Easton's Bible Dictionary
an oath, seven.
(1) Hebrew shebha, the son of Raamah ( Genesis
10:7 ), whose descendants settled with those of Dedan on the Persian Gulf.
(2) Hebrew id. A son of Joktan ( Genesis
10:28 ), probably the founder of the Sabeans.
(3) Hebrew id. A son of Jokshan, who was a son of Abraham by Keturah ( Genesis
(4) Hebrew id. A kingdom in Arabia Felix. Sheba, in fact, was Saba in Southern
Arabia, the Sabaeans of classical geography, who carried on the trade in spices
with the other peoples of the ancient world. They were Semites, speaking one of
the two main dialects of Himyaritic or South Arabic. Sheba had become a monarchy
before the days of Solomon. Its queen brought him gold, spices, and precious stones
Kings 10:1 - 13
). She is called by our Lord the "queen of the south" ( Matthew
(5) Hebrew shebha', "seven" or "an oak." A town of Simeon ( Joshua
(6) Hebrew id. A "son of Bichri," of the family of Becher, the son of Benjamin,
and thus of the stem from which Saul was descended ( 2
Samuel 20:1 - 22
). When David was returning to Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, a strife
arose between the ten tribes and the tribe of Judah, because the latter took the
lead in bringing back the king. Sheba took advantage of this state of things,
and raised the standard of revolt, proclaiming, "We have no part in David." With
his followers he proceeded northward. David seeing it necessary to check this
revolt, ordered Abishai to take the gibborim, "mighty men," and the body-guard
and such troops as he could gather, and pursue Sheba. Joab joined the expedition,
and having treacherously put Amasa to death, assumed the command of the army.
Sheba took refuge in Abel-Bethmaachah, a fortified town some miles north of Lake
Merom. While Joab was engaged in laying siege to this city, Sheba's head was,
at the instigation of a "wise woman" who had held a parley with him from the city
walls, thrown over the wall to the besiegers, and thus the revolt came to an end.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
captivity; old man; repose; oath
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(seven, all oath, on oath)
(1) The son of Bichri, a Benjamite, ( 2 Samuel 20:1 - 22 ) the last chief of the
Absalom insurrection. The occasion seized by Sheba was the emulation between the
northern and southern tribes on Davids return. ( 2 Samuel 20:1 , 20:2 ) Sheba
traversed the whole of Palestine apparently rousing the population, Joab following
in full pursuit to the fortress Abel Beth-maachah, where Sheba was beheaded. (
2 Samuel 20:3 - 22 )
(2) A son of Raamah son of Cush. ( Genesis 10:7 ; 1 Chronicles 1:9 )
(3) A soil of Joktan. ( Genesis 10:28 ; 1 Chronicles 1:22 )
(4) A son of Jokshan son of Keturah. ( Genesis 25:3 ; 1 Chronicles 1:32 ) We shall
consider, first, the history of the Joktanite Sheba; and secondly, the Cushite
Sheba and the Keturahite Sheba together.
|I. The Joktanites were among the early colonists of southern
Arabia, and the kingdom which they there founded was for many centuries called
the kingdom of Sheba, after one of the sons of Joktan. The visit of the queen
of Sheba to King Solomon. ( 1 Kings 10:1 ) is one of the familiar Bible incidents.
The kingdom of Sheba embraced the greater part of the Yemen, or Arabia Felix.
It bordered on the Red Sea, and was one of the most fertile districts of Arabia.
Its chief cities, and probably successive capitals, were Seba, Sana (Uzal), and
Zafar (Sephar). Seba was probably the name of the city, and generally of the country
II. Sheba, son of Raamah son of Cush settled somewhere on the shores of the Persian
Gulf. It was this Sheba that carried on the great Indian traffic with Palestine,
in conjunction with, as we hold, the other Sheba, son of Jokshan son of Keturah,
who like Dedan appears to have formed, with the Cushite of the same name, one
(5) One of the towns of the allotment of Simeon, ( Joshua
19:2 ) probably the same as Shema. ( Joshua 15:26 )
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
she'-ba (shebha'; Saba):
(1) Sheba and Dedan are the two sons of Raamah son of Cush (Genesis 10:7).
(2) Sheba and Dedan are the two sons of Jokshan the son of Abraham and Keturah
(3) Sheba is a son of Joktan son of Eber who was a descendant of Shem (Genesis
From the above statements it would appear that Sheba was the name of an Arab
tribe, and consequently of Semitic descent. The fact that Sheba and Dedan are
represented as Cushite (Genesis 10:7) would point to a migration of part of these
tribes to Ethiopia, and similarly their derivation from Abraham (Genesis 25:3)
would indicate that some families were located in Syria. In point of fact Sheba
was a South-Arabian or Joktanite tribe (Genesis 10:28), and his own name and that
of some of his brothers (e.g. Hazarmaveth = Hadhramaut) are place-names in Southern
The Sabeans or people of Saba or Sheba, are referred to as traders in gold and
spices, and as inhabiting a country remote from Palestine (1 Kings 10:1 ; Isaiah
60:6 ; Jeremiah 6:20 ; Ezekiel 27:22 ; Psalms 72:15 ; Matthew 12:42), also as
slave-traders (Joel 3:8), or even desert-rangers (Job 1:15 ; 6:19; compare CIS
By the Arab genealogists Saba is represented as great-grandson of Qachtan (= Joktan)
and ancestor of all the South-Arabian tribes. He is the father of Chimyar and
Kahlan. He is said to have been named Saba because he was the first to take prisoners
(shabhah) in war. He founded the capital of Saba and built its citadel Marib (Mariaba),
famous for its mighty barrage.
The authentic history of the Sabeans, so far as known, and the topography of their
country are derived from South-Arabian inscriptions, which began to be discovered
about the middle of the last century, and from coins dating from about 150 BC
to 150 AD, the first collection of which was published in 1880, and from the South-Arabian
geographer Hamdani, who was later made known to European scholars. One of the
Sabean kings is mentioned on Assyrian inscriptions of the year 715 BC; and he
is apparently not the earliest. The native monuments are scattered over the period
extending from before that time until the 6th century AD, when the Sabean state
came to an end, being most numerous about the commencement of our era. Saba was
the name of the nation of which Marib was the usual capital. The Sabeans at first
shared the sovereignty of South Arabia with Himyar and one or two other nations,
but gradually absorbed the territories of these some time after the Christian
era. The form of government seems to have been that of a republic or oligarchy,
the chief magistracy going by a kind of rotation, and more than one "king" holding
office simultaneously (similarly Deuteronomy 4:47 and often in the Old Testament).
The people seem to have been divided into patricians and plebeians, the former
of whom had the right to build castles and to share in the government.
A number of deities are mentioned on the inscriptions, two chief being Il-Maqqih
and Ta'lab. Others are Athtar (masculine form of the Biblical 'ashtaroth), Rammon
(the Biblical Rimmon), the Sun, and others. The Sun and Athtar were further defined
by the addition of the name of a place or tribe, just as Baal in the Old Testament.
Worship took the form of gifts to the temples, of sacrifices, especially incense,
of pilgrimages and prayers. Ceremonial ablution, and abstinence from certain things,
as well as formal dedication of the worshipper and his household and goods to
the deity, were also religious acts. In return the deity took charge of his worshipper's
castle, wells, and belongings, and supplied him with cereals, vegetables and fruits,
as well as granted him male issue.
|(1) The chief occupations of the Sabeans were raiding and
trade. The chief products of their country are enumerated in Isaiah 60:6, which
agrees with the Assyrian inscriptions. The most important of all commodities was
incense, and it is significant that the same word which in the other Semitic languages
means "gold," in Sabean means "perfume" (and also "gold"). To judge, however,
from the number of times they are mentioned upon the inscriptions, agriculture
bulked much more largely in the thoughts of the Sabean than commerce, and was
of equal importance with religion.
(2) The high position occupied by women among the Sabeans is reflected in the
story of the Queen of Sheba and Solomon. In almost all respects women appear to
have been considered the equal of men, and to have discharged the same civil,
religious and even military functions. Polygamy does not seem to have been practiced.
The Sabean inscriptions do not go back far enough to throw any light upon the
queen who was contemporary with Solomon, and the Arabic identification of her
with Bilqis is merely due to the latter being the only Sabean queen known to them.
Bilqis must have lived several centuries later than the Hebrew monarch.
(3) The alphabet used in the Sabean inscriptions is considered by Professor Margoliouth
to be the original Semitic alphabet, from which the others are derived. In other
respects Sabean art seems to be dependent on that of Assyria, Persia and Greece.
The coins are Greek and Roman in style, while the system of weights employed is
See further SABAEANS.
Rodiger and Osidander in ZDMG, volumes XX and XXI; Halevy in Journal Asiatique,
Serie 6, volume IX; Corpus Inscriptionum Semiticarum, pt. IV, edition by J. and
H. Derenbourg; Hamdani, edition by D. H. Muller, 1891; Mordtmann, Himyarische
Inschriften, 1893; Hommel, Sudarabische Chresthomathie, 1893; Glaser, Abyssinien
in Arabien, 1895; D. H. Muller, Sudarabische Alterthumer, 1899; Derenbourg, Les
monuments sabeens, 1899. On the coins, Schlumberger, Le tresor de San'a, 1880;
Mordtmann in Wiener numismatische Zeitschrift, 1880.
Thomas Hunter Weir
(4) she'-ba (shebha'; Sabee, or Samaa):
The name of one of the towns allotted to Simeon (Joshua 19:2). the King James
Version mentions it as an independent town, but as it is not mentioned at all
in the parallel list (1 Chronicles 4:28), and is omitted in Joshua 19:2 in some
manuscripts, it is probable that the Revised Version (British and American) is
correct in its translation "Beer-sheba or Sheba." Only in this way can the total
of towns in this group be made 13 (Joshua 19:6). If it is a separate name, it
is probably the same as SHEMA (which see).
E. W. G. Masterman
bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, define, kingdom in arabia, sheba, shema