Sheba (1 Kings 10)

Bilderesultat for ancient sheba

Sheba, land of the queen who visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-13), was located at the Southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, in modern Yemen. This location permitted the people of Sheba (Sabeans) to conduct sea trade with both Africa and India. In addition, caravan trade in gold, jewels, myrrh, frankincense and spices from the East was facilitated by the domestication of the camel. No other pack animal could survive the long distances between water sources.

The Sabeans, who had a reputation as raiders (see Job 1:15), may have been descendants of Abraham through his second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-3). Elements in the Sabean dialect connect them linguistically with Northwestern Semites. The Sabeans moved from northern Arabia before the tenth century B.C. and developed a capital at Marib, sustained by a large dam that collected seasonal rainfall. Assyrian inscriptions attest that several queens ruled the Sabeans during this period.

Solomon’s maritime enterprise threatened the Sabean trade monopoly, and many scholars speculate that their queen visited Solomon to negotiate a trade agreement. A ninth century B.C. stamp with a southern Arabic script, made of a reddish-brown clay in indigenous to Yemen and unearthed at Bethel, corroborates this theory.

Bilderesultat for queen of sheba

Illustration: One of many portrayals of the Queen of Sheba


 

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