Lection – 2 Chronicles 9:1-9 (New Revised
(v. 1) When the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon, she came to
Jerusalem to test him with hard questions, having a very great retinue and
camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. When she came to
Solomon, she discussed with him all that was on her mind. (v. 2) Solomon
answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from Solomon that he could
not explain to her. (v. 3) When the queen of Sheba had observed the wisdom of
Solomon, the house that he had built, (v. 4) the food of his table, the seating
of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, and their clothing, his
valets and their clothing, and his burnt-offerings that he offered at the house
of the Lord, there was no more spirit left in her.
(v. 5) So she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own
land of your accomplishments and of your wisdom, (v. 6) but I did not believe
the reports until I came and my own eyes saw it. Not even half of the greatness
of your wisdom had been told to me; you far surpass the report that I had
heard. (v. 7) Happy are your people! Happy are these your servants, who
continually attend you and hear your wisdom! (v. 8) Blessed be the Lord your
God, who has delighted in you and set you on his throne as king for the Lord
your God. Because your God loved Israel and wished to establish them forever,
he has made you king over them, so that you may execute justice and
righteousness.” (v. 9) Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of
gold, a very great quantity of spices, and precious stones: there were no
spices such as those that the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.
I. Description of the Liturgical Moment
The idea and purpose of Women’s Day was presented by Nannie Helen Burroughs, a
courageous, visionary and bold dreamer, devoted to assisting black women and
girls in developing their biblical and technical skills. Burroughs tied
education and skill preparation to improving possibilities for gainful
employment. She presented her plan for Women’s Day to the National Baptist
Convention in Memphis, Tennessee in September 1906.
Burrough’s work, to which she attached the theme “Know and Grow,” eventually led
to the purchase of several properties and the founding of a series of training
schools for women and girls in Washington, D.C., in 1907 and 1909. Today, the
Burroughs school boasts 125 students with instruction in biblical studies and
an impressive core curriculum.1 This lone woman’s tireless efforts
and determination created an enterprising legacy of economic empowerment,
educational scholarship and social influence for future generations.
Women’s Day in the African American church became a metaphor for women trained
for public speaking, authentic leadership and, participation in the activities
and programs of the black church. Burroughs’ simple proposal for a special day
has had profound untold impact, inspiring women and broadening the reach of the
II. Biblical Interpretation for Preaching and Worship: 2 Chronicles 9:1-9
Part One: The Contemporary Contexts of the Interpreter
Historically, Women’s Day within African American churches has been an annual
day of celebration. A day when women dressed uniformly in white confidently
demonstrated their ability to conduct worship services and raise money. I can
vividly recall the starched white dresses or the linen white suits of the women
with corsages neatly pinned over their hearts. Suddenly, women viewed
exclusively as homemakers led the worship service with great pride and
equivalent pomp. Often, Women’s Day included a rally or stewardship component
where the women sought to exceed the funds raised on Men’s Day. Women’s Day
Services, in their original as well as in their modern form, tangibly point to
the equality of persons in the family of God.
In today’s context, the fact that women seek and receive the endorsement of the
two main political parties for top offices in the country and numerous
mainstream church denominations have officially endorsed and elevated women to
top ecclesiastical positions has an undeniable bearing on how this passage is
viewed. The sense of destiny and leadership for women is evident, whether
reading about Nannie Burroughs’ work, former Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice or the Queen of Sheba, each of whom epitomizes Burroughs’s motto, “Know
and Grow.” Each is best viewed as more than a single woman; each represents a
world of giftedness and treasure. A world of possibility awaits those who
prepare and pursue learning even when it leads them through unfamiliar venues.
Burroughs and the Queen of Sheba mirror the same type of passionate pursuit
which reaps a world of wisdom and increase for future generations. The text
reveals a tenacious sense of personal responsibility in the face of
extraordinary obstacles. The Queen of Sheba had to travel a great distance with
her caravan in order to quench her thirst for wisdom. Her desire to see and
hear Solomon with her own eyes and ears is commendable. Consequently, she reaps
a harvest of influence. The queen both questioned and observed Solomon’s
kingdom. Using these methods, she tested his reputation and confirmed that his
wisdom far exceeded its reputation.
Part Two: Biblical Commentary
2 Chronicles 9:1-9 provides information and numerous themes that can be
explored. The text underscores the importance of diligent seeking and study,
responsible inquiry, and generosity. The queen is independently wealthy, but
explores the kingdom of a more renowned leader, taking him gifts of spices and
precious stones. As with any leader, she must bring value to the table and, in
exchange, gains access and new wealth and knowledge. The queen was a Gentile
who was welcomed and received by the covenant Israelites.
She returned to her own country armed with more than financial wealth. The myths
surrounding this queen abound. However, it is reasonable to surmise that the
queen was a conduit who carried the teachings of Judaism back to her homeland.2
This passage encourages people, and particularly women, not to be confined to
traditional borders but to venture in search of new wisdom and relationships.
This Gentile queen is celebrated in the Old and New Testament and presented as
a model of those who listen rather than reject instruction. This occurs because
Solomon is willing to share his wisdom. Like Solomon, the Church should be
generous in sharing its principles and its wisdom.
Some have suggested that the text was predictive of the Magi who would later
come bearing similar spices for the Christ child. The analogies are nearly
endless, as each level of review is rich with instruction for wealth
accumulation. This wealth, which includes education and power is to be shared.
The feature which most needs to be emulated is the Queen of Sheba’s willingness
to seek wisdom and the absolute necessity of wisdom as a quality of progressive
leadership. Burroughs said it best, “Know and Grow.”
The text emphasizes the queen’s coming followed by repeated actions, “…she came
to Jerusalem to test him... .” The imagery is rich with movement; e.g., camels
bearing spices, and gold and other precious stones. The dialogue between
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba has depth. Her observations were not limited to
any one sphere of Solomon’s kingdom. The queen observed the far-reaching and
shaping influence that wisdom had on the many levels of life and conduct.
Solomon’s house, his meals, his affiliations, those in his employ, their
clothing, conduct, values, and worship were all evidence of Solomon’s faith and
God-given wisdom. The implication is that one’s faith and spiritual wisdom
should inform every aspect of one’s life and the lives of those who come under
The text also suggests that the queen’s witness of Solomon’s wisdom was
transformative. The passage paints an atmosphere of cooperative exchange rather
than competitive envy-leaving both parties and countries enriched by the
dialogue and collaboration.
The people themselves are also worth further exploration by those who would
preach and teach this text. Sheba was a wealthy country which had developed
longstanding trade routes. The people were believed to be tall, coarse-haired,
and straight-haired and possible descendants of the Cushites from Cush of the
The text is heavily laden with useable themes for Women’s Day. The most obvious
theme is to draw parallels between what Nannie Burroughs intended by creating
her, “Know and Grow” plan, which encouraged women to nurture leadership in each
other; and the Queen of Sheba, who is a ready example for women in leadership
whose participation has traditionally been questioned. The text is equally
valuable as a tool for strengthening the presence and role of men and boys in
the family because of the complementarily way in which the two monarchs
related. Folklore has it that the bond between the two was a lasting and
enduring one. The strengthening of male and female roles is ultimately aimed at
strengthening the life of the family.
This passage suggests that, although the Queen of Sheba had a strong sense of
enterprise and obvious savvy about cultures, travel, and politics, these skills
are insufficient without an adequate faith base which contributes to the
wholeness and health of an individual and his or her faith community. It is
also important to underscore the fact that the queen did not arrive
empty-handed. Quality leadership must be equipped to negotiate and have
something to offer as well as be able to receive from others. Leadership ideas
are prominent in this text. The queen was not fearful of questioning and she
clearly commanded the respect and attention of Solomon. One has the impression
that they met monarch to monarch not superior to subordinate. Artificial
barriers were overcome, and the two exchanged tangible and intangible wealth.
This text may prompt those church venues which have not embraced women in equal
roles to re-examine their prejudices. The Queen of Sheba is even remembered by
Jesus. He references the Queen of Sheba in the New Testament and memorializes
her in perpetuity. The Queen of Sheba is mentioned as the “Queen of the South”
in Matt. 12:42 and Luke 11:31, where Jesus indicates that she and the Ninevites
will judge the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries who rejected his message.
The Good News is that, in Jesus Christ, we have one who is greater than Solomon.
He bids us to tell him all of our heart – to bring to him all of life’s
riddles. There is no searching his understanding, and he is altogether lovely,
nothing more could be desired of him. We do not have to travel far like the
Queen of Sheba; we merely have to open our hearts and minds and we too will
find that the half has never been told. If you give Christ the treasure of your
life, he will become the treasure of your heart. He will give us more than we
have to give him – eternal life, and eternal joy. He is the King who reigns
forever and is faithful to reward those who diligently seek him.
The descriptive details in this passage include:
Sights:Gold, frankincense, and myrrh; the
Queen of Sheba traveling with her great caravans; plush silks and robes;
elaborate clothing; endless rows of officials and militia belonging to
Solomon’s court; adoring crowds of people getting a glimpse of the king and
queen; long caravans loaded with treasures from Ethiopia or Yemen; coronet
players accompanying the parades through the streets;
Sounds: The trampling of camels hoofs; the interchange of the
king’s merchants and the queen’s people as they exchange precious stones and
wood; the sound of music; and feasting as Solomon shows off his kingdom and his
Smells:Fragrant spices; baking bread;
roasting meats; and the odor of perfumes.
III. Additional Information for Preaching and Teaching
The text is a marvelous springboard for challenging women from their homes or
traditional settings to explore new ventures and to use their learning for the
betterment of others. Women can testify to how the wisdom of women in their
lives has blessed them just as all of those in Solomon’s Kingdom were happier
or blessed because of his wise leadership.
Wisdom scriptures say, “Wisdom has built her house.” The pillars of wisdom
highlight characteristics of the Queen of Sheba: prudence, persistence,
courage, honesty, patience etc.
Compare and contrast the Queen of Sheba with the Ninevites.
Compare the Queen of Sheba with the woman in Song of Solomon using folklore
1. Gantt, Alice. “Women’s Day.” Permission granted for use by the Black
Congregational Ministries Committee, NCCCUSA. Copyright October 1995.
2. For details on myths and legends of the Queen of Sheba see, Pennacchietti,
Fabrizio A. Three Mirrors For Two Biblical Ladies Susanna and the Queen of Sheba
in the Eyes of Jew, Christians, and Muslims. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias
Press, 2006; and Gartmer, Rosanne. Meet the Queen of Sheba. Valley
Forge, PA. Judson Press. 2001. pp.29-38.
3. On the Internet, information can be found at the following sites:
Bird, Jerry W. “In the Queen of Sheba’s Footsteps.” Africa Travel
Magazine. Online location: http://www.africa-ata.org/holyroute_3.htm accessed 3
March 2009; “Exhibition: Treasures From Ancient Yemen.” Joseph Hotung
Great Court Gallery:British Museum. London WC 9. June-October 2002.
http://www.al-bab.com/yemen/data/sheba2002.htm accessed 3 March 2009;
“The Dynasty of Moses and the Queen of Sheba.” Hope of Israel Ministries.
(Eccleasia of YEHOVAH). Online location: http://hope-of-israel.org/dynmoses.htm accessed 3 March 2009
Budge, E. A. Wallis. The Queen of Sheba and Her Only Son Menyelek (I); Being the
‘Book of the Glory of Kings’ (Kebra Nagast) a Work Which Is Alike the
Traditional History of the Establishment of the Religion of the Hebrews in
Ethiopia, and the Patent of Sovereignty Which Is Now Universally Accepted in
Abyssinia As the Symbol of the Divine Authority to Rule Which the Kings of the
Solomonic Line Claimed to Have Received Through Their Descent from the House of
David. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2007.