Sunday, October 10, 2010

Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba (Hebrew שְׁבָא Shĕba', nm. "seven" or "an oath"), referred to in the Bible books of 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, the New Testament, the Qur'an, and Ethiopian history, was the ruler of Sheba, an ancient kingdom which modern archaeology speculates was located in present-day Ethiopia or Yemen.

1 When the queen of Sheba 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, as well as the palace he had built. –2 Chronicles 9:1-3

Unnamed in the biblical text, she is called Makeda (possibly meaning "not this way/not thus") in the Ethiopian tradition, and in Islamic tradition her name is Bilqis. Alternative names given for her have been Nikaule or Nicaula.

According to the Hebrew Bible, the (unnamed) queen of the land of Sheba heard of the great wisdom of King Solomon of Israel and journeyed there with gifts of spices, gold and precious stones, as recorded in First Kings 10:1-13 (largely copied in 2 Chronicles 9:1-12). The queen was awed by Solomon's wisdom and wealth, and pronounced a blessing on Solomon's God. Solomon reciprocated with gifts and "everything she desired," whereupon the queen returned to her country. The queen was apparently quite rich herself, as she brought 4.5 tons of gold (more than 4,000 kilograms) with her to give to Solomon (1 Kings 10:10).


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