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King Solomon (Hebrew: שלמה, Shelōmōh; Greek: Σολομών, Solomōn; Latin: Salomon; Arabic: سليمان, Sulaymān; "peace"), (1036 BC-r.1015 BC-975 BC), was the fourth and last King of the United Kingdom of Israel, the son of King David and David's then-favorite wife Bath-sheba. He began to reign in the 477th year following Exodus of Israel. He was twenty-one years old when he began to reign, and he reigned over Israel for forty years.
Solomon's accession to the throne of Israel was difficult: he had to contend with a usurper. Toward the end of David's life and reign (he was seventy years old at the time and suffering from chronic hypothermia), Solomon's ambitious brother Adonijah asserted himself as king and even suborned a priest (Abiathar) to lend him legitimacy. Happily for Solomon, his mother Bath-sheba had enough wit to inform David of Adonijah's actions; in this, Nathan the prophet corroborated her account. David moved swiftly and, with the aid of the still-loyal priest Zadok I and another officer (Benaiah son of Jehoiada), had Solomon made king immediately, rather than waiting for David to die. Adonijah, seeing his plans come to nothing, ran immediately to the brazen altar and caught hold of its horns, thus claiming sanctuary. Solomon granted it and effectively placed Adonijah on probation (1_Kings 1 ).
Adonijah, however, broke the terms of that probation shortly after David died. In David's last year, a nurse known to Bible history as Abishag the Shulamite had been ministering to David by lying next to him in bed in order to transfer her body heat to his cold body, though David never actually had sexual relations with her. (This remains today a common emergency first-aid measure for hypothermia that affects a member of a hiking or mountaineering party.) Now Adonijah asked permission to marry Abishag. Solomon saw this as a direct threat to his throne and ordered his immediate execution. He followed this up with further death warrants against a general named Joab and a former rebel named Shimmei.
Solomon Asks for Wisdom
Solomon is most famous, and justly so, for asking God, not for riches or political power, but merely for the wisdom required to govern Israel. God granted him wisdom of a sort that would make him an international reputation, and also made him rich and powerful. Sadly, in his later years Solomon would squander these advantages. The Book of Proverbs probably dates from Solomon's early years, as does the Song of Solomon, still considered one of the best and most beautiful love poems ever written, and included in the canon as an indicator of the love of Jesus Christ for those He died to save.
Building of the Temple
- Main Article: Solomon's Temple
Solomon's first great project was to build the first permanent Temple to God. The full description of the Temple, and the materials that went into its building, appears in 1_Kings 5 and 1_Kings 6 . Briefly, Solomon designed the Temple according to the plan of the original Tabernacle as described in the Book of Exodus. Into its perfect-cubical Holy of Holies Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought, and there it remained until the last days of the Southern Kingdom. He broke ground for the Temple in the fourth year of his reign (specifically in the 480th year since the Exodus of Israel) and took seven years to build it.
Foreign Affairs under Solomon
Solomon began early by making a treaty with the then-reigning Pharaoh of Egypt, even to having the daughter of Pharaoh come to his palace, probably as a royal hostage. Solomon also made a treaty with Hiram, king of Tyre, for the delivery of the vast quantities of cedar timbers that went into the Temple construction. Under him, Israel was at the height of its power, with territorial holdings extending from the Euphrates River to the borders of Philistine country and of Egypt.The most famous foreign dignitary that Solomon received was, of course, the Queen of Sheba:
"And when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the LORD, she came to prove him with hard questions. And she came to Jerusalem with a very great train, with camels that bare spices, and very much gold, and precious stones: and when she was come to Solomon, she communed with him of all that was in her heart. And Solomon told her all her questions: there was not any thing hid from the king, which he told her not. And when the queen of Sheba had seen all Solomon's wisdom, and the house that he had built, And the meat of his table, and the sitting of his servants, and the attendance of his ministers, and their apparel, and his cupbearers, and his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the LORD; there was no more spirit in her. And she said to the king, It was a true report that I heard in mine own land of thy acts and of thy wisdom. Howbeit I believed not the words, until I came, and mine eyes had seen it: and, behold, the half was not told me: thy wisdom and prosperity exceedeth the fame which I heard. Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the LORD thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the LORD loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice. And she gave the king an hundred and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and precious stones: there came no more such abundance of spices as these which the queen of Sheba gave to king Solomon." - 1_Kings 10:1-10
The Undoing of Solomon
Solomon's failings began toward the middle of his reign (1_Kings 11 ). By his own estimate, he took seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. These wives were from nations that God had instructed the Israelites not to intermarry with. The results were predictable: he began to partake of the pagan practices of these women. Among other things, he built several high places to accommodate their various versions of Baal and similar deities.
The results of that were the baleful prophecy that the kingdom would divide after his death. He would not live to see that, but neither could he change that.
Toward the end, Solomon realized what tremendous mistakes he had made. He poured out his repentance in the Book of Ecclesiastes.
Death and Succession
In the 507th year following the Exodus of Israel, Solomon died. His son Rehoboam reigned in his stead—but immediately the Kingdom of Israel, consisting of ten tribes under the command of Jeroboam I, split off from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, which together continued as the Kingdom of Judah.
Solomon died shortly before the religious new year; otherwise the length of his reign would have been stated as forty-one years, not forty.
- Main Article: Biblical chronology dispute
James Ussher reckoned the beginning of Solomon's reign at 1015 BC. Edwin R. Thiele reckoned it at 970 BC. The forty-five-year discrepancy results from an interpretation of a major event in the history of Israel that happened long after Solomon's death. The dates of birth, reign, and death given at the top of his article come from Ussher.
SolomonBorn: Ethanim 2969 AMOctober 1035 BC
Tishrei 2726 He
Ethanim 2969 AM Died: 25 Adar 3029 AM10 March 974 BC
26 Adar 2786 He
25 Adar 3029 AM
|King of United Kingdom of Israel|
Ethanim 2990 AMSeptember 1014 BC
Tishrei 2747 He
Ethanim 2990 AM–25 Adar 3029 AM10 March 974 BC
26 Adar 2786 He
25 Adar 3029 AM
| Succeeded by|
as King of Kingdom of Israel
| Succeeded by|
as King of Kingdom of Judah
- ↑ James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003, pgh. 477.