Answering a different question, I noticed this passage:

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.—Matthew 12:38-42 (ESV)

Now the reference in Israel's history would be:

Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the LORD, there was no more breath in her.—1st Kings 10:1-5 (ESV)

See the rest of the story at 1st Kings 10:1-13 and 1st Chronicles 9:1-12.

But what is the future reference? Who or what "will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it"?

1 Answer 1


This should not be taken as a prophecy but as a lesson on true faith. If you read before this passage, you see that Jesus has been having issues with the religious leaders. Over and over they fail to believe, or more specifically, fail to recognize who he is.

Now, go back to the Hebrew scriptures. Jonah was pretty cool, but you would really only expect Israelites to take him seriously. After all, he was a Jew and not a Ninevite. Or take the case of the Queen of Sheba. She was not an Israelite, yet she recognized the wisdom of Solomon and sought it out.

Solomon was great and so was Jonah. But Jesus is greater than them. And though he is standing right in front of those who should know best, they do not recognize him. Even the ignorant, unbelieving foreigners understood a true representative of God! In the judgment, these ignorant foreigners will put this "evil and adulterous generation" to shame with their belief.

Looking for a future reference other than these people's condemnation misses the point. They are the point. These gentiles are the example of faith. Note the scripture quotation just a couple paragraphs before, in 12:15-21. The Gentiles, who should not have recognized Jesus, did. These Israelites, that should have recognized Jesus, did not, and they will be judged for it.

  • I wonder if it would be out of line to compare the Christian church after the first generation or so to "the queen of the South"? They were largely gentiles who believed when the Jews did not. Even so, I think you are right that it really isn't a prophesy in the sense that we can identify a particular person or event that fulfills it. (+1) Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 15:59
  • 1
    You actually get that line of argumentation in Romans 9-11 by Paul. The mass conversion of the gentiles is something meant to provoke jealousy among the Jews that remain unbelieving in Jesus as the messiah. You see this as well in Acts 13:46.
    – Mallioch
    Commented Apr 3, 2012 at 17:09
  • Wow, What a great study. Thank you for taking the time to post this, it has really inspired me this morning
    – user2276
    Commented May 19, 2013 at 13:13
  • The question is good and valid. If she would not rise up in the judgement (that is the time of God bringing justice to humankind), why in the world would he say so?
    – hannes
    Commented May 20, 2013 at 18:24
  • @hannes - Perhaps, having sought for and recognized Solomon's wisdom, she must've also learned from Solomon that he had asked Jehovah for wisdom before taking his office. She must've believed in the God of Israel and, thus, gotten saved.
    – brilliant
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 1:59

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