The Queen of Sheba

The Kəbrä Nägäśt, In Summary

The Kəbrä Nägäśt is the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. The Queen of Sheba is told, by the merchant Tamreen, all about King Solomon and his wisdom. She is so intrigued by his stories of the King that she plans the long journey to meet him. According to Google Maps, if you walk this trip today you could make it 778 hours, if you never took a break.

When the Queen finally arrived, she was as intrigued by the King more than she had ever imagined possible. The Queen even declared that she would adopt King Solomon’s religion and share it with the people of her country. She stated, “From now on, I won’t worship the sun, but only the sun’s creator, the Lord of Israel! The ark of the Lord of Israel shall be my lady, as well as of my descendants after me, and of all the people in my dominion, this who are under my rule” (Norton 585). Upon hearing of the Queen’s wish to journey back home to Ethiopia, King Solomon invites her to dine with him. They make a pact that evening that King Solomon will not take the Queen “unlawfully by force” and she will not “take unlawfully by force” anything in his palace. In laymen’s terms, he will not force her to have sex with him if she does not steal anything from him. (Sidebar, could you imagine this kind of deal being made in today’s age?!)

King Solomon filled Queen Sheba’s belly with salty foods and did not give her any water. She eventually woke in the middle of the night and took water from a pitcher that King Solomon set out to temp her into quenching her thirst. By his definition, this broke the pact and he could then have his way with her. She agreed reluctantly and they did in fact have sex. She still left for her home country in the following days and King Solomon gave her a ring to keep as a memento, in case she gives birth to his child. Along Queen Sheba’s journey back to Ethiopia, she did in fact give birth to a baby boy, who she named Bayna Lihkim.

In the Norton’s translation of the text it reads, “But, then, after King Solomon had fallen asleep, a brilliant sun appeared to him, descending from the skies and shining brightly over Israel. Later, however, after remaining there for a long time, it suddenly withdrew and soared away until it came to the land of Ethiopia. Then, it shone brightly there, and will for eternity, because it loved to dwell there.” This is symbolic of the Ark of the Covenant moving from Jerusalem to Ethiopia.

Eventually, Bayna Likhim learns his father’s identity and makes the journey his mother once made to Jerusalem. She gave him a token that King Solomon once gave her and sent him on his way. King Solomon showered his son with gifts in an attempt to keep him in Jerusalem but Bayna Likhim did wish to return to his people in Ethiopia. With him, came the Ark of the Covenant.

Views on The Queen of Sheba

I grew up in a southern Baptist church here in Oklahoma. I have heard the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba at Sunday school. No one ever cared to mention the fact that she was from Ethiopia and NOT WHITE. The European conceptions of Queen Sheba are asinine. She is from Ethiopia in medieval times. There is a zero percent chance of her being white.

That was not the only misconception. She was also cast in a poor light. They make her out to be a force of evil that tricks the King. They think her entire goal was to steal his totem. As if she had it planned all along. When in reality, HE TRICKED HER INTO SLEEPING WITH HIM. Hello?! Why was it so important to the Islamic and Jewish versions of this tale, for her to be the villain? They praise King Solomon fo this wisdom but show Queen Sheba as an evil and foolish woman. She has even been compared to Lilith. Yes, as in the mistress of Lucifer himself.

Diary of A Mad Ethiopian Woman

Dear Diary,

Me again, Queen of the South.

Can you believe these white men? Sure, I’m the bad guy. I tricked poor little Solomon out of his totem. Boo hoo. That man tricked me into an awful one night stand and knocked me up. But sure, compare me to Lilith. Don’t they know my son brought the Ark of the Covenant back to MY HIGHLANDS? Solomon isn’t all that bad… I guess. He did teach me about the Lord of Israel. Which is good for him since I needed the patience of the Lord to not bury that man and his stupid followers.

Did you see who they chose to play me in the movies about me? White women. Did they forget where I come from? Let’s not erase my culture here. At least they chose Halle Berry later… the 1990s were a better time for me in film.

It still isn’t good enough. Why do they want me erase us? Why do they portray everyone as white people? How can we fix this? I’m not crazy. I’m angry. I want justice but do not know where to find it.

I had a culture. My lifetime was lived in that culture. Now I am looking down at my people, who now live in America and are confused about where they come from. Why did they take my descendants from our home? Why have they attempted to erase us and force them to assimilate? Why do they feel superior to us?

Haven’t they heard? I’m the Queen of freaking Sheba.

Works Cited

Puchner, Martin. “The Norton Anthology of World Literature-Fourth Edition (Volume B).” W.W. Norton & Company, 2018. (Pages 578-597).

Belcher, Wendy Laura. “FROM SHEBA THEY COME: Medieval Ethiopian Myth, US Newspapers, and Modern   American Narrative.” Callalo. Spring, 2010. Vol. 33, No. 1, ”ETHIOPIA: Literature, Art, & Culture. pp 239-257. The   John’s Hopkins University Press.

 

https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/the-ark-of-the-convenant

I took inspiration for the diary entry title from Tyler Perry’s movie “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.”