Solomon

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Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

Shlomoh in Hebrew. Second child of David by Bathsheba. Josephus makes Solomon last born of David's sons (Ant. 7:14, section 2). His history is contained in  2 Samuel 12:24-25;  1 Chronicles 22:6-16;  1 Chronicles 22:1 Kings 1-11; 2 Chronicles 1-9. The leading events of his life were selected, under inspiration: namely, his grandeur, extensive commerce, and wisdom, etc. ( 1 Kings 9:10-10:29), from "the book of the Acts of Solomon"; his accession and dedication of the temple (1 Kings 1 - 1 Kings 8:66) from "the book of Nathan the prophet"; his idolatry and its penal consequences (1 Kings 11) from "the book of Ahijah the Shilonite and the visions of Iddo the seer." Psalm 72 was his production under the Spirit. Its objective character accords with Solomon's other writings, whereas subjective feeling characterizes David's psalms. Solomon's glorious and wide kingdom typifies Messiah's. The Nile, Mediterranean, and Euphrates, were then Israel's bounds ( 1 Kings 4:21;  2 Chronicles 9:26) as promised in  Genesis 15:18;  Deuteronomy 11:24.

From thence Messiah is to reign to the ends of the earth ( Deuteronomy 11:8;  Isaiah 9:5-6; Isaiah 11;  Zechariah 9:10; see  Micah 5:4;  Numbers 24:19). "The song of degrees," i.e. for Israelites going up to the great feasts at Jerusalem (Psalm 127), was also Solomon's. It has no trace of the sadness which pervades "the songs of degrees" without titles, and which accords with the post captivity period. The individual comes into prominence here, whereas they speak more of the nation and church. The theme suits Solomon who occupied chiefly the domestic civic territory. The main thought answers to  Proverbs 10:22, "so God giveth His beloved sleep," i.e. undisturbed repose and wealth without the anxieties of the worldly, in a way they know not how ( Mark 4:27). So God gave to His beloved S. in sleep (Hengstenberg Supplies "In") ;  Matthew 6:25;  Matthew 6:34. Jedidiah ("beloved of Jehovah,"  Psalms 127:2) was his God-given name ( Psalms 60:5). Solomon evidently refers ( Psalms 60:2) to his own experience ( 1 Kings 3:5-13;  1 Kings 4:20-25), yet in so unstudied a way that the coincidence is evidently undesigned, and so confirms the authenticity of both psalm and independent history. (See Proverbs; Canticles; Ecclesiastes )

His name Solomon , "peaceful", was given in accordance with the early prophecy that, because of wars, David should not build Jehovah's house, but that a son should be born to him, "a man of rest," who should build it ( 1 Chronicles 22:9; compare the fulfillment  1 Kings 4:25;  1 Kings 5:4, and the Antitype  Matthew 11:29;  Psalms 132:8-14;  Isaiah 11:10;  Isaiah 9:6;  Ephesians 2:14). His birth was to David a pledge that God is at peace with him. Jehovah commissioned Nathan ("Sent By The Hand Of Nathan") , and Nathan called David's son Jedidiah "for Jehovah's sake," i.e. because Jehovah loved him. Jehovah's naming him so assured David that Jehovah loved Solomon. Jedidiah was therefore not his actual name, but expressed Jehovah's relation to him ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25). Tradition makes Nathan the prophet his instructor, Jehiel was governor of the royal princes ( 1 Chronicles 27:32). Jehovah chose Solomon of all David's sons to be his successor, and promised to be his father, and to establish his kingdom for ever, if he were constant to His commandments ( 1 Chronicles 28:5-6-7).

Accordingly David swore to Bathsheba that her son should succeed. She pleaded this at the critical moment of Adonijah's rebellion ( 1 Kings 1:13;  1 Kings 1:17;  1 Kings 1:30). (See Adonijah .) By the interposition of Nathan the prophet, Zadok the priest, Benaiah, Shimei, and Rei, David's mighty men, Solomon was at David's command taken on the king's own mule to Gihon, anointed, and proclaimed king. Solomon would have spared Adonijah but for his incestuous and treasonous desire to have Abishag his father's concubine; he mercifully spared the rest of his brothers who had joined Adonijah. (See Adonijah .) Abiathar he banished to Anathoth for treason, thus fulfilling the old curse on Eli ( 1 Samuel 2:31-35). (See Abiathar .) Joab the murderer he put to death, according to his father's dying charge, illustrating Solomon's own words,  Ecclesiastes 8:12-13. Shimei fell by breaking his own engagement on oath.

Solomon's reverent dutifulness to his mother amidst all his kingly state appears in the narrative ( 1 Kings 2:12;  Exodus 20:12;  Psalms 45:9;  Proverbs 1:8;  Proverbs 4:3;  Proverbs 6:20;  Proverbs 10:1). The ceremonial of coronation and anointing was repeated more solemnly before David and all the congregation, with great sacrifices and glad feastings, Zadok at the same time being anointed "priest"; and Jehovah magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel ( 1 Chronicles 29:20-25). He was "yet young and tender" ( 1 Chronicles 29:1;  1 Chronicles 22:5;  1 Kings 3:7; "I am but a little child,"  Proverbs 4:3); perhaps 20 years of age: as Rehoboam was 41 at his accession and Solomon had reigned 40 years, Rehoboam must have been born before Solomon's accession ( 1 Kings 11:42;  1 Kings 14:21). Solomon loved the Lord who had first loved him;  1 Kings 3:3. (See Jedidiah .)

He walked in David's godly ways but there being no one exclusive temple yet, he sacrificed in high places, especially at the great high place in Gibeon, where was the tabernacle with its altar, while the ark was in Zion. After his offering there a thousand burnt offerings God in vision gave him his choice of goods. In the spirit of a child (see  1 Corinthians 2:14) he asked for an understanding heart to discern between good and bad (compare  James 1:5;  James 3:17;  2 Timothy 3:17;  Proverbs 2:3-9;  Psalms 72:1-2;  Hebrews 5:14). God gave him, besides wisdom, what he had not asked, riches, honour, and life, because he made wisdom his first desire ( James 4:3;  1 John 5:14-15;  Ecclesiastes 1:16;  Matthew 6:33;  Ephesians 3:20;  Proverbs 3:2;  Proverbs 3:16;  Psalms 91:16). His wise decision as to the owner of the living child established his reputation for wisdom.

His Egyptian queen, Pharaoh's daughter, is distinguished from "the strange women" who seduced him to idolatry ( 1 Kings 11:1), and no Egyptian superstitions are mentioned. Still he did not let her as a foreigner stay in the palace of David, sanctified as it was by the presence of the ark, but assigned her a dwelling in the city of David and then brought her up out of the city of David to the palace he had built for her ( 2 Chronicles 8:11;  1 Kings 9:24;  1 Kings 3:1). Gezer was her dowry. (See Gezer .) Toward the close of his reign God chastised him for idolatry because, beginning with latitudinarian toleration of his foreign wives' superstitions, be ended with adopting them himself; retaining at the same time what cannot be combined with idolatry, Jehovah's worship ( Ezekiel 20:39;  Ezekiel 20:1 Kings 11). Jeroboam "lifted up his hand against the king, and fled to Shishak (Of A New Dynasty) of Egypt"; Rezon of Zobah on the N.E. frontier and Hadad the Edomite became his adversaries, Solomon otherwise had uninterrupted peace. (See Jeroboam ; Rezon; Hadad )

Among his buildings were the famous Tadmor or Palmyra in the wilderness, to carry on commerce with inland Asia, and store cities in Hamath; Bethhoron, the Upper and the Nether, on the border toward Philistia and Egypt; Hazor and Megiddo, guarding the plain of Esdraelon; Baalath or Baalbek, etc. (See Tadmor .) (On  1 Kings 10:28 , See Linen, And On  1 Kings 10:29 , See Horse.) Tiphsah ("Thapsacus") on the Euphrates ( 1 Kings 4:24) was his limit in that direction. On Lebanon he built lofty towers ( 2 Chronicles 8:6;  Song of Solomon 7:4) "looking toward Damascus" ( 1 Kings 9:19). The Hittite and Syrian kings, vassals of Solomon, were supplied from Egypt with chariots and horses through the king's merchants. Hiram was his ally, and supplied him with timber in return for 20,000 measures ( Core ) of wheat and 20 measures of pure oil (1 Kings 5). Solomon gave him at the end of his great buildings 20 cities in Galilee, with which Hiram was dissatisfied. (See Cabul .)

Solomon had his navy at Ezion Geber, near Eloth on the Red Sea, which went to Ophir and brought back 420 talents of gold; and a navy of Tarshish which sailed with Hiram's navy in the Mediterranean, bringing every three years "gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks." (See Tarshish .) For the first time Israel began to be a commercial nation, and Solomon's occupation of Edom enabled him to open to Hiram his ally a new field of commerce. His own interest in it is evidenced by his going in person to Elath and Ezion Geber to view the preparations for expeditions ( 2 Chronicles 8:17; compare his allusions to seafaring life,  Proverbs 23:34-35). Silver flowed in so plentifully that it was "nothing accounted of"; of gold yearly came in 666 (The Number Of The Beast,  Revelation 13:18 ) talents; a snare to him and his people, seducing the heart from God to luxurious self indulgence ( 1 Kings 4:20;  1 Kings 4:25). Heretofore "dwelling alone, and not reckoned among the nations," Israel now was in danger of conformity to them in their idolatries ( 1 Kings 10:14). The Temple and his palace were his great buildings. (See Temple .)

Hiram, a widow's son of Naphtali by a Tyrian father, was his chief artificer in brass. Solomon's men, 30,000, i.e. 10,000 a month, the other 20,000 having two months' relief, cut timber in Lebanon; 70,000 bore loads; 80,000 hewed stone in the mountains and under the rock, where the mason's Phoenician marks have been found; chiefly Canaanites, spared on conforming to Judaism; 3,300 officers were over these workmen. The preparation of stones took three years (Septuagint  1 Kings 5:18 ) . The building of the temple began in Ζif , the second month of his fourth year; the stones were brought ready, so that no sound of hammer was heard in the house; in seven years it was completed, in the month Βul ('November"), his 11th year ( 1 Kings 6:37-38); eleven months later Solomon offered the dedication prayer, after the ark had been placed in the holiest place and the glory cloud filled the sanctuary; this was during the feast of tabernacles.

He recognizes in it God's covenant-keeping faithfulness ( 1 Kings 8:23-26); His being unbounded by space, so that "the heaven of heavens cannot contain Him," much less any temple; yet he begs God to regard the various prayers which should, under various exigencies, be offered there ( Isaiah 66:1;  Jeremiah 23:24;  Acts 7:24). He acknowledges His omniscience as knowing already the plague of each heart which the individual may confess before Him. After kneeling in prayer Solomon stood to bless God, at the same time begging Him to incline Israel's heart unto Himself and to "maintain their cause at all times as the matter shall require" (Hebrew "The Thing Of A Day In Its Day")  1 Kings 8:59;  Luke 11:3. God's answer ( 1 Kings 9:3) at His second appearance to Solomon in Gibeon was the echo of his prayer ( 1 Kings 8:29), "Mine eyes and Mine heart shall be there perpetually" ( 1 Kings 9:3), but God added a warning that if Israel should apostatize the temple should become "a bye-word among all people." The building of Solomon's palace occupied 13 years, after the temple, which was built in seven. It consisted of

(1) the house of the forest of Lebanon, built of a forest of cedar pillars, and serving also as an armory ( 1 Kings 10:17),  1 Kings 10:100 cubits long, 50 broad, 30 high, on four rows of cedar pillars and hewn cedar beams over the pillars. There were 45 side rooms, forming three stories of 15 rooms each, built upon the lower rows of pillars in ranges of 15 each; the windows of the three stories on one side were Vis A Vis to those on the opposite side of the inner open court enclosed between them (Keil on 1 Kings 7). An artificial platform of stones of ten and eight cubits formed the foundation; as in Sennacherib's palace remains at Koyunjik, and at Baalbek stones 60 ft. long, probably laid by Solomon.

(2) The pillar hall with the porch ( 1 Kings 7:6) lying between the house of the forest of Lebanon and

(3) The throne room and judgment hall ( 1 Kings 7:7).

(4) The king's dwelling house and that of Pharaoh's daughter ( 1 Kings 7:8). All four were different parts of the one palace. His throne, targets, stables, harem (Both The Latter Forbidden By God,  Deuteronomy 17:16-17 ) , paradises at Εtham ("wady Urtas"), men and women singers ( Ecclesiastes 2:5-8), commissariat, and officers of the household and state, all exhibit his magnificence (1 Kings 4; 1 Kings 10-11).

His might and greatness of dominion permanently impressed the oriental mind; Solomon is evidently alluded to in the Persian king Artaxerxes' answer, "there have been mighty kings over Jerusalem which have ruled overall countries beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom was paid unto them." The queen of Sheba's (Arabian Tradition Calls Her Βalkis ) visit illustrates the impression made by his fame, which led "all the earth to seek to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart"; she "hearing of his fame concerning the name of Jehovah" (I.E. Which He Had Acquired Through Jehovah'S Glorification Of Himself In Him) brought presents of gold, spices, and precious stones. (See Sheba .)

Josephus attributes to her the introduction of the balsam for which Judaea was afterward famed ( 1 Kings 10:1-25). Northern Arabia was at this time ruled by queens not kings, but she probably came from southern Arabia or Arabia Felix. Like the wise men coming to the Antitype, she came with a great train, and with camels laden with presents, in search of Heaven-sent wisdom ( Proverbs 1:6;  Matthew 2:1), "to prove Solomon with hard questions" ( Chidah , Pointed Sayings Hinting At Deep Truths Which Are To Be Guessed; Very Common In Arabic Literature) , and to commune with him of all that was in her heart; compare as to these "hard questions"  Proverbs 30:18, etc.,  Proverbs 30:15-16;  Judges 14:12-19; also Josephus (Ant. 8:5, section 3) quotes Phoenician writers who said that Solomon and Hiram puzzled one another with sportive riddles; Hiram at first had to pay forfeits, but was ultimately the winner by the help of a sharp Tyrian lad Abdemon.

The queen of Sheba confessed that she believed not the report until her own eyes saw its truth, yet that half was not told her, his wisdom and prosperity exceeded the fame which she had heard (Compare Spiritually  John 1:46 ;  John 4:42 ) . Her coming to Solomon from so far condemns those who come not to Him who is infinitely greater, Wisdom itself, though near at hand, and needing no long pilgrimage to reach Him ( Matthew 12:42;  Proverbs 8:34). He is the true "Prince of peace," the Jedid-Jah "the well beloved of the Father." "God gave Solomon wisdom ( Chokmah , "Practical Wisdom" To Discern The Judicious Course Of Action) , and understanding ( Tebunah , "Keenness Of Intellect" To Solve Problems) , and largeness of heart ("Large Mental Capacity" Comprising Varied Fields Of Knowledge) as the sand," i.e. abundant beyond measure ( 1 Kings 4:29). He excelled the famous wise men of the East and of Egypt ( Isaiah 19:11;  Isaiah 31:2;  Acts 7:22). Of his 3,000 proverbs we have a sample in the Book of Proverbs; of his 1,005 songs we have only the Song of Solomon (Its Five Divisions Probably Are Referred To In The Odd Five) , and Psalm 72 and Psalm 127. (See PROVERBS.)

He knew botany, from the lowly hyssop (Probably The Tufty Wall Moss, Οrthotrichum Saxatile , A Miniature Of The True And Large Hyssop) to the stately cedar. He also spoke of the results of his observations in the natural history of beasts, birds, creeping things, and fish. As an autocrat, Solomon was able to carry on his magnificent buildings and works, having an unbounded command of wealth and labour. But the people's patience was tried with the heavy taxes and levies of provisions ( 1 Samuel 8:15;  1 Kings 4:21-23) and conscriptions required ( 1 Kings 5:13). Thus by divine retribution the scourge was being prepared for his apostasy through his idolatrous mistresses. God declared by His prophet His purpose to rend the kingdom, except one tribe, from his son ( 1 Kings 11:9, etc.). One trace of the servitude of the "hewers of stone" existed long after in the so-called children or descendants of "Solomon'S Servants" attached to the temple ( Ezra 2:55-58;  Nehemiah 7:57;  Nehemiah 7:60); inferior to the Nethinim, hewers of wood ( 1 Kings 5:13-15;  1 Kings 5:17-18;  1 Kings 9:20-21;  2 Chronicles 8:7-8;  1 Chronicles 22:2), compelled to labour in the king's stone quarries. (See Nethinim .)

His apostasy was the more glaring, contrasted with God's goodness in appearing to him twice, blessing him so much, and warning him so plainly; also with his own former scrupulous regard for the law, so that he would not let his Egyptian queen remain in the neighbourhood of the ark; and especially with his devout prayer at the dedication. See the lesson to us,  1 Corinthians 10:12. Solomon probably repented in the end; for Chronicles make no mention of his fall. Again Ecclesiastes is probably the result of his melancholy, but penitent, retrospect of the past; "all is vanity and vexation of spirit": it is not vanity, but wisdom as well as our whole duty, to "fear God and keep His commandments." (See Ecclesiastes .)

God having made him His Jedidiah ("beloved of Jehovah") "visited his transgression with the rod, nevertheless His lovingkindness He did not utterly take from him" ( Psalms 89:30-36). As the Song of Solomon represents his first love to Jehovah in youth, so Proverbs his matured experience in middle age, Ecclesiastes the sad retrospect of old age. "Solomon in all his glory" was not arrayed as one of the "lilies of the field": a reproof of our pride ( Matthew 6:29). The sudden rise of the empire under David and Solomon, extending 450 miles from Egypt to the Euphrates, and its sudden collapse under Rehoboam, is a feature not uncommon in the East. Before Darius Hystaspes' time, when the satrapial system was introduced of governing the provinces on a common plan by officers of the crown, the universal system of great empires was an empire consisting of separate kingdoms, each under its own king, but "paying tribute or presents to the one" Suzerain , as Solomon.

The Tyrian historians on whom Dius and Menander base their histories (Josephus, Apion 1:17) confirm Hiram's connection with Solomon, and state that letters between them were preserved in the Tyrian archives and fix the date as at the close of the 11th century B.C., and the building of the temple 1007 B.C. Menander (in Clem. Alex., Strom. 1:386) states that Solomon took one of Hiram's daughters to wife, so "Zidonians" are mentioned among his wives ( 1 Kings 11:1). At first sight it seems unlikely Israel could be so great under David and Solomon for half a century in the face of two mighty empires, Egypt and Assyria. But independent history confirms Scripture by showing that exactly at this time, from the beginning of the 11th to the close of the 10th century B.C., Assyria was under a cloud, and Egypt from 1200 B.C. to Shishak's accession 990 B.C. Solomon was prematurely "old" ( 1 Kings 11:4), for he was only about 60 at death.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

SOLOMON

1. Sources .   1 Kings 1:1-53;   1 Kings 2:1-46; 1Ki 3:1-28;   1 Kings 4:1-34;   1 Kings 5:1-18;   1 Kings 6:1-38; 1Ki 7:1-51;   1 Kings 8:1-66;   1 Kings 9:1-28;   1 Kings 10:1-29;   1 Kings 11:1-43 (cf.   1 Kings 11:41 ), with parallels in   2 Chronicles 1:1-17;   2 Chronicles 2:1-18;   2 Chronicles 3:1-17; 2Ch 4:1-22;   2 Chronicles 5:1-14;   2 Chronicles 6:1-42;   2 Chronicles 7:1-22; 2Ch 8:1-18;   2 Chronicles 9:1-31 (add references in closing chs. of 1 Ch.). In Chronicles the character of Solomon, as of the period as a whole, is idealized; e.g. nothing is said of the intrigues attending his accession, his foreign marriages and idolatry, or his final troubles, even with Jeroboam. Details are added or altered in accordance with post-exilic priestly conceptions (  2 Chronicles 5:12-13;   2 Chronicles 7:5;   2 Chronicles 8:11-15 );   2 Chronicles 1:3 (cf.   1 Kings 3:4 ) makes the sacrifice at Gibeon more orthodox; the dream becomes a theophany; in   2 Chronicles 7:1;   2 Chronicles 7:3 fire comes down from heaven. In   2 Chronicles 9:29 reference is made to authorities, possibly sections of 1Kings.; there is no evidence that the Chronicler was able to go behind 1, 2Kings. for his materials. The books of OT and Apocrypha ascribed to Solomon are of value only as giving later conceptions of his career. Josephus ( Ant. viii. i viii.) cannot be relied on where be differs from OT; the same holds good of the fragments quoted by Eusebius and Clemens Alexandrinus. Later legends, Jewish and Mohammedan, are interesting, but historically valueless; the fact that they have in no way influenced the OT narrative is an evidence of its general reliability; only two dreams and no marvels are recorded of Solomon. Archæology has so far contributed very little to our knowledge of his reign.

2. Chronology . His accession is dated c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 969, i.e. about 50 years later than the traditional chronology. We have unfortunately no exact data, the dates of Hiram and Shishak (  1 Kings 11:40 ) not having been precisely determined. The origin and interpretation of the 480 years in   1 Kings 6:1 are very doubtful. The ‘little child’ of   1 Kings 3:7 (cf.   Jeremiah 1:6 ) does not require the tradition that Solomon was only twelve at his accession (Josephus); the probabilities point to his being about twenty. The 40 years of his reign, as of David’s (cf.   Judges 3:11;   Judges 3:30;   Judges 5:31;   Judges 8:28 etc.), would seem to represent a generation.

3. Early years . Solomon was the son of David and Bathsheba (  2 Samuel 12:24-25 ), presumably their eldest surviving child; his position in the lists of   2 Samuel 5:14 ,   1 Chronicles 3:5;   1 Chronicles 14:4 is strange, perhaps due to emphasis. The name means ‘peaceful’ (Heb. Shetômoh  ; cf. IrenÅ“us, Friedrich ), indicating the longing of the old king (  1 Chronicles 22:9 ); cf. Absatom (‘father is peace’). The name given him by Nathan (  2 Samuel 12:25 ), Jedidiah (‘beloved of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] ,’ the same root as David ), is not again referred to, perhaps as being too sacred. It was the pledge of his father’s restoration to Divine favour. We have no account of his training. ‘The Lord loved him’ (  2 Samuel 12:24 ) implies great gifts; and   2 Samuel 12:25 and   1 Kings 1:1-53 suggest the influence of Nathan. His mother evidently had a strong hold over him (  1 Kings 1:1-53;   1 Kings 2:1-46 ).

4. Accession . The appointment of a successor in Eastern monarchies depended on the king’s choice, which in Israel needed to be ratified by the people (  1 Kings 12:1-33 ); where polygamy prevails, primogeniture cannot be assumed.   1 Kings 1:13 implies a previous promise to Bathsheba, perhaps a ‘court secret’; the public proclamation of   1 Chronicles 22:2-19 , if at all historical, must be misplaced. Adonijah, ‘a very goodly man’ (  1 Kings 1:6 ), relying on the favour of the people (  1 Kings 2:15 ) [it is doubtful whether he was the eldest surviving son], made a bid for the throne, imitating the method of Absalom and taking advantage of David’s senility. He was easily foiled by the prompt action of Nathan and Bathsheba; Solomon himself was evidently young, though soon able to assert himself. The careful and impressive ritual of the coronation was calculated to leave no doubt in the people’s mind as to who was the rightful heir. The young king learned quickly to distinguish between his friends and enemies, as well as to rely on the loyalty of the Cherethites, his father’s foreign bodyguard. The sparing of Adonijah (  1 Kings 1:53 ) suggests that he was not a very formidable competitor; his plot was evidently badly planned. His request to Bathsheba (  1 Kings 2:13 ) may have been part of a renewed attempt on the kingdom (as heir he claims his father’s wives), or may have been due to real affection. At any rate the king’s suspicion or jealousy was aroused, and his rival was removed; Canticles suggests that Solomon himself was believed to have been the lover of Abishag. The deposition of Abiathar, and the execution of Joab and Shimei, were natural consequences; and in the case of the two last, Solomon was only following the advice of his father (  1 Kings 2:5;   1 Kings 2:8 ). He thus early emphasized his power to act, and as a result ‘his kingdom was established greatly’ at a cheap cost. We shall hardly criticise the removal of dangerous rivals when we remember the fate which he himself would have met if Adonijah had succeeded (  1 Kings 1:21 ), and the incidents common at the beginning of a new reign (  2 Kings 11:1; cf.   Proverbs 25:5 ).

5. Policy . The work of Solomon was to develop the ideas of his father. He consolidated the kingdom, welding its disorganized tribal divisions together into a short-lived unity, by the power of an Oriental despotism. The subjugation of the Canaanites was completed (  1 Kings 9:20 ). The position of Jerusalem as the capital was secured by the building of the Temple and palaces and by the fortification of Millo (  1 Kings 9:24 ,   1 Kings 11:27 ). A chain of garrison and store cities was established (  1 Kings 9:15 ), together with a standing army which included 12,000 horsemen and 1400 chariots (  1 Kings 4:26 ,   1 Kings 10:26 ). The extent of his dominions (  1 Kings 4:21;   1 Kings 4:24 ) may represent the idea of a later age, and Eastern monarchs were ready to claim suzerainty where there was but little effective control. But inscriptions show us how kaleidoscopic were the politics of the period; kingdoms rose and fell very quickly, and the surrounding States were all at the time in a state of weakness. It was this that enabled his reign to be a generation of peace. His troubles (  1 Kings 11:9-40 ) were very few for so long a life. The hostility of Hadad (  1 Kings 11:14 ff.) was a legacy from David, but there is no evidence that he became king of Edom. Rezon (  1 Kings 11:23 ) conquered Damascus and founded a dynasty, but we hear nothing of any serious war. Nothing is known of the Hamath-zobah which Solomon subdued (  2 Chronicles 8:3 ). More than any other Jewish king, he realized the importance of foreign alliances , which were closely connected with his commercial policy . ( a ) Early in his reign he married Pharaoh’s daughter (  1 Kings 3:1 ), who brought as her marriage portion Gezer (  1 Kings 9:16 ). This Pharaoh was apparently the last of the Tanite (21st) dynasty a confused period of which little is known; we have no other notice of the connexion between Egypt and Palestine at this period. Solomon was able to control, and no doubt profited by, the caravan trade between the Euphrates and the Nile. The caravanserai of Chimham (  Jeremiah 41:17; cf.   2 Samuel 19:37 ,   1 Kings 2:7 ) may have been established at this period in connexion with that trade. From Egypt (unless a N. Syrian Musri is intended) came horses and chariots for Solomon’s own use, and for the purposes of a Syrian trade (  1 Kings 10:28-29 ). The alliance was apparently not disapproved at the time (cf.   Psalms 45:1-17 ), but it was not continued; Shishak protects Jeroboam (  1 Kings 11:40 ). ( b ) The alliance with Hiram of Tyre (according to Clem. Alex. [Note: lex. Alexandrian.] , Solomon also married his daughter, cf.   1 Kings 11:1;   1 Kings 11:5 ) was a continuation of the policy of David [but unless this Hiram was the son of David’s ally the building of the palace in   2 Samuel 5:11 is put too early]. This was in connexion with his building operations (  2 Samuel 5:1-12 ). Timber from Lebanon was brought by sea to Joppa, together with skilled workmen from Tyre, especially the Gebalites (  2 Samuel 5:18 , cf.   Ezekiel 27:8 ); Hiram, a worker in brass, is particularly mentioned (  1 Kings 7:13 ). The yearly payment consisted of agricultural commodities (  1 Kings 5:11; note exaggerations in   2 Chronicles 2:10 ). A grant of twenty cities in Galilee was unsatisfactory to Hiram, though he apparently paid for them (  1 Kings 9:10-14 ). A more substantial return was the security which Solomon was able to offer to PhÅ“nician trade with the E [Note: Elohist.] ., and, above all, access to the port of Ezion-geber on the Red Sea, made possible by his suzerainty over Edom. Tamar (  1 Kings 9:18 RV [Note: Revised Version.] [AV [Note: Authorized Version.] ‘Tadmor’]) in S. Judah apparently protected the route to the port. A lucrative trade was carried on by the two kings in partnership, in gold, spices, sandalwood, apes, peacocks, etc. (  1 Kings 9:26 ,   1 Kings 10:11;   1 Kings 10:22 ). The extent of their voyages is a mystery, the situation of both Ophir and Tarshish being unknown. Assuming that there was only one Tarshish, and that in the West, it is still very doubtful whether Solomon can have been allowed any share in the Mediterranean trade; ‘ships of Tarshish’ may be only a name for a particular type of vessel. The Ophir trade must have been connected with S. Arabia; hence no doubt the visit of the queen of Sheba (  1 Kings 10:1 ); the ‘presents’ exchanged would be really of the nature of barter, as illustrated by the Tell el-Amarna tablets. The Jews never took kindly to the sea, and, except for the abortive attempt of Jehoshaphat (  1 Kings 22:48 ), Solomon’s policy found no imitators.

6. Internal condition of his kingdom . The impression is given us of great wealth. Though the sums left by David (  1 Chronicles 22:14 ) are incredible (equal to a thousand million pounds), Solomon’s own revenue (four millions,   1 Kings 10:14 ) is possible for an exceptional year. But the gold was used chiefly in unproductive forms of display (  1 Kings 10:16 ff.), and probably but little was in circulation among the people; he had a difficulty in paying Hiram (  1 Kings 9:11 ). His passion for buildings was extravagant; the Temple was seven years in building (  1 Kings 6:38 ); his own house thirteen (  1 Kings 7:1 ); there was also the palace for his wife (  1 Kings 7:8 ). He had an enormous court (note list of officers in   1 Kings 4:2 ) and harem (  1 Kings 11:1 ), necessitating a luxurious daily provision (  1 Kings 4:22 ). The country was divided into twelve parts, under twelve officers, each responsible for a month’s supplies (  1 Kings 4:7 ); these did not coincide with the tribal divisions, and Judah was exempt. For the building operations a mas or forced levy was organized under Adoram (  1 Kings 5:13 , cf.   2 Samuel 20:24 ) with numerous subordinates (  1 Kings 5:16 ,   1 Kings 9:23 ); 30,000 men were sent to Lebanon, 10,000 a month; there were carriers and hewers (  2 Samuel 5:15 ), and the aborigines were used as helots (  1 Kings 9:20 ,   Ezra 2:55 mentions their descendants). The mas was the very word used of the labour in Egypt, and beneath the apparent prosperity (  1 Kings 4:20;   1 Kings 4:25 ) was a growing discontent and jealousy of Judah, which broke out in the rebellion of Jeroboam. By his personal popularity and extravagant display Solomon won a great ‘name’ 1Ki 4:31 ,   1 Kings 10:1;   1 Kings 10:7 ), and gave Israel a position among the nations. His reign came to be idealized, but his policy was clearly economically and socially unsound, and could only lead to ruin. From the religious point of view the outstanding feature is the building of the Temple. It is an anachronism to represent it as the centralization of the worship of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] according to the standard of Deut., to the exclusion of the ‘high places,’ and its effect was largely neutralized by the honour paid to other gods (11); none the less its elaborate magnificence was a visible proof of the triumph of J″ [Note: Jahweh.] over the Baal worship of Canaan, and of His exaltation as supreme God of the nation. It cannot be maintained that the material and local conception of the Deity which it suggested made entirely for spiritual religion (  Isaiah 1:13 ,   Jeremiah 7:4 ,   Acts 7:48 ); it meant a concentration of power in the hands of the Jerusalem priesthood at the cost of the prophets, who had no influence during Solomon’s reign (Nathan in   1 Kings 4:6 is probably his brother), and the attitude of Nathan, Ahijah, and Shemaiah makes it probable that they looked with suspicion on the new developments. It was, however, a necessary step in the religious history of the nation, and the Psalms prove that it made Zion the centre of its enthusiastic patriotism.

7. His wisdom was the special gift of God (  1 Kings 3:5 ). His ‘judgment’ (  1 Kings 3:18 ff.) is the typical instance. It presumably took place early in his reign (cf. the contemptuous laughter of the people in Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant. VIII. ii. 2), and simply shows a shrewd knowledge of human nature; many parallels are quoted. It proves his fitness for judicial functions, and   1 Kings 4:29-34 gives the general idea of his attainments. He was regarded as the father of Jewish proverbial (or gnomic) wisdom; ‘wisdom books’ existed in Egypt long before, but it seems impossible to distinguish in our present ‘Proverbs’ ( c [Note: circa, about.] . b.c. 250) what elements may be due to him. Sirach and Wis. have no title to his name.   1 Kings 4:20;   1 Kings 4:33 suggest general and poetical culture, parables drawn from nature, rather than the beginnings of science.   Psalms 72:1-20 may possibly belong to his age, but not   Psalms 127:1-5 or Canticles. Later tradition added much; the solving of ‘riddles’ held a large place in the wisdom of the East, and we hear of the ‘hard questions’ of the queen of Sheba (  Psalms 10:1 ), and of a contest between Solomon and Hiram (Jos. [Note: Josephus.] Ant . VIII. v. 3). Josephus also speaks of his power over demons; Rabbinical legend of his control over beasts and birds, of his ‘magic carpet,’ and knowledge of the Divine name. Examples of the legendary material are accessible in Farrar’s Solomon .

8. Character . Solomon evidently began his reign with high ideals, of which his dream (  1 Kings 3:5 ) was a natural expression. His sacrifice at Gibeon (  1 Kings 3:4 ) gives another aspect; his religion was associated with external display. So the magnificence of the Temple, the pageantry and holocausts of its dedication (  1 Kings 3:8 ), certainly ministered to his own glory, no less than to God’s. His prayer, however, if it he in any sense authentic, is lull of true piety, and he seems to have had a real delight in religious observances (  1 Kings 9:25 ). His fall is connected with his polygamy and foreign wives (  1 Kings 9:11 , cf.   Nehemiah 13:26 ). He not only allowed them their own worship, a necessary concession, but shared in it; the memory of his ‘high places,’ within sight of his own Temple, was preserved in the name ‘Mount of Offence.’ This idolatry was, in fact, the natural syncretism resulting from his habitual foreign intercourse. Self-indulgence and the pride of wealth evidently played their part in his deterioration. Of his actual end nothing is known; he was an ‘old man’ (  1 Kings 11:4 ) at sixty years, but Jeroboam’s flight suggests that he could still make his authority felt. Ecclesiastes gives a good impression of the ‘moral’ of his life; but whether he actually repented and was ‘saved’ was warmly debated by the Fathers.   Deuteronomy 17:16 f. criticises his Egyptian alliance and harem, his love of horses and of wealth, and Sir 47:12-21 is a fair summary of the career of one whose ‘heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father’ (  1 Kings 11:4 ). His wisdom could not teach him self-control, and the only legacy of a violated home-life was a son ‘ample in foolishness and lacking in understanding.’

C. W. Emmet.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Sol'omon. (Peaceful).

I. Early life and occasion to the throne. - Solomon was the child of David's 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 king's own name (David, The Darling, The Beloved One ), calls the infant Jedidiah, ( Jedid'yah ), that is, The Darling Of The Lord .  2 Samuel 11:24-25. 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 king's favorite son,  2 Samuel 13:37;  2 Samuel 18:33, and was looked on, by the people, as the destined successor.  2 Samuel 14:13;  2 Samuel 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;  1 Chronicles 28:20.

His son's 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 son's character was one exclusively for good. Nothing that we know of Bath-sheba lends us to think of her as likely to mould her son's 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 father's 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, Solomon's 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 father's 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 Solomon's 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 as 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 father's,  Song of Solomon 5:10;  1 Samuel 17:42, bushy locks, dark as the raven's 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."  Song of 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 golden prime.

III. Reign. - All the data, for a continuous history, that we have of Solomon's 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;  1 Kings 6:37-38.

(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. - 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.

Tyre. The alliance with the Phoenician king rested on a, somewhat, different footing. It had been a part of David's policy, from the beginning of his reign. Hiram had been "ever a lover of David." As soon as he heard of Solomon's 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 Solomon's 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.

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 Solomon's 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.

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 Solomon's 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 king's 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 king's treasury.  1 Kings 10:28-29. The total amount, thus brought into the treasury in gold, exclusive of all payments in kind, amounted to 666 talents.  1 Kings 10:14. It was hardly possible, however, that any financial system could bear the strain of the king's passion for magnificence.

The cost of the Temple was, it is true, provided for by David's 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 2:17-18.

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 ritua, l 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 tru, in other forms of faith, he might lose his horror at what was false. With thi, s 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 4:32-33. 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;  Ecclesiastes 2:1, and, therefore, there came, its in the confessions of the preacher, the great retribution.

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [4]

God’s choice to succeed David as king over Israel was Solomon, the son born to David and Bathsheba after their first (and illegitimate) son had died ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25;  1 Chronicles 28:5). He was anointed as king before his father died, in order to overthrow the attempts of his brother Adonijah to seize the throne for himself ( 1 Kings 1:5-53).

Establishing his authority

Once David was dead, Solomon quickly dealt with Adonijah and the two leaders who had supported him. He interpreted a request from Adonijah as treason and executed him ( 1 Kings 2:13-25). He also executed the commander-in-chief of the army, Joab ( 1 Kings 2:28-34), and sent the priest Abiathar into exile ( 1 Kings 2:26-27). After this he executed Shimei, a relative of Saul who had always been hostile to the house of David ( 1 Kings 2:36-46; cf.  2 Samuel 16:5-14).

By marrying the daughter of the king of Egypt, Solomon entered into a treaty with Egypt that guaranteed peace between the two nations ( 1 Kings 3:1). The formal treaty probably involved paying respect to foreign gods, a practice that was a repeated temptation to Solomon and brought him increasing trouble ( 1 Kings 11:1-8).

Solomon’s love for lavish religious ceremony also led him into trouble ( 1 Kings 3:3-4), but his request for wisdom won God’s approval ( 1 Kings 3:5-14). He soon proved his wisdom when he had to give a decision over which of two women was the mother of a disputed baby ( 1 Kings 3:16-28). His fame grew rapidly, and people came from countries far and near to hear his wisdom ( 1 Kings 4:29-34;  1 Kings 10:1-13;  Matthew 12:42). People made collections of his proverbs and songs, and some of these are preserved in the Bible ( 1 Kings 4:32; Psalms 72; Psalms 127;  Proverbs 1:1;  Proverbs 10:1;  Proverbs 25:1; Song of  Song of Solomon 1:1). (For further details of Solomon’s writings see PROVERBS.)

Under Solomon there was a large increase in the numbers of officials in the royal court, the national administration and the armed forces. To maintain all these people, Solomon revised the taxation system. He divided Israel into twelve zones, each of which had to maintain the government for one month of the year ( 1 Kings 4:7). Neighbouring nations within the Israelite empire also paid taxes ( 1 Kings 4:21).

Development, trade and wealth

David had prepared plans, finances and materials for Solomon to build God a temple in Jerusalem ( 1 Chronicles 22:2-16;  1 Chronicles 28:11;  Acts 7:45-47). Solomon’s plans, however, far exceeded David’s. His temple would be more lavish than anything David had in mind, and his extensive building program would make Jerusalem a showpiece to the world.

Solomon bought costly building materials from Hiram, king of Tyre, and paid for them with produce taken from Israel’s hard-working farmers ( 1 Kings 5:1-11). He also made all Israel’s working men give three months work to the king each year, which provided a year-round workforce of 30,000 men. An additional 150,000, mainly Canaanites, were made full-time slaves ( 1 Kings 5:13-18). The temple was a richly ornamented building that took seven years to build ( 1 Kings 6:38; see Temple ).

This temple was only part of a much larger building program that Solomon had planned. He built a magnificent palace, which took a further thirteen years ( 1 Kings 7:1;  1 Kings 9:10), a military headquarters called the House of the Forest of Lebanon ( 1 Kings 7:2;  1 Kings 10:17), an auditorium called the Hall of Pillars ( 1 Kings 7:6), a central law court called the Hall of Judgment ( 1 Kings 7:7) and a separate palace for his Egyptian queen ( 1 Kings 7:8). All these buildings, including the temple, were made of costly stone and best quality timber, and were enclosed in an area known as the Great Court ( 1 Kings 7:9-12).

Solomon also greatly strengthened Jerusalem’s defences ( 1 Kings 9:15). In the country regions he rebuilt ruined cities, established army bases, and set up cities to store the farm produce that maintained his government ( 1 Kings 9:16-19).

To help finance his construction programs, Solomon borrowed huge amounts of gold from Hiram ( 1 Kings 9:14). Unable to repay his debts, Solomon decided to cut off twenty cities in northern Israel and give them to Hiram ( 1 Kings 9:10-11). This only increased the resentment that the people of northern Israel, and especially the farmers, felt towards Solomon and his showpiece city in the south. In spite of the hardship of the common people ( 1 Kings 12:4), Solomon spent extravagantly on himself ( 1 Kings 10:16-21;  1 Kings 10:25;  1 Kings 10:27; Song of  Song of Solomon 3:7-10; cf.  Matthew 6:29).

David’s power had come through military conquest, but Solomon’s came through political and commercial treaties with neighbouring countries. One profitable operation was a sea-land trading partnership he established with Hiram of Phoenicia. Goods from the Mediterranean were collected at Hiram’s port of Tyre, carried overland to Israel’s Red Sea port of Ezion-geber, then shipped east ( 1 Kings 9:26-28;  1 Kings 10:22; for map see Phoenicia ).

Solomon gained additional income by taxing all goods that passed through Israel on the international trade routes ( 1 Kings 10:14-15). He further enriched himself by becoming the middleman in a profitable international horse and chariot trade ( 1 Kings 10:28-29).

A splendid kingdom lost

Although he taught wisdom to others, Solomon did not follow that wisdom himself. He ignored the instructions that God had given concerning the conduct of an Israelite king ( Deuteronomy 17:15-17), and in particular earned God’s wrath through worshipping the gods of the many foreign women whom he had taken as wives and concubines ( 1 Kings 11:1-10;  1 Kings 11:33;  Nehemiah 13:26).

All the time that Solomon was developing his magnificent kingdom, he was preparing his own punishment. He had exploited the people in order to fulfil his ambitious plans, and now the people hated him. Soon they rebelled against him openly. The ten tribes to the north broke away from the Davidic rule, though for the sake of David, God withheld the inevitable judgment until after Solomon’s death ( 1 Kings 11:11-13).

The rebellion against Solomon was led by a young man from the north, Jeroboam. Solomon had recognized Jeroboam’s abilities earlier, and put him in charge of a large portion of the workforce from the northern tribes ( 1 Kings 11:28). When Solomon felt that Jeroboam was gaining support among the northerners, he tried to kill him, but Jeroboam escaped to the safety of Egypt ( 1 Kings 11:29-32;  1 Kings 11:40). After Solomon’s death, Jeroboam returned to Israel and successfully lead a breakaway rebellion ( 1 Kings 12:2-4;  1 Kings 12:16-20).

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [5]

or SALOMON, son of David and Bathsheba, was born A.M. 2971. The Lord loved him, and sent Nathan to David to give Solomon the name of Jedidiah, or, "beloved of the Lord,"  2 Samuel 12:24-25 . This was probably when Nathan assured David that his son should succeed him, and that he should inherit those promises which had been made to him some years before, when he had conceived the design of building a temple to the Lord; for then God declared, by the prophet Nathan, that the honour of building a temple should be reserved for his son,  2 Samuel 7:5 , &c. Solomon, being confirmed in his kingdom, contracted an alliance with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and married his daughter, A.M. 2291. He brought her to Jerusalem, and had apartments for her in the city of David, till he should build her a palace, which he did some years afterward, when he had finished the temple. It is thought that on occasion of this marriage, Solomon composed the Canticles, which are a kind of epithalamium. The Scripture speaks of the daughter of Pharaoh, as contributing to pervert Solomon,  1 Kings 11:1-2;  Nehemiah 13:26; and it is very likely, that if at first this princess might seem converted to the Lord, she afterward might retain her private disposition to idolatry, and might engage her husband in it.

Solomon, accompanied by his troops and all Israel, went up to Gibeon, where was then the brazen altar, upon which he offered a thousand burnt- offerings. The night following, God appeared to him in a dream, and said, "Ask of me what thou wilt." Solomon begged of God a wise and understanding heart, and such qualities as were necessary for the government of the people committed to him. This request pleased the Lord, and was fully granted by him. Solomon returned to Jerusalem, where he offered a great number of sacrifices on the altar before the ark of the Lord, and made a great feast for his servants. He enjoyed a profound peace throughout his dominions; Judah and Israel lived in security; and his neighbours either paid him tribute, or were his allies; he ruled over all the countries and kingdoms from the Euphrates to the Nile, and his dominions extended even beyond the former; he had abundance of horses and chariots of war; he exceeded the orientals, and all the Egyptians, in wisdom and prudence; he was the wisest of mankind, and his reputation was spread through all nations. He composed or collected, three thousand proverbs, and one thousand and five canticles. He knew the nature of plants and trees, from the cedar on Libanus to the hyssop on the wall; also of beasts, of birds, of reptiles, of fishes. There was a concourse of strangers from all countries to hear his wisdom, and ambassadors from the most remote princes.

When Hiram, king of Tyre, knew that Solomon was made king of Israel, he sent ambassadors to congratulate him on his accession to the crown. Some time afterward, Solomon desired him to supply wood and workmen, to assist in building a temple to the Lord. Hiram gladly undertook this service, and Solomon, on his part, obliged himself to give twenty thousand measures of wheat, and twenty thousand measures of oil. The Hebrew and the Vulgate have only twenty measures of oil; but the reading ought no doubt to be twenty thousand. Solomon began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, and the second after the death of David; four hundred and eighty years after the exodus from Egypt. He employed in this great work seventy thousand proselytes, descendants of the ancient Canaanites, in carrying burdens, fourscore thousand in cutting stones out of the quarries, and three thousand six hundred overseers of the works; besides thirty thousand Israelites in the quarries of Libanus.

The temple was completed in the eleventh year of Solomon, so that he was but seven years in performing this vast work. The dedication was made the year following, A.M. 3001. To make this ceremony the more August, Solomon chose for it the eighth day of the seventh month of the holy year, which was the first of the civil year, and answered to our October. The ceremony of the dedication lasted seven days, at the end of which began the feast of tabernacles, which continued seven days longer; so that the people continued at Jerusalem fourteen or fifteen days, from the eighth to the twenty-second of the seventh month. When the ark was placed in the sanctuary, while the priests and Levites were celebrating the praises of the Lord, the temple was filled with a miraculous cloud, so that the priests could no longer stand to perform the functions of their ministry. Then Solomon, being on his throne, prostrated himself with his face to the ground; and rising up, and turning toward the sanctuary, he addressed his prayer to God, and besought him that the house which he had built might be acceptable to him, that he would bless and sanctify it, and hear the prayers of those who should address him from this holy place. He besought him also to fulfil the promises he had made to David his servant in favour of his family, and of the kings his successors. Then turning himself to the people, he solemnly blessed them. Fire coming down from heaven consumed the victims and burnt sacrifices on the altar, and the glory of the Lord filled the whole temple. On this day the king caused to be sacrificed twenty-two thousand oxen, and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep for peace-offerings. And because the altar of burnt-offerings was not sufficient for all these victims, the king consecrated the court of the people.

Solomon afterward built a palace for himself, and another for his queen, the king of Egypt's daughter. He was thirteen years in finishing these buildings, and employed in them whatever the most exquisite art, or the most profuse riches, could furnish. The palace in which he generally resided was called the house of the forest of Lebanon; probably because of the great quantity of cedar used in it. Solomon also built the walls of Jerusalem, and the place called Millo in this city; he repaired and fortified Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, the two Bethhorons, Upper and Lower, Baal-ath, and Palmyra, in the desert of Syria. He also fortified the cities where he had magazines of corn, wine, and oil; and those where his horses and chariots were kept. He brought under his government the Hittites, the Hivites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, which remained in the land of Israel. He made them tributaries, and compelled them to work at the public works. He fitted out a fleet at Ezion-Geber, and at Elath, on the Red Sea, to go to Ophir. Hiram, king of Tyre, furnished him with mariners, who instructed the subjects of Solomon. They performed this voyage in three years, and brought back gold, ivory, ebony, precious wood, peacocks, apes, and other curiosities. In one voyage they brought Solomon four hundred and fifty talents of gold,  2 Chronicles 9:21 . About the same time, the queen of Sheba came to Jerusalem, attracted by the great fame of the king. She brought rich presents of gold, spices, and precious stones; and proposed several enigmas and hard questions, to which Solomon gave her such satisfactory answers, that she owned what had been told her of his wisdom and magnificence was far short of what she had found. The king, on his part, made her rich presents in return.

Solomon was one of the richest, if not the very richest, of all princes that have ever lived; and the Scripture expressly tells us he exceeded in riches and wisdom all the kings of the earth. His annual revenues were six hundred and sixty-six talents of gold, without reckoning tributes from kings and nations, or paid by Israelites, or sums received for customs. The bucklers of his guards, and the throne he sat on, were overlaid with gold. All the vessels of his table, and the utensils of his palaces, were of gold. From all parts he received presents, vessels of gold and silver, precious stuffs, spices, arms, horses, and mules; and the whole earth desired to see his face, and to hear the wisdom which God had put into his heart. But the latter actions of his life disgraced his character. Beside Pharaoh's daughter, he married wives from among the Moabites, Ammonites, Idumeans, Sidonians, and Hittites. He had seven hundred wives, who were so many queens, beside three hundred concubines. These women perverted his heart in his declining age, so that he worshipped Ashtoreth, goddess of the Sidonians, Moloch, idol of the Ammonites, and Chemosh, god of the Moabites. To these he built temples on the Mount of Olives, over against and east of Jerusalem, and thus insulted openly the Majesty he had adored.

Solomon died after he had reigned forty years, A.M. 3029. He might be about fifty-eight years of age; for he was about eighteen when he began to reign. Josephus makes him to have reigned eighty years, and to have lived ninety-four years; but this is a manifest error. The history of this prince was written by the prophets Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo. He was buried in the city of David; and Rehoboam his son reigned in his stead. Of all the ingenious works composed by Solomon, we have nothing remaining but his Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles; that is, every literary monument respecting him has perished, except those written under inspiration—the inspired history which registers his apostasy, and his own inspired works, which, in all the principles they contain, condemn his vices. Some have ascribed to him the book of Wisdom, and Ecclesiasticus; but these were written by Hellenistic Jews.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 2 Samuel 12 1 Chronicles 22:5 29:1 2 Samuel 12:24,25 1 Kings 1-11  2 Chronicles 1-9 1 Kings 1:5-40 1 Kings 11:1-8 14:21,31

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 temple.

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 9:15,24;  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;  10:11,12;  2 Chronicles 8:17,18;  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 4:22,23 ).

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 4:32,33 ).

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 18:30,31 ), 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 11:14-22,23-25,26-40 ), 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.", Historical Illustrations.

Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

Old Testament Solomon was born to David and Bathsheba after the death of their first son ( 2 Samuel 12:24 ). Although not the oldest living son of David, he was crowned king after his mother and Nathan the prophet intervened with David and secured David's decision to have Solomon succeed him ( 1 Kings 1-2 ). Solomon is remembered most for his wisdom, his building program, and his wealth generated through trade and administrative reorganization.

Solomon was remembered as having three thousand proverbs and a thousand and five songs in his repertoire ( 1 Kings 4:32 ). Thus, it is not surprising that Proverbs and Song of Solomon in the Bible are attributed to Solomon. ( Proverbs 1:1; Song of  Song of Solomon 1:1 ) as are several apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books. See  1 Kings 3:16 ) and by the visit of the queen of Sheba ( 1 Kings 10:1 ).

While Solomon's Temple was the most famous of his building projects ( 1 Kings 5-8 ), it was by no means the only one. Solomon fortified a number of cities that helped provide protection to Jerusalem, built “store-cities” for stockpiling the materials required in his kingdom, and established military bases for contingents of charioteers ( 1 Kings 9:15-19 ). The Temple complex in Jerusalem was composed of several buildings including Solomon's palace, the “house of the forest of Lebanon,” the “hall or porch of pillars,” the “hall or porch of the throne,” and a palace for one of his wives, the daughter of the pharaoh of Egypt ( 1 Kings 7:1 ). See Archaeology; Gezer; Hazor; Megiddo; Temple.

Solomon divided the country into administrative districts that did not correspond to the old tribal boundaries ( 1 Kings 4:7-19 ) and had the districts provide provisions for the central government. This system, combined with control of vital north/south trade routes between the Red Sea and what was later known as Asia Minor, made it possible for Solomon to accumulate vast wealth. This wealth was supplemented both from trading in horses and chariots and from trade carried on by a fleet of ships ( 1 Kings 9:26-28;  1 Kings 10:26-29 ). See Eloth; Ezion-Geber .

The Bible clearly notes that Solomon had faults as well as elements of greatness. The “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines” came from many of the kingdoms with which Solomon had treaties ( 1 Kings 11:1 ). He apparently allowed his wives to worship their native gods and even had altars to these gods constructed in Jerusalem ( 1 Kings 11:7-8 ). This kind of compromise indicated to the historian a weakness in Solomon not found in David. Rebellions led by the king of Edom, Rezon of Damascus, and Jeroboam, one of Solomon's own officers, indicates that Solomon's long reign was not without its turmoil.

New Testament Solomon was an ancestor of Jesus ( Matthew 1:6-7 ) and is mentioned in Jesus' teaching about anxiety ( Matthew 6:29;  Luke 12:27 ). Jesus noted that the queen of Sheba came a long way to see Solomon and that “something greater than Solomon is here” ( Matthew 12:42;  Luke 11:31 ). Jesus walked in “Solomon's porch,” a part of the Temple area ( John 10:23; compare  Acts 3:11;  Acts 5:12 ). Stephen noted that though David sought to find a place for God, it was Solomon who “built a house for him” ( Acts 7:47 ).

Joe O. Lewis

Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

Son of David and Bathsheba. [Bath-sheba] He reigned forty years over the united kingdom from B.C. 1015 to 975. David when near his death appointed Solomon his son, whom God had chosen to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of Jehovah, to be his successor, and he began his reign by executing righteous judgement, as Christ will when He comes to reign, followed by a reign of peace. He put to death Adonijah who had usurped the throne, and Joab who had shed innocent blood; and he cast Abiathar out of the priesthood. His marriage with the daughter of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, is symbolical of Christ having the church (mainly Gentiles) with Him when He comes to reign.

Solomon loved the Lord, and worshipped Him at the altar at Gibeon, and there the Lord appeared to him in a dream, and said, "Ask what I shall give thee." Solomon asked for an understanding heart to judge the people wisely. The choice pleased God, and He gave him wisdom such as no king before nor since has had, and added to it both riches and honour beyond all others. If he would be obedient God would lengthen his days. His wisdom soon became apparent by his judgement in the case of the two women with the living and dead child. And people came from all the kings of the earth to hear his wisdom. The queen of Sheba came also. This is again symbolical of the reign of Christ during the millennium. It is further exemplified by all dwelling in safety, "every man under his vine and under his fig tree . . . . all the days of Solomon."

He was occupied for seven years in building the temple, for which David had made preparation. He built also his own house and one for Pharaoh's daughter. When the temple was dedicated, Solomon sacrificed and prayed to Jehovah. In answer to which Jehovah appeared to him a second time, and said, He had hallowed the house, had put His name there, and His heart should be there perpetually. God would continue to bless him and establish his house in Israel, on the condition that Solomon was obedient, and turned not to other gods.

Everything for a time was ordered wisely. The riches of Solomon increased so much that silver was of little value in his days. He had his navy of ships, which brought him riches, and he increased his chariots and his horsemen, and brought horses out of Egypt (an act that had been forbidden in the law,  Deuteronomy 17:16 ). He tells us that he had tried everything under the sun, but had to declare that all was vanity and vexation of spirit. The Lord declared that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as a simple lily of the field. His fall, alas, followed, for he loved many strange women, which turned his heart away, and he went after their gods, and built high places for them.

God then stirred up adversaries against Solomon, and by the prophet Ahijah He foretold that Jeroboam would reign over ten of the tribes. He would reserve two to keep in memorial before Him the name of David. Still Solomon did not repent, but sought the life of Jeroboam. God did not prolong Solomon's days, for he died at about the age of 58.

We read of Solomon that he spake three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five. He was the writer of the books of the Proverbs, the Ecclesiastes, and the Canticles. His reign is given in  1 Kings 1 -   1 Kings 12;  2 Chronicles 1 -   2 Chronicles 9 .

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [9]

Son of David, king of Israel: his name is derived from Shalem, peaceable. His history we have at large in the first book of the Kings. But the greatest improvement we can make of the view of Solomon, is to consider him in those features of his character which were typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. I shall beg to detain the reader for a few moments on this account respecting Solomon, as it is striking.

As Solomon was the son of David after the flesh, so Christ in his human nature is expressly, marked for the comfort of the faithful, as of the same stock. "Remember (saint Paul to Timothy) that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel." ( 2 Timothy 2:8) Hence when Christ "whose son he was, they answered, the son of David." ( Matthew 22:42) And it is remarkable that the Lord should have sent by the hand of Nathan, at the birth of Solomon, and called him Jedidiah, that is, beloved of the Lord. ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25) And we need not be told how the Lord, by a voice from heaven, proclaimed Christ to be his"beloved Son in whom he was well pleased."Add to these, Solomon king of Israel typified Christ as a king and as a preacher in Jerusalem; and also in his wisdom, in the riches, magnitude; peaceableness, and glory of his kingdom, and in the building of the temple, which was a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus; who is not only the builder of the temple, which is his church, but the foundation of it, the substance, and the glory of it; for he and he alone, as the Lord said by the prophet, was the only one fit to build the temple of the Lord, and he alone "could only bear the glory." ( Zechariah 6:13)

But when we have looked at Solomon, king of Israel, as in those and the like instances, as becoming a lively type of the ever-blessed Jesus, and see in our Lord Jesus Christ a greater than Solomon in every one, I would request the reader to detach from the person and character of David's son all that belongs not to him in those Scriptures, and particularly in the book of the Psalms, which are as if directed to him and spoken of him, but certainly with him have nothing to do. I mean such as  Psalms 20:1-9;  Psalms 21:1-13 and  Psalms 72:1-20. I know that some commentators have supposed that what is there said is said first of Solomon, king of Israel, and secondly in an higher sense of the Lord Jesus Christ. But oh, what a degradation of the subject is it thus to suppose! Oh, what indignity is thereby offered to the Lord Jesus Christ! I have said so much on this point in my Poor Man's Commentary on the Book of the Psalms, that I think it unnecessary in this place to enlarge; but I could not suffer the subject even in this little work, while speaking of Solomon, to pass by without remarking the great perversion of the Scripture to suppose that there is in those things the least reference to Solomon, king of Israel.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [10]

Peaceful, the son and successor of David, born of Bathsheba, B. C. 1033. The prophet Nathan called him Jedidiah, "beloved of the Lord,"  2 Samuel 12:25 and he was a child of promise,   1 Chronicles 22:9,10 . At the age of eighteen he received from David the throne which his brother Adonijah had endeavored to usurp. Scripture records his earnest and pious petition for wisdom from above, that he might govern that great people well; and the bestowal of the wisdom, with numerous other blessings in its train,  Matthew 6:33 . His unequalled learning and sagacity soon became renowned throughout the East, and continue so even to this day. In every kind of temporal prosperity he was preeminently favored. His unquestioned dominion extended from the Euphrates to the "river of Egypt;" Palmyra in the desert and Eziongeber on the Red Sea were in his possession.

He accomplished David's purpose by erecting a temple for Jehovah with the utmost magnificence. Many other important public and private works were executed during his reign. He established a lucrative commerce with Tyre, Egypt, Arabia, India, and Babylon, by the fruits of which he himself first and chiefly, and indirectly the whole land, were greatly enriched. He was the wisest, wealthiest, most honored, and fortunate of men. But through the temptation connected with this flood of prosperity, he became luxurious, proud, and forgetful of God; plunged into every kind of self-indulgence; allowed his wives, and at length assisted them, in their abominable idolatries; and forfeited the favor of God. Yet divine grace did not forsake him; he was reclaimed, and has given us the proofs of his repentance and the fruits of his experience in his inspired writings.

His reign continued forty years, B. C. 1015-975, and was uniformly peaceful, and favorable to the people, if we except the evils of a corrupt example and an excessive taxation. His history is less fully recorded than David's is by the sacred historians,  1 Kings 1:11   1 Chronicles 1:19-31; but we may learn much respecting him from his writings, especially from the book of Ecclesiastes. Nothing could more emphatically teach us the weakness of human nature, even when accompanied with the utmost learning and sagacity, the perils of prosperity, or the insufficiency of all possible earthy good to satisfy the wants of man.

The writings of Solomon covered a wide range in the natural sciences as well as in philosophy and morals. "He spake three thousand proverbs; and his songs were a thousand and five: and he spake of trees-of beasts, and of foul, and of creeping things, and of fishes,"  1 Kings 4:32,33 .

People's Dictionary of the Bible [11]

Solomon ( Sŏl'O-Mon ), Pacific. The son of David by Bathsheba, and the third king of Israel.  2 Samuel 12:24;  1 Chronicles 22:9;  Matthew 1:6;  1 Kings 2:12. He was also called the wisest of men, and Jedidiah = friend of Jehovah.  2 Samuel 12:24-25;  1 Kings 4:29-30;  1 Kings 7:51;  1 Kings 10:1;  1 Kings 11:41-43;  2 Chronicles 9:1-31. David voluntarily resigned the government to Solomon, giving him at the same time a solemn charge respecting the administration of it.  1 Kings 2:1-11. Solomon was celebrated for his wealth, splendor, and wisdom. The great event of his reign, however, was the erection of the temple at Jerusalem.  1 Kings 5:1-18. Solomon also established a navy of snips at the port of Ezion-geber, on the Red Sea.  1 Kings 9:26-28. Jerusalem, the capital of his vast dominions, became renowned for wealth and splendor.  Matthew 6:29;  Matthew 12:42;  Acts 7:47. His arbitrary exercise of the royal power, however, his numerous harem, the introduction of cavalry, the expenditure of the royal house, and his toleration of idolatry in the land of Jehovah, led him into weak and sinful indulgences.  1 Kings 11:1-11;  1 Kings 12:1-4. The prosperity of his reign was interrupted by disquiets in Edom and Syria; and he was foretold of the revolt of the ten tribes. Solomon died b.c. 975, after a reign of 40 years; and, notwithstanding his glory, was little lamented.  1 Kings 11:11-43;  2 Chronicles 9:31. He is said to have written 3000 proverbs, 1005 Songs, and much on natural history.  1 Kings 4:32-33. Some of his proverbs and songs probably exist in the Book of Proverbs, in Song of Solomon, and in the Psalms. The Acts of Solomon appears to have been a full history of his reign.  1 Kings 11:41;  2 Chronicles 9:29.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [12]

SOLOMON. —Jesus makes two references to Solomon, speaking on one occasion of his ‘glory,’ and on another of his ‘wisdom.’ In  Matthew 6:29 =  Luke 12:27 He places the pure natural beauty of the lilies above the consummate type of artificial splendour, and uses the contrast to point the lesson of trustful dependence upon God, the Giver of all that is necessary for the body as well as for the spirit. In  Matthew 12:42 =  Luke 11:31 the eagerness of Solomon’s contemporaries to hear his words of worldly wisdom is contrasted with the indifference and spiritual blindness of the men of Jesus’ own day, who failed to understand and appreciate the truer wisdom of a greater teacher.

For ‘Solomon’s Porch’ see Temple.

C. H. Thomson.

Webster's Dictionary [13]

(n.) One of the kings of Israel, noted for his superior wisdom and magnificent reign; hence, a very wise man.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

(Heb. Shelomoh', שְׁלֹמֹה , Peaceful ; Sept. Σαλωμών ; New Test. and Josephus, Σολομών ; Vulg. Solomo ) , the son of David by Bathsheba, and his successor upon the throne. B.C. 1013- 973. The importance of his character and reign justify a full treatment here, in which we present a digest of the Scriptural information with modern criticism. (See David).

I. Sources.

1. The comparative scantiness of historical data for a life of Solomon is itself significant. While that of David occupies 1 Samuel 16-31, 2 Samuel 1-24,  1 Kings 1:2, 1 Chronicles 10-29, that of Solomon fills only the eleven chapters 1 Kings 1-11 and the nine 2 Chronicles 1-9. The compilers of those books felt, as by a true inspiration, unlike the authors of the Apocryphal literature cited below, that the wanderings, wars, and sufferings of David were better fitted for the instruction of after ages than the magnificence of his son. They manifestly give extracts only from larger works which were before them, "The book of the acts of Solomon" ( 1 Kings 11:41); "The book of Nathan the prophet, the book of Ahijah the Shilonite, the visions of Iddo the seer" ( 2 Chronicles 9:29). Those which they do give bear, with what for the historian is a disproportionate fulness, on the early glories of his reign, and speak but little (those in 2 Chronicles not at all) of its later sins and misfortunes, and we are consequently unable to follow the annals of Solomon step by step.

2. Ewald, with all his usual fondness for assigning different portions of each book of the Old Test. to a series of successive editors, goes through the process here with much ingenuity, but without any very satisfactory result ( Gesch. Isr. 3, 259-263). A more interesting inquiry would be to which of the books above named we may refer the sections that the compilers have put together. We shall probably not be far wrong in thinking of Nathan, far advanced in life at the commencement of the reign, David's chief adviser during the years in which he was absorbed in the details of the Temple and its ritual, himself a priest ( 1 Kings 4:5 [Heb.]; comp. Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 116), as having written the account of the accession of Solomon and the dedication of the Temple ( 1 Kings 1:1 to  1 Kings 8:66,  2 Chronicles 1:1 to  2 Chronicles 8:15). The prayer of Solomon, so fully reproduced and so obviously precomposed, may have been written under his guidance. To Ahijah the Shilonite, active at the close of the reign, alive some time after Jeroboam's accession, we may ascribe the short record of the sin of Solomon, and of the revolution to which he himself had so largely contributed (1 Kings 11). From the book of the acts of Solomon probably came the miscellaneous facts as to the commerce and splendor of his reign ( 1 Kings 9:10 to  1 Kings 10:29).

3. Besides the direct history of the Old Test., we may find some materials for the life of Solomon in the books that bear his name, and in the psalms which are referred by some to his time (Psalms 2, 45, 72, 127). Whatever doubts may hang over the date and authorship of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs, we may at least see in them the reflection of the thoughts and feelings of his reign. If we accept the latest date which recent criticism has assigned to them, they elaborately work up materials which were accessible to the writers and are not accessible to us. If we refer them in their substance, following the judgment of the most advanced Shemitic scholars, to the Solomonic period itself, they then come before us with all the freshness and vividness of contemporary evidence (Renan, Hist. Des Langues Semit. p. 131).

4. Other materials are very scanty. The history of Josephus is, for the most part, only a loose and inaccurate paraphrase of the Old Test. narrative. In him, and in the more erudite among early Christian writers, we find some fragments of older history not without their value extracts from archives alleged to exist at Tyre in the first century of the Christian era, and from the Phoenician histories of Menander and Dius (Ant. 8, 2, 6; 5, 3), from Eupolemus (Euseb. Proep. Evang. 9, 30), from Alexander Polyhistor, Menander, and Laitus (Clem. Al. Strom. 1, 21). Writers such as these were of course only compilers at second hand, but they probably had access to some earlier documents which have now perished.

5. The legends of later Oriental literature will claim a distinct notice. All that they contribute to history is the help they give us in realizing the impression made by the colossal greatness of Solomon, as in earlier and later times by that of Nimrod and Alexander, on the minds of men of many countries and through many ages.

II. Early Life.

1. The student of the life of Solomon must take as his starting point the circumstances of his birth. He was the child of David's old age, the last born of all his sons ( 1 Chronicles 3:5). B.C. 1034. The narrative of 2 Samuel 12 leaves, it is true, a different impression.On the other hand, the order of the names in  1 Chronicles 3:5 is otherwise unaccountable. Josephus distinctly states it ( Ant. 7, 14, 2). His mother had gained over David a twofold power first, as the object of a passionate though guilty love; and, next, as the one person to whom, in his repentance, he could make something like restitution. The months that preceded his birth were for the conscience stricken king a time of self abasement. The birth itself of the child who was to replace the one that had been smitten must have been looked for as a pledge of pardon and a sign of hope. The feelings of the king and of his prophet guide expressed themselves in the names with which they welcomed it. The yearnings of the "man of war," who "had shed much blood," for a time of peace yearnings which had shown themselves before, when he gave to his third son the name of Absalom (=father of peace) now led him to give to the newborn infant the name of Solomon (Shelomoh= the peaceful one). Nathan, with a marked reference to the meaning of the king's own name (=the darling, the beloved one), takes another form of the same word, and joins it, after the growing custom of the time, with the name of Jehovah. David had been the darling of his people. Jedid-jah (the name was coined for the purpose) should be the darling of the Lord ( 2 Samuel 12:24-25, see Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 215). (See Jedidiah). According to the received interpretation of  Proverbs 31:1, his mother also contributed an ideal name, Lemuel (=to God, Deodatus), the dedicated one (comp. Ewald, Poet. Buch. 4, 173). On this hypothesis the reproof was drawn forth by the king's intemperance and sensuality. In contrast to what his wives were, she draws the picture of what a pattern wife ought to be (Pineda, De Reb. Song of Solomon 1, 4).

2. The influences to which the childhood of Solomon was thus exposed must have contributed largely to determine the character of his after years. The inquiry what was the education which ended in such wonderful contrasts a wisdom then, and perhaps since, unparalleled, a sensuality like that of Louis XV cannot but be instructive. The three influences which must have entered most largely into that education were those of his father, his mother, and the teacher under whose charge he was placed from his earliest infancy ( 2 Samuel 12:25).

(1.) The fact just stated that a prophet priest was made the special instructor indicates the king's earnest wish that this child at least should be protected against the evils which, then and afterwards, showed themselves in his elder sons, and be worthy of the name he bore. At first, apparently, there was no distinct purpose to make him his heir. Absalom is still the king's favorite son ( 2 Samuel 13:37;  2 Samuel 18:33) is looked on by the people as the destined successor ( 2 Samuel 14:13;  2 Samuel 15:16). The death of Absalom, when Solomon was about ten years old, left the place vacant, and David, passing over the claims of all his elder sons, those by Bathsheba included, guided by the influence of Nathan, or by his own discernment of the gifts and graces which were tokens of the love of Jehovah, pledged his word in secret to Bathsheba 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;  1 Chronicles 28:20). The son's life should not be 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 may be looked on as the prophetic expansion of those hopes of his old age. So far, all was well. But we may not ignore the fact that the later years of David's life presented a change for the worse as well as for the better. His sins, though forgiven, left behind it the Nemesis of an enfeebled will and a less generous activity. The liturgical element of religion becomes, after the first passionate outpouring of Psalms 51, unduly predominant. He lives to amass treasures and materials for the Temple which he may not build ( Psalms 22:5;  Psalms 22:14). He plans with his own hands all the details of its architecture (28:19). He organizes on a scale of elaborate magnificence all the attendance of the priesthood and the choral services of the Levites (chapters 24, 25). But, meanwhile, his duties as a king are neglected. He no longer sits in the gate to do judgment ( 2 Samuel 15:2;  2 Samuel 15:4). He leaves the sin of Amnon unpunished "because he loved him, for he was his first born" (Sept. at  2 Samuel 13:21). The hearts of the people fall away from him. First Absalom and then Sheba become formidable rivals ( 2 Samuel 15:6;  2 Samuel 20:2). The history of the numbering of the people ( 2 Samuel 20:24; 1 Chronicles 21) implies the purpose of some act of despotism a poll-tax or a conscription ( 2 Samuel 24:9 makes the latter the more probable) such as startled all his older and more experienced counsellors. If in "the last words of David" belonging to this period there is the old devotion, the old hungering after righteousness ( 2 Samuel 23:2-5), there is also first generally ( 2 Samuel 24:6-7), and afterwards resting on individual offenders ( 1 Kings 2:5-8) a more passionate desire to punish those who had wronged him, a painful recurrence of vindictive thoughts for offenses which he had once freely forgiven, and which were not greater than his own. We cannot rest in the belief that his influence over his son's character was one exclusively for good.

(2.) In Eastern countries, and under a system of polygamy, the son is more dependent, even than elsewhere, on the character of the mother. The history of the Jewish monarchy furnishes many instances of that dependence. It recognizes it in the care with which it records the name of each monarch's mother. Nothing that we know of Bathsheba leads us to think of her as likely to mold her son's mind and heart to the higher forms of goodness. She offers no resistance to the king's passion (Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 211). She makes it a stepping stone to power. She is a ready accomplice in the scheme by which her shame was to have been concealed. Doubtless she, too, was sorrowful and penitent when the rebuke of Nathan was followed by her child's death ( 2 Samuel 12:24), but the after history shows that the grand-daughter of Ahithophel had inherited not a little of his character. A willing adultress, who had become devout, but had not ceased to be ambitious, could hardly be more, at the best, that the Madame de Maintenon of a king whose contrition and piety were rendering him, unlike his former self, unduly passive in the hands of others. (See Bathsheba).

(3.) What was likely to be the influence of the prophet to whose care the education of Solomon was confided? (Heb. of  2 Samuel 12:25). We know, beyond all doubt, that he could speak bold and faithful words when they were needed ( 2 Samuel 7:1-17;  2 Samuel 12:1-14). But this power, belonging to moments or messages of special inspiration, does not involve the permanent possession of a clear-sighted wisdom or of aims uniformly high, and, we in vain search the later years of David's reign for any proof of Nathan's activity for good. He gives himself to the work of writing the annals of David's reign ( 1 Chronicles 29:29). He places his own sons in the way of being the companions and counsellors of the future king ( 1 Kings 4:5). The absence of his name from the history of the "numbering," and the fact that the census was followed early in the reign of Solomon by, heavy burdens and a forced service, almost lead us to the conclusion that the prophet had acquiesced in a measure which had in view the magnificence of the Temple, and that it was left to David's own heart, returning to its better impulses ( 2 Samuel 24:10), and to an older and less courtly prophet, to protest against an act which began in pride and tended to oppression. Josephus, with his usual inaccuracy, substitutes Nathan for Gad in his narrative ( Ant. 7, 13, 2).

3. 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 father's exile ( 2 Samuel 15:16). He would be taught all that priests or Levites or prophets had to teach; music and song; the book of the law of the Lord in such portions and in such forms as were then current; the "proverbs of the ancients," which his father had been wont to quote ( 1 Samuel 24:13); probably also a literature which has survived only in fragments; the book of Jasher, the upright ones, the heroes of the people; the book of the wars of the Lord; the wisdom, oral or written, of the sages of his own tribe, Heman, and Ethan, and Calcol, and Darda ( 1 Chronicles 2:6), who contributed so largely to the noble hymns of this period (Psalms 88, 89), and probably were incorporated into the choir of the tabernacle (Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 355). The growing intercourse of Israel with the Phoenicians would naturally lead to a wider knowledge of the outlying world and its wonders than had fallen to his father's lot. Admirable, however, as all this was, a shepherd life, like his father's, furnished, we may believe, a better education for the kingly calling ( Psalms 78:70-71). Born to the purple, there was the inevitable risk of a selfish luxury. Cradled in liturgies, trained to think chiefly of the magnificent "palace" of Jehovah ( 1 Chronicles 29:19) of which, he was to be the builder, there was the danger first of an esthetic formalism and then of ultimate indifference.

III. Accession.

1. The feebleness of David's old age led to an attempt which might have deprived Solomon of the throne his father destined for him. Adonijah, next in order of birth to Absalom, like Absalom, "was a goodly man" ( 1 Kings 1:6), in full maturity of years, backed by the oldest of the king's friends and counsellors, Joab and Abiathar, and by all the sons of David, who looked with jealousy the latter on the obvious though not as yet declared preference of the latest born, and the former on the growing influence of the rival counsellors who were most in the king's favor, Nathan, Zadok, and Benaiah. Following in the steps of Absalom, he assumed the kingly state of a chariot and a bodyguard; and David, more passive than ever, looked on in silence. At last a time was chosen for openly proclaiming him as king. A solemn, feast at En-rogel was to inaugurate the new reign. All were invited to it but those whom it was intended to displace. It was necessary for those whose interests were endangered, backed apparently by two of David's surviving elder brothers ( 1 Chronicles 2:13-14; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 266), to take prompt measures. Bathsheba and Nathan took counsel together. The king was reminded of his oath. A virtual abdication was pressed upon him as the only means by which the succession of his favorite son could be secured. The whole thing was completed with wonderful rapidity. Riding on the mule well known as belonging to the king, attended by Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest, and, more important still, by the king's special company of the thirty Gibborim, or mighty men ( 1 Kings 1:10;  1 Kings 1:33), and the bodyguard of the Cherethites and Pelethites (mercenaries, and therefore not liable to the contagion of popular feeling) under, the command of Benaiah (himself, like Nathan and Zadok, of the sons of Aaron), he went down to Gihon and was proclaimed and anointed king. (According to later Jewish teaching, a king was not anointed when he succeeded to his father, except in the case of a previous usurpation or a disputed succession [Otho, Lex. Rabbin. s.v. "Rex"].) The shouts of his followers fell on the startled ears of the guests at Adonijah's banquet. Happily they were as yet committed to no overt act, and they did not venture on one now. One by one they rose and departed. The plot had failed. The counter Coup D ' Etat of Nathan and Bathsheba had been successful. Such incidents are common enough in the history of Eastern monarchies. They are usually followed by a massacre of the defeated party. Adonijah expected such an issue, and took refuge at the horns of the altar. In this instance, however, the young conqueror used his triumph generously. The lives both of Adonijah and his partisans were spared, at least for a time. What had been done hurriedly was done afterwards in more solemn form. Solomon was presented to a great gathering of all the notables of Israel with a set speech, in which the old king announced what was, to his mind, the program of the new reign, a time of peace and plenty, of a stately worship, of devotion to Jehovah. A few months more and Solomon found himself, by his father's death, the sole occupant of the throne.

2. 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, able to ally itself or to contend on equal terms with Egypt or Assyria, stretching from the river Euphrates to the border of Egypt, from the Mediterranean to the Gulf of Akaba, receiving annual tributes from many subject princes (see Hase, Regni Salom. Descriptio [Norimb. 1739]). Large treasures accumulated through many years were at his disposal. The sums mentioned are (1) the public funds for building the Temple, 100,000 talents ( Kikarin ) of gold and 1,000,000 of silver; (2) David's private offerings, 3000 talents of gold and 7000 of silver. Besides these, large sums of unknown amount were believed to have been stored up in the sepulchre of David. 3000 talents were taken from it by Hyrcanus (Josephus, Ant. 7, 15, 3; 13, 8, 4; 16, 7, 1). The people, with the exception of the tolerated worship in high places, were true servants of Jehovah. Knowledge, art, music, poetry, had received a new impulse, and were moving on with rapid steps to such perfection as the age and the race were capable of attaining. We may rightly ask what manner of man he was, outwardly and inwardly, who at the age of about twenty was called to this glorious sovereignty? We have, it is true, no direct description in this case as we have of the earlier kings. There are, however, materials for filling up the gap. The wonderful impression which Solomon made upon all who came near him may well lead us to believe that with him, as with Saul and David, Absalom and Adonijah, as with most other favorite princes of Eastern peoples, there must have been the fascination and the grace of a noble presence. Whatever higher mystic meaning may be latent in Psalms 45, or the Song of Songs, we are compelled to think of them as having had, at least, a historical starting point. They tell us 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 father's ( Song of Solomon 5:10;  1 Samuel 17:42), bushy locks, dark as the raven's wing, yet not without a golden glow (possibly sprinkled with gold dust, as was the hair of the youths who waited on him [Josephus, Ant. 8, 7, 3], or dyed with henna [Michaelis, note in Lowth, Proel. 31]), the eyes soft as "the eyes of doves," the "countenance as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars," "the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether lovely" ( Song of Solomon 5:9-16). 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," the soul "anointed" as "with the oil of gladness" (Psalms 45), and we may form some notion of what the king was like in that dawn of his golden prime.

3. The historical starting point of the Song of Songs just spoken of connects itself, in all probability, with the earliest facts in the history of the new reign. The narrative, as told in 1 Kings 2, is not a little perplexing. Bathsheba, who had before stirred up David against Adonijah, now appears as interceding for him, begging that Abishag the Shunamnite, the virgin concubine of David, might be given him as a wife. Solomon, who till then had professed the profoundest reverence for his mother, his willingness to grant her anything, suddenly flashes into fiercest wrath at this. He detects what her unsuspicious generosity had not perceived. The petition is treated as part of a conspiracy in which Joab and Abiathar are sharers. Benaiah is once more called in. Adonijah is put to death at once. Joab is slain even within the precincts of the tabernacle, to which he had fled as an asylum. Abiathar is deposed and exiled, sent to a life of poverty and shame ( 1 Kings 2:31-36), and the high priesthood transferred to another family more ready than he had been to pass from the old order to the new, and to accept the voices of the prophets as greater than the oracles which had belonged exclusively to the priesthood. (See Urim And Thummim).

Abiathar is declared "worthy of death," clearly not for any new offenses, but for his participation in Adonijah's original attempt; and Joab is put to death because he is alarmed at the treatment of his associates ( 1 Kings 2:26-29), which implies collusion on his part. The king sees in the movement a plot to keep him still in the tutelage of childhood, to entrap him into admitting his elder brother's right to the choicest treasure of his father's harem, and therefore virtually to the throne, or at least to a regency in which he would have his own partisans as counsellors. With a keen sighted promptness he crushes the whole scheme. He gets rid of a rival, fulfils David's dying counsels as to Joab, and asserts his own independence. Soon afterwards an opportunity is thrown in his way of getting rid of one, (See Shimei), who had been troublesome before and might be troublesome again. He presses the letter of a compact against a man who by his infatuated disregard of it seemed given over to destruction ( 1 Kings 2:36-46). (An elaborate vindication of Solomon's conduct in this matter may be found in Menthen, Thesaur. vol. 1; Slisser, Diss. De Salom. Processu Contra Shimei. ) There is, however, no needless slaughter. The other "sons of David" are still spared, and one of them, Nathan, becomes the head of a distinct family ( Zechariah 12:12) which ultimately fills up the failure of the direct succession ( Luke 3:31). As he punishes his father's enemies, he also shows kindness to the friends who had been faithful to him. Chimham, the son of Barzillai, apparently receives an inheritance near the city of David, and probably in the reign of Solomon displays his inherited hospitality by building a caravansary for the strangers whom the fame and wealth of Solomon drew to Jerusalem ( 2 Samuel 19:31-40;  1 Kings 2:7;  Jeremiah 41:17; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 247; Proph. 2, 191).

IV. Foreign Policy . The want of sufficient data for a continuous history has already been noticed. All that we have are

(a) The duration of the reign, forty years ( 1 Kings 11:42). (Josephus, again inaccurate, lengthens the reign to eighty years, and makes the age at accession fourteen [ Ant. 8, 7, 8].)

(b) The commencement of the Temple in the fourth, its completion in the eleventh year of his reign (6, 1, 37, 38).

(c) The commencement of his own palace in the seventh, its completion in the twentieth year (7, 1;  2 Chronicles 8:1).

(d) The conquest of Hamath-zobah, and the consequent foundation of cities in the region north of Palestine after the twentieth year ( 2 Chronicles 8:1-6). With materials so scanty as these, it will be better to group the chief facts in an order which will best enable us to appreciate their significance.

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. He married Pharaoh's daughter ( 1 Kings 3:1). Since the time of the Exode there had been no intercourse between the two countries. David and his counsellors had taken no steps to promote it. Egypt had probably taken part in assisting Edom in its resistance to David ( 1 Chronicles 11:23; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 182), and had received Hadad, the prince of Edom, with royal honors. The king had given him his wife's sister in marriage, and adopted his son into his own family ( 1 Kings 11:14-20). These steps indicated a purpose to support him at some future time more actively, and Solomon's proposal of marriage was probably intended to counteract it. It was at the time, so far successful that when Hadad, on hearing of the death of the dreaded leaders of the armies of Israel, David and Joab, wished to seize the opportunity of attacking the new king, the court of Egypt rendered him no assistance (11:21, 22). The disturbances thus caused, like those of a later date in the north, coming from the foundation of a new Syrian kingdom at Damascus by Rezon and other fugitives from Zobah ( 1 Kings 11:23-25), might well lead Solomon to look out for a powerful support, to obtain for a new dynasty and a new kingdom a recognition by one of older fame and greater power. The immediate results were probably favorable enough. The new queen brought with her as a dowry the frontier city of Gezer, against which, as threatening the tranquillity of Israel, and as still possessed by a remnant of the old Canaanites, Pharaoh had led his armies. She was received with all honor, the queen-mother herself attending to place the diadem on her son's brow on the day of his espousals ( Song of Solomon 3:11). Gifts from the nobles of Israel and from Tyre (the latter offered perhaps by a Tyrian princess) were lavished at her feet ( Psalms 45:12). It is to be remarked that the daughter of Pharaoh appears to have conformed to the Hebrew faith, for she is mentioned as if apart from the "strange women" who seduced Solomon into the toleration or practice of idolatry ( 1 Kings 11:1), and there are no accounts of any Egyptian superstitions being introduced during his reign. The Egyptian queen dwelt in a separate. portion of the city of David till a palace was reared the presence of the ark on Zion precluded the near residence of such a foreigner, though she might have abandoned her national gods ( 2 Chronicles 8:11). She dwelt there apparently with attendants of her own race, "the virgins that be her fellows," probably conforming in some degree to the religion of her adopted country. According to a tradition which may have some foundation in spite of its exaggerated numbers, Pharaoh (Psusennes, or, as in the story, Vaphres) sent with her workmen to help in building the Temple to the number of 80,000 (Eupolemus, in Euseb. Proep. Evang. 2, 30-35). The "chariots of Pharaoh," at any rate, appeared in royal procession with a splendor hitherto unknown ( Song of Solomon 1:9).

The ultimate issue of the alliance showed that it was hollow and impolitic. There may have been a revolution in Egypt, changing the dynasty and transferring the seat of power to Bubastis (Ewald, 3, 389). There was at any rate a change of policy. The court of Egypt welcomes the fugitive Jeroboam when he is known to have aspirations after kingly power. There, we may believe, by some kind of compact, expressed or understood, was planned the scheme which led first to the rebellion of the Ten Tribes, and then to the attack of Shishak on the weakened and dismantled kingdom of the son of Solomon. Evils such as these were hardly counterbalanced by the trade opened by Solomon in the fine linen of Egypt, or the supply of chariots and horses which, as belonging to aggressive rather than defensive warfare, a wiser policy would have led him to avoid ( 1 Kings 10:28-29) .

2. Tyre. The alliance with the Phoenician king rested on a somewhat different footing. It had been part of David's policy from the beginning of his reign. Hiram had been "ever a lover of David." He, or his grandfather (comp. the data given in  2 Samuel 5:11; Josephus, Ant. 7, 3, 2; 8, 5, 3; Cont. Revelation 1, 18 ; and Ewald, 3, 287), had helped him by supplying materials and workmen for his palace. As soon as he heard of Solomon's accession he sent ambassadors to salute him. A correspondence passed between the two kings, which ended in a treaty of commerce. (The letters are given at. length by Josephus [ Ant. 8, 2, 8] and Eupolemus [Eusebius, Prscep. Evang. loc. cit.].) Israel was to be supplied from Tyre with the materials which were wanted for the Temple that was to be the glory of the new reign. Gold from Ophir, cedar wood from Lebanon, probably also copper from Cyprus, and tin from Spain or Cornwall (Niebuhr, Lect. on Anc. Hist. 1, 79), for the brass which was so highly valued, purple from Tyre itself, workmen from among the Zidonians all these were wanted and were given. The opening of Joppa as a port created a new coasting trade, and the materials from Tyre were conveyed to it on floats, and thence to, Jerusalem ( 2 Chronicles 2:16). The chief architect of the Temple, though an Israelite on his mother's side, belonging to the tribe of Dan or Naphtali, (See Hiram), was yet by birth a Tyrian, a namesake of the king. In return for these exports, the Phoenicians were only too glad to receive the corn and oil of Solomon's territory. Their narrow strip of coast did not produce. enough for the population of their cities, and then, as at a later; period, "their country was nourished" by the broad valleys and plains of Samaria and Galilee ( Acts 12:20).

The results of the alliance did not end here. Now, for the first time in the history of the Israelites, they entered on a career as a commercial people. They joined the Phoenicians in their Mediterranean voyages to the coasts of Spain. (See Tarshish). Solomon's possession of the Edomitish coast enabled him to open to his ally a new world of commerce. The ports of Elath and Eziongeber were filled with ships of Tarshish, i.e. merchant ships, for the long voyages, manned chiefly by Phoenicians, but built at Solomon's expense, which sailed down the Aelanitic Gulf of the Red Sea, on through. the Indian Ocean, to lands which had before been hardly known even by name, to Ophir and Sheba, to Arabia Felix, or India, or Ceylon; and brought back, after an absence of nearly three years, treasures almost or altogether new gold and silver and precious stones, nard, aloes, sandalwood, almug trees, and ivory; and last, but not least in the eyes of the historian, new forms of animal life, on which the inhabitants of Palestine gazed with wondering eyes, "apes and peacocks." The interest of Solomon in these enterprises was shown by his leaving his palaces at Jerusalem and elsewhere and travelling to Elath and Ezion-geber to superintend the construction of the fleet ( 2 Chronicles 8:17); perhaps also to Sidon for a like purpose. (The statement of Justin Martyr [ Dial. C. Tryph. c. 34], Ἐν Σιδῶνι Εἰδωλολάτρει , receives by the accompanying Διὰ Γυναῖκα the character of an extract from some history then extant. The marriage of Solomon with a daughter of the king of Tyres is mentioned by Eusebius [Proep. Evang. 10, 11].) To the knowledge thus gained we may ascribe the wider thoughts which appear in the psalms of this and the following periods, as of those who "see the wonders of the deep and occupy their business in great waters" ( Psalms 107:23-30); perhaps also as an experience of the more humiliating accidents of sea- travel ( Proverbs 23:34-35). (See the monographs De Navig. Salom. by Wichmannshausen [Viteb. 1709], Huetius [in Ugolino, vol. 7], Konigsmann [Slesv. 1800], and Reill [in Germ.] [Dorp. 1834.).

According to the statement of the Phoenician writers quoted by Josephus (Ant. 8, 5, 3), the intercourse of the two kings had in it also something of the sportiveness and freedom of friends. They delighted to perplex each other with hard questions, and laid wagers as to their power of answering them. Hiram was at first the loser and paid his forfeits; but afterwards, through the help of a sharp-witted Tyrian boy, Abdemon, he solved the hard problems, and was in the end the winner. (The narrative of Josephus implies the existence of some story, more or less humorous, in Tyrian literature, in which the wisest of the kings of earth was baffled by a boy's cleverness. A singular pendant to this is found in the popular mediaeval story of Solomon and Morolf, in which the latter [an ugly, deformed dwarf] outwits the former. A modernized version of this work may be found in the Walhalla [Leipsic, 1844]. Older copies, in Latin and German, of the 15th century, are in the British Museum Library. The Anglo-Saxon Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn is a mere catechism of scriptural knowledge.) The singular fragment of history inserted in  1 Kings 9:11-14, recording the cession by Solomon of sixteen cities, and Hiram's dissatisfaction with them, is perhaps connected with these imperial wagers. The king of Tyre revenges himself by a Phoenician bon mot. (See Cabul). He fulfils his part of the contract, and pays the stipulated price.

3. These were the two most important alliances. The absence of any reference to Babylon and Assyria, and the fact that the Euphrates was recognized as the boundary of Solomon's kingdom ( 2 Chronicles 9:26), suggest 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 (9:24). The kings of the Hittites and of Syria welcomed the opening of a new line of commerce which enabled them to find in Jerusalem an emporium where they might get the chariots and horses of Egypt ( 1 Kings 10:29). This, however, was obviously but a small part of the traffic organized by Solomon. The foundation of cities like Tadmor in the wilderness, and Tiphsah (Thapsacus) on the Euphrates; of others on the route, each with its own special market for chariots or horses or stores ( 2 Chronicles 8:3-6); the erection of lofty towers on Lebanon (2 Chronicles Loc. Cit. ;  Song of Solomon 7:4), pointed to a more distant commerce, opening out the resources of Central, Asia, reaching, as that of Tyre did afterwards (availing itself of this very route), to the nomad tribes of the Caspian and the Black seas, to Togarmah and Meshech and Tubal ( Ezekiel 27:13-14; comp. Milman, Hist. Of The Jews, 1, 270).

With the few exceptions above noted, the reign of Solomon verified his name. It was a time of peace: "he had peace on all sides round about him, and Judah and Israel dwelt safely" ( 1 Kings 4:24-25). The arms of David had won the empire which Solomon now enjoyed. It was an empire in the Oriental sense, extending from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean, from Thapsacus to Gaza. The outlying territories paid tribute to their suzerain; "they that dwell in the wilderness bowed before him; the kings of Tarshish and of the isles brought presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offered gifts;" the Syrian tribes beyond Lebanon and as far as Damascus, with Moab, Ammon, and Edom, the Arabian clans, the surviving aborigines, and the Philistines, did homage and paid tribute "they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life." At the same time proper measures or precautions were taken to preserve peace. Fortresses seem to have been built along the ridges of Lebanon, and on the frontiers "were chariot cities, and cities of horsemen." The two Beth- horons, on the boundary line of the great and uneasy tribe of Ephraim, and on the high-road between Jerusalem and the seacoast, as well from the east as from Philistia and Egypt, were strongly fortified became "fenced cities, with walls, bars, and gates" ( 2 Chronicles 8:5). For a similar reason the old city of Gezer, on the Philistine border, was rebuilt and garrisoned; and Hazor and Megiddo, guarding the plain of Esdraelon from Syrian or Assyrian attack, rose into great fortifications. No doubt, also, on the south, and fronting Idumaea and the desert, similar military stations were placed at intervals. Such a congeries of kingdoms has but a loose coherence, and continues united only so long as the central controlling power maintains its predominance, so that Solomon's empire, made up of those heterogeneous materials, fell to pieces at his death and the revolution that so closely followed it.

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. The legends which pervade the East are probably not merely the expansion of the scanty notices of the Old Test., but (as suggested above), like those which gather round the names of Nimrod and Alexander, the result of the impression made by the personal presence of one of the mighty ones of the earth. Cities like Tadmor and Tiphsah were not likely to have been founded by a king who had never seen and chosen the sites.  2 Chronicles 8:3-4, implies the journey which Josephus speaks of ( Ant. 8, 6, 1), and at Tadmor Solomon was within one day's journey of the Euphrates, and six of Babylon. (So Josephus, Loc. Cit. ; but the day's journey must have been a long one.) 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 impression made on the Incas of Peru by the power and knowledge of the Spaniards offers perhaps the nearest approach to what falls so little within the limits of our experience, though there was there no personal center round which the admiration could gather itself. The journey of the queen of Sheba, though from its circumstances the most conspicuous, did not stand alone. The inhabitants of Jerusalem, of the whole line of country between it and the Gulf of Akaba, saw with amazement the "great train;" the men with their swarthy faces, the camels bearing spices and gold and gems, of a queen who had come from the far South, because she had heard of the wisdom of Solomon, and connected with it "the name of Jehovah" ( 1 Kings 10:1). She came with hard questions to test that wisdom, and the words just quoted may throw light upon their nature. Not riddles and enigmas only, such as the sportive fancy of the East delights in, but the ever old, ever new, problems of life, such as, even in that age and country, were vexing the hearts of the speakers in the book of Job, were stirring in her mind when she communed with Solomon of "all that was in her heart" ( 2 Chronicles 10:2). She meets us the representative of a body whom the dedication prayer shows to have been numerous, the strangers "coming from a far country" because of the "great name" of Jehovah ( 1 Kings 8:41), many of them princes themselves, or the messengers of kings ( 2 Chronicles 9:23). The historians of Israel delighted to dwell on her confession that the reality surpassed the fame, "the one half of the greatness of thy wisdom was not told me" ( 2 Chronicles 9:6; Ewald, 3, 353). (See Schramm, De Fama Salom. [Herb. 1745].)

The territory of Sheba, according to Strabo, reached so far north as to meet that of the Nabathaeans, although its proper seat was at the southernmost angle of Arabia. The very rich presents made by the queen show the extreme value of her Commerce with the Hebrew monarch; aid this early interchange of hospitality derives a peculiar interest from the fact that in much later ages those of the Maccabees and downward the intercourse of the Jews with Sheba became so intimate, and their influence, and even power, so great. Jewish, circumcision took root there, and princes held sway who were called Jewish. The language of Sheba is believed to have been strongly different from the literate Arabic; yet, like- the Ethiopic, it belonged to the great Syro-Arabian family, and was not alien to the Hebrew in the same sense that the Egyptian was; and the great ease with which the pure monotheism of the Maccabees propagated itself in Sheba gives plausibility to the opinion that even at the time of Solomon the people of Sheba had much religious superiority over the Arabs and Syrians in general. If so, it becomes clear how the curiosity of the southern queen would be worked upon by seeing the riches of the distant monarch, whose purer creed must have been carried everywhere with them by his sailors and servants. (See Sheba).

V. Internal History.

1. Administrative Capacity. We can now enter upon the reign of Solomon, in its bearing upon the history of Israel, without the necessity of a digression. The first prominent scene is one which presents his character in its noblest aspect. There were two holy places which divided .the reverence of the people the ark and its provisional tabernacle at Jerusalem, and the original tabernacle of the congregation, which, after many wanderings, was now pitched at Gibeon. It was thought right that the new king should offer solemn sacrifices at both. After those at Gibeon there came that vision of the night which has in all ages borne its noble witness to the hearts of rulers. Not for riches, or long life, or victory over enemies, would the son of David, then at least true to his high calling, feeling himself as "a little child" in comparison with the vastness of his work, offer his supplications, but for a "wise and understanding heart," that he might judge the people." The "speech pleased the Lord." There came in answer the promise of a wisdom "like which there had been none before; like which there should be none after" ( 1 Kings 3:5-15). So far all was well The prayer was a right and noble one. Yet there is also a contrast between it and the prayers of David which accounts for many other contrasts. The desire of David's heart is not chiefly for wisdom, but for holiness. He is conscious of an oppressing evil, and seeks to be delivered from it. He repents, and falls, and repents again. Solomon asks only for wisdom. He has a lofty ideal before him, and seeks to accomplish it; but he is as yet haunted by no deeper yearnings, and speaks as one who has "no need of repentance."

The wisdom asked for was given in large measure, and took a varied range. The Wide world of nature, animate and inanimate, which the enterprises of his subjects were throwing open to him, the lives and characters of men, in all their surface weaknesses, in all their inner depths, 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. The king sits in the gate of the city, at the early dawn, to settle any disputes, however strange, between any litigants, however humble. In the rough-and-ready test which turns the scales of evidence. before so evenly balanced, there is a kind of rough humor as well as sagacity specially attractive to the Eastern mind, then and at all times ( 1 Kings 3:16-28).

But the power to rule showed itself not in judging only, but in organizing. The system of government which he inherited from David received a fuller expansion. Prominent among the "princes" of his kingdom, i.e. officers of his own appointment, were members of the priestly order: Azariah the son of Zadok, Zadok himself the high priest, Benaiah the son of Jehoiada as captain of the host, another Azariah and Zabud, the sons of Nathan one over the officers (Nitstsabim) who acted as purveyors to the king's household ( 1 Kings 4:2-5), the other in the more confidential character of "king's friend." In addition to these, there were the two scribes (Sopherim ) , the king's secretaries, drawing up his edicts and the like, (See Scribe), Elihoreph and Ahiah, the recorder or annalist of the king's reign ( Mazkir ) , the superintendent of the king's house and.household expenses ( Isaiah 22:15), including probably the harem. The last in order, at once the most indispensable and the most hated, was Adoniram, who presided "over the tribute," that word including probably the personal service of forced labor (comp. Keil, Comm. ad loc., and Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 3, 334).

2. Exchequer. The last name leads us to the king's finances. The first impression of the facts given us is that of abounding plenty. That all the drinking vessels of the two palaces should be of pure gold was a small thing, "nothing accounted of in the days of Solomon" ( 1 Kings 10:21). "Silver was in Jerusalem as stones, and cedars as the sycamore trees in the vale" (10:27). The people were "eating and drinking and making merry" (4:20). The treasures left by David for building the Temple might well seem almost inexhaustible ( 1 Chronicles 29:1-7). (We labor, however, under a twofold uncertainty, [1] as to the accuracy of the numbers, [2] as to the value of the terms. Prideaux, followed by Lewis, estimates the amount at £ 833,000,000, yet the savings of the later years of David's life, for one special purpose, could hardly have surpassed the national debt of England [comp. Milman, History of the Jews, 1, 267].) The large quantities of the precious metals imported from Ophir and Tarshish would speak to a people who had not learned the lessons of a long experience of a boundless source of wealth ( 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, then, as at all times in the East, contributed to the king's treasury, and the trade in the fine linen and chariots and horses of Egypt must have brought in large profits ( 1 Kings 10:28-29). The king's domain lands were apparently let out, as vineyards or for other purposes, at a fixed annual rental ( Song of Solomon 8:11). Upon the Israelites (probably not till the later period of his reign) there was levied a tax of ten percent on their produce ( 1 Samuel 8:15). All the provinces of his own kingdom, grouped apparently in a special order for this purpose, were bound each in turn to supply the king's enormous household with provisions ( 1 Kings 4:21-23). The total amount thus brought into the treasury in gold, exclusive of all payments in kind, amounted to 666 talents (10:14). (See Tax).

The profound peace which the nation enjoyed as a fruit of David's victories stimulated the industry of all Israel. The tribes beyond the Jordan had become rich by the plunder of the Hagarenes, and had a wide district where their cattle might multiply to an indefinite extent. The agricultural tribes enjoyed a soil and climate in some parts eminently fruitful, and in all richly rewarding the toil of irrigation; so that, in the security of peace, nothing more was wanted to develop the resources of the nation than markets for its various produce. In food for men and cattle, in, timber and fruit trees, in stone, and probably in the useful metals, the land supplied of itself all the first wants of its people in abundance. For exportation, it is distinctly stated that wheat, barley, oil, and wine were in chief demand; to which we may conjecturally add, wool, hides, and other raw materials. The king undoubtedly had large districts and extensive herds of his own; but besides this, he received presents in kind from his own people and from the subject nations; and it was possible in this way to make demands upon them, without severe oppression, to an extent that is unbearable where taxes must be paid in gold or silver. He was himself at once monarch and merchant; and we may with much confidence infer that no private merchant will be allowed to compete with a prince who has assumed the mercantile character. By his intimate commercial union with the Tyrians, he was putt into the most favorable of all positions for disposing of his goods.

That energetic nation, possessing so small a strip of territory, had much need of various raw produce for their own wants. Another large demand was made by them for the raw materials of manufactures, and for articles which they could with advantage sell again; and as they were able to furnish so many acceptable luxuries to the court of Solomon, a most active change soon commenced. Only second in importance to this, and superior in fame, was the commerce of the Red Sea, which could not have been successfully prosecuted without the aid of Trian enterprise and experience. The navigation to Sheba, and the districts beyond whether of Eastern Arabia or of Africa in spite of its tediousness, was highly lucrative, from the vast diversity of productions between the countries so exchanging; while, as it was a trade of monopoly, a very disproportionate share of the whole gain fell to the carriers of the merchandise. The Egyptians were the only nation who might haste been rivals in the southern maritime traffic; but their religion and their exclusive principles did not favor, sea voyages; and there is some reason to think that at this early period they abstained from sending their own people abroad for commerce. The goods brought back from the south were chiefly gold, precious stones, spice, almug or other scented woods, and ivory, all of which were probably so abundant in their native regions as to be parted with on easy terms and of course, were all admirably suited for reexportation to Europe.

The carrying trade, which was thus shared between Solomon and the Tyirians, was probably the most lucrative part of the southern and eastern commerce. How large a portion of it went on by caravans of camels is wholly unknown, yet that this branch was considerable is certain. From Egypt Solomon imported not only linen yarn, but even horses and chariots, which were sold again to the princes. of Syria and of the Hittites; and were probably prized, for the superior breed of the horses, and for the light, strong, and elegant structure of the chariots. Wine, being abundant in Palestine, and wholly wanting in Egypt, was no doubt a principal means of repayment. Moreover, Solomon's fortifying of Tadmor (or Palmyra), and retention of Thapsacus on the Euphrates, show that he had an important interest in the direct land and river trade to Babyllon; although we have no details on this subject. The difficulty which meets us is, to imagine by what exports, light enough to bear land carriage, he was able to pay for his imports.

We may conjecture that he sent out Tyrian cloths and trinkets, or Egyptian linen of the finest fabric; yet in many of these things the Babylonians also excelled. On the whole, when we consider that in the case of Solomon the commercial wealth of ther entire community was concentrated in the hands of the government,: that much of the trade was a monopoly, and that all was assisted or directed by the experience and energy of the Tyrians, the overwhelming riches of this eminent merchant sovereign are perhaps not surprising. It was hardly possible, however, that any financial system could bear the strain of the king's passion for magnificence. The cost of the Temple was, it is true, provided for by David's savings and the offerings of the people; but even while that was building, yet more when it was finished, one structure followed another with ruinous rapidity. A palace for himself, grander than that which Hiram had built for his father; another for Pharaoh's daughter; the house of the forest of Lebanon, in which he sat in his court of judgment, the pillars all of cedar, seated on a throne of ivory and gold, in which six lions on either side, the symbols of the tribe of Judah, appeared (as in the thrones of Assyria, Layard, Nin. and Bab. 2, 300) standing on the steps and supporting the arms of the chair ( 1 Kings 7:1-12;  1 Kings 10:4;  1 Kings 10:18-20); ivory palaces and ivory towers, used apparently for the king's armory ( Psalms 45:8;  Song of Solomon 4:4;  Song of Solomon 7:4); the ascent from his own palace to the house or palace of Jehovah ( 1 Kings 10:5); a summer-palace in Lebanon (9:19;  Song of Solomon 7:4); stately gardens at Etham, Paradises like those of the great Eastern kings ( Ecclesiastes 2:5-6; Josephus, Ant. 8, 7, 3), (See Paradise); the foundation of something like a stately school or college; costly aqueducts bringing water, it may be, from the well of Bethlehem, dear to David's heart, to supply the king's palace in Jerusalem (Ewald, 3, 323); the fortifications of Jerusalem completed, those of other cities begun ( 1 Kings 9:15-19); and, above all, the harem, with all the expenditure which it involved on slaves and slavedealers, on concubines and eunuchs ( 1 Samuel 8:15;  1 Chronicles 28:1), on men singers and women singers ( Ecclesiastes 2:8) the

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [15]

sol´ṓ - mun ( שׁלמה , shelōmōh  ; New Testament Σολομών , Solomṓn ):

I. Early Life

1. Name and Meaning

2. Sources

3. Birth and Upbringing

4. His Accession

5. Closing Days of David

II. Reign Of Solomon

1. His Vision

2. His Policy

3. Its Results

4. Alliance with Tyre

5. Alliance with Egypt

6. Domestic Troubles

III. His Buildings

1. The Temple

2. The Palace

3. Other Buildings

4. The Corvee

IV. His Character

1. Personal Qualities

2. His Wisdom

3. His Learning

4. Trade and Commerce

5. Officers of State

6. Wives

7. Revenues

8. Literary Works

Literature

I. Early Life.

Solomon was the son of David and Bath-sheba, and became the 3king of Israel.

1. Name and Meaning:

He was so named by his mother ( 2 Samuel 12:24 , Ḳerē  ; see Text ), 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 shı̄llumah , from the word denoting "compensation," Bath-sheba's second son being given in compensation for the loss of the first (but see 3, below).

2. Sources:

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 f; 1 Ki 1 through 11; 1 Ch 22 through 2 Ch 9. Of these sources   2 Samuel 12:24 f and 1 Ki 1; 2 are much the oldest and in fact form part of one document, 2 Sam 9 through 20; 1 Ki 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 f, 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 ff), 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 ,  1 Kings 1:38 ,  1 Kings 1:45 ), 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 ff). 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;  1 Kings 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 f) 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 county.

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 ff. 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 f), 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 f), 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;  Psalm 60:1-12 , 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 ff; 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 ff). 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;  1 Kings 7:13 ff). The delay in beginning is remarkable, if the material were all ready to hand (1 Ch 22). Worship there was inaugurated with fitting ceremony and prayers (1 Ki 8).

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;  1 Kings 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 - H azor, Megiddo and Gezer ( 1 Kings 9:15 ), lower Beth-horon and Baalath (which see). According to the Ḳerē 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 Kethı̄bh 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;  1 Kings 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 ). See Nethinim .

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 ff). 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 ff, 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 ff;   1 Kings 10:22 ). Special mention is made of "almug" ( 1 Kings 10:11 ) or "algum" ( 2 Chronicles 9:10 f) 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 ff. 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 ff;   2 Samuel 20:23 ff). 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 ff. 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.

6. Wives:

Solomon's principal wife was naturally the daughter of Pharaoh; it was for her that his palace was built ( 1 Kings 3:1;  1 Kings 7:8;  1 Kings 9:16 ,  1 Kings 9:24 ). 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 ff),. 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 ,  1 Kings 4:15 ).

7. Revenues:

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,  Proverbs 1:1 ff;   Proverbs 10:1 ff;   Proverbs 25:1 ff; The Song of Songs; Psalms 72 and   Psalm 127:1-5; Ecclesiastes (although Solomon is not named). In  Proverbs 25:1 the men of Hezekiah are said to have copied out the following proverbs.

Literature.

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.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [16]

Solomon (pacific). The reign of Solomon over all Israel, although second in importance only to that of David, has so little variety of incident as to occupy a far less space in the Bible narrative. In the declining age of David, his eldest surviving son, Adonijah, endeavored to place himself on the throne, by the aid of Joab the chief captain, and Abiathar one of the chief priests, both of whom had been associated with David's early sufferings under the persecution of Saul. The aged monarch did not for a moment give way to the formidable usurpation, but at the remonstrance of his favorite, Bathsheba, resolved forthwith to raise her son Solomon to the throne. To Joab he was able to oppose the celebrated name of Benaiah; to Abiathar his colleague Zadok and the aged prophet Nathan. The plot of Adonijah was at once defeated by this decisive measure; and Solomon, being anointed by Nathan, was solemnly acknowledged as king. The date of this event is, as nearly as can be ascertained, B.C. 1015. The death of David would seem to have followed very quick upon these transactions. At least, no public measures in the interval are recorded, except Solomon's verbal forgiveness of Adonijah. But after the removal of David, the first events of which we hear are the destruction of Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei son of Gera, with the degradation of Abiathar.

After this the history enters upon a general narrative of the reign of Solomon; but we have very few notices of time, and cannot attempt to fix the order of any of the events. All the information, however, which we have concerning him may be consolidated under the following heads: (1) his traffic and wealth; (2) his buildings; (3) his ecclesiastical arrangements; (4) his general administration; (5) his seraglio; (6) his enemies.

(1.) The overflowing wealth in which he is so vividly depicted is not easy to reduce to a modern financial estimate; partly because the numbers are so often treacherous, and partly because it is uncertain what items of expenditure fell on the general funds of the government. But abandoning all attempt at numerical estimates, it cannot be doubted that the wealth of Solomon was very great.

The profound peace which the nation enjoyed as a fruit of David's victories stimulated the industry of all Israel. The tribes beyond the Jordan had become rich by the plunder of the Hagarenes, and had a wide district where their cattle might multiply to an indefinite extent. The agricultural tribes enjoyed a soil and climate in some parts eminently fruitful, and in all richly rewarding the toil of irrigation; so that, in the security of peace, nothing more was wanted to develop the resources of the nation than markets for its various produce. In food for men and cattle, in timber and fruit trees, in stone, and probably in the useful metals, the land supplied of itself all the first wants of its people in abundance. For exportation, it is distinctly stated that wheat, barley, oil, and wine, were in chief demand; to which we may conjecturally add, wool, hides, and other raw materials. The king undoubtedly had large districts and extensive herds of his own; but besides this, he received presents in kind from his own people and from the subject nations. He was himself at once monarch and merchant. By his intimate commercial union with the Tyrians he was put into the most favorable of all positions for disposing of his goods; and by the aid of their enterprise and experience carried on a lucrative trade with various countries.

The visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, although not strictly commercial, rose out of commercial intercourse, and may perhaps be here noticed. The territory of Sheba, according to Strabo, reached so far north as to meet that of the Nabathaeans, although its proper seat was at the southernmost angle of Arabia. The very rich presents made by the queen show the extreme value of her commerce with the Hebrew monarch; and this early interchange of hospitality derives a peculiar interest from the fact, that in much later ages—those of the Maccabees and downwards—the intercourse of the Jews with Sheba became so intimate, and their influence, and even power, so great. Jewish circumcision took root there, and princes held sway who were called Jewish.

(2.) Besides the great work which has rendered the name of Solomon so famous—the Temple at Jerusalem—we are informed of the palaces which he built, viz., his own palace, the queen's palace, and the house of the forest of Lebanon, his porch (or piazza) for no specified object, and his porch of judgment, or law court. He also added to the walls of Jerusalem, and fortified Millo ('in the city of David,' ), and many other strongholds. In all these works he had the aid of the Tyrians, whose skill in hewing timber and in carving stone, and in the application of machines for conveying heavy masses, was of the first importance.

(3.) The ecclesiastical arrangements of Solomon were of the most magnificent description, and for a time he zealously worshipped and faithfully served the God of his fathers. But, after the death of Nathan and Zadok, those faithful friends of David, 'his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect with the Lord as was the heart of David his father' . Side by side with the worship of Jehovah foreign idolatries were established; and the disgust which this inspired in the prophets of Jehovah is clearly seen in the address of Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam, so manifestly exciting him to rebel against the son of David .

(4.) Concerning his general administration little is recorded beyond the names of various high officers. But it is probable that Solomon's peculiar talents and taste led him to perform one function which is always looked for in Oriental royalty, viz., to act personally as Judge in cases of oppression. His award between the two contending mothers cannot be regarded as an isolated fact: and 'the porch of judgment' which he built for himself may imply that he devoted fixed portions of time to the judicial duties (see , of Jotham). The celebrity which Solomon gained for wisdom, although founded mainly perhaps on his political and commercial sagacity must have received great popular impetus from his administration of law, and from his readiness in seeing through the entanglements of affairs which arise in commercial transactions.

(5.) For the harem of Solomon—consisting of 700 wives and 300 concubines—no other apology can be made, than the fact, that in countries where polygamy is not disreputable, an unlimited indulgence as to the number of wives is looked upon as the chief luxury of wealth, and the most appropriate appendage to royalty.

The commercial union of Tyre with Egypt, in spite of the vast diversity of genius between the two nations, was in those days very close; and it appears highly probable that the affinity to Pharaoh was sought by Solomon as a means of aiding his commercial projects. Although his possession of the Edomite ports on the gulf of Aqabah made him to a certain extent independent of Egypt, the friendship of that power must have been of extreme importance to him in the dangerous navigation of the Red Sea; and was perhaps a chief cause of his brilliant success in so new an enterprise. That Pharaoh continued for some time on good terms with him, appears from a singular present which the Egyptian king made him : 'Pharaoh had gone up and taken Gezer, and burnt it with fire, and slain the Canaanites that dwelt in the city, and given it for a present unto his daughter, Solomon's wife;' in consequence of which Solomon rebuilt and fortified the town. In his declining years a very different spirit is manifested towards him by Shishak, the new Egyptian king; whether after the death of the princess who had been the link between the two kingdoms, or from a different view of policy in the new king, is unknown.

(6.) The enemies especially named as rising against him in his later years, are Jeroboam, Hadad the Edomite, and Rezon of Damascus. The first is described as having had no treasonable intentions, until Solomon sought to kill him on learning the prophecy made to him by Ahijah. Jeroboam was received and fostered by Shishak, king of Egypt, and ultimately became the providential instrument of punishing Solomon's iniquity, though not without heavy guilt of his own. As for Hadad, his enmity to Israel began from the times of David, and is ascribed to the savage butchery perpetrated by Joab on his people. He also, when a mere child, was warmly received in Egypt, apparently by the father-in-law of Solomon; but this does not seem to have been prompted by hostility to David. Having married the sister of Pharaoh's queen, he must have been in very high station in Egypt; still, upon the death of David, he begged leave to depart into Edom, and during the earlier part of Solomon's reign was probably forming his party in secret, and preparing for that dangerous border warfare which he carried on somewhat later. Rezon, on the contrary, seems to have had no personal cause against the Hebrew monarchy; but having become powerful at Damascus and on its frontier, sought, not in vain, to aggrandize himself at its expense. The revenues which would have maintained it were spent on a thousand royal wives: the king himself was unwarlike; and a petty foe, if energetic, was very formidable. Such were the vexations which darkened the setting splendors of the greatest Israelitish king. But from within also his prosperity was unsound. Deep discontent pervaded his own people, when the dazzle of his grandeur had become familiar; when it had become clear, that the royal wealth, instead of denoting national well being, was really sucked out of the nation's vitals. Having no constitutional organ to express their discontent, they waited sullenly, until the recognition of a successor to the crown should give them the opportunity of extorting a removal of burdens which could not permanently be endured.

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [17]

King of Israel from 1015 to 977 B.C., second son of David and Bathsheba, and David's successor; in high repute far and wide for his love of wisdom and the glory of his reign; he had a truly Oriental passion for magnificence, and the buildings he erected in Jerusalem, including the Temple and a palace on Mount Zion, he raised regardless of an expense which the nation resented after he was gone; the burden of which it would seem had fallen upon them, for when his successor, following in his courses, ascended the throne, ten of the tribes revolted, to the final rupture of the community, and the fall of first the one section and then the other under alien sway.

References