The Song and the Wisdom

Blood Roses: The Canticle of Canticles

The Song of Songs expresses for all time the fertility of sexual love in its
full abundance. Through the love and passion of the young king and queen for
one another, the living world springs forth anew, the plants bursting into
flower and fruit, the wilderness into wild splendour and the herding flocks
pregnant with offspring. The "Canticles" sits paradoxically in the Old
Testament, being transparently a celebration of the hieros gamos of the the
Summer King "Salmaah, the Kenite Dionysius, making love to his twin", the
Flower Queen, "the May bride of Shulem". It was accepted into the Bible only
after the time of Jesus by Akiba the rabbi who pronounced the Zealot Bar
Kochba Messiah..

The song reverberates with the sexual erotica of the goddess of the enclosed
garden. "A garden concealed is my beloved" ..."Let my beloved come into his
garden and eat its pleasant fruits" ..."Open to me my sister, my love ...
for my head is filled with dew".

Although it is attributed to Solomon, its date is much more recent, (circa
200 BC). Robert Graves notes: "The Canticles, though apparently no more than
a collection of village love-songs, were officially interpreted by the
Pharisee sages of Jesus's day as the mystical essence of King Solomon's
wisdom, and as referring to the love of Jehovah for Israel; which is why in
the Anglican Bible they are interpreted as 'Christ's love for his Church'.

Although it rings with the sensual joy and longing of the sacred marriage
and abounds like no other tract of writing before of since with the sheer
abundance of fertility of garden, wilderness and flock alike, the
undercurrents of human sacrifice are never far away. Although, as in the
joyful courtship of Inanna, we delight in the abundant fertility - "Thy
teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every
one beareth twins and there is not one barren one among them," we also find
"As a lilly among thorns, so is my love among the daughters. As the apple
tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. " The
thorns of male sacrifice thus remain lurking among the sisters, for whom the
red lilly is also a symbol of sacrificial blood, and the beloved is none
other than the dying vegetation God Tammuz - Adonis or Lord:

"Blood lillies" on Lake Genessaret (Galilee). The anenome blooms at Easter
(Wilson I).

"The 'lilies' are the red anemones - the wind flower - that sprang up from
the drops of blood that fell from Adonis's side when the wild boar killed
him (Graves 261), sprinkled with nectar by the mourning goddess. The name
anenome appears to be derived from Naaman  - darling, an epithet of Adonis
(Frazer 4/1 226).

The rose also received its present hue from this fatal event, for as
Aphrodite ran barefoot through the woods to the aid of her lover, the thorns
of the white rose-briars, the damask rose, tore her delicate skin and the
flowers were henceforth tinged with red (Henderson 119).

The apple is the Sidonian (i.e. Cretan) apple, or quince, sacred to
Aphrodite the Love-goddess, and first cultivated in Europe by the Cretans.
The true apple was not known in Palestine in Biblical times and it is only
recently that varieties have been introduced there that yield marketable
fruit" (Graves 261).

The Song of Songs

Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth : for thy love is better than
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured
therefore do the virgins love thee.
Draw me, we will run after thee : The king hath brought me to his chambers:
we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than
the upright love thee.

Sabean Votive Offerings with a black Shulamite (Doe)

I am black but comely O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.
Look not upon me because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me:
my mother's children were angry with me; they made me keeper of the
but my own vineyard I have not kept.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth where thou feedest
where thy makest thy flock to rest at noon:
for why should I be one that turnest aside by the flocks of your companions?

If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the
footsteps of the flock,
and feed thy kids beside the shepherds tents.
I have compared thee, O my love to a company of horses in Pharoh's chariots.

Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.

While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sent forth the smell
A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt
my breasts.
My beloved is to me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of En-gedi.
Behold thou art fair my love; behold thou art fair; thou hast dove's eyes.
Behold thou art fair my beloved, yea pleasant: also our bed is green.
The beams of our houses are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

Anenome parvonia "blood lilly" of Adonis and the Damask Rose of Aphrodite
Adonis's is in rich full flow. Aphrodite's is lightly tinged with her foot

I am the rose of Sharon, and the lilly of the valleys.
As a lilly among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.
As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the
I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to
my taste.
He brought me to his banqueting house and his banner over me was love.
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love.

His left hand is under my head, and his right hand doth embrace me.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of
the field,
that ye stir not up, nor awake my love till he please.
The voice of my beloved!
behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills
My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold he standeth behind our
he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself forth through the lattice.

My beloved spake and said to me, Rise up my fair one, and come away.
For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing of birds is come
and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.
The fig tree putteth forth her green figs,
and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell,
arise my love, my fair one and come away.

O my dove that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the
let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice;
for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely.

By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I
found him not.
I will rise now and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways
I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him but I found him not.
The watchmen that go about the city found me : to whom I said, Saw ye whom
my soul loveth?
It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul
I held him, and I would not let him go until I had brought him to my
mother's house
and into the chamber of her that conceived me.

Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke...
King Solomon made himself a chariort of the wood of Lebanon.
He made the pillars thereof of silver and the bottom thereof of gold the
covering of it of purple,
the midst thereof being paved with love for the daughters of Jerusalem.
Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown
wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals,
and in the day of the gladness of his heart.

Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon:
look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon,
from the lion's dens, from the mountains of the leopards.

Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse
thou hast ravished my heart with oneof thine eyes, with the chain of thy
How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than
and the smell of thine ointments than all the spices!
Thy lips, O my spouse drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy
and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon.

Jewish bride from Sheba (Yemen) in traditional costume (Uris)

A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranites, with pleasant fruits; camphire,
spikenard, and saffron;
calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of francinsense; myrrh and aloes, with
all the chief spices:
A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.

Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden,
that the spices thereof may flow out.
Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.

I have come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh
and my spice;
I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk:
eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.

I sleep but my heart waketh : it is the voice of of my beloved that
saying open to me my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled :
for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night.
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how
shall I defile them?
My beloved put his hand in the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved
for him.
I rose up to open to my beloved and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone:
my soul failed when he spake : I sought him, but I could not find him;

I called him, but he gave me no answer
The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me and they
wounded me;
the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
I charge you , O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye tell him, that I am sick of

What is thy beloved more than another beloved, O thou fairest among women?
what is thy thy beloved more than another beloved, that thou dost so charge

My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.
His head is as the most fine gold, hislocks are bushy and black as a raven.
His eyes are as the eyes of doves ...
His mouth is most sweet yea he is altogether lovely.
This is my beloved, this is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.

Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women?
whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.

My beloved is gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices,
to feed in the gardens and to gather lillies.
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lillies.

Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as
an army with banners.
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me:

thy hair is a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.
Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof
every one beareth twins
and there is not one barren one among them.
As a piece of pomegranite are thy temples within thy locks.

There are three score queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother,
she is the choice one of her that bear her. The daughters saw her and
blessed her;
yea the queens and the concubines and they praised her.
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the
and terrible as an army with banners?

I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley,
and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranites budded...
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee.
What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies...

Venus and Adonis - Lemoyne (Bailey)

I said, I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of the boughs
now also thy breasts shall be as clusters of the vine, and the smell of thy
nose like apples.
And the roof of thy mouth, like the best wine for my beloved, that goeth
down sweetly
causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.
I am my beloved's and his desire is towards me.
Let us get up early to the vineyards; let us see if the vine flourish,
whether the tender grape appear, and the pomegranites bud forth:
there I will give thee my loves.
The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant
new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.

Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?
I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth:
she that brought thee forth that bare thee.

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm:
for love is strong as death; jealously is cruel as the grave:
the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it:
if a man would give all the substance of his house for love,
it would be utterly contemned.

We have a little sister and she hath no breasts:
what shall we do for our sister on the day when she shall be spoken for?
If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver:
and if she be a door, we will enclose her with boards of cedar.
I am a wall and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one which
found favour.

Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon; he let out the vineyard to the
every one of the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
My vineyard, which is mine is before me: thou O Solomon must have a thousand

and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions harken to my voice: cause
me to hear it.
Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like a roe, or to a young hart upon the
mountains of spices.

Nikaulis and Solomon : A Cultural Hieros Gamos

The mythical and possibly historical pilgrimage of the Queen of Sheba,
Nikaulis to Josephus, Bilqis to Muhammad (pilgesh - concubine Heb) and
Makeda in Ethiopia to King Solomon celebrates a rare union of the genders,
each in their true power, a cultural hieros gamos between a great Goddess
Queen and a great King of the Father God, each of whom is master and
mistress of their own domains and destinies, and never a mere consort of the
other. They celebrate the confluence of their lives as two independent
figures in history each on their own journey.

Solomon is renowned for the splendour of his reign, his wisdom, the power of
the magic of the Key of Solomon, and his appreciation for and understanding
of nature. "And Solomon's wisdom excelled all the wisdom of all the children
of the east country and all the children of Egypt. For he was wiser than all
men ... And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even
unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and
of fowl, and of creeping things and fishes. And there came all people to
hear the wisdom of Solomon, from all the kings of the earth, which had heard
of his wisdom". His palace in the cedars was twice the size of that in the

Solomon's beautiful black bride the Shulamite, reflects the Godess of
darkness Zulumat, the fertile garden-paradise of the Oriental kings. The
queens of Sheba of had a capital Mariaba with king consorts forbidden to
leave the temple on pain of stoning (Walker 946). It is also related that
Solomon feared she had animal feet like Lilith and arranged to view her feet
reflected from beneath her long skirt in a still pool of water, finding to
his relief, that she was fully human, if a little hairy. The term Shayba
'old woman' is an epithet of the Great Goddess.

"Now when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the
name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to
Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very
much gold, and precious stones; and when she came in  to Solomon, she told
him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions; there
was nothing hidden from the king which he did not explain to her. And when
the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had
built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the
attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt
offerings which he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more
spirit in her. And she said to the king, 'The report was true which I heard
in my own land of your affairs and of your wisdom, but 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 which I heard.' "

"Happy are your wives! Happy are these your servants, who continually stand
before you and hear your wisdom! BIessed be the Lord your God, who has
delighted in you and set you on the throne of Israel! Because the Lord loved
Israel for ever, he has made you king, that you may execute justice and
righteousness. Then she gave the king a hundred and twenty talents of gold,
and a very great quantity of spices, and precious stones; never again came
such an abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to King
Solomon. "Moreover the fleet of Hiram, which brought gold from Ophir,
brought from Ophir a very great amount of almug wood and precious stones.
And the king made of the almug wood supports for the house of the Lord, and
for the kings house, lyres also and harps for the singers; no such almug
wood has come or been seen, to this day. "

"And King Solomon gave to the queen of Sheba all that she desired , whatever
she asked besides what was given her by the bounty of King Solomon. So she
turned and went back to her own land, with her servants."

The terms come in  and all that she desired  are taken to mean that Solomon
and Nikaulis were lovers and that she sought a child by the king. It is said
that their meeting took place in terms of an ancient prophecy of the messiah
king, and that Bilquis was coming as a queen of the ancient race to see if
this was really the case. A passage in the Midrash ha-Gadol begins by
referring to Genesis 25:6: 'But to Abraham's sons by concubines Abraham gave
gifts while he was still living, and he sent them away.. .'Among those thus
sent away was Jokshan, father of Sheba (Genesis 25:3). They were, the story
continues, to remain apart from Isaac and his descendants until the messiah
had come. Now in the days of Solomon, the situation was so favourable, as 1
Kings 4:25 reports, that it seemed as though the Messiah had come (Pritchard
68). ... However, when it was recognized that Solomon was not the messiah,
the concubines' descendants retumed home to await his coming. The passage
concludes: 'And they are destined to return in the days of the Messiah, may
it come quickly and in our days, for it is said in scripture,' " (Isaiah
60:6) "the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee ... all they from
Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense".

The idea that Solomon was the messiah was justified, for his reign was one
of both splendour and peace: 1 Kings 4:21 "And Solomon reigned over all
kingdoms from the river unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the
border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of
his life. ... For he had dominion over all ... the kings on this side the
river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. ... And Judah and
Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from
Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon."

Jesus stands on the tradition of this myth when in Matthew 12:38 he claims
to be messiah, by prophesying the arrival of Nikaulis, at the same time as
refusing to confirm his miraculus nature, offering only the ritual of the
descent of the three days of darkness: "Then certain of the scribes and of
the Pharisees answered, saying, 'Master, we would see a sign from thee'. But
he answered and said unto them, 'An evil and adulterous generation seeketh
after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the
prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's
belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart
of the earth. ... The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with
this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts
of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than
Solomon is here."

Solomon's accession to the throne has all the hallmarks of a traditional
sacred king. He is appointed through the wiles and power of his mother, with
the more than coincidental name Bath-Sheba, after his half-brother Absalom
is hung in a tree after challenging David by going to his concubines in the
sight of all Israel and his brother Adonijah makes a similar display of
assuming power over Solomon after the failure of the old and feeble King
David to perform the sacred act with the comely Shunnamite Abishag. Adonijah
is temporarily forgiven when he holds on to the horns of the altar. However
when he then makes a play for Abishag's hand, thus attempting to assert
virility rites over the young regent, Solomon has him killed. Solomon then
receives his wisdom from God in a dream at Gibeon and demonstrates it to the
two women fighting over an offspring, by threatening to divide the child in

His temple is notable for its male and female symbolism. 1 Kings 7:15 " For
he cast two pillars of brass, ... And he made the pillars, and two rows
round about upon the one network, ... And the chapiters that were upon the
top of the pillars were of lily work ... And the chapiters upon the two
pillars had pomegranates ... two hundred in rows round about ... and he set
up the right pillar, and called the name thereof Jachin: and he set up the
left pillar, and called the name thereof Boaz." The two pillars, Jachin and
Boaz were "he shall establish" (the sun) and 'in its strength" (the moon),
consistent with worship of the heavenly host. The pomegranate, rimmon, was a
symbol of both the womb and fertility of the seed (Walker 805).

Solomon's diverse Religious Exploits

Solomon is also renowned for his love of his diverse wives' deities. "And
Solomon made affinity with Pharoh king of Egypt, and took Pharoh's daughter,
and brought her unto the city of David". He built a temple to Yahweh to
replace the tabernacle tent, and the many sanctuaries in the high places.
"And the Lord said if thou wilt walk before me as David ... then I will
establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel forever". "But king Solomon
loved many strange women, together with the daughter of the Pharoh, women of
the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonains and Hittites" let alone the
Shulamite Queen of Sheba. "Solomon clave unto these in love" And he had
seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines ... For it
came to pass that when Solomon was old that his wives turned away his heart
after other gods ... Astoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Milcom the
abomination of the Ammonites ... Chesmosh of Moab, Molech of Ammon ... and
likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burned incense and
sacrificed unto their gods. ... And the Lord was angry with Solomon". "I
will surely rend the kingdom from thee ... but will give one tribe to thy
son for David thy father's sake". However the fall of Solomon's empire
resulted from a previous escape of Hadad the Edomite from his initial
patricide and thus predated Solomon's transgressions.

The very large numbers of wives and concubines is consistent with the models
of sacred kingship based on spermatogenic fertility, characteristic both of
many national leaders up to the 20 th century in the case of Mao Tse Tung.

Although the riches and bounty of Solomon's era as Kingof Israel is famed in
the Bible, the Sabeans possessed a long-lived culture lasting from 1700 BC
to 400 AD, which has left significantly greater evidence of its richness
than the kingdom of Solomon, of which there are few archaelogocal records.
While Solomon made good trade in minearls and chariots, Sabean wealth was
based on the spice trade in frankinsense and myrrh.

Solomon's Kingdom: The Archaelogical Evidence

Archaeology has been able to recover sizeable portions of three cities of
the tenth century BC, cities prominent enough to have been mentioned in the
Bible as cities which Solomon built. Each is extremely modest in extent:
Megiddo (after which Armegeddon is named) is no larger than 13 acres; Gezer
measures approximately 27 acres; and the area of the higher mound at Hazor,
half of which was encircled by the tenth-century casemate wall, is only 30
acres. These 'cities'.. even by the ancient Near Eastern standards, ... were
far from what one might call urban centres; they were more like villages.
... Artefacts of bone, stone, clay, an occasional metal tool or weapon.,
suggest a cultural level which was apparently lacking in both artistic
sophistication and wealth. As yet no. evidence has been found for the use of
chariotry or for the metal trappings for the harness of horses. As for gold
and other precious metals, its occurrence is limited to an occasional
earring or other article of personal adomment. ... Solomon is mentioned in
no Egyptian, or Mesopotamian, or Phoenician document. Only from the Bible do
we learn that he lived.

In contrast to the picture of life in the tenth century is that derived from
1 Kings 3-11, a life that might be termed a 'Golden Age'. Mentioned are huge
amounts of gold, ivory carvings., bronze in abundance, woods imported from
distant lands. Since it was obvious that Palestine was a relatively poor
land and gold was not indigenous to the area, the author took pains to
identify its source, Ophir, a distant land reached by the navies of Solomon
and Hiram. In one verse the figure of 42o talents ... is mentioned; in
another, it is said that 666 talents - more than 38,000,000 gold dollars
flowed into the treasury of Solomon each year (1 Kings 10:14). Yet there is
nothing to indicate what was exported in exchange for this gigantic income.

"When we compare this account of his age with that of the Court History of
David in II Samuel 9-20 and Chapters 1-2 of 1 Kings, which has been almost
universally acclaimed by biblical scholars ... for its candid objectivity.
Here there is but one mention of the precious metal: the crown of Milcom,
king of Ammon, conquered by David's forces, contained but one talent of gold
(2 Samuel 12:30). In the Court History of the king who conquered the vast
kingdom over which his son Solomon ruled this one talent, as far as we are
told, constituted David's entire assets of gold" (Pritchard).

Archaeology of the Realm of Nikaulis

Diodorus Siculus notes: "This tribe [the Sabaeans] surpasses not only the
neighbouring Arabs but also all other men in wealth and in their several
extravagancies besides. For in the exchange and sale of their wares they, of
all men who carry on trade for the sake of the silver they receive in
exchange, obtain the highest price in return for things of the smallest
weight. Consequently, since they have never for ages suffered the ravages of
war because of their secluded position, and since an abundance of both gold
and silver abounds in the country, . . . they have embossed goblets of every
description, made of silver and gold, couches and tripods with silver feet,
and every other furnishing of incredible costliness, and halls encircled by
large columns, some of them gilded, and others having silver figures on the
capitals. Their ceilings and doors they partitioned by means of panels and
coffers made of gold, set with precious stones and placed close together,
and have thus made the structure of their houses in every part marvellous
for its costliness; for some parts they have constructed of silver and gold,
others of ivory and the most showy precious stones or of whatever else men
esteem most highly" (Pritchard 44). Their sculpture and votive offerings
were refined.

Strabo noted that the king of Saba who "presides over the court of justice
and other things" was not permitted to leave the palace, for if he did "the
people would at once stone him, in consequence of a saying of an oracle"
(Pritchard 66).

While her tomb and documents of her time have yet to come to light, and
remains of the tenth century BC are still largely unknown to archaeology,
the recovery of a small amount of contemporary evidence together with a
considerable amount of material from only three or four centuries later
enables us to reconstruct a general outline of the Queen of Sheba's culture
with considerable probability. She would have lived surrounded by the
accoutrements of an affluent civilization: a thriving trade that brought
unparalleled prosperity; an irrigation agriculture that provided ample
subsistence; a distinctive architecture in stone that was second only to
that of Egypt in the ancient Near East in its execution and variety of
ornamentation; a richness in metallurgy and stone carving as well as an
abundance of artists and artisans who pursued these vocations; a high degree
of literacy among the people, who had a keen appreciation of the importance
of a written language and of their beautiful alphabetic script; and an art
that is representational in a symbolic archaic manner (Pritchard 40).

The Demonization of the Queen: Nikaulis the Judaic Lilith

The Targum sheni of the early centuries AD describes an allegory of
Ahasuerus' banquet, recounted in the Book of Esther. There was a great feast
which Solomon gave for 'all the kings of the East and of the West'. Not only
were the kings summoned but 'the wild beasts, the birds, the reptiles, the
devils, the demons, and the spirits' who danced before him 'to show his
greatness'. When the roll was called, all had assembled but the
cock-of-the-woods (hoopoe). Solomon was not to be thus insulted and gave the
order that the bird be brought before him under threat of death. The hoopoe
then in defence, relates the tale of Kitor (Hebrew ketoret means smoke of
incense) 'Now, if it please my lord the king, I shall gird my loins like a
mighty man, and shall rise and go to the city of Kitor, in the land of Saba,
and shall bind its king and governor in chains of iron, and shall bring them
to my lord the king.'

Of course Solomon was delighted with the prospect and dispatched a letter of
demand together with an armada of birds so great as to obscure the sun and
cause the queen such consternation that she 'took hold of her clothes and
tore them in pieces'. ...The queen's counsellors were unimpressed: 'We do
not know Solomon nor do we esteem his kingdom.' Womanly intuition, however,
overbore their advice. She gathered a great fleet, loaded it with 'presents
of pearls and of precious stones' That the queen was in haste to visit
Solomon is evident from her letter of reply: 'Although the journey from
Kitor to the land'of Israel is of seven years, yet owing to the question I
have to ask thee, I shall come in three.'

The Targum Sheni merely reports that the queen thought that Solomon was
sitting in the midst of water and so, in approaching him, raised the hem of
her garments, and disclosed that her feet were hairy. The king remarks: 'Thy
beauty is the beauty of women, and thy hair is the hair of men; hair is
becoming to men, but to a woman it is a shame.' The queen ignores his
unseemly remark and turns at once to her 'hard questions'.

The very brief mention of the visit in Alphabetum Siracidis reports that the
queen was hairy all over and that Solomon, quite intent on possessing her
but apparently somewhat finicky, sent her various depilatories that proved
effective. 'The Tale of the Queen of Sheba' has a somewhat different focus,
for it alone reports that the queen is a 'demon'- a matter to which we shall
return at length. In 'The Tale of the Queen of Sheba' it is part of a plan
on Solomon's part, for he wishes 'to lie with her'-he knows, of course, that
her husband is dead - but is repelled by her hairiness which was considered
a demonic characteristic.

The queen propounds riddles to test Solomon's wisdom. There are many
versions of the riddles. Here is a typical set:

1. The Queen: "Seven cease, nine begin. Two offer drink, one drinks."
Solomon: "It is the days of menstruation and the months of pregnancy,
the two breasts and the one child."
2. The Queen: "A woman says: 'Your father is mine, your grandfather is
mine, you are my son and I am your sister'. Solomon: "The daughters of
3. The Queen presents identical looking boys and girls. Solomon gets them
to eat nuts and grain and watches their movements.
4. The Queen presents circumcised and uncircumcised boys. Solomon opens
the Ark and the circumcised bow down.

The Targum to Job calls her Lilith the Queen of Demons, who strangled
infants in their cradles (cot death syndrome), could be summoned with magic
charms, and as a succubus coupled with men. (65)

In the Zohar the Queen asks Solomon the arts of sorcery, i n particular the
handling of the snakes of the bones of the heathen seer Balaam. It is said
that Solomon didn't need to make shoes for her, because she was a demon.

Ben Yosef relates that The mother of the queen was a beautiful djinn who
save the future king from an unsolvable riddle. The gifted daughter then
married the king who and reigned in his stead after his death as queen of
both the djin and Sabeans (Pritchard 81).

Bilqis the Sun-worshipper of Islam

Pre-Islamic poetry describes Solomon as a king of universal kingdom of men,
djinn and winds etc. nine angels stand before him. He built the castle
al-Ablaq near Taima.

"The great civilization of South Arabia was little known to the Arabs of
Muhammad's time [although] any of the Arab tribes of Muhammad's day still
had a tradition that they had lived in South Arabia before taking to the
desert when the old civilization declined." Some tribes retained a memory of
being settled there before conditions worsened, apparently connected with
the Marib dam bursting and a return to nomadic life. Restorations were know
to have been carried out in 450 and 542 which puts a final date on the
demise (Pritchard 88).

Sura 34:15 states: "Certainly there was a sign for Saba in their abode; two
gardens on the right and the left; eat of the sustenance of your Lord and
give thanks to Him: a good land and a Forgiving Lord! But they turned aside,
so We sent upon them a torrent of which the rush could not be withstood, and
in place of their two gardens We gave to them two gardens yielding bitter
fruit and (growing) tamarisk and a few lote-trees."

Sura 27:15-44 relates many of the episodes already found for example in the
Targum Sheni, a further indication of the familiarity Muhammad had with
details of Jewish literature outside the Pentateuch. Rather than Bilqis
being portrayed as a demon, Solomon is portrayed as a great man of God and
master of the Djinn to whom Bilquis submits in acknowledgement of al-Llah.
The story of the Hoopoe is told. The people of Sheba are said to be
sun-worshippers. Her throne is disguised and placed before her as a test.
She says "It is like it' evasively. As she walks on to the palace: 44 "She
though it a pool and uncovered her legs. Solomon said 'It is a place paved
with glass.' She sadi 'I have wronged myself to God, Lord of the worlds,
with Solomon I make submission.' "

Makeda the Founding Heroine of Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, the tale of Solomon and Sheba is central to the Ethiopian
monarchy which traces its line back to Menelick II the son of Solomon and
Makeda the Queen, complete with an entry in the constitution concerning the
'oil of kingship' - the messianic anointing oil.

The Kebra Nagast a medieval romance. Relays the meeting as a consequence of
trading relations. Solomon is very overwhelmend by Makeda and becoes
determined to take her. She poses a question "What in the world in most
valuable?" He offers a great banquet with highly seasoned food and at the
end of the evening ask her to stay in his tent. She accepts provided he
doesn't take her by force. He accepts on condition she takes nothing. During
the night she is thirsty and takes a drink. He stays her hand. She learns
that water is the most precious thing. From the lesson of the water Makeda
returns to Saba to build the Marib dam and irrigate.

Solomon takes her by force under the pretext of the broken promise. He then
has a dream that the sun will depart from Israel and stand forever over
Ethiopia. Makeda returns to the Land of Saba bearing his infant son.
Menelick later journeys to Solomon and returns with the Ark (the Shekina).
In the illustrations, the Queen is pictured full-face (good) while Solomon
is profile (evil). Like the Qur'an and probably derived from it, she thus
abandons Sun worship for the god of Israel.

The Legend of the True Cross.

Adam before he died pursuaded Seth to return to the garden and plead for the
oil of mercy. Gabriel gave Seth the branch of the original tree from which
Adam and Eve ate. This tree had blackened and withered away when they had
committed their "happy sin" or Felix culpa, but had burst forth anew when
Michael promised man's future salvation.

But Adam had died when Seth returned, so he planted the branch on Adam's
grave, where it lasted until Solomon's time as a mighty tree. Solomon cut it
down to build, but it always changed shape and was thrown down as a bridge.
When the Queen came to cross the water, she knelt in adoration at the sacred
wood and prophesied that it would be used to nail a world saviour who would
defile and end the Jewish heritage. In a related tale she has a goose-foot
deformity which is cured as she wades across the stream (Pritchard 121).

The Sophia of Solomon

The Wisdom, Chocmah or Sophia of Solomon is similarly a late work, which
dates from long after Solomon's time. It is characteristic however of wisdom
literature in which wisdom, or Sophia is embued with the feminine gender,
which is in other places recognised as a cryptic name for the goddess and
her wiles: Proverbs 9 - "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out
her seven pillars... she hath sent forth her maidens : she crieth on the
high places of the city" ... and as for  him that wanteth understanding, she
saith to him, "Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is
pleasant." But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests
are in the depths of hell.

Proverbs 8

Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?
She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the
She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the
Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man.

For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips.
Counsel is mine, and sound wisdom: I am understanding; I have strength.
By me kings reign, ... and nobles, even all the judges of the earth. ...
I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Riches and honour are with me; yea, durable riches and righteousness.
My fruit is better than gold, yea, than fine gold; and my revenue than
choice silver. ...
The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.

When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the
face ...
When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his
Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the
sons of men...
Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep
my ways...
For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD.

The Wisdom of Solomon dates only from the first century BC, long after

From The Wisdom

I myself also am a mortal man, like to all,
and the offspring of him that was first made of the earth.
And in my mother's womb was fashioned to be flesh in the time of ten months,

being compacted in blood, of the seed of man, and the pleasure that came
with sleep.
And when I was born, I drew in common air, and fell upon the earth, which is
of like nature
and the first voice I uttered was crying which all others do...
For all men have one entrance to life and the like going out...
Wherefore I prayed, and understanding was given me:
I called upon God and the spirit of wisdom came to me.
I preferred her to sceptres and thrones...
Neither I compared her to any precious stone,
because all gold in respect of her is as little sand,
and silver shall be counted as clay before her.
I loved her more above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of
for the light that cometh from her never goeth out.
All good things came to me with her and innumerable riches in her hands.
And I rejoiced in them all, because wisdom goeth before them:
and I knew not that she was the mother of them...
For she is a treasure unto men that never faileth:
which they that use become the friends of God,
being commended for the gifts that come from learning.
God hath granted me to speak as I would,
and to conceive as is meet for the things that are given me:
because it is he that leadeth unto wisdom and directeth the wise...
For he hath given me certain knowledge of the things that are, namely,
to know how the world was made, and the operation of the elements:
the beginning, ending and the midst of times:
the alternations of the turning of the sun and the changes of the seasons...

The natures of the living creatures, and the furies of wild beasts:
the violence of winds and the reasonings of men:
the diversities of plants and the virtues of roots.
And allsuch things as are either secret or manifest, them I know.
For wisdom, which is the worker of all things taught me:
for in her is an understanding spirit, holy, one only, manifold, subtil,
clear ...
not subject to hurt, loving the thing that is good ... ready to do good.
Kind to man, stedfast, sure, free from care, having all power ..
For she is the breath and power of God ...
For she is the brightness of the everlasting light,
the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of his goodness
and being but one, she can do all things
and remaining in herself she reneweth all things
and passing into holy souls from age to age
she maketh friends of God and the prophets.
For she is more beautiful than the sun, and above the order of the stars
being compared with the light, she is found before it
for after this cometh night, but no evil can overcome Wisdom.

I loved her and sought her out from my youth,
I desired to make her my spouse and I was a lover of her beauty...
If a man desire much experience, she knoweth things of old,
and conjectureth aright what is to come : ...
she forseeth signs and wonders, and the events of seasons and times.
Therefore I purposed to take her to live with me,
knowing she would be a counsellor of good things and a comfort in cares and
Moreover by means of her I shall obtain immortality,
and leave behind me an everlasting memorial to those that come after me...

Praise of Wisdom

Now I like a rivulet from her stream,
channeling the waters into a garden, said to myself,
'I will water my plants, my flower bed I will drench';
and suddently this rivulet of mine became a river,
then this stream of mine, a sea.
Thus do I send my teachings forth shining like the dawn,
to become known afar off.
Thus do I pour out instruction like prophecy
and bestow on generations to come.
Ecclesiasticus Yeshua ben Sirach 24

The Gnosis of Sophia

Sophia (Sapientia) continues to have a pivotal in later gnostic writings,
where she plays both the role of the divine feminine principle of wisdom
unfolding true understanding where the jealous male God has withheld it, and
as wisdom which has attempted to prempt the creative Logos of the paternal
deity, as illustrated in the passages below from Elaine Pagels (Gnostic
Gospels 75-78 ).

"In addition to the eternal, mystical Silence and the Holy Spirit, certain
gnostics suggest a third characterization of the divine Mother: as Wisdom.
Here the Greek feminine term for 'wisdom', sophia, translates a Hebrew
feminine term, hokhmah. Early interpreters had pondered the meaning of
certain Biblical passages - for example, the saying in Proverbs that 'God
made the world in Wisdom'. Could Wisdom be the feminine power in which God's
creation was 'conceived'? According to one teacher, the double meaning of
the term conception - physical and intellectual - suggests this possibility:
'The image of thought [ennoia] is feminine, since ... [it] is a power of

"The Apocalypse of Adam, discovered at Nag Haminadi, tells of a feminine
power who wanted to conceive by herself: '... from the nine Muses, one
separated away. She came to a high mountain and spent time seated there, so
that she desired herself alone in order to become androgynous. She fulfilled
her desire, and became pregnant from her desire...'"

"The poet Valentinus uses this theme to tell a famous myth about Wisdom:
Desiring to conceive by herself, apart from her masculine counterpart, she
succeeded, and became the 'great creative power from whom all things
originate', often called Eve, 'Mother of all living'. But since her desire
violated the harmonious union of opposites intrinsic in the nature of
created being, what she produced was aborted and defective;' from this, says
Valentinus, originated the terror and grief that mar human existence. 'To
shape and manage her creation, Wisdom brought forth the demiurge, the
creator-God of Israel, as her agent' ".

"Wisdom, then, bears several connotations in gnostic sources. Besides being
the 'first universal creator', 'who brings forth all creatures, she also
enlightens human beings and makes them wise. Followers of Valentinus and
Marcus therefore prayed to the Mother as the 'mystical, etemal Silence' and
to 'Grace, She who is before all things', and as 'incorruptible Wisdom' for
insight (gnosis)".

Some gnostics taught that genesis narrates an androgynous creation. Others
attributed to Sophia the benefits that Adam and Eve received in Paradise.
... When the creator became angry with the human race because they did not
worship or honor him as Father and God, he sent forth a flood upon them,
that he might destroy them. But Wisdom opposed him... and Noah and his
family were saved in the ark by means of the sprinkling of the light that
proceeded from her.