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William Shepard

The Queen of Sheba

After the temple had been finished and dedicated, Solomon began building a palace for himself. It took him thirteen years to finish this palace, for he did not have as many workmen to help as there were on the temple. The palace was a large and magnificent building, and, like the temple, it was made of white stone, and adorned with cedar wood and gold and silver. It contained two great halls, one of which was the dining-room, for feasting and drinking, in which all the vessels were of gold, and the other the hall of judgment, where people came to have their disputes settled. There was also a great number of smaller rooms, and they were all ornamented in a very costly manner.

Solomon built walls around the city of Jerusalem, so as to fortify it more strongly against all enemies, and he also built a number of new cities, which in due time waxed strong and great.

The fame of all that Solomon had done, and of his power and riches and great wisdom, filled all the neighboring countries. Among others, the queen of a far-off country called Sheba, who was a great lover of wisdom, heard so much about him that she determined to come and see him, in order that she might converse with him and learn wisdom from his lips. So she came to Jerusalem with great splendor, and brought with her camels laden with gold and precious stones and spices.

Solomon received her kindly, and showed her over his palace and over the temple. She talked with Solomon, and asked him hard questions about things which she wished to know, and wondered at the wisdom of his answers. She wondered also at the magnificence of everything she saw,—at the temple and the royal palace, at the costly food which was placed upon the table, at the number of the servants and the skilful manner of their attendance, as also at the daily sacrifices that were offered up in the temple, and the careful management which the priests and Levites used about them. She confessed that she had not believed half of the wonderful reports that had reached her ears concerning the power and glory of Solomon, but now she saw that they fell far short of the truth. And she gave Solomon presents of the things she had brought with her, and he in return gave her costly presents. Then with her servants she returned to her own land.