QUEEN of SHEBA
Real Name: Possibly Balkis (or Bilqis)
Identity/Class: Human magic-user;
post-Hyborian/BC era (1st millennium BC)
Occupation: Sorcerer, queen;
former Sorcerer Supreme
Group Membership: Sorcerers Supreme
Affiliations: Aged Genghis, King Solomon, the Vishanti (Hoggoth, Oshtur, Agamotto);
she allegedly worshipped the sun
Known Relatives: Lilith (Mother of Demons; alleged mother);
allegedly Nebuchadnezzar and/or Menelik I (accounts vary as to whether one or the other, or neither, is the son of Solomon and Sheba)
Aliases: Possibly Bilqis, Makeda
Base of Operations: Unrevealed;
formerly Sheba (likely modern day Yemen or possibly Ethiopia; see comments)
First Appearance: (Historical) The Hebrew Bible;
(Marvel version referenced) Marvel Tarot#1 (2007)
Powers/Abilities: Balkis was one of the most powerful magic
users of her era. She could almost certainly access the astral plane
and other dimensions,
transport others across dimensional barriers, project magical bolts,
magically extend her lifespan to well over 300 years, and call on
from entities such as the Vishanti.
He presumably possessed and could utilize the Book of the Vishanti and the Eye(s) of Agamotto.
The full range of her abilities remains unrevealed.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 6: Lilith) - Per ancient stories (circa 1000 BC), Lilith, Mother of Demons, took the form of one of her many daughters, the Queen of Sheba, to conceive a child by Solomon, the supposed chosen one of God.
(Bible Tales for Young Folk#4 (fb)) - In all of her splendor and glory, the Queen of Sheba came to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem to see for herself if his wisdom was as great as she had heard.
After observing his judgments for some time, she
concluded that his wisdom was even greater than she had heard; and that
his wealth and riches were also the greatest in the world. She
concluded, "There is no king so wise and wealthy as you in all the
world. My wealth is as nothing beside a man of God."
She eventually departed after giving him gold, jewels, and spices.
(Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 7: Appendix: Magic (from the journals of Ian McNee) (fb) - BTS) - Balkis served until 550 BC when a series of Greek Philosopher/Sorcerers attempted to fill the position of Sorcerer Supreme with a mystic triumvirate.
Comments: Balkis is a
legendary/historical figure first referenced in the first Book of Kings
in the Hebrew Bible, which has been credited to various sources by various
sources, including the prophet Jeremiah and King Josiah.
Adapted to Marvel comics by unspecified writers of Bible Tales.
Adapted specifically into the Marvel Universe by David Sexton
profile is primarily for the confirmed history of the Marvel Universe;
I have not the knowledge, time, or energy to debate the "facts" I've
included in the comments; consider the information as possible, or not,
for Reality-616 (aka, "the Prime Earth")...please don't argue real
world "facts" with me, as the Marvel Universe is obviously not the real
The alphabetic inscriptions from South Arabia furnish no evidence for women rulers, but Assyrian inscriptions repeatedly mention Arab queens in the north. Queens are well attested in Arabia, though according to Kitchen, not after 690 B.C. Furthermore, Sabaean tribes knew the title of mqtwyt (high official). Makada or Makueda, the personal name of the queen in Ethiopian legend, might be interpreted as a popular rendering of the title of mqtwyt. This title may be derived from Ancient Egyptian m'kit "protectress, housewife".
The queen's visit could have been a trade mission. Early South Arabian trade with Mesopotamia involving wood and spices transported by camels is attested in the early ninth century B.C. and may have begun as early as the tenth.
The ancient Sabaic Awwām Temple, known in folklore as Maḥram (the Sanctuary of) Bilqīs, was recently excavated by archaeologists, but no trace of the Queen of Sheba has been discovered so far in the many inscriptions found there.
The Talmud (Bava Batra 15b) insists that it was not a woman but a kingdom of Sheba (based on varying interpretations of Hebrew mlkt) that came to Jerusalem, obviously intended to discredit existing stories about the relations between Solomon and the Queen. Baba Bathra 15b: "Whoever says malkath Sheba (I Kings X, 1) means a woman is mistaken; ... it means the kingdom of Sheba".
The most elaborate account of the queen's visit to Solomon is given in the 8th century (?) Targum Sheni to Esther . A hoopoe (a colorful bird) informed Solomon that the kingdom of Sheba was the only kingdom on earth not subject to him and that its queen was a sun worshiper. He thereupon sent it to Kitor in the land of Sheba with a letter attached to its wing commanding its queen to come to him as a subject. She thereupon sent him all the ships of the sea loaded with precious gifts and 6,000 youths of equal size, all born at the same hour and clothed in purple garments. They carried a letter declaring that she could arrive in Jerusalem within three years although the journey normally took seven years. When the queen arrived and came to Solomon's palace, thinking that the glass floor was a pool of water, she lifted the hem of her dress, uncovering her legs. Solomon informed her of her mistake and reprimanded her for her hairy legs. She asked him riddles to test his wisdom.
These include: "Without movement while living, it moves when its head is cut off," and "Produced from the ground, man produces it, while its food is the fruit of the ground." The answer to the former is, "a tree, which, when its top is removed, can be made into a moving ship"; the answer to the latter is, "a wick."
The rabbis who denounce Solomon interpret I Kings 10:13 as meaning that Solomon had criminal intercourse with the Queen of Sheba, the offspring of which was Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the Temple (comp. Rashi ad loc.). According to others, the sin ascribed to Solomon in I Kings 11:7 et seq. is only figurative: it is not meant that Solomon fell into idolatry, but that he was guilty of failing to restrain his wives from idolatrous practices .
In the Kabbalah, the Queen of Sheba was considered one of the queens of the demons and is sometimes identified with Lilith, first in the Targum of Job (1:15), and later in the Zohar and the subsequent literature. A Jewish and Arab myth maintains that the Queen was actually a jinn, half human and half demon.
In Ashkenazi folklore, the figure merged with the popular image of Helen of Troy or the Frau Venus of German mythology. Ashkenazi incantations commonly depict the Queen of Sheba as a seductive dancer. Until recent generations she was popularly pictured as a snatcher of children and a demonic witch.
The name Bilquis comes from Muslim commentators, expanding on the story
of the Quran, and is likely derived from the Greek or Hebraised(?)
words meaning "concubine."
In Ethiopian tradition, the offspring of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (named as Makeda) was Menelik, and he became the first Solomonic ruler of Ethiopia after Makeda's passing.Courtesy of Encyclopedia.com:
Little has been verified about the Queen of Sheba's
life—in fact, even such basic details as her given name and the exact
location of her kingdom remain uncertain. Tradition places her date of
birth in the latter half of the 11th century BC and her death in
approximately 955 BC; although her kingdom is referred to as both to
the south and to the east of Israel, scholars generally believe her to
have ruled an area in northern Africa roughly equivalent to modern-day
Ethiopia, a country which claims her the progenitor of their
long-ruling Solomonic dynasty.
The Queen's 10th century BC visit to the grand court of Solomon, King of Israel and son of the legendary Goliathslayer David, however, is well-attested in three major ancient sources: the Biblical Old Testament, the Islamic Qu'ran, and the Ethiopian Kebra Nagast (Glory of the Kings). These three perspectives on the Queen meld to create a picture of one of the relatively rare, powerful female monarchs of the ancient world.
The most widespread story of the Queen of Sheba stems from an Old Testament passage describing her journey to Jerusalem to meet with the Jewish king Solomon, renowned for his wisdom. An account of her stay at Solomon's court appears in I Kings 10:1–14 and in a nearly word-for-word repetition, 2 Chronicles 9:1–12. Both passages begin: "The queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's fame, and she traveled to Jerusalem to test him with difficult questions. She brought with her a large group of attendants, as well as camels loaded with spices, jewels, and a large amount of gold. When she and Solomon met, she asked him all the questions that she could think of. He answered them all; there was nothing too difficult for him to explain." The rest of the tale describes the Queen's awe of Solomon's wisdom, riches, and relationship with God, as well as the two monarchs' exchange of gifts. This brief text forms the basis for later embellishments of the queen's voyage.
Few other direct references to the queen occur in Biblical sources. In Matthew 12:42 (repeated almost exactly in Luke 11:31), Jesus says, "On the Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will stand up and accuse you, because she traveled all the way from her country to listen to King Solomon's wise teaching." Also, throughout the centuries, the Old Testament book known alternately as the Song of Songs and the Song of Solomon has been speculated to be a series of love poems sent between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
A story that certainly served as inspiration for later Islamic and Ethiopian writers appears in a late paraphrase of the book of Esther explained by C.H. Toy in the Journal of American Folklore article "The Queen of Sheba." "On a certain day when [Solomon's] heart was warmed by wine, he … invited all the … kings of the of the East and the West … in order that the kings might see his greatness. All … came except the moorcock … [who] excused himself by saying that for three months he had been flying over the earth … to see if there was any land that did not acknowledge the king's authority." The bird reports he has discovered a fertile land to the east ruled by the Queen of Sheba and Solomon, intrigued, sends the bird back to the queen with a letter requesting her presence at his court. The queen wrote back, sending presents, and undertook the voyage to Jerusalem in three years -- although the journey normally required seven years -- spurred by her desire to pose riddles to Solomon. Solomon answers correctly, proving his wisdom to the powerful queen.
The Islamic legend of the Queen of Sheba, or Bilqis (alternatively, Balkis) as she is known in the Arabian tradition, stems from these short Jewish narratives. The story of the Queen's appearance at Solomon's court in the Islamic holy text, The Qu'ran, follows a thread similar to that of the Book of Esther. In Chapter 27 of the Qu'ran, a messenger bird declared: "I have come to thee from Saba with sure tidings. I found a woman ruling over all of them; she has been granted everything and she has a wondrous throne. I found her and her worshipping the sun, instead of Allah." The passage further explains that Satan has led the queen and her subjects away from Allah, and Solomon, thinking to test this assertion, sends the bird back to the queen with a letter requesting confirmation of the bird's tale. Upon receiving the queen's response of extravagant gifts, Solomon is not satisfied and writes again, requesting her presence. The queen visits Solomon and, awed by his court, converts to the worship of Allah.
Arabian legends based on the Qu'ran embellish this story to include some speculation about the queen's descent from demons and later, her possible marriage to Solomon. Solomon's advisors inform him that the queen has hairy legs; to discover the truth of this, Solomon constructs a palace with glass floors. The queen, believing the floor to be made of water, lifts her skirts, revealing her legs and feet. As Toy commented, "later Moslem writers interpreted this physical peculiarity as showing that she was of jinn descent; they constructed a romantic history of her father's marriage to a jinn maiden." Legends also conjectured that the queen and Solomon wed during her visit to his court and had a son who succeeded to the throne of Sheba.
This marriage figures prominently in the Ethiopian accounts of the queen. Drawing on Jewish and Islamic traditions, the Ethiopian story of the Queen of Sheba — identified with Makeda, Queen of Ethiopia — provides the most extensive picture of the Queen. Told in the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings), a 14th century compilation of regional oral histories, this version also begins with a voyage to King Solomon's court at Jerusalem. "The Queen was dumbstruck with wonder at the things that she heard from [a traveling merchant], and she pondered in her heart that she would to go to Solomon, the King," related the Kebra Nagast, which further details her voyage from Ethiopia bringing lavish gifts to the King. During the queen's stay, Solomon became infatuated with her. Determined to have the virginal queen, Solomon extracts a promise from the queen to take nothing that belongs to him and then orders a grand banquet to be served the night before her departure. As Harold G. Marcus detailed in A History of Ethiopia: "He directed his cook to serve the best wines to prepare the spiciest dishes, both of which happily suited Makeda. After having eaten and drunk her fill, the queen fell into a stupor, during which Solomon had jugs of water, labeled as his property, placed strategically around her sofa. When Makeda reawakened, she immediately gulped down some water, an act that permitted King Solomon to satisfy his lust." Solomon, having afterwards dreamt that God was granting him an heir by the queen, requested that the queen send their son to Jerusalem when the boy came of age.
Accordingly, the queen gave birth to a son, Ebna Hakim, who traveled to his father's court as an adolescent. In Pillars of Ethiopian History, William Leo Hansberry recorded that "Solomon … was overjoyed to see his handsome and noble-minded son.… Solomon did his best to persuade Ebna Hakim to remain to Jerusalem, with the intention of making him his successor; but the young prince was deaf to his father's pleas." Solomon thus confirmed his son as the future King of Ethiopia and gathered several of his advisors' sons to return with Ebna Hakim and assist him during his rule. This group refused to leave Jerusalem without the legendary Ark of the Covenant -- the chest reputed to contain the original tablets of the Ten Commandments sent to Moses by God, among other religious artifacts -- and so, stole the Ark. As Marcus commented, "The larceny was apparently approved by God, who levitated the youths and their holy cargo across the Red Sea before discovery and chase by Solomon's forces." To this day, Ethiopian tradition places the Ark in the northern Ethiopian city Axum.
When the queen died in the mid-10th century BC, her son rose to the Ethiopian throne as Emperor Menilek I. This Solomonic Dynasty ruled Ethiopia for much of the next 2000 years; the last emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Sellassie, claimed descent from Solomon and the queen through Menilek.
Profile by Snood.
Balkis, the Queen of Sheba, should be distinguished from:
images: (without ads)
Bible Tales#4, pg. 22, panel 3 (upper body, close) & 4 (full body, distant)
Bible Tales#4 (February, 1954) - Unrevealed writer and artist
Marvel Tarot (2007) - David Sexton (writer/designer), Doug Sexton (technical consultant), Jeff Christiansen (continuity consultant), Michael Short & Cory Levine (assistant editors), Mark D. Beazley & Jennifer Grunwald (associate editors), Jeff Youngquist (editor)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 6' Lilith entry (March, 2009) - Jeff Christiansen (head writer), Madison Carter, Mike Fichera & Stuart Vandal (coordination assistants), Jeff Youngquist & Jennifer Grunwald (editors)
Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z (hardcover) Vol. 7: Appendix: Magic (from the journals of Ian McNee) (May, 2009) - David Sexton (writer), Jeff Christiansen (head writer), Madison Carter, Mike Fichera & Stuart Vandal (coordination assistants), Jeff Youngquist & Jennifer Grunwald (editors)
First posted: 12/20/2018
Last updated: 12/29/2018
Any Additions/Corrections? please let me know.
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