The Queen Of Sheba And Sun Worship

M S M Saifullah & ʿAbdullah David

© Islamic Awareness, All Rights Reserved.

First Composed: 24th March 2006

Last Updated: 10th March 2008

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Assalamu-ʿalaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

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 the Christian missionaries "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.

Recently, another missionary came up with a similar claim which he made by assembling bits and pieces of material off the internet which he subsequently labelled as "archaeological evidence". It is surprising that the above two articles, which claim to represent "archaeology" do not provide any scholarly 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. It is generally agreed that Solomon started ruling c. 970 BCE due to synchronisms with Egyptian and Assyrian historical records.[1] Using the archaeological data, biblical chronologists have placed the reign of Solomon quite precisely at c. 970-930 BCE.[2] Similar dating is also mentioned in The Jewish Encyclopedia,[3] The Anchor Bible Dictionary,[4] Encyclopedia Of The Bible,[5] The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary,[6] New Bible Dictionary[7] among others.[8] This makes the Queen of Sheba's reign also in the 10th century BCE.

LOCATION OF THE KINGDOM OF SHEBA

Sheba has been variously located. Some places that are usually mentioned in this connection are northern Arabia and Wadi al-Sheba in the north-east of Madinah.[9] These areas were home to a number of queens mentioned in Assyrian inscriptions as early as the 8th century BCE.[10]

Figure 1: Location of Kingdom of Sheba in Southern Arabia and perhaps also in parts of Ethiopia.[11]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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 Geʿez.[14] Furthermore, the connections between the two shores of the southern Red Sea have at all times been close.[15]

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

Contrary to the claims of the Christian missionaries 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.[16] 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 ʿAthtar, the Venus.[17] 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 ḥaram, and therefore subject to restriction. The divine shrine was encircled with a sacred perimeter (maḥram), access to which was subjected to the conditions of ritual purity.[18] 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.[19]

It was claimed by the Christian missionaries that the "archaeological" evidence from Marib suggests that the Moon-god was the predominant deity during time of the Queen of Sheba. Furthermore,their support for the claim that Ilmaqah was a Moon-god comes from their statement that "since this god was the national god and everyone knew that he was the moon god". In other words, there is no need for any evidence. The case is rested on the fallacy of argumentum ad populum (appeal to popularity) as well as argumentum e silentio (arguing from silence). If there exists no inscriptional evidence which says that Ilmaqah was a Moon-god, as the missionaries concede, then from where did this claim originate? Instead of addressing this important question, the missionaries appealed to the popularity of the view that Ilmaqah was a Moon-god. Not surprisingly, we now turn our attention to the internet, in particular the internet version of the newspaper Yemen Times, and a website of the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM), and its alleged association of masculinity to the Moon-god in the Semitic religion and attribution of curved shapes (ibexes' horns, crescent, etc.) to lunar symbolism; the last three of which forms what the missionaries label as "archaeological evidence". This is the sum "evidence" which the missionaries managed to muster whilst proclaiming that "historical facts should be properly studied and analyzed without stacking the evidence in order to fit what one believes". Their brief article has neither demonstrated "historical facts" which were "properly studied and analyzed" nor have they shown any inclination to do so except to pick bits and bobs off the internet to make uninformed allegations. Clearly, their rhetoric falls short of their own expectations.

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE

The key to the shaping of the South Arabian religion in modern consciousness comes from the association of masculinity with the Moon-god in Semitic religion. The missionaries are clearly unfamiliar as to how this viewpoint originated and what its implications are. They claim concerning Ilmaqah that "everyone knew he was a moon god". This is strange because all the information about Sheba was lost over centuries and it was rediscovered only in the middle of the 19th century during the expedition of the French pharmacist, Th. Joseph Arnaud.[20] He arrived in Ṣanʿāʾ in July 1843 and visited the ancient monuments of Marib, notably the dam, the temple of Ilmaqah and the ruins of Ṣirwāḥ. He managed to copy a total of 56 inscriptions. Thereafter, the archaeological expeditions of Sheba led by Joseph Halévy (1827-1917), organized by Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres of Paris, discovered numerous sites and copied 686 inscriptions. This marked the true beginning of South Arabian studies. The third explorer, Eduard Glaser (1855-1908), an Austrian, played an important role in advancing Sabaean studies. He made four expeditions to Yemen between 1882 and 1894 during the Ottoman occupation of the country. He produced some extraordinary results. The first archaeological excavation to Yemen took place in 1927-8 when the explorer Carl Rathjens and geographer Hermann von Wissmann uncovered the small temple at al-Huqqa, 23 km north-north-west of Ṣanʿāʾ. The second archaeological excavation was conducted in 1937-8 by the British archaeologist Gertrude Caton-Thompson at the Sayīn (SYN) temple at Hureida, in association with geologist Einor Gardner and the explorer Freya Stark. There were no more expeditions until 1951 when the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM), led by its director and founder Wendell Phillips, excavated the peristyle hall of the Maḥram Bilqis but was cut short due to insecurity. Other archaeological excavations also took place which improved the understanding of South Arabian culture and religion. Our knowledge of Sheba and its patron god Ilmaqah comes from these archaeological expeditions and excavations conducted in the last 150 years. Clearly, "everyone" could not have known that Ilmaqah was "a moon god", when there exists no evidence, whether inscriptional or literary, in order to prove it.

As for the claim Ilmaqah allegedly being a Moon-god, it does not appear in the scholarly literature until the beginning of 20th century. Let us briefly discuss the nature of the Semitic religion as hypothesized by Ditlef Nielsen around 100 years ago, whose triadic hypothesis of Father-Moon, Mother-Sun and Son-Venus, although rejected by modern scholarship, still holds popular appeal.

Nielsen's thesis can be summarized like this.[21] The old Arabian religion was the mother of the other Semitic religions and it was composed of the astral triad of Sun-Moon-Venus. This triad corresponded to Father-god, Mother-goddess and divine Son, respectively. Nomads worshipped the star Venus, but when they became agriculturalists they revered the Sun and paid less attention to the star and the Moon. The astral nature of old Arabia contrasted with that of Babylonia. Arabia, with its nomad night-journeys, chooses the Moon, while the peasant life of Babylonia choose the Sun. Next, a sacred Moon leads to sacred phases with corresponding ritual seasons. Hence a lunar reckoning of time developed in Arabia and a solar reckoning in Babylonia. After the sacred times and seasons being provisionally settled, next comes the turn of places and symbols. Anything curved or associated with a curved shaped was consigned to lunar symbolism, as it imitates the shape of a crescent Moon. Thus bulls, bullheads and ibexes showing the curved horns became the symbols of the Moon-god. Among the southern Semites, Sun is feminine and Venus is masculine, as is Moon and this formed the trinity of Father-Moon, Mother-Sun and Son-Venus. This is the gist of Nielsen's thesis on the origin of the Semitic religion.

To begin with, Nielsen's very claim that the starting point of the religion of Semitic nomads was marked by the astral triad of Sun-Moon-Venus, the moon being more important for the nomads and the sun more important for settled tribes, was startling to many scholars. He painted almost the entire religion of the Middle East with the same brush of astral triads. The knowledge about the South Arabian pantheon and, in general, the Semitic religion was still in its infancy during Nielsen's time. Giving a chronological view of Arabian epigraphy and connecting it to the study of the religion of Semitic people, Henninger says:

Towards the end of the nineteenth century and on into the twentieth, South-Arabic and proto-Arabic epigraphy (entirely absent from the work of Wellhausen) was taken more and more into consideration. Although not particularly relevant to the study of the nomadic peoples, D. Nielsen from 1904 onwards made use of epigraphic evidence as a basis for reconstructing an astral religion common to proto-Semitic peoples and thus also attributable to Arab Bedouin. This much too speculative theory met with strong opposition....

Credit must be given to G. Ryckmans for producing an important survey in his monograph, Les Religions arabes préIslamiques, first published in 1947. He made extensive use of the expanding corpus of epigraphic material while carefully avoiding Nielsen's dubious theories....[22]

While discussing Stephen Langdon's Semitic mythology[23] which resembles Nielsen's thesis, Barton says:

It is assumed, both in the treatment of Semitic and Sumerian deities, that the earliest gods were celestial - sun, moon, sky, and astral gods - an assumption, which, though followed by some recent writers such as Ditlef Nielsen, is contrary to the conclusions of sound anthropology, and was discarded for the Semitic field by W. Robertson Smith nearly half a century ago.[24]

J. Gray discussed the studies of Maria Höfner on ancient south Arabian religion. He pointed out that the increased availability of epigraphic material has resulted in correction of the theories of Ditlef Nielsen as well as their refutation.

Aided by philology and by the analysis of the epigraphic symbols of the gods, she succeeds in showing that the pantheon was relatively simple and restricted, and was dominated by the first three gods above-mentioned, which were worshipped under a great number of epithets, functional and local. She is able also to correct certain former theories, such as that of Ditlef Nielson, who argued for a family relationship between Almaqa, Šams and Attar as moon, sun and Venus in the relationship of father, mother and son (Handbuch der altarabischen Altertumskunde, I, 1927). The author not only explodes this theory of a trinity, but demonstrates that the gods, though believed to be manifest in the moon, sun and Venus star, were agrarian deities, Attar being principally influential in irrigation, Almaqa in seasonal rain and Šams playing a relatively minor role. Attar was besides a war-god and protector.[25]

It is not surprising that W. Montgomery Watt pointed out:

The divergent theories of Dietlef Nielsen are not generally accepted. These recount what is known about a large number of gods and goddesses and about the ceremonies connected with their worship. As our knowledge is fragmentary and, apart from inscriptions, comes from Islamic sources, there is ample scope for conjecture. These matters are not dealt with here in any detail as it is generally agreed that the archaic pagan religion was comparatively uninfluential in Muhammad's time.[26]

In fact over sixty years ago William F. Albright issued a general warning regarding Nielsen's study of the South Arabian pantheon. Although Albright noted Neilsen's contribution to the study of South Arabian pantheons, he concluded that he had "gone much too far in trying to carry it through Near-Eastern polytheism in general."[27] Albright also pointed out Nielsen's strong tendency to over-schematize the material and hence the latter's work should be used with great caution.

The subject of divine triads in the ancient Near East, particularly Arabia and Syria, has been discussed repeatedly by D. Nielsen, especially in his books Die altarabische Mondreligion (1904), Der dreieinige Gott in religionshistorischer Beleuchtung (1922) and in his paper "Die altsemitische Muttergöttin", Zeits. Deutsch. Morg. Ges., 1938, pp. 526-551. Owing to Nielsen's strong tendency to over-schematize and to certain onesidedness in dealing with the material, his work has been only moderately successful and must be used with great caution.[28]

In other words, the reduction of the pantheon of South Arabian gods to a triad by Nielsen was not based on actual evidence but mere speculation which made his theories dubious which consequently invited incisive rejoinders from 1924 onwards, which the missionaries did not take the opportunity to check.[29] Moreover, it has been pointed out by Beeston that in order to understand the religion and culture of ancient Southern Arabia, 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 Southern Arabian region; certainly not among the nomadic bedouin of the centre and north of the Arabian peninsula. Clearly, Nielsen failed to take into account these crucial principles and it led him to construct an extravagant hypothesis that all ancient Arabian religion was a primitive religion of nomads, whose objects of worship were exclusively a triad of the Father-Moon, Mother-Sun and the Son-Venus star envisaged as their child.[30] It is from here the claim that Ilmaqah, the patron god of Sheba, was allegedly a Moon-god originated and popularized even though this view had no sound archaeological basis. 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.[31]

Nielsen's views also influenced the archaeologists who excavated the Maḥram Bilqis (also known as the Temple Awwam) near Marib [Figure 2(a)].[32] Maḥram Bilqis, an oval-shaped temple [Figure 2(b)], was dedicated to Ilmaqah, the chief god of Sheba.[33] This temple was excavated by the American Foundation for the Study of Man (AFSM) in 1951-52[34] and again more recently in 1998.[35] According to the archaeologist Frank Albright, the Temple Awwam (i.e., Maḥram Bilqis) was "dedicated to the moon god Ilumquh, as the large inscription of the temple itself tells us".[36] Albright cited the inscription MaMB 12 (= Ja 557) to support his claim that Temple Awwam was "dedicated to the moon god Ilumquh".[37] 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 Mārib, Š[...[38]

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 ʿAthtar", "by Ilumquh", "by Shams", "by Hawbas", "by Dhāt Himyān", "by Dhāt Baʿdān", "by Dhāt Baʿdānum", "by Dhāt Zahrān", etc. occur quite frequently in the inscriptions from Mahram Bilqis.[39] 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".[40]

(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.[41]

The nature of the Sabaean chief deity Ilmaqah was studied in considerable detail by J. Pirenne[42] and G. Garbini[43] 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.[44]

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.[45]

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.[46]

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.[47]

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.[48]

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.[49]

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.[50] The Christian missionaries attempt to pass the internet version of the newspaper Yemeni Times as sufficient "evidence" to show that Ilmaqah was a Moon god is a good example of how undiscerning a popular media outlet can be along with those that propagate their views. Furthermore, equating the views of the 'Yemenites' with the views expressed by a newspaper that was originally founded in 1990 is a leap in judgement that nobody quite understands, but can quite confidently say is as illogical as the rest of the author's musings.

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 Maḥram Bilqis? According to Jamme, the earliest inscriptional evidence from the Maḥram Bilqis goes back to the 6th century BCE.[51] He points to the fact that the Maḥram 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.[52] According to Frank Albright, the oval wall of the Maḥram Bilqis points to a construction about the middle of the 7th century BCE. Like Jamme, he considers the Maḥram Bilqis must be older than the oval wall itself.[53] 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.[54] Gus W. van Beek says that although the oldest part of the Maḥram Bilqis "goes back to the seventh century BC, but its substructure may incorporate remains from still earlier centuries."[55] He also adds that the pantheon of Ilmaqah, Shams and ʿAthtar 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."[56]

Let us turn to another piece of so-called archaeological evidence propagated by the Christian missionaries, namely symbolism, i.e., anything curved or associated with a curved shaped was consigned to lunar symbolism, as it imitates the shape of a crescent Moon. This again is in line with Nielsen's hypothesis. The missionaries turn to documentary filmmaker and amateur archaeologist Nicholas Clapp's conversation with a person called Mana; the latter saw the "Moon" in the curved wall of the temple of Ilmaqah as well as in the animal ibexes' curved horns.[57] Similarly, the presence of a disk and crescent placed on the top of monuments as well as Aksumite coins[58] were used to justify the lunar characteristics of Ilmaqah. If a religious symbol is taken as an evidence of its worship, then Christianity could be described as a pagan religion of idolatrous cross-worshippers. Avanzini has done extensive studies on the iconography of ibexes in early South Arabian art and he makes no mention of ibexes association with the Moon.[59] Rather he points to the fact that ibexes perform an important decorative function and its iconography is associated with both gods and goddesses of ancient South Arabia.[60] Let us list some examples:

As for the symbol of disc and crescent on monuments, coins and other objects, it has been mentioned for both gods and goddess. Following are some of the examples.

It should now become clear that the presence of a disc and crescent or ibexes does not warrant drawing hasty conclusions that such an object only denotes a masculine Moon-god.

What are we to make of the Encyclopaedia Britannica under the entry "Ilumquh" saying that this patron deity of Sheba was a Moon-god?[68] It was discussed earlier that such an assignment was based on Nielsen's hypothesis that the old Arabian religion was composed of the astral triad of Moon-Father, Sun-Mother and Venus-Child, with the Moon-god being the chief deity. However, this hypothesis was refuted and consequently discarded although it still continues to exert negative influence, in both scholarly as well as popular literature. However, under the entry "Pre-Islamic Deities (From Arabian Religion)" the Encyclopaedia Britannica says that Ilmaqah was a Sun-god[69] which is in line with modern scholarly research. Such contradictory statements in the literature are not unusual. For example, in Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia Of World Religions, under the entry "Ilumquh", the deity is considered lunar.[70] However, under "Arabian Religions", Ilmaqah is considered as a solar deity.[71] Similarly, Ryckmans in his article "The Old South Arabian Religion" in Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix says that Ilmaqah was a solar deity.[72] In the same book, Jürgen Schmidt in his article "Ancient South Arabian Sacred Buildings" says that Ilmaqah was a Moon-god.[73] Had the missionaries taken the opportunity to study the scholarly literature that dwells into the origins of the fictitious assignment of lunar characteristics to Ilmaqah they could potentially have avoided their own pitfall of "stacking the evidence in order to fit".

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.[74] While the final redaction of the Kebra Nagast is dated to the first half of the 14th century CE,[75] much of the material dates from the 6th century CE. Irfan Shahid[76] and David Johnson[77] have presented cogent arguments pointing to a Coptic original written in the 6th century CE; this has recently been strongly disputed by Munro-Hay who believes very little of the material could possibly date as early as the 6th – 7th century CE, except very basic information contained in chapters 116-117.[78] 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.[79]

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. Quoting E. A. Wallis Budge, the missionaries claim that the text of Kebra Nagast "was influenced by Muslims".

In the succeeding centuries, probably as a result of the widespread conquests of MUHAMMAD and his KHALIFAHS, the Coptic text was in whole or part translated into Arabic, and during the process of translation many additions were made to it, chiefly from Arabic sources. Last of all this Arabic version was translated into Ethiopic, and proper names underwent curious transformations in the process.

However, quoting the complete passages provides us with a proper context in which one can interpret Budge's statement accurately. In context, Budge says:

... it seems to me that we shall not be far wrong if we assign the composition of the earliest form of the KEBRA NAGAST to the sixth century A.D. Its compiler was probably a Coptic priest, for the books he used were writings that were accepted by the Coptic Church. Whether he lived in Egypt, or in Aksum, or in some other part of Ethiopia matters little, but the colophons of the extant Ethiopic MSS. of the KEBRA NAGAST suggest that he wrote in Coptic.

In the succeeding centuries, probably as a result of the widespread conquests of Muhammad and his Khalifahs, the Coptic text was in whole or part translated into Arabic, and during the process of translation many additions were made to it, chiefly from Arabic sources. Last of all this Arabic version was translated into Ethiopic, and proper names underwent curious transformations in the process. According to the colophons of the MSS. in the British Museum, Oxford, and Paris, the Arabic translation was made from the Coptic in the 409th "year of mercy," when Gabra Maskal, commonly known as Lâlîbalâ, was reigning over Ethiopia, i.e. between A.D. 1314 and 1344. And the same authorities say that the Ethiopic translation was made subsequently by one Isaac, of whom nothing is known save that he was an enthusiastic Christian visionary and patriot.[80]

If the passages are read carefully, Budge says it was as a result of the conquests that the Coptic text was translated into Arabic - that was the context surrounding its translation. The additions and changes coming from the Arabic sources were made by Christian authors which Budge names, not Muslim ones. Had the missionaries carefully read Budge's introduction such a foolhardy statement may have been avoided. Are we to believe that Christians changed the Queen of Sheba's worship from the Moon to the Sun in order to protect the Qur'an from error! Concerning the influence of Islamic sources on Kebra Nagast, 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.[81]

Hubbard's dissertation supervised by Ullendorff was the first[82] and to our knowledge, only systematic study of the literary sources of the Kebra Nagast. Summarising his conclusions regarding the sections that deal with Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Hubbard states "The basic source of the Sheba story, as found in the KN, is the Bible."[83] Indeed this is the conclusion reached by Hubbard concerning the whole of the Kebra Nagast.[84] Specifically, with regard to the Qur'an and the Queen of Sheba, Hubbard says,

The KN seems to have felt little of the impact of the Jewish and Islamic legends. ... the KN agrees with Targum Sheni and the Qur’an in saying that the Queen's former religion was sun worship. It is difficult to determine whether this is a literary dependence or merely an accurate reflection of Ethiopia’s pre-Christian religion.[85]

Elsewhere he says,

A frequent appellation of God or Christ in the KN is "Sun of Righteousness." The source of this phrase is undoubtedly Mal. 3:20 (4:2 EOT), which is its sole occurrence in either Testament. The popularity of this term in the KN may well be caused indirectly by the fact that in pre-Christian days the sun was extensively worshipped in Ethiopia. The KN (20,a,24) itself testifies to the prominence of solar-worship in the early history of the Ethiopians. Here the Queen of Sheba explains to Solomon how the worship of the sun as king of gods was passed down from generation to generation.[86]

The astonishing claim ascribed to Budge by the missionaries that "the text [Kebra Nagast] was influenced by Muslims" can probably be attributed to a failure in English comprehension. As we have observed Muslims did not take any part in composing this text, neither did they surreptitiously modify sections of it to comport with their beliefs, nor did they conspire to do so. One need only peruse the scholarly literature to come to the realisation that Jewish and/or Christian texts and beliefs have left their mark on almost every page of this document.

4. Conclusions

Based on a variety of internet webpage's of questionable usefulness, it was claimed by the Christian missionaries 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. In this paper we examined the claims of the Christian missionaries 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 the reduction of 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 the Christian missionaries 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 Sun worship in this region. It was also mentioned that the Moon-god from Marib was the "very source of the crescent of Islam." The implications of this are enormous for the ridiculous propaganda resolutely propagated by the Christian missionaries and apologists that Allah was the Moon-god.

And Allah knows best!

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References & Notes

[1] K. A. Kitchen, "How We Know When Solomon Ruled", Biblical Archaeological Review, 2001, Volume 27 (September/October), No. 5, pp. 32-37 and p. 58.

[2] 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.

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

[4] 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.

[5] 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.

[6] "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.

[7] "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.

[8] 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.

[9] 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.

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

[11] 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.

[12] "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.

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

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

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

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

[17] 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.

[18] 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.

[19] ibid.

[20] A good overview of the history of rediscovery of Sheba along with various expeditions and excavations is provided by Christian Robin. See C. Robin, "Saba’ And The Sabaeans" in St. J. Simpson (Ed.), Queen Of Sheba: Treasures From Ancient Yemen, 2002, The British Museum Press: London, pp. 51-54.

[21] The core of Ditlef Nielsen's thesis can be seen in his two books, viz., Die Altarabische Mondreligion Und Die Mosaische Ueberlieferung, 1904, K. J. Trübner: Strassburg; idem., Der Dreieinige Gott In Religionshistorischer Beleuchtung, 1922, Unterbibliothekar an der Universitatsbibliothek: København; Also see idem., "Zur Altarabischen Religion" in F. Hommel, N. Rhodokanakis, D. Nielsen (Eds.), Handbuch Der Altarabischen Altertumskunde, 1927, Volume I (Die Altarabische Kultur), Nyt Nordisk Forlag: Kopenhagen, pp. 177-250 for old Arabian religion.

[22] J. Henninger, "Pre-Islamic Bedouin Religion" in M. L. Swartz (Trans. & Ed.), Studies In Islam, 1981, op. cit., p. 4.

[23] S. H. Langdon, The Mythology Of All Races, 1931, Volume 5 - Semitic, Marshall Jones Company: Boston.

[24] G. A. Barton, "Langdon's Semitic Mythology", Jewish Quarterly Review (New Series), 1933, Volume 24, No. 1, p. 82.

[25] J. Gray, "Review Of Die Religionen Altsyriens, Altarabiens und der Mandäer", Journal Of Semitic Studies, 1973, Volume 18, pp. 148-149.

[26] W. M. Watt, Muhammad At Mecca, 1953, Clarendon Press: Oxford, p. 23.

[27] W. F. Albright, From The Stone Age To Christianity: Monotheism And The Historical Process, 1940, The Johns Hopkins Press: Baltimore, p. 187.

[28] ibid., p. 321, note 44.

[29] 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, op. cit., pp. 3-22

[30] 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, pp. 259-260.

[31] 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.

[32] 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

[33] A. Jamme, Sabaean Inscriptions From Mahram Bilqīs (Mārib), 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.

[34] For the preliminary report see F. P. Albright, "The Excavation Of The Temple Of The Moon At Mārib", 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.

[35] 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, Mārib", 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.

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

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

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

[39] 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.

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

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

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

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

[44] 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.

[45] 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.

[46] 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.

[47] 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.

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

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

[50] 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; K. A. Kitchen, Documentation For Ancient Arabia: Part II Bibliographical Catalogue Of Texts, 2000, The World Of Ancient Arabia Series, Liverpool University Press, p. 40; "Ilumquh" in M. A. Stevens (Ed.), Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia, 2000, Merriam-Webster Incorporated & Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc., p. 795; W. Ball, Rome In The East: The Transformation Of An Empire, 2000, Routledge: London, p. 380; "Almaqah" in M. Lurker (Ed.), The Routledge Dictionary Of Gods And Goddesses, Devils And Demons, 1987, Routledge And Kegan Paul, p. 9; 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.

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

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

[53] 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.

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

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

[56] ibid., p. 61.

[57] N. Clapp, Sheba: Through The Desert In Search Of The Legendary Queen, 2001, Houghton Mifflin Company: New York, p. 264.

[58] For a sample of Aksumite coins see J-F. Breton & S. C. H. Munro-Hay, "New Himyaritic coins from Aksum (Ethiopia)", Arabian Archaeology And Epigraphy, 2002, Volume 13, pp. 255-258.

[59] A. Avanzini, "Some Thoughts On Ibex On Plinths In Early South Arabian Art", Arabian Archaeology And Epigraphy, 2005, Volume 16, pp. 144-153.

[60] ibid., p. 155 especially the conclusions.

[61] ibid., p. 149.

[62] "Cult Furnishings" in St. J. Simpson (Ed.), Queen Of Sheba: Treasures From Ancient Yemen, 2002, op. cit., p. 166, No. 206.

[63] W. M. Müller, "Outline Of The History Of Ancient Southern Arabia", in W. Daum (ed.), Yemen: 3000 Years Of Art And Civilization In Arabia Felix, 1987?, op. cit., p. 50.

[64] J. Hassell, "Cuboid Incense-Burning Altars From South Arabia In The Collection Of The American Foundation For The Study Of Man: Some Unpublished Aspects", Arabian Archaeology And Epigraphy, 2002, Volume 13, pp. 163-164.

[65] A. Sima, "Religion" in St. J. Simpson (Ed.), Queen Of Sheba: Treasures From Ancient Yemen, 2002, op. cit., p. 163.

[66] "Cult Furnishings" in St. J. Simpson (Ed.), Queen Of Sheba: Treasures From Ancient Yemen, 2002, op. cit., pp. 166-167, No. 208.

[67] ibid., p. 171, No. 217.

[68] "Ilumquh", Encyclopaedia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite 2004 DVD, © 1994 - 2004 Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.

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

[70] "Ilumquh" in W. Doniger (Consulting Editor), Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia Of World Religions, 1999, 1999, op cit., p. 500.

[71] "Arabian Religions" in W. Doniger (consulting editor), Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia Of World Religions, 1999, op cit., p. 70.

[72] 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.

[73] 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.

[74] 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.

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

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

[77] 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.

[78] S. Munro-Hay, "A Sixth Century Kebra Nagast?", Annales d'Éthiopie, 2001, Volume XVII, p. 58.

[79] 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.

[80] ibid., p. viii.

[81] 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 states 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!

[82] D. A. Hubbard, The Literary Sources Of The Kebra Nagast, 1956, Ph. D. Thesis (unpublished), University of St. Andrews, p. 6.

[83] ibid., p. 344.

[84] ibid., p. 412. He says, "The OT has left its stamp on almost every page of the KN. This mark is evident in matters of literary style as well as content. Furthermore, the influence of the OT is equally apparent in all sections of the book, though the manifestations of this influence assume various forms."

[85] ibid., pp. 346-347.

[86] ibid., p. 83.

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