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Who is the Queen of Sheba in the Bible?

Queen of Sheba

Jacopo Tintoretto | Public Domain

Philip Kosloski - published on 07/08/21

Little is known about the Queen of Sheba in the Bible, though Jesus himself mentions her, and what she can teach us, in the Gospels.

During the reign of King Solomon, the Bible mentions that the Queen of Sheba visits him.

The queen of Sheba, having heard a report of Solomon’s fame, came to test him with subtle questions … She came to Solomon and spoke to him about everything that she had on her mind … When the queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon’s great wisdom … it took her breath away.“The report I heard in my country about your deeds and your wisdom is true,” she told the king.

cf. 1 Kings 10:1-10

The Queen of Sheba proceeds to lavish gifts upon Solomon to recognize his great wisdom.

Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty gold talents, a very large quantity of spices, and precious stones. Never again did anyone bring such an abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

1 Kings 10:10

Historians and archeologists disagree about the exact location of “Sheba.” Legend says that the queen mentioned is from Ethiopia, and a local tradition reinforces this story.

Another theory is that Sheba was actually in modern-day Yemen.

Whatever the exact location of this queen’s kingdom, Jesus himself mentions her in the Gospel narrative.

At the judgment the queen of the south will arise with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and there is something greater than Solomon here.

Matthew 12:42

Spiritual lessons

Jesus points to this queen as a model for Christians and how they should be willing to go at any lengths to listen to the Word of God.

The ancient biblical commentary Catena Aurea, compiled by St. Thomas Aquinas, highlights this deep spiritual truth.

The queen of the south waited not for Solomon to come to her, but herself sought him. Both a woman and a barbarian, and dwelling so far away, she was not afraid of death in her desire to hear his wise words. This woman went to Solomon, I came hither; she rose up from the ends of the earth, I go round about your towns and villages; he spake of trees and wood, I of unspeakable mysteries.

St. John Chrysostom

We may not know who exactly this queen was, but her example is a challenge to us all.

Are we willing to go to the end of the earth to hear the Gospel message?

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