International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
QUEEN OF SHEBA
she'-ba (1 Kings 10:1-13 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, called in Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31, "the queen of the south" (basilissa notou)):
1. Old Testament Accounts:
The two Old Testament accounts of the coming of the queen of Sheba (see SHEBA) to Solomon differ slightly from one another, and, of the two, that in 1 Kings is the older. (1) The words "concerning the name of Yahweh" (1 Kings 10:1) are lacking in 2 Chronicles; while the Septuagint in 1 Kings has "and the name of Yahweh," apparently a correction of the Massoretic Text. (2) For 1 Kings 10:9, "because Yahweh loved Israel for ever," 2 Chronicles 9:8 has "because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever"; the Septuagint in 1 Kings has "because Yahweh loved Israel, to establish it forever." (3) In the last verse of each account we find another difference: 2 Chronicles 9:12 says that Solomon gave to the queen all her desire, "besides that which she had brought unto the king." i.e. according to some, besides the equivalent of what she had brought to him; 1 Kings 10:13 margin has" besides that which he gave her according to the hand of king Solomon," i.e. besides gifts commensurate with his own wealth and power (SBOT), or be sides gifts which he gave her qua king.
2. The Narrative:
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.
3. Employed by Jesus:
The narrative is referred to by Jesus in Matthew 12:42 Luke 11:31, where He refuses to accede to the request of the scribes and Pharisees for a sign from Him. He tells them that no sign will be given them except that of Jonah, whose sign was his preaching, one that proved sufficient to the Ninevites; and `behold something greater than Jonah is here.' The men of Nineveh will be a living condemnation of them "in the judgment" (compare Luke 16:31); and so will the "queen of the south" who came from the ends of the earth after hearing of Solomon's wisdom, `and behold something greater than Solomon is here.' The only sign to be given is that of the wisdom of Jesus, a wisdom far greater than that of Solomon (see D. Smith, Days of His Flesh, 176;).
4. Eastern Literature:
Eastern literature has much to say about the queen of Sheba. The Arabs called her Bilqis. Abyssinian legend declares that she came from Ethiopia, her name being Maqeda, and that she had a son by Solomon. See Delitzsch, Iris, 116-27; ZDMG, X, 19 f; J Pr T, VI, 524; -1880. Gressmann (in Schriften des Altes Testament, II, 1,203) has further references to Wilhelm Hertz, Gesammelte Abhandlungen, 1905, 413;; Bezold, Kebra Nagast, 1905, and also ZDMG, 60,666;. For the Mohammedan story, see Koran xxvii, with notes in Sale's translation.
David Francis Roberts
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, and similarly their derivation from Abraham (Genesis 25:3) would indicate that some families were located in Syria. 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 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 27:22 Psalm 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.
See further SABAEANS.
Rodiger and Osidander in ZDMG, volumes XX and XXI; Halevy in Journal Asiatique, Serie 6, volume IX; Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, pt. IV, edition by J. and H. Derenbourg; Hamdani, edition by D. H. Muller, 1891; Mordtmann, Himyarische Inschriften, 1893; Hommel, Sudarabische Chresthomathie, 1893; Glaser, Abyssinien in Arabien, 1895; D. H. Muller, Sudarabische Alterthumer, 1899; Derenbourg, Les monuments sabeens, 1899. On the coins, Schlumberger, Le tresor de San'a, 1880; Mordtmann in Wiener numismatische Zeitschrift, 1880.
Thomas Hunter Weir
she'-ba (shebha`; Sabee, or Samaa): The name of one of the towns allotted to Simeon (Joshua 19:2). the King James Version mentions it as an independent town, but as it is not mentioned at all in the parallel list (1 Chronicles 4:28), and is omitted in Joshua 19:2 in some manuscripts, it is probable that the Revised Version (British and American) is correct in its translation "Beer-sheba or Sheba." Only in this way can the total of towns in this group be made 13 (Joshua 19:6). If it is a separate name, it is probably the same as SHEMA (which see).
E. W. G. Masterman
SHEBA, QUEEN OF
See QUEEN OF SHEBA.