Solomon and Queen Sheba & Earthquake Proofing the Temple

These are the same people, or relatives of the people, that were with Moses and David. Are they going to do better with Solomon?

What did you say to Solomon?  

Queen of Sheba From an Ethiopian Fresco
According to the Bible, the purpose of her visit was to test Solomon’s wisdom by asking him to solve a number of riddles.

The story of Bilqīs, as the Queen of Sheba is known in Islāmic tradition, appears in the Qurʾān, though she is not mentioned by name, and her story has been embellished by Muslim commentators; the Arabs have also given Bilqīs a southern Arabian genealogy, and she is the subject of a widespread cycle of legends.

According to one account, Solomon, having heard from a hoopoe, one of his birds, that Bilqīs and her kingdom worshiped the Sun, sent a letter asking her to worship God.

She replied by sending gifts, but, when Solomon proved unreceptive to them, she came to his court herself.

The king’s demons, meanwhile, fearing that he might be tempted into marrying Bilqīs, whispered to him that she had hairy legs and the hooves of an ass.

Solomon, being curious about such a peculiar phenomenon, had a glass floor built before his throne, so that Bilqīs, tricked into thinking it was water, raised her skirts to cross it and revealed that her legs were truly hairy.

Solomon then ordered his demons to create a depilatory for the queen.

Tradition does not agree as to whether Solomon himself married Bilqīs or gave her in marriage to a Hamdānī tribesman; she did, however, become a believer.

The story of Sheba, which was probably derived from Jewish tradition, also appears among the Persians, where she is considered the daughter of a Chinese king and a peri.

According to Ethiopian tradition, Sheba (called Makeda) bore Solomon a son, Menilek I, who founded the royal dynasty of Ethiopia.

“…I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.

And if thou wilt walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments:

Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel.

But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them:

Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people:

And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus unto this land, and to this house?

And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, who brought forth their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the Lord brought upon them all this evil “(1 Kgs 9:3-9).

Twenty years later, after the houses were built, because King Hiram had furnished Solomon with cedar and fir trees he gave Hiram 20 cities in the land of Galilee, but when Hiram saw them he wasn’t pleased.

“And he said, What cities are these which thou hast given me, my brother? And he called them the land of Cabul unto this day.

And Hiram sent to the king sixscore talents of gold.

And this is the reason of the levy which king Solomon raised; for to build the house of the Lord, and his own house, and Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.

Archaeologist Louise Schofield stands in front of the mine, believed to have belonged to the Queen of Sheba, in northern Ethiopia

A British excavation has struck archaeological gold with a discovery that may solve the mystery of where the Queen of Sheba of biblical legend derived her fabled treasures

Almost 3,000 years ago, the ruler of Sheba, which spanned modern-day Ethiopia and Yemen, arrived in Jerusalem with vast quantities of gold to give to King Solomon. Now an enormous ancient goldmine, together with the ruins of a temple and the site of a battlefield, have been discovered in her former territory. Louise Schofield, an archaeologist and former British Museum curator, who headed the excavation on the high Gheralta plateau in northern Ethiopia, said: “One of the things I’ve always loved about archaeology is the way it can tie up with legends and myths.

The fact that we might have the Queen of Sheba’s mines is extraordinary.” An initial clue lay in a 20 ft stone stele (or slab) carved with a sun and crescent moon, the “calling card of the land of Sheba”, Schofield said. “I crawled beneath the stone – wary of a 9ft cobra I was warned lives here – and came face to face with an inscription in Sabaean, the language that the Queen of Sheba would have spoken.” On a mound nearby she found parts of columns and finely carved stone channels from a buried temple that appears to be dedicated to the moon god, the main deity of Sheba, an 8th century B.C. civilization that lasted 1,000 years.

It revealed a victory in a battle nearby, where Schofield excavated ancient bones. Although local people still pan for gold in the river, they were unaware of the ancient mine. Its shaft is buried some 4 ft down, in a hill above which vultures swoop. An ancient human skull is embedded in the entrance shaft, which bears Sabaean chiseling.

For Pharaoh king of Egypt had gone up, and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon’s wife” (1 Kgs 9:13-16).

“Pharaoh, king of Egypt and Solomon’s daughter’s husband, killed the Canaanites that dwelt in Gezer and then burnt it down.

Solomon built Gezer, Beth-horon, Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness.  And cities in Jerusalem and Lebanon to store his chariots and for his horsemen to live in.  The Amorites, Hitites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites that were still alive were turned into slaves. 

The children of Israel  were men of war, servants, princes, captains, rulers of his chariots, and horseman, never a slave.

But Pharaoh’s daughter came up out of the city of David unto her house which Solomon had built for her: then did he build Millo.

And three times in a year did Solomon offer burnt offerings and peace offerings upon the altar which he built unto

the Lord, and he burnt incense upon the altar that was before the Lord. So he finished the house.

And king Solomon made a navy of ships in Eziongeber, which is beside Eloth, on the shore of the Red sea, in the land of Edom.

And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, shipmen that had knowledge of the sea, with the servants of Solomon.

And they came to Ophir, and fetched from thence gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to king Solomon” (1 Kgs 9:24-28).

“And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to prove him with hard questions.

And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, 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.

And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.

And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,

And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord; there was no more spirit in her.

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.

Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.

Famed “Lucy” Fossils Discovered in Ethiopia, 40 Years Ago

On November 24, 1974, scientists in Africa unearthed the skeleton of one of humanity’s oldest ancestors, a pint-sized Australopithecus they nicknamed “Lucy.”

Archaeologists found dozens of intact pieces of leg, pelvis, hand and arm bones as well as a lower jawbone, teeth and part of the skull. All told, the pieces amounted to about 40 percent of what appeared to be at least a three million-year-old hominid skeleton. A more ancient or complete specimen had never been discovered.

When pieced together, the small bits of brown bone painted a stunning picture of what Lucy would have looked like. She was surprisingly small—slightly less than 4 feet tall—and would have tipped the scales at roughly 60 pounds. Her larger pelvic opening suggested she was female, and wear on her wisdom teeth hinted she was probably around 20 years old when she died (more recent estimates suggest she may have been closer to 12 or 13).

She would have appeared more ape-like than human, with long arms and a protruding belly. Unlike knuckle-dragging apes, however, the structure of her bones showed that she walked upright on two legs.

In this regard, Lucy was like nothing the researchers had ever seen. Anthropologists had often speculated that erect posture had developed as hominids evolved larger brains, but Lucy’s brain was only the size of a grapefruit—roughly as big as a chimpanzee’s. This suggested that upright walking had developed long before larger brains.

She “had a tiny brain,” Johanson later wrote in his 1981 book on Lucy, “and yet walked erect…here was an ape-brained little creature with a pelvis and leg bones almost identical in function with those of modern humans.”

Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.

Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, 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.

And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.

And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the Lord, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.

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. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.

Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,

Beside that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffick of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of

Arabia, and of the governors of the country.

And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target.

And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pound of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.

Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold.

The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays.

And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom.

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.

For the king had at sea a navy of Tharshish with the navy of Hiram: once in three years came the navy of Tharshish, bringing gold, and silver, ivory, and apes, and peacocks.

So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom.

And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.

And they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and garments, and armor, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.

And Solomon gathered together chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.

The Parthenon
Still standing: The Parthenon, built in the 5th century B.C., is being probed by engineers for quake-proof elements of its design.

“The Parthenon had great resilience to earthquakes, as did most classical Greek temples,” said Maria Ioannidou, the archaeologist in charge of conservation of the ancient Acropolis citadel where the Parthenon stands.

The Parthenon has sustained significant damage in its long history but most of it was caused by man.

The temple is partly built on solid rock but also has stone foundations going 12 meters deep, and its walls were held together by metal joints coated in lead to prevent rust, Ioannidou said.

It withstood a 373 B.C. quake that destroyed the city of Elike in the Peloponnese and a subsequent 226 B.C. temblor that toppled the Colossus of Rhodes, a gigantic bronze statue numbered among the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.

More recently, a 5.9-Richter earthquake in 1999 that killed 143 people around Athens shifted some of the Parthenon’s architectural elements, but caused no major damage.

And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars made he to be as the sycomore trees that are in the vale, for abundance.

And Solomon had horses brought out of Egypt, and linen yarn: the king’s merchants received the linen yarn at a price.

And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and an horse for an hundred and fifty: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means” (1 Kgs 10:1-29).

Earthquake Proofing the Temple

Sticky Rice
Sticky rice, which has been a staple of the Chinese diet for centuries, also played a huge role in the construction of their ultra-durable cities and walls.

The glutinous side dish has been used since the Ming Dynasty to create a super-strong mortar that has helped keep ancient buildings intact and resisted earthquakes.

The effort to make the temple more earthquake proof by using three courses of cut stone and one of cedar beams – enabling the building to absorb more shock – was a wise one. 

The whole Mediterranean region is earthquake prone, and Palestine is no exception.  Serious earthquakes occur in Palestine about once every 50 years.  A great geological fault extends from Mount Hermon through the Gulf of Aqaba down into the East Africa.

The Bible frequently mentions earthquakes.  For instance, a great earthquake in the days of King Uzziah was remembered long afterward (Amos 1:1, Zech 14:5). 

Matthew mentions an earthquake at the time of the crucifixion when the curtain of the temple was ripped in two, the earth shook, and the rocks were split (Matt 27:51).

Interestingly, the temple area is on a line of structural weakness.  The El-Aqsa Mosque, which stands there today, has been damaged by earthquakes more than once in history. 

The last serious earthquake occurred in 1927.  Some tremors have been strong enough to cause damage to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the building in the temple area.

That was the last serious earthquake when this article was written, but tomorrow we’ll look at the one in Oklahoma, 2014.