Race, Racism, and the Hebrew Bible: The Case of the Queen of Sheba

Jillian Stinchcomb
2021 Religions  
The Queen of Sheba, best known for visiting Solomon at the height of his rule, is commonly understood to be one of the most famous Black queens of the Bible. However, biblical texts record nothing of her family or people, any physical characteristics, nor where, precisely, Sheba is located. How did this association between the Queen of Sheba and Blackness become naturalized? This article answers this question by mapping three first millennium textual moments that racialize the Queen of Sheba
more » ... ough attention to geography, skin color, and lineage in the writings of Origen of Alexandria, Flavius Josephus, and Abu Ja'afar al-Tabari. These themes are transformed in the Ethiopic text the Kebra Nagast, which positively claims the Queen of Sheba as an African monarch in contrast to the Othering that is prominent in earlier texts. The Kebra Nagast has a complex afterlife, one which acts as the ground for the also-complex modern reception of the character of the Queen of Sheba.
doi:10.3390/rel12100795 fatcat:7byvto72inb37kwm45irxr2hcq