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Queen of Sheba, Arabic Bilqīs, Ethiopian Makeda, (flourished 10th century BCE), according to Jewish and Islamic traditions, ruler of the kingdom of Sabaʾ (or Sheba) in southwestern Arabia. In the biblical account of the reign of King Solomon, she visited his court at the head of a camel caravan bearing gold, jewels, and spices. The story provides evidence for the existence of important commercial relations between ancient Israel and southern Arabia. According to the Bible, the purpose of her visit was to test Solomon’s wisdom by asking him to solve a number of riddles.

The Queen of Sheba appears as a prominent figure in the Kebra Nagast (“Glory of King”), the Ethiopian national epic and foundation story. According to this tradition, the Queen of Sheba (called Makeda) visited Solomon’s court after hearing about his wisdom. She stayed and learned from him for six months. On the last night of her visit, he tricked her into his bed, and she became pregnant. She returned to her kingdom, where she bore Solomon a son, Menilek. Menilek I was made king by his father, thus founding the royal Solomonic dynasty of Ethiopia, which ruled until the deposition of Haile Selassie I in 1974.

The story of the Queen of Sheba also appears among the Persians (probably derived from Jewish tradition), where she is considered the daughter of a Chinese king and a peri (fairylike being of Persian mythology).