The Queen of Sheba is a biblical figure who is purported to have lived ten centuries before the birth of Christ. She is known for a pilgrimage that she made during her life. Having learned of the incredible wisdom of King Solomon, the queen journeyed to Israel to see him. She brought lavish gifts of precious metals and stones, spices, and beautiful pieces of wood.
According to the First Book of Kings in the Bible, the Queen of Sheba bestowed a total of 4.5 tons (4082.4 kg) of gold upon Solomon. She asked Solomon many questions, and was quite impressed with his answers. Upon completing her interview with Solomon, she gave him the following blessing:
“Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’S eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness." (1 Kings 10:9, New International Version).
Although both King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba were quite rich already, they bestowed many gifts upon one another before the queen departed to return to her homeland. The story of their meeting is also written of in the Second Book of Chronicles. There are some hints in biblical texts that there may have been a love affair between the king and queen. There is some debate about specific lines in the Song of Solomon, which is also known as the Song of Songs. It has been questioned whether the voice of a woman within the song is intended to be Solomon’s wife or the Queen of Sheba herself.
In addition to her appearances in the Bible, the Queen of Sheba is referred to in the Qur’an and is an important figure in Ethiopian traditions and belief systems. As she appears in many different texts and tales, she also has many other names. In the Ethiopian tradition, she is referred to as Makeda. When she is referred to in Islamic texts, her name is Belqees. The specific accounts of her life and actions also vary between the different traditions.
In some modern studies regarding the Queen of Sheba, the romance and intrigue of her relationship with Solomon is dashed. Many people believe that their relationship was based on the development of and improvement of trade. This is corroborated by the passage that comes directly above the one quoted above in which the queen praises Solomon for his ruling practices. She tells him that his wisdom has lead to happy people and happy officials. Therefore, it seems quite possible that the pair were, in fact, discussing professional matters.