Yarnton Manor "Sheba and Solomon" by an unknown C20 Ethiopian artist. Notes on each scene.

These forty four scenes are a rough translation of the Amharic legend.

Professor Ullendorff commented:- "The fundamental change of atmosphere that can be discerened in the Ethiopian version - as compared with the Jewish and Muslim legends is obvious even in this crude pictorial representation. The Queen always shown en face (i.e. as good) Whilst Solomon is pictured in profile (i.e. evil). The emplasis is not on Solomon's wisdom but on the Queen's purity and nobility.No longer is Solomon exposed to the wiles of the seducteress , Lilith, the earthly demon, but he himself assumes the role of seducer and by a ruse takes the virgin queen...who gives birth to Melenik which is the purpose of this Ethiopian saga.Melenik is the founder of the Ethiopian dynasty. From him are said to be descended all the kings of Ethiopia. Here in cold terms of legal phraseology we find the continued mistique of a direct descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, a powerful reminder of the enduring efficacy of The Old Testament Story and its wide ramifications."


Josephus says in his Antiquity of the Jews, book 8 chapter 6, that it was the "queen of Egypt and Ethiopia" who visited King Solomon. Also, Jesus refers to her as the "queen of the south" in Matthew 12:42. Daniel 11:5 and 8 identify the South as Egypt. There also have been claims by some scholars that the ancient Egyptian name Hatshepsut translates as "Queen of Sheba".


The Queen of Sheba (other sources)

Known to the Ethiopian people as Makeda , this queen has been called a variety of names by different peoples in different times. To King Solomon of Israel she was the Queen of Sheba. In Islamic tradition she was Balqis. The Roman historian Josephus calls her Nicaule. She is thought to have been born on January 5th, sometime in the 10th century BCE.

In the Hebrew Bible, a tradition of the history of nations is preserved in Beresh't 10 (Genesis 10). In Beresh't 10:7 there is a reference to Sheba, the son of Raamah, the son of Cush, the son of Ham, son of Noah. In Beresh't 10:26-29 there is a reference to another person named Sheba, listed along with Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab as the descendants of Joktan, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, the son of Arphaxad, the descendant of Shem, another son of Noah.

Aharoni, Avi-Yonah, Rainey, and Safrai placed the Semitic Sheba in Southern Arabia in geographic proximity to the location of the tribes descended from their ancestor, Joktan. In addition to Sheba, Hazarmaveth and Ophir were identified. Semitic Havilah was located in Eastern Africa, modern day Ethiopia. Semitic Havilah (Beresh't 10:29) is to be distinguished from Cushite Havilah (Beresh't 10:7), the descendant of Cush, descendant of Ham; both locations for Havilah are thought by these scholars to have been located in present day Ethiopia.

The multiple references to Havilah may indicate a historical Semitic migration from the southern Arabian peninsula to the African continent. An alternative account would place the origins of the Semites and the ancient Israelites in Ethiopia. The ancient Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote that “many, again, say that they [the Israelites] were a race of Ethiopian origin” but also mentions "Others describe them as an Assyrian horde " (Histories (Tacitus), Book 5, Paragraphs 2 and 3).


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Taken on July 26, 2009