The story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba appears in the biblical books of Kings and Chronicles: An unnamed queen from Sheba travels to Jerusalem bearing gold, jewels, and spices. A seeker of knowledge, the queen has a special interest in the reputedly wise Solomon and tests him with some “hard questions.” Solomon meets the challenge and lavishes hospitality on the queen, who reciprocates with gifts.
“Never again were so many spices brought in as those the Queen of Sheba gave to Solomon.” Later, she tells him: “In wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard”(1 Kings 10:7).
This biblical encounter has had an enormous impact on the popular imagination, projecting themes of beauty, wealth, power, exoticism, intrigue, magic, and love. The queen has inspired Turkish and Persian miniatures, European painting and music, and the 1959 Hollywood epic Solomon and Sheba, with Yul Brynner as the wise king and Gina Lollobrigida as his match.