If you saw my previous post from March 7, it included a fictional retelling of the story of Mary. As promised, I will share the other story that my client also did not choose because they didn’t understand how it pertained to the symbols.
In 1 Kings 10, the Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon to see if the rumors about him are true. This story is again told in 2 Chronicles 9. While the Bible doesn’t mention the exact riddles the Queen of Sheba uses, there are other accounts of this encounter in different manuscripts that do give her riddles. Also, she is referred to in some of those manuscripts as “Queen Nessa”.
You will, once again, find some certain animals, plants, etc that probably do not belong in this location and time period. These symbols were at the request of my client.
You might be thinking, “why even choose this tale if not all of the symbols relate?” Ah, good question. The answer is that MANY Catholic symbols are not actually biblical at all, or are over-glorified symbols that the Bible never really highlights. For example, the “Holy Grail” is famous for being the cup that Jesus drank from, but the Bible doesn’t ever idolize it the way Catholic idolatry does. However, the bible does metaphorically use the idea of “filling a cup” or “passing a cup”. Another reason is the client used two very large peacocks on their product. The ONLY place peacocks are ever mentioned in the bible is this story about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
A Visit to the King
He stood with a golden goblet of fresh wine on a balcony overlooking the expanse of his magnificent kingdom. Servants nearby fanned massive palm leaves as the sun blazed proudly in a cloudless sky. Out on the horizon, King Solomon could see a caravan with a fleet of camels and wagons coming into view. He took a sip of fresh wine from his cup and nodded to his attendants. Without a word, preparations were made to accommodate who Solomon knew would be a worthy guest.
In a throne room lavish with gold and the most beautiful roses, King Solomon waited on his throne for the presenting of this unexpected visitor. Here she was: the Queen of Sheba. Her Arabian garb was brilliant purple with the finest red and gold embroidery—it appeared as though the design made twisting olive branches or a wave in a sea of fishes. Her jewelry jingled and clashed with each step as she approached his throne. She gestured for her servants to present her gifts: more than 4 tons of gold, spices the King had never been in Solomon’s Kingdom before, precious stones, and a flock of the most well-bred peacocks. All these gifts were the price custom—but also, the price of a test.
The Queen of Sheba presented her case, “It has been said throughout my land that you, King Solomon, are the richest and wisest king.” She stepped closer to him, as he gestured for her to take a seat nearby. “I see that at least one rumor is true,” she continued, “Perhaps you are the richest.”A wry smirk came to the faces of Solomon’s guards, but the King remained composed. He knew this was a test of God, for His glory would be shown in the wisdom of each action and word.
“I’ve come prepared with a test of riddles,” she explained, “Will you accept my challenge?”
Solomon nodded and replied, “It will be a testimony that my Lord God grants wisdom to those who ask and has made me, as He promised, the wisest. Queen of Sheba, I accept your challenge.” The room became froth with excitement. The peacocks squawked while a dove flew onto to an open window and perched there expectantly.
“First, you may call me Nessa. For I’m a friendly challenger,” She began.
“Fine then, Nessa, give me your first riddle.” He replied, eager to rise to the challenge.
“Tell me this,” Nessa started, “What are the seven that issue and nine that enter, the two that offer drink, and the one that drinks?” Solomon replied, “The seven that issue are the seven days of menstrual impurity. The nine that enter are the nine months of pregnancy. The two that offer drink are the breasts, and the child is the one who drinks.”
The two conversed until Nessa was out of tasks. She challenged him on Jewish history and lore and logic games alike. He was correct every time, and never gloated.
Nessa expressed her praises and worship to the God of King Solomon, “Yes! I see it now. What they say is true. You have the Wisdom of God. A true gift from above! Praise be to your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on His throne to be King!”
On her return journey home beneath a milky moon, the caravan traveled quietly. The only thing left to do was to travel and reflect on all they had seen. Riches beyond her wildest dreams were packed by her servants and loaded on camels. The finest gold, the most unique trinkets she had never seen before, harps and lyres, precious stone and wood, and more—all to top the gifts she had brought, as this was the tradition. Though her riches in wealth were multiplied by this visit to the great King Solomon, she gained far more in spirit.
She continued her praises as the moon hung low in the sky, “Praise be to the LORD your God…” she whispered to herself. With each step, the lilies in the fields gently bowed their flower heads as if the Earth itself cried out in prophesies. Nessa reached into a pouch nearby and retrieved a vessel of gold and fine stones. She spun the shining grail between fingers as a heavy weight sat upon her heart. Neither riches of Solomon’s Kingdom, nor the riches that traveled now with the Queen of Sheba would save the King of all Kings from the Cross.