Monday, March 25, 2013

CXXIX - Chapter 10 - The Queen of Sheba Visits

One might wonder why the Bible dedicated nearly half a chapter to the visit of Sheba's queen.  Solomon's fame spread to distant lands.  Sheba was about 1500 miles from Jerusalem located in the southwest region of Arabia.  It is what is known as Yemen today.  Archeological studies have revealed advanced engineering in dams and irrigation systems dating back to Biblical times.  Therefore we must conclude that Sheba was a highly developed society for the times.  Its location was stratigic for international commerce, as it was right across the narrow straights to all of Africa to the west, and to the east were all the nations of the Persian Gulf.  Caravans undoubtedly were constantly coming through Sheba.  And with the caravans came word of Solomon and his wisdom.  To the northwest of Sheba were also trade routes through Ezion-geber, and another to Damascus.  Solomon controlled both of these routes.  Therefore a meeting of those two leaders would not be
considered unusual. 

Besides all of the commercial advantages to Sheba with a visit to Solomon, but also the Scripture
indicates that the queen was curious to meet this man whose wisdom had become world-renowned.  The first five verses of chapter 10 describes the extravagant splendor of both the queen of Sheba, and the banquet which Solomom had arranged for her.  Observing all before her, the queen was overwhelmed (vs 5).  But the queen is not just impressed with all the wealth and extravagance, but she makes special note of the happiness of the people and the dedication of Solomon and his
people to God.  It even mentions that she observed the rituals in the Temple.

The Scripture ends the telling of her visit as abruptly as it began, ending with verse 13 saying that Solomon gave the queen all that she had desired, which were probably trade agreements and peace treaties.  The remaining verses of chapter 10 describe the extreme riches that Solomon had accumulated, beginning with an annual income of almost $20 million dollars in pure gold.  You need to read these verses and picture in your mind such wealth:  The Ivory throne; the shields made with
over seven pounds of gold each; the steps leading up to the throne with twelve lions on the six steps; all of Solomon's cups and goblets were pure gold.  It mentions in verse 21 that nothing was made of silver because of its inferior value to gold.  Vss 22--> describes the riches being brought to Solomon from all over the world every year.  The latter verses tell of the military might that Solomon built with chariots for his army and the fleet of ships for his navy.
Look back at verses 23-24.  God kept His promise to Solomon when He promised him wealth and wisdom.
HOWEVER, Solomon had begun to slip away from his part of the covenant with God.  With growing wealth and power, Solomon became more and more given to materialism and military buildup.  He stationed a large army in his chariot cities and in Jerusalem to protect his activities with surrounding nations to include trading in war materials and horses.  More drafted labor and slave labor was required for additional construction, and more soldiers for occupying military posts.  Gradually,
Solomon's heart was becoming preoccupied and drawn from God.  In the next post we will see how the Scripture gets more specific in the steps toward his downfall.

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