How the Queen of Sheba may parallel Abimelech (Genesis)



 Damien F. Mackey



A re-consideration of the geography of the biblical Queen of Sheba, with the assistance of

the Abimelech narratives in Genesis, whilst also employing a relevant archaeology.




By probing the intriguing structure of the Book of Genesis with its consistent toledôt divisions:

The “Toledoths” [Toledôt] of Genesis

I was able to arrive at the conclusion that the respective toledôt of Ishmael and Isaac gave, from two differing perspectives – {Egypt for Ishmael, and southern Palestine for Isaac} – accounts of the single encounter between Abram, Sarai and “Pharaoh” (Ishmael’s version), on the one hand, and Abraham, Sarah and “Abimelech” (Isaac’s version), on the other:

‘Toledoth’ [Toledôt] Explains Abram’s Pharaoh

My conclusion being, Abram’s “Pharaoh” = Abimelech.

Assisting the toledôt element here was another common structural feature, chiasmus, yielding a (for me) most convenient paralleling of the two key elements “Pharaoh” and “Abimelech”. I then took all of this a stage further by suggesting, against the common view, that Abraham’s Abimelech was the same ruler as was his son Isaac’s Abimelech:

Pharaoh of Abraham and Isaac

To qualify for this double honour, my composite biblical ruler (Pharaoh-Abimelech) must have reigned for more than half a century – a phenomenon that ought greatly to facilitate an identification of him in early Egyptian dynastic history.

Somewhat more tentatively, I suggested that the name “Abimelech” may be an inversion of the Mizraim-ite, “Lehabim” of Genesis 10:13, meaning that my composite Abimelech could also be Lehabim.

Now Dr. John Osgood has managed to anchor this period archaeologically in a brilliant article, “The Times of Abraham” (, that sheds much light (contrary to most revisionist efforts that seem only to cause confusion).

Critical for this present article is Osgood’s section, “The Philistine Question”:

  1. We have placed the end of the Chalcolithic of the Negev, En-gedi, Trans Jordan and Taleilat Ghassul at approximately 1870 B.C., being approximately at Abraham’s 80th year. Early Bronze I Palestine (EB I) would follow this, significantly for our discussions. Stratum V therefore at early Arad (Chalcolithic) ends at 1870 B.C., and the next stratum, Stratum IV (EB I), would begin after this.

Stratum IV begins therefore some time after 1870 B.C.. This is a new culture significantly different from Stratum V.112

Belonging to Stratum IV, Amiram found a sherd with the name of Narmer (First Dynasty of Egypt),10, 13 and she dates Stratum IV to the early part of the Egyptian Dynasty I and the later part of Canaan EB I. Amiram feels forced to conclude a chronological gap between Stratum V (Chalcolithic) at Arad and Stratum IV EB I at Arad.12:116 However, this is based on the assumption of time periods on the accepted scale of Canaan’s history, long time periods which are here rejected.

The chronological conclusion is strong that Abraham’s life-time corresponds to the Chalcolithic in Egypt, through at least a portion of Dynasty I of Egypt, which equals Ghassul IV through to EB I in Palestine. The possibilites for the Egyptian king of the Abrahamic narrative are therefore:-

  1. A late northern Chalcolithic king of Egypt, or
  2. Menes or Narmer, be they separate or the same king (Genesis 12:10-20).

Of these, the chronological scheme would favour a late Chalcolithic (Gerzean) king of northern Egypt, just before the unification under Menes.

Thus the Egyptian Dynastic period would start approximately 1860 B.C.

[End of quote]

Apparently, then, the era of Abram must equate very closely, at least, to the time of the celebrated, but little known, king, Narmer.

Now most crucially – for my alignment of the apparently Philistine king, Abimelech, with the Pharaoh of Egypt, as explained above – Osgood goes on to tell of archaeological evidence for “Egyptian (cum Philistine) migration” into southern Canaan at this time (ibid.):

Clearly, if this were the case, by this scheme the Philistines were in Canaan already, and must therefore have at least begun their migration in the late Chalcolithic of Egypt and Palestine.

Therefore, we need to look in southwest Canaan for evidence of Egyptian (cum Philistine) migration, beginning in the late Chalcolithic and possibly reaching into EB I (depending on the cause and rapidity of migration), in order to define the earliest Philistine settlement of Canaan from Egyptian stock. Is there such evidence? The answer is a clear and categorical YES.

Amiram, Beit-Ariah and Glass14 discussed the same period in relationship between Canaan and Egypt. So did Oren.15

Of the period Oren says:

‘Canaanite Early Bronze I-II and Egyptian late pre-Dynastic and early Dynastic periods’15:200

He says of the findings in Canaan:

‘The majority of Egyptian vessels belong to the First Dynasty repertoire while a few sherds can be assigned with certainty to the late pre-Dynastic period.’15:203(emphasis mine)

He continues:

‘The occurrence of Egyptian material which is not later than the First Dynasty alongside EB A I-II pottery types has been noted in surface collections and especially in controlled excavations in southern Canaan. This indicates that the appearance and distinction of the material of First Dynasty in northern Sinai and southern Canaan should be viewed as one related historical phenomenon.15:203(emphasis mine)

The area surveyed was between Suez and Wadi El-Arish. ED I-II had intensive settlement in this area.

He continues further:

‘Furthermore, the wide distribution of Egyptian material and the somewhat permanent nature of the sites in Sinai and southern Canaan can no longer be viewed as the results of trade relations only. In all likelihood Egypt used northern Sinai as a springboard for forcing her way into Canaan with the result that all of southern Canaan became an Egyptian domain and its resources were exploited on a large scale.’15:204(emphasis mine)

And again:

‘The contacts which began in pre-Dynastic times, were most intensive during the First Dynasty period’15:204(emphasis mine)

Ram Gopha16 is bolder about this event or phenomenon, insisting on it being a migration:

‘Today we seem to be justified in assuming some kind of immigration of people from Egypt to southern Canaan…’16:31


‘the Egyptian migration during the First Dynasty period may be seen as an intensification of previously existing relationships between the two countries.

These relations had already begun in the Ghassulian Chalcolithic period but reached sizable proportions only in the Late Pre-Dynastic period’ (first phases of Palestinian EB I).16:35(emphasis mine)

The testimony is clear. Excavation at Tel Areini identifies such an Egyptian migration and settlement starting in the Chalcolithic period.17 There was definitely a migration of Egyptian people of some sort from northern Egypt into southern Palestine, and particularly the region that was later known as Philistia.16:32

The testimony of Scripture is clear that there were Philistines who came from Egypt into Palestine in the days of Abraham. This revised chronology identifies such a migration in the days of the Ghassulians, who I insist, perished during the early days of Abraham’s sojourn in Canaan. This period must then be grossly redated in accordance with biblical expectations, instead of evolutionary assumptions.

[End of quote]

Tamar and the Kingdom of Geshur

What does this have to do, though, with the Queen of Sheba?

Or with the great Queen Hatshepsut who the biblical queen probably was, according to my:

Why Hatshepsut can be the ‘Queen of Sheba’

Or even more directly, for the benefit of this article, what does this have to do with Tamar, the very daughter of King David – she being another of my alter egos for Hatshepsut/Sheba? See my:

The Rape of Tamar

If the biblical Queen of Sheba were both Queen Hatshepsut and biblical Tamar (as above), then she must have been – just like my composite Pharaoh-Abimelech – both a ruler of Egypt (as Hatshepsut most certainly was, the 18th dynasty) (corresponding to Abram’s “Pharaoh”) and one also having royal influence over the Philistines (corresponding to “Abimelech”).

That Tamar was the sister of David’s son, Absalom, we learn from 2 Samuel 13:1:

“In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar,

the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David”.

Tamar was also royally connected (apart from the throne of Judah) to the kingdom of Geshur. Though Geshur is usually thought to have been situated in Aram (Syria), I, however, would prefer D. Edelman’s view that this “Geshur” was a southern kingdom (“Tel Masos, Geshur, and David”, JNES, Vol. 47, No. 4, Oct., 1988, p. 256:


David, while in residence in his new capital of Judah at Hebron fathered Absalom with Maacah, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. His first two sons were mothered by his wives Ahinoam and Abigail, whom he had married while living in the wilderness, prior to his service to Achish of Gath. His marriage to Maacah must therefore have taken place in the opening years of his kingship at Hebron. The political nature of his marriage to Maacah has been recognized in the past …. It has always been assumed, however, that Talmai was king of the northern kingdom of Geshur in the Golan.

It seems more reasonable to conclude, however, that Talmai was king of the southern Geshur. Whether or not he remained a Philistine vassal after setting up his own state at Hebron, it would have been a politically expedient move for David to ally himself with one or more of the groups he had formerly been raiding as a Philistine mercenary. Peaceful relations with groups living just to the south of his new state would have allowed the king to concentrate his limited resources on other endeavors. His ability to enter a treaty with southern Geshur, had he remained a Philistine vassal himself, would have been conditioned on the lack of formal declaration of war between the Philistines and Geshur. No vassal was allowed to enter a treaty with a declared enemy of its overlord. The postulated alliance with Talmai, king of Geshur, would have provided David with military aid when he needed it. At the same time, it could have provided him with a market for his goods and possibly additional economic opportunities. ….

[End of quote]

Whilst I readily accept Edelman’s view here of a “southern” location for Geshur, I am not at all keen on her identification of Geshur as the site of Tel Masos, which, according to Edelman, “reached its floruit” towards about the late Iron Age in c. 1000 BC (ibid., p. 257). Whilst, conveniently, this conventional date coincides approximately with the biblical era of David and Solomon, the Sothic determination of it is actually quite artificial and incorrect. See, for instance, my:

The Fall of the Sothic Theory: Egyptian Chronology Revisited

As a result, conventional archaeologists, such as Israel Finkelstein – to whom Edelman refers at the beginning of her article with regard to Tel Masos (ibid., p. 253) – have no hope of ever finding the glorious kingdom of King Solomon, seeking for it, as they do, in the Iron Age. Thus I have written:

Rescuing King Solomon from the Archaeologists

and again, specifically concerning Israel Finkelstein’s presumed erasure from history and archaeology of the magnificent King Solomon:

Israel Finkelstein has not archaeologically “destroyed Solomon”, as he thinks. He has completely missed Solomon.

In the Hebrew name of “Geshur” (גְּשׁוּר), I think that the Bible may be referring to a land, perhaps meaning “Valley of Shur” (Ge Shur), rather than just to a single site.

Compare 1 Samuel 27:8: “Now David and his men went up and raided the Geshurites, the Girzites and the Amalekites. (From ancient times these peoples had lived in the land extending to Shur and Egypt.)”.

So – and nicely, it seems, in accordance with this present article – Geshur was a land that stood somewhat adjacent to Egypt (see Geshuri on Osgood’s map, his Figure 9).

Figure 9. Proposed route of migration of the Philistines from Egypt [to Palestine].

It would have been more fitting for Talmai to have been the king of a land, rather than of a single city. Now Edelman has written of this very situation – with her Tel Masos site in mind (whilst rejecting “Aram” as probably an incorrect gloss):

With the above comments in mind, Tel Masos becomes an attractive candidate for the political center of southern Geshur. If one can put any weight in Talmai’s characterization as “king,” Tel Masos is the only site south of the Judahite hills that is large enough to associate with a possible kingdom. In spite of Finkelstein’s suggestion that Masos probably only reached the political level of a chiefdom, its 200-odd-year existence by the time under consideration, and its postulated role as a major trans-shipping center and headquarters for the northwestern branch of the incense trade route, would seem to have required a developed administration to regulate the flow of goods, and would seem to presume a stabilized leadership. To me, this suggests its attainment of statehood and monarchy.

In reviewing the biblical passages that mention Talmai and Geshur, only 2 Sam. 15:8, which mentions Absalom’s sojourn with his father-in-law in retrospect, associates Talmai and his Geshur with the better-known northern kingdom. The qualifier “in Aram” appears after Geshur only in this verse and has the suspicious appearance of a gloss, since Geshur itself is a sufficient geographical marker. Elsewhere, references to Talmai and his state (2 Sam. 3:3; 13:37, 38; 14:23; 32; 1 Chron. 3:2) can all be construed to apply to southern Geshur. It can be noted that references to northern Geshur are regularly paired with the adjoining territory of Maacah (Deut. 3:14; Josh. 12:5; 13:3, 11, 13). The single exception is 1 Chron. 2:23, where it is paired with Aram.

Perhaps the latter text inspired the gloss in 2 Sam. 15:8. ….

[End of quote]

If one rejects Tel Masos, as I think that one must in a revised archaeological context, then an ideal candidate for the capital city of the land of Geshur would be the important Beersheba – especially in the context of the Queen of Sheba. Apparently “Sheba” was simply another name for Beersheba anyway. Thus (Joshua 19:2-7):

[The tribe of Simeon’s] inheritance lay within the territory of Judah. It included:

Beersheba (or Sheba), Moladah, Hazar Shual, Balah, Ezem, Eltolad, Bethul, Hormah, Ziklag, Beth Markaboth, Hazar Susah, Beth Lebaoth and Sharuhen—thirteen towns and their villages; Ain, Rimmon, Ether and Ashan—four towns and their villages— and all the villages around these towns as far as Baalath Beer (Ramah in the Negev).

David would later establish garrisons all throughout “Edom” (2 Samuel 8:14; I Chronicles 18:13), which Edelman, citing Finkelstein, believes to be actually “a reference to the Negev Highlands” (op. cit., p. 254).

Beersheba (or Sheba), “the largest city in the Negev desert”, which is “often referred to as the “Capital of the Negev”” (, can now, I think, be considered to have been the capital also of king Talmai’s kingdom of Geshur.

It was at this same Beersheba that Abraham and Abimelech, here called “king of Gerar”, made a covenant, thereby giving the place its famous name (Genesis 20:1-2, 21:28-32):

Abraham journeyed toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah.

…. Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” Therefore that place was called Beersheba, because there both of them swore an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba.

Unfortunately, Gerar has not yet been unequivocally identified, but it was probably not very far from Beersheba – only 12 miles according to the Jewish Virtual Library’s article, “Gerar” (

GERAR (Heb. גְּרָר), a city and region in the Negev in which Abraham and Isaac dwelt (Gen. chs. 20, 26). Gerar was located on the way to Egypt and is mentioned in connection with Kadesh (identified in ancient sources with Petra and now mainly with ʿAyn Qudayrāt) and Shur (the fortifications on the Egyptian frontier). In the north it bordered on the territories of Beersheba and Gaza (Gen. 10:19; 26:1–2; II Chron. 14:12–13). Its area included Rehoboth (which some scholars identify with the later Ruheibah, 12½ mi. (20 km.) south of Elusa, Sitnah, Esek, the valley of Gerar, and the royal city of Gerar. Through Abraham’s oath to Abimelech, the land of Gerar was excluded from the territory destined to be conquered by the Israelites (Gen. 21:22–32; cf. Ḥul. 60b) and it was outside the area of Israelite settlement (Josh. 15). According to the patriarchal tradition, the land of Gerar was inhabited by Philistines originating from Casluhim who lived in Gerar as shepherds ruled by a king; a treaty existed between them and the Hebrew Patriarchs (Gen. 10:14; 21:32–34; 26:1, 15ff.).

…. Various scholars have accordingly proposed to identify it with Tell al-Sharīʿa, 12 mi. (19 km.) northwest of Beersheba ….

[End of quote]

Kings such as Abimelech, and perhaps even Talmai, may have been semi-nomadic kings, anyway, with moveable capitals – a bit like how Dean Hickman has envisaged Shamsi-Adad I (“The Dating of Hammurabi”, Proceedings of the Third Seminar of Catastrophism and Ancient History, Uni. of Toronto, 1985, p. 14): “Shamsi-Adad was continually on the move and did not really possess a capital …”.


Origins of Talmai


Whilst it is not that easy to pin down so obscure a king as Talmai, there appear to be enough clues nonetheless for us to suggest a possible origin for him. His father was named Ammihud (2 Samuel 13:37): “Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur”. “Ammihud” is not common in the Bible. Apart from an Ephraïmite bearing this name (Numbers 1:10), there was also a descendant of Judah’s son, Perez (I Chronicles 9:4): “Ammihud, the son of Omri, the son of Imri, the son of Bani, a descendant of Perez son of Judah”. This fact, coupled with Beersheba’s being part of the inheritance of the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:21, 28): “The southernmost towns of the tribe of Judah in the Negev toward the boundary of Edom were … Hazar Shual, Beersheba, Biziothiah …”, plus also that Absalom, a son of king David, was therefore of the tribe of Judah, may all point in the direction of Talmai being a Judaean “king” (or governor) ruling the Negev region – one of those governors of “Edom” referred to earlier.

A descendant of Perez had indeed been a foremost commissioner or military commander for King David (1 Chronicles 27:2-3): “Jashobeam the son of Zabdiel had charge of the first division for the first month; and in his division were 24,000. He was from the sons of Perez, and was chief of all the commanders of the army for the first month”.

1 Samuel 27:10 distinguishes “the Negev of Judah” from other parts of the Negev: “When Achish asked, ‘Where did you go raiding today?’ David would say, ‘Against the Negev of Judah’ or ‘Against the Negev of Jerahmeel’ or ‘Against the Negev of the Kenites’.”

Absalom, moreover, was – as was his father David – a descendant of Perez (Matthew 1:3, 6). The fact that Talmai also had a grand-daughter named Tamar, the same name as the mother of Judah’s son, Perez (1 Chronicles 2:4): “Judah’s daughter-in-law Tamar bore Perez and Zerah to Judah” – {the only other biblical Tamar being Absalom’s very daughter (2 Samuel 14:27): “Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman”} – means that we now have at least these four elements common to Judah (line of Perez) and Talmai:

 Judah (Perez)                                                           Talmai


Ammihud Ammihud
Tamar Tamar
Tribe of Judah (Perez) Tribe of Judah (Perez)
Southern kingdom Southern kingdom

Quite possibly Absalom would have taken with him to the land of Geshur his ravaged sister “Tamar [who] lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman” (2 Samuel 13:20). “After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there three years” (v. 38). We do not know at what stage Talmai died. Absalom may even have succeeded him in Geshur. But then Absalom himself died during his unsuccessful coup against his father, David, and this may have left Tamar to become “the Queen of Sheba”.

We now turn our attention fully to Beersheba.

Explaining the “Sheba” in “the Queen of Sheba”


“Sheba” a Personal Name, Nickname, or Place?


The queen who visited King Solomon, and marvelled at his greatness, is differently referred to in the Old and New Testaments.

In 1 Kings 10:1, for instance, we read: “When the Queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the Lord, she came to test Solomon with hard questions”.

Whilst Matthew 12:42 (cf. Luke 11:31) introduces her as: “The Queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here”.

Revisionist historians following Dr. Immanuel Velikovsky’s identification of the biblical queen with Hatshepsut of 18th dynasty Egypt (and Ethiopia) (Ages in Chaos, 1952) – as I do, though with some significant modifications – have come up with various suggestions as to how to explain these biblical references in relation to Hatshepsut. I myself had previously attempted to defend Velikovsky’s own view that “Sheba” was likely the queen’s nickname, thus having written in my:

Solomon and Sheba




Her Name

Contrary to [Dr. John] Bimson’s claim, there is no grammatical obstacle to Velikovsky’s view that ‘Sheba’ was actually the queen’s personal name. The construct state is used in various places in Hebrew for an “Apposition” – a proper name or a description of a proper name …. According to Velikovsky, Sheba was probably a nickname for Hatshepsut in the close relationships that existed between the 18th Dynasty and the House of David and in Ethiopian legend Solomon’s visitor was called Makeda, a name almost identical to Hatshepsut’s throne name, Make-ra (Maat-ka-re). ….

[End of quote]

Whilst Don Stewart also thinks that Sheba was a name, derived, as he claims, from the middle element in Hat-shep-sut (his article, “Queen Hatshepsut of Egypt – the Ensigned Sheba of the South …”), the Egyptian name Hatshepsut: is usually thought to mean, “Foremost of noble women” (cf. Song of Songs 1:8). Stewart has written (


… the Ethiopian-Egyptian queen, daughter of Thutmose I … known to us as “Hatshepsut”, designed this temple in Egypt [Deir el-bahri] as a sign (h’at) that she was the Sheba (shep, sheb or ‘ruler’) of the South (Sut, or ‘Egypt and Ethiopia’ and the nations living on the banks of the Nile River).

[End of quote]

Emmet Scott, on the other hand, has claimed in Hatshepsut, Queen of Sheba that “Sheba” arose from the Egyptian name for the city of Thebes when properly rendered as Shewa (Sheba) (Ch. 2, p. 37: I would now agree, at least, that:

Sheba was a Place


I am now going to propose – contrary to what I wrote in “Solomon and Sheba”, and based upon the findings of this present article – that “Sheba” was Beersheba (or Sheba), and that it was a strategic location in the kingdom of Geshur that the queen’s grandfather, Talmai, had ruled in the time of David. Beersheba’s importance stems from the fact that it has been, from most ancient days, a point of convergence for the caravan trade. ‘A major north to south route of the central hill country passed through Beersheba, which was also located at the crossroads of the major highways and trade routes in the south’. (

The site, “believed to have been the first planned settlement in the region … was probably chosen due to the abundance of water, as evidenced by the numerous wells in the area”. ( Apart from the famous encounter at the site between Abraham and Abimelech, Beersheba was also notable – from an Australian point of view – for the successful charge of the Light Horse Brigade in 1917.

Not surprisingly then, given the ancient city’s strategic location of intersecting trade routes, that the Queen of (Beer)sheba was able to proceed from there to Jerusalem with so richly-laden a camel train (I Kings 10:2, 10):

Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind.

…. And she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Now, perfectly in accord with the words of Jesus Christ about the same queen, she did indeed hail from “the South”. “According to the Hebrew Bible, Beersheba was the southernmost city of the territories settled by Israelites, hence the expression “from Dan to Beersheba” to describe the whole kingdom” (

The Negev (or Negeb) is frequently replaced in the Bible by “south”. “As the Negeb lay to the South of Judah, the word came to be used in the sense of “the South,” and is so used in a few passages (e.g. Gen 13:14) …” (

The Negev has not always, though, been considered as being a part of Israel proper. This is apparent from the fact that ( “In 1947 and 1948, when the boundaries of the Jewish and Arab states were being debated by diplomats, David Ben-Gurion insisted the Negev be part of the Jewish state”.

What do we learn from the New Testament account of the queen, from the words of Jesus?

We learn of her geographical location (“Queen of the South”) and distance from Jerusalem (“from the ends of the earth”).

But what do these descriptions actually indicate?

In my “Solomon and Sheba” article I apparently, now, got both of these wrong, thinking that Jesus Christ was referring, by “the South”, to Egypt and Ethiopia. And so I confidently wrote:


Her Nationality

Bimson argued that the biblical description had an Arabian flavour, with camels, gold, spices and precious stones but all the monarchs who came to hear Solomon’s wisdom brought ‘silver and gold … myrrh, spices …’ (cf. I Kings 10:25 and II Chronicles 10:24). Ever since the time of Joseph, an Arabian camel train had operated between Egypt and

Northern Palestine, carrying similar types of gifts (Genesis 37:25). The New Testament evidence that Solomon’s visitor was a “Queen of the south [who] came from the ends of the earth …” (cf. Matthew 12:42 and Luke11:31) supports an Egypto-Ethiopian identity. In the Book of Daniel, the phrase ‘of the south’ was used with various rulers to designate rulership over Egypt and Ethiopia (cf. Daniel 11:5, 6, 9, 11, 25, 40). “Ends of the earth” is an Egyptianism, in line with what Professor A. Yahuda has written about the influence of the Egyptian language on the Scriptures …. Both phrases point us in the direction of Egypt and Ethiopia. Bimson suggested that the biblical queen was from Yemen in Arabia, but van Beek … has described the geographical isolation of Yemen and the hazards of a journey from there to Palestine and none of the numerous inscriptions from this southern part of Arabia refers to the famous queen. Civilisation in southern Arabia may not really have begun to flourish until some two to three centuries after Solomon’s era, as Bimson himself has noted … and no 10th century BC Arabian queen has ever been named or proposed as the Queen of Sheba.

If she hailed from Yemen, who was she?

[End of quote]

Common translation of the Greek phrase tes ges (της γης) as “the earth”, here, and also in the Apocalypse, implying the world at large, has been the cause of no end of confusion for biblical interpretation. More often than not, it seems, the phrase ought to be translated rather as “the land”, corresponding to the Hebrew eretz (אָ֫רֶץ), Eretz Israel, the “land of Israel”. Egypt/Ethiopia were of no vital interest to the biblical scribes. The fascinating biblical account of King Solomon starts to peter out just at the very point when he becomes an international entrepreneur trading with Egypt and the other nations (I Kings 10:28-29):

Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue [Cilicia] — the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.

Likewise, Isaac’s toledôt account of Abram and Sarai had made no reference to Abimelech as being a ruler also of Egypt, whereas that of Ishmael – whose mother was an Egyptian, Hagar (Genesis 16:3) – had emphasised this fact.

Jesus Christ, of course, was in the line of Isaac (Luke 3:34), rather than of Ishmael.

Rightly, then, did He recall that she who was the Queen of the South (Negev) had come from the southern end, or frontier, of the land of Israel – Beersheba being the very southernmost border of Israel as we have just learned. Not how we today would say it. And not, to our way of thinking, a terribly long distance either. But who knows whether the queen may have made the trip more than once?

Jesus actually manages to pinpoint, in this one pithy statement, coupled with the Old Testament information “of Sheba”, the precise place from where the Queen arose to visit King Solomon: Beersheba in the Negev.

That this land leads to Egypt (and Ethiopia), where I think that the Queen of Sheba also ruled as (later Pharaoh) Hatshepsut – but this being of no apparent interest to the biblical writers – is apparent from the route that Hagar the Egyptian slave had once taken: “[Hagar] is on the Road to Shur, probably a caravan route from Beer-sheba through the desert to Egypt” (

The vital link here is Beersheba – [Ge] Shur – Egypt.




Feast of Christ the King



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