ANDRÉ DURAND Twenty-First Century Paintings
SOLOMON, SHEBA & MENELIK
Dimensions: 157.5 x 107.1
Oil on linen
An ancient compilation of Ethiopian legends, Kebra Negast (‘the Glory of Kings’), is dated to seven hundred years ago and relates a history of Makeda and her descendants. In this account King Solomon is said to have seduced the Queen of Sheba and sired her son, Menelik I, who would become the first Emperor of Ethiopia.
The narrative given in the Kebra Negast – which has no parallel in the Hebrew Biblical story – is that King Solomon invited the Queen of Sheba to a banquet, serving spicy food to induce her thirst, and inviting her to stay in his palace overnight. The Queen asked him to swear that he would not take her by force. He accepted upon the condition that she, in turn, would not take anything from his house by force. The Queen assured that she would not, slightly offended by the implication that she, a rich and powerful monarch, would engage in stealing. However, as she woke up in the middle of the night, she was very thirsty. Just as she reached for a jar of water placed close to her bed, King Solomon appeared, warning her that she was breaking her oath, water being the most valuable of all material possessions. Thus, while quenching her thirst, she set the king free from his promise and they spent the night together.
Kings: Book I
1And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions.
2And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart.
3And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not.
4And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon’s wisdom, and the house that he had built,
5And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her.
6And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom.
7Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard.
8Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom.
9Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.
10And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon.
11And the navy also of Hiram, that brought gold from Ophir, brought in from Ophir great plenty of almug trees, and precious stones.
12And the king made of the almug trees pillars for the house of the LORD, and for the king’s house, harps also and psalteries for singers: there came no such almug trees, nor were seen unto this day.
13And king Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned and went to her own country, she and her servants.
1Kings:Chapter 10 1-13
(King James Version)