NOTE: During 1998-1999, many of the women of Ancient Sites Community, which folded in 1999, created web sites about women in history who inspired them, and led online chats at two Celebration of Women events, organized and moderated by Torrey Philemon of Ancient Sites Athens (also known as Tika Yupanqui of Macchu Picchu, and Tracy Marks in real life). Tracy has posted most of these chats here, although most of the web pages, and all Ancient Sites links, no longer exist. This was a grand and pioneering event, worth preserving! Tracy has also preserved online many of her Ancient Sites Greek mythology articles and two years worth of transcripts from Greek classics and mythology chats. They are now located HERE

Celebration of Women Sunday Jan. 10, 1999
Chat Transcript, Page Five
Torrey Philemon on Queen of Sheba


Queen of Sheba

Torrey Philemon on Queen of Sheba

15:17 TORREY PHILEMON: Ok, anyone need a bathroom break before I start Queen of Sheba (grin)? (Sorry Neenah, I was thinking Cynthia Ann Parker; I meant Nancy Ward!)
15:18 TORREY PHILEMON: Queen of Sheba pages at
15:18 TORREY PHILEMON: I did not write this for our Celebration, but rather as an article for a book that was never I mostly converted it to html .
15:18 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I'll take a 5 minute break and will brb! I read your page on Sheba, Torrey. Fascinating!
15:19 TORREY PHILEMON: What I'm going to do is to copy and paste a summary of the main points for 5-6 minutes then take questions, ok?
15:19 NEENAH AMARU: I read your Makeda pages; what a volume of work!!
15:19 TORREY PHILEMON: Ok...I'll go slow here for a minute so those who needs breaks can take them.
15:19 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Neenah, thank you for making me curious about Annie Oakley! *g*
15:20 TORREY PHILEMON: Many different stories exist about the Queen of Sheba and her relationship to Solomon.
15:20 NEENAH AMARU: You're welcome, Morgana! Thank you for coming!
15:20 TORREY PHILEMON: Most people know the ones in the Bible, in I Kings 10 and II Chronicles 9
15:20 NEENAH AMARU: I'm going to grb a coffee!
15:21 TORREY PHILEMON: But the story of Solomon and Sheba is a major part of the Kebra Nagast
15:21 TORREY PHILEMON: the Ethiopian sacred text, which calls her Makeda.
15:22 TORREY PHILEMON: The son of Solomon and Sheba, Menyelek, was the first king of the Ethiopian dynasty.
15:22 TORREY PHILEMON: He was also the first king of Sheba, which was the last known matriarchy at that time.
15:22 TORREY PHILEMON: Also, numerous Arabic texts tell the Solomon and Sheba story, but call her Bilkis.
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: And Josephus and various Hebrew texts, Midrashes, have their own versions.
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: In all cases, she ruled her queendom 1400 miles from Israel, and was devoted to learning and the pursuit of wisdom
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: She heard that Solomon was a wise king and was determined to meet him
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: And to challenge/test his wisdom and to learn from him if he was indeed wise.
15:23 TORREY PHILEMON: They spent six months together, a true meeting of minds.
15:24 TORREY PHILEMON: The Kebra Nagast and Arabic texts openly refer to their sexual relationship
15:24 TIKI INCA: Torrey: which version are you telling this from?
15:24 TORREY PHILEMON: The Bible doesn't mention it, but in the Bible, the Hebrew words used to express their relationship have double meanings, one of them being sexual union.
15:25 TORREY PHILEMON: And Solomon asked her to marry him (as his 2nd wife at the time) but she had a queendom to rule
15:25 TORREY PHILEMON: She also respected and honored his god, but in Hebrew sources, remained true to her own gods and goddesses
15:25 TORREY PHILEMON: In Ethiopian and Arabic sources, she converted.....eventually to Islam.
15:26 TORREY PHILEMON: What fascinates me most is that she "held onto Solomon" by changing the laws of her country
15:26 TORREY PHILEMON: so that a king could rule and her son by Solomon could be king
15:26 TORREY PHILEMON: And that Solomon totally deteriorated after she left, enslaving his people to build his luxurious Palace and Temple
15:27 TORREY PHILEMON: Taking 300 wives and 600 concubines and worshipping foreign gods, failing to unite his people
15:27 TORREY PHILEMON: So that at his death civil war broke out, which led eventually to the destruction of Israel.
15:28 TORREY PHILEMON: The story of Solomon and Sheba led to the end of the Neareastern matriarchies and the end of Israel. And yet it was probably a truly great love, a meeting of minds and souls that could not bridge the differences of two cultures....
15:29 TORREY PHILEMON: Ok, that's my "lecture part." Just saw your question Tika. I'm trying to speak mostly from both versions now but can differentiate. The Bible tells more about Solomon itself, and the other Jewish sources.
15:29 TORREY PHILEMON: Ok you all can ask questions!
15:29 TORREY PHILEMON: I mean Tiki!
15:30 TIKI INCA: No offense taken, hehe.  So what is the big difference between the Bible and the Kedra (sp?)?
15:31 TORREY PHILEMON: Kebra Nagast...Well in the Bible and Jewish sources it is a meeting of equals. Sheba/Makeda respects and honors Solomon but doesn't convert to his religion....
15:32 TORREY PHILEMON: She really remains fully her own person in the Hebrew sources.
15:32 NIMUE CORMAC: You said Jewish writings tell little about the sexual relation of the2, but the Song of Solomon is deffinitely erotic   poetry. And I was given the impression that it was about these two
15:32 TORREY PHILEMON: In the Ethiopian and Arabic sources, she is an adoring devotee who worhships the ground he walks on and converts to his God.
15:33 TORREY PHILEMON: That's a good point, Nimue. Some people DO think that the Song of Songs is about the two of them. It's not proven however.
15:33 MORGANA FLAVIUS: One thing that seems amazing to me is that although Sheeba stayed for 6 months with Solomon (and according to what I read in Torrey's page to travel from Ethiopy to Israel took 6 months), it means that she was absent for at least one year and no one had thought of a "coup d'etat" back home...!
15:33 TORREY PHILEMON: Also many scholars think that Sheba was black...though interesting a lot of the paintings of the masters by her portray her as white.
15:33 NEENAH AMARU: Where would her son have cme from if she hadn't had a 'union' with Solomon?
15:33 TIKI INCA: Is any of this really historically documented or is it a legend of some sort? Other than the religioius writings, that is.
15:34 TORREY PHILEMON: Right Morgana! I wondered about that myself. Her home, Sheba, however was a VERY peaceful country.
15:34 NIMUE CORMAC: Also you say the arab and ethiopean writings say she converted to Islam. Wasn't Islam developed several centuries later.
15:34 TIKI INCA: Neenah, think about Catherine of Russia. Sons come from anywhere.
15:35 TORREY PHILEMON: Well one problem, Neenah, was that a queen HAD to be a virgin....What's unclear is how she managed to stay queen as long as she did after she was no longer a virgin. And even in the Kebra Nagast, she resisted Solomon even though she desired him because she was committed to her virginity as queen.
15:35 TORREY PHILEMON: Another good point, Nimue....Better to say she converted to his God, and that it was interpreted later by Arabic and Ethiopian texts that this was the beginning of Islam...
15:36 MORGANA FLAVIUS: And another thing that made me wonder... why she appeared to be so concerned about remaining a virgin? What did that mean in the matriarchic realm of Sheeba?
15:36 TIKI INCA: What happened to a "fallen" queen?
15:36 NEENAH AMARU: Well that is what I couldn't reconcile in my mind.....
15:36 LISAM FURTIVUS: so what was the succession (with no kids)?
15:36 TORREY PHILEMON: The Kebra Nagast was written many centuries later....and of course told the story from its own context, which was Ethiopian and Islam.
15:37 TORREY PHILEMON: Virginity was a requirement for the queen....but apparently she changed the rules. She changed the rules so that her own son could rule. There were never kings before the son, Menyelek.
15:37 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Side information: Jews, Christians and Maometans (Islamism) all had a common Patriarch: Abraham.
15:38 TORREY PHILEMON: The succession was woman to woman, but how each woman was chosen I couldn't tell you. Scholars don't know a whole lot about Sheba, the Sabaen culture, believed by most to be where Yemen in SW Arabia is now.
15:38 NIMUE CORMAC: Is there any archeological evidence that she existed other than the religious writings of the countries involved?
15:38 TORREY PHILEMON: Right, Morgana. The religions of all three are the same in regard to much of the Old Testament.
15:39 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Torrey, since the queens must be virgins, how was the succession then? By appointment?
15:39 TORREY PHILEMON: I don't know much about the archaeology, Nimue, except that some proofsa bout Solomon's reign were found at Megiddo.
15:39 TORREY PHILEMON: Wish I could tell you more about Sheba, Morgana. There doesn't seem to be  much information on her own country.
15:39 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Bad timing. You already answered Torrey. *g*
15:40 TIKI INCA: So Sheba is now not considered to be Ethiopia?
15:41 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I thought it was Ethipia too...
15:41 TORREY PHILEMON: Two other interesting sources: The Midrashes that list the questions Sheba asked Solomon and the real life tests she created to test his knowledge....
15:41 TIKI INCA: Is this because of the black jews who were airlifted out of Yemen?
15:42 TORREY PHILEMON: Oh, we've got some discrepancies here about Ethiopia and SW Arabia. Scholars tend to believe it was SW Arabia; Ethiopians claim it was early Ethiopia. But then there are theories that Ethiopia actually stretched far and wide to include that part of the Arabic peninsula.
15:42 LISAM FURTIVUS: i think they came from the Diaspora that included exile in Babylon for most of the leaders
15:43 NIMUE CORMAC: It seems to me I saw a TV program about Hatshepsut(another interesting woman) That she sent a trading mission to Sheba. 
15:43 TORREY PHILEMON: Very interesting, Tiki. I don't know much about that...but if you go to some of the Ethiopian sites I have on the link page, there are a few sites there about the Ethiopian Jews...
15:43 TIKI INCA: Also, the current thinking in some arch. circles is that the Ark is now housed in Ethiopia. Via the link between Solomon and his son????
15:43 LISAM FURTIVUS: (they=Yemenite jews)
15:43 MORGANA FLAVIUS: What you said in your summary, Torrey, "a meeting of minds that could not bridge cultural differences" is still hammering in my head... Isn't that a bit sad? I always thought that bright minds would overcome whatever cultural differences that might rise...
15:44 TORREY PHILEMON: There was an awful 50s movie on the Solomon and Sheba story in which Elizabeth Taylor portrayed Sheba as a somewhat evil pagan temptress....
15:45 TORREY PHILEMON: Yes, it feels sad to me, Morgana. I partly want to believe that they had this great love affair that could not continue because of her own commitment to her people, and that she made her son king in order to continue the memory of Solomon. And that he took on 300 wives in a desperate attempt to compensate for losing her!
15:45 TIKI INCA: Lollabrigida
15:45 NIMUE CORMAC: Seen from the veiwpoint of an orthodox jew she was an evil temptress 
15:46 TORREY PHILEMON: Actually, at least the Hebrew sources, reveal a great deal of respect between the two, without imposing their viewpoints on each other. A respect for differences. But she ruled 1400 miles away. (Yes you're right, Tiki. It was Gina Lollabrigida, not Elizabeth Taylor)
15:46 Ricardex Cornelius enters...
15:46 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Yes, I think so too, Torrey! A pitty they didn't have jet planes at that time... it would have made their lives a bit easier, I guess...
15:47 TORREY PHILEMON: Or the Internet, Morgana! Can you just imagine the email messages they would sent to each other!
15:47 LISAM FURTIVUS: or chat rooms :>)
15:47 MORGANA FLAVIUS: LOL! yeah!!!
15:48 TORREY PHILEMON: BTW, there was a tv movie on A&E with Jimmy Smits and Halle Berry, Solomon and Sheba, that came out in 1995...
15:48 TORREY PHILEMON: Not bad, but not particularly engaging either. At least it's more respectful of Sheba. But there's little emphasis on the meeting of minds, as you can imagine.
15:48 LISAM FURTIVUS: ooh - sounds juicy
15:49 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I wish I could have that video, Torrey! You took that wonderful image in your page from it, didn't you?
15:49 lydia Servilius enters...
15:49 TORREY PHILEMON: That movie by the way is out on video. And Jimmy Smits as always is quite delectable....a very enticing Solmon.
15:50 NIMUE CORMAC: One thing that intetests me is that these two fell for each others minds before they ever saw each other. Now thats an interesting romance
15:50 TORREY PHILEMON: Oh Morgana, about that image. I did take it from the cover of the video, but the picture on the video was NOT from the movie. Sheba was WHITE in it. If you look closely at the picture you can tell I recolored it. I made Sheba's skin DARKER so she looked black. I think she was definitely black and don't like the attempt of white people to pretend she was white.
15:51 TIKI INCA: Hey, every guy tells you he's interested in your mind before . . .
15:51 LYDIA SERVILIUS:: Hi everyone sorry I am late! 
15:52 NIMUE CORMAC: But she traeled 1400 miles to check  it out. 
15:52 LISAM FURTIVUS: Solomon in the Bible is identified as VERY WISE, but then the story sorta leaves an impression of someone led around by his **
15:52 TORREY PHILEMON: Well Sheba didn't know what Solomon looked like before she spent 6 months journeying through 1400 miles of desert to meet him (Hmm, how many of us have been journey through the desert wondering if there's a Solomon on the other side too!)
15:52 LISAM FURTIVUS: maybe they just wanted someone to talk to who could understand about leading a big government bureaucracy
15:53 NIMUE CORMAC: Doesn't the Bible infer that she was black. "My love is dark..."
15:53 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Nimue, I guess Sheba fell for Solomon, but I haven't seen any evidence that Solomon fell for Sheba before meeting her...
15:53 TORREY PHILEMON: Very good point, Lisam. THere are many stories revealing his wisdom...but then we hear about all the wives and concubines and how he worshipped foreign gods in order to win the hearts of his foreign loves....
15:54 TORREY PHILEMON: Very right, Nimue. "My love is dark." Again the question of, "Is the Song of Songs about Sheba?"
15:55 NIMUE CORMAC: It has a 1/100 chance anyway.
15:55 TORREY PHILEMON: Need to end soon..but for those who didn't read it, there's an interesting story in both Ethiopian and Arabic sources about how Solmon seduced her...
15:55 NIMUE CORMAC: thats 1/1000 chance
15:55 MORGANA FLAVIUS: That's what happens to a guy when he cannot have the "object of his desire" near him? Decadence? Worshipping of "foreign gods"?
15:56 TORREY PHILEMON: Solomon. He fed her food that made her thirsty, and left her to sleep separately from him in the same tent without water, after making her promise not to take anything that belonged to him.
15:56 TORREY PHILEMON: Then he left water out...and she took the water...even after he reminded her if he took anything of his, she'd have to fulfill her agreement to sleep with him as a result.
15:57 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Yes, Torrey... Solomon did use his wisdom to seduce her... how clever he was! LOL!!!
15:57 TORREY PHILEMON: So in order to drink water, she agreed to go to bed with him....
15:57 TORREY PHILEMON: Well, Morgana, it's kind of an intellectual Romeo and Juliet. The great love of all times, lovers torn apart by circumstances.
15:57 NIMUE CORMAC: Glad I never met him in a singles bar
15:58 MORGANA FLAVIUS: I mean... she was dying for an excuse, hum? *wink*
15:58 TORREY PHILEMON: Right, we know, she must have been AWFULLY THIRSTY....
15:58 TIKI INCA: It has always been interesting for me that the Bible, Torah, whatever, has it's heroes who have such "flaws."
15:59 TORREY PHILEMON: Anyway, I need to end. Ninian Cuchulainne will be here soon, and she's doing Sacajawea in a few minutes.
15:59 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Right, Tiki! Think of Samson & Delilah...
15:59 NIMUE CORMAC: They're real people
16:00 MORGANA FLAVIUS: It was great, Torrey!!! I really enjoyed your page and the chat! Thank you!
16:01 TORREY PHILEMON: Ninian's page is XXXXX (and I don't see her on the comm panel yet)
16:01 NIMUE CORMAC: Thanks Torry
16:01 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Torrey, just one more thing, about Sheba being black...
16:01 TORREY PHILEMON: This story just fascinates me. Glad you all found it interesting.
16:01 Lisam Furtivus exits...
16:01 LISAM FURTIVUS: thanks, Torrey.  bye yall
16:02 TORREY PHILEMON: yes, Morgana...
16:02 MORGANA FLAVIUS: Black women are known for not having much hair on their legs... and there's that story about Sheba's hairy legs and the depilatory invented by Solomon...
16:03 TORREY PHILEMON: Interesting....never thought of that Morgana. But all women do have HAIR on their legs one way or another....and Solomon didn't like hair on legs and gave Sheba a depilatory (LOL!)
16:03 TIKI INCA: Thanks Torrey. Great! Interesting theory Morgana.