Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by Giovanni Demin (1789-1859)
The Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon
The Old Testament of the Bible tells the story of how the Queen of Sheba, having heard of the fame of King Solomon, came to Jerusalem to see him for herself. She brought with her a great camel train, loaded with spices, gold and precious stones as presents for the great king. The legend exists that the Queen of Sheba brought to Solomon the self-same gifts which the Magi afterwards brought to Christ. To test the wisdom for which he was so famous she asked him riddles and hard questions, and all of them Solomon answered. The Queen was so astonished at his wisdom, and at his magnificent palace, his great riches and his hospitality that she declared that all the stories about King Solomon had not even told her half of the truth.
Sheba, or Saba, was a land in the south-western part of Arabia, roughly where the modern state of Yemen is. The Sabaeans were a wealthy merchant people, whose camel caravans brought goods from India to the northern countries. They traded in luxuries - gold, perfumes, precious stones, incense and spices - which explains how it was that the Queen was able to bring such rich gifts to Solomon. Probably the purpose of her 1,200 mile journey to Jerusalem was not just to see the mighty king but to arrange a trading agreement between their two nations. 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.
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