The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Third Book of Kings
And now Solomon was visited by the queen of Saba. She had heard by report of the wisdom with which the Lord’s favour had endowed him, and came to make trial of his powers with knotty questions.
Magnificent was the retinue with which she entered Jerusalem; spices and abundant gold and precious stones were the lading of her camels. And when she met king Solomon, she told him all the thoughts that exercised her mind;
every doubt he resolved, no question of hers but found an answer.
And when she saw how wise a man he was, saw, too, the house he had built,
the food that was on his table, the lodging of his servants, the order and splendour of his court, how the wine went round, and what burnt-sacrifice he offered in the Lord’s temple,✻ she stood breathless in wonder.
And she said to the king, It was no false tale I heard in my own country,
of all thou doest and of all the wisdom that is thine. I could not believe what they told me, without coming and seeing it for myself; and now I find that half of it was lost in the telling; here is greater wisdom, greater prosperity than all the tales that reached me.
Happy thy folk, happy these servants of thine who wait ever upon thy presence and listen to thy wise words.
Blessed be the Lord thy God, who, in his eternal love for Israel, has brought thee, his favourite, to the throne, given thee a king’s power to do justice and to make award!
A hundred and twenty talents’ weight of gold she gave to king Solomon, with many spices and precious stones; never did such abundance of spices come to Israel as those which the queen of Saba gave.
(Though indeed Hiram’s fleet, when it brought back the gold from Ophir, brought rich store of sandal-wood, as well as precious stones;
and of this sandal-wood king Solomon made pedestals for temple and palace, harp and zither for his musicians; finer sandal-wood never reached us, no, nor was ever seen.)
Solomon, in his turn, gave the queen of Saba all she desired and asked for; gave her much, too, unasked, in the royal munificence that was his. And so she went back to her own country, with all her retinue.
The weight of gold that reached Solomon every year was six hundred and sixty-six talents,
not counting what was brought him by his revenue officers, merchants and pedlars, from the kings of Arabia, and from his own commissioners.
Two hundred shields king Solomon made of the purest gold, allowing six hundred sicles of gold to the plating of each;
three hundred bucklers, too, of assayed gold, with three (hundred) minas of gold to cover each;✻ and all these the king put in the building that was called the Forest of Lebanon.
He also made a great throne of ivory, and lined it with gold unalloyed;
six steps led up to it, and at the back the upper part of it was rounded. The seat itself had two supporters, with a lion standing by each,
and on each step there was a lion at either side; no other kingdom could shew such workmanship.
Of gold were all the goblets from which king Solomon drank, of purest gold all the furniture in the building called the Forest of Lebanon; no silver was used, for indeed in King Solomon’s day silver was little thought of.
And every three years the king’s fleet and Hiram’s would sail to Tharsis, whence they came back laden with gold and silver; with ivory, too, and apes, and peacocks for their freight.
So, both in riches and in wisdom, Solomon outvied all the kings of the world;
and from every part of the world men craved his audience, to make proof for themselves of the wisdom God had put in his heart.
And all these brought him gifts, so that gold and silver ware, presents of clothes and of armour, spices too, and horses and mules, came in year by year.
Of chariots and horsemen king Solomon mustered a great force, fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen; of these, some were in the fortified towns, and some at the king’s side in Jerusalem.
Silver he made as common in Jerusalem as stone, and cedars plentiful as the sycamores that grow in the plains.
And horses were brought to Solomon from Egypt and from Coa,✻ where his agents bought them and sent them to him for a fixed sum.
Six hundred pieces of silver was the cost of a chariot brought from Egypt, and fifty of a horse; the kings of the Hethites and of Syria, too, sold him horses at the same price.
The Holy Bible