Solomon Entertains a Queen
1 When the queen of Sheba heard about Solomon,#tn Heb “the report about Solomon.” The Hebrew text also has, “to the name of the Lord,” which fits very awkwardly in the sentence. If retained, perhaps it should be translated, “because of the reputation of the Lord.” The phrase, which is omitted in the parallel passage in 2 Chr 9:1, may be an addition based on the queen’s declaration of praise to the Lord in v. 9. she came to challenge#tn Or “test.” him with difficult questions.#tn Or “riddles.” 2 She arrived in Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. with a great display of pomp,#tn Heb “with very great strength.” The Hebrew term חַיִל (khayil, “strength”) may refer here to the size of her retinue (cf. NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV) or to the great wealth she brought with her. bringing with her camels carrying spices,#tn Or “balsam oil.” a very large quantity of gold, and precious gems. She visited Solomon and discussed with him everything that was on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; there was no question too complex for the king.#tn Heb “Solomon declared to her all her words; there was not a word hidden from the king which he did not declare to her.” If riddles are specifically in view (see v. 1), then one might translate, “Solomon explained to her all her riddles; there was no riddle too complex for the king.” 4 When the queen of Sheba saw for herself Solomon’s extensive wisdom,#tn Heb “all the wisdom of Solomon.” the palace#tn Heb “house.” he had built, 5 the food in his banquet hall,#tn Heb “the food on his table.” his servants and attendants,#tn Heb “the seating of his servants and the standing of his attendants.” their robes, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings which he presented in the Lord’s temple, she was amazed.#tn Heb “there was no breath still in her.” 6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your wise sayings and insight#tn Heb “about your words [or perhaps, “deeds”] and your wisdom.” was true! 7 I did not believe these things until I came and saw them with my own eyes. Indeed, I didn’t hear even half the story!#tn Heb “the half was not told to me.” Your wisdom and wealth#tn Heb “good.” surpass what was reported to me. 8 Your attendants, who stand before you at all times and hear your wise sayings, are truly happy!#tn Heb “How happy are your men! How happy are these servants of yours, who stand before you continually, who hear your wisdom!” 9 May the Lord your God be praised because he favored#tn Or “delighted in.” you by placing you on the throne of Israel! Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he made you king so you could make just and right decisions.”#tn Heb “to do justice and righteousness.” 10 She gave the king 120 talents#tn The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 9,000 pounds of gold (cf. NCV, NLT); CEV “five tons”; TEV “4,000 kilogrammes.” of gold, a very large quantity of spices, and precious gems. The quantity of spices the queen of Sheba gave King Solomon has never been matched.#tn Heb “there has not come like those spices yet for quantity which the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.” 11 (Hiram’s fleet, which carried gold from Ophir, also brought from Ophir a very large quantity of fine timber and precious gems. 12 With the timber the king made supports#tn This Hebrew architectural term occurs only here. The meaning is uncertain; some have suggested “banisters” or “parapets”; cf. TEV, NLT “railings.” The parallel passage in 2 Chr 9:11 has a different word, meaning “tracks,” or perhaps “steps.” for the Lord’s temple and for the royal palace and stringed instruments#tn Two types of stringed instruments are specifically mentioned, the כִּנּוֹר (kinnor, “zither” [?]), and נֶבֶל (nevel, “harp”). for the musicians. No one has seen so much of this fine timber to this very day.#tn Heb “there has not come thus, the fine timber, and there has not been seen to this day.”) 13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba everything she requested, besides what he had freely offered her.#tn Heb “besides what he had given her according to the hand of King Solomon.” Then she left and returned#tn Heb “turned and went.” to her homeland with her attendants.
14 Solomon received 666 talents#tn The Hebrew term כִּכָּר (kikkar, “circle”) refers generally to something that is round. When used of metals it can refer to a disk-shaped weight made of the metal or to a standard unit of weight, generally regarded as a talent. Since the accepted weight for a talent of metal is about 75 pounds, this would have amounted to about 50,000 pounds of gold (cf. NCV); CEV, NLT “twenty-five tons”; TEV “almost 23,000 kilogrammes.” of gold per year,#tn Heb “the weight of the gold which came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold.” 15 besides what he collected from the merchants,#tn Heb “traveling men.” traders, Arabian kings, and governors of the land. 16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; 600 measures#tn The Hebrew text has simply “six hundred,” with no unit of measure given. of gold were used for each shield. 17 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold; three minas#sn Three minas. The mina was a unit of measure for weight. of gold were used for each of these shields. The king placed them in the Palace of the Lebanon Forest.#sn The Palace of the Lebanon Forest. This name was appropriate because of the large amount of cedar, undoubtedly brought from Lebanon, used in its construction. The cedar pillars in the palace must have given it the appearance of a forest.
18 The king made a large throne decorated with ivory and overlaid it with pure gold. 19 There were six steps leading up to the throne, and the back of it was rounded on top. The throne had two armrests with a statue of a lion standing on each side.#tn Heb “[There were] armrests on each side of the place of the seat, and two lions standing beside the armrests.” 20 There were twelve statues of lions on the six steps, one lion at each end of each step. There was nothing like it in any other kingdom.#tn Heb “nothing like it had been made for all the kingdoms.”
21 All of King Solomon’s cups were made of gold, and all the household items in the Palace of the Lebanon Forest were made of pure gold. There were no silver items, for silver was not considered very valuable in Solomon’s time.#tn Heb “there was no silver, it was not regarded as anything in the days of Solomon.” 22 Along with Hiram’s fleet, the king had a fleet of large merchant ships#tn Heb “a fleet of Tarshish [ships].” This probably refers to large ships either made in or capable of traveling to the distant western port of Tarshish. that sailed the sea. Once every three years the fleet#tn Heb “the fleet of Tarshish [ships].” came into port with cargoes of#tn Heb “came carrying.” gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.#tn The meaning of this word is unclear. Some suggest “baboons.”
23 King Solomon was wealthier and wiser than any of the kings of the earth.#tn Heb “King Solomon was greater than all the kings of the earth with respect to wealth and with respect to wisdom.” 24 Everyone#tc The Old Greek translation and Syriac Peshitta have “all the kings of the earth.” See 2 Chr 9:23. in the world wanted to visit Solomon to see him display his God-given wisdom.#tn Heb “and all the earth was seeking the face of Solomon to hear his wisdom which God had placed in his heart.” 25 Year after year visitors brought their gifts, which included items of silver, items of gold, clothes, perfume, spices, horses, and mules.#tn Heb “and they were bringing each one his gift, items of silver…and mules, the matter of a year in a year.”
26 Solomon accumulated#tn Or “gathered.” chariots and horses. He had 1,400 chariots and 12,000 horses. He kept them in assigned cities and in Jerusalem.#tn Heb “he placed them in the chariot cities and with the king in Jerusalem.”map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. 27 The king made silver as plentiful#tn The words “as plentiful” are added for clarification. in Jerusalem as stones; cedar was#tn Heb “he made.” as plentiful as sycamore fig trees are in the lowlands.#tn Heb “as the sycamore fig trees which are in the Shephelah.” 28 Solomon acquired his horses from Egypt#sn From Egypt. Because Que is also mentioned, some prefer to see in vv. 28-29 a reference to Mutsur. Que and Mutsur were located in Cilicia/Cappadocia (in modern southern Turkey). See HALOT 625 s.v. מִצְרַיִם. and from Que; the king’s traders purchased them from Que. 29 They paid 600 silver pieces for each chariot from Egypt and 150 silver pieces for each horse. They also sold chariots and horses to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of Syria.#tn Heb “and a chariot went up and came out of Egypt for six hundred silver [pieces], and a horse for one hundred fifty, and in the same way to all the kings of the Hittites and to the kings of Aram by their hand they brought out.”