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Welcome to The Queen of Sheba, the complete guide to the story of the Queen of Sheba, in history, legend, archaeology and faith. The site includes an organized and annotated list of 170 articles, pages and sites and 150 pictures of the Queen of Sheba.

The Queen of Sheba

This website finds, sorts and describes more than 170 of the best websites. The "facts" are presented in history, texts, legends and archaeology. The "reception" of the Queen of Sheba (her "image through time") is dealt with in Art History, Literature, Movies and Opera and Musicals. What's left (eg., kid's stuff, sermons) goes in Miscellaneous.

Pictures of the Queen of Sheba (over 150 pictures)

Medieval Renaisance–1800 1800–1950 Contemporary Movies Ethiopian Islamic Merchandise

Who was the Queen of Sheba?

First, as a former ancient history grad student, I have to say we don't know. The evidence, after all, is extremely sparse. Amateurs "stretch" the evidence, "fix" it, use everything no matter how derivative or unbelievable—anything to get a complete story. Pros recognize what slim evidence can and cannot say.

The Hebrew Bible devotes some thirteen verses to the Queen of Sheba. 1 Kings 10.1-13 (copied in 2 Chronicles 9.1-12) relates that the Queen of Sheba journeyed to King Solomon's Jerusalem with an impressive and numerous entourage, eager to "prove him with hard questions." Solomon's wisdom and the greatness of his court impressed the queen, she gave him rich gifts, he gave her "all her desire" (a phrase that either reflected or suggested legends of a sexual relationship), and she returned, never to be heard from again.

The fun of this topic is in what came next, as Jewish, Muslim and Christian sources elaborated upon the biblical account or added new stories. The relationship with Solomon was an obvious point of elaboration, spawning "spicy" folk-tales of the tricks Solomon employed to bed the queen. More intellectually-minded authors dreamed up the riddles by which the queen tried to stump Solomon. The Queen of Sheba's legs acquired their own stories, including being too hairy (an aetiology for depilatories) and ending in a hoof! In some traditions the Queen of Sheba became a virtual devil, in others a forerunner of Christ. And in Ethiopia, an extensive body of lore developed, as the Ethiopia took the Queen of Sheba as their own, giving her name as "Makeda," and making her the founder of the Ethiopian Royal House.

Since the Renaissance the Queen of Sheba's images have multiplied still further. Her status as a woman of power and wisdom—one of few such figures in the Bible—attracted feminists and "proto-feminists." Her race—which shifted according to need—provided another source of inspiration. With less idealism, opera and movie producers found in Sheba a convenient peg for baroque display and "exotic" sexuality, even as they lost all connection with the history. Thus, three Italian sword-and-sandal movies with nothing to do with the Queen of Sheba acquired her erotically-charged name when released in the U.S. Then there was the cat food...

Why am I doing this?

I conceived of this project after completing similar sites about Noah's Ark, and Jonah and the Whale. I enjoy following biblical subjects down every rabbit hole on the web, doing "Reception Criticism" from Antiquity to Elfwood, as it were. At least with the Queen of Sheba I didn't need to deal with any Creationists.

Help me out!

I know I didn't get it all. I will add anything remotely relevant. Email what I've missed to [email protected]. Or just write to give me an earful; I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Thank you for coming!

Tim Spalding
Portland, Maine

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If you enjoy this site you may like this other site by me:

Mermaids on the Web. Similar site, with over 1,320 pictures .

Angels on the Web. Images and other web resources on angels in Western culture, religion and art.