Nilotic people are people indigenous to the Nile Valley who speak Nilotic languages, which constitute a large sub-group of the Nilo-Saharan languages spoken in South Sudan, Uganda,Kenya, and northern Tanzania.
In a more general sense, the Nilotic peoples include all descendants of the original Nilo-Saharan speakers. Among these are the Luo, Sara, Maasai, Kalenjin, Dinka, Nuer, Shilluk, Ateker, and the Maa-speaking peoples, each of which is a cluster of several ethnic groups.
The Nilotes constitute the majority of the population in South Sudan, an area that is believed to be their original point of dispersal. After the Bantu peoples, they constitute the second-most numerous group of peoples inhabiting the African Great Lakes region around the Eastern Great Rift. They make up a notable part of the population of southwestern Ethiopia as well.
The Nilote peoples primarily adhere to Christianity and traditional faiths, including the Dinka religion.
- David (Hebrew) and Bathsheba (Gilonite – Hamite)
- Solomon (Hebrew) and Pharoah’s Daughter (Egyptian – Hamite)
The United Monarchy (Hebrew: המלוכה המאוחדת) is the name given to the Israelite kingdom of Israel and Judah, during the reigns of Saul, David and Solomon, as depicted in the Hebrew Bible.
This is traditionally dated between 1050 and 930 BCE. On the succession of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, around 930 BCE, the biblical account reports that the country split into two kingdoms;
the Kingdom of Israel (including the cities of Shechem and Samaria) in the north and the Kingdom of Judah (containing Jerusalem) in the south.
According to the biblical account, it was David who, following a civil war with Saul, created a strong and unified Israelite monarchy, reigning c. 1000–961 BCE. Solomon, David’s successor, maintained the unified monarchy, c. 961–922.
David, the Second King of Israel, established Jerusalem as its national capital in 1006 BCE.Before then, Hebron had been the capital of David’s Judah and Mahanaim of Ish-baal’s Israel, and before that Gibeah had been the capital of the United Monarchy under Saul. Earlier parts of the Bible indicate that Shiloh had been seen as the national capital; which, from an archaeological standpoint, is considered plausible, as far as it being the religious capital.In the biblical account, David finally succeeds in truly unifying Judah and Israel. Some modern archaeologists believe there was a continued and uninterrupted existence of two distinct cultures and geographic entities, one being Judah, the other Israel, and if there was a political union it
be-er-she’-ba (be’er shebha`; Bersabee):
Allotted originally to Simeon (Joshua 19:2), one of “the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah” (Joshua 15:28)
Bath-sheba – ‘Bet-Tav-Sheen-Bet-Ayin’ – ‘daughter of Sheba’.
The black daughter of Sheba, whose line goes back to Sheba the son of Cush who produced the Nilotic black races.
Ber. 10:6 And the sons of Ham; Kush, and Mitzrayim, and Phut, and Kanaan.7 And the sons of Kush; Seba, and Havilah, and Savtah, and Raamah, and Savtecha: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.
- Cush, a Benjaminite (heading to Psalm 7). He is identified as Saul in the Talmud.
- Nimrod, son of Cush, “the first on earth to become a mighty warrior.” Nimrod is also credited with founding and ruling the principal cities of Mesopotamia (Genesis 10:8-12).
There is more than 1 Sheba in the bible
through Shem and through Ham.
BATHSHEBA בַּת־שֶׁבַע f Biblical
Means “daughter of the oath” in Hebrew. In the Old Testament this is the name of a woman married to Uriah
the Hittite. King David
seduced her and made her pregnant, so he arranged to have her husband killed in battle and then married her. She was the mother of Solomon
she’-ba (shebha’; Saba):
(1) Sheba and Dedan are the two sons of Raamah son of Cush (Genesis 10:7).
(2) Sheba and Dedan are the two sons of Jokshan the son of Abraham and Keturah (Genesis 25:3).
(3) Sheba is a son of Joktan son of Eber who was a descendant of Shem (Genesis 10:28).
From the above statements it would appear that Sheba was the name of an Arab tribe, and consequently of Semitic descent. The fact that Sheba and Dedan are represented as Cushite (Genesis 10:7) would point to a migration of part of these tribes to Ethiopia.
Similarly their derivation from Abraham (Genesis 25:3) would indicate that some families were located in Syria.
The 9th-century Jewish traveler Eldad ha-Dani claimed the Beta Israel descended from the tribe of Dan. He also reported other Jewish kingdoms around his own or in East Africa during this time. His writings probably represent the first mention of the Beta Israel in Rabbinic literature. Despite some skeptical critics, his authenticity has been generally accepted in current scholarship. His descriptions were consistent and even the originally doubtful rabbis of his time were finally persuaded. Specific details may be uncertain; one critic has noted Eldad’s lack of detailed reference to Ethiopia’s geography and any Ethiopian language, although he claimed the area as his homeland.
Eldad’s was not the only medieval testimony about Jewish communities living far to the south of Egypt, which strengthens the credibility of his account. Obadiah ben Abraham Bartenura wrote in a letter from Jerusalem in 1488:
In point of fact Sheba was a South-Arabian or Joktanite tribe (Genesis 10:28), and his own name and that of some of his brothers (e.g. Hazarmaveth = Hadhramaut) are place-names in Southern Arabia.
The Haggadah (Hebrew: הַגָּדָה, “telling”; plural: Haggadot) is a Jewish text that sets forth the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah at the Seder table is a fulfillment of the Scriptural commandment to each Jew to “tell your son” of the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus in theTorah (“And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying: It is because of that which the LORD did for me when I came forth out of Egypt.”).
Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews also apply the term Haggadah to the service itself, as it constitutes the act of “telling your son.”
According to the Torah, the tribe consisted of the descendants of Dan, a son of Jacob and Bilhah, Rachel‘s maidservant (Genesis). In the biblical account, Dan is one of the two children ofBilhah, the handmaid of Jacob’s wife Rachel, the other child of Bilhah being Naphtali. Scholars see this as indicating that the authors saw Dan and Naphtali as being not of entirely Israelite origin (being descendants of handmaids rather than of full wives).
Some have noted that the territory of the handmaid tribes happens to be the territory closest to the north and eastern borders of Canaan, thus exposing them to Assyria and Aram. However, other tribes born to wives, including the firstborn Reuben, were also included on the eastern outskirts, and immediately adjacent to Israel’s more traditional enemies at the time of their entry to Canaan, the Moabites and Ammonites.
QUEEN OF SHEBA
she’-ba (1 Kings 10:1-132 Chronicles 9:1-12, called in Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31, “the queen of the south” (basilissa notou):
American King James Version
Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say to you, Are you come to take a spoil? have you gathered your company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
14Therefore, son of man, prophesy and say unto Gog, Thus says the Lord GOD; In that day when my people of Israel dwell safely, shall you not know it?
15And you shall come from your place out of the north parts, you, and many people with you, all of them riding upon horses, a great company, and a mighty army:
16And you shall come up against my people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring you against my land, that the nations may know me, when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes.
17Thus says the Lord GOD; Are you he of whom I have spoken in former times by my servants the prophets of Israel, who prophesied in those days for many years that I would bring you against them?
18And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, says the Lord GOD, that my fury shall come up in my face.
19For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
20So that the fish of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
Back to Queen of Sheba and Solomon
A somewhat nebulous figure, the Queen of Sheba (fl. 10th century BCE)—known also as Bilqis and as Makeda—figures prominently in Judaic, Islamic, and Ethiopian traditions. Her legendary voyage to meet Solomon, King of Israel, has inspired centuries of speculation about her kingdom and influence in the ancient world. Modern-day Ethiopians believe her, as the mother of their first Emperor, Menilek I, to be the ultimate maternal ancestor of the dominant Ethiopian royal dynasty.
The most widespread story of the Queen of Sheba stems from an Old Testament passage describing her journey to Jerusalem to meet with the Jewish king, Solomon, renowned for his wisdom. An account of her stay at Solomon’s court appears in I Kings 10:1–14 and in a nearly word-for-word repetition, 2 Chronicles 9:1–12. Both passages begin: “The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, and she traveled to Jerusalem to test him with difficult questions. She brought with her a large group of attendants, as well as camels loaded with spices, jewels, and a large amount of gold. When she and Solomon met, she asked him all the questions that she could think of. He answered them all; there was nothing too difficult for him to explain.” The rest of the tale describes the Queen’s awe of Solomon’s wisdom, riches, and relationship with God, as well as the two monarchs’ exchange of gifts. This brief text forms the basis for later embellishments of the queen’s voyage.
An Islamic Convert
The Islamic legend of the Queen of Sheba, or Bilqis (alternatively, Balkis) as she is known in the Arabian tradition, stems from these short Jewish narratives. The story of the Queen’s appearance at Solomon’s court in the Islamic holy text, The Qu’ran, follows a thread similar to that of the Book of Esther. In Chapter 27 of the Qu’ran, a messenger bird declared: “I have come to thee from Saba with sure tidings. I found a woman ruling over all of them; she has been granted everything and she has a wondrous throne. I found her and her worshipping the sun, instead of Allah.” The passage further explains that Satan has led the queen and her subjects away from Allah, and Solomon, thinking to test this assertion, sends the bird back to the queen with a letter requesting confirmation of the bird’s tale. Upon receiving the queen’s response of extravagant gifts, Solomon is not satisfied and writes again, requesting her presence. The queen visits Solomon and, awed by his court, converts to the worship of Allah.
Arabian legends based on the Qu’ran embellish this story to include some speculation about the queen’s descent from demons and later, her possible marriage to Solomon.
The narrative tells of the queen of Sheba, on hearing of Solomon’s great wisdom, coming to test him with perplexing questions or riddles (compare Judges 14:12). She brought presents to the king, and interviewed him: “And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, and the house that he had built” (i.e. the palace, not the temple) as well as its arrangements, “and his burnt-offering which he offered in the house of Yahweh (so read and translate with the Revised Version margin in 1 Kings 10:5, and also in 2 Chronicles 9:4); there was no more spirit in her”: the half of Solomon’s wisdom had not been told her. “Happy,” she said to him, “are thy wives (so read with Septuagint, Syriac and Old Latin versions), happy are these thy servants.” She then exchanged gifts with him and returned to her own land.
The narrative is a complement of that in 1 Kings 3:16-28, where the king’s justice is exemplified; here his wisdom.
Hazarmaveth = Hadhramaut = Hadar = South Arabia Sheba Saba
(1.) A son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:15); in 1 Chronicles 1:30 written Hadad.
(2.) One of the Edomitish kings (Genesis 36:39) about the time of Saul. Called also Hadad (1 Chronicles 1:50, 51).
It is probable that in these cases Hadar may be an error simply of transcription for Hadad.
Hadar: an Edomite king
Original Word: הֲדַר
Part of Speech: Proper Name Masculine
Phonetic Spelling: (had-ar’)
Short Definition: Hadar
Edom (; Hebrew: אֱדוֹם, Modern ʼEdōm Tiberian ʼEd’hōm, , lit.: “red”; Assyrian:Udumi; Syriac: ܐܕܘܡ) was an ancient kingdom in Transjordan located between Moab to the northeast, the Arabah to the west and the Arabian Desert to the south and east. Most of its former territory is now divided between Israel and Jordan. Edom appears in written sources relating to the late Bronze Age and to the Iron Age in the Levant, such as the Hebrew Bible and Egyptian and Mesopotamian records. In classical antiquity, the cognate name Idumea was used for a smaller area in the same general region.
The Edomites first established a kingdom (“Edom”) in the southern area of modern Jordan and later migrated into southern parts of the Kingdom of Judah(“Idumea”, or modern southern Israel/Negev) when Judah was first weakened and then destroyed by the Babylonians, in the 6th century BC.
Edom is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible but also in a list of the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I from c. 1215 BC and in the chronicle of a campaign by Ramses III (r. 1186–1155 BC). The Edomites, who have been identified archaeologically, were a Semitic people who probably arrived in the region around the 14th century BC.
The Sabaean people were South Arabian people. Each of these peoples had regional kingdoms in ancient Yemen, with the Minaeans in the north in Wādī al-Jawf, the Sabeans on the south western tip, stretching from the highlands to the sea; the Qatabānians to the east of them, and the Ḥaḑramites east of them.
The Sabaeans, like the other Yemenite kingdoms of the same period, were involved in the extremely lucrative spice trade, especially frankincense and myrrh.
The Sabeans or people of Saba or Sheba, are referred to as traders in gold and spices, and as inhabiting a country remote from Palestine (1 Kings 10:1 Isaiah 60:6 Jeremiah 6:20 Ezekiel 27:22Psalm 72:15 Matthew 12:42), also as slave-traders (Joel 3:8), or even desert-rangers (Job 1:15;Job 6:19; compare CIS 84 3).
By the Arab genealogists Saba is represented as great-grandson of Qachtan (= Joktan) and ancestor of all the South-Arabian tribes. He is the father of Chimyar and Kahlan. He is said to have been named Saba because he was the first to take prisoners (shabhah) in war. He founded the capital of Saba and built its citadel Marib (Mariaba), famous for its mighty barrage.
1. History: The authentic history of the Sabeans, so far as known, and the topography of their country are derived from South-Arabian inscriptions, which began to be discovered about the middle of the last century, and from coins dating from about 150 B.C. to 150 A.D., the first collection of which was published in 1880, and from the South-Arabian geographer Hamdani, who was later made known to European scholars. One of the Sabean kings is mentioned on Assyrian inscriptions of the year 715 B.C.; and he is apparently not the earliest. The native monuments are scattered over the period extending from before that time until the 6th century A.D., when the
Sabean state came to an end, being most numerous about the commencement of our era. Saba was the name of the nation of which Marib was the usual capital. The Sabeans at first shared the sovereignty of South Arabia with Himyar and one or two other nations, but gradually absorbed the territories of these some time after the Christian era. The form of government seems to have been that of a republic or oligarchy, the chief magistracy going by a kind of rotation, and more than one “king” holding office simultaneously (similarly Deuteronomy 4:47 and often in the Old Testament). The people seem to have been divided into patricians and plebeians, the former of whom had the right to build castles and to share in the government.
A number of deities are mentioned on the inscriptions, two chief being Il-Maqqih and Ta`lab. Others are Athtar (masculine form of the Biblical `ashtaroth), Rammon (the Biblical Rimmon), the Sun, and others. The Sun and Athtar were further defined by the addition of the name of a place or tribe, just as Baal in the Old Testament. Worship took the form of gifts to the temples, of sacrifices, especially incense, of pilgrimages and prayers. Ceremonial ablution, and abstinence from certain things, as well as formal dedication of the worshipper and his household and goods to the deity, were also religious acts. In return the deity took charge of his worshipper’s castle, wells, and belongings, and supplied him with cereals, vegetables and fruits, as well as granted him male issue.
(1) The chief occupations of the Sabeans were raiding and trade. The chief products of their country are enumerated in Isaiah 60:6, which agrees with the Assyrian inscriptions. The most important of all commodities was incense, and it is significant that the same word which in the other Semitic languages means “gold,” in Sabean means “perfume” (and also “gold”). To judge, however, from the number of times they are mentioned upon the inscriptions, agriculture bulked much more largely in the thoughts of the Sabean than commerce, and was of equal importance with religion.
(2) The high position occupied by women among the Sabeans is reflected in the story of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon. In almost all respects women appear to have been considered the equal of men, and to have discharged the same civil, religious and even military functions. Polygamy does not seem to have been practiced. The Sabean inscriptions do not go back far enough to throw any light upon the queen who was contemporary with Solomon, and the Arabic identification of her with Bilqis is merely due to the latter being the only Sabean queen known to them. Bilqis must have lived several centuries later than the Hebrew monarch.
(3) The alphabet used in the Sabean inscriptions is considered by Professor Margoliouth to be the original Semitic alphabet, from which the others are derived. In other respects Sabean art seems to be dependent on that of Assyria, Persia and Greece. The coins are Greek and Roman in style, while the system of weights employed is Persian.
The Kebra Nagast (var.Kebra Negast, Ge’ezክብረ ነገሥት,kəbrä nägäśt) is a 14th-centuryaccount written in Ge’ez, an ancient South Semitic language that originated in modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea.Wallis Budge, an English Egyptologist, Orientalist, and philologist who worked for the British Museum created an English translation called The Glory of the Kings. It is considered to hold the genealogy of the new Solomonic dynasty, which followed the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
It contains an account of how the Queen of Sheba (Queen Makeda of Ethiopia) met King Solomon and about how the Ark of the Covenant came to Ethiopia with Menelik I(Menyelek). It also discusses the conversion of the Ethiopians from the worship of the Sun, Moon and stars to that of the “Lord God of Israel”. As the Ethiopianist Edward Ullendorff explained in the 1967 Schweich Lectures, “The Kebra Nagast is not merely a literary work, but it is the repository of Ethiopian national and religious feelings.”
The queen of Sheba (מַלְכַּת־שְׁבָא, “malkat-šəḇā” in the Hebrew Bible, βασίλισσα Σαβὰ in the Septuagint, Syriac ܡܠܟܬ ܫܒܐ, Ethiopicንግሥተ፡ሳባእ፡) came to Jerusalem “with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (I Kings10:2). “Never again came such an abundance of spices” (10:10; II Chron. 9:1–9) as those she gave to Solomon. She came “to prove him with hard questions,” which Solomon answered to her satisfaction. They exchanged gifts, after which she returned to her land.
The use of the term ḥiddot or “riddles” (I Kings10:1), an Aramaic loanword whose shape points to a sound shift no earlier than the sixth century B.C., indicates a late origin for the text. Since there is no mention of the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, Martin Noth has held that the Book of Kings received a definitive redaction around 550 BC
Virtually all modern scholars agree that Sheba was the South Arabian kingdom of Saba, centered around the oasis of Marib, in present-day Yemen. Sheba was quite known in the classical world, and its country was called Arabia Felix. Around the middle of the first millennium B.C., there were Sabaeans also in the Horn of Africa, in the area that later became the realm of Aksum.There are five places in the Bible where the writer distinguishes Sheba (שׁבא), i. e. the Yemenite Sabaeans, from Seba (סבא), i. e. the African Sabaeans. In Ps. 72:10 they are mentioned together: “the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts”. This spelling differentiation, however, may be purely factitious; the indigenous inscriptions make no such difference, and both Yemenite and African Sabaeans are there spelt in exactly the same way.
The alphabetic inscriptions from South Arabia furnish no evidence for women rulers, but Assyrian inscriptions repeatedly mention Arab queens in the north. Queens are well attested in Arabia, though according to Kitchen, not after 690 B.C. Furthermore, Sabaean tribes knew the title ofmqtwyt (high official). Makada or Makueda, the personal name of the queen in Ethiopian legend, might be interpreted as a popular rendering of the title of mqtwyt. This title may be derived from Ancient Egyptian m’kit “protectress, housewife”.
The queen’s visit could have been a trade mission. Early South Arabian trade with Mesopotamia involving wood and spices transported by camels is attested in the early ninth century B.C. and may have begun as early as the tenth.
The ancient Sabaic Awwām Temple, known in folklore as Maḥram (the Sanctuary of) Bilqīs, was recently excavated by archaeologists, but no trace of Queen of Sheba has been discovered so far in the many inscriptions found there.
Bible stories of the Queen of Sheba and the ships of Ophir served as a basis for legends about the Israelites traveling in the Queen of Sheba’s entourage when she returned to her country to bring up her child by Solomon.
OPHIR אוֹפִיר m Biblical
Meaning unknown. This is the name of a son of Joktan in the Old Testament (where it is also used as a place name).
Afar, Ophir and the Mists of History – Orville Jenkins
The relationship between the Afar people of today and the ancient references to the mysterious Ophir. … They are mentioned by Muhammad in the Quran as one of the People of the Book, along with Jews and Christians …Afar, Ophir and the Mists of History – Orville Jenkins
According to Josephus (Ant. 8:165–73), the queen of Sheba
was the queen of Egypt and Ethiopia, and brought to Israel
the first specimens of the balsam,
which grew in the Holy Land in the historian’s time.
Jewish (Ashkenazic): ornamental name from German Balsam or Yiddish balzam ‘balm’, ‘balsam‘. German: occupational name for a seller of spices and perfumes, from Latin balsamum ‘balsam‘, ‘aromatic resin’.
Legend has it that the trees that were grown on Mount Gilead were given to King Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, and also grew in the oases around the Dead Sea basin, in En Geddi and Jericho (also famous for its roses
).Archaeologists found this dire warning on the mosaic floor of a synagogue at En Geddi: “Whoever reveals the secret of the village to the gentiles, the One whose eyes roam over the entire earth and see what is concealed will uproot this person and his seeds from under the sun.” The village was as highly fortified to guard the secret of the precious balm. It was really much more valuable than gold. This makes it likely that it was this golden balm that was given by the three Magi to the baby Jesus, as it grew in much the same areas as the frankincense and myrrh that were also gifts.
Balm of Gilead of whatever kind has been used for centuries, for coughs, colds, sore throats, laryngitis, and applied externally to relieve the inflammation caused by arthritis and rheumatism. It is still used for labour pains and the dried bark of the trees is used for healing wounds. The Balsam of Mecca-bearing plants grow in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen and Somalia.
The Balm of Gilead trees in the US orPopulus candicans or the Cottonwood which is a member of theSalicaceaefamily has many uses and even the buds can be used to treat ailments. In folk remedies the buds are used for a facial wash and for a tisane for coughs, colds and bronchial problems. The inner bark makes a tisane for eyewash and a blood tonic, while the roots can be boiled and used as a wash for headaches. If you inhale the steam from the boiled buds, this is good to clear nasal and bronchial congestion.
Josephus (Antiquities 2.5-2.10) represents Cambyses as conquering the capital of Aethiopia, and changing its name from Seba to Meroe. Josephus affirms that the Queen of Sheba or Saba came from this region, and that it bore the name of Saba before it was known by that of Meroe. There seems also some affinity between the word Saba and the name or title of the kings of the Aethiopians, Sabaco.
The Talmud (Bava Batra 15b) insists that it was not a woman but a kingdom of Sheba (based on varying interpretations of Hebrew mlkt) that came to Jerusalem, obviously intended to discredit existing stories about the relations between Solomon and the Queen. Baba Bathra 15b: “Whoever says malkath Sheba (I Kings X, 1) means a woman is mistaken; … it means the kingdom (מַלְכֻת) of Sheba”.
The most elaborate account of the queen’s visit to Solomon is given in the 8th century (?) Targum Sheni to Esther (see: Colloquy of the Queen of Sheba). A hoopoe informed Solomon that the kingdom of Sheba was the only kingdom on earth not subject to him and that its queen was a sun worshiper. He thereupon sent it to Kitor in the land of Sheba with a letter attached to its wing commanding its queen to come to him as a subject. She thereupon sent him all the ships of the sea loaded with precious gifts and 6,000 youths of equal size, all born at the same hour and clothed in purple garments. They carried a letter declaring that she could arrive in Jerusalem within three years although the journey normally took seven years. When the queen arrived and came to Solomon’s palace, thinking that the glass floor was a pool of water, she lifted the hem of her dress, uncovering her legs. Solomon informed her of her mistake and reprimanded her for her hairy legs. She asked him three (Targ. Sheni to Esther 1:3) or, according to the Midrash (Prov. ii. 6;Yalḳ. ii., § 1085, Midrash ha-Hefez), more riddles to test his wisdom.
A Yemenite manuscript entitled “Midrash ha-Hefez” (published by S. Schechter in “Folk-Lore”, 1890, pp. 353 et seq.) gives nineteen riddles, most of which are found scattered through the Talmud and the Midrash, which the author of the “Midrash ha-Hefez” attributes to the Queen of Sheba. Most of these riddles are simply Bible questions, some not of a very edifying character. The two that are genuine riddles are: “Without movement while living, it moves when its head is cut off,” and “Produced from the ground, man produces it, while its food is the fruit of the ground.” The answer to the former is, “a tree, which, when its top is removed, can be made into a moving ship”; the answer to the latter is, “a wick.”
The rabbis who denounce Solomon interpret I Kings 10:13 as meaning that Solomon had criminal intercourse with the Queen of Sheba, the offspring of which was Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the Temple (comp. Rashi ad loc.). According to others, the sin ascribed to Solomon in I Kings 11:7 et seq. is only figurative: it is not meant that Solomon fell into idolatry, but that he was guilty of failing to restrain his wives from idolatrous practises (Shab. 56b).
The Alphabet of Sirach avers that Nebuchadnezzar was the fruit of the union between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Bilqis reclining in a garden, Persian miniature (ca. 1595), tinted drawing on paper
Illustration in a Hafez
Frontispiece Depicting Queen Sheba, Walters manuscript W.631, around 1539
In the Quran, the story is essentially similar to the Bible and other Jewish sources. Solomon commanded the Queen of Sheba to come to him as a subject, whereupon she appeared before him (XXVII, 30–31, 45). Before the queen had arrived, Solomon had moved her throne to his palace with the help of a wise man, who was able to move the throne faster than a Jinn. She recognized the throne, which had been disguised, and finally accepted the faith of Solomon.
Muslim commentators such as al-Tabari, al-Zamakhshari, al-Baydawi supplement the story at various points. The Queen’s name is given as Bilqīs (Arabic: بلقيس), probably derived from Greek παλλακίς (pallakis) or the Hebraised pilegesh, “concubine”. According to some he then married the Queen, while other traditions assert that he gave her in marriage to a tubba of Hamdan. According to the Islamic tradition as represented by al-Hamdani, the queen of Sheba was the daughter of Ilsharah Yahdib, the Himyarite king of Najran.
The Quran and its commentators have preserved the earliest literary reflection of the complete Bilkis legend, which among scholars complements the narrative that is derived from a Jewish Midrash.
The Quran Story of Sheba
” And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented her (from Islam), for she was ofa disbelieving people. “
“I have grasped (the knowledge of a thing) which you have not grasped and I have come to you from Saba’ (Sheba) with true news.” “I found a woman ruling over them: she has been given all things that could be possessed by any ruler of the earth, and she has a great throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun instead of Allah, and Shaitan (Satan) has made their deeds fair-seeming to them, and has barred them from (Allah’s) Way: so they have no guidance.” [As Shaitan (Satan) has barred them from Allah’s Way] so they do not worship (prostrate themselves before) Allah, Who brings to light what is hidden in the heavens and the earth, and knows what you conceal and what you reveal. Allah, La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Lord of the Supreme Throne! [Sulaiman (Solomon)] said: “We shall see whether you speak the truth or you are (one) of the liars.”Go you with this letter of mine, and deliver it to them, then draw back from them, and see what (answer) they return.” She said: “O chiefs! Verily! Here is delivered to me a noble letter. “Verily it is from Sulaiman (Solomon), and verily, it (reads): In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful: “Be you not exalted against me, but come to me as Muslims (true believers who submit to Allah with full submission). She said: “O chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine. I decide no case till you are present with me (and give me your opinions).” They said: “We have great strength, and great ability for war, but it is for you to command: so think over what you will command.” She said: “Verily kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it and make the most honorable amongst its people the lowest. And thus they do. “But verily! I am going to send him a present, and see with what (answer) the Messengers return.”
The Kebra Negast
32. How the Queen brought forth and came to her own Country
And the Queen departed and came into the country of BÂLÂ ZADÎSÂRĔYÂ nine months and five days after she p. 38 had separated from King SOLOMON. And the pains of childbirth laid hold upon her, and she brought forth a man child, and she gave it to the nurse with great pride and delight. And she tarried until the days of her purification were ended, and then she came to her own country with great pomp and ceremony. And her officers who had remained there brought gifts to their mistress, and made obeisance to her, and did homage to her, and all the borders of the country rejoiced at her coming. Those who were nobles among them she arrayed in splendid apparel, and to some she gave gold and silver, and hyacinthine and purple robes; and she gave them all manner of things that could be desired. And she ordered her kingdom aright, and none disobeyed her command; for she loved wisdom and God strengthened her kingdom.
And the child grew and she called his name BAYNA-LEḤKEM. And the child reached the age of twelve years, and he asked his friends among the boys who were being educated with him, and said unto them, “Who is my father?” And they said unto him, “SOLOMON the King.” And he went to the Queen his mother, and said unto her, “O Queen, make me to know who is my father.” And the Queen spake unto him angrily, wishing to frighten him so that he might not desire to go [to his father] saying, “Why dost thou ask me about thy father? I am thy father and thy mother; seek not to know any more.” And the boy went forth from her presence, and sat down. And a second time, and a third time he asked her, and he importuned her to tell him. One day, however, she told him, saying, “His country is far away, and the road thither is very difficult; wouldst thou not rather be here?” And the youth BAYNA-LEḤKEM was handsome, and his whole body and his members, and the bearing of his shoulders resembled those of King SOLOMON his father, and his eyes, and his legs, and his p. 39 whole gait resembled those of SOLOMON the King. And when he was two and twenty years old he was skilled in the whole art of war and of horsemanship, and in the hunting and trapping of wild beasts, and in everything that young men are wont to learn. And he said unto the Queen, “I will go and look upon the face of my father, and I will come back here by the Will of God, the Lord of ISRAEL.”
39. How they made the Son of SOLOMON King
And they made ready the ointment of the oil of kingship, and the sounds of the large horn, and the small horn, and the flute and the pipes, and the harp and the drum filled the air; and the city resounded with cries of joy and gladness. And they brought the young man into the Holy of Holies, and he laid hold upon the horns of the altar, and sovereignty was given unto him by the mouth of ZADOK the priest, and by the mouth of JOAS (BENAIAH) the priest, the commander of the army of King SOLOMON, and he anointed him with the holy oil of the ointment of kingship. And he went out from the house of the Lord, and they called his name DAVID, for the name of a king came to him by the law. And they made him to ride upon the mule of King SOLOMON, and they led him round about the city, and said, “We have appointed thee from this moment”; and then they cried out to him, “Bâḥ [Long] live the royal father!” And there were some who said, “It is meet and right that thy dominion ofETHIOPIA shall be from the River of EGYPT to the west of the sun (i.e., to the setting sun); blessed be thy seed upon the earth!—and from SHOA to the east of INDIA, for thou wilt please [the people of these lands]. And the Lord God ofISRAEL shall be unto thee a guide, and the Tabernacle of the Law of God shall be with all that thou lookest upon. And all thine enemies and foes shall be overthrown before thee, and completion and finish shall be p. 54 unto thee and unto thy seed after thee; thou shalt judge many nations and none shall judge thee.” And again his father blessed him and said unto him, “The blessing of heaven and earth shall be thy blessing,” and all the congregation of ISRAEL said, “Amen.” And his father also said unto ZADOK the priest, “Make him to know and tell him concerning the judgment and decree of God which he shall observe there” [in ETHIOPIA].
The story of Solomon and the queen was popular among Copts, as shown by fragments of a Coptic legend preserved in a Berlin papyrus. The queen, having been subdued by deceit, gives Solomon a pillar on which all earthly science is inscribed. Solomon sends one of his demons to fetch the pillar from Ethiopia, whence it instantly arrives. In a Coptic poem, queen Yesaba of Cush asks riddles of Solomon.
The fullest and most significant version of the legend appears in the Kebra Nagast (Glory of the Kings), the Ethiopian national saga, translated from Arabic in 1322. Here Menelik I is the child of Solomon and Makeda (the Ethiopic name of Bilkis) from whom the Ethiopian dynasty claims descent to the present day. While the Abyssinian story offers much greater detail, it omits any mention of the Queen’s hairy legs or any other element that might reflect on her unfavourably.
Based on the Gospels of Matthew (12:42) and Luke (11:31), the “queen of the South” is claimed to be the queen of Ethiopia. In those times, King Solomon sought merchants from all over the world, in order to buy materials for the building of the Temple. Among them was Tamrin, great merchant of Queen Makeda of Ethiopia. Having returned to Ethiopia, Tamrin told the queen of the wonderful things he had seen in Jerusalem, and of Solomon’s wisdom and generosity, whereupon she decided to visit Solomon. She was warmly welcomed, given a palace for dwelling, and received great gifts every day. Solomon and Makeda spoke with great wisdom, and instructed by him, she converted to Judaism. Before she left, there was a great feast in the king’s palace. Makeda stayed in the palace overnight, after Solomon had sworn that he would not do her any harm, while she swore in return that she would not steal from him. As the meals had been spicy, Makeda awoke thirsty at night, and went to drink some water, when Solomon appeared, reminding her of her oath. She answered: “Ignore your oath, just let me drink water.” That same night, Solomon had a dream about the sun rising over Israel, but being mistreated and despised by the Jews, the sun moved to shine over Ethiopia and Rome (i. e. the Byzantine empire). Solomon gave Makeda a ring as a token of faith, and then she left. On her way home, she gave birth to a son, whom she named Baina-leḥkem (i. e. bin al-ḥakīm, “Son of the Wise Man”, later called Menilek). After the boy had grown up in Ethiopia, he went to Jerusalem carrying the ring, and was received with great honors. The king and the people tried in vain to persuade him to stay. Solomon gathered his nobles and announced that he would send his first-born son to Ethiopia together with their first-borns. He added that he was expecting a third son, who would marry the king of Rome’s daughter and reign over Rome, so that the entire world would be ruled by David’s descendants. Then Baina-leḥkem was anointed king by Zadok the high priest, and he took the name David. The first-born nobles who followed him are named, and even today some Ethiopian families claim their ancestry from them. Prior to leaving, the priests’ sons had stolen the Ark of the Covenant, after their leader Azaryas had offered a sacrifice as commanded by one God’s angel. With much wailing, the procession left Jerusalem on a wind cart lead and carried by the archangel Michael. Having arrived at the Red Sea, Azaryas revealed to the people that the Ark is with them. David prayed to the Ark and the people rejoiced, singing, dancing, blowing horns and flutes, and beating drums. The Ark showed its miraculous powers during the crossing of the stormy Sea, and all arrived unscathed. When Solomon learned that the Ark had been stolen, he sent a horseman after the thieves, and even gave chase himself, but neither could catch them. Solomon returned to Jerusalem, and gave orders to the priests to remain silent about the theft and to place a copy of the Ark in the Temple, so that the foreign nations could not say that Israel had lost its fame.
According to some sources, Queen Makeda was part of the dynasty founded by Za Besi Angabo in 1370 B.C., with her grandfather and father being the last male rulers of the royal line. The family’s intended choice to rule Aksum was Makeda’s brother, Prince Nourad, but his early death led to her succession to the throne. She apparently ruled the Ethiopian kingdom for more than 50 years.
In the Ethiopian Book of Aksum, Makeda is described as establishing a new capital city at Azeba.
Edward Ullendorff holds that Makeda is a corruption of Candace, the name or title of several Ethiopian queens from Meroe or Seba. Candace was the name of that queen of the Ethiopians whose chamberlain was converted to Christianity under the preaching of Philip the Evangelist(Acts 8:27) in 30 A.D. In the 14th century (?) Ethiopic version of the Alexander romance, Alexander the Great of Macedonia (Ethiopic Meqédon) is said to have met a queen Kandake of Nubia.
Historians believe that the Solomonic dynasty actually began in 1270 with the emperor Yekuno Amlak, who, with the support of the Ethiopian Church, overthrew the Zagwe Dynasty, which had ruled Ethiopia since sometime during the 10th century. The link to King Solomon provided a strong foundation for Ethiopian national unity. Despite the fact that the dynasty officially ended in 1769 with Emperor Iyaos, Ethiopian rulers continued to trace their connection to it, right up to the last 20th-century emperor, Haile Selassie.
According to one tradition, the Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel, “Falashas”) also trace their ancestry to Menelik I, son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. An opinion that appears more historical is that the Falashas descend from those Jews who settled in Egypt after the first exile, and who, upon the fall of the Persian domination (539–333 B.C.) on the borders of the Nile, penetrated into the Sudan, whence they went into the western parts of Abyssinia.
The Yoruba Ijebu clan of Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria, claim that she was a noblewoman of theirs known as Oloye Bilikisu Sungbo, which is similar to the queen’s name mentioned in the Quran. They also assert that a medieval system of walls and ditches, built sometime around the 10th century, was dedicated to her.
After excavations in 1999 the archaeologist Patrick Darling was quoted as saying, “I don’t want to overplay the Sheba theory, but it cannot be discounted… The local people believe it and that’s what is important… The most cogent argument against it at the moment is the dating.”