Saturday, May 7, 2011

1 Kings 10,11 Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Pen and brush ...Image via Wikipedia
This is a curious account  because so much extra-biblical literature was generated by the queen of Sheba's homage to Solomon.   According to archaeological evidence, Sheba was a mercantile kingdom located in the southwest portion of modern Yemen.  Since it was located on the Red Sea, Sheba benefited from a thriving sea trade of India and East Africa by transporting luxury commodities north to Damascus and Gaza. Sheba may have perceived King Solomon's new fleet of ships on the Red Sea (1 Kings 9:26)  as a  threat to Sheba's  trade route or business.    At any rate, the female monarch of Sheba arrived in King Solomon's court with a caravan loaded with an enormous amount of precious gifts.  

When a monarch bore gifts, it served two purposes.  First, gifts reflected a country's wealth; secondly, gifts showed goodwill.  The queen of Sheba wisely brought Solomon a tribute of more spices than any other monarch in addition to much gold and precious stones.  By her gifts, Solomon understood that he was dealing with an established and prosperous nation who had to be handled respectfully.

1 Kings, however, simply states that a monarch, the queen of Sheba,  visited Solomon because his wisdom became legendary. Although Solomon was known for wise judgement, scripture particularly depicts how much wealth he amassed.   In the space of about twenty years, Solomon, through God's wisdom,  guided Israel into unparallelled prosperity.  Silver was as common as stones (1 Kings 10:27).  It would seem that the wisdom that caught the Queen of Sheba's attention was most likely Solomon's ability to generate wealth.

As a result of her audience with Solomon, the queen of Sheba testified about Solomon's wisdom in generating wealth and in administration.  The queen of Sheba rightly recognized that Solomon's good fortune was evidence of God's blessing upon him.  She noted that God's wisdom enabled Solomon to rule in a way that kept his administrative officials content with his decisions.  

After bestowing her gifts, the queen of Sheba left Israel.  Had this been an account of a male monarch who payed tribute to Solomon there would never have been any extra-biblical accounts.  A king who recognized wisdom would have been considered normal.  However, the queen of Sheba's visit was not permitted to simply reflect a woman's appreciation of God's wisdom.  According to the Ethiopian chronicle,  Kebra Nagast, the queen of Sheba was seduced by King Solomon, tricked into adultery, and bore him a son, Menelik I, who founded the Ethiopian dynasty.  

In 1 Kings 10:13, Solomon "gave her all that she desired."  Probably, from this statement, so much nasty speculation arose.  In this phrase, the Hebrew word desire, חֵפֶץ (chephets),  refers to something one delights in, as in wise words.   Contrast this use of desire with the Hebrew  אַוָּה ('avvah) which carries with it the connotation of lust and sexual desire.  Scripture actually commends the words and attitude of a female monarch who correctly identified God's hand in Israel's development.  As such, I feel that both she and Solomon should be honored as  intelligent, perceptive people who appreciated God's blessing, rather than being denigrated by an inaccurate interpretation of this chapter.

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for '"desire"' in the KJV". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 7 May 2011. < http://
Criteria=desire&t=KJV >

Blue Letter Bible. "Dictionary and Word Search for 'avvah (Strong's 185)". Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2011. 7 May 2011. < http://
Strongs=H185&t=KJV >

Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment

HostGator promo codes