The Queen of the South is mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 12:42 and its parallel passage, Luke 11:31. Jesus says the Queen of the South will bear witness on the Day of Judgment, condemning those Israelites who rejected Jesus as Lord. Jesus identifies the Queen of the South as a queen who visited King Solomon to benefit from his wisdom. From this, we can deduce that she is the Queen of Sheba who came to test Solomon with difficult questions (1 Kings 10:1).
Most biblical scholars believe that Sheba was a city in modern-day Ethiopia or Yemen, and that the Queen of the South was the ruler of that city, a woman of amazing wealth and power. Having heard reports of King Solomon’s wisdom, the Queen of Sheba wanted to find out if what she had heard was true, if there really could be a king that wise. So she traveled to Jerusalem to quiz Solomon with riddles. She also brought a wealth of gifts and spices and jewels from her own land to give to him (1 Kings 10:10; 2 Chronicles 9:9). Solomon answered all her questions (1 Kings 10:3) and repaid her in gifts of equal value. The Queen of the South then returned home (2 Chronicles 9:12).
The Queen of the South has been the subject of many artistic works and legends. Some people also speculate that the Queen of the South is the same woman as the Shulammite mentioned in the Song of Solomon, because of the reference to the Shulammite’s dark skin (Song of Solomon 1:5). However, there is stronger evidence to suggest that the Shulammite came from Shunem, a region near Israel.
Jesus mentions the Queen of the South in the context of Israel’s rejection of their True King. Though she was a Gentile, she traveled a long distance to hear Solomon, and the treasures she brought showed her respect for him and the wisdom he possessed. In contrast, the Jews of Jesus’ time were unwilling to travel any distance to hear the King of kings. The Queen of Sheba’s lavish respect for Solomon stood in stark contrast to Israel’s flat-out rejection of Christ. Yet Christ is greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42). Solomon was a son of David, but Jesus is the Son of David. Solomon was rich, but Jesus is the Creator of all riches. Solomon possessed the gift of wisdom, but Jesus is wisdom personified (1 Corinthians 1:30).