Meaning of SABA' in English

biblical Sheba kingdom in pre-Islamic southwestern Arabia, frequently mentioned in the Bible (notably in the story of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba) and variously cited by ancient Assyrian, Greek, and Roman writers from about the 8th century BC to about the 5th century AD. Its capital, at least in the middle period, was Ma'rib (q.v.), which lies 75 miles (120 km) east of present-day San'a', in Yemen. A second major city was Sirwah. The Sabaeans were a Semitic people who, at an unknown date, entered southern Arabia from the north, imposing their Semitic culture on an aboriginal population. Excavations in central Yemen suggest that the Sabaean civilization began as early as the 10th12th century BC. By the 7th5th century BC, besides kings of Saba' there were individuals styling themselves mukarribs of Saba', who apparently either were high priestprinces or exercised some function parallel to the kingly function. This middle period was characterized above all by a tremendous outburst of building activity, principally at Ma'rib and Sirwah, and most of the great temples and monuments, including the great Ma'rib Dam, on which Sabaean agricultural prosperity depended, date back to this period. Further, there was an ever-shifting pattern of alliances and wars between Saba' and other peoples of southwestern Arabianot only the important kingdoms of Qataban and Hadramawt but also a number of lesser but still independent kingdoms and city-states. Saba' was rich in spices and agricultural products and carried on a wealth of trade by overland caravan and by sea. For centuries it controlled Bab el-Mandeb, the straits leading into the Red Sea, and it established many colonies on the African shores. That Abyssinia (Ethiopia) was peopled from South Arabia is proved linguistically; but the difference between the Sabaean and Ethiopian languages is such as to imply that the settlement was very early and that there were many centuries of separation, during which the Abyssinians were exposed to foreign influences. New colonies, however, seem occasionally to have followed, and some parts of the African coast were under the suzerainty of the Sabaean kings as late as the 1st century BC. Toward the end of the 3rd century AD, a powerful king named Shamir Yuhar'ish (who seems incidentally to be the first really historical personage whose fame has survived in the Islamic traditions) assumed the title king of Saba' and the Dhu Raydan and of Hadramawt and Yamanat. By this time, therefore, the political independence of Hadramawt had succumbed to Saba', which had thus become the controlling power in all southwestern Arabia. In the mid-4th century AD, it underwent a temporary eclipse, for the title of king of Saba' and the Dhu Raydan was then claimed by the king of Aksum on the east African coast. At the end of the 4th century, southern Arabia was again independent under a king of Saba' and the Dhu Raydan and Hadramawt and Yamanat. But within two centuries the Sabaeans would disappear as they were successively overrun by Persian adventurers and by the Muslim Arabs.

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