Solomon and Sheba

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This painting here shown is in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa, and represents the meeting as described in I Kings 10:2. To the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, the story is itself the source of a series of remarkable traditions: the coming of Ark to Ethiopia, the keeping of a version of kosher law from the Old Testament, the establishment of a Davidic kingly line, etc. While these meet skepticism from the historians, there is a grain of truth: Cush is mentioned in the Old Testament, and Ethiopia does have a Christian patriarchate reaching back to the 3rd century.

One might also find a truth behind these seemingly exotic historical claims. Every church seeks to link Old and New Testament. And every church would root, to ‘incarnate’, the gospel in its own soil. These goals are played out in a literal way in Ethiopia, the original African church. But in some metaphoric way we too would marry gospel and culture, as we keep the distinctiveness of the former. Solomon and Sheba are an allegory of something ubiquitous. But on the romance score the Ethiopians win!