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The Queen Of Sheba And Sun Worship Print E-mail
Written by mquran.org   
Monday, 20 November 2006

1. Introduction

But the hoopoe tarried not far: he (came up and) said: "I have compassed (territory) which thou hast not compassed, and I have come to thee from Saba with tidings true. I found (there) a woman ruling over them and provided with every requisite; and she has a magnificent throne. I found her and her people worshipping the sun besides Allah: Satan has made their deeds seem pleasing in their eyes, and has kept them away from the Path,- so they receive no guidance..." [Qur'an 27:22-24]

In Sura al-Naml, Solomon was informed by the hoopoe that he saw the kingdom of Sheba (i.e., Saba) where a Queen ruled. Solomon was also told that the Queen and her subjects worshipped the Sun. However, according to some people "archaeology" has shown that Sun-worship by the people of Sheba was "proven" to be incorrect since Moon-worship was prevalent in this particular region. In order to support their supposition they relied on an article called The Lunar Passion And The Daughters of Allah which claims that:

A measure of Muhammad's limited knowledge of the ancient traditions of the Arab deities is gained from the fact that the Qur'an states that the Queen of Sheba was converted to the true god from the sun-worship of her people (Pritchard 1974 14), while all the evidence at Marib suggests that the Moon God, the very source of the crescent of Islam, was always the predominant deity.

It is surprising that the above article, which is claimed to represent "archaeology" does not even provide any reference(s) as to where exactly the evidence from Marib suggests that the Moon god "was always the predominant deity" during the time of the Queen of Sheba.

In this paper, we will examine the type of worship practised in the Kingdom of Sheba utilising archaeological and literary sources.

2. Chronology And Location Of The Kingdom Of Sheba

Before we begin our discussion on the kind of worship which used to happen during the time of Queen of Sheba, we must first establish the chronology and the location of the Kingdom of Sheba. This will enable us to gain an understanding of and appreciate the archaeological discoveries.

CHRONOLOGY OF SOLOMON AND THE QUEEN OF SHEBA

The Qur'an never mentioned the Queen of Sheba by name, though Arab sources name her Bilqis. Both the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an place Solomon and the Queen of Sheba as contemporaries. Using the archaeological data, biblical chronologists have placed the reign of Solomon quite precisely at c. 970-930 BCE.[1] Similar dating is also mentioned in The Jewish Encyclopedia,[2] The Anchor Bible Dictionary,[3] Encyclopedia Of The Bible,[4] The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary,[5] New Bible Dictionary[6] among others.[7] This makes the Queen of Sheba's reign also in the 10th century BCE.

LOCATION OF THE KINGDOM OF SHEBA

Sheba has been various located. Some places that are usually mentioned in this connection are northern Arabia and Wadi al-Sheba in the north-east of Madinah.[8] These areas were home to a number of queens mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as early as the 8th century BCE.[9]

Figure 1: Location of Kingdom of Sheba in Southern Arabia and perhaps also in parts of Ethiopia.[10]

However, the majority of scholars place Sheba in the territory located in southwestern Arabia [Figure 1], south of Ma‘in and west of Qataban and Hadramaut, which was known as the Kingdom of Sheba.[11] The people of Sheba, or the Sabaeans as they were called, were of semitic descent and were governed by mukarrib - a priest-king ruler from the royal city of Marib.[12] It was also suggested that the Kingdom of Sheba could have extended even to the Horn of East Africa across the Red Sea from Sheba due to close linguistic affinities between epigraphic South Arabian and the classical language of Ethiopia, especially Ge‘ez.[13] Furthermore, the connections between the two shores of the southern Red Sea have at all times been close.[14]

3. Deities Of The Kingdom Of Sheba In Archaeological And Literary Sources

Contrary to the claims of some people that "archaeology" has shown that the sun-worship by the people of Sheba mentioned in the Qur'an was proven to be incorrect, there is no contemporary evidence or religious text from the time of the Queen of Sheba able to throw light on their religious beliefs.[15] Most of what is known of the contemporary religion is derived by inference from later religious structures and from dedicatory inscriptions.

The South-Arabian pantheon is not properly known. Its astral foundation is indisputable. As in most contemporary semitic cults, the Sabaeans and other South Arabs worshipped stars and planets, chief among whom were the Sun, Moon and ‘Athtar, the Venus.[16] The relation to the divine was deeply rooted in public and private life. The concept of State was expressed through the "national god, sovereign, people". To the divine was related the sphere of the sacred, a haram, and therefore subject to restriction. The divine shrine was encircled with a sacred perimeter (mahram), access to which was subjected to the conditions of ritual purity.[17]

Each of the South Arabian kingdoms had its own national god, who was the patron of the principal temple in the capital. In Sheba, it was Ilmaqah (also called Ilumquh or Ilmuqah or Almaqah or Almouqah), in the temple of the federation of the Sabaean tribes in Marib.[18] It was claimed by some people that the "archaeological" evidence from Marib suggests that the Moon god was the predominant deity during time of the Queen of Sheba. Let us now examine the extant evidence.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE

In order to understand the religion and culture of the Kingdom of Sheba, it must be borne in mind that the monuments and inscriptions already show a highly developed civilization, whose earlier and more primitive phases we know nothing about. This civilization had links with the Mediterranean region and Mesopotamian areas - which is evidenced by the development and evolutionary trends of its architecture and numismatics. This exchange certainly influenced the religious phenomena of the culture and it is primarily here we should look to illuminate the theological outlook of the Sheba region; certainly not among the nomadic bedouin of the centre and north of the Arabian peninsula.

It was the failure to take into account these crucial principles that led Ditlef Nielsen into his extravagant hypothesis that all ancient semitic/Arabian religion was a primitive religion of nomads, whose objects of worship were exclusively a triad of the Moon, Sun and the Venus star envisaged as their child.[19] Not only was this an over-simplified view based on an unproven hypothesis, it is also quite absurd to think that over a millennium-long period during which paganism is known to have flourished, there was not substantial shifts of thinking about the deities. Not surprisingly, Nielsen's triad hypothesis was handed devastating refutation by many scholars, albeit some of them still retained his arbitrary assignment of astral significance to the deities.[20] While discussing the pantheon of South Arabian gods and its reduction to a triad by Nielsen, Jacques Ryckmans says:

Many mention of gods are pure appellations, which do not allow defining the nature, or even the sex, of the deities names. This explains why the ancient claim of D. Nielsen to reduce the whole pantheon to a basic triad Moon-father, Sun-mother (sun is feminine in Arabia), and Venus-son, has continued to exert negative influence, in spite of its having been widely contested: it remained tempting to explain an unidentified feminine epithet as relating to the Sun-goddess, etc.[21]

Nielsen's views also influenced the archaeologists who excavated the Mahram Bilqis (also known as the Temple Awwam) near Marib [Figure 2(a)].[22] Mahram Bilqis, an oval-shaped temple [Figure 2(b)], was dedicated to Ilmaqah, the chief god of Sheba.[23] This temple was excavated by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) in 1951-52[24] and again more recently in 1998.[25] According to the archaeologist Frank Albright, the Temple Awwam (i.e., Mahram Bilqis) was "dedicated to the moon god Ilumquh, as the large inscription of the temple itself tells us".[26] Albright cited the inscription MaMB 12 (= Ja 557) to support his claim that Temple Awwam was "dedicated to the moon god Ilumquh".[27] However, the inscription Ja 557 in its entirety reads:

Abkarib, son of Nabatkarib, of [the family] Zaltān, servant of Yada‘il Bayyin and of Sumhu‘alay Yanūf and of Yata‘amar Watar and of Yakrubmalik Darih and of Sumuhu‘alay Yanūf, has dedicated to Ilumquh all his children and his slaves and has built and completed the mass of the bastion [by which] he has completed and filled up the enclosing wall of Awwām from the line of this inscription and in addition, all its masonry of hewn stones and its woodwork and the two towers Yazil and Dara‘ and their [the two towers] recesses, to the top, and he has raised up the possessions of his ancestors, the descendents of Zaltān. By ‘Attar and by Ilumquh and by Dāt Himyān and by Dāt Ba‘dān. And Abkarib has made known, in submission to Ilumquh and to the king of ârib, Š[...[28]

Although the dedication to Ilmaqah is mentioned, nowhere does the inscription say that Ilmaqah is called the Moon god! In fact, none of the inscriptions at the Mahram Bilqis mention Ilmaqah as the Moon god. Moreover, the collective mentioning of the pantheon of gods by formulae such as "by ‘Athtar", "by Ilumquh", "by Shams", "by Hawbas", "by Dhāt Himyān", "by Dhāt Ba‘dān", "by Dhāt Ba‘dānum", "by Dhāt Zahrān", etc. occur quite frequently in the inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis.[29] As Ryckmans had pointed out, many of these gods are pure appellations, with no defining nature and sex. Following the logic of Nielsen of reducing the Arab pantheon of gods to a triad, Albright and others have considered Ilmaqah as the Moon god, although no evidence of such a triad exists. Scholars like Alexander Sima have drawn attention to the fact that very little is known about the Sabaean deities. He says that while Shams was most certainly a solar goddess, the lunar nature of Ilmaqah is "speculative" and lacks "any epigraphic evidence".[30]

(a)

(b)

Figure 2: (a) Mahram Bilqis in Marib (Yemen), also known as Temple Awwam. This temple was dedicated to Ilmaqah (or Almaqah), the national god of the Kingdom of Sheba. Although in the popular literature, it is referred to as "Temple of the Moon god", Ilmaqah was actually a Sun god! (b) Ground plan of the Mahram Bilqis.[31]

The nature of the Sabaean chief deity Ilmaqah was studied in considerable detail by J. Pirenne[32] and G. Garbini[33] in the 1970s. They have shown that the motifs associated with Ilmaqah such as the bull's head, the vine, and also the lion's skin on a human statue are solar and dionysiac attributes. Therefore, Ilmaqah was a Sun-god, rather than a Moon-god. Concerning Ilmaqah, J. Ryckmans in The Anchor Bible Dictionary says:

Along with the main god ‘Attar, each of the major kingdoms venerated its own national god. In Saba this was the god named Almaqah (or Ilmuqah), whose principal temple was near Marib, the capital of Saba, a federal shrine of the Sabaean tribes. According to the widely contested old theory of the Danish scholar D. Nielsen, who reduced the whole South Arabian pantheon to a primitive triad: father Moon, mother Sun (sun is feminine in Arabic) and son Venus, Almaqah was until recently considered a moon god, but Garbini and Pirenne have shown that the bull's head and the vine motif associated with him are solar and dionysiac attributes. He was therefore a sun god, the male counterpart of the sun goddess Šams, who was also venerated in Saba, but as a tutelary goddess of the royal dynasty.[34]

Ilmaqah was also discussed by A. F. L. Beeston. Writing in the Encyclopaedia Of Islam, he says:

For the period down to the early 4th century A.D., few would now agree with the excessive reductionism of D. Nielsen, who in the 1920s held that all the many deities in the pagan pantheon were nothing more than varying manifestations of an astral triad of sun, moon and Venus-star; yet it is certainly the case that three deities tend to receive more frequent mention than the rest....

But just as the Greek local patron deities such as Athene in Athens, Artemis in Ephesus, etc., figure more prominently than the remoter and universal Zeus, so in South Arabia the most commonly invoked deity was a national one, who incorporated the sense of national identity. For the Sabaeans this was 'lmkh (with an occasional variant spelling 'lmkhw). A probable analysis of this name is as a compound of the old Semitic word 'l "god" and a derivative of the root khw meaning something like "fertility" (cf. Arabic kahā "flourish"); the h is certainly a root letter, and not, as some mediaeval writers seem to have imagined, a tā marbūta, which in South Arabian is always spelt with t...

Many European scholars still refer to this deity in a simplistic way as "the moon god", a notion stemming from the "triadic" hypothesis mentioned above; yet Garbini has produced cogent arguments to show that the attributes of 'lmkh are rather those of a warrior-deity like Greek Herakles or a vegetation god like Dionysus.[35]

Elsewhere, Beeston writes:

Among the federal deities, the case for Syn being a moon god rests on identifying him with Akkadian Su-en, later Sin; an equation which, attractive though it may seem, is not without problems. At all events, even if this was so with the Hadramite deity, it is unlikely that it tells the whole story. In the case of Ilmqh, ‘Amm and Wadd, there is nothing to indicate lunar qualities. Garbini has presented a devastating critique of such a view in relation to Ilmqh, for whom he claims (much more plausibly) the attributes of a warrior-god and of a Dionysiac vegetation deity, with solar rather than lunar associations. In the case of Wadd, the presence of an altar to him on Apollo's island of Delos points rather to solar than lunar associations. For ‘Amm we have nothing to guide us except his epithets, the interpretation of which is bound to be highly speculative.[36]

While discussing various gods of southern Arabia, and Ilmaqah (or Almaqah) in particular, Jean-François Breton says:

Almaqah was the god of agriculture and irrigation, probably for the most part of the artificial irrigation which was the basis of successful farming in the oasis of Ma'rib. The god's animal attributes were the bull and, in later times, the vine. Almaqah was a masculine sun god; the divinity Shams (Sun), who was invoked as protector of the Sabaean dynasty, was his feminine counterpart.[37]

Such views concerning Ilmaqah can also be seen in the Encyclopaedia Britannica which says:

Next to ‘Athtar, who was worshiped throughout South Arabia, each kingdom had its own national god, of whom the nation called itself the "progeny" (wld). In Saba' the national god was Almaqah (or Ilmuqah), a protector of artificial irrigation, lord of the temple of the Sabaean federation of tribes, near the capital Ma'rib. Until recently Almaqah was considered to be a moon god, under the influence of a now generally rejected conception of a South Arabian pantheon consisting of an exclusive triad: Father Moon, Mother Sun (the word "sun" is feminine in Arabic), and Son Venus. Recent studies underline that the symbols of the bull's head and the vine motif that are associated with him are solar and Dionysiac attributes and are more consistent with a sun god, a male consort of the sun goddess.[38]

While discussing the relationship between the Chaldaeans and the Sabianism, the Encyclopedia Of Astrology says:

From this arose Sabianism, the worship of the host of heaven: Sun, Moon and Stars. It originated with the Arabian kingdom of Saba (Sheba), when came the Queen of Sheba. The chief object of their worship was the Sun, Belus. To him was erected the tower of Belus, and the image of Belus.[39]

It is clear from this discussion that Ilmaqah was the patron deity of the people of Sheba due to the fact they invoke him frequently in their inscriptions, and almost always before other deities if at all featured. From the inscriptions themselves it is not clear what sort of deity Ilmaqah was. He has many epithets, but none which link him explicitly with the sun or moon. The simple linkages between deities and natural phenomena as put forth by Nielsen, have been rejected of late in explaining the nature and function of deities. Instead, the study of the motifs show that Ilmaqah had attributes that are more consistent with a Sun god. Unfortunately, in the popular as well as in the scholarly literature Ilmaqah is still erroneously considered as the Moon god, a result of the legacy of Nielsen and the scholars who uncritically accepted his views.[40]

The question now arises: just how far back does the evidence go in respect of Ilmaqah being the patron solar deity of Sheba at the Mahram Bilqis? According to Jamme, the earliest inscriptional evidence from the Mahram Bilqis goes back to the 6th century BCE.[41] He points to the fact that the Mahram Bilqis itself is older than its enclosure wall, since the inscriptions only deal with the building and the rebuilding of the enclosure wall, and not the temple itself.[42] According to Frank Albright, the oval wall of the Mahram Bilqis points to a construction about the middle of the 7th century BCE. Like Jamme, he considers the Mahram Bilqis must be older than the oval wall itself.[43] Recent excavations by Glanzman and others have yielded pottery, alabaster objects, bronze statuary, fragmentary and complete inscriptions which they dated within the 8th to 5th centuries BCE.[44] Gus W. van Beek says that although the oldest part of the Mahram Bilqis "goes back to the seventh century BC, but its substructure may incorporate remains from still earlier centuries."[45] He also adds that the pantheon of Ilmaqah, Shams and ‘Athtar were " also revered by the Sabaeans in the tenth century BC" and that "the Queen of Sheba may have served as a priest, or even the chief priest, of the faith, since the title of the early rulers - Mukarrib, which probably means 'priest-king' - denotes a significant role in the cult."[46]

LITERARY EVIDENCE

From the field of archaeology, let us now move over to the literary evidence. Perhaps the best evidence from the literary sources concerning the sun-worship of the Queen of Sheba and her subjects comes from the Kebra Nagast. The Kebra Nagast ("The Book of the Glory of Kings of Ethiopia") has been in existence for at least a thousand years, and contains the history of the Solomonic line of kings in Ethiopia. Its origins, however, remain obscure. It is regarded as the ultimate authority on the history of the conversion of Ethiopians from the worship of the Sun, Moon, and stars to that of the God of Israel.[47] While the final redaction of the Kebra Nagast is dated to the first half of the 14th century CE,[48] much of the material dates from the 6th century CE. Irfan Shahid[49] and David Johnson[50] have presented cogent arguments pointing to a Coptic original written in the 6th century CE. Consequently, there appears to be no Islamic influence on this book.[51] In the Kebra Nagast, the Queen of Sheba tells Solomon:

 

We worship the sun according as our fathers have taught us to do, because we say that the sun is the king of the gods. And there are others among our subjects [who worship other things]; some worship stones, and some worship wood (i.e., trees), and some worship carved figures, and some worship images of gold and silver. And we worship sun, for he cooketh our food, and moreover, he illumineth the darkness, and removeth fear; we call him 'Our King,' and we call him 'Our Creator,' and we worship him as our god; for no man hath told us that besides him there is another god.[52]

It is interesting to note that the Queen of Sheba mentions Sun-worship as the predominant form of worship during her time. However, along with Sun-worship, there also existed other forms of worship in the Kingdom of Sheba. This is also confirmed by the inscriptional evidence that shows people from Sheba worshipped a variety of gods, which are pure appellations, with no defining nature and sex.

4. Conclusions

It was claimed by some people that "archaeology" has shown that sun-worship by the people of Sheba was proven to be incorrect since Moon-worship was prevalent in this particular region. To support their claim they cited an article called The Lunar Passion And The Daughters of Allah. This article says that the "evidence" from Marib suggests that the Moon god was the predominant deity during the time of the Queen of Sheba.

In this paper we examined the claims of some people utilising archaeological and literary sources. The archaeological evidence shows that Ilmaqah, the patron deity of the people of Sheba in Marib, was a Sun god. The motifs associated with Ilmaqah such as the bull's head, the vine, and also the lion's skin on a human statue are solar and dionysiac attributes. Ilmaqah was wrongly considered by earlier scholars to be a Moon god due to Nielsen's extravagant hypothesis – the outcome of which resulted in reducing the entire spectrum of Arabian deities to an exclusive astral triad, that of the Sun, Moon and Venus star. Nevertheless many still continue to fall under the influence of Nielsen's now discredited and rejected "triadic" hypothesis. Beeston singles out for criticism many European scholars who still continue to erroneously identify Ilmaqah with lunar attributes. In fact, he describes such an association as "simplistic".

Although the earliest archaeological evidence from the Mahram Bilqis, a temple dedicated to Ilmaqah, dates from the 8th century BCE, archaeologists consider the temple to be older than this time period. Archaeology from Marib clearly refutes the position of some people that Moon worship was predominant. It was the solar deity Ilmaqah which was the patron god of the people of the Sheba. The literary evidence for Sun-worship by the Queen of Sheba and her subjects comes in the form of the Kebra Nagast, an Ethiopic epic. This corroborates the archaeological evidence and confirms the predominance of the Sun worship in this region.

It was also mentioned that the Moon god from Marib was the "very source of the crescent of Islam." When the Moon god itself did not exist in Marib, it clearly confounds the claim that it was the "very source of the crescent of Islam." The implications of this are enormous for the ridiculous claim that Allah was the Moon god.


References & Notes

[1] K. A. Kitchen, On The Reliability Of The Old Testament, 2003, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Michigan, p. 58, p. 61 and p. 83; K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient And Old Testament, 1966, The Tyndale Press: London (UK), p. 72, note 58; J. K. Hoffmeier, Israel In Egypt: The Evidence For The Authenticity Of The Exodus Tradition, 1999, Oxford University Press: Oxford (UK), p. 124.

[2] "Solomon", The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905, Volume XI, Funk & Wagnalls Company: London & New York, p. 438.

[3] T. Ishida, "Solomon", in D. N. Freedman (Editor-in-Chief), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992, Volume 6, Doubleday: New York, p. 105. The time of Solomon's reign was c. 970-960 to 930-920 BCE.

[4] L. Goldberg, "Solomon" in W. A. Elwell (Gen. Ed.), Encyclopedia Of The Bible, 1988, Volume II, Marshall Pickering: London, p. 1975. The time of Solomon's reign was 970-930 BCE.

[5] "Solomon" in A. C. Myers (Ed.), The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 1987, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids (MI), p. 959. The time of Solomon's reign was c. 970-930 BCE.

[6] "Solomon" in J. D. Douglas (Organizing Editor), New Bible Dictionary, 1984 (Rep.), Second Edition, Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester (UK) and Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.: Wheaton (IL), p. 1127. The time of Solomon's reign was 971-931 BCE.

[7] Also in "Solomon" in P. J. Achtemeier (Gen. Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1985, HarperSanFrancisco, p. 1048. Solomon reigned for 40 years in the second third of the 10th century BC; J. N. Oswalt, "Chronology Of The OT" in G. W. Bromiley (Gen. Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1979 (Fully Revised, Illustrated), Volume I, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids (MI), p. 681.

[8] D. A. Hubbard, "Queen Of Sheba" in G. W. Bromiley (Gen. Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1988 (Fully Revised, Illustrated), Volume IV, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company: Grand Rapids (MI), p. 9.

[9] N. Abbott, "Pre-Islamic Arab Queens", American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, 1941, Volume 58, pp. 1-22.

[10] D. A. Hubbard, "Queen Of Sheba" in G. W. Bromiley (Gen. Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1988 (Fully Revised, Illustrated), Volume IV, op. cit., p. 9.

[11] "Sheba, Queen Of", The Jewish Encyclopedia, 1905, Volume XI, op. cit., p. 235; "Sheba" in J. D. Douglas (Organizing Editor), New Bible Dictionary, 1984 (Rep.), Second Edition, op. cit., p. 1098; "Seba, Sabeans" and "Sheba, Queen Of" in P. J. Achtemeier (Gen. Ed.), The HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, 1985, op. cit., p. 991 and p. 1006; "Sheba" in A. C. Myers (Ed.), The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 1987, op. cit., p. 934; W. Daum, "From The Queen Of Sabā' To A Modern State: 3,000 Years Of Civilization In Southern Arabia ", in W. Daum (Ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, Pinguin-Verlag (Innsbruck) and Umschau-Verlag (Frankfurt/Main), pp. 9-10 ; "Sheba" in W. A. Elwell (Gen. Ed.), Encyclopedia Of The Bible, 1988, Volume II, op. cit., p. 1940; D. A. Hubbard, "Queen Of Sheba" in G. W. Bromiley (Gen. Ed.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1988 (Fully Revised, Illustrated), Volume IV, op. cit., p. 9; S. D. Ricks, "Sheba, Queen Of", in D. N. Freedman (Editor-in-Chief), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992, Volume 5, Doubleday: New York, p. 1171.

[12] G. W. van Beek, "The Land Of Sheba" in J. B. Pritchard (Ed.), Solomon & Sheba, 1974, Phaidon Press Limited: London, p. 61.

[13] E. Ullendorff, The Ethiopians: And Introduction To Country And People, 1965, Oxford University Press: London, pp. 47-57.

[14] E. Ullendorff, "The Queen Of Sheba", Bulletin Of The John Rylands Library Manchester, 1963, Volume 45, No. 2, p. 488.

[15] G. W. van Beek, "The Land Of Sheba" in J. B. Pritchard (Ed.), Solomon & Sheba, 1974, op. cit., p. 61.

[16] J. Ryckmans, "South Arabia, Religion Of", in D. N. Freedman (Editor-in-Chief), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992, Volume 6, Doubleday: New York, p. 172; J. Ryckmans, "The Old South Arabian Religion", in W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, op. cit., p. 107.

[17] J. Ryckmans, "The Old South Arabian Religion", in W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, op. cit., p. 107.

[18] ibid.

[19] D. Nielsen, Handbuch Der Altarabischen Altertumskunde, 1927, Volume I (Die Alterarabische Kultur), Nyt Nordisk Forlag: Kopenhagen, pp. 177-250. For the discussion on the triad of moon, sun and the Venus star in Arab pantheon see pp. 213-234.

[20] G. Furlani, "Triadi Semitiche E Trinità Cristiana", Bulletin De L'Institut D'Égypte, 1924, Volume 6, pp. 115-133; É. Dhorme, "La Religion Primtive Des Sémites: A Propos D'un Ouvrage Récent ", Revue De L'Histoire Des Religions, 1944, Volume 128, pp. 5-27; A. Jamme, "Le Panthéon Sud-Arabe Préislamique D'Après Les Sources Épigraphiques", Le Muséon, 1947, Volume 60, pp. 57-147; A. Jamme, "D. Nielsen Et Le Pantheon Sub-Arabe Préislamique", Revue Biblique, 1948, Volume 55, pp. 227-244.

Joseph Henninger has written a series of articles discussing and refuting Nielsen's thesis. See J. Henninger, "Das Opfer In Den Altsüdarabischen Hochkulturen", Anthropos, 1942-1945, Volume 37-40, pp. 802-805; idem., "Über Sternkunde Und Sternkult In Nord- Und Zentralarabien", Zeitschrift Für Ethnologie, 1954, Volume 79, pp. 107-10; idem., "Menschenopfer Bei Den Araben", Anthropos, 1958, Volume 53, p. 743. More recently J. Henninger, "Pre-Islamic Bedouin Religion" in M. L. Swartz (Trans. & Ed.), Studies In Islam, 1981, Oxford University Press: Oxford & New York, pp. 3-22. He describes Neilsen's theories "dubious" and "too speculative" which "met with strong opposition" (p. 4).

[21] J. Ryckmans, "The Old South Arabian Religion", in W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, op. cit., p. 107.

[22] The best example of it can be seen in W. Phillips, Qataban And Sheba: Exploring Ancient Kingdoms On The Biblical Spice Routes Of Arabia, 1955, Victor Gollancz Ltd.: London. This book deals with the story of the expedition to Qataban and Sheba and is eminently readable. Like Nielsen, Wendell Phillips also clubbed the Arab pantheon of gods into a triad. Thus Phillips had lifted the hypothesis of Nielsen without giving any serious critical thought and resorted to conjectures. For example, he says [p. 69]:

The moon was the chief deity of all the early South Arabian kingdoms - particularly fitting in that region where the soft light of the moon brought the rest and cool winds of the night as a relief from the blinding sun and scorching heat of day. In contrast to most of the old religions with which we are familiar, the Moon God is male, while the Sun God is his consort, a female. The third god of importance is their child, the male morning star, which we know as the planet Venus.

A similar claim concerning the South Arabians worshipping a triad is repeated in p. 204:

Like nearly all the Semitic peoples, they worshipped the moon, the sun, and the morning star. The chief god, the moon, was a male deity symbolized by the bull, and we found many carved bull's heads, with drains for the blood of sacrificed animals.

For more unsubstantiated claims of Ilmaqah being the Moon god also see p. 256 and p. 262

[23] A. Jamme, Sabaean Inscriptions From Mahram Bilqīs (ârib), 1962, American Foundation for the Study of Man - Volume 3, The Johns Hopkins Press: Baltimore, pp. 9-23. There are several dedicatory inscriptions - the earliest ones are from the 6th century BCE. For example the inscription Ja 556 says [p. 21]:

... both administrators for Hawbas and Ilumquh, have dedicated to Ilumquh the mass of the enclosing wall from the line of this inscription to the top of the tower and the two recesses. By Ilumquh.

[24] For the preliminary report see F. P. Albright, "The Excavation Of The Temple Of The Moon At ârib", Bulletin Of The American Schools Of Oriental Research, 1952, No. 128, pp. 25-38. A detailed study is in F. P. Albright, "Excavations At Marib In Yemen" in R. L. Bowen, Jr., F. P. Albright (Eds.), Archaeological Discoveries In Southern Arabia, 1958, American Foundation for the Study of Man - Volume 2, The Johns Hopkins Press: Baltimore, pp. 215-235. For the expedition in general see W. Phillips, Qataban And Sheba: Exploring Ancient Kingdoms On The Biblical Spice Routes Of Arabia, 1955, Victor Gollancz Ltd.: London.

[25] For reports on this excavation see W. D. Glanzman, "Digging Deeper: The Results Of The First Season Of Activities Of The AFSM On The Mahram Bilqīs, ârib", Proceedings Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies, 1998, Volume 28, pp. 89-104; W. D. Glanzman, "Clarifying The Record: The Bayt Awwām Revisited", Proceedings Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies, 1999, Volume 29, pp. 73-88; B. J. Moorman, W. D. Glanzman, J-M. Maillol & A. L. Lyttle, "Imaging Beneath The Surface At Mahram Bilqīs", Proceedings Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies, 2001, Volume 31, pp. 179-187.

[26] F. P. Albright, "The Excavation Of The Temple Of The Moon At ârib", Bulletin Of The American Schools Of Oriental Research, 1952, op. cit., p. 26.

[27] ibid., p. 26, note 1.

[28] A. Jamme, Sabaean Inscriptions From Mahram Bilqīs (ârib), 1962, op. cit., p. 22.

[29] ibid., for example see inscriptions Ja 552 (p. 16), Ja 555 (p. 19), Ja 557 (p. 22), Ja 558 (p. 24), Ja 559 (p. 28), Ja 560 (p. 32), etc. See pp. 403-405 for various deities mentioned in the inscriptions at the Mahram Bilqis.

[30] A. Sima, "Religion" in St. J. Simpson (Ed.), Queen Of Sheba: Treasures From Ancient Yemen, 2002, The British Museum Press: London, pp. 162-163.

[31] W. Phillips, Qataban And Sheba: Exploring Ancient Kingdoms On The Biblical Spice Routes Of Arabia, 1955, op. cit., p. 255.

[32] J. Pirenne, "Notes D'Archéologie Sud-Arabe", Syria, 1972, Volume 49, pp. 193-217.

[33] G. Garbini, "Il Dio Sabeo Almaqah", Rivista Degli Studi Orientali, 1973-1974, Volume 48, pp. 15-22.

[34] J. Ryckmans, "South Arabia, Religion Of", in D. N. Freedman (Editor-in-Chief), The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992, Volume 6, op. cit., p. 172; J. Ryckmans, "Le Panthéon De L'Arabie Du Sud Préislamique: Etat Des Problèmes Et Brève Synthèse", Revue De L'Histoire Des Religions, 1989, Volume 206, No. 2, p. 163; For similar comments also see J. Ryckmans, "The Old South Arabian Religion", in W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, op. cit., p. 107. It is strange that Jürgen Schmidt in the same book mentions Almaqah as a Moon god of the triad, sun, moon and Venus! J. Schmidt, "Ancient South Arabian Sacred Buildings", in W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, op. cit., p. 78.

[35] A. F. L. Beeston, "Saba'" in C. E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W. P. Heinrichs & G. Lecomte, The Encyclopaedia Of Islam (New Edition), 1995, Volume VIII, E. J. Brill: Leiden, pp. 664-665.

[36] A. F. L. Beeston, "The Religions Of Pre-Islamic Yemen" in J. Chelhod (Ed.), L'Arabie Du Sud Histoire Et Civilisation (Le Peuple Yemenite Et Ses Racines), 1984, Volume I, Islam D'Hier Et D'Aujourd'Hui: 21, Editions G. -P. Maisonneuve et Larose: Paris, p. 263.

[37] J. F. Breton (Trans. Albert LaFarge), Arabia Felix From The Time Of The Queen Of Sheba, Eighth Century B.C. To First Century A.D., 1998, University of Notre Dame Press: Notre Dame (IN), pp. 119-120.

[38] "Pre-Islamic Deities (From Arabian Religion)", Encyclopaedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite 2004 DVD, © 1994 - 2004 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

[39] "Chaldaeans" in N. de Vore, Encyclopedia Of Astrology, 2005 (Repub.), American Classics Publishing, p. 52.

[40] For example see, I. Shahid, "Pre-Islamic Arabia" in P. M. Holt, A. K. S. Lambtom & B. Lewis (Eds.), The Cambridge History of Islam, 1977, Volume 1A, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (UK), p. 9; A. Allouche, "Arabian Religions" in M. Eliade (Ed.), The Encyclopedia Of Religion, 1987, Volume 1, Macmillan Publishing Company: New York, p. 364; B. Davidson, Africa In History, 1991, Touchstone: New York (USA), p. 45; G. W. van Beek, "Marib" in E. M. Meyers (Editor in Chief), The Oxford Encyclopedia Of Archaeology In The Near East, 1997, Volume 3, Oxford University Press: New York & Oxford, p. 417; R. Pankhurst, The Ethiopians: A History, 1998, Blackwell Publishing Ltd., p. 21; "Ilumquh" in W. Doniger (Consulting Editor), Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia Of World Religions, 1999, Merriam-Webster Inc. (MA), p. 500. Strangely in the same reference Ilumquh is also considered to be a solar deity, see "Arabian Religions" in W. Doniger (consulting editor), Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia Of World Religions, 1999, op cit., p. 70; "Addi Galamo" in I. Shaw & R. Jameson (Eds.), A Dictionary Of Archaeology, 1999, Blackwell Publishers Ltd., p. 6; P. B. Henze, Layers Of Time: A History Of Ethiopia, 2000, C. Hurst & Co. (Publishers) Ltd,. London, p. 28; G. Connah, African Civilizations: An Archaeological Perspective, 2001, Second Edition, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge (UK), p. 77; "Almaqah" and "Ilmaqah" in E. Sykes (Revised by A. Kendall), Who's Who In Non-Classical Mythology, 2002, Routledge: London, p. 8 and p. 94, respectively; P. Garlake, Early Art And Architecture Of Africa, 2002, Oxford History Of Art Series, Oxford University Press: Oxford (UK), p. 75; H. G. Marcus, A History of Ethiopia, 2002, Updated Edition, University of California Press: Berkeley (CA), p. 5; A. Rippin, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs And Practices, 2003, Second Edition, Routledge: London, p. 10; P. K. Hitti (Revised by Walid Khalidi), History Of The Arabs, 2002, Revised Tenth Edition, Palgrave MacMillan: Hampshire (UK) & New York, p. 60.

[41] A. Jamme, Sabaean Inscriptions From Mahram Bilqīs (ârib), 1962, op. cit., p. 389. The inscriptions Ja 552, Ja 553, Ja 554, Ja 555 and Ja 557 are from the 6th century BCE.

[42] A. Jamme, "An Archaic South-Arabian Inscription In Vertical Columns", Bulletin Of The American Schools Of Oriental Research, 1955, No. 137, p. 38.

[43] F. P. Albright, "Excavations At Marib In Yemen" in R. L. Bowen, Jr., F. P. Albright (Eds.), Archaeological Discoveries In Southern Arabia, 1958, op. cit., p. 222.

[44] W. D. Glanzman, "Clarifying The Record: The Bayt Awwām Revisited", Proceedings Of The Seminar For Arabian Studies, 1999, Volume 29, op. cit., p. 82.

[45] G. W. van Beek, "The Land Of Sheba" in J. B. Pritchard (Ed.), Solomon & Sheba, 1974, op. cit., pp. 61-62.

[46] ibid., p. 61.

[47] M. F. Brooks, Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings) The First And Only Modern English Translation, 1995, Red Sea Press, Inc.: Lawrenceville (NJ) and Asmara (Eritrea), p. xx.

[48] E. Ullendorff, Ethiopia And The Bible, 1968, Oxford University Press, pp. 74-79.

[49] I. Shahid, "The Kebra Nagast In The Light Of Recent Research", Le Muséon, 1976, Volume 89, pp. 133-178.

[50] D. W. Johnson, S.J., "Dating The Kebra Nagast: Another Look" in T. S. Miller & J. Nesbitt, Peace And War In Byzantium: Essays In Honor Of George T. Dennis, S.J., 1995, The Catholic University of America Press: Washington D.C., pp. 197-208; Also see B. L. Fargher, The Origins Of The New Churches Movement In Southern Ethiopia, 1927-1944, 1996, E. J. Brill: Leiden, p. 9.

On the other hand, Hastings dismisses the Kebra Nagast as a "supreme myth of Ethiopia's Solomonic origins". See A. Hastings, The Church In Africa 1450-1950, 1996, Clarendon Press: Oxford, p. 10.

[51] D. W. Johnson, S.J., "Dating The Kebra Nagast: Another Look" in T. S. Miller & J. Nesbitt, Peace And War In Byzantium: Essays In Honor Of George T. Dennis, S.J., 1995, op. cit., pp. 206-207. Citing the unpublished thesis of David Hubbard, Johnson says:

The core narrative about the Queen of Sheba draws virtually nothing from either rabbanic Jewish or Islamic sources... Unlike the other works what Martinez discusses, the Kebra Nagast knows nothing of Muslims.

On the other hand Patrick Taylor claims that the Kebra Nagast is based on "a number of early works of Jewish, Christian and Muslim expression that were compiled and modified after the restoration of the Solomonic dynasty in Ethiopia in 1270 CE". See P. Taylor, "Sheba's Song: The Bible, The Kebra Nagast And The Rastafari" in P. Taylor (Ed.), Nation Dance: Religion, Identity, and Cultural Difference in the Caribbean, 2001, Indiana University Press: Bloomington (IN), p. 67. Although, Taylor cites M. F. Brooks' Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings) The First And Only Modern English Translation [1995, Red Sea Press, Inc.: Lawrenceville (NJ) and Asmara (Eritrea), p. xxv] as a source of his information, there is no mention of the Kebra Nagast being based on "a number of early works of Jewish, Christian and Muslim expression" in Brooks' book!

[52] Sir E. A. W. Budge, The Queen Of Sheba & Her Only Son Menyelek: Being The History Of The Departure Of God & His Ark Of The Covenant From Jerusalem To Ethiopia, And The Establishment Of The Religion Of The Hebrews & The Solomonic Line Of Kings In That Country. A Complete Translation Of The Kebra Nagast With Introduction, 1922, Martin Hopkinson: London, Chapter 27, p. 28.

M S M Saifullah & `Abdullah David

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