December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 The queen of Sheba, having heard of Solomon's fame, came to test him with subtle questions.
- She arrived in Jerusalem with a very numerous retinue, and with camels bearing spices, a large amount of gold, and precious stones. She came to Solomon and questioned him on every subject in which she was interested.
- King Solomon explained everything she asked about, and there remained nothing hidden from him that he could not explain to her.
- When the queen of Sheba witnessed Solomon's great wisdom, the palace he had built,
- the food at his table, the seating of his ministers, the attendance and garb of his waiters, his banquet service, and the holocausts he offered in the temple of the LORD, she was breathless.
- "The report I heard in my country about your deeds and your wisdom is true," she told the king.
- "Though I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes, I have discovered that they were not telling me the half. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard.
- Happy are your men, happy these servants of yours, who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom.
- Blessed be the LORD, your God, whom it has pleased to place you on the throne of Israel. In his enduring love for Israel, the LORD has made you king to carry out judgment and justice."
- Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty gold talents, a very large quantity of spices, and precious stones. Never again did anyone bring such an abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.
- 2 Hiram's fleet, which used to bring gold from Ophir, also brought from there a large quantity of cabinet wood and precious stones.
- With the wood the king made supports for the temple of the LORD and for the palace of the king, and harps and lyres for the chanters. No more such wood was brought or seen to the present day.
- King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she desired and asked for, besides such presents as were given her from Solomon's royal bounty. Then she returned with her servants to her own country.
- The gold that Solomon received every year weighed six hundred and sixty-six gold talents,
- in addition to what came from the Tarshish fleet, from the traffic of merchants, and from all the kings of Arabia and the governors of the country.
- Moreover, King Solomon made two hundred shields of beaten gold (six hundred gold shekels went into each shield)
- and three hundred bucklers of beaten gold (three minas of gold went into each buckler); and he put them in the hall of the Forest of Lebanon.
- The king also had a large ivory throne made, and overlaid it with refined gold.
- The throne had six steps, a back with a round top, and an arm on each side of the seat. Next to each arm stood a lion;
- and twelve other lions stood on the steps, two to a step, one on either side of each step. Nothing like this was produced in any other kingdom.
- In addition, all King Solomon's drinking vessels were of gold, and all the utensils in the hall of the Forest of Lebanon were of pure gold. There was no silver, for in Solomon's time it was considered worthless.
- 3 The king had a fleet of Tarshish ships at sea with Hiram's fleet. Once every three years the fleet of Tarshish ships would come with a cargo of gold, silver, ivory, apes, and monkeys.
- Thus King Solomon surpassed in riches and wisdom all the kings of the earth.
- And the whole world sought audience with Solomon, to hear from him the wisdom which God had put in his heart.
- Each one brought his yearly tribute: silver or gold articles, garments, weapons, spices, horses and mules.
- Solomon collected chariots and drivers; he had one thousand four hundred chariots and twelve thousand drivers; these he allocated among the chariot cities and to the king's service in Jerusalem.
- The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars as numerous as the sycamores of the foothills.
- Solomon's horses were imported from Cilicia, where the king's agents purchased them.
- A chariot imported from Egypt cost six hundred shekels, a horse one hundred and fifty shekels; they were exported at these rates to all the Hittite and Aramean kings.
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1  Queen of Sheba: women rulers among the Arabs are recorded in eighth-century-B.C. Assyrian inscriptions. Sheba was for centuries the leading principality in what is now the Yemen.
2 [11-12] Cabinet: an unknown wood, probably fragrant.
3  Tarshish ships: large, strong vessels for long voyages. Tarshish was the ancient Tartessus, a Phoenician colony in southern Spain, the name of which denotes a center for smelting metallic ore.
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