Queen of Sheba

The story of the Queen of Sheba is recorded in religious texts such as the Hebrew Bible, the Quran, and in the First Book of Kings in the Old testament. The Bible describes that in tenth century BC a Queen of the East, who was queen of the rich trading nation, Sheba decided to seek out King Solomon’s wisdom. Having heard stories of Solomon’s extensive wisdom and knowledge, she desired to meet him in person and test him with riddles. By traveling on camel to Jerusalem, she brough frankincense, gold, and other precious stones as gifts. In requite, Solomon blessed the queen with ‘all her desire’, and in conclusion of their meeting, she traveled back to her home country. The story is repeated a second time in the Book of Chronicles, where Christ talks of a queen who came from the south to seek Solomon’s wisdom. Other than the two mentions in the Bible, very little historical evidence has survived the course of time.

However, Yetsak, who was an Ethiopian monk in 1320 wrote an extension of her story while connecting it to Ethiopia. He wrote a compilation of legends call Kebra Negast or ‘Glory of the Kings’.

In his compendium, he referred the Queen of Sheba as Makeda, an Ethiopian term. The legend describes King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as having unknown but mutual curiosity in each other. Solomon had heard of Sheba and her mighty kingdom, and also that she possessed a strange feature. A left foot that was cloven like that of a goat, and a hairy leg. Yearning to see if the rumors were true, he has the floor polished until it resembles glass. As the Queen walks in the room across the floor, he sees the reflection of her cloven foot, and directly in front of his eyes, it transforms to a normal foot. While being tested with questions and riddles from the Queen of Sheba, Solomon answered them with her satisfaction. The Queen then agreed to stay with Solomon as a guest, but as an unmarried woman, he mustn’t touch her. He agrees and replies that in exchange she should not take anything of his. He duped her. In the middle of the night she wakes up thirsty caused by a spicy meal Solomon fed her, so she took a glass of water. The king confronts her and tells her that by breaking the agreement, she released him from his. They spent the night together, and she returns home soon after. Nine months later she gave birth to a boy named Menelik.

She raises Menelik on her own in her kingdom of Sheba, and as the boy got older, he decides that he wants to travel to Israel to meet King Solomon. When Menelik returned from Jerusalem, he brought back the Ark of the Covenant which is believed to have remained in Ethiopia ever since.

It is strongly suggested that the Queen and Menelik both accepted the Jewish faith, and Menelik went on to found the Christian dynasty in Aksum, Ethiopia. The Ethiopian imperial family firmly believes its origin is directly from the offspring of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.