Stories & Tales
Queen Belqis’ Bathhouse

When Belqis, the Queen of Sheba, visited Jerusalem, King Suleiman, enchanted by her loveliness, wished to marry her. But a jealous woman told him that the queen was not human, but a jinnyeh, having legs and hoofs like a donkey. The king ordered this woman to hold her tongue. But the accusation rankled in his mind, and he determined to see for himself that it was true.


He ordered for a spacious hall to be built, one whose floor was one huge pane of transparent crystal, through which could be seen a stream of running water with fish swimming in it. At one end he placed his own throne, and beside it that of Belqis, which was made of gold and set with the loveliest jewels.


When time came for the Queen to leave her land, she had her throne locked away inside the innermost of seven chambers throne, in the most inaccessible of her castles, with guards at the gates day and night. But all these precautions were in vain, for Sulei¬man, wishing one day to convince her of the power of the name of Allah, by invoking that name, had the throne transported to Jerusalem in less time than it takes to relate.

When all was ready he sent for the queen to come and see his fine new building. As she entered she was surprised to see the king on a throne which appeared to be set on water. In order to get to her own throne at his side, she had to wade across the length of the hall. She lifted up her skirts, and exposed her feet and legs almost up to the knees. .. and Suleiman saw that her feet were human feet, but yet her legs were covered with shaggy hair like a young goat. Suleiman called together all the learned men for counsel on how to remove that extraordinary growth of hair.

"Let her shave," was the unanimous suggestion.

"No!" roared Suleiman in anger, "she might cut herself, and the hair would only grow again."

He got no helpful advice from the counsel of men; and so he convoked the jinn, who told him to build a bath-house for the queen"s use, and also taught him how to concoct a depilatory. Once she used it, her legs became as smooth and white as if they had been made of silver.

"Ever since that time," says a famous, learned Arab historian, " people have used bathing and depilatories, and it is said that the bath-house is the same that is situated at the Bab el Asbat, close to the Madrasat es Salahiyeh,( now St Anne’s Church in Jerusalem) and that it is the first bath-house ever built."