2. A son of Joktan of the line of Shem. (Gen. 10:21-30; 1 Chron. 1:17-23) The thirteen Arabian tribes springing from the sons of Joktan dwelt “from Mesha [believed to have been near Dumah in N Arabia] as far as Sephar, the mountainous region of the East [probably near the S coast of the peninsula].” It is not possible to give a precise location for the tribe of Sheba in this vast area. It may be that men of this nomadic tribe were the marauding “Sabeans” who made the raid described in Job 1:14, 15.
3. One of the two sons of Jokshan, the son of Abraham by Keturah. (Gen. 25:1-3; 1 Chron. 1:32) While Abraham was still alive he sent his offspring through Keturah “eastward, to the land of the East.” (Gen. 25:6) So it seems that this Sheba settled somewhere in Arabia.
4. The son of Bichri a Benjamite, and one who lost his life in a revolt against David. (2 Sam. 20:1, 2) At the time David was returning to Jerusalem after Absalom’s rebellion, Sheba, “a good-for-nothing man,” detected the ill-feeling of ten of the tribes toward the men of Judah, David’s tribe. (2 Sam. 19:40-43) Sheba fanned the flames of this bitterness, saying that the other tribes had no “share in David” and urging: “Every one to his gods.” The men of Judah stuck to the king, but “all the men of Israel” deserted David to follow Sheba. One motive behind this rebellion may have been to bring back to the tribe of Benjamin some of the prominence it had under Saul.
David told his general, Amasa, to collect the men of Judah for battle within three days in order to put down Sheba’s uprising. When Amasa did not appear on time, the king sent Abishai after fleeing Sheba (though it appears that Abishai’s brother Joab actually took charge during the chase). Sheba and his supporting relatives fled all the way N to Abel-beth-maacah, a fortified city of Naphtali. The pursuers laid siege to the city and began to undermine the wall. Then a wise woman of the city spoke with Joab requesting peace. Joab replied that the army would withdraw if the city delivered up the rebel Sheba. On hearing this, the people of the city cut off Sheba’s head and pitched it over the city wall to Joab.—2 Sam. 20:1-8, 13-22.
6. A wealthy kingdom, in all probability located in SW Arabia. It was especially known for its gold, perfumes and incense. (1 Ki. 10:1, 2; Isa. 60:6; Jer. 6:20; Ezek. 27:22) The origin of these people of Sheba, or Sabeans, as they are frequently designated in secular sources, cannot be established with certainty. In the line of Shem there were two Shebas (Nos. 2 and 3) and one in the line of Ham (No. 1), who evidently settled in Arabia. However, some modern scholars believe that the people of this kingdom were Semitic, of the line of Joktan, descendants of Shem through Eber. (Gen. 10:26-28) Sheba’s own name and that of some of his brothers (for example, Hazarmaveth and Ophir) are connected with locations in S Arabia.—See HAVILAH No. 3; HAZARMAVETH.
The kingdom of Sheba was located, according to some authorities, in the eastern portion of modern-day Yemen. Its capital was evidently Marib, on the E side of the mountain range and some sixty miles (97 kilometers) E of Sanʽa.
Before nautical improvements made navigation in the Red Sea less hazardous, trade from S Arabia and possibly E Africa and India was largely accomplished by means of camel caravans through Arabia. Sheba dominated the caravan routes and became renowned for its traders of frankincense, myrrh, gold, precious stones and ivory. The Bible indicates that these traders reached as far as Tyre. (Ezek. 27:2, 22-24; Ps. 72:15; Isa. 60:6) A clay stamp unearthed at Bethel provides material confirmation of commerce between Palestine and S Arabia. Discoveries from excavations at Marib suggest that the Sabeans were a relatively peaceful, commercially minded people. At their capital they had a huge temple to the moon god.
QUEEN OF SHEBA
Sometime after Solomon had completed many building works, he was visited by “the queen of Sheba,” who had heard “the report about Solomon in connection with the name of Jehovah.” This queen, unnamed in the Bible, went to Jerusalem with “a very impressive train, camels carrying balsam oil and very much gold and precious stones.” (1 Ki. 10:1, 2) The mode of her travel and the type of gifts she brought indicate that she was from the kingdom of Sheba in SW Arabia. This is also indicated by Jesus’ comment that she was the “queen of the south” and that she “came from the ends of the earth.” (Matt. 12:42) From the standpoint of persons in Jerusalem, she had truly come from a most distant part of the then-known world. (Ps. 72:10; Joel 3:8) Marib is about 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers) from Ezion-geber, which is on the N shore of the Red Sea.
Jesus said of the queen of Sheba that she came “to hear the wisdom of Solomon.” (Luke 11:31) Both by what Solomon said and by what she saw of the prosperity of his kingdom, she was impressed. She pronounced the king’s servants happy for being able to hear his wisdom, and blessed Jehovah for putting him on the throne. (1 Ki. 10:2-9; 2 Chron. 9:1-9) The queen gave Solomon 120 talents of gold (worth $4,639,320) as well as balsam oil and precious stones. Solomon gave her gifts that apparently exceeded the value of the treasures she brought and then she returned to her own land.—2 Chron. 9:12, NW, AT, Mo.
Christ stated that this woman would rise up in the judgment and condemn the men of the first-century generation. (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31) She had made an arduous trip to hear Solomon’s wisdom, but the unbelieving Jews, who claimed to be servants of Jehovah, had present in Jesus something more than Solomon and did not pay attention to him.
7. Apparently one of the enclave cities given to the tribe of Simeon in the S part of the territory of Judah. (Josh. 19:2) The name, though, does not appear in the parallel list in 1 Chronicles 4:28-32 or among the accounts of cities at first assigned to Judah. (Josh. 15:26) Since Joshua 19:2-6 gives the sum as thirteen cities, but actually seems to list fourteen cities, some scholars have suggested that Sheba and Beer-sheba were two parts of the same city, Sheba being the older. If it was a separate location, it may have been the same as Shema, named in the list at Joshua 15:26-32.