If you're like me, you've probably read a story in the Bible and not given it much thought. I've read 1 Kings 10 and never wondered how she came to be queen in a male dominated world. I never gave it much thought as to how she heard about Solomon and his wisdom or what her visit was like.
Lee has done an incredible amount of research an has crafted a thought provoking fictional account of the queen's visit. She gives us a plausible story as to how she became queen with her mother dying and her father remarrying. The cruel step-mother has her exiled to Punt. When the king finally dies, those loyal to the kingdom come to her to make her queen.
She wants to excel as queen and refuses marriage. Men from her kingdom who trade, taking spices to the north, tell her of the new kingdom there and the king. She is amazed at the influence and power of such an upstart king of an infant kingdom.
She is stunned when she hears that Solomon is building a port city at Ezion-geber. “Solomon, the Israelite king, meant to neutralize Saba's trade and render our caravans obsolete.” (126) Who was he to presume to challenge the queen of a land as old as time itself? Her counselors advise war but she wants to send an emissary to negotiate with the king. With the very future of her nation threatened, she decides to go herself.
As I have found with Lee's previous books, she is meticulous in her portrayal of the ancient world. She describes well the caravan and the journey north that takes months. Lee has also written a very thought provoking lengthy interchange between Solomon and the queen. It was thought provoking for me because I hadn't given much thought to Solomon's spiritual state at this time in his life. Lee explores the many wives Solomon had and what that meant.
Lee has combined the biblical account, extra-biblical accounts, and legend into a very readable and enlightening novel. She provides a plausible reason for the legend that the ark of the covenant ended up in Ethiopia. She adds drama to the fact that Solomon knew his kingdom would be divided.
I am again impressed with Lee and her ability to craft excellent historical fiction. I highly recommend this book. It brings to life a portion of Scripture I have too often quickly read through without thinking.
Tosca Lee is the award winning New York Times bestselling author of several novels including some written with Ted Dekker. Find out more at www.ToscaLee.com.
Howard Books, 330 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.