Why did the Queen of Sheba want to visit King Solomon?

The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (Matthew 12:42)

Jesus is talking to the Pharisees here, and the generation He's talking about was the generation that saw Messiah arrive, work miracles, preach truth, and reject Him.

Solomon and the Queen of Sheba by Giovanni De Min (1789-1859). Wikipedia
Is this verse a prophecy? A promise? A historical incident? All three. Read the beautiful sentiments Matthew Henry shares in his Whole Commentary on the bible:

As a generation that would be condemned by the queen of the south, the queen of Sheba, v. 42. The Ninevites would shame them for not repenting, the queen of Sheba for not believing in Christ. She came from a far country to hear the wisdom of Solomon; yet people will not be persuaded to come and hear the wisdom of Christ, though he is in every thing greater than Solomon.

[1.] The queen of Sheba had no invitation to come to Solomon, nor any promise of being welcome; but we are invited to Christ, to sit at his feet and hear his word.

[2.] Solomon was but a wise man, but Christ is wisdom itself, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom.

[3.] The queen of Sheba had many difficulties to break through; she was a woman, unfit for travel, the journey long and perilous; she was a queen, and what would become of her own country in her absence? We have no such cares to hinder us.

[4.] She could not be sure that it would be worth her while to go so far on this errand; fame uses to flatter men, and perhaps she might have in her own country or court wise men sufficient to instruct her; yet, having heard of Solomon’s fame, she would see him; but we come not to Christ upon such uncertainties.

[5.] She came from the uttermost parts of the earth, but we have Christ among us, and his word nigh us: Behold he stands at the door, and knocks.

[6.] It should seem the wisdom the queen of Sheba came for was only philosophy and politics; but the wisdom that is to be had with Christ is wisdom to salvation.

[7.] She could only hear Solomon’s wisdom; he could not give her wisdom: but Christ will give wisdom to those who come to him; nay, he will himself be made of God to them Wisdom; so that, upon all these accounts, if we do not hear the wisdom of Christ, the forwardness of the queen of Sheba to come and hear the wisdom of Solomon will rise up in judgment against us and condemn us; for Jesus Christ is greater than Solomon.

Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1676). Peabody: Hendrickson.


Further Reading:

All about the Queen of Sheba


  1. There was another who traveled from Ethiopia.
    26 And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.

    27 And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,

    28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

    29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

    30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

    31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

    32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

    33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

    34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

    35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

    36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

    37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

    38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.

    39 And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

    Some have said that Salomon was the wisest man who ever lived. He ended up being pulled into areas of knowledge he would have been better off avoiding.
    He is said to have 600 wives and 900 concubines. How smart is that?

    1. Jesus spoke of Solomon as a man of wisdom. There is no better reference on your resume than that. But, as is pointed out in the verse that led off this discussion, Matthew 12:42, Jesus also said that Something GREATER than Solomon was present, speaking of himself. Jesus was a biological descendant of Solomon (Matt 1:6-7), and, as a good Jewish man, would not speak ill of his ancestor. But what you're asking turns on the point that Solomon, in the Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, speaks--writes--demonstrates what wise things he had learned, and what stupid things that he had done that also taught him principles and Truth. In other words, Solomon demonstrated that he was not perfect, and Jesus latched onto the fact that He was perfect. And as Matthew Henry points out, Jesus IS Wisdom. Solomon only possessed.

    2. That's right and he also commended Peter in Matthew 16:17-18
      And he also just a short time after says this.
      Matthew 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

      The queen of Sheba was after something the she might obtain. Just like the multitude.
      The Ethiopian was after something more. He did not know what but with Philip to guide him he found Christ.
      There is a wisdom that is of value but for eternity not so much.

  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    Since the Queen of Sheba will rise up and be the judge of the generation that rejected Christ, that is enough for me to see her in a positive light. A condemned person is not in a place to judge another condemned person.

    Additionally, of Solomon: Ecclesiastes 12:12-14
    He may have made terrible mistakes, but I take it he finished well.



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