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Menelik I, or Menilek (Ge`ez: ምኒልክ Mənilək) was the first Solomonic Emperor of Ethiopia. According to Kebra Nagast, a 14th-century record, in the 10th century BC he is said to have inaugurated the Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia, so named because Menelik I was the son of the biblical King Solomon of ancient Israel and of Makeda, the Ethiopian Queen of Sheba.  
|Mother||Queen of Sheba|
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba - History
9 When the queen of Sheba (B) heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind. 2 Solomon answered all her questions nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. 3 When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, (C) as well as the palace he had built, 4 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at [a] the temple of the Lord , she was overwhelmed.
5 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 6 But I did not believe what they said until I came (D) and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me you have far exceeded the report I heard. 7 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 8 Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne (E) as king to rule for the Lord your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king (F) over them, to maintain justice and righteousness.”
9 Then she gave the king 120 talents [b] of gold, (G) large quantities of spices, and precious stones. There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.
10 (The servants of Hiram and the servants of Solomon brought gold from Ophir (H) they also brought algumwood [c] and precious stones. 11 The king used the algumwood to make steps for the temple of the Lord and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. Nothing like them had ever been seen in Judah.)
12 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for he gave her more than she had brought to him. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.
Solomon’s Splendor (I)
13 The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents, [d] 14 not including the revenues brought in by merchants and traders. Also all the kings of Arabia (J) and the governors of the territories brought gold and silver to Solomon.
15 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold six hundred shekels [e] of hammered gold went into each shield. 16 He also made three hundred small shields (K) of hammered gold, with three hundred shekels [f] of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. (L)
17 Then the king made a great throne covered with ivory (M) and overlaid with pure gold. 18 The throne had six steps, and a footstool of gold was attached to it. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. 19 Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. 20 All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s day. 21 The king had a fleet of trading ships [g] manned by Hiram’s [h] servants. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.
22 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. (N) 23 All the kings (O) of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 24 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift (P) —articles of silver and gold, and robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.
25 Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots, (Q) and twelve thousand horses, [i] which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 26 He ruled (R) over all the kings from the Euphrates River (S) to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. (T) 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from all other countries.
Solomon’s Death (U)
29 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the records of Nathan (V) the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah (W) the Shilonite and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam (X) son of Nebat? 30 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 31 Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David (Y) his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba - History
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&ldquoA nd when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon&rsquos wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon&rdquo (1 Kings 10:1-10).
Sheba, the land of spices, was considered mythical by Bible critics until the mid-19th century.
&ldquoIt used to be thought that states were not yet in existence in south Arabia at such an early date, and so this account was rejected as a fabrication or a retrojection of a later situation&rdquo (Robert Hoyland, Arabia and the Arabs , p. 38).
This was true even though Sheba&rsquos ancient kingdom is mentioned not only in the Bible, but also in Yemeni, Ethiopian, and Yoruba history, in the Quran, and in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus.
While it is true that apart from the Bible, some of these histories are slathered with silly legend, such as Solomon hearing about Sheba via a bird, the accounts agree in many major points, including the location of the ancient kingdom of Sheba, its wealth, and the existence of powerful queens.
&ldquoArabian documents portray all of Arabia as matriarchal and ruled by queens for over 1000 years. In Ethiopia, the Kebra Negast even refers to a law established in Sheba that only a woman could reign, and that she must be a virgin queen&rdquo (&ldquoSheba: The Ancient Empire,&rdquo Viewzone.com).
Two hundred years after Solomon, a powerful queen named Samsi was ruling in Arabia. She is mentioned in the annals of the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser.
&ldquoAs for Samsi, queen of the Arabs at Mount Saqurri, I defeated 9,400 of her people. I took away from her . 30,000 camels, 20,000 oxen. . 5,000 pouches of all types of aromatics. thrones of her gods and staffs of her goddesses, and her property. . Samsi became startled by my mighty weapons and she brought camels, she-camels, with their young, to Assyria, before me&rdquo ( The Royal Inscriptions of Tiglath-pileser III and Shalmaneser, Kings of Assyria , 2011, pp. 106, 107)
In this eighth century BC account, we see that Arabia had a queen rather than a king and that she was still rich in goods and spices.
Muslim historians called the queen of Sheba Bilqis Josephus called her Nicaule the Ethiopians called her Makeda. She is said to have been born in the 10th century BC, which is the time when Solomon lived by the biblical chronology.
Wendell Phillips, who led the first archaeological expedition to Marib, ancient capital of Sheba, said:
&ldquoThe legends may be fabricated, but there is no reason to doubt that the Queen was real. Some day archaeological research will confirm her existence and tell us more about her, just as it has in recent years confirmed numerous other Biblical stories of this same general period&rdquo (Phillips, Qataban and Sheba: Exploring the Ancient Kingdoms on Biblical Spice Routes of Arabia , 1955, p. 108).
After reviewing the archaeological evidence for the historicity of the biblical account of Sheba, Dr. K.A. Kitchen said,
&ldquoIn short, the queen of Sheba may be exotic, but she belongs firmly to this world, not some mere dreamworld&rdquo ( On the Reliability of the Old Testament , Eerdmans, 2003, p. 120 Kitchen is Brunner Professor Emeritus of Egyptology at the University of Liverpool).
Sheba in the Bible
The first mention of Sheba in the Bible pertains to a son of Ham by that name (Ge. 10:7). Ham&rsquos sons settled in the very place where the kingdom of Sheba later existed: the southern Arabian peninsula, as well as northern Africa.
Jeremiah said Sheba was a source of incense (Jer. 6:20). Ezekiel mentioned Sheba as one of the kingdoms that had commerce with Tyre and supplied spices, precious stones, gold, expensive cloth, and exotic wood.
&ldquoThe merchants of SHEBA and Raamah, they were thy merchants: they occupied in thy fairs with chief of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold. Haran, and Canneh, and Eden, the merchants of SHEBA , Asshur, and Chilmad, were thy merchants. These were thy merchants in all sorts of things , in blue clothes, and broidered work, and in chests of rich apparel, bound with cords, and made of cedar, among thy merchandise&rdquo (Eze. 27:22-24).
The Lord Jesus Christ mentioned the queen of Sheba&rsquos visit to Solomon.
&ldquoThe queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here&rdquo (Mt. 12:42).
For those who respect Christ&rsquos authority, this is infallible evidence of the historicity of the queen and her spice kingdom and of the authenticity of the account in 1 Kings.
Christ&rsquos statement gives a clear indication of where the queen lived: a long distance south of Israel. The southern tip of the Arabian peninsula would fit that description, as it was 1,500 miles from Jerusalem, a major journey in that day, requiring months of travel.
Christ indicates that the queen of Sheba exercised saving faith, because she will join the repentant Ninevites in condemning the unbelieving Jews (Mt. 12:41-42). She could not condemn unbelief if she had remained an unbeliever. The Bible says she came to Israel &ldquoconcerning the name of the LORD&rdquo (1 Ki. 10:1). It was not just a trade mission. She wanted to know about Jehovah God. And at the end of her visit she praised Jehovah and confessed her belief in His covenants with Israel. She said to Solomon. She didn&rsquot speak of God in a general sense, but of God as LORD, Jehovah.
&ldquoBlessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice&rdquo (1 Ki. 10:9).
The Chronicles account adds that the queen of Sheba said that Jehovah God &ldquoloved Israel, to establish them for ever&rdquo (2 Ch. 9:8). One must believe God&rsquos Word to make such a statement.
Thus, the queen rejected the moon god and the other vain idols her kingdom had inherited from Babel, though as we will see, the kingdom of Sheba itself did not turn from idols. Any revival she might have introduced upon her return to Sheba was short lived, like the one in Nineveh in Jonah&rsquos day.
Archaeology Unearths Sheba
Since the late 1800s, archaeologists have found evidence of a wealthy kingdom of Sheba that lasted more than a millennium, beginning before the time of Solomon, a kingdom that conducted far-flung commercial enterprises.
&ldquoWe know that the three kingdoms--Sheba, Ma&rsquoin, and Qataban--were all in existence at the same time. But they did not all flourish simultaneously, for the most powerful period of each came at a different time. . Sheba, whose power and dominance came first, reigned supreme between the tenth and fifth centuries B.C., with our Biblical Queen coming near the beginning of this great era&rdquo (Wendell Phillips, Qataban and Sheba: Exploring the Ancient Kingdoms on Biblical Spice Routes of Arabia , 1955, p. 108, p. 246).
(The archaeological dating of ancient civilizations in southern Arabia are contradictory. In fact, there are three different views, called &ldquoLong,&rdquo &ldquoMixed,&rdquo and &ldquoShort&rdquo chronologies, Klaus Schippmann, Ancient South Arabia: From the Queen of Sheba to the Advent of Islam ).
Sheba (or Saba) was one of many kingdoms in southern Arabia. There was also Qataban, Khawlan, Main, Samay, Bakil, and others. At times, Sheba ruled as the head of a &ldquounion.&rdquo
Sheba&rsquos capital was Marib. Other ancient chief cities in southern Arabia were Shabwa, Sirwah, Sana, and Nashq.
Archaeological work has been slow in this region, because it is a dangerous place.
Of the five members of a Danish expedition in the 1760s, only Carsten Niebuhr survived. He published Description of a Journey to Arabia and Other Adjacent Lands .
Siegfried Langer, Hermann Burchardt, and Burchardt&rsquos Italian colleague were murdered.
J. Halevy of France and Eduard Glaser of Austria reached the southern part of the Arabian peninsula in 1870 and 1888. Disguised as Orientals, they smuggled out copies of inscriptions that proved that ancient Marib, Sheba&rsquos capital, really existed.
In 1951, the first archaeological expedition to Marib was led by Wendell Phillips at the invitation of the king of Yemen. It was sponsored by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM), which Phillips established for this purpose. Dr. William F. Albright was the vice-president. Work began in April 1951 but it was cut short in February of the next year because of threats by Arab soldiers. Learning that the soldiers were plotting to kill them, the archaeologists contrived an audacious escape plan and fled for their lives in two vehicles, outrunning their murderous pursuers across the desert. They were forced to leave behind most of their expensive equipment and much of their research.
Following is the first-hand account of this cliff-hanging adventure:
&ldquoAfter lunch, Jama came to me with startling news. . &lsquoYesterday afternoon I overheard five soldiers discussing the best way to start some kind of argument so they could kill some of us. . Then they will gather many paid witnesses to swear that we attacked them first and they acted in self-defense. .
&ldquoIf we continued to drive out to the temple for even one more work day, there would probably be insufficient gasoline left to take two trucks to Beihan. It was tomorrow or never. .
&ldquoDuring the next few hours all arrangements had to be completed without one Yemeni the wiser. . Chester and I finally worked out one plan that could succeed if everything went like clockwork. We spread the word, freely and openly, that the next morning Commander Gilliland was going to take movies at the temple. . We felt reasonably sure that this tale would explain taking even our Somalis to the excavation site the next morning. .
&ldquoI pulled up at the far side of the temple, the spot from which we would have the advantage for a quick departure. . I shouted to the Somalis to keep their places. I gave a helping hand to Zeid Inan and Nagib Muhsin and, when they were on the ground, explained, &lsquoWe are all driving off a short distance for movies and you, Qadi Zeid Inan, are to act as Mr. Wendell in my absence.&rsquo . Chester at that moment roared off in a cloud of sand, slightly ahead of schedule. . I slowly mounted the right front fender with my last word, and Jama pulled away fast after Chester. [The soldiers] were too surprised to make a move, and Merey looked questioningly at Qadi Zeid Inan. I shall never forget the look of blank puzzlement on that gentleman&rsquos face. Then the soldiers started to shout something to him, but I could not hear what they said. Their words were lost forever in the wonderful roar of our Power Wagons. I had never doubted for an instant my ability to outgun the handful of Yemeni soldiers near our trucks, should the lives of my party depend on it, for I had on my side the element of surprise plus a Colt for each hand. What I was deathly afraid of was the rifles of the soldiers stationed at the other side of the temple, for my open trucks filled with humanity would afford perfect targets. But we were out of effective range within a minute. .
&ldquoNext Chester&rsquos truck stuck partway up a steep, rocky slope. Fortunately there were large boulders on both sides, since we were approaching the mountains on our right. By tying the winch cable around a huge stone at the top of the rise, we were able to get both trucks over. But thirty precious minutes were lost in the operation .
&ldquoOver the roar of my Power Wagon I thought I heard Eileen scream. Just at this moment, Eileen, who was riding in the back of the truck, was the first to see a large party of camel troops and horsemen racing down the Wadi Harib attempting to intercept Chester&rsquos truck, which had fallen far behind. . Chester, now fully aware of his danger, abruptly cut far to the left barely eluding the Yeminis and keeping his truck just out of rifle range. I had slowed down somewhat, but picked up speed again when I saw that the second truck was safe, and together we roared out of the wadi, leaving the Yeminis to swallow our dust.
&ldquoWe were past the worst danger now, and we all knew it. But there was no time for celebration, for we realized that Yemini soldiers would not be too reluctant to cross the vague border into Beihan if they thought they might catch us&rdquo (Wendell Phillips, Qataban and Sheba , pp. 309-319).
In 1998, the AFSM was invited to return to the site and continue excavation, and work has continued off and on since then. The current president of the AFSM is Merilyn Phillips Hodgson, sister of the late Wendel Phillips, and the excavation has been led by William Glanzman of the University of Calgary, who says:
&ldquoOur first task is to wrest the sanctuary from the desert sands, documenting our findings as we go. We&rsquore trying to determine how the temple was associated with the Queen of Sheba, how the sanctuary was used throughout history, and how it came to play such an important role in Arab folklore&rdquo (University of Calgary, http://www.ucalgary.ca/UofC/events/unicomm/NewsReleases/queen.htm, accessed November 18, 2007).
Sheba&rsquos People and Culture
Much has been discovered about ancient Sheba and nearby kingdoms.
The following description of Sheba&rsquos people is by Wendell Phillips:
&ldquoFrom our work at Timna and other studies, we knew that the Queen of Sheba&rsquos people were of medium build, with fair complexions and short straight noses like the Yemenis of today. They were exceptional artisans and true engineering geniuses, going so far as to build not only the great dam but to quarry translucent alabaster in thin sheets for windows in their multi-storied houses. The spice route riches brought them a standard of luxurious living inconceivable to the poverty-stricken South Arabian Bedouins of today&rdquo (Wendell Phillips, Qataban and Sheba , p. 227).
The construction of the large buildings &ldquoused extremely advanced engineering techniques.&rdquo The large stone blocks were perfectly planed and the joints were nearly invisible. Some blocks were founded on the edges.
The cities were surrounded by high walls and had elaborate gates. The walls at Yathill were 45 feet high.
The south gate of Marib was unearthed by Phillips:
&ldquoFlanked by massive towers made of rough stone, the gateway opened on to a small plaza. Two parallel streets led toward the northwest. It was not too difficult to approach the massive south gate and imagine ourselves part of a camel caravan loaded with frankincense&rdquo ( Arabia and the Arabs ).
Consider the following description of the palace of Sana:
&ldquoThe palace was four-sided, with one made of white stones, the second of black, the third of green, and the fourth of red. At the top of the palace was a room that had several windows, each made with a marble frame and ebony woodwork, with silk curtains. The roof was made of one single slab of marble&rdquo ( Arabia and the Arabs ).
The pillars were toped with elaborately-carved capitals.
At the four corners stood a copper statue of a lion. These were hollow so that whenever the wind blew through them a voice similar to the actual roaring of lions would be heard&rdquo ( Arabia and the Arabs ).
They had beautiful jewelry, pottery, and music. Archaeologists unearthed an image of a man playing a double flute accompanied by two women playing harps.
Sheba&rsquos Irrigation System
In ancient times, the region of Sheba was not as arid as it is today. Further, the kingdom made use of a sophisticated irrigation system with water supplied by a massive dam.
&ldquoA gigantic dam blocked the river Adhanat in Sheba, collecting the rainfall from a wide area. The water was then led off in canals for irrigation purposes, which was what gave the land its fertility. Remains of this technical marvel in the shape of walls over 60 feet high still defy the sand-dunes of the desert. Just as Holland is in modern times the Land of Tulips, so Sheba was then the Land of Spices, one vast fairy-like scented garden of the costliest spices in the world. In the midst of it lay the capital, which was called Marib. For 1,500 years this garden of spices bloomed around Marib. That was until [572 AD]--then the dam burst. The importunate desert crept over the fertile lands and destroyed them&rdquo (Keller, The Bible as History , p. 225).
The dam that provided water for Sheba&rsquos irrigation system was about a half mile wide and 60 feet high and was &ldquorenowned as the greatest of ancient times&rdquo (Frank Albright, &ldquoThe Excavation of the Temple of the Moon at Marib,&rdquo Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research , No. 128, Dec. 1952, p. 26). It was almost twice as long as the Hoover Dam.
This dam dates to the first millennium BC and was probably built after the time of the queen of Sheba of Solomon&rsquos day, but older irrigation works date to the third millennium BC (Klaus Schippmann, Ancient South Arabia , p. 101).
An inscription from one of the rebuilding projects says the work required 20,000 men and more than 14,000 camels (&ldquoEngineering Marvel of Queen of Sheba&rsquos City,&rdquo National Geographic , June 3, 2015).
The area under irrigation is estimated to have been about 72 square kilometers (44 square miles). This area was called &ldquothe two gardens.&rdquo The sophisticated irrigation system also included smaller dams and reservoirs.
The irrigation system at ancient Timna, near Sheba, is described as follows:
&ldquoEventually, Dick traced a main canal which extended in Qatabanian times from the village of Beihan al-Qasab to a point about five miles north of Hajar bin Humeid, covering an approximate distance of fifteen miles. This was only one of several ancient canal systems utilizing the flow of water from tributary wadis after heavy rains. He also uncovered masonry reservoirs with waterproof cement between the stones, cleverly contrived stone gates for controlling the flow of water, and sluices branching off in many directions to carry water to the fields. At the peak of Qatabanian civilization, the Wadi Beihan must have been a great garden, producing an abundance of grain, vegetables, and fruit, for the irrigation system uncovered was extensive, carefully planned, and engineered with great skill&rdquo (Wendell Phillips, Qataban and Sheba , p. 124).
Ancient Marib was a beautiful oasis city teeming with palm trees and exotic plants. The kingdom&rsquos wealth increased to such an extent that it became &ldquoa byword for riches beyond belief throughout the Arab world&rdquo (&ldquoSheba,&rdquo The History Files).
The spices that were grown in the kingdom of Sheba included frankincense and myrrh.
Not only was the kingdom rich in rare spices, but also in gold. The Greek historian Diodorus said the gold was gathered from underground mines.
&ldquoGold they discover in underground galleries, which have been formed by nature, and gather in abundance. . And as for size the smallest nugget found is about as large as a fruit stone and the largest not much smaller than a Persian walnut. This gold they wear about both their wrists and necks, perforating it and alternating it with transparent stones&rdquo ( Arabia and the Arabs ).
This supports the biblical record that the Queen of Sheba brought &ldquospices, and very much gold, and precious stones&rdquo (1 Kings 10:2).
In 2012, a large ancient gold mine was discovered in Sheba by a team headed by Louise Schofield, former British Museum curator. Though it has not been excavated, &ldquoit is extensive, with a proper shaft and tunnel big enough to walk along&rdquo (Archaeologists strike gold in quest to find Queen of Sheba&rsquos wealth,&rdquo The Guardian , Feb. 12, 2012). Nearby they found &ldquoa 20ft stone stele (or slab) carved with a sun and crescent moon.&rdquo
The ancient kingdom of Sheba was a highly literate culture. The South Arabian language had its own script. It was Semitic, meaning it was similar to Hebrew. It had 29 letters and no vowels. Originally the language was written from right to left or from left to right. At times the progression of letters switched direction in the middle of long passages. Later, the preferred direction was right to left.
The South Arabian script was used until the 7th century AD when it was abandoned in favor of the modern Arabic script.
Sheba was idolatrous after the fashion of all of the kingdoms that were established after the division of tongues at the Tower of Babel. They were especially devoted to astrological worship.
The people of Sheba worshiped the god of Venus (called Attar and Astar), the sun god Shams (known as Shamash in Mesopotamia), and the moon god (known variously as Almaqah, Ilmaqah, Ilumquh, Wadd, Amm, and Sin).
Wadd was worshiped in the form of a serpent and Almaqah in the form of a bull or a lightning bolt, as was Baal in Mesopotamia.
There were at least four temples in ancient Marib. The Bar&rsquoan Temple, devoted to Ilumquh, the moon god, dates to the 2nd millennium BC (&ldquoMarib Governorate,&rdquo Yementourism.com). This takes us back to a few hundred years after the Tower of Babel which was the source of the idolatrous kingdoms that spread across that part of the world.
The largest temple in Marib, the Awanm Temple or Balqis Temple, has been dated to about the 8th century BC, but archaeologists have found pottery fragments at the site that have been dated to between 1500 and 1200 BC (&ldquoQuest for a Queen,&rdquo Frontline , Feb. 2-25, 2002).
This temple, too, was devoted to Ilumquh, the moon god, whose symbols were the bull, the ibex, and the crescent. Ilumquh was similar to Sin of Ur of the Chaldees and to Baal of the Philistines.
Canadian archaeologists found a statue of a bull that is twice life size (&ldquoOil Company Helps Queen of Sheba Dig,&rdquo Gauntlet , April 5, 2001). Many smaller bull images were found in the temple.
Marib&rsquos Temple of the Moon was a major idolatrous pilgrimage site and was visited by worshipers from as far away as India ( Gauntlet , April 5, 2001).
Sheba also worshiped Shayba, a moon goddess, and Athtar, &ldquowho was probably the equivalent of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar&rdquo or Astarte (&ldquoQuest for a Queen,&rdquo Frontline , India&rsquos national magazine, Feb. 2-25, 2002). Shayba was worshiped by the titles of the Queen of Heaven and Mother of God. She was depicted with horns, signifying her power. She had a disc of the sun above her head and was accompanied by a lioness (&ldquoSheba: The Ancient Empire,&rdquo Viewzone.com). The Babylonian Ishtar was also worshiped under the image of a lion.
The kidney-shaped Temple of the Moon at Marib was about 900 feet in circumference, some 367 feet at its longest axis. The entrance court was surrounded by 32 pillars, each about 13 feet high. From the entrance court, a door led into the temple proper, while a massive triple door opened to an exterior court. Eight columns at least 24 feet high and weighing more than 10 tons each still stand beyond the front of the hall, partly buried in the sand (Albright, &ldquoThe Excavation of the Temple of the Moon at Marib,&rdquo Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research , No. 128, Dec. 1952, p. 28).
Water, transported to the temple by an irrigation channel, plunged from a 15-foot-high fountain near the entrance and flowed through the edifice.
Some parts of the temple were covered in bronze, including the steps leading into the temple and perhaps the entire floor.
The exterior wall, which was probably at least 48 feet high, was fashioned of massive stone blocks about 10 feet thick. The south wall was particularly ornate, with false ornamental &ldquowindows&rdquo and &ldquoventilator grills&rdquo spaced a few inches apart on the inside and outside (Albright, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research , No. 128, Dec. 1952, p. 28).
Glanzman believes that the temple could prove as important as the ruins of Pompeii, the pyramids of Giza, or the Acropolis of Athens and might be considered the eighth wonder of the world (&ldquoArabian desert surrenders Queen of Sheba&rsquos secrets,&rdquo University of Calgary, Sept. 12, 2000).
Going hand-in-hand with the idolatry was immorality. Prostitutes plied their wares in the temples, and &ldquoa man&rsquos wife was made available to her husband&rsquos father, brothers, uncles, and all men of that particular family&rdquo (Wendell Phillips, Qataban and Sheba , p. 227).
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King Solomon and Queen of Sheba Story
The Wisdom of Solomon: King Solomon was the wisest man of all times. He was called ‘Solomon, the wise’. One of his contemporaries was the Queen of Sheba. She heard Solomon’s name many times for his outstanding knowledge. She was very inquisitive to test his wit. One day, the queen invited the king to her palace. Solomon accepted her invitation.
The king came to her palace in due time. The queen welcomed him majestically. The queen kept two bouquests on a table in the room where the king sat. But the door and the windows of the room were closed. One of the garlands was artificial. But the garlands looked quite alike. The king realised that the queen might test his wit. He heard some bees humming on the garland of real flowers. The Queen of Sheba was charmed by his wisdom.
Sulaiman (Solomon) - The Queen of Sheba Sends Gifts
The hoopoe dropped the letter in front of the queen and flew away to hide. She excitedly opened and read it: "Verily! It is from Solomon, and verily! It (reads): 'In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission)." Surah 27: 30-31
The queen was very disturbed and hurriedly summoned her advisors. They reacted as to a challenge, for they felt that there was someone challenging them, hinting at war and defeat, and asking them to submit to his conditions.
They told her that they could only offer advice, but it was her right to command action. She sensed that they wanted to meet Solomon's invasion threat with a battle. However, she told them: "Peace and friendship are better and wiser war only brings humiliation, enslaves people, and destroys the good things. I have decided to send gifts to Solomon, selected from our most precious treasure. The courtiers who will deliver the gifts will also have an opportunity to learn about Solomon and his military might."
Queen of Sheba: Midrash and Aggadah
In the midrashic account, the Queen of Sheba heard of King Solomon’s great wisdom and declared: “I will go and see whether he is wise or not, and I will come to test him with riddles.” She came to Solomon and asked him: “Are you the Solomon about whom, about whose kingdom and about whose wisdom I have heard?” He replied that he was. She then said to him: “You are truly wise, now I will ask you something, and we shall see if you are capable of answering me,” to which he responded: “For the Lord grants wisdom knowledge and discernment are by His decree” (Prov. 2:6). The Queen of Sheba asked: “What are the seven that issue and nine that enter, the two that offer drink, and the one that drinks?” Solomon answered: “The seven that issue are the seven days of menstrual impurity. The nine that enter are the nine months of pregnancy. The two that offer drink are the breasts, and the child is the one who drinks.” ( A type of non-halakhic literary activitiy of the Rabbis for interpreting non-legal material according to special principles of interpretation (hermeneutical rules). Midrash Proverbs [Buber ed.] 1).
The Queen of Sheba exclaimed: “You are truly wise, I will put another question to you, and we shall see if you can answer me.” He responded: “For the Lord grants wisdom.” She asked him: “How can a woman say to her son: ‘Your father is my father your grandfather, my husband you are my son, and I am your sister?’” Solomon replied: “The two daughters of Lot” (who became pregnant by their father and bore sons).
When the Queen of Sheba saw that he solved her riddles, she brought before him children who were of the same height and who were in like attire. She asked him: “Distinguish between the males and the females.” He made a sign to his eunuchs, who brought him nuts and roasted ears of corn, which they scattered before the children. The males, who were not bashful, collected them and tied them within the hems of their garments. The girls, however, were bashful (since their bodies would be revealed if they were to tie their undergarments) and therefore tied them within their outer garments. Solomon told the queen: “These are the males, and these are the females.” She told him: “You are exceedingly wise.” (Midrash Proverbs [Buber ed.] 1).
The Queen of Sheba brought a number of people before Solomon, some circumcised and others uncircumcised. She asked of him: “Distinguish between the circumcised and the uncircumcised.” Solomon immediately made a sign to the High Priest to open the Ark of the Covenant. Those who were circumcised stood or bowed their bodies to half their height, while their countenances were filled with the radiance of the Shekhinah. The uncircumcised, however, fell on their faces. Solomon immediately told the Queen of Sheba: “These are the uncircumcised, and these are the circumcised.” She asked him: “How did you know?” He explained to her: “From Balaam the uncircumcised, of whom it is said: ‘who beholds visions from the Almighty, prostrate, but with eyes unveiled’ [Num. 24:4]. If he did not prostrate himself, he would see nothing. I also learned from Job, for when the three friends of Job came to console him, he told them [Job 12:3]: ‘I am not less than you’ [literally, I do not fall from you]—I do not fall like you, for you are uncircumcised, while I am circumcised.” (Midrash Proverbs [Buber ed.] 1).
The queen said to Solomon: “But I did not believe the reports [of your wisdom] until I came and saw with my own eyes that not even the half had been told me your wisdom and wealth surpass the reports that I heard. How fortunate are your men and how fortunate are these your courtiers, who are always in attendance on you and can hear your wisdom! Praised be the Lord your God, who delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel. It is because of the Lord’s everlasting love for Israel that He made you king to administer justice and righteousness [I Kings 10:7–9]” (Midrash Proverbs [Buber ed.] 1). According to another tradition, the Queen of Sheba’s praise was mainly for the righteousness that she saw in Solomon’s kingdom, which is why she ended with the words “that He made you king to administer justice and righteousness” (Shir ha-Shirim Zuta [Buber ed.] 1:15).
The riddles that the Queen of Sheba put to Solomon attest to familiarity with the stories of the Torah she-bi-khetav : Lit. "the written Torah." The Bible the Pentateuch Tanakh (the Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiographia) Torah , and especially with those about Gentiles (the daughters of Lot , Balaam and Job). The queen’s interest in Jewish culture is consistent with the tradition that her encounter with Solomon led to her conversion to Judaism (see below). The main shared element of all her riddles is that they are concerned with gender: the first focuses on women, the two middle riddles relate to males and females, and the fourth, to men. The first riddle pertains to the female’s birth cycle: menstruation, pregnancy, birth, and nursing. The riddle is elusive, since its verbs are couched in the masculine: “yozim [issue] … nikhnasim [enter] … mozgim [offer drink],” and Solomon’s wisdom is patent in his discovery of the solution in feminine matters. The second riddle is about the family unit. It threatens the generational hierarchy within the family, by interchanging father and grandfather, husband and father, mother and sister. The solution restores the normal order, since it reveals that this is an exceptional case, which held good only for the daughters of Lot. The third riddle indicates the differences between males and females that are already noticeable in young children, and is connected to the shame felt by girls at publicly exposing parts of their bodies Solomon’s wisdom is evident in his knowledge of human nature. The last riddle regards male sexuality and distinguishes between someone who underwent circumcision and one who remained uncircumcised. Solomon shows that this physical difference has spiritual consequences, since these two groups exhibit disparate religious behavior. King Solomon’s ability to answer the queen’s four questions is indicative of his wisdom, since he is as cognizant of female nature as of the male character.
The midrash relates that after hearing all of Solomon’s wisdom and the miracles that God had performed in his time, she proclaimed: “Praised be the Lord your God,” and with this declaration she expressed her desire to join the people of Israel. The Rabbis compare the Queen of Sheba with Jethro and with Rahab , two important Gentiles who sought to adhere to Israel. The queen’s visit to King Solomon is a fulfillment of Jer. 16:19: “To You nations shall come from the ends of the earth and say: Our fathers inherited utter delusions, things that are futile and worthless.” The queen came from the ends of the earth and, as a result of her stay with Solomon, came to believe in the Lord (Ex. Rabbah 27:4). This midrash of the queen’s conversion may have led to the development of a literary tradition that appears in a later midrash, according to which Solomon married the Queen of Sheba and she bore him a son named Ben Sira (Alphabet of Ben Sira, in Ozar ha-Midrashim [Eisenstein], p. 35, para. 1).
Yet another midrashic tradition maintains that no woman ever reigned over Sheba, that “whoever says that there was a woman who was Queen of Sheba [Malkat Sheva] is in error,” and that these Hebrew words really mean the kingdom of Sheba (Malkhut Sheva), which is why these verses are in the feminine, reflecting the gender of the word malkhut, rather than referring to an actual woman. The kingdom of Sheba sent high-ranking ministers to Solomon, and the words of admiration for Solomon are attributed to the entire kingdom, not just to its leader (BT Bava Batra 15b).
Additional riddles posed by the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon are to be found in the Targum literature, in Targum Sheni to Esth. 1:3 and in the late midrash: Midrash Hefez, published by S. Schechter, Folk-Lore 1 (1890), pp. 349–358. These legends, in compact form, were also collected by Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia, 1947), vol. 4, pp. 142–149.
Who is the Queen of Sheba?
Who is the Queen of Sheba? In the Bible we are introduced to an unnamed queen from the land of Sheba who travels to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon (see 1 Kings 10 2 Chronicles 9). Accompanied by many attendants and camels, the Queen of Sheba brings a large quantity of spices, gold and precious stones with her. She is drawn to Jerusalem because of Solomon’s fame, and she tests the king with hard questions. Solomon is able to answer them all.
Who is the Queen of Sheba in the Bible? Here is one artist’s depiction of the Queen of Sheba. It comes from the Medieval manuscript Bellifortis by Conrad Kyeser and dates to c. 1405.
Impressed by Solomon’s wisdom—and by the riches of his kingdom—she proclaims, “Your wisdom and prosperity far surpass the report that I had heard” (1 Kings 10:7). The Queen of Sheba gives King Solomon 120 talents of gold, precious stones and the largest quantity of spices ever brought to Jerusalem (1 Kings 10:10). In return King Solomon gives the Queen of Sheba gifts and “every desire that she expressed” (1 Kings 10:13). After receiving these gifts, the queen returns to the land of Sheba with her retinue.
The Biblical account of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon ends there, but later Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources have elaborated the story—adding details to the famous queen’s visit. In his article “Where Is the Land of Sheba—Arabia or Africa?” published in the September/October 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Bar Kribus investigates the location of the land of Sheba and looks at the figure of the Queen of Sheba—both in the Bible and in a text called the Kebra Nagast.
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Dated between the 6thth centuries C.E., the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings) is an important text to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It names the Queen of Sheba as the beautiful queen Makeda and identifies the land of Sheba as ancient Ethiopia. Kribus thoroughly examines the latter claim in his article “Where Is the Land of Sheba—Arabia or Africa?”
According to the Kebra Nagast, Queen Makeda travels to Jerusalem and has a love affair with King Solomon. Makeda then returns to the land of Sheba—giving birth to a son, Menelik, along the way. Menelik is raised in Ethiopia, but when he turns 22, he travels to Jerusalem to meet his father. King Solomon is delighted with his firstborn son and tries in vain to convince Menelik to remain in Israel and succeed him as king. However, Menelik chooses to return to the land of Sheba. Solomon sends the firstborn sons of Israel’s elders with his son from Israel to Ethiopia, and the Ark of the Covenant travels with them. To this day, many Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides within the Chapel of the Tablet next to the Church of Maryam Tsion in Aksum, Ethiopia.
Is this the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant? Many Ethiopians believe that the Ark of the Covenant resides within the Chapel of the Tablet next to the Church of Maryam Tsion in Aksum, Ethiopia. They believe that the Ark traveled with Solomon’s firstborn son, Menelik, from Jerusalem to the land of Sheba. Where is the land of Sheba? According to the Kebra Nagast, it is ancient Ethiopia. Photo: “Maryam Sion in Axum Nebenbau Mit Der Bundeslade 2010” by Jensis65 is licensed under CC-by-SA-3.0
Ethiopians claim the Queen of Sheba as part of their heritage, and through her union with King Solomon, Ethiopians also claimed a connection between their kings and the Davidic monarchy of Israel. Bar Kribus explains: “Their [Ethiopian] kings were seen as direct descendants of the House of David, rulers by divine right.”
With 11 rock-hewn churches, Lalibela, Ethiopia, is understandably a place of pilgrimage for those in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Explore Lalibela’s spectacular subterranean churches in a web-exclusive slideshow >>
But is the land of Sheba truly ancient Ethiopia, as purported by the Kebra Nagast? Archaeological and historical sources document a Kingdom of Saba (Sheba) during Biblical times in modern-day Yemen. Those in ancient Ethiopia were fully aware of the Kingdom of Saba in southern Arabia—and sometimes even appropriated aspects of their culture.
The Elusive Queen of Sheba: Gold and Spices
And she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great abundance, and precious stones there never were any spices such as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon (2 Chron. 9:9).
When the queen departed Sheba, Scripture says she came to Jerusalem with “a very great retinue.” How many does “very great” indicate? No consulted commentary ventures any speculation, but perhaps there is a way to guesstimate. Bible scholar, Leon Wood, equates a talent (the queen gave Solomon one hundred and twenty talents of gold) to just over sixty-six pounds. A rough calculation yields 7,920 pounds…of gold—worth a staggering amount by today’s precious metals market! Evidently a dromedary camel can carry from 300-900 pounds (per a Goggle search). That means the queen could have had anywhere from nine to twenty-six camels just to carry the gold.
There is no way to determine the weight of the jewels or the spices so as to calculate how many additional camels were needed. Nor is there any way to assess how many attendants would have accompanied her, whether she was escorted by armed guards or units of her army perhaps, or how many of these pack animals were needed to carry necessities such as food, clothing and shelter (i.e., tents). Suffice it to say, “she came with a very great retinue” (1 Kings 10:2).
“. . .there never were any spices such as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon . . . .”
Why were spices of such note in this account? Why would they have been gifts worthy of the king of Israel? There are several reasons, some going farther back into antiquity.
1. A primary consideration is one of commerce. According to a note in The Women’s Study Bible (p. 565), Sheba’s considerable economy was “dependent upon worldwide, overland spice trade.” Solomon’s new trade alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, may have caused the queen concern since her merchants must travel through Israel in order to reach other distribution points. Her gifts, including an abundance of spices, were no doubt part of trade negotiations, and as such, were expected. 1 Kings 10:22-25 fills in some of the details.
Arabia was known for its dominance of the spice trade, and went to great lengths to guard its “trade” secrets. It was not above using disinformation as to the origin of its precious commodities (many of which came from as far away as India) nor the routes used to procure/transport them. By keeping a corner on the spice market, Arabia, and in this case, Sheba, could control the supply, charge exorbitant prices, and thus far, avoid paying duty. There was much at stake during this meeting of two formidable potentates.
2. Spices and aromatic gums were quite valuable—some of them were purportedly deemed more precious than gold—and in demand. As early as Genesis 2:12 bdellium, a fragrant gum resin which is thought to be from the arid regions of western India, is mentioned. Another mention of spices is found in the Joseph narrative (Genesis 37:25). Joseph was cast into a pit by his jealous brothers, and eventually sold to a caravan of Ishmaelite (some say Midianite) spice merchants traveling the main trade route from Gilead to Egypt—possibly one of the routes the queen intended to use.
Cinnamon bark (publicdomainpictures.net)
Though hundreds of years later than the time of Solomon, in the days of the early Roman empire, naturalist Pliny the Elder, in his Natural History, wrote that a pound of pepper, the cheapest and most available spice, would buy forty pounds of wheat, and “a pound of the finest cinnamon oil [which most likely came from India or modern-day Sri Lanka] would cost a centurion up to six years’ work.”
3. Spices were used in funerary preparations—both as preservatives and agents to control the odors of putrefaction. Egypt in particular is known for its embalming techniques and funerary practices involving various herbs, unguents and spices. Using these to slow or kill bacteria that caused decomposition was an effort to keep a corpse fresh and presentable. According to Egyptian belief, mummification preserved a home—a necessary physical frame—to which the immortal ka (life principle) could return.
Israel had its own funerary practices. 2 Chronicles 16:13-14 recounts the burial of King Asa of Judah: “They buried him in his own tomb, which he had made for himself in the City of David and they laid him in the bed which was filled with spices and various ingredients prepared in a mixture of ointments. They made a very great burning for him.”
4. Spices and unguents were used in religious rituals. In Leviticus 24:7 Moses is instructed to pour “pure frankincense” on the showbread. In Exodus 30:22-33 he is given the formula for holy anointing oil. Using quality spices, perfumers were to combine:
- five hundred shekels of liquid myrrh,
- half as much sweet-smelling cinnamon (two hundred and fifty shekels),
- two hundred and fifty shekels of sweet-smelling cane,
- five hundred shekels of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary,
- and a hin of olive oil.
He was further instructed, ‘”With it you shall anoint the tabernacle of meeting and the ark of the Testimony the table and all its utensils, the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils, and the laver and its base. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy whatever touches them must be holy. And you shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests. And you shall speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘This shall be a holy anointing oil to Me throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on man’s flesh nor shall you make any other like it, according to its composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it, or whoever puts any of it on an outsider, shall be cut off from his people.'”
Presumably Solomon himself was anointed king with this same holy oil (1 Kings 1:38-39). “The anointing of Solomon was carried out immediately, as the king had commanded. . . .‘The oil-horn out of the tent’ (i.e., a vessel made of horn and containing oil) was no doubt one which held the holy anointing oil, with which the priests and the vessels of the sanctuary were anointed (see Exo. 30:22 ff.).”
There is another reason Solomon would have welcomed such an abundance of spices, one which has to do with his harem. We’ll explore this fascinating topic in the next post.
 Leon Wood, A Survey of Israel’s History (1970), p. 292, note 16. However, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, 1, 2 Kings, v. 10, equates the 120 talents to be four and one-half tons (p.101)! The above calculation would have to be refigured based on this formula.
 There is an ongoing mystery as to the source of the queen of Sheba’s gold. As recently as February 2013 a British archaeologist discovered what may have been her gold mine in northern Ethiopia. Historically Ethiopia was part of the territory of Sheba according to some scholars, and thus under the queen’s control.
 It seems ironic that these merchantmen could have been distant relatives of Joseph’s through Keturah, Abraham’s wife after Sarah died. See Genesis 25:1-2.
 Jack Turner, Spice: The History of a Temptation (2004), p. 73.
 In the winter of 1975-1976 the deteriorating mummy of Ramses II (argued by some to be the pharaoh of the exodus) was sent to the Musee de l’Homme in Paris for conservation concerns. An x-ray revealed for the first time that peppercorns had been inserted into the king’s nose with plugs of an unidentified resinous substance. Jack Turner, in his book, Spice: The History of a Temptation, mentions, “. . . its [the peppercorn] identity confirmed after an exhaustive process of elimination of native African species some three millennia after its harvest somewhere in the tropical south of India” (p.146).
 From Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament: New Updated Edition, Electronic Database.
1 Kings 10 – The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon
a. The Queen of Sheba : Sheba (also known as Sabea ) was where modern-day Yemen is today (Southern Arabia). We know from geography this was a wealthy kingdom with much gold, spices, and precious woods. History also tells us that they were known to have queens as well as kings.
i. This was a long trip &ndash up to about 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers). She probably came as part of a trade delegation (1 Kings 10:2-5), but there is no doubt that she was highly motivated to see Solomon and his kingdom.
b. When the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him : She came to Solomon and Israel at their material zenith. The great prosperity, splendor, and wisdom of Solomon&rsquos kingdom were internationally famous.
2. (2-5) What the Queen of Sheba saw.
She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels that bore spices, very much gold, and precious stones and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. So Solomon answered all her questions there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the LORD, there was no more spirit in her.
a. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue : This queen traveled in the manner of queens, with a large royal procession, heavily laden with gifts and goods for trade.
b. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart : Solomon&rsquos kingdom was famous not only for its material prosperity, but also for his great wisdom. The Queen of Sheba had great – and seemingly difficult – questions, and Solomon answered all her questions .
i. &ldquoThe hard questions were not just riddles, but included difficult diplomatic and ethical questions&hellip The test was not an academic exercise but to see if he would be a trustworthy business party and a reliable ally capable of giving help.&rdquo (Wiseman)
c. When the Queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table&hellip there was no more spirit in her : This Queen was obviously familiar with the world of royal splendor and luxury. Yet she was completely overwhelmed by the wisdom of Solomon and the glory of his kingdom.
i. &ldquoWhat happened to the Queen of Sheba is a natural and not an uncommon effect which will be produced in a delicate sensible mind at the sight of rare and extraordinary productions of art.&rdquo (Clarke)
3. (6-9) How the Queen of Sheba reacted.
Then she said to the king: &ldquoIt was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you, setting you on the throne of Israel! Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king, to do justice and righteousness.&rdquo
a. Indeed the half was not told me : The Queen of Sheba heard wonderful things about Solomon and his kingdom, but upon seeing it with her own eyes she realized it was far greater than she had heard.
b. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants : It is a joyful thing to serve a great, wise, and rich king. If it was a happy thing to serve Solomon, it is a much happier thing to serve Jesus.
c. Blessed be the LORD your God, who delighted in you : This is an example of what God wanted to do for Israel under the promises of the Old Covenant. God promised Israel that if they obeyed under the Old Covenant, He would bless them so tremendously that the world would notice and give glory to the Lord God of Israel.
i. Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth&hellip Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 10)
ii. God wanted to reach the nations through an obedient and blessed Israel. If Israel did not obey, then God would speak to the nations through a thoroughly disciplined Israel.
d. Blessed be the LORD your God : It is fair to ask if this was a true confession of faith, expressing allegiance to the God of Israel. Taken in their context, these may not be more than the queen&rsquos response to the astonishing blessing evident in Solomon&rsquos Jerusalem.
i. &ldquoHer statement about the blessings of the Lord on Israel and Solomon in verse 9 were no more than a polite reference to Solomon&rsquos God&hellip There is no record that she accepted Solomon&rsquos God, who was so majestically edified by the temple.&rdquo (Dilday)
ii. &ldquoPraise to the LORD implies recognition of Israel&rsquos national God and need not necessarily be an expression of personal faith.&rdquo (Wiseman)
iii. If we take the Queen of Sheba as an example of a seeker, we see that Solomon impressed her with his wealth and splendor, and also impressed her personally. But she returned home without an evident expression of faith in the God of Israel. This shows that impressing seekers with facilities and programs and organization and professionalism isn&rsquot enough.
iv. Regardless of the result of her search, we can admire her seeking.
· She came from a great distance.
· She came with gifts to offer.
· She came to question and to learn.
· She came and saw the riches of the king.
· She came for an extended period.
· She came telling all that was on her heart.
v. Jesus used the Queen of Sheba as an example of a seeker: The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon and indeed a greater than Solomon is here (Matthew 12:42). If the Queen of Sheba sought Solomon and the splendor of his kingdom so diligently, how much more should people today seek Jesus and the glory of His Kingdom. The Queen of Sheba will certainly also rise up in judgment against this generation.
e. Because the LORD has loved Israel forever, therefore He made you king : This statement is especially meaningful because Solomon was not necessarily the most logical successor of his father David. There were several sons of David born before Solomon.
i. &ldquoIt was God&rsquos special act to make him king rather than his elder brother.&rdquo (Poole)
4. (10-13) An exchange of gifts.
Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great quantity, and precious stones. There never again came such abundance of spices as the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. Also, the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought great quantities of almug wood and precious stones from Ophir. And the king made steps of the almug wood for the house of the LORD and for the king&rsquos house, also harps and stringed instruments for singers. There never again came such almug wood, nor has the like been seen to this day. Now King Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba all she desired, whatever she asked, besides what Solomon had given her according to the royal generosity. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
a. There never again came such abundance of spices as the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon : She came from a region rich in spices and skilled in the processing of spices.
b. Solomon had given her according to the royal generosity : To give according to the royal generosity means to give a lot. This description of Solomon&rsquos measure of generosity to the Queen of Sheba also describes the measure of God&rsquos generosity towards us.
i. According to tradition &ndash fanciful stories, perhaps &ndash the Queen of Sheba wanted a son by Solomon, and he obliged her. Her child was named Menilek, and he became the ancestor of all subsequent Ethiopian monarchs.
B. Solomon&rsquos great wealth.
1. (14-15) Solomon&rsquos yearly income.
The weight of gold that came to Solomon yearly was six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, besides that from the traveling merchants, from the income of traders, from all the kings of Arabia, and from the governors of the country.
a. Six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold : This was a vast amount of gold, which came to Solomon yearly . One commentator estimated the value of the 666 talents of gold at $281,318,400. According to the value of gold in 2015, it would be just under $1 billion dollars. This speaks not only to the great wealth of Solomon, but it also makes him the only other person in the Bible associated with the number 666.
i. The other Biblical connection to 666 is the end-times world dictator and opponent of God and His people often known as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:18). In fact, the Revelation passage specifically says that the number 666 is the number of a man, and the man may be Solomon.
ii. This isn&rsquot to say that Solomon was the Antichrist or that the coming Antichrist will be some strange reincarnation of Solomon. But it may indicate that the Antichrist may not be someone purely evil from the very beginning. Instead, he may be like Solomon &ndash a good man corrupted.
b. Besides that from the traveling merchants : Solomon received more than 666 talents of gold a year. The 666 talents was just his beginning salary.
i. The writer of 1 Kings gives us a warning signal here. He assumes that we know of the instructions for future kings of Israel in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He assumes we know verse 17 of that passage, which says: nor shall he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. God blessed Solomon with great riches, but Solomon allowed that blessing to turn into a danger because he disobediently multiplied silver and gold for himself.
2. (16-27) Examples of Solomon&rsquos wealth and prosperity.
And King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. He also made three hundred shields of hammered gold three minas of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon. Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with pure gold. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round at the back there were armrests on either side of the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the armrests. Twelve lions stood there, one on each side of the six steps nothing like this had been made for any other kingdom. All King Solomon&rsquos drinking vessels were gold, and all the vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon. For the king had merchant ships at sea with the fleet of Hiram. Once every three years the merchant ships came bringing gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys. So King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom. Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart. Each man brought his present: articles of silver and gold, garments, armor, spices, horses, and mules, at a set rate year by year. And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedar trees as abundant as the sycamores which are in the lowland.
a. Two hundred large shields of hammered gold&hellip three hundred shields of hammered gold : These shields made beautiful displays in the House of the Forest of Lebanon, but they were of no use in battle. Gold was too heavy and too soft to be used as a metal for effective shields. This shows Solomon had the image of a warrior king, but without the substance.
i. According to Dilday, each large shield was worth about $120,000 ($250,000 at 2015 values). The smaller shields were worth $30,000 ($57,000 at 2015 values). $33 million was invested in gold ceremonial shields.
b. Not one was silver, for this was accounted as nothing in the days of Solomon : This was a statement of wealth. If taken seriously, it shows the tremendous abundance of Solomon&rsquos kingdom. Truly, King Solomon surpassed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom , and the promises of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 were fulfilled in his reign: The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow (Deuteronomy 28:12).
c. Now all the earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart : This was another fulfillment of the promises of Deuteronomy 28: And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 28:13).
d. Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen : In comparison to the reign of David, there were few military conflicts during the reign of Solomon, yet he still saw the importance of a strong defense. Perhaps there were few military conflicts because Solomon had a strong defense.
i. Remains of Solomon&rsquos fortress and stables at Megiddo can be seen today.
d. The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones : When we think of Solomon&rsquos great wealth, we also consider that he originally did not set his heart upon riches. He deliberately asked for wisdom to lead the people of God instead of riches or fame. God promised to also give Solomon riches and fame, and God fulfilled His promise.
i. We also consider that Solomon gave an eloquent testimony to the vanity of riches as the preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He powerfully showed that there was no ultimate satisfaction through materialism. We don&rsquot have to be as rich as Solomon to learn the same lesson.
3. (28-29) Solomon&rsquos interest in horses.
Also Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh the king&rsquos merchants bought them in Keveh at the current price. Now a chariot that was imported from Egypt cost six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse one hundred and fifty and thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria.
a. Solomon had horses imported from Egypt and Keveh : At the end of this great description of Solomon&rsquos wealth and splendor, we have the sound of this dark note. This was in direct disobedience to Deuteronomy 17:16, which said to the Kings of Israel: But he shall not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply horses, for the LORD has said to you, &ldquoYou shall not return that way again.&rdquo
b. Thus, through their agents, they exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Syria : This may explain why Solomon broke such an obvious commandment. Perhaps the importation of horses from Egypt began as trading as an agent on behalf of other kings. From this, perhaps Solomon could say, &ldquoI&rsquom importing horses from Egypt, but I am not doing it for myself. I&rsquom not breaking God&rsquos command.&rdquo Many examples of gross disobedience begin as clever rationalizations.
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