The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. – William James

The history of the Jews has been written overwhelmingly by scholars of texts – understandably given the formative nature of the Bible and the Talmud. Seeing Jewish history through artifacts, architecture and images is still a young but spectacularly flourishing discipline that’s changing the whole story. – Simon Schama

Queen Makeda of Ethiopia

Undercover special agent for the Israeli Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Ancient Artifacts Omar Zagouri may not agree with all of the decisions of his government regarding their treatment of his Arab neighbors. But protecting his people, and their culture, from jihadists and weapons smugglers means setting aside his misgivings – even when his neighbor dies from internal bleeding when she delivered a baby and couldn’t be taken to a hospital because breaking curfew meant death for her family. No, life in Israel and Palestine can be hell – but this particular undercover operation will be something more than even Omar expected.

It is hard to believe, today, that these lands of bombs and guns, oppression and violence, were once a jewel of the world. A land of beauty and learning, knowledge, wealth and beauty, even amidst the sands and dunes of barren lands. Now buried civilizations, forgotten until discoveries, some chance, some planned, reveal the lost beauty and culture of an amazing world.

Queen Bilqis

Recent archaeological discoveries in the Mahram Bilqis (Mahram Bilkees, “Temple of the Moon Deity”) in Mareb, Yeman support the view that the Queen Sheba ruled over southern Arabia, with evidence suggesting the area to be the capital of the Kingdom of Sheba.

But who was she, really? Records are thin, stories sometimes wildly exaggerated. Or are they? For Omar, while working undercover in a tunnel between Israel and Jerusalem, has broken through a wall and into a tomb – a tomb which may very well change the history of the world, and the underpinnings of Christian, Jewish and Muslim beliefs. The discovery, if authenticated, could throw into question the governmental claims to the Holy Land—and prove the Bible false.

Pyramid carving of purported Egyptian Queen of Sheba

Different countries claim to be the motherland of Sheba – all with their own names for the queen – Bilqis in Yemen, Makeda in Ethiopia, or possibly an Egyptian queen. But these aren’t the real questions, though all these countries are willing to commit the most horrendous crimes in order to prove their claim. But what is even more at risk, and is a political bomb that could explode not only across the Middle East – but across the world, is the very underpinning of the three major belief systems of the world. For not only is Sheba brought into question – but also the very existence of King Solomon. And should King Solomon be proven to have not existed, the whole underpinning of Biblical history will be brought into question. For while there are no actual, physical records of the existence of Solomon¹, a crypt accidentally located by Omar and a group of workers clearing a tunnel may prove that, rather than Solomon, his supposed reign was actually during the time of King Melech Tambariah – son and grandson of Kings Melech Turug and Melech Amariel. And a statue found in Aksum, Ethiopia entwines the names of Tambariah and Azhara – the Queen of Sheba and her King? If so, a chain of political events will destroy everything from the ownership of Israel to the veracity of Christianity itself – Solomon, the Ark of the Covenant – everything.

History’s written from what can be found; what isn’t saved is lost, sunken and rotted, eaten by earth. – Jill Lepore

The Bible holds David and Solomon to be the founding kings of ancient Israel and to be ancestors of Jesus Christ. The Quran portrays all three men as prophets. Yet, though current archaeological efforts are underway, there is no archaeological evidence that King David or his son, King Solomon, ever lived or ruled over Israel. If it could ever be proved that these kings never existed, then Israel’s claim to the Holy Land is mistaken.

Quotes, statements and Biblical history pertaining to Solomon is, not surprisingly, a collection of ideas designed to forward the original beliefs of Christianity. Wisdom, kindness, justice. Whether Solomon does or does not exist, belief is everything – and proving that beliefs are wrong . . .

Finding Sheba is that best possible of all world in the thriller realm. A thoughtful ‘what-if’ story based on meticulous research by an expert in her field. It is very well written, literate, and offers that most rare and beautiful of writing skills – both knowledge and creativity. From ancient history to modern desert tribes still living as they did centuries ago; to the lost city of Ubar, the Atlantis of the Desert, the fabled lost city, celebrated in both the Koran and “A Thousand and One Arabian Nights” as the center of the lucrative frankincense trade for 3,000 years before the birth of Christ² reality and supposition blends and turns, highlighting the darkest parts of history, the cruelties of the modern day, and religions and beliefs based in self mutilation and torture, mysogany and brutality, cannibals and kings.

The so-called lessons of history are for the most part the rationalizations of the victors. History is written by the survivors. – Max Lerner

And when whole religions, belief systems, political systems – hell, as Douglas Adams would have it, Life, The Universe, and Everything – relies upon unsubstantiated tales written by the victor, well the rationalizations and politics may very well end up standing on their heads.

“Just believe everything I tell you, and it will all be very, very simple.’
“Ah, well, I’m not sure I believe that.”
― Douglas Adams, Life, the Universe and Everything

I received Finding Sheba from the publisher in return for a realistic review. If you are at all interested in Middle Eastern history and the questions of whether or not Biblical history truly is “history” I can’t recommend this book highly enough for an unusual, beautifully creative thriller.

¹ The Khirbet Qeiyafa Excavations seem to be the location spoken of in the Bible as the spot where David and Goliath fought. However, dating of the site indicates that the city was one of many  developed long before the time of the story of Solomon. While the city exists, there is still no written record of who the leaders were of the periods estimated for Solomon and David: David 1011-971 – Solomon 971-931BC. Therefore, proof of the existence of either is at this time not available.

² Ubar was located by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory satellite imagery on the edge of the Empty Quarter in southern Oman.  JPL’s involvement in the search for the lost city of Ubar began in 1981, and continued when in 1984, the shuttle Challenger made two passes over an unmapped region of southern Oman and studied the area with Shuttle Imaging Radar B (SIR-B). Fieldwork lasted from 2007 to 2013 as the city was unearthed.

How incredible that modern technology is unearthing our history in such a manner – history once thought lost forever!

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