27:21 [If so] I will punish him most severely or will kill him unless he brings me a convincing excuse!”
An allusion to the appearance and disappearance of the sun and other celestial bodies which the Sabaeans – in common with almost all the Semites of antiquity – used to worship. (Cf. the story of Abraham’s search for God in 6:74 ff.)
27:22 But [the hoopoe] tarried but a short while; and [when it came] it said: “I have encompassed [with my knowledge] something that thou hast never yet encompassed [with thine] – for I have come to thee from Sheba with a tiding sure!”
See surah 9, note 171.
27:23 Behold, I found there a woman ruling over them, and she has been given [abundance] of all [good] things, and hers is a Mighty Throne.
My interpolation, at the beginning of this verse, of the words “God says” is based on the fact that, within the context of the above legend, the information brought by the hoopoe is the very first link between the kingdoms of Sheba and of Solomon. In the absence of any previous contact, hostile or otherwise, there would have been no point whatever in Solomon’s telling the people of Sheba that they should not “exalt themselves” against or above himself. On the other hand, the narrative of the hoopoe makes it clear that the Sabaeans did “exalt themselves” against God by worshipping the sun and by being convinced “that they ought not to worship God” (verses 2~25 above). Hence, Solomon, being a prophet, is justified in calling upon them, in the name of God, to abandon this blasphemy and to surrender themselves to Him. (Cf. the almost identical phrase, “Exalt not yourselves against God”, in 44:19).
27:24 And l found her and her people adoring the sun instead of God, and Satan has made these doings of theirs seem goodly to them, and [thus] has barred them from the path [of God], so that they cannot find the right way.
Lit., “on this case [or “problem”] of mine”.
27:25 [For they have come to believe] that they ought not to adore God – [although it is He] who brings forth all that is hidden in the heavens and on earth, and knows all that you would conceal as well as all that you bring into the open.
In this context – as pointed out by all classical commentators – the term dukhul undoubtedly connotes “entering by force (‘anwatan)”, whether it be by armed invasion or by a usurpation of political power from within the country. (The term mulak, lit., “kings”, may be understood to denote also persons who, while not being “kings” in the conventional sense of this word, wrongfully seize and forcibly hold absolute power over their “subjects”).
27:26 God, save whom there is no deity – the Sustainer, in Almightiness enthroned!”
Thus, the Queen of Sheba rules out force as a suitable method for dealing with Solomon. Implied in her statement is the Qur’anic condemnation of all political power obtained through violence (‘anwatan) inasmuch as it is bound to give rise to oppression, suffering, and moral corruption.
27:27 Said [Solomon] “We shall see whether thou hast told the truth or art one of the liars!
i.e., not only worldly wealth but also faith, wisdom, and insight into realities normally
hidden from other men.
27:28 Go with this my letter and convey it to them, and thereafter withdraw from them and see what [answer] they return.”
i.e., people who prize only material things and have no inkling of spiritual values.
27:29 [When the Queen had read Solomon’s letter] she said “O you nobles! A truly distinguished letter has been conveyed unto me.
Lit., “and they will be humbled”. Since the Qur’an explicitly prohibits all wars of aggression (see 2:l90-l94 and the corresponding notes), it is not plausible that this same Qur’an should place a crude threat of warlike aggression in the mouth of a prophet. We must, therefore, assume that here again, as in verse 31 above, it is God who, through His prophet, warns the people of Sheba of His “coming upon them” – i.e., punishing them – unless they abandon their blasphemous belief that they “ought not” to worship God. This interpretation finds considerable support in the sudden change from the singular in which Solomon speaks of himself in the preceding (as well as in the subsequent) verses, to the majestic plural “We” appearing in the above sentence.
27:30 Behold, it is from Solomon, and it says, ‘In the name of God, The Most Gracious, The Dispenser of Grace.
i.e., evidently in response to his message (Razi, Ibn Kathir).