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Rihanna as Cleopatra
Solomon's Faithful African Queen.
Does anti-Black racism cast her in a dark light?
The Firpo Files Digital Newsmagazine
[Note: This article is in English only. Permission to translate is hereby granted.]
Firpo Carr, PhD
Member: American Psychological
Division 36: Society for the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
Division 38: Society for Health Psychology
Division 40: Society for Clinical
Division 48: Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict and
Violence: Peace Psychology Division
Division 52: International
Religious Scholar, Seminary Graduate:
Master of Arts in Urban Ministry
December 23, 2020
While Rihanna makes a beautiful Cleopatra, wise King Solomon was never married
to the African queen. How could he? She wouldn’t be born until centuries later. But that doesn’t mean he was unfamiliar
with Black queens, all of whom have been victimized by anti-Black racism in religious circles.
For example, consider the Queen of Sheba.
The Queen of Sheba: She is one of several Black queens of the Bible mentioned in this article who was a contemporary
of King Solomon.
According to the Kebra
Nagast, she was beautiful.
Society (October 21, 2020) explains: “Dated between
the 6th–14th centuries C.E., the Kebra Nagast (The Glory of Kings) is an important text to the Ethiopian Orthodox
Church. It names the Queen of Sheba as the beautiful queen Makeda and identifies the land of Sheba as ancient Ethiopia”
(see Figure 1).
Figure 1: An artist’s depiction of the Queen of Sheba found in the medieval manuscript Bellifortis by Conrad Kyeser (c. 1405).
. The Queen of Sheba hears of Solomon’s God-given afflatus
and travels from afar “with a very impressive entourage” to pepper him with “perplexing questions,” which Solomon answers with ease
(1 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chronicles 9:1-12, New World Translation).
For her to cerebrally generate “perplexing questions” for Solomon (1
Kings 10:1, or “riddles,” NWT, footnote); to be drawn to his fame for being wise (1 Kings 3:12; 4:29;
10:23; 2 Chronicle 9:23); and to be motivated to travel at great expense--with portable wealth to offer as a gift--to visit
him, speak volumes about her own character, education, motivation, and intelligence.
With that being said, she was nonetheless circumspect.
Enigmatically, she doubted the veracity of Solomon’s fame (1 Kings 10:7).
But after seeing with her own eyes and hearing with her own ears, she shared “everything that was close to her heart”
with the king (1 Kings 10:2b) and submitted: “May Jehovah your God be praised, who has taken pleasure in you by putting
you on the throne of Israel” (1 Kings 10:9).
when Solomon met this Black African Queen of Sheba whom, as noted in the first footnote, Jesus called the “queen of
the South” and guaranteed would be resurrected and in her righteousness and faithfulness to Jehovah would render judgment
on a generation of unfaithful Jews of his day (Matthew 12:42; Luke 11:31), Solomon was married to an unnamed Black African
princess, the daughter of Pharaoh, and had two biracial daughters, as discussed below.
So, how does anti-Black racism enter this broad, multidimensional picture?
Demonizing Solomon’s African Queen: Sans Scriptural justification, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses (hereafter “GB”)
feels compelled to demonize Solomon’s African queen for reasons known only to them but smack of anti-Black racism.
Although she was a faithful servant of Jehovah God (which will be demonstrated
shortly), the GB mischaracterizes her as a “false worshipper.”
While giving them the respect they deserve, I have crossed
ideological swords with them on their gross miscalculation.
Here’s our history to date:
General Explanation (2010): Over ten years ago, I basically
argued that King Solomon traveled to Africa, married a fellow believer instead of a “false worshipper,” and
returned with her to the City of David, also known as Zion or Mount Zion (1 Kings 3:1).
As ancient Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhood, Zion or the City of David is in the southeastern
part of the city (2 Samuel 5:7; 1 Chronicles 11:4, 5; 2 Chronicles 11:7).
GB’s Collective Rebuttal (2011): The
next year after publishing my article, the GB reiterated its decades-long position of coloring the African princess as a pagan who King Solomon unwisely married.
GB Reply #1: “Solomon may have [my emphasis] seen political advantages in marrying an Egyptian princess,”
writes the GB, “yet could he justify it? Long before, God had forbidden the marrying of pagan Canaanites, even listing
My Response #1: The GB speculates why Solomon married a so-called “false worshipper,” but ignores the immediate
context (as well as other indicators discussed below) that shows Solomon married a fellow worshipper.
Instead of having violated God’s statute forbidding marriage
to pagans, after marrying the African princess, the immediate context says that “Solomon continued to love
Jehovah by walking in the statutes of David his father” (1 Kings 3:3; 1 John 5:3), which included the statute
prohibiting marrying a pagan (Exodus 34:11-16).
That means that rather than being condemned for having married a “false worshipper” early in his reign,
the inspired account describes Solomon as having walked in Jehovah’s statutes before marrying his African wife
and “continued” to do so during and after the ceremony. Therefore, he didn’t need to “justify”
Indeed, Jehovah wasn’t shy about
letting someone know if they have not followed in David’s faithful footsteps.
He pointedly told Jeroboam, the first king of the 10-tribe kingdom of Israel after Solomon’s
death, “you have not become like my servant David, who kept my commandments and who walked after me with all his heart,
doing only what was right in my eyes” (1 Kings 14:8; see also, e.g., 15:3-5, 11).
To be sure, after Solomon married the African princess, Jehovah told Solomon the exact
opposite of what he said to Jeroboam.
about 60 years after the reign of Jeroboam, the GB documents that Israel’s King Ahab “allowed Baal worship to infect Israel on an unprecedented scale due
to his early marriage to Jezebel [my emphasis].”
In contradistinction to what happened when Solomon married
a Black foreign princess, the biblical account says that Ahab “took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, the king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and to bow down to him. Further, he set up an
altar to Baal at the house of Baal that he built in Samaria. Ahab also made the sacred pole” (1 Kings 16:31b-33).
Whether earlier or later in his marriage, Solomon’s African queen never
influenced him to serve any false god and erect a building for him in which he installed an altar as wicked Queen Jezebel
The faithful African queen
wife of Solomon only did right by him, but, regrettably, the GB casts her in a dark light.
Furthermore, the GB speculates that Solomon supposedly married the African queen for “political
advantages.” This is probably not the case since he could have established a treaty without marriage, just as he did
with Hiram, king of Tyre (1 Kings 5:1, 12; see also 1 Kings 15:19).
The GB’s erroneous conclusion is simply faulty hermeneutics. The hope is that they find a
way to curb their ostensibly irrepressible urge to demonize Solomon’s African queen.
The Real “False Worshippers”: Of course, things changed when an older King Solomon married real false worshippers.
Similar to what King Ahab would do later for his wife Jezebel
(as referenced above), instead of building a palace for any of them or all of them, King Solomon “built a high place
to Chemosh, the disgusting god of Moab, on the mountain in front of Jerusalem and to Molech, the disgusting god of the Ammonites”
(1 Kings 11:1-8).
When that happened, “Jehovah
became furious at Solomon, because his heart had inclined away from Jehovah the God of Israel” (1 Kings 11:9-10).
Significantly, Jehovah was never “furious”
at Solomon for marrying the faithful African queen as she most assuredly did not incline Solomon’s heart “away
from Jehovah the God of Israel.” The king was blessed for having married her.
By way of stark contrast, when he married the pagans, Jehovah
further explained: “You have not kept my covenant and my statutes as I commanded you” (1 Kings 11:11; again, juxtapose
this with 1 Kings 3:3; for other examples, compare also 1 Kings 11:33-34, 38; 18:18).
Factually, King Solomon chose honorable marriage, which Jehovah blessed (as noted), to the
beautiful African princess he actually fell in love with (1 Kings 11:1a, 2c), which simultaneously formed an alliance. It was anything but an impersonal, clinical marriage of convenience, as the GB advocates.
GB Reply #2:
After questioning Solomon’s reasoning and accusing him of rationalization, the GB wrote that Solomon’s “course
[in having married his African wife] ignored the clear risk that Jehovah had mentioned--that of turning an Israelite from
true worship to false.--Read Deuteronomy 7:1-4.”
My Response #2: It is both bold and audacious of the GB to accuse a humble, young King Solomon of blatantly ignoring God’s
law forbidding marriage to pagans to facilitate accommodation of their mistaken conclusions.
In addition to “My Response #1,” I submit that the Egyptians themselves--at this
point during Solomon’s young reign--honored God’s statute against marrying “pagan Canaanites,” so much so that the God-fearing pharaonic father of Solomon’s African queen killed all potential false-worshipping
Canaanite marriage mates in the nearby Gezer and gave the city to his daughter as a parting wedding present (1 Kings 9:16).
So, aside from her own custom-built palatial house Solomon
would eventually build for her (1 Kings 7:8; 9:24; 2 Chronicles 8:11a), this Black African queen of Israel had her own city
she could creatively rebuild as well!
#3: The GB writes: “In time Solomon built a house for
[his African wife, as stated] (and perhaps her Egyptian maids) outside the City of David [my emphasis]. Why? The
Scriptures say that he did so because it was not fitting for a false worshipper to dwell near the ark of the covenant
My Response #3: For the record, not only was Solomon’s wife’s palace “outside the City of David”
(punitively so, says the GB), but so were (a) the ark of the covenant, (b) Solomon’s own house, and (c) the very house
They were all carefully planned out
and constructed in the Temple area!
Getting Topographical Perspective: In simple terms, ancient Jerusalem is on the side of a large hill and was built from the bottom
(south) of the slope upward (north). The slope was separated into three segments.
Therefore, in order of development, these segments were bottom, middle, and top (see Figure
The bottom segment contained a small hill while the top segment
had a larger one. The middle segment amounted to a bulge that was part of Jerusalem’s overall slope as it separated
the bottom and top segments.
Segment Names: The smaller hill on the bottom segment was called Mount Zion but is also
called the City of David. The larger hill in the top segment was called Mount Moriah.
In case you were ever confused before, Mount Zion and Mount Moriah were both within the walls
of ancient Jerusalem but located on opposite ends of the city.
The three segments of ancient Jerusalem during Solomon’s rule:
(a) bottom segment (orange), City of David, Mount. Zion;
(b) middle segment (green), the community of Ophel;
(c) top segment (blue/gray), Temple area, Mount
All of Mount Moriah was considered the Temple area since the Temple itself was
located there, along with “Solomon’s Palace,” the “House of Pharaoh’s Daughter” (which
was basically a wing attached to Solomon’s palace), and other government buildings (see Figure 3).
Figure 3: In the Temple area shown here (top segment), Ophel
(the far left middle segment neighborhood)
is outside the Temple area’s southern boundary, while the “House of Pharaoh’s Daughter”
(to the right of Ophel) is within the temple area itself.
As can be clearly seen, not only was the House of Pharaoh’s
Daughter “outside the City of David,” but the entirety of the Temple area complex itself was “outside the
City of David.”
If what the GB says is accurate
in saying that Solomon built his wife’s house outside the City of David (bottom segment) because she was a “false
worshipper” and as such, she couldn’t dwell near the ark, then King Solomon essentially rewarded her as a “false
worshipper” by placing her closer to the Temple, in the actual Temple area on Mount Moriah (top segment).
Of course, that doesn’t make sense.
Fact: Put simply, King Solomon
did not build his wife’s palace “outside the City of David” away from the ark because she was supposedly a “false worshipper.”
Undoubtedly, she was near the ark for over a quarter of a century, as is indicated by this revealing sequence of events:
Travel History of the Ark: During the reigns of David and Solomon, the ark of the covenant was (a) initially brought to the City of
David by King David himself (1 Chronicles 15:2, 15), (b) remained there until the end of his rule (2 Samuel 6:12-17; 11:11),
and (c) dwelled there well into Solomon’s reign, as we shall see.
Relevantly, as we know so well, Solomon brought his Black African queen from Egypt to the City
of David (bottom segment), where the ark already resided until he finished his building projects
(1 Kings 3:1; 2 Chronicles 8:11a).
So, she was obviously
near the ark there in the City of David.
How long did it take for Solomon to
complete his building projects?
of Building Projects: Solomon spent seven years building
the temple (1 Kings 6:37-38) and 13 years building his palace (1 Kings 7:1), for a total of 20 years (1 Kings 9:10; 2 Chronicles
Since the queen’s palace was “similar in workmanship”
(1 Kings 7:8) but about a third of the size of the king’s, it conceivably took another two or three years to construct, plus the time it took him to build the sprawling wall around
Jerusalem (1 Kings 3:1; 9:15). Therefore, his building projects possibly spanned well over 25 years.
During all that time, both the ark of the covenant and Solomon’s African wife dwelled
near each other in the City of David, well into Solomon’s reign (1 Kings 8:1-4, 6; 9:24; 2 Chronicles 5:2-10).
So What Did Solomon Really Mean?: But, after bringing her up from the City of David (again, where she was together with the ark
for maybe 25 years or more), Solomon is recorded as having said:
“Solomon also brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the house that he had built for
her, for he said: ‘Although she is my wife, she should not dwell in the house of King David of Israel, for the places
to which the Ark of Jehovah has come are holy’” (2 Chronicles 8:11).
This text serves as a basis for the GB calling her “a false worshipper” since
she was restricted from dwelling “in the house of King David.”
But what did Solomon really mean?
Another version of the Bible adds clarity:
brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the palace he had built for her, for he said, ‘My
wife must not live in the palace of David king of Israel [or, the temple], because the
places the ark of the LORD has entered are holy’” (2 Chronicles 8:11, New International Version]).
Solomon no doubt made this public announcement at the end of the official, royal
procession that led the queen “from the City of David to the palace he had built for her.”
David’s Palace Is the Temple: David’s original palace was in the City of David (bottom segment, Figure 2), as was the ark, which
was under a tent nearby. They were both in the same enclosure, and because of their proximity, the “palace” and the “temple” were used interchangeably.
A single Hebrew word establishes this point, which the GB itself acknowledges.
They write, “one Hebrew word for palace, heh·khalʹ [הֵיכָל], often was applied to the temple as the dwelling place of the Sovereign Lord
In the GB’s New World Translation, heh·khalʹ [הֵיכָל]
even refers to “the Holy, which was in front of the Most
Holy” (1 Kings 6:17, footnote).
same time, elsewhere in the New World Translation, heh·khalʹ [הֵיכָל] is
For example, we read of
“the palace [heh·khalʹ, הֵיכָל]
of Ahab” (1 Kings 21:1) and “the palace [heh·khalʹ, הֵיכָל]
of the king of Babylon” (2 Kings 20:18).
For over 25 years, during the construction as mentioned earlier, King Solomon sat
on the throne of his father King David with his Black African queen at his side as they both lived in “David’s
Palace” (or, the temple; see the upper part of the bottom segment, Figure 2), in the City of David (1 Kings 2:10-12).
The Procession and Announcement: With the above in mind, we can now revisit the text in question and get a more precise meaning
from Solomon’s public declaration:
also brought Pharaoh’s daughter up from the City of David to the house that he had built for her, for he said: ‘Although
she is my wife, she should not dwell in the house of King David of Israel, for the places to which the Ark of Jehovah has
come are holy’” (2 Chronicles 8:11, NWT).
There was no doubt a royal ceremonial procession as the queen was brought from the City of David to her magnificent,
extraordinary, newly-built palace (compare 1 Kings 1:38-39; Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:7-11; John 12:9-15; see also 1 Corinthians 4:9).
Before the gathered crowd, Solomon announced that although she dwelled in the temporary “house of King David of Israel” (2 Chronicles
8:11b, NWT), in the same enclosure as the ark in the City of David on Mount Zion (as discussed), she “must
not live in the palace of David king of Israel” (2 Chronicles 8:11b, NIV) in the new, permanent location on Mount Moriah.
Even the GB acknowledges that “the Ark had no permanent resting-place until the erection
of Solomon’s temple.”
Also, recall that “temple” and “palace”
can be substitutable terms.
Clearly, then, the “house
of King David of Israel” is really the “temple” because “the places to which the Ark of Jehovah has
come are holy,” and--again for emphasis--the ark had come into the newly-constructed Temple on Mount Moriah (1 Kings
GB Reply #4: “Did Solomon reason that Egypt was not one of those listed nations [God warned Israel
to avoid marriage ties with]?”
My Response #4: As already entertained, at least some Egyptians worshipped Jehovah, perhaps as a nation, during the early
part of Solomon’s reign.
Whatever the case,
Egyptians were not on the list of pagan nations that Jehovah condemned, the very nations with women whom Solomon fell in love
with (1 Kings 11:1-10; see also 2 Chronicles 8:7-8).
Solomon’s Daughters and Other Black Queens:
In ancient times, the term “queen” had different meanings, depending on the culture. For example, the queen may
or may not have had governmental or ruling powers.
is the case today, “queen” could mean “consort,” which is defined as “a wife, husband, or companion,
in particular the spouse of a reigning monarch” (Oxford Dictionary).
It’s similar to the arrangement in the United Kingdom.
The Queen of England doesn’t have governmental authority, and her husband is not the
King of England. Rather, he is her consort. More formally, he is Prince Philip or the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Queen of Ethiopia (Acts 8:27) and the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:1) were autocrats.
Neither one had a husbandly king.
Queens Sans Kings: A little-known fact is that King Solomon
had two biracial daughters who, though they weren’t married to kings, were queens by association. Like their parents,
both were raised to be worshippers of Jehovah.
one mentioned is Taphath, “Solomon’s daughter” (1 Kings 4:11). She was married to a fellow worshipper serving
as one of the king’s deputies.
daughter, Basemath, was “another of Solomon’s daughters” (1 Kings 4:15), also married to a fellow worshipper
who was another of the king’s deputies.
Taphath and Basemath could genuinely be called queens because
their paternal grandfather was Jewish King David, and their maternal grandfather was Pharaoh, the Black African king of Egypt.
A pair of powerful grandfather kings!
And, yes, a daughter could be called a queen instead of a princess.
For instance, Bithiah was “the daughter of Pharaoh” who shared her
husband Mered with a “Jewish wife” (1 Chronicles 4:18), but instead of being called “princess,” Bithiah’s
name in Egyptian means “queen.”
And then there is the Black African wife of yet another Pharaoh
who lived toward the end of Solomon’s reign who is identified as “Tahpenes the queen” (1 Kings 11:14-19).
This pharaoh was not the same as his father-in-law (compare 1 Kings 3:7 with 1 Kings 11:4a).
Sadly, it appears that the GB turns a blind eye to the fact
that Solomon, his African queen wife, and their two little queen daughters served Jehovah faithfully for years before he marred
the marriage and disrupted the peace of the family by becoming involved with pagan wives and concubines.
In so doing, the king likely also alienated himself spiritually from his two faithful
deputy sons-in-law, as well as from all faithful Israelites (1 Kings 12:1-15).
Ultimately, Solomon was the one who turned out to be a “false worshipper,” not his
faithful African wife.
Conclusion: The Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses sponsors the most prolific
dissemination of Bible-related material in history, although Jehovah's Witnesses as a whole have just experienced an unprecedented
decrease in numbers.
Still, no other organization, religious or otherwise, has a
website available in 1,026 languages, including 100 different sign languages.
Given these figures, it’s challenging to make an argument
against their claim that they are preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom like no one else and that this collective
action is the precursor to the monumental transition for the good that’s about to take place on a global scale (Matthew
Be that as it may, along with some impressive exegesis in their
writings, said publications are at times regrettably tinctured with bias, textured with racism.
As we have seen in the case of Solomon and his faithful, Black African wife, the GB has been
blinded by bias as they bend Scripture to accommodate their anti-Black racism. They have engineered an atmosphere of subterfuge
But, even with the historical deficiencies in Watch Tower Society
literature that amount to nothing less than an egregious affront to fairness, they’ve offered more than a slither of
hope to millions who say the good the GB does far outweigh the bad.
Of course, that’s for each one to decide on an individual basis.
Personally, after a thorough, decades-long investigation into the religion, I have observed the
GB making constant corrections (they call them “adjustments”) in their theology, exegesis, and hermeneutics.
Disconcertingly, though, they at times take one step forward and two steps back.
And since they strongly discourage members from innocuous academic pursuits, the GB exclusively provides the faithful the
only window to the world and disallow access to other legitimate views.
In short, one would be hard-pressed to disproved that the average Witness is intellectually imprisoned in a cocoon
of contrived ignorance and is rewarded with praise from the GB and fellow incarcerated Witnesses.
I don’t mean to sound harsh.
Navel-gazing is not my goal.
blessings to all, including the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Witnesses themselves, amen.
See related article on Black pharaohs (Pharaohs! (firpocarr.com).]