In south-western Arabia was the land known in Bible times as Sheba. It was located in the region of present-day Yemen and was occupied by a tribal group known as the Sabeans. Like people of other Arab tribal groups, those of Sheba were merchants and traders. They travelled widely throughout the East, dealing in gold, precious stones, cloth, spices and other merchandise (1 Kings 10:1-2; Ps 72:15; Isa 60:6; Jer 6:20; Ezek 27:22). They even engaged in slave trade (Joel 3:8) and, like other Arab nomads, they raided farms and villages (Job 1:15). When their queen on one occasion visited Israel’s king Solomon, the two monarchs took the opportunity to have some useful trade exchanges (1 Kings 10:10,13). (Some African legends have connected this queen with Ethiopia.) Sheba was also the name of a number of individuals mentioned in the Old Testament. The best known of these was the Benjaminite who tried unsuccessfully to lead the northern tribes to break away from the rule of David (2 Sam 20:1-22).

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