Queen of Sheba  

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The Queen of Sheba, referred to in the Bible, the Quran, and Ethiopic history, was the ruler of Sheba, which modern archeology places in present-day Yemen. Figuratively, a Queen of Sheba refers to a pampered female with an aristocratic demeanor.

Contents

Later receptions

Christian interpretations

Christian interpretations of the scriptures mentioning the Queen of Sheba in the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, typically have emphasized both the historical and metaphorical values in the story. The account of the Queen of Sheba is thereby interpreted by Christians as being both a metaphor and an analogy: the Queen's visit to Solomon has been compared to the metaphorical marriage of the Church to Christ where Solomon is the anointed one or the messiah and Sheba represents a Gentile population submitting to the messiah; the Queen of Sheba's chastity has also been depicted as a foreshadowing of the Virgin Mary; and the three gifts that she brought (gold, spices and stones) have been seen as analogous to the gifts of the Magi (gold, frankincense and myrrh). The latter is emphasized as being consistent with a passage from Isaiah 60:6; And they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring forth gold and incense; and they shall show forth the praises of the Lord. This last connection is interpreted as relating to the Magi, the learned astronomers of Sheba who saw a new star and set off on a journey to find a new ruler connected to the new star, that led them to Bethlehem.

Medieval depictions

Art in the Middle Ages depicting the visit of the Queen of Sheba includes the Portal of the Mother of God at the 13th century Amiens Cathedral, which is included as an analogy as part of a larger depiction of the gifts of the Magi. The 12th century cathedrals at Strasbourg, Chartres, Rochester and Canterbury include artistic renditions in such elements as stained glass windows and door jamb decorations.

Renaissance account

Boccaccio's On Famous Women (follows Josephus in calling the Queen of Sheba, Nicaula. Boccaccio goes on to explain that not only was she the Queen of Ethiopia and Egypt, but also the queen of Arabia. She also is related to have had a grand palace on "a very large island" called Meroe, located someplace near the Nile river, "practically on the other side of the world." From there Nicaula crossed the deserts of Arabia, through Ethiopia and Egypt and up the coast of the Red Sea, to come to Jerusalem to see "the great King Solomon".

Christine de Pizan's The Book of the City of Ladies continues the convention of calling the Queen of Sheba, Nicaula. Piero della Francesca's frescoes in Arezzo (ca 1466) on the Legend of the True Cross, contain two panels on the visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon. The legend links the beams of Solomon's palace (adored by Queen of Sheba) to the wood of the crucifixion. The Renaissance continuation of the metaphorical view of the Queen of Sheba as an analogy to the gifts of the Magi also is clearly evident in the Triptych of the Adoration of the Magi (c. 1510), by Hieronymus Bosch. Bosch chooses to depict a scene of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon in an ornately decorated collar worn by one of the Magi.

Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus refers to the Queen of Sheba as Saba, when Mephistopheles is trying to persuade Faustus of the wisdom of the women with whom he supposedly shall be presented every morning.

Theories concerning the origin of the account

Possible Egyptian derivation

Josephus says in his Antiquity of the Jews, book 8 chapter 6, that it was the "queen of Egypt and Ethiopia" who visited King Solomon.

Recent discoveries

Recent archaeological discoveries in Mareb, Yemen support the view that the Queen of Sheba ruled over southern Arabia, with evidence suggesting that the area was the capital of the Kingdom of Sheba.

A team of researchers funded by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) and led by University of Calgary archaeology professor, Dr. Bill Glanzman, has been working to "unlock the secrets of a 3,000-year-old temple in Yemen." "We have an enormous job ahead of us," said Glanzman in 2007. "Our first task is to wrest the sanctuary from the desert sands, documenting our findings as we go. We're trying to determine how the temple was associated with the Queen of Sheba, how the sanctuary was used throughout history and how it came to play such an important role in Arab folklore."

Recent genome research by Luca Pagani of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute suggests that a non-African component of present-day Ethiopian people has much in common with people of the area around Syria, and that the introduction of that Syrian genetic component took place approximately 3,000 years ago. Newscientist.com reported "The meeting between the queen and Solomon remains a story, but the populations they came from did meet around that time, says Pagani" (the main researcher).

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Queen of Sheba" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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