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Axumite Queen Makeda: The Queen of Sheba


Axumite Queen Makeda: The Queen of Sheba

Queen Makeda, as she is known in Ethiopia, is said to have lived in the 10th century B.C. She was the ruler of the ancient Kingdom of Sheba / Axumite Kingdom, a trading nation in the area of northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. While recorded in many of the sacred texts of the region, as well as the religious texts sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims, basic facts about her life remain unresolved.

In these tales, Queen Makeda is a seeker of truth and wisdom. Having heard that King Solomon of Israel is a very wise man, she travels on camel to Jerusalem to witness the fabled wisdom of Solomon and test his knowledge with questions and riddles. While there, she bore him a son named Menelik.

In preparation for her journey to Jerusalem, Makeda, loaded her ships with costly woods, precious stones, and pearls, and sent to Solomon 6,000 boys and girls, all born in the same hour, all of the same height and appearance, and all clothed in purple.

In one account, in a letter to Solomon which they bore with them, she declared that although the journey from Kitor to Jerusalem usually took seven years to accomplish, she would visit him within three years. He in his turn sent a youth to meet her, and on her arrival he received her in a glass house. The walls and floor of the building were made of glass, and water flowed over the floor.

Why, if so little is known about her, has she become such an important figure? The story must be based on something. Some sources state that Queen Makeda was part of the dynasty founded by Za Besi Angabo in 1370 B.C. The family's intended choice to rule Axum was Makeda's brother, Prince Nourad, but his early death led to her succession to the throne. She’s said to have ruled the Axumite kingdom for more than 50 years.

The 1922 regnal list of Ethiopia is an official regnal list that was provided by Ethiopian prince regent Tafari Makonnen (later known as Emperor Haile Selassie) which names over 300 monarchs across six millennia. This list of monarchs was included in Charles Fernand Rey's book In the Country of the Blue Nile in 1927, and is the longest Ethiopian regnal list published in the Western world. It said to be the only known regnal list that attempts to provide a timeline of Ethiopian monarchs from the 46th century B.C. up to modern times without any gaps.

According to the Kebra Negast, a nearly 700 year old text from Ethiopic antiquity, the imperial family of the Nile region are offsprings of Makeda, Queen of Sheba.

In the Kebra Nagast, Menelik I became the first Imperial ruler of Ethiopia, the first of a line of Axumite Kings. Axum is the historical kingdom which flourished in north-eastern Africa from the first century B.C up to the start of the seventh century A.D.

Queen Makeda raises Menelik on her own. When he grows up, Menelik decides that he wants to meet his father and travels to Israel to meet King Solomon.

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