(Investigator 146, 2012 September)

The biblical story of the Queen of Sheba visiting King Solomon (I Kings 10; II Chronicles 9) in the 10th century BC has received some indirect scientific backing.

Genome studies of Ethiopians found that some genomes had components in common with people of the eastern Mediterranean and that the gene flow occurred about 3000 years ago. Furthermore, of the four language families of Ethiopia, one came from the Middle East also about 3000 years ago.

This is reported in New Scientist (30 June, 2012, p. 15) which cited The American Journal of Human Genetics.

The Bible refers to five men named Sheba of whom three may have founded kingdoms:
  1. Sheba (son of Ramah, son of Cush, son of Ham, son of Noah) (Genesis 10:6-7; I Chronicles 1:8-9)
  2. Sheba (son of Joktan, son of Eber, son of Shelah, son of Arpachshad, son of Shem, son of Noah) apparently founded the Sabeans in southern Arabia (Genesis 10:21-28; I Chronicles 1:22).
  3. Sheba grandson of Abraham by his second wife, Keturah (Genesis 25:1-3; I Chronicles 1:32).
Descendants of all three Shebas probably intermingled somewhat in Arabia, Sudan and Ethiopia. It is uncertain therefore which Sheba gave rise to the Kingdom of Sheba ruled in Solomon’s time by the Queen of Sheba.

Disagreement also persists on whether the country of the Queen of Sheba was located in SW Arabia (i.e. Yemen) or across the Red Sea in Ethiopia. The story of Solomon having a son with her is Ethiopian tradition not mentioned in the Bible.

The genetics/linguistic evidence is therefore qualified by uncertainties.