to mean grandfather and the word grandfather does not appear anywhere in the text.
  3. Melanie Hamlett. “Men Have No Friends and Women Bear the Burden”. Bazaar. May 2, 2019
  4. Olive Evans. “Relationships: Are Men More Open With Men?”. New York Times. February 3, 1986
  5. Stats on Suicide In Men”. Heads Up Guys; visited February 2024
  6. Belshazzar, King of Babylonia”. Encyclopedia Britannica; visited February 2024

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