The Queen of Sheba
1 Now when the queen of (a)Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with riddles. 2 So she came to Jerusalem with a very large caravan (entourage), with camels carrying spices, a great quantity of gold, and precious stones. When she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about everything that was on her mind [to discover the extent of his wisdom]. 3 Solomon (b)answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, and the house (palace) which he had built, 5 the food on his table, the seating of his servants (court officials), the attendance of his waiters and their attire, his cupbearers, his (c)stairway by which he went up to the house (temple) of the Lord, she was breathless and awed [by the wonder of it all]. 6 Then she told the king, “The report which I heard in my own land about your words and wisdom is true! 7 I did not believe the report until I came and saw it with my own eyes. Behold, the half of it was not told to me. You exceed in wisdom and prosperity the report which I heard. 8 How blessed (fortunate, happy) are your men! How blessed are these your servants who stand continually before you, hearing your wisdom! 9 Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you to set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, He made you king to execute justice and righteousness.” 10 She gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold and a very great quantity of spices and precious stones. Never again did such an abundance of spices come in [to Israel] as that which the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon.
11 Also the ships of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir a great quantity of almug wood (sandalwood) and precious stones. 12 From the almug wood (sandalwood) the king made pillars for the house of the Lord and for the king’s palace, and also lyres and harps for the singers. Such almug wood did not come in [to Israel] again, nor has it been seen to this day.
13 King Solomon [in turn] gave to the queen of Sheba everything that she wanted, whatever she asked, besides what he gave to her (d)from his royal bounty. So she returned to her own country, she and her servants.
Wealth, Splendor and Wisdom
14 Now the weight of the gold that came to Solomon in one [particular] year was six hundred and sixty-six (e)talents of gold, 15 besides the taxes from the traders and from the wares of the merchants, and [the tribute money] from all the kings of the Arabs (Bedouins) and the governors of the country. 16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of beaten (hammered) gold; (f)six hundred shekels of gold went into each shield. 17 He made three hundred smaller shields of beaten gold; (g)three minas of gold went into each shield. The king put them in the House of the Forest of Lebanon [the king’s armory]. 18 Also the king made a great throne of ivory and overlaid it with the finest gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and a round (h)top was attached to the throne from the back. On either side of the seat were armrests, and two lions stood beside the armrests. 20 Twelve lions stood there, one on either end of each of the six steps; there was nothing like it made for any other kingdom. 21 All King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all vessels of the House of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. None were of silver; it was not considered valuable in the days of Solomon. 22 For the king had at sea the [large cargo] ships of Tarshish with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years the ships of Tarshish came bringing gold, silver, ivory, monkeys, and peacocks.
23 So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth in wealth and in wisdom. 24 All the earth was seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his mind. 25 Every man brought a gift [of tribute]: articles of silver and gold, garments, weapons, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year.
26 Now Solomon collected chariots and horsemen; he had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horsemen, which he stationed in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars as plentiful as the (i)sycamore trees that are in the lowland. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from (j)Kue, and the king’s merchants acquired them from Kue, for a price.(A) 29 A chariot could be imported from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty; and in the same way they exported them, by the king’s merchants, to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of Aram (Syria).
a. 1 Kings 10:1: The location of this ancient kingdom is uncertain, but may have included portions of modern Yemen and Ethiopia. The imperial family of Ethiopia claimed descent from a son supposedly born to Solomon and the queen of Sheba; however, there is no biblical evidence to support this claim. Ongoing archeological discoveries in Mareb, Yemen (Awam Temple) may support the area’s connection to the reign of the queen of Sheba. It has been suggested that she ruled southern Arabia and that the area being excavated was the capital of the Kingdom of Sheba.
b. 1 Kings 10:3: Lit told her all her words.
c. 1 Kings 10:5: Lit going up; or his burnt offering which he offered at.
d. 1 Kings 10:13: Lit according to the hand of King Solomon. Following ancient custom for nobility and royalty, the king was obligated to give a visitor (especially a visiting dignitary) a greater gift than he received from the visitor. Solomon went far beyond custom in lavishing gifts on the queen.
e. 1 Kings 10:14: It is impossible to determine the exact weight of a talent, in part because the Israelites had more than one measurement of a talent. Estimates range from 58-80 lbs. or higher, and the weight may have had to do with the amount an able-bodied man could carry of a given precious metal. Six hundred and sixty-six talents would have weighed at least 38,628 lbs.
f. 1 Kings 10:16: Perhaps about twelve pounds. These shields were designed to cover a man. The gold probably overlaid wood or some other lighter material.
g. 1 Kings 10:17: About three pounds.
h. 1 Kings 10:19: Or canopy.
i. 1 Kings 10:27: This tree, ficus sycomorus, is native to Egypt and Asia Minor and produces an edible fruit similar but inferior to the common fig.
j. 1 Kings 10:28: This was an area which, in NT times, was called Cilicia, the home province of the apostle Paul.