"Solomon, Sheba and Menlik" by Polesden Macey, 2001
This is one of the most amazing stories ever. Did you know that rasta prophet Bob Marley and Israel's third king, Solomon, are bound by a gold and onyx signet ring?
Three thousand years ago, King Solomon ruled Jerusalem. Learning of his reputation as a great, wise, and powerful leader, the Queen of Sheba who ruled in what is now Ethiopia set out on a 1400-mile journey by camel and boat, a trip that would take about six months.
"When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon . . . she came to test him with hard questions. Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan - with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones - she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. Solomon answered all her questions; . . . And she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the Queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. King Solomon gave the Queen of Sheba all she desired, whatsoever she asked, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty; then she left and returned with all her retinue to her own country." (I Kings 10).
Sheba also returned pregnant with Solomon's son, Menelik, who later made the long trip to Jerusalem at age twenty-two to meet his father. Menelik stayed with Solomon for three years and studied Judaism under him. When his son returned to Ethiopia, Solomon sent with him the eldest son of each of his high priests, in addition to one thousand people from each tribe of the twelve tribes of Israel. Solomon also gave him his signet ring, which was rumored to have magical powers. Upon his return, Menelik founded the "Solomonic Dynasty."
Menelik's descendents ruled the Ethiopian monarchy in an unbroken line until 1974, when Menelik's descendent , Emperor Haile Sellasie was overthrown and killed a year later. Rastafarians in Jamaica believe that Selassie was their "Jah Rastafari," or the messiah mentioned in Revelations 5:5: "Do not weep. The lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has triumphed, enabling him to open the scroll with its seven seals."
Selassie's son, the exiled Crown Prince Asfa Wossen was pronounced the new Emperor. It was in the Prince's possession that Solomon's ring now rested.
Haile Selassie and his family
Meanwhile, Bob Marley had grown into a rastafari legend and prophet who started his concerts by proclaimed the divinity of Jah Rastafari - Haile Selassie. Many of his songs contain biblical references. The best known is "Exodus."
Open your eyes and look within:
Are you satisfied with the life youre living
We know where were going
We know where were from
Were leaving Babylon
Were going to our father land.
So where does this ring come in? It started with a dream.
[In 1966, Bob] Marley dreamed that he saw a short man wearing a military uniform and a battered fedora hat (Stephens 190). This man entered through the front door and stood beside Marley as he napped. He took a ring from his pocket, a gold ring with a tiny diamond set in onyx (Stephens 190). Taking Marley’s hand, the man pushed the ring on his finger and told him: “This is all I have to give you” (Stephens 190).
"In 1977, while Marley was living in London, he befriended the Ethiopian royal family that was living in exile. After meeting with Haile Selassie’s son, Crown Prince Afsa Wossen, the heir to Ethiopia’s banished monarchy, produced a ring that he said had belonged to the emperor, a gold Lion of Judah set in onyx. The Prince placed the ring on Bob Marley’s finger, and proclaimed that “you are the one who should wear it” (Stephens 190). Marley would wear Selassie’s ring for the rest of his life, and he would later tell [his mother] that this ring was the one that he had seen in the dream eleven years earlier." -from "The Influence of Bob Marley's Absent, White Father," by Scott Gurtman
No one can prove the exact whereabouts of Solomon's ring. Although Bob's mother claims it went back to "its place of origin" after he died of acral lentiginous melanoma in 1981, most believe otherwise. One account says,
"His corpse was [dressed with a blue suit] . . . in the right hand he held a Bible, in the left hand his guitar on the head he carried a woolen cap in the colours of the Ethiopian flags and a Ganja branch on him in his finger a ring which he got as a gift of Haile Selassie. Personally with a private audience, Marley's corpse was buried in a small mausoleum in his birthplace Nine Miles on the hill by Saint Ang."