EXPOSED AT LAST! The True Story Of The Queen Of Sheba
Ade, son of Ade
Aug. 07, 2020
The Bible mentions a whole lot of people who remain a mystery to this day, from Adam and Eve to the Antichrist. Naturally, many of these characters haven't been historically verified, and quite a few have been written off as nothing more than metaphors. The Queen of Sheba is one such figure, largely because she only shows up in one Biblical story.
The tale goes that she heard King Solomon was this awesome, smart ruler. So she rolled up in all her gold and finery to test him with riddles. Solomon answered every question, and as a result, the queen was pretty impressed. She then gave him gifts of gold and spices, and in return, the (obviously smitten) king gave her "all she desired." And then the queen sauntered off back to her own land.
However, the queen is way too cool to just be featured in one Bible story. She actually appears in other tales in holy books like the Quran, but what's the real deal about this mysterious figure? Well, get ready for some tough riddles as we take a look at the true story of the Queen of Sheba.
WHERE WAS THE QUEEN OF SHEBA ACTUALLY FROM?
If we're going to talk about the Queen of Sheba, then we've got to ask a pretty obvious question. Where exactly is Sheba? Well, one theory, illustrated by the BBC, posits that Sheba refers to the Sabaean kingdom in what is now Yemen. So if the queen were heading over to Israel to meet King Solomon, that would make for a really long trek through modern-day Saudia Arabia. Of course, that trip wouldn't be impossible for a determined queen with access to a lot of camels.
However, the country that claims the Queen of Sheba most strongly is Ethiopia. Yes, it's a little farther from Israel than Yemen. It's also landlocked thanks to the present country of Somalia. But Christian Science Monitor confirms that Ethiopia had a lot of interaction with Israel and it's neighboring nations back in the day as a "gateway country" to the Middle East. Need proof? Well, present-day Ethiopians' DNA is 40-50 percent based outside of Africa. Languages that originated in the Middle East are spoken in Ethiopia, and the two regions even share farming techniques and crops, suggesting communication over time.
KING SOLOMON MAY HAVE WANTED HER LAND
There's a lot of weirdness around King Solomon getting it on with the queen. There's no solid proof that it happened, and a lot of it is told through folklore. But one thing that would make total sense is the political intrigue around the Queen of Sheba's land. After all, folks were constantly going to war over territory. And King Solomon may have been wise, but even he might have fallen for all that potential gold and incense.
According to Jewish Encyclopedia, Jewish legends describe the land of Sheba as incredibly rich in both population and wealth. Heaven allegedly provided the wreaths the people wore, as well as the water. On top of that, the dust of the country was said to be more valuable than gold. So as the story goes, King Solomon commanded the Queen of Sheba to come see him under threat of invasion (from beasts and demons, of all things). She responded by saying that not only would she come, but she would show up in three years instead of the normal seven it would take for her to travel to Jerusalem. Thus began the one-upmanship-turned-seduction between the two of them.
PEOPLE VISIT HER GRAVE EVERY YEAR
The tomb of the Queen of Sheba, according to Information Nigeria, is widely believed to be outside a village named Oke-Eiri. Thousands of people come every year to honor and pay respects to the queen. The grave itself is super impressive. It's a place shaded by overgrown trees, allowing no plants to grow on it. It's surrounded by ruins and ancient buildings, because of course, the queen would be buried within her impressive kingdom. Well, assuming it's where she's actually buried, anyway.
As of 2015, scientists were working away to excavate the area and confirm if it's really the queen's burial spot. The ruins are real, and the massive boundary walls were probably enough to terrifying anyone looking to invade. But regardless of whether or not the actual queen is buried here, the site is definitely important enough to be the designated spot for honoring her.
THE QUEEN OF SHEBA WAS ROLLING IN SPICES
Anyone who's studied ancient civilizations will tell you that spices were an easy way to show how cool your kingdom was. If you had the flavors and crops people wanted, selling them was an easy way to get rich. Imagine if India was the only country able to grow cinnamon. How much would we be shelling out to India during the holiday season?
The Bible confirms that the Queen of Sheba gave Solomon "large quantities" of spices, in addition to gold and precious stones. It goes on to say, "There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon." Spices were sometimes given as tribute to kings, so this was a flattering move and a one-up challenge to Solomon at the same time. It's also consistent with other accounts of people from Sheba in the Bible, who similarly came with loads of spices to trade.
So what spices did the queen show up with? The Bible doesn't go into detail. However, we can make a pretty educated guess. A fact sheet put out by the Netherlands African Business Council listed turmeric, ginger, and korerima (aka Ethiopian cardamom) as spices grown in the country. And it's safe to assume that King Solomon had probably tasted nothing like what the queen sprinkled on his food.
SHE MAY HAVE WORSHIPED THE SUN
All of this diplomacy and canoodling between King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba doesn't mean they had a lot in common. If she was from Ethiopia, she was from a completely different continent and was exposed to completely different cultural forces than what King Solomon was pushing on a daily basis. Even if she came from Yemen, that was practically a different corner of the world in that day and age. And when it came to religion, the two had very different viewpoints about what deity was calling the shots.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, in some tellings of the story, the Queen of Sheba ruled over a kingdom that worshiped the sun. King Solomon sent her a letter asking if she and her followers could pretty please start worshiping the Jewish god instead. The queen, probably rolling her eyes, sent King Solomon gifts in response. When he didn't respond to the gifts, she made the epic trek over to his palace that we all know.
From there, the story largely runs close to the Bible story. But there's one important addition. After listening to the wisdom of King Solomon and being amazed at his giant pimped-out palace, the queen eventually converted to Judaism. Today, there's a huge Jewish heritage in Ethiopia and surrounding areas, by way of the Beta Israel religious group. So King Solomon working to impress a way-out-of-his-league queen may have spawned an entire religious culture.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT SUPPOSEDLY LIES IN HER KINGDOM
We don't hear much about Ethiopia in the Bible, except for when traders and Moses' hot wife come around. But the queen and her son ensured that the country would forever have a place in modern Biblical scholarship.
The story goes that Menelik, the son of Solomon and the queen, made a journey to Jerusalem to see his dad. Once he showed up, he was welcomed with open arms. In fact, King Solomon loved his newly found son so much that he asked for Menelik to stay and rule the land after he passed away. Menelik refused and said he would return home. But he went above and beyond, leaving in the middle of the night along with the freaking Ark of the Covenant. Was this revenge because his birth dad "worked his will" on his mom? We'll never know. But it's a definite power move to take the Ark out of a Jewish holy city and into the rainforest.
Granted, a lot of this is myth and legend. But National Geographic details that Ethiopian priests protect what may be the Ark (and the Ten Commandments) in Aksum, Ethiopia. It's protected under the watch of monks that may or may not be trained to kill with their bare hands. Why weren't these guys in the cast of Raiders of the Last Ark? Watch the full video below to find out more about the Queen, and share your thoughts in the comment section below!
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