Whether said by an aunt, grandmother, or sister, everyone must have heard the saying, "Who does she think she is? The Queen of Sheba?". This famous saying has been around for decades, but often leaves everyone wondering ‘so who is the Queen of Sheba’? In this post, we unpack who this prolific queen is, her historical importance, and her links to Africa?
Who Was The Queen of Sheba?
We don't know much about this queen, but what we do know is that she was wealthy, powerful, and essential. The Queen of Sheba, also known as Bilqīs in Arabic and Makeda in Ethiopian, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Saba (or Sheba) in southwestern Arabia (which is modern-day Yemen) in the 10th century. The Kingdom of Saba is known as the oldest and most important of the South Arabian kingdoms.
In the following holy books, the Queen of Sheba is mentioned:
The bible mentions her in the writings of I Kings and II Chronicles. In the biblical account, Queen Sheba heard of King Solomon's great wisdom and his incredible kingdom and wanted to see it for herself. The queen wanted to learn from King Solomon, and once she did, she presented him with lavish gifts, including gold, jewels, and spices. The bible refers to her as 'the Queen of Sheba' doesn't provide details about her whereabouts.
In the Quran, the she is referred to as Bilqis and rules over the Kingdom of Sheba. The Quran has gone into a lot more detail surrounding the queen's visit to King Solomon. In this version, Solomon — referred to as Sulayman — is given the gift of speech of birds, animals, and spiritual entities. In Sura 27:20, the hoopoe bird tells Sulayman that he went to the land of Sheba, where he found 'a woman ruling over them.' The bird said that the people of Sheba worships the sun and not Allah, which was concerning to Sulayman. Sulayman then sent the bird with a letter to the queen, inviting her to visit his kingdom. Upon her visit, the Queen of Sheba surrenders to Allah and marries Sulayman.
Is The Queen of Sheba, An Ethiopian Queen?
A never-ending debate is whether the queen came from Ethiopia or Arabia. Many people claim that she was an Ethiopian queen who reigned over the Kingdom of Axum; this kingdom did not exist during the reign of Solomon. Axum was once known as D' mt, which was influenced by the Sabean culture of southern Arabia. It is possible that the Queen of Sheba was the Queen of D' mt and therefore her legacy is now associated with Ethiopia.
We don't know a lot about this queen, but a few things are consistent through stories of her — she was powerful, wealthy, and knew her mind!