WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 26, 2016)— In the Bible we are introduced to an unnamed queen from the land of Sheba who travels to Jerusalem to meet King Solomon (see 1 Kings 10; 2 Chronicles 9). Accompanied by many attendants and camels, the Queen of Sheba brings a large quantity of spices, gold and precious stones with her. She is drawn to Jerusalem because of Solomon’s fame, and she tests the king with hard questions. Solomon is able to answer them all.
The Queen of Sheba gives King Solomon gold, precious stones and spices. In return King Solomon gives the Queen of Sheba gifts and “every desire that she expressed” (1 Kings 10:13). Then the queen returns to the land of Sheba with her retinue.
The Biblical account of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon ends there, but later Jewish, Christian and Islamic sources have elaborated the story. In his article “Where Is the Land of Sheba—Arabia or Africa?” published in the September/October 2016 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, Bar Kribus investigates the location of the land of Sheba and looks at the figure of the Queen of Sheba—both in the Bible and in the Kebra Nagast, an important text to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.
The Kebra Nagast names the Queen of Sheba as the beautiful queen Makeda and identifies the land of Sheba as ancient Ethiopia. But is the land of Sheba truly ancient Ethiopia? Archaeological and historical sources document a Kingdom of Saba (Sheba) during Biblical times in modern-day Yemen. Those in ancient Ethiopia were fully aware of the Kingdom of Saba in southern Arabia—and sometimes even appropriated aspects of their culture.
Bar Kribus wades through history, archaeology, tradition and legend as he pieces together the story of the Queen of Sheba and investigates the land of Sheba. Who has the rightful claim to the Queen of Sheba? Kribus’s surprising conclusion to this question can be found in his article “Where Is the Land of Sheba—Arabia or Africa?”