When the queen of Sheba heard - As our Lord calls her queen of the south, ( Matthew 12:42;), it is likely the name should be written Saba, Azab, or Azaba, all of which signify the south. She is called Balkis by the Arabians, but by the Abyssinians Maqueda. See the account at the end of this chapter, 1 Kings 10:29; (note).
With hard questions - בחידות bechidoth ; Septuagint, εν αινιγμασι, riddles. With parables and riddles, says the Arabic.
Doubt has arisen whether the “queen of Sheba” was an Ethiopian or an Arabian princess. Both countries profess to have traditions on the subject connecting the queen of Sheba with their history; and in both countries, curiously enough, government by queens was common. But the claims of Arabia decidedly preponderate. The Arabian Sheba was the great spice country of the ancient world; whereas Ethiopia furnished no spices. The Arabian Sheba was an important kingdom. Sheba in Ethiopia was a mere town, subject to Meroe. And it may be doubted whether the Cushite Sheba of Scripture Genesis 10:7 is not rather to be sought on the shores of the Persian Gulf (Genesis 10:7 note), from where no one supposes “the queen of Sheba” to have come. If Ophir be placed in Arabia, there will be an additional reason for regarding Sheba as in the same quarter, because then Solomon‘s trade with that place will account for his fame having reached the Sabaean princess.
“The fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord,” has been variously explained, and is confessedly very obscure. May it not mean what we should call “his religious fame,” as distinct from his artistic, literary, military, or political fame - “his fame with respect to God and the things of God” - or, in other words, “his moral and religious wisdom?” (compare 1 Kings 10:6).
Hard questions - Or “riddles” Judges 14:12, though not exactly riddles in our sense. The Orientals have always been fond of playing with words and testing each other‘s wit and intelligence by verbal puzzles of various kinds. This spirit seems to have been particularly rife in Solomon‘s time, for Josephus records other encounters with Hiram of Tyre and another Tyrian called Abdemonus.
One of the most touching portions of Solomon's dedicatory prayer was his plea to God for the strangers that should come from countries afar to learn more of Him whose fame had been spread abroad among the nations. “They shall hear,” the king pleaded, “of Thy great name, and of Thy strong hand, and of Thy stretched-out arm.” In behalf of every one of these stranger worshipers Solomon had petitioned: “Hear Thou, ... and do according to all that the stranger calleth to Thee for: that all people of the earth may know Thy name, to fear Thee, as do Thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by Thy name.” Verses 42, 43. PK 66.1
At the close of the service, Solomon had exhorted Israel to be faithful and true to God, in order that “all the people of the earth may know,” he said, “that the Lord is God, and that there is none else.” Verse 60. PK 66.2
A Greater than Solomon was the designer of the temple; the wisdom and glory of God stood there revealed. Those who were unacquainted with this fact naturally admired and praised Solomon as the architect and builder; but the king disclaimed any honor for its conception or erection. PK 66.3Read in context »