Feb 25 2013

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Queens from Sheba and Persia

This entry is part 15 of 21 in the series Women

1 Kings 10:4  King (Solomon) & Queen (Sheba)

The heroes and heroines were eager to share with the four queens and the queens were just as eager to hear what the heroes and heroines had discovered.

The Queen from Afar

  • 1 Kings 10:1-3
  • 2 Chronicles 9:1-9
  • Matthew 12:42
  • Luke 11:31

The queen from afar had told the heroes and heroines: “I ruled a wealthy and civilized country rich in gold, gems and spices. Reports came to me of a prosperous kingdom far away who was ruled by a king with great wisdom. I did not believe the reports and decided to find out for myself.  I remember preparing to go and departing with a great retinue of camels loaded with expensive and exotic gifts to impress this king. I cannot remember further.”

You are the Queen of Sheba, also known as the queen of the South, probably from Southern Arabia. It is correct that you come from a very wealthy and civilized country. You visited King Solomon of Israel. It is thought that you came to establish trade routes with Israel but also to satisfy your curiosity concerning the rumours you heard about King Solomon.

Isaiah, the prophet had prophesied your visit in Isaiah 60:6: “A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankincense, and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.”

You came to test King Solomon’s wisdom and you asked him hard questions, but there was no question he could not answer and explain to you. King Solomon’s wisdom, the food at his table, the seating of his officials, the attendance of his servants and their clothing, his cupbearers and their clothing and his burnt offerings to God, were so astounding, that it took your breath away.

You said,”

I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved Israel forever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness.” (1 Kings 10:7–9 ESV)

Then you gave King Solomon 120 talents of gold, precious stones, and spices in such abundance that has never again been seen. King Solomon gave you everything you desired. Then you returned to your land.




The Beautiful Queen

Esther 1:9-18

The beautiful queen had told the heroes and heroines: “I remember giving a feast for women. My husband, the king, had declared a feast of 180 days. It was the last seven days of the feast when my husband commanded me to ….I do not remember anything else.”

You are queen Vashti who was married to King Ahasuerus of Persia, also known by his Greek name Xerxes. You were famous for your beauty.

In the third year of his reign, King Ahasuerus held a feast for all his officials and servants to display the riches of his royal glory and the splendour and pomp of his greatness. The feast lasted for 180 days; that is six months.

Then the king held another feast.   This feast was for the people in Susa and it lasted for seven days. It was held in the court of the garden of the palace. Esther 1:6-8 describes this feast.

There were white cotton curtains and violet hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rods and marble pillars, and also couches of gold and silver on a mosaic pavement of porphyry, marble, mother-of-pearl and precious stones. Drinks were served in golden vessels, vessels of different kinds, and the royal wine was lavished according to the bounty of the king.  And drinking was according to this edict: “There is no compulsion.” For the king had given orders to all the staff of his palace to do as each man desired. (ESV)

There is ‘no compulsion’ means that every guest could drink as much or as little as he wanted to. Normally a guest was required to drink every time the king raised his cup.

Queen Vahsti, you remembered correctly, that you gave a separate feast for the women in the palace.

After seven days of partying and drinking without restraint, the king merry with wine, ordered seven eunuchs to fetch you with your crown. He wanted to display your beauty in the same way he had displayed his wealth.

To display your beauty, meant you were to come unveiled, which was against customs. It is as if the king wanted to present you naked. You refused to obey the king’s command in shaming yourself in public. That took great courage to refuse the king’s command.

The king was furious with you and in his anger he consulted with his advisors. Memucan answered the king in such a way that it justified the king’s decision and at the same time he stayed in favour with the king. It was well known that kings killed advisors if they were displeased with their advice.

Memucan pointed out that by disobeying the king; you not only wronged the king, but the people as well. He insinuated that your disobedience would incite a nationwide insubordination of wives to their husbands. Then he suggested that a royal decree should be issued forbidding you what you already had refused to do; to come before the king.  In his anger and probably drunkenness, king Ahasuerus was pleased with Memucan’s advice and he acted upon it immediately.

You, queen Vashti , was banned from the presence of the king. Your queenship was terminated.

When king Ahasuerus’ wrath against you subsided, he remembered all the things you had done. He also remembered the decree that went out. Although he probably regretted his decision, decrees made by the king could not be cancelled. Even the king was subject to his own decree.


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About the author

Retha Groenewald

Retha Groenewald, is a Christian, passionate about the Bible and author of fantasy novel The Four Faces. She loves storytelling, reading, researching, and writing. She has degrees in nutrition, business, law, and theology. She is a member of Elim in Durbanville. She lives in Western Cape, in beautiful South Africa.

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