|sol'-o-mun (peaceable; perfect; one who recompenses, peaceful)
RELATED: Absalom, Ark of the Covenant, Bathsheba, Boaz, David, Hiram, Idolatry, Israel, Jachin, Joab, Kingdom of Judah, Nathan, Pharaoh, Rehoboam, Queen of Sheba, Shechinah, Temple
Ecclesiastes, The Book of;
Proverbs, The Book of;
Psalm(s), The Book of;
Song of Solomon
Easton's Bible Dictionary
peaceful, (Hebrew Shelomoh), David's second son by Bathsheba,
i.e., the first after their legal marriage ( 2 Samuel 12 ). He was probably born
about B.C. 1035 ( 1 Chronicles 22:5 ; 29:1 ). He succeeded his father on the throne
in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen years of age. Nathan, to
whom his education was intrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., "beloved of the Lord"
( 2 Samuel 12:24 , 12:25 ). He was the first king of Israel "born in the purple."
His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons:
"Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign after me." His history is recorded in 1
Kings 1 - 11 and 2 Chronicles 1 - 9. His elevation to the throne took place before
his father's death, and was hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence
of the rebellion of Adonijah ( 1 Kings 1:5 - 40 ). During his long reign of forty
years the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendour. This period has well been
called the "Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. The first half of his reign was,
however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded
by the idolatries into which he fell, mainly from his heathen intermarriages (
1 Kings 11:1 - 8 ; 14:21 , 14:31 ).
Before his death David gave parting instructions to his son ( 1 Kings 2:1 - 9
; 1 Chronicles 22:7 - 16 ; 28 ). As soon as he had settled himself in his kingdom,
and arranged the affairs of his extensive empire, he entered into an alliance
with Egypt by the marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh ( 1 Kings 3:1 ), of whom,
however, nothing further is recorded. He surrounded himself with all the luxuries
and the external grandeur of an Eastern monarch, and his government prospered.
He entered into an alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly
assisted him in his numerous undertakings. (See HIRAM .)
For some years before his death David was engaged in the active work of collecting
materials ( 1 Chronicles 29:6 - 9 ; 2 Chronicles 2:3 - 7 ) for building a temple
in Jerusalem as a permanent abode for the ark of the covenant. He was not permitted
to build the house of God ( 1 Chronicles 22:8 ); that honour was reserved to his
son Solomon. (See TEMPLE)
After the completion of the temple, Solomon engaged in the erection of many other
buildings of importance in Jerusalem and in other parts of his kingdom. For the
long space of thirteen years he was engaged in the erection of a royal palace
on Ophel ( 1 Kings 7:1 - 12 ). It was 100 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high.
Its lofty roof was supported by forty-five cedar pillars, so that the hall was
like a forest of cedar wood, and hence probably it received the name of "The House
of the Forest of Lebanon." In front of this "house" was another building, which
was called the Porch of Pillars, and in front of this again was the "Hall of Judgment,"
or Throne-room ( 1 Kings 7:7 ; 10:18 - 20 ; 2 Chronicles 9:17 - 19 ), "the King's
Gate," where he administered justice and gave audience to his people. This palace
was a building of great magnificence and beauty. A portion of it was set apart
as the residence of the queen consort, the daughter of Pharaoh. From the palace
there was a private staircase of red and scented sandal wood which led up to the
Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of securing a plentiful supply
of water for the city (Ecclesiastes 2:4-6 ). He then built Millo (LXX., "Acra")
for the defence of the city, completing a line of ramparts around it ( 1 Kings
9:15 , 9:24 ; 11:27 ). He erected also many other fortifications for the defence
of his kingdom at various points where it was exposed to the assault of enemies
( 1 Kings 9:15 - 19 ; 2 Chronicles 8:2 - 6 ). Among his great undertakings must
also be mentioned the building of Tadmor (q.v.) in the wilderness as a commercial
depot, as well as a military outpost.
During his reign Palestine enjoyed great commercial prosperity. Extensive traffic
was carried on by land with Tyre and Egypt and Arabia, and by sea with Spain and
India and the coasts of Africa, by which Solomon accumulated vast stores of wealth
and of the produce of all nations ( 1 Kings 9:26 - 28 ; 10:11 , 10:12 ; 2 Chronicles
8:17 , 8:18 ; 9:21 ). This was the "golden age" of Israel. The royal magnificence
and splendour of Solomon's court were unrivalled. He had seven hundred wives and
three hundred concubines, an evidence at once of his pride, his wealth, and his
sensuality. The maintenance of his household involved immense expenditure. The
provision required for one day was "thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore
measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred
sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and fatted fowl" ( 1 Kings
4:22 , 4:23 ).
Solomon's reign was not only a period of great material prosperity, but was equally
remarkable for its intellectual activity. He was the leader of his people also
in this uprising amongst them of new intellectual life. "He spake three thousand
proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from
the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the
wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes"
( 1 Kings 4:32 , 4:33 ).
His fame was spread abroad through all lands, and men came from far and near "to
hear the wisdom of Solomon." Among others thus attracted to Jerusalem was "the
queen of the south" ( Matthew 12:42 ), the queen of Sheba, a country in Arabia
Felix. "Deep, indeed, must have been her yearning, and great his fame, which induced
a secluded Arabian queen to break through the immemorial custom of her dreamy
land, and to put forth the energy required for braving the burdens and perils
of so long a journey across a wilderness. Yet this she undertook, and carried
it out with safety." ( 1 Kings 10:1 - 13 ; 2 Chronicles 9:1 - 12 .) She was filled
with amazement by all she saw and heard: "there was no more spirit in her." After
an interchange of presents she returned to her native land.
But that golden age of Jewish history passed away. The bright day of Solomon's
glory ended in clouds and darkness. His decline and fall from his high estate
is a sad record. Chief among the causes of his decline were his polygamy and his
great wealth. "As he grew older he spent more of his time among his favourites.
The idle king living among these idle women, for 1,000 women, with all their idle
and mischievous attendants, filled the palaces and pleasure-houses which he had
built ( 1 Kings 11:3 ), learned first to tolerate and then to imitate their heathenish
ways. He did not, indeed, cease to believe in the God of Israel with his mind.
He did not cease to offer the usual sacrifices in the temple at the great feasts.
But his heart was not right with God; his worship became merely formal; his soul,
left empty by the dying out of true religious fervour, sought to be filled with
any religious excitement which offered itself. Now for the first time a worship
was publicly set up amongst the people of the Lord which was not simply irregular
or forbidden, like that of Gideon ( Judges 8:27 ), or the Danites ( Judges 18:30
, 18:31 ), but was downright idolatrous." ( 1 Kings 11:7 ; 2 Kings 23:13 .)
This brought upon him the divine displeasure. His enemies prevailed against him
( 1 Kings 11:14 - 22 , 11:23 - 25 , 11:26 - 40 ), and one judgment after another
fell upon the land. And now the end of all came, and he died, after a reign of
forty years, and was buried in the city of David, and "with him was buried the
short-lived glory and unity of Israel." "He leaves behind him but one weak and
worthless son, to dismember his kingdom and disgrace his name."
"The kingdom of Solomon," says Rawlinson, "is one of the most striking facts in
the Biblical history. A petty nation, which for hundreds of years has with difficulty
maintained a separate existence in the midst of warlike tribes, each of which
has in turn exercised dominion over it and oppressed it, is suddenly raised by
the genius of a soldier-monarch to glory and greatness. An empire is established
which extends from the Euphrates to the borders of Egypt, a distance of 450 miles;
and this empire, rapidly constructed, enters almost immediately on a period of
peace which lasts for half a century. Wealth, grandeur, architectural magnificence,
artistic excellence, commercial enterprise, a position of dignity among the great
nations of the earth, are enjoyed during this space, at the end of which there
is a sudden collapse. The ruling nation is split in twain, the subject-races fall
off, the pre-eminence lately gained being wholly lost, the scene of struggle,
strife, oppression, recovery, inglorious submission, and desperate effort, re-commences.",
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
peaceable; perfect; one who recompenses
Smith's Bible Dictionary
I. Early life and occasion to the throne . --
Solomon was the child of Davids old age, the last born of all his sons. ( 1 Chronicles
3:5 ) The yearnings of the "man of war" led him to give to the new-horn infant
the name of Solomon (Shelomoth, the peaceful one ). Nathan, with a marked reference
to the meaning of the kings own name (David, the darling, the beloved one ), calls
the infant Jedidiah (Jedidyah), that is, the darling of the Lord. ( 2 Samuel 11:24
, 11:25 ) He was placed under the care of Nathan from his earliest infancy. At
first, apparently, there was no distinct purpose to make him the heir. Absalom
was still the kings favorite son, ( 2 Samuel 13:37 ; 18:33 ) and was looked on
by the people as the destined successor. ( 2 Samuel 14:13 ; 15:1 - 6 ) The death
of Absalom when Solomon was about ten years old left the place vacant, and David
pledged his word in secret to Bath-sheba that he, and no other, should be the
heir. ( 1 Kings 1:13 ) The words which were spoken somewhat later express, doubtless,
the purpose which guided him throughout. ( 1 Chronicles 28:9 ; 20 ) His sons life
should not he as his own had been, one of hardships and wars, dark crimes and
passionate repentance, but, from first to last, be pure, blameless, peaceful,
fulfilling the ideal of glory and of righteousness after which he himself had
vainly striven. The glorious visions of ( Psalms 72:1 ) ... may be looked on as
the prophetic expansion of these hopes of his old age. So far,all was well. Apparently
his influence over his sons character was one exclusively for good. Nothing that
we know of Bath-sheba lends us to think of her as likely to mould her sons mind
and heart to the higher forms of goodness. Under these influences the boy grew
up. At the age of ten or eleven he must have passed through the revolt of Absalom,
and shared his fathers exile. ( 2 Samuel 15:16 ) He would be taught all that priests
or Levites or prophets had to teach. When David was old and feeble, Adonijah,
Solomons older brother attempted to gain possession of the throne; but he was
defeated, and Solomon went down to Gihon and was proclaimed and anointed king.
A few months more and Solomon found himself, by his fathers death, the sole occupant
of the throne. The position to which he succeeded was unique. Never before, and
never after, did the kingdom of Israel take its place among the great monarchies
of the East. Large treasures, accumulated through many years, were at his disposal.
II. Personal appearance . --
Of Solomons personal appearance we have no direct description, as we have of the
earlier kings. There are, however, materials for filling up the gap. Whatever
higher mystic meaning may be latent in ( Psalms 45:1 ) ... or the Song of Songs,
we are all but compelled to think of them us having had at least a historical
starting-point. They tell of one who was, in the eyes of the men of his own time,
"fairer than the children of men," the face "bright, and ruddy" as his fathers,
( Solomon 5:10 ; 1 Samuel 17:42 ) bushy locks, dark as the ravens wing, yet not
without a golden glow, the eyes soft as "the eyes of cloves," the "countenance
as Lebanon excellent as the cedars," "the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether
lovely." ( Solomon 5:13 - 18 ) Add to this all gifts of a noble, far-reaching
intellect large and ready sympathies, a playful and genial humor, the lips "full
of grace," and the soul "anointed" as "with the oil of gladness," ( Psalms 45:1
) ... and we may form some notion of what the king was like in that dawn of his
III. Reign . --
All the data for a continuous history that we have of
Solomons reign are-- (a) The duration of the reign, forty sears, B.C. 1015-975.
( 1 Kings 11:4 ) (b) The commencement of the temple in the fourth, its completion
in the eleventh, year of his reign. ( 1 Kings 6:1 , 6:37 , 6:38 ) (c) The commencement
of his own palace in the seventh, its completion in the twentieth, year. ( 1 Kings
7:1 ; 2 Chronicles 8:1 ) (d) The conquest of Hamath-zobah, and the consequent
foundation of cities in the region of north Palestine after the twentieth year.
( 2 Chronicles 8:1 - 6 )
IV. Foreign policy.
|(1) Egypt. The first act of the
foreign policy of the new reign must have been to most Israelites a very startling
one. He made affinity with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, by marrying his daughter (
1 Kings 3:1 ) The immediate results were probably favorable enough. The new queen
brought with her as a dowry the frontier city of Gezer. But the ultimate issue
of alliance showed that it was hollow and impolitic.
(2) Tyre. The alliance with the Phoenician king rested on a somewhat different
footing. It had been a part of Davids policy from the beginning of his reign.
Hiram had been "ever a lover of David." As soon as he heard of Solomons accession
he sent ambassadors to salute him. A correspondence passed between the two kings,
which ended in a treaty of commerce. The opening of Joppa as a port created a
new coasting-trade, and the materials from Tyre were conveyed to that city on
floats, and thence to Jerusalem. ( 2 Chronicles 2:16 ) In return for these exports,
the Phoenicians were only too glad to receive the corn and oil of Solomons territory.
The results of the alliance did not end here. Now, for the first time in the history
of the Jews, they entered on a career as a commercial people.
(3) The foregoing were the two most important to Babylon alliances. The absence
of any reference to Babylon and Assyria, and the fact that the Euphrates was recognized
as the boundary of Solomons kingdom, ( 2 Chronicles 9:26 ) suggests the inference
that the Mesopotamian monarchies were at this time comparatively feeble. Other
neighboring nations were content to pay annual tribute in the form of gifts. (
2 Chronicles 9:28 )
(4) The survey of the influence exercised by Solomon on surrounding nations would
be incomplete if we were to pass over that which was more directly personal the
fame of his glory and his wisdom. Wherever the ships of Tarshish went, they carried
with them the report, losing nothing in its passage, of what their crews had seen
and heard. The journey of the queen of Sheba, though from its circumstances the
most conspicuous, did not stand alone.
V. Internal history .--
The first prominent scene in Solomons reign is one which presents his character
in its noblest aspect. God in a vision having offered him the choice of good things
he would have, he chose wisdom in preference to riches or honor or long life.
The wisdom asked for was given in large measure, and took a varied range. The
wide world of nature, animate and inanimate, the lives and characters of men,
lay before him, and he took cognizance of all but the highest wisdom was that
wanted for the highest work, for governing and guiding, and the historian hastens
to give an illustration of it. The pattern-instance is, in all its circumstances,
thoroughly Oriental. ( 1 Kings 3:16-28 )
In reference to the kings finances, the first impression of the facts given us
is that of abounding plenty. Large quantities of the precious metals were imported
from Ophir and Tarshish. ( 1 Kings 9:28 ) All the kings and princes of the subject
provinces paid tribute in the form of gifts, in money and in kind, "at a fixed
rate year by year." ( 1 Kings 10:25 ) Monopolies of trade contributed to the kings
treasury. ( 1 Kings 10:28 , 10:29 ) The total amount thus brought into the treasury
in gold, exclusive of all payments in kind, amounted to 666 talents. ( 1 Kings
It was hardly possible, however, that any financial system could bear the strain
of the kings passion for magnificence. The cost of the temple was, it is true,
provided for by Davids savings and the offerings of the people; but even while
that was building, yet more when it was finished one structure followed on another
with ruinous rapidity. All the equipment of his court, the "apparel" of his servants
was on the same scale. A body-guard attended him, "threescore valiant men," tallest
and handsomest of the sons of Israel. Forty thousand stalls of horses for his
chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen made up the measure of his magnificence.
( 1 Kings 4:26 ) As the treasury became empty, taxes multiplied and monopolies
became more irksome.
A description of the temple erected by Solomon is given elsewhere. After seven
years and the work was completed and the day came to which all Israelites looked
back as the culminating glory of their nation.
We cannot ignore the fact that even now there were some darker shades in the picture.
He reduced the "strangers" in the land, the remnant of the Canaanite races, to
the state of helots, and made their life "bitter with all hard bondage." One hundred
and fifty-three thousand, with wives and children in proportion, were torn from
their homes and sent off to the quarries and the forests of Lebanon. ( 1 Kings
5:15 ; 2 Chronicles 2:17 , 2:18 ) And the king soon fell from the loftiest height
of his religious life to the lowest depth. Before long the priests and prophets
had to grieve over rival temples to Molech, Chemosh, Ashtaroth and forms of ritual
not idolatrous only, but cruel, dark, impure. This evil came as the penalty of
another. ( 1 Kings 11:1 - 8 ) He gave himself to "strange women." He found himself
involved in a fascination which led to the worship of strange gods. Something
there was perhaps in his very "largeness of heart," so far in advance of the traditional
knowledge of his age, rising to higher and wider thoughts of God, which predisposed
him to it. In recognizing what was true in other forms of faith, he might lose
his horror at what was false. With this there may have mingled political motives.
He may have hoped, by a policy of toleration, to conciliate neighboring princes,
to attract larger traffic. But probably also there was another influence less
commonly taken into account. The widespread belief of the East in the magic arts
of Solomon is not, it is believed, without its foundation of truth. Disasters
followed before long as the natural consequence of what was politically a blunder
as well as religiously a sin.
VI. His literary works. --
little remains out of the songs, proverbs, treatises, of which the historian speaks.
( 1 Kings 4:32 , 4:33 ) Excerpts only are given from the three thousand proverbs.
Of the thousand and five songs we know absolutely nothing. His books represent
the three stages of his life. The Song of Songs brings before us the brightness
of his -youth. Then comes in the book of Proverbs, the stage of practical, prudential
thought. The poet has become the philosopher, the mystic has passed into the moralist;
but the man passed through both stages without being permanently the better for
either. They were to him but phases of his life which he had known and exhausted,
( Ecclesiastes 1:1 ; 2:1 ) ... and therefore there came, its in the confessions
of the preacher, the great retribution.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
sol'-o-mun (shelomoh; New Testament Solomon):
I. EARLY LIFE
Solomon was the son of David and Bath-sheba, and became the 3rd king of Israel.
1. Name and Meaning
He was so named by his mother (2 Samuel 12:24, Qere; see TEXT AND MANUSCRIPTS
OF THE NEW TESTAMENT; TEXT OF THE OLD TESTAMENT), but by the prophet Nathan, or
by his father (Vulgate), he was called Jedidiah--"loved of Yahweh." The name "Solomon"
is derived from the root meaning "to be quiet" or "peaceful," and Solomon was
certainly the least warlike of all the kings of Israel or Judah, and in that respect
a remarkable contrast to his father (so 1 Chronicles 22:9). His name in Hebrew
compares with Irenaeus in Greek, Friedrich in German, and Selim in Arabic; but
it has been suggested that the name should be pronounced shillumah, from the word
denoting "compensation," Bath-sheba's second son being given in compensation for
the loss of the first (but see 3, below).
The oldest sources for the biography of Solomon are doubtless the "Annals of Solomon"
referred to in 1 Kings 11:41, the "history of Nathan the prophet," the "prophecy
of Ahijah the Shilonite" and the "visions of Iddo the seer," mentioned in 2 Chronicles
9:29, all which may be merely the relative sections of the great book of the "Annals
of the Kings" from which our Books of Kings and Chronicles are both derived. These
ancient works are, of course, lost to us save in so far as they have been embodied
in the Old Testament narrative. There the life of South is contained in 2 Samuel
12:24; 1 Kings 1-11; 1 Chronicles 22 - 2 Chronicles 9. Of these sources 2 Samuel
12:24 f and 1 Kings 1; 2 are much the oldest and in fact form part of one document,
2 Samuel 9 - 20; 1 Kings 1; 2 dealing with the domestic affairs of David, which
may well be contemporary with the events it describes. The date of the composition
of the Books of Chronicles is about 300 BC--700 years after the time of Solomon--and
the date of the Books of Kings, as a completed work, must, of course, be later
than the exile. Nothing of importance is gained from citations from early historians
in Josephus and later writers. Far and away the best source for, at least, the
inner life of Solomon would be the writings ascribed to him in the Old Testament,
could we be sure that these were genuine (see below).
3. Birth and Upbringing
The children of David by Bath-sheba are given in 1 Chronicles 3:5 as Shimea, Shobab,
Nathan and Solomon. Compare also 2 Samuel 5:14 ; 1 Chronicles 14:4, where the
same persons evidently are named. It would thus appear that Solomon was the 4th
son of Bath-sheba, supposing Shimea to be the child that died. Otherwise Solomon
would be the 5th son. There are therefore some events omitted in 2 Samuel 12:24,
or else the names Shobab and Nathan are remains of some clause which has been
lost, and not proper names. Like the heir apparent of a Turkish sultan, Solomon
seems to have spent his best years in the seclusion of the harem. There he was
doubtless more influenced by his mother than by his father, and in close intimacy
with his mother was the prophet Nathan, who had given him his by-name of fortunate
import (2 Samuel 12:25).
4. His Accession
It was not until David lay on his deathbed that Solomon left the women's quarters
and made his appearance in public. That he had been selected by David, as the
son of the favorite wife, to succeed him, is pre-supposed in the instructions
which he received from his father regarding the building of the Temple. But as
soon as it appeared that the life of David was nearing its end, it became evident
that Solomon was not to have a "walk over." He found a rival in Adonijah the son
of Haggith, who was apparently the eldest surviving son of his father, and who
had the support of Joab, by far the strongest man of all, of Abiathar, the leading,
if not the favorite, priest (compare 2 Samuel 15:24), and of the princes of the
royal house. Solomon, on the other hand, had the support of his mother Bath-sheba,
David s favorite wife, of Nathan the court prophet, of Zadok who had eclipsed
Abiathar, of Benaiah, the son of a priest, but one of the three bravest of David's
soldiers, and captain of the bodyguard of Cherethites and Pelethites, and of the
principal soldiers. It is especially noted that Shimei and Hushai (so Josephus)
took no active part at any rate with Adonijah (1 Kings 1:8). The conspiracy came
to nothing, for, before it developed, Solomon was anointed at Gibeon (not Gihon,
1 Kings 1:33 , 38 , 45), and entered Jerusalem as king.
5. Closing Days of David
The age of Solomon at his accession is unknown. The expression in 1 Kings 3:7
is not, of course, to be taken literally (otherwise Ant, VIII, vii, 8). His reign
opened, like that of many an oriental monarch, with a settlement in blood of the
accounts of the previous reign. Joab, David's nephew, who had brought the house
within the bounds of blood revenge, was executed. Adonijah, as soon as his father
had breathed his last, was on a nominal charge put to death. Abiathar was relegated
to his home at Anathoth (1 Kings 2:26). Conditions were imposed on Shimei which
he failed to keep and so forfeited his life (1 Kings 2:36). These steps having
been taken, Solomon began his reign, as it were, with a clean slate.
II. REIGN OF SOLOMON
1. His Vision
It was apparently at the very beginning of his reign that Solomon made his famous
choice of a "hearing heart," i.e. an obedient heart, in preference to riches or
long life. The vision took place at Gibeon (2 Chronicles 1:7, but in 1 Kings 3:4
f the ancient versions read "upon the altar that was in Gibeon. And the Lord appeared,"
etc.). The life of Solomon was a curious commentary on his early resolution. One
of the first acts of his reign was apparently, in the style of the true oriental
monarch, to build himself a new palace, that of his father being inadequate for
his requirements. In regard to politics, however, the events of Solomon's reign
may be regarded as an endorsement of his choice. Under him alone was the kingdom
of Israel a great world-power, fit almost to rank beside Assyria and Egypt. Never
again were the bounds of Israel so wide; never again were north and south united
in one great nation. There is no doubt that the credit of this result is due to
the wisdom of Solomon.
2. His Policy
Solomon was by nature an unwarlike person, and his whole policy was in the direction
of peace. He disbanded the above-mentioned foreign legion, the Cherethites and
Pelethites, who had done such good service as bodyguard to his father. All his
officers seem to have been mediocre persons who would not be likely to force his
hand, as Joab had done that of David (2 Samuel 3:39). Even the fortification of
Jerusalem and of the frontier towns was undertaken with a view to repel attack,
not for the purposes of offense. Solomon did, no doubt, strengthen the army, especially
the cavalry arm (1 Kings 4:26 ; 10:26), but he never made any use of this, and
perhaps it existed largely on paper. At any rate Solomon seems to have been rather
a breeder of and dealer in horse-flesh than a soldier. He appears also to have
had a fine collection of armor (1 Kings 10:25), but much of it was made of gold
(1 Kings 10:16) and was intended for show, not for use. Both in his reputation
for wisdom and in his aversion to war Solomon bears a striking resemblance to
King James VI of Scotland and I of England, as depicted by the hand of Sir Walter
Scott. It was fortunate for him that both the neighboring great powers were for
the time in a decadent state, otherwise the history of the kingdom of Israel would
have ended almost before it had begun. On the other hand, it has been remarked
that if Solomon had had anything like the military genius of David and his enthusiasm
for the religion of Yahweh, he might have extended the arms of Israel from the
Nile to the Tigris and anticipated the advent of Islam. But his whole idea was
to secure himself in peace, to amass wealth and indulge his love of grandeur with
more than oriental splendor.
3. Its Results
Solomon, in fact, was living on the achievements and reputation of his father,
who laid the basis of security and peace on which the commercial genius of Solomon
could raise the magnificent structure which he did. But he took the clay from
the foundations in order to build the walls. The Hebrews were a military people
and in that consisted their life. Solomon withdrew their energies from their natural
bent and turned them to cornmerce, for which they were not yet ripe. Their soul
rebelled under the irksome drudgery of an industry of which they did not reap
the fruits. Solomon had in fact reduced a free people to slavery, and concentrated
the wealth of the whole country in the capital. As soon as he was out of the way,
his country subjects threw off the yoke and laid claim to their ancient freedom.
His son found himself left with the city and a territory as small as an English
4. Alliance with Tyre
Solomon's chief ally was Hiram, the king of Tyre, probably the friend and ally
of David, who is to be distinguished from Hiram the artificer of 1 Kings 7:13.
Hiram the king entered into a treaty with Solomon which was to the advantage of
both parties. Hiram supplied Solomon with cedar and pine wood from Lebanon, as
well as with skilled artisans for his building. Tyrian sailors were also drafted
into the ships of Solomon, the Hebrews not being used to the sea (1 Kings 9:26),
besides which Phoenician ships sailed along with those of Solomon. The advantages
which Hiram received in return were that the Red Sea was open to his merchantmen,
and he also received large supplies of corn and oil from the land of Israel (1
Kings 5:11 corrected by Septuagint and 2 Chronicles 2:10). At the conclusion of
the building of the palace and Temple, which occupied 20 years, Solomon presented
Hiram with 20 villages (1 Kings 9:11; the converse, 2 Chronicles 8:2), and Hiram
made Solomon a return present of gold (1 Kings 9:14; omitted in 2 Chronicles).
5. Alliance with Egypt
Second to Hiram was the Pharaoh of Egypt, whose daughter Solomon married, receiving
as her dower the town of Gezer (1 Kings 9:16). This Pharaoh is not named in the
Old Testament. This alliance with Egypt led to the introduction of horses into
Israel (1 Kings 10:28), though David had already made a beginning on a small scale
(2 Samuel 8:4). Both these alliances lasted throughout the reign. There is no
mention of an alliance with the eastern power, which was then in a decadent state.
6. Domestic Troubles
It was probably nearer the beginning than the end of Solomon's reign that political
trouble broke out within the realm. When David had annexed the territory of the
Edomites at the cost of the butchery of the male population (compare 2 Samuel
8:14 ; Psalms 60, title) one of the young princes of the reigning house effected
his escape, and sought and found an asylum in Egypt, where he rose to occupy a
high station. No sooner had he heard of the death of David and Joab than he returned
to his native country and there stirred up disaffections against Solomon (1 Kings
11:14; see HADAD), without, however, restoring independence to Edom (1 Kings 9:26).
A second occasion of disaffection arose through a prophet having foretold that
the successor of Solomon would have one of the Israelite tribes only and that
the other ten clans would be under Solomon's master of works whom he had set over
them. This officer also took refuge in Egypt and was protected by Shishak. He
remained there until the death of Solomon (1 Kings 11:26). A third adversary was
Rezon who had fled from his master the king of Zobah (1 Kings 11:23), and who
established himself at Damascus and rounded a dynasty which was long a thorn in
the side of Israel. These domestic troubles are regarded as a consequence of the
falling away of Solomon from the path of rectitude, but this seems to be but a
kind of anticipative consequence, that is, if it was not till the end of his reign
that Solomon fell into idolatry and polytheism (1 Kings 11:4).
III. HIS BUILDINGS
1. The Temple
The great undertaking of the reign of Solomon was, of course, The TEMPLE (which
see), which was at first probably considered as the Chapel Royal and an adjunct
of the palace. The Temple was begun in the 4th year of the reign and finished
in the 11th, the work of the building occupying 7? years (1 Kings 6 ; 7:13). The
delay in beginning is remarkable, if the material were all ready to hand (1 Chronicles
22). Worship there was inaugurated with fitting ceremony and prayers (1 Kings
2. The Palace
To Solomon, however, his own palace was perhaps a more interesting undertaking.
It at any rate occupied more time, in fact 13 years (1 Kings 7:1 - 12 ; 9:10 ;
2 Chronicles 8:1), the time of building both palace and Temple being 20 years.
Possibly the building of the palace occupied the first four years of the reign
and was then intermitted and resumed after the completion of the Temple; but of
this there is no indication in the text. It was called the House of the Forest
of Lebanon from the fact that it was lined with cedar wood (1 Kings 7:2). A description
of it is given in 1 Kings 7:1-12.
3. Other Buildings
Solomon also rebuilt the wall of the city and the citadel (see JERUSALEM; MILLO).
He likewise erected castles at the vulnerable points of the frontiers--Hazor,
Megiddo and Gezer (1 Kings 9:15), lower Beth-horon and BAALATH (which see). According
to the Qere of 1 Kings 9:18 and the ancient versions as well as 2 Chronicles 8:4,
he was the founder of Tadmor (Palmyra); but the Kethibh of 1 Kings 9:18 reads
Tamar (compare Ezekiel 47:19). Some of the remains of buildings recently discovered
at Megiddo and Gezer may go back to the time of Solomon.
4. The Corvee
Solomon could not have built on the scale he did with the resources ordinarily
at the command of a free ruler. Accordingly we find that one of the institutions
fostered by him was the corvee, or forced labor. No doubt something of the kind
always had existed (Joshua 9:21) and still exists in all despotic governments.
Thus the people of a village will be called on to repair the neighboring roads,
especially when the Pasha is making a progress in the neighborhood. But Solomon
made the thing permanent and national (1 Kings 5:13 - 15 ; 9:15). The immediate
purpose of the levy was to supply laborers for work in the Lebanon in connection
with his building operations. Thus 30,000 men were raised and drafted, 10,000
at a time, to the Lebanon, where they remained for a month, thus having two months
out of every three at home. But even when the immediate cause had ceased, the
practice once introduced was kept up and it became one of the chief grievances
which levi to the dismemberment of the kingdom (1 Kings 12:18, Adoram = Adoniram;
compare 2 Samuel 20:24), for hitherto the corvee had been confined to foreign
slaves taken in war (1 Kings 9:21). It is said the higher posts were reserved
for Israelites, the laborers being foreigners (1 Kings 9:22), that is, the Israelites
acted as foremen. Some of the foreign slaves seem to have formed a guild in connection
with the Temple which lasted down to the time of the exile (Ezra 2:55 - 57 ; Nehemiah
7:57 - 59).
IV. HIS CHARACTER
1. Personal Qualities
In Solomon we have the type of a Turkish sultan, rather than a king of Israel.
The Hebrew kings, whether of Israel or Judah, were, in theory at least, elective
monarchs like the kings of Poland. If one happened to be a strong ruler, he managed
to establish his family it might be, for three or even four generations. In the
case of the Judean dynasty the personality of the first king made such a deep
impression upon the heart of the people that the question of a change of dynasty
there never became pressing. But Solomon would probably have usurped the crown
if he had not inherited it, and once on the throne he became a thoroughgoing despot.
All political power was taken out of the hands of the sheiks, although outward
respect was still paid to them (1 Kings 8:1), and placed in the hands of officers
who were simply creatures of Solomon. The resources of the nation were expended,
not on works of public utility, but on the personal aggrandizement of the monarch
(1 Kings 10:18). In the means he took to gratify his passions he showed himself
to be little better than a savage and if he did not commit such great crimes as
David, it was perhaps because he had no occasion, or because he employed greater
cunning in working out his ends.
2. His Wisdom
The wisdom for which Solomon is so celebrated was not of a very high order; it
was nothing more than practical shrewdness, or knowledge of the world and of human
nature. The common example of it is that given in 1 Kings 3:16, to which there
are innumerable parallels in Indian, Greek and other literatures. The same worldly
wisdom lies at the back of the Book of Proverbs, and there is no reason why a
collection of these should not have been made by Solomon just as it is more likely
that he was a composer of verses than that he was not (1 Kings 4:32). The statement
that he had breadth of heart (1 Kings 4:29) indicates that there was nothing known
which did not come within his ken.
3. His Learning
The word "wisdom," however, is used also in another connection, namely, in the
sense of theoretical knowledge or book leaning, especially in the department of
natural history. It is not to be supposed that Solomon had any scientific knowledge
of botany or zoology, but he may have collected the facts of observation, a task
in which the Oriental, who cannot generalize, excels. The wisdom and understanding
(1 Kings 4:29) for which Solomon was famous would consist largely in stories about
beasts and trees like the well-known Fables of Pilpai. They included also the
"wisdom" for which Egypt was famous (1 Kings 4:30), that is, occult science. It
results from this last statement that Solomon appears in post-Biblical and Arabian
literature as a magician.
4. Trade and Commerce
Solomon was very literally a merchant prince. He not only encouraged and protected
commerce, but engaged in it himself. He was in fact the predominant, if not sole,
partner in a great trading concern, which was nothing less than the Israelite
nation. One of his enterprises was the horse trade with Egypt. His agents bought
up horses which were again sold to the kings of the Hittites and the Arameans.
The prices paid are mentioned (1 Kings 10:29). The best of these Solomon no doubt
retained for his own cavalry (1 Kings 10:26). Another commodity imported from
that country was linen yarn (1 Kings 10:28 the King James Version). The navy which
Solomon built at the head of the Gulf of Akaba was not at all for military, but
purely commercial ends. They were ships of Tarshish, that is, merchant ships,
not ships to Tarshish, as 2 Chronicles 9:21. They traded to OPHIR (which see),
from which they brought gold; silver, ivory, apes and peacocks, the round voyage
lasting 3 years (1 Kings 9:26; 10:22). Special mention is made of "almug" (1 Kings
10:11) or "algum" (2 Chronicles 9:10) trees (which see). The visit of the Queen
of Sheba would point to the overland caravan routes from the Yemen being then
open (1 Kings 10:15). What with direct imports and the result of sales, silver
and cedar wood became very plentiful in the capital (1 Kings 10:27).
5. Officers of State
The list of Solomon's officers of state is given in 1 Kings 4:2. These included
a priest, two secretaries, a recorder, a commander-in-chief, a chief commissariat
officer, a chief shepherd (if we may read ro'eh for re'eh), a master of the household,
and the head of the corvee. The list should be compared with those of David's
officers (2 Samuel 8:16 ; 20:23). There is much resemblance, but we can see that
the machine of state was becoming more complicated. The bodyguard of foreign mercenaries
was abolished and the captain Benaiah promoted to be commander-in-chief. Two scribes
were required instead of one. Twelve commissariat officers were appointed whose
duty it was to forward from their districts the supplies for the royal household
and stables. The list of these officials, a very curious one, is given in 1 Kings
4:7. It is to be noted that the 12 districts into which the country was divided
did not coincide with the territories of the 12 tribes. It may be remarked that
Solomon seems as far as possible to have retained the old servants of his father.
It will be noticed also that in all the lists there is mention of more than one
priest. These "priests" retained some of their original functions, since they
acted as prognosticators and diviners.
Solomon's principal wife was naturally the daughter of Pharaoh; it was for her
that his palace was built (1 Kings 3:1 ; 7:8 ; 9:16 , 24). But in addition to
her he established marriage relations with the neighboring peoples. In some cases
the object was no doubt to cement an alliance, as with the Zidonians and Hittites
and the other nationalities (1 Kings 11:1), some of which were forbidden to Israelites
(Deuteronomy 7:3). It may be that the daughter of Pharaoh was childless or died
a considerable time before Solomon, but his favorite wife was latterly a grand-daughter
of Nahash, the Ammonite king (1 Kings 14:21 Septuagint), and it was her son who
succeeded to the throne. Many of Solomon's wives were no doubt daughters of wealthy
or powerful citizens who wished by an alliance with the king to strengthen their
own positions. Yet we do not read of his marrying an Israelite wife. According
to the Arabian story Bilqis, the Queen of Sheba who visited Solomon (1 Kings 10:1),.
was also married to him. He appears to have had only one son; we are not told
of any other than Rehoboam. His daughters were married to his own officers (1
Kings 4:11 , 15).
Solomon is said to have started his reign with a capital sum of 100,000 talents
of gold and a million talents of silver, a sum greater than the national debt
of Great Britain. Even so, this huge sum was ear-marked for the building of the
Temple (1 Chronicles 22:14). His income was, for one year, at any rate, 666 talents
of gold (1 Kings 10:14), or about twenty million dollars. This seems an immense
sum, but it probably was not so much as it looks. The great mass of the people
were too poor to have any commodities which they could exchange for gold. Its
principal use was for the decoration of buildings. Its purchasing power was probably
small, because so few could afford to buy it. It was in the same category as the
precious stones which are of great rarity, but which are of no value unless there
is a demand for them. In the time of Solomon there was no useful purpose to which
gold could be put in preference to any other metal.
8. Literary Works
It is not easy to believe that the age of Solomon, so glorious in other respects,
had not a literature to correspond. Yet the reign of the sultan Ismail in Morocco,
whom Solomon much resembles, might be cited in favor of such a supposition. Solomon
himself is stated to have composed 3,000 animal stories and 1,005 songs (1 Kings
4:32). In the Old Testament the following are ascribed to him: three collections
of Proverbs, 1:1 ; 10:1 ; 25:1 ; The Song of Songs; Psalms 72 and 127; Ecclesiastes
(although Solomon is not named). In Proverbs 25:1 the men of Hezekiah are said
to have copied out the following proverbs.
The relative portions of the histories by Ewald, Stanley (who follows Ewald),
Renan, Wellhausen and Kittel; also H. Winckler, Alttestamentliche Untersuchungen;
and the commentaries on the Books of Kings and Chronicles.
Thomas Hunter Weir
300 concubines, 700 wives, alliance with egypt, ark of the covenant, bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, father of rehoboam, history, idolatry, jedidiah, king of israel, married daughter of pharaoh, polygamy, porch of pillars, proverbs, shelomoh, solomon, son of david and bathsheba, temple, wisdom