Visit of the Queen of Sheba.

THE QUEEN OF SHEBA AT SOLOMON’S COURT. — V.1. And when the queen of Sheba, a country in Arabia Felix, on the Red Sea, heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, because the Lord was glorified in him, she came to prove him with hard questions, to test his reputed wisdom with difficult problems. V.2. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with a very numerous retinue in men, with camels that bare spices, the most costly products of her country, and very much gold and precious stones. And when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart, all the difficult problems and all the enigmatical questions which she had collected and devised. V.3. And Solomon told her all her questions, he was able to answer, and give the solution of, all the enigmas propounded by her; there was not anything hid from the king which he told her not, he understood all her allusions and explained all her proverbial sayings V.4. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, having gotten the proof she was looking for at first hand, and the house that he had built, v.5. and the meat, the food, of his table, and the sitting of his servants, the civil officers who sat at the royal table, and the attendance of his ministers, that of the servants, especially at table, which included the service of the cup-bearers, and their apparel, the splendid liveries which they wore in the king’s service, and his cup-bearers, the entire equipment or arrangement connected with the serving of wines, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord, the magnificent stairway which led from the royal palace to the Temple, there was no more spirit in her, she was overcome with extreme astonishment. V.6. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. V.7. Howbeit, I believed not the words, she had not been able to believe that the situation as reported to her was possible, until I came and mine eyes had seen it; and, behold, the half was not told me, the reality far surpassed the most extravagant reports brought to her; thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. V.8. Happy are thy men, they should consider themselves fortunate, lucky, happy are these thy servants which stand continually before thee and that hear thy wisdom. V.9. Blessed be the Lord, thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel, as an evidence of His favor and mercy; because the Lord loved Israel forever, therefore made he thee king to do judgment and justice, to rule wisely and to execute justice. Thus this heathen queen, overcome by the evidence before her eyes, acknowledged and confessed the true God, as an example to many a person who disregarded better opportunities of becoming acquainted with His wisdom and power, Matt. 12, 42. V.10. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, almost two and one half million dollars, and of spices very great store, and precious stones; there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. “The spices were principally the famous Arabian balm, which was largely exported; according to Josephus the balm-shrub was introduced into Palestine by the queen of Sheba.” (Lange.) V.11. And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug-trees, the sandal-wood prized so highly throughout the Orient for its fragrance, and precious stones. V.12. And the king made of the almug-trees pillars for the house of the Lord, apparently balustrades for the stairways, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers, stringed instruments with sounding-boards. There came no such almug-trees nor were seen unto this day, the wood came in unusual abundance. V.13. And King Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty, in conformity with his power and wealth, according to the custom of Oriental monarchs. So she turned and went into her own country, she and her servants. Mark: From the example of the queen of Sheba it is clear that all those are blessed who have learned and know the secret of Jesus Christ, the Savior.

SOLOMON’S RICHES AND LUXURY. — V.14. Now, the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year, from all sources, was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold, far over eleven million dollars, at the lowest estimate, v.15. beside that he had of the merchantmen, the smaller itinerant merchants and peddlers, and of the traffic of the spice-merchants, the wealthy wholesalers, and of all the kings of Arabia, tributary kings of the smaller countries, and of the governors of the country, chap. 4, 7-19. V.16. And King Solomon made two hundred targets, large square shields, of beaten gold, six hundred shekels of gold went to one target, the framework of the shields being covered with heavy gold-plates. V.17. And he made three hundred shields, those of the smaller size, with round or oval bodies, of beaten gold, in the same heavy gold-plating; three pound of gold went to one shield. And the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon, which served as his arsenal. V.18. Moreover, the king made a great throne of ivory, inlaid or decorated with carved pieces of this costly material, and overlaid it with the best gold. V.19. The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind, its back was bent back and rounded at the top; and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, that is, arm-rests, and two lions stood beside the stays, very likely carved of wood overlaid with gold. V.20. And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps, two to each step, facing each other; there was not the like made in any kingdom. It was only in later ages that more costly thrones were produced. V.21. And all King Solomon’s drinking vessels were of gold, and all the vessels of the house of the forest of Lebanon were of pure gold; none were of silver; it was nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon, it was very low in value on account of its great abundance. V.22. For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram, a number of ships on the Mediterranean which made regular trips to Spain, with its rich silver mines. Once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks, all these being gotten in Spain and in the African countries along the Mediterranean. V.23. So King Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom; none of his contemporaries equaled him in this respect. V.24. And all the earth sought to Solomon, embassies from every part of the known world came to visit him, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart. V.25. And they, according to custom, brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, beautiful and costly clothes, and armor, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year, their respect for Solomon being so great that they made the giving of presents an annual custom. V.26. And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen; and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen, chap. 4, 26. whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots and with the king at Jerusalem. V.27. And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, as abundant and therefore as little valued, and cedars made he to be as the sycamore-trees, the sycamore-figs, that are in the vale, for abundance; the most precious wood was as plentiful in Jerusalem as common building-timber. V.28. And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, which was noted for its fine horses, and linen yarn, literally, “a troop, a multitude”; the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price, every troop, or shipment, was delivered at a certain contracted price. V.29. And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, that was the price of each one, and an horse for an hundred and fifty, almost one hundred dollars; and so for all the kings of the Hittites and for the kings of Syria, most of them tributary to Solomon, to whom the Egyptians also sold horses and chariots, did they bring them out by their means, literally, “through their hands,” without middlemen, by direct sale and delivery. It seems that the horses were brought to a town on the boundary of Egypt and Palestine, and distributed from there to the various purchasers, among whom Solomon was the most prominent. Note: All the almost unbelievable wealth of Solomon is as nothing beside the heavenly, eternal glory which Christ gives to those who are in truth His servants.