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Women of The Bible: Lesson #14 – Wise Women, David’s Concubines, Queen of Sheba

Women of The Bible  –  Lesson  14


Scripture reference:  2 Samuel 14:2–22

After Absalom had murdered Amnon, Absalom fled the country. Joab, the commanding general of David’s army, sensed that David loved Absalom and wanted to bring him back home. So Joab enlisted the aid of a “wise woman” from Tekoa, who told a story that could by analogy be applied to Absalom’s case.

The descriptive term “wise woman” is found three times in the Old Testament (2 Sam 14:2; 20:16; Prov. 14:1). In 2 Samuel the phrase suggests an older woman who is notable for giving good counsel and thus has gained influence with others.

The wise woman let herself be used by Joab for his own purposes. Let’s be careful not to let others use our reputation or us for their own purposes unless we fully understand and agree with those purposes.

We have a responsibility to those who see us as wise and understanding to pray for discernment that we may help others and not harm them.


Scripture reference:  2 Samuel 16:21–23

When David was forced to fleeJerusalemduring Absalom’s rebellion, David left ten of his concubines behind to take care of the palace. When Absalom’s forces enteredJerusalem, Absalom was advised to publicly have sex with several of them. So a tent was erected on the roof of David’s palace for this purpose.

The action was symbolic, a demonstration of the fact that Absalom had supplanted his father as king. Clearly it was another example of women being used as objects, with no regard for them as persons. It also was a demonstration of Absalom’s firm intent to replace David or die, for the insult implied was such that allIsraelunderstood that Absalom and David could never be reconciled.


Scripture reference:  2 Samuel 20:16–22

After David’s forces killed Absalom, a man namedShebacontinued the rebellion. David’s forces under Joab pursuedSheba, who took refuge in a walled city.

When Joab seemed about to batter the wall down, a “wise woman” called out to him. When Joab offered to spare the city ifShebawere executed, the wise woman said, “Watch, his head will be thrown to you over the wall” (20:21). The wise woman persuaded the people,Shebawas killed, and the city was spared.


Scripture reference:  1 Kings 3:16–27

Not long after Solomon became king a dispute between two prostitutes was brought to him for settlement. Each had had a child, but one of the infants died during the night. Each prostitute claimed that the live child was hers, and the dead child belonged to the other.

Solomon announced that he would split the live child in two, with half given to each. One of the women agreed; the other begged the king to give the living child to the other rather than kill him. Solomon’s subterfuge had been intended to find out which woman truly cared for the child. The harlots’ reactions showed this clearly, and Solomon decreed that the child be given to his real mother—the one who wanted him to live. The incident helped to establish Solomon’s reputation for wisdom.


Scripture references:  1 Kings 10:1–10; 2 Chronicles 9:1–9

ThekingdomofShebalay at the end of the Arabian Peninsula, about 1,500 miles south ofJerusalem, in lands occupied by modernYemen. In the time of Solomon, the tenth century b.c.,ShebaandIsraelwere both actively involved in trade. Most commentators believe that the queen ofSheba’s visit to Solomon was as much intended to establish trade agreements as to satisfy the queen’s curiosity about Solomon.

We know little or nothing of this queen beyond the brief reference to her in the passage. The information reported tells us more about Solomon than about the queen.

The Jewish rabbis understood the phrase, “Now King Solomon gave the queen of Shebaall she desired, whatever she asked” (1 Kin. 10:13), to indicate that she had a son fathered by Solomon. The monarchy of Ethiopiaclaims to trace its genealogy from King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10) through their son Menelik I to King Haile Selassie, who was deposed in 1974, some three thousand years later. Ethiopian Jews, who call themselves “Beta Israel” (“house of Israel”) but are also known as Falashas (the Amharic word for “exiles”), consider themselves descended from Jews who came with Menelik I. This is legend, but “Ethiopian chronicles show that Judaism was widespread before the conversion to Christianity of the Axumdynasty during the fourth century” (Encyclopedia Judaica 6:1143).

One “story” pursued by some modern “Indiana Jones” type biblical archaeologists is that the Ark of the Covenant was removed fromJerusalemto Axum inEthiopiaprior to the Roman destruction ofJerusalemin 70 AD, and will be returned toIsrael“when the time is right”.  That is, when aTemplehas been prepared for it inJerusalem.  However, all of the “evidence” for this theory is apocryphal.

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