Balkis

There is no doubt that the Queen of Sheba (Balkis), or Queen Balqis, as she is known in the Arab World, was very influential, wealthy and famous during her reign, some 3000 years ago. The numerous stories and legends about her are so intriguing and conflicting. She is mentioned not only in the Holy Quran, the Bible and the Ethiopian Orthodox Kebra Nagast, but also in legendary tales that extend from Ethiopia to India, Persia and Arabia. She was so wise that several peoples, mainly Ethiopians, claim that she is the founder of the dynasty that ruled Ethiopia and was overthrown only some 30 years ago.

According to the holy Quran, Balqis heard about the wisdom of Prophet Solomon and decided to visit his court after he invited her to abandon her old religion of worshipping the sun, and convert to worshiping God. She decided to overwhelm the wise Solomon with her fabulous gifts. According to legend, the King managed to build a palace on the sea with a glass floor so clear that she lifted her gown so it would not get wet. What amazed her more than anything though was to see her own, famous throne in front of her, so far away from where she had left it.

After several counsels between the two, where Balqis was to witness several more famous miracles of Solomon, Balqis abandoned the religion of her forefathers and took the religion of Solomon.

Christians and Jews are familiar with the Biblical record of her meeting with King Solomon which is thought to have occurred around 950-930 B.C. On hearing of his wisdom, II Chronicles 9 says that the Queen made the journey north to Solomon's courts "to test him with hard questions." The meeting proved a success, culminating in the two monarchs bestowing wealth and good favor on each other. Jesus speaks of her in Matthew 12:42, crediting the Queen of the "South" (Semitic for "Yemen") as a righteous woman for seeking King Solomon's wisdom.