And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her. – 1 Kings 10:4 & 5
And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired, whatever she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon. So she turned and went back to her own land with her servants. – 1 Kings 10:13
According to the legend that we heard when we visited the National Museum of Ethiopia (home to “Lucy”), the Queen certainly got all that she desired. All of it.
In this story, King Solomon and the Queen reach an agreement when she arrives at the king’s palace. He won’t attempt to seduce her during her stay as long as she doesn’t take anything that doesn’t belong to him. Sounds like a fair deal. Right? I mean, aside from the fact the “No” should mean “No.” But that’s not really the point of this story (although maybe it should be the point).
One night (possibly her last night in the palace), Solomon treated the Queen to a fabulous dinner. He had his servants pull out all the stops. He also had them add extra spice to the food so it would be extra-hot. Now, I need to digress here for just a second. I’ve had Ethiopian food. Some of it is pretty spicy. How hot was this meal? It had to be on fire for a woman from Ethiopia to think it was spicy. Right?
Anyway, she ate and enjoyed the extra-hot food and eventually retired to her quarters. As she was preparing for bed, the spices did what spices do and the Queen needed some relief. Conveniently, Solomon had ordered that a glass of water be placed near her bed.
The wisest man in all the world had just tricked her. She had taken something of his without permission.* She had failed to uphold her end of the bargain. So Solomon was free to pursue her.
Cue Barry White.
Nine months later, on the road home, the Queen of Sheba gave birth to a son. She named him Menelik, “Son of the Wise.” And subsequent emperors claimed direct descent from Menelik I.
I told you the Jewish connection ran pretty deep.
* First of all, is it really taking something without permission if you place the glass of water right in front of a person who desperately needs a glass of water? Implied consent and all that. And secondly, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. There were plenty of women around who would do whatever he wanted. Why the need to trick someone like this? Solomon might have been wise, but he seems kind of shady here.
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