bpk, Berlin/Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Stiftung Preussicher Kulturbesitz/Dietmar Katz/Art Resource, NY

The Queen of Sheba rides on a camel, accompanied by guards with shields and spears, women attendants and a lion. The Biblical text says that the Queen of Sheba “came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones” (1 Kings 10:2). After asking King Solomon many questions, the queen was satisfied with his wisdom and wealth, the latter of which she furthered by leaving King Solomon with “one hundred twenty talents of gold, a great quantity of spices, and precious stones” (1 Kings 10:10). The later legend that developed concerning the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon involved a love affair, a son, and the transfer of the Ark of the Covenant from Israel to Ethiopia.

This illustration comes from the 19th-century illuminated manuscript The History of the Queen of Sheba from Ethiopia. The manuscript is currently kept in the collections of the Berlin State Library. The Ge’ez text pictured here reads: “The Queen of the South rose up to go to Jerusalem from the ends of the earth, so that she may see the wisdom of Solomon.” This references Matthew 12:42.