The story of the Queen of Sheba and her visit to King Solomon following the completion of his famous temple in Jerusalem.
I Kings 10:
1. And 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
2. 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 all that was in her heart
3. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not anything hid from the
king, which he told her not
4. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that
he had built, 5. And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and
the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cup bearers, and his
ascent by which he went up into the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit
6. 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
7. Howbeit I believed not the words until I came, and mine eyes have seen it:
and behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the
fame which I heard
8. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants which stand continually
before thee, and that hear thy wisdom
9. Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the
throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore made he thee
king, to do judgment and justice
10. 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
11. And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from
Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones
12. And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and
for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such
almug trees, nor were seen unto this day
13. And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desires, whatsoever
she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned
and went to her own country, she and her servants
Sheba’s desire to encounter Solomon was ardent enough for her to embark on a 1400 mile journey, across the desert sands of Arabia, along the coast of the Red Sea, up into Moab, and over the Jordan River to Jerusalem. Such a journey required at least six months time round trip each way, since camels could rarely travel more than 20 miles per day.
And according to legend, she was indeed given a first hand tour of the temple while it was being constructed. A gracious host, Solomon showed Sheba his gardens of rare flowers ornamented with pools and fountains, and the architectural splendors of his government buildings, temple and palace. She was awed by his work on the temple, by his great lion-throne and sandalwood staircase, and by his enormous brass basin carried by the twelve brass bulls which symbolized the twelve months of the year
The king was captivated by her beauty and in a short time offered her his hand. Balkis was pleased to have conquered his proud heart, and she accepted his hand. Their troth was solemnized by the presentation of a ring by the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. Sheba took out from inside the plaiting of her black hair, a golden ring and handed it to Solomon. He receives it with a gasp.
But she would not surrender herself to him, and she said unto him, “I came to thee a maiden, a virgin; shall I go back despoiled of my virginity, and suffer disgrace in my kingdom? Swear to me by thy God, the God of Israel, that thou wilt not take me by force. For if I, who according to the law of men am maiden, be seduced, I should travel on my journey back in sorrow, and affliction and tribulation.”
And Solomon said unto her, “I will only take thee to myself in lawful marriage—I am the King, and thou shalt be the Queen. Strike a covenant with me that I am only to take thee to wife of thine own free will. This shall be the condition between us: when thou shalt come to me by night as I am lying on the cushions of my bed, thou shalt become my wife.” And behold she struck this covenant with him, determining within herself that she would preserve her virginity from him. But the ingenious King Solomon was not to be deterred by her refusal.
Solomon swore to take nothing from her by force on terms that she would take nothing of his by force. Sheba slept in Solomon’s tent, and awakened in the middle of the night thirsty and craving water. All the water founts accessible to the public were shut off. The queen went to Solomon’s chambers to procure a cup of water, but was only able to find a water in a jar by Solomon’s bed. Solomon had, of course, asked his servants to hide all other sources of water. Believing him to be asleep, she reached across his bed for water, but he opened his eyes, seized her hand and said: “Why hast thou broken the oath that thou
hast sworn that thou would not take by force anything that is in my house?” And she answered and said unto him in fear, “Is the oath broken by my drinking water? Be free from thy oath, only let me drink water.” Solomon replied: “As you see, nothing is more valuable than water. Release me from my vow and be released from yours and I will give you all that you desire.” And he permitted her to drink water, and after she had drunk water she gave herself into his embrace willingly. Sheba may have been Solomon’s lover, but she did not become his wife or remain with him much longer.
Because she was now pregnant with his child, he also gave her a ring, for he hoped that she would bear him a son, who might in time visit Jerusalem and prove his identity to Solomon. And the Queen departed and came into the country of Bala Zadisareya nine months and five days after she 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 the child grew and she called his name Bayna-Lehkem, which means “son of the wise man.”
When he was twenty-two years old he was skilled in the art of war and horsemanship, in the hunting and trapping of wild beast, and in every thing that young men desire 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.” When King Solomon saw his son, he rose up and moved forward to welcome him, and he embraced and kissed him, and said unto him: “Behold, my Father David hath renewed his youth and hath risen from the dead.” And Solomon the King turned around to those who had announced the arrival of the young man, and said unto them: “Ye said unto me, ‘He resembleth thee,’ but this is not my
stature, but the stature of David my father in the days of his early manhood, and he is handsomer that I am.”
Solomon and the Jewish people rejoiced when his son arrived in Israel. The king annointed him as the Queen had requested and renamed him Menelik, meaning “how handsome he is.”
And Solomon the King rose up and went into his chamber, and he arrayed his son in apparel made of cloth embroidered with gold, and a belt of gold, and he set a crown upon his head, and a ring upon his finger. Having arrayed him in glorious apparel, which bewitched the eyes, he seated him upon his Throne that he might be equal in rank to himself. Then he said unto the nobles and officers of Israel: “O ye who treat me with derision among yourselves and say that I have no son; look ye, this is my son, the fruit
from my body, whom God, the Lord of Israel hath given me when I expected it not.”
And his nobles answered and said unto him: “Blessed be the mother who hath brought forth this young man, and blessed be the day wherein thou hath union with the mother of this young man. For there hath risen upon us from the root of Jessse a shining man who shall be king of the posterity of his seed. And concerning his father none shall ask questions for verily he is a Israelite of the seed of David, fashioned perfectly in the likeness of his father’s form and appearance; we are his servants and he shall be our King.”
Though Solomon had many wives, only one had produced a son, Rehoboam, a boy of seven. So the king begged Menelik to remain, but the young prince would not. Solomon therefore called his leaders and nobles and announced that, since he was sending his first born son back to Ethiopia, he wanted all of them to send their firstborn sons “to be his counselors and officers.” And they agreed to do so.
Menelik along with the Elders of Israel took the Ark of the Covenant and established the Kingdom of David in Ethiopia, this Kingdom remained up till the time of Haile Selassie I, the Last Solomonic King of Kings of the Earth, “conquering lion of Judah.”
Very thought-provoking! But I thought a child was determined by its mother which religious affiliation it had and therefore Solomon son could not be Jewish. Also, what does it say about The Bible denouncing fornication. Here a great king brought forth a child as a prince even though he was not born in wedlock…? Very thought-provoking. Good work.
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