In II Chronicles 9, the Queen of Sheba visits King Solomon of Israel and tests his wisdom by asking him difficult questions.
The Intervarsity Press Bible Background Commentary argues that there was probably an economic or a political motive to her visit: Solomon’s trading center at Ezion-Geber was posing a competitive threat to Sheba’s camel caravans, and the Queen figured that she should attempt to establish a friendly relationship with the King of Israel. And yet, I Kings, II Chronicles, and even Jesus Christ himself (Luke 11:31) maintain that she visited Solomon out of curiosity about his wisdom. Maybe she visited for both reasons. Solomon’s broadening sphere of influence put him on her radar, and she was curious about what kind of person was accomplishing all this.
The IVP Bible Background Commentary also addresses the issue of powerful queens in the ancient Near East. It states that Assyrians in the first half of the first millennium had dealings with powerful queens in Arabia.
II Chronicles 9:8b caught my attention. The Queen of Sheba says: “because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice” (NRSV). God loved Israel and intended to establish her forever. How exactly would that relate to Solomon’s temporary reign? What would Solomon’s temporary reign have to do with a promise concerning Israel’s eternity? Perhaps the Queen is suggesting that God’s very love for Israel that motivates God to establish Israel forever is the same love that inspires God to give Israel a good and just king, Solomon.