Solomon: Wikis


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King of Israel
Judgement of Solomon.jpg
Judgment of Solomon
Nineteenth century engraving by Gustave Doré
Reign 971 - 931 BCE
Born c.1011 BCE
Birthplace Jerusalem
Died c.932 BCE
Place of death Jerusalem
Predecessor David
Successor Rehoboam
Consort Naamah, Pharaoh's Daughter, 99 other wives
Offspring Rehoboam
Royal House House of David
Father David
Mother Bathsheba

Solomon (Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה, Modern Šəlomo or Šlomo Tiberian Šəlōmōh,Turkish: Süleyman; Arabic: سليمانSulaymān; Greek: Σαλωμων; Latin: Salomon) was, according to the Bible, a King of Israel. The biblical accounts identify Solomon as the son of David.[1] He is also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah split; following the split his patrilineal descendants ruled over Judah alone.

The Bible accredits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem,[1] and portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power, but ultimately as a king whose sin, including idolatry and turning away from God, leads to the kingdom being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam.[2] Solomon is the subject of many other later references and legends.


Biblical account

A reconstruction of the ancient Middle East, as how the area may have been seen through the eyes of the ancient Israelites.


Solomon's father was David, king of the united Kingdom of Israel with Bathsheba. Solomon had many siblings including Amnon, who was killed on the order of their half-brother, Absalom, for raping Absalom's sister, Tamar. (2 Samuel 13:1-29) Absalom was killed in the Battle of Ephraim Wood, and Adonijah, who had tried to usurp the throne, was put to death. (1 Kings 2:13-25)


Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The wives are described as foreign princesses, including Pharaoh's daughter and women of Moab, Ammon, Sidon and of the Hittites. These wives are depicted as leading Solomon astray.[3] The only wife that is mentioned by name is Naamah, who is described as the Ammonite.[4] She was the mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam.


Solomon became king after the death of his father David. According to the biblical First Book of Kings, when David was " old and advanced in years" "he could not get warm." [5] "So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king."[5]

While David was in this state Adonijah, David's fourth son, acted to have himself declared king, he being heir-apparent to the throne after the death of his elder brothers Amnon and Absalom. But Bathsheba, a wife of David and Solomon's mother, along with the prophet Nathan induced David to proclaim Solomon king. Adonijah fled and took refuge at the altar, and received pardon for his conduct from Solomon on the condition that he show himself "a worthy man" (1 Kings 1:5-53).

Adonijah asked to marry Abishag the Shunammite, but Solomon denied authorization for such an engagement, although Bathsheba now pleaded on Adonijah's behalf. He was then seized and put to death (1 Kings 2:13-25). As made clear in the earlier story of Absalom's rebellion, to have sex with the King's wife or concubine was in this society tantamount to claiming the throne; evidently, this applied even to a woman who had shared the bed of an old king.

David's general Joab was killed, in accord with David's deathbed request to Solomon because he had killed generals Abner and Amasa during a peace (2 Samuel 20:8-13; 1 Kings 2:5). David's priest Abiathar was exiled by Solomon because he had sided with rival Adonijah. Abiathar is a descendent of Eli, which has important prophetic significance. (1 Kings 2:27) [6] Shimei was confined to Jerusalem and killed three years later when he went to Gath to retrieve some runaway servants in part because he had cursed David when Absalom, David's son, rebelled against David. (1 Kings 2:1-46) [7]

Artist's depiction of Solomon's court (Ingobertus, c. 880.)


One of the qualities most ascribed to Solomon is his wisdom. Solomon prays:

"Give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people and to know good and evil."1 Kings 3:9 [8]

"So God said to him, 'Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked...'" (1 Kings 3:11-12)[8] The Bible also states that: "The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart." (1 Kings 10:24) [9]

In one account, known as the Judgment of Solomon, two women who came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel about which was the true mother of a baby. One mother had her baby die in the night after rolling over it in her sleep and crushing it; each claims the surviving child as her own. When Solomon suggests dividing the living child in two with a sword, the true mother is revealed to him because she is willing to give up her child to the lying woman, as heartbreaking a decision as it is. Solomon then declares the woman who shows compassion to be the true mother, and gives the baby back to her.

Relationship with Queen of Sheba

Solomon and the queen of Sheba by Giovanni Demin (1789-1859)
Renaissance relief of the Queen of Sheba meeting Solomon - gate of Florence Baptistry
King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, painting by Piero della Francesca

In a brief, unelaborated, and enigmatic passage, the Bible describes how the fame of Solomon's wisdom and wealth spread far and wide, so much so that the queen of Sheba decided that she should meet him. The queen is described as visiting with a number of gifts including gold and rare jewels to decorate the temple, and also bringing with her a number of riddles. When Solomon gave her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked," she left satisfied (1 Kings 10:10).

Whether the passage is simply to provide a brief token foreign witness of Solomon's wealth and wisdom, or whether there is meant to be something more significant to the queen's visit and her riddles is unknown; nevertheless the visit of the Queen of Sheba has become the subject of numerous stories.

Sheba is typically identified as Saba, a nation once spanning the Red Sea on the coasts of what are now Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen, in Arabia Felix. In a Rabbinical account (e.g. Targum Sheni), Solomon was accustomed to ordering the living creatures of the world to dance before him (Rabbinical accounts say that Solomon had been given control over all living things by God), but one day upon discovering that the mountain-cock or hoopoe (the Hebrew name for the creature is Shade) was absent, he summoned it to him, and the bird told him that it had been searching for somewhere new.

The bird had discovered a land in the east, exceedingly rich in gold, silver, and plants, whose capital was called Kitor and whose ruler was the Queen of Sheba, and the bird, on its own advice, was sent by Solomon to request the queen's immediate attendance at Solomon's court.

In an Ethiopian account (Kebra Nagast) it is maintained that the Queen of Sheba had sexual relations with King Solomon (of which the Biblical and Quranic accounts give no hint) and gave birth by the Mai Bella stream in the province of Hamasien, Eritrea. The Ethiopian tradition has a detailed account of the affair. (See Queen of Sheba)

The child was a son who went on to become Menelik I, King of Axum, and founded a dynasty that would reign in the eventual stalwart Christian Empire of Ethiopia for 2900+ years (less one usurpation episode and interval of ca. 133 years until a "legitimate" male heir regained the crown) until Haile Selassie was overthrown in 1974. Menelik was said to be a practicing Jew, had been gifted with a replica Ark of the Covenant by King Solomon, but moreover, the original was switched and went to Axum with him and his mother, and is still there, guarded by a single priest charged with caring for the artifact as his life's task.

The claim of such a lineage and of possession of the Ark has been an important source of legitimacy and prestige for the Ethiopian monarchy throughout the many centuries of its existence, and had important and lasting effects on Ethiopian culture as a whole. The Ethiopian government and church deny all requests to view the alleged ark.[10]

Some classical-era Rabbis, attacking Solomon's moral character, have claimed instead that the child was an ancestor of Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Solomon's temple some 300 years later.[11]

Solomon's sins

According to 1 Kings 11:4 Solomon's "wives turned his heart after other gods", their own national deities, to whom Solomon built temples, thus incurring divine anger and retribution in the form of the division of the kingdom after Solomon's death. (1 Kings 11:9-13)

1 Kings 11 describes Solomon's descent into idolatry, particularly his turning after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. In Deuteronomy 17:16-17, a king is commanded not to multiply horses, wives or gold. Solomon sins in all three of these areas. Solomon collects 666 talents of gold each year, (1 Kings 10:14) a huge amount of money for a small nation like Israel. Solomon gathers a large number of horses and chariots and even brings in horses from Egypt. Just as Deuteronomy 17 warns, collecting horses and chariots takes Israel back to Egypt. Finally, Solomon marries foreign women, and these women turn Solomon to other gods.

According to 1 Kings 11:9-13, it was because of these sins that "the Lord punishes Solomon by tearing the kingdom in two":[2]

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.

Solomon's enemies

Near the end of his life Solomon was forced to contend with several enemies including Hadad of Edom, Rezon of Zobah, and one of his officials named Jeroboam who was from the tribe of Ephraim.[2]

Death, succession of Rehoboam, and kingdom division

The United Monarchy breaks up, with Jeroboam ruling over the northern Kingdom of Israel (green on the map) and Rehoboam ruling the Kingdom of Judah to the south.

According to the Bible and historical research, Solomon died of natural causes[12] at around 80 years of age. Upon Solomon's death, his son, Rehoboam, succeeded him as king. However, ten of the Tribes of Israel refused to accept him as king, causing the United Monarchy to split and form the northern Kingdom of Israel ruled by Jeroboam, while Rehoboam continued to reign in the southern Kingdom of Judah.

Building and other works

Solomon planning the building of the temple.
Solomon and the plan for the First Temple, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company
A sketch of Solomon's Temple, based on descriptions in the Scriptures.

During Solomon's long reign of 40 years, the Israelite monarchy, according to the Bible, gained its highest splendour and wealth. In a single year, according to 1 Kings 10:14, Solomon collected tribute amounting to 666 talents of gold (39,960 pounds).

Solomon is described as surrounding himself with all the luxuries and the external grandeur of an Eastern monarch, and his government prospered. He entered into an alliance with Hiram I, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly assisted him in his numerous undertakings. For some years before his death, David was engaged in collecting materials for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent abode for the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon is described as completing its construction, with the help of an architect, also named Hiram, and other materials, sent from King Hiram of Tyre.

After the completion of the temple, Solomon is described as erecting many other buildings of importance in Jerusalem; for the long space of thirteen years he was engaged in the erection of a royal palace on Ophel (a hilly promontory in central Jerusalem); Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of securing a plentiful supply of water for the city, and the Millo (Septuagint, Acra) for the defense of the city. However, excavations of Jerusalem have shown a distinct lack of monumental architecture from the era, and remains of neither the Temple nor Solomon's palace have been found, although it should be noted that a number of significant but politically sensitive areas have not been extensively excavated, including the site that the Temple is traditionally said to have been located.

Solomon is also described as rebuilding major cities elsewhere in Israel, creating the port of Ezion-Geber, and constructing Tadmor in the wilderness as a commercial depot and military outpost. Solomon is additionally described as having amassed a thousand and four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen. Though the location of Solomon's port of Ezion-Geber is known, no remains have ever been found. More archaeological success has been achieved with the major cities Solomon is said to have strengthened or rebuilt (for example, Hazor , Megiddo and Gezer — 1 Kings 9:15); these all have substantial ancient remains, including impressive six-chambered gates, and ashlar palaces, as well as trough-like structures outside buildings that early archaeologists have identified as the stables for Solomon's horses.

According to the Bible, during Solomon's reign Israel enjoyed great commercial prosperity, with extensive traffic being carried on by land with Tyre, Egypt, and Arabia, and by sea with Tarshish (Spain), Ophir, and South India.

Apocryphal texts

Rabbinical tradition attributes the Wisdom of Solomon to Solomon although this book was probably written in the 2nd century BCE. In this work Solomon is portrayed as an astronomer. Other books of wisdom poetry such as the Odes of Solomon and the Psalms of Solomon also bear his name. The Jewish historian Eupolemus, who wrote about 157 BCE, included copies of apocryphal letters exchanged between Solomon and the kings of Egypt and Tyre.

The Gnostic Apocalypse of Adam, which may date to the 1st or 2nd century, refers to a legend in which Solomon sends out an army of demons to seek a virgin who had fled from him, perhaps the earliest surviving mention of the later common tale that Solomon controlled demons and made them his slaves. This tradition of Solomon's control over demons appears fully elaborated in the early Gnostic work called the "Testament of Solomon" with its elaborate and grotesque demonology.[13]

Historical figure

Historical evidence of King Solomon, independent of the biblical accounts, is scarce. Nothing indisputably of Solomon's reign has been found. Archaeological excavations at Hazor, Megiddo, Beit Shean and Gezer have uncovered structures that Israeli archaeologists Yigael Yadin, Amnon Ben-Tor, Amihai Mazar and US Professor William G. Dever have argued all belong to his reign and all were simultaneously destroyed by the Shishaq expedition.[14] Others, such as Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, argue that these structures should be dated to the Omride period, more than a century after Solomon's reign,[15] although they do believe that David and Solomon were actual kings in the region.[16][17] Excavations on these sites are ongoing.

Archaeological evidence

In February 2010 archaeologist Eilat Mazar announced the excavation of what she believes is a 10th-century city wall and royal structure that she suggests, because of writing in Hebrew, to corroborate the existence of a royal palace and fortified capital city under control of a Hebrew king in Jerusalem in the 10th-century BCE. Not all archaeologists believe that there was a strong state at that time, and archaeologist Aren Maeir is dubious about Mazar's dating [18][19] In 2008, excavations at Khirbat en-Nahas in southern Jordan revealed ancient copper mines and related industrial remains that were radiocarbon-dated to the 10th century BCE, the chronological time of Solomon. This discovery raised the question of whether the mines were part of Solomon's kingdom.[20][21]

Biblical account criticism

According to Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, authors of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts,[22] at the time of the Davidic and Solomonic kingdoms, Jerusalem may have been unpopulated, or at most populated by only a few hundred residents, leading to the conclusion that this is insufficient for an empire stretching from the Euphrates to Eilath. According to The Bible Unearthed, archaeological evidence also suggests that the kingdom of Israel at the time of Solomon was little more than a small city state, and thus the collection of 666 talents of gold (which Solomon received per year) of tribute to be an implausibly large amount of money. Although both Finkelstein and Silberman do accept that David and Solomon were real kings of Judah about the 10th century BCE,[23] they write that the earliest independent reference to the Kingdom of Israel is about 890 BCE, whilst for that of Judah is about 750 BCE. They suggest that due to religious prejudice, later writers (i.e., the Biblical authors) suppressed the achievements of the Omrides (whom the Bible describes as being polytheist), and instead pushed them back to a supposed golden age of godly rulers, i.e., monotheist, and Yahweh-worshiping. Some go further like the biblical minimalists, notably Thomas L. Thompson, who state that Jerusalem only became a city and capable of acting as a state capital in the middle of the seventh century.[24]

These views are strongly criticized by William G. Dever,[25] Helga Weippert, Amihai Mazar and Amnon Ben-Tor.

André Lemaire states in Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple[26] that the principal points of the biblical tradition with Solomon as generally trustworthy, as does Kenneth Kitchen, who argue that Solomon ruled over a comparatively wealthy "mini-empire", rather than a small city-state, so consider this sum to be a rather modest amount of money. Mr. Kitchen calculates that over a 30 year period such a kingdom might have accumulated from this up to 500 tons of gold, which is small when compared to other examples, such as the 1,180 tons of gold that Alexander the Great took from Susa.[27] Likewise, the magnitude of Solomon's temple is considered excessively large by some, for example, Finkelstein; however, others, such as Kenneth Kitchen,[28] consider it a reasonable and typically sized structure for the region at the time.

William G. Dever states "that we now have direct Bronze and Iron Age parallels for every feature of the 'Solomonic temple' as described in the Hebrew Bible".[29]

The archaeological remains that are still considered to actually date from the time of Solomon are notable for the fact that Canaanite material culture appears to have continued unabated; there is a distinct lack of magnificent empire, or cultural development - indeed comparing pottery from areas traditionally assigned to Israel with that of the Philistines points to the Philistines having been significantly more sophisticated. However there is a lack of physical evidence of its existence, despite some archaeological work in the area.[15] This is not unexpected as the area was devastated by the Babylonians, then rebuilt and destroyed several times.[28] Also it should be noted that little archaeological excavation has been conducted around the area known as the Temple Mount; in what is thought to be the foundation of Solomon's Temple as attempts to do so are met with protest from adherents to the Muslim and Jewish faiths.[30]

From a critical point of view, Solomon's building of a temple for Yahweh should not be seen as an act resulting from particular devotion to Yahweh, since Solomon is also described as erecting temples for a number of other deities[11] (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon's apparent initial devotion to Yahweh appearing in for example his dedication prayer (1 Kings 8:14-66) are seen by some textual scholars as a product of a much later writer, Solomon being credited with the views only after Jerusalem had actually become the religious centre of the kingdom (rather than, for example, Shiloh, or Bethel). Some textual scholars consider the authorship of passages such as these in the Books of Kings to be separate from the remainder of the text, and consider these passages to be probably the result of the Deuteronomist.[31] Such views have been challenged by other textual scholars who maintain that there are evidences that these passages in Kings are derived from official court records from the time of Solomon and from other contemporaneous writings that were incorporated into the canonical books of Kings.[32][33][34]

Chronological notes

Biblical scholars who believe in a historical Solomon argue that his regnal dates can be derived by independent methods: The division of the kingdom following Solomon's death occurred at some time in the year beginning in Nisan (in the spring) of 931 BCE, as argued by Edwin Thiele,[35] so that his fourth year would have begun in Tishri (in the fall) of 968/967 BCE. Solomon's fourth year, in which Temple construction allegedly began, is calculated by modern scholars[36][37][38] from the Tyrian king list of Menander as the year 968 BCE without the use of biblical texts. Edward Lipinski suggests that the length of Solomon's reign, which is unknown, would have likely been 20 to 25 years starting ca. 956/5 or 951/0.[39]

Solomon's Pools

View inside Roman aqueduct from Solomon's Pools to Jerusalem

Solomon's Pools are located near the town of al-Khader about 5 miles southwest of Bethlehem. They are named after the Biblical king, probably because of his mention in Ecclesiastes 2.6, that "I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees".[40] However, more recent evidence suggests the pools were probably the work of Herod the Great to provide source water for the aqueduct built to supply water to Bethlehem and Jerusalem where it terminated under the Temple Mount. These source pools consist of three open cisterns, each at different elevations, fed from an underground spring. The total water capacity is about 3 million gallons (about 10 million liters). [41]

Jewish scriptures

King Solomon is one of the central Biblical figures in Jewish heritage that have lasting religious, national and political aspects. As the constructor of the First Temple in Jerusalem and last ruler of the united Kingdom of Israel before its division into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, Solomon is associated with the peak "golden age" of the independent Kingdom of Israel as well as a source of judicial and religious wisdom. According to Jewish tradition, King Solomon wrote three books of the Bible:

  • Mishlei (Book of Proverbs), a collection of fables and wisdom of life
  • Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), a book of contemplation and his self reflection.
  • Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs), a chronicle of erotic love (there are contrasting opinions whether its subject is a woman or God).

The Hebrew word "To Solomon" (which can also be translated as "by Solomon") appears in the title of two hymns in the book of Psalms (Tehillim), suggesting to some that Solomon wrote them.

Religions and Solomon


Russian icon of King Solomon. He is depicted holding a model of the Temple. (18th century, iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia).

Christianity has traditionally accepted the historical existence of Solomon, though some modern Christian scholars have also questioned at least his authorship of those biblical texts ascribed to him. Such disputes tend to divide Christians into traditionalist and modernist camps.

Of the two genealogies of Jesus given in the Gospels, Matthew mentions Solomon, but Luke does not. Jesus mentions Solomon twice. The first reference is the famous simile of Matthew 6:28-29 and Luke 12:27, in which Jesus compares the lilies of the field with "Solomon in his glory". In the second reference Jesus alludes to the Queen of Sheba's visit to the court of David (Matthew 12:42, Luke 11:31). Saint Stephen, in his testimony before the Sanhedrin, mentions Solomon's construction of the Temple (Acts 7:47).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Solomon is commemorated as a saint, with the title of "Righteous Prophet and King". His feast day is celebrated on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (two Sundays before the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord).

The staunchly Catholic King Philip II of Spain sought to model himself after King Solomon. Statues of King David and Solomon stand on either side of the entrance to the basilica of El Escorial, Philip's palace, and Solomon is also depicted in a great fresco at the center of El Escorial's library. Philip identified the warrior-king David with his own father Charles V, and himself sought to emulate the thoughtful and logical character which he perceived in Solomon. Moreover, Escorial's structure was inspired by that of Solomon's Temple.[42]


According to the doctrines of Freemasonry, Freemasons were involved in the building of Solomon's Temple.[43]


Main article Islamic view of Solomon
See also Biblical narratives and the Qur'an

Solomon also appears in the Qur'an, where he is called سليمان in Arabic, which is transliterated in English variously as Sulayman, Suleiman, Sulaimaan etc. The Qur'an refers to Sulayman as the son of David (Arabic: Dawud, Dawood, or Dawoud), a prophet and a great ruler imparted by God with tremendous wisdom, favor, and special powers (like his father). The Qur'an states that Sulayman ruled not only people, but also hosts of Jinn, was able to understand the language of the birds and ants, and to see some of the hidden glory in the world that was not accessible to most other human beings. Ruling a large kingdom that extended south into Yemen, via Queen of Sheba who accepted Solomon's prophethood and religion. He was famed throughout the lands for his wisdom and fair judgments. In particular, the Qur'an denies that Solomon ever turned away from God.

And they followed what the Shayatin(devils) chanted of sorcery in the reign of Sulaiman, and Sulaiman was not an unbeliever, but the Shayatin(devils) disbelieved, they teach people sorcery and such things that came down to the two angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, yet they(the two Angels) taught no person until they had said to them, "Surely, we are only a trial, therefore do not be a disbeliever." So they learn from them(the two Angels) that by which they might cause a separation between a man and his wife; and they cannot hurt with it any one except with Allah's permission, and they learned what harmed them and did not profit them, and certainly they know that he who bought it should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls, had they but known this. (Holy Quran, chapter 2.102)

Solomon is said to have been given control over various things, such as the wind, and transportation. Thus the Qur'an says,

And to Solomon (We subjected) the wind, its morning (stride from sunrise till midnoon) was a month's (journey), and its afternoon (stride from the midday decline of the sun to sunset) was a month's (journey i.e. in one day he could travel two months' journey). And We caused a fount of (molten) brass to flow for him, and there were jinn that worked in front of him, by the Leave of his Lord, And whosoever of them turned aside from Our Command, We shall cause him to taste of the torment of the blazing Fire. Quran 34:12

And before Sulayman were marshaled his hosts,- of Jinns and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks. Quran 27:17

And Solomon, accordingly grateful of God, says:

"O ye people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and on us has been bestowed from everything: this is indeed the Grace manifest (from God)." Quran 27:16

According to the Qur'an, the death of Solomon held a lesson to be learned:

Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the Jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task). Quran 34:14

According to Muslim tradition, when Solomon died he was standing watching the work of his Jinn, while leaning on his cane. There he silently died, but did not fall. He remained in this position, and the Jinn, thinking he was still alive watching them work, kept working. But termites were eating the cane, so that the body of Solomon fell after forty days. Thereafter, the Jinn (along with all humans) regretted that they did not know more than God had allotted them to know.

Fictional accounts and legends

One Thousand and One Nights

A well-known story in the One Thousand and One Nights describes a genie who had displeased King Solomon and was punished by being locked in a bottle and thrown into the sea. Since the bottle was sealed with Solomon's seal, the genie was helpless to free himself, until freed many centuries later by a fisherman who discovered the bottle.

Angels and magic

According to the Rabbinical literature, on account of his modest request for wisdom only, Solomon was rewarded with riches and an unprecedentedly glorious realm, which extended over the upper world inhabited by the angels and over the whole of the terrestrial globe with all its inhabitants, including all the beasts, fowl, and reptiles, as well as the demons and spirits. His control over the demons, spirits, and animals augmented his splendor, the demons bringing him precious stones, besides water from distant countries to irrigate his exotic plants. The beasts and fowl of their own accord entered the kitchen of Solomon's palace, so that they might be used as food for him, and extravagant meals for him were prepared daily by each of his 700 wives and 300 concubines, with the thought that perhaps the king would feast that day in her house.

Seal of Solomon

A magic ring called the "Seal of Solomon" was supposedly given to Solomon, and gave him power over demons. The magical symbol said to have been on the Seal of Solomon which made it work is now better known as the Star of David. Asmodeus, king of demons, was one day, according to the classical Rabbis, captured by Benaiah using the ring, and was forced to remain in Solomon's service. In one tale, Asmodeus brought a man with two heads from under the earth to show Solomon; the man, unable to return, married a woman from Jerusalem and had seven sons, six of whom resembled the mother, while one resembled the father in having two heads. After their father's death, the son with two heads claimed two shares of the inheritance, arguing that he was two men; Solomon, owing to his huge wisdom, decided that the son with two heads was only one man. The Seal of Solomon, in some legends known as the Ring of Aandaleeb, was a highly sought after symbol of power. In several legends, different groups or individuals attempted to steal it or attain it in some manner.

Solomon and Asmodeus

One legend concerning Asmodeus goes on to state that Solomon one day asked Asmodeus what could make demons powerful over man, and Asmodeus asked to be freed and given the ring so that he could demonstrate; Solomon agreed but Asmodeus threw the ring into the sea and it was swallowed by a fish. Asmodeus then swallowed the king, stood up fully with one wing touching heaven and the other earth, and spat out Solomon to a distance of 400 miles. The Rabbis claim this was a divine punishment for Solomon having failed to follow three divine commands, and Solomon was forced to wander from city to city, until he eventually arrived in an Ammonite city where he was forced to work in the king's kitchens. Solomon gained a chance to prepare a meal for the Ammonite king, which the king found so impressive that the previous cook was sacked and Solomon put in his place; the king's daughter, Naamah, subsequently fell in love with Solomon, but the family (thinking Solomon a commoner) disapproved, so the king decided to kill them both by sending them into the desert. Solomon and the king’s daughter wandered the desert until they reached a coastal city, where they bought a fish to eat, which just happened to be the one which had swallowed the magic ring. Solomon was then able to regain his throne and expel Asmodeus. (The element of a ring thrown into the sea and found back in a fish's belly earlier appeared in Herodotus' account of Polycrates of Samos).

In another familiar version of the legend of the Seal of Solomon, Asmodeus disguises himself. In some myths, he's disguised as King Solomon himself, while in more frequently heard versions he's disguised as a falcon, calling himself Gavyn (Gavinn or Gavin), one of King Solomon’s trusted friends. The concealed Asmodeus tells travelers who have ventured up to King Solomon's grand lofty palace that the Seal of Solomon was thrown into the sea. He then convinces them to plunge in and attempt to retrieve it, for if they do they would take the throne as king.


Other magical items attributed to Solomon are his key and his Table. The latter was said to be held in Toledo, Spain during the Visigothic rule and was part of the loot taken by Tarik ibn Ziyad during the Umayyad Conquest of Iberia, according to Ibn Abd-el-Hakem's History of the Conquest of Spain. The former appears in the title of the Lesser Key of Solomon, a grimoire whose framing tale is Solomon capturing demons using his ring, and forcing them to explain themselves to him.

Other forms of Solomon legend describe Solomon as having had a flying carpet that was 60 miles square, and could travel so fast that it could get from Damascus to Medina within a day. One day, due to Solomon exhibiting pride, the wind shook the carpet and caused 40,000 men to fall from it; Solomon on being told by the wind why this had happened, felt ashamed. Another day Solomon was flying over an ant-infested valley and overheard an ant warning its fellow ants to hide lest Solomon destroy them; Solomon desired to ask the ant a question, but was told it was not becoming for the interrogator to be above and the interrogated below. Solomon then lifted the ant above the valley, but the ant said it was not fitting that Solomon should sit on a throne while the ant remained on the ground, so Solomon placed the ant upon his hand, and asked it whether there was any one in the world greater than he. The ant replied that she was much greater as otherwise God would not have sent him there to place it upon his hand; this offended Solomon and he threw the ant down reminding it who he was, but the ant told him that it knew Solomon was created from a corrupted drop, causing Solomon to feel ashamed.


Angels also help out Solomon in building the Temple; though not by choice. The edifice was, according to rabbinical legend, throughout miraculously constructed, the large, heavy stones rising to and settling in their respective places of themselves. The general opinion of the Rabbis is that Solomon hewed the stones by means of a shamir, a mythical worm whose mere touch cleft rocks. According to Midrash Tehillim, the shamir was brought from paradise by Solomon's eagle; but most of the rabbis state that Solomon was informed of the worm's haunts by Asmodeus. The shamir had been entrusted by the prince of the sea to the mountain cock alone, and the cock had sworn to guard it well, but Solomon's men found the bird's nest, and covered it with glass. When the bird returned, it used the shamir to break the glass, whereupon the men scared the bird, causing it to drop the worm, which the men could then bring to Solomon.

Solomon in the Kabbalah

Early adherents of the Kabbalah portray Solomon as having sailed through the air on a throne of light placed on an eagle, which brought him near the heavenly gates as well as to the dark mountains behind which the fallen angels Uzza and Azzael were chained; the eagle would rest on the chains, and Solomon, using the magic ring, would compel the two angels to reveal every mystery he desired to know. Solomon is also portrayed as forcing demons to take Solomon's friends, including Hiram, on day return trips to hell.

The palace without entrance

According to one legend, while traveling magically, Solomon noticed a magnificent palace to which there appeared to be no entrance. He ordered the demons to climb to the roof and see if they could discover any living being within the building but the demons only found an eagle, which said that it was 700 years old, but that it had never seen an entrance. An elder brother of the eagle, 900 years old, was then found, but it also did not know the entrance. The eldest brother of these two birds, which was 1,300 years old, then declared it had been informed by its father that the door was on the west side, but that it had become hidden by sand drifted by the wind. Having discovered the entrance, Solomon found an idol inside that had in its mouth a silver tablet saying in Greek (a language not thought by modern scholars to have existed 1000 years before the time of Solomon) that the statue was of Shaddad, the son of 'Ad, and that it had reigned over a million cities, rode on a million horses, had under it a million vassals, and slew a million warriors, yet it could not resist the angel of death.


Solomon at his throne, painting by Andreas Brugger, 1777

Solomon's throne is described at length in Targum Sheni, which is compiled from three different sources, and in two later Midrash. According to these, there were on the steps of the throne twelve golden lions, each facing a golden eagle. There were six steps to the throne, on which animals, all of gold, were arranged in the following order: on the first step a lion opposite an ox; on the second, a wolf opposite a sheep; on the third, a tiger opposite a camel; on the fourth, an eagle opposite a peacock, on the fifth, a cat opposite a cock; on the sixth, a sparrow-hawk opposite a dove. On the top of the throne was a dove holding a sparrow-hawk in its claws, symbolizing the dominion of Israel over the Gentiles. The first midrash claims that six steps were constructed because Solomon foresaw that six kings would sit on the throne, namely, Solomon, Rehoboam, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah. There was also on the top of the throne a golden candelabrum, on the seven branches of the one side of which were engraved the names of the seven patriarchs Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job, and on the seven of the other the names of Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses, Aaron, Eldad, Medad, and, in addition, Hur (another version has Haggai). Above the candelabrum was a golden jar filled with olive-oil and beneath it a golden basin which supplied the jar with oil and on which the names of Nadab, Abihu, and Eli and his two sons were engraved. Over the throne, twenty-four vines were fixed to cast a shadow on the king's head.

By a mechanical contrivance the throne followed Solomon wherever he wished to go. Supposedly, due to another mechanical trick, when the king reached the first step, the ox stretched forth its leg, on which Solomon leaned, a similar action taking place in the case of the animals on each of the six steps. From the sixth step the eagles raised the king and placed him in his seat, near which a golden serpent lay coiled. When the king was seated the large eagle placed the crown on his head, the serpent uncoiled itself, and the lions and eagles moved upward to form a shade over him. The dove then descended, took the scroll of the Law from the Ark, and placed it on Solomon's knees. When the king sat, surrounded by the Sanhedrin, to judge the people, the wheels began to turn, and the beasts and fowls began to utter their respective cries, which frightened those who had intended to bear false testimony. Moreover, while Solomon was ascending the throne, the lions scattered all kinds of fragrant spices. After Solomon's death, Pharaoh Shishak, when taking away the treasures of the Temple (I Kings xiv. 26), carried off the throne, which remained in Egypt till Sennacherib conquered that country. After Sennacherib's fall Hezekiah gained possession of it, but when Josiah was slain by Pharaoh Necho, the latter took it away. However, according to rabbinical accounts, Necho did not know how the mechanism worked and so accidentally struck himself with one of the lions causing him to become lame; Nebuchadnezzar, into whose possession the throne subsequently came, shared a similar fate. The throne then passed to the Persians, who their king Darius was the first to sit successfully on Solomon's throne since his death, and after that the throne passed into the possession of the Greeks and Ahasuerus.

Contemporary fiction


  • Solomon's Angels: A Novel (2008), by Doreen Virtue, is a historically researched, novelized biography of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, focusing on metaphysical aspects.
  • In Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Die Physiker, the physicist Möbius claims that Solomon appears to him and dictates the "theory of all possible inventions" (based on Unified Field Theory).
  • In The Divine Comedy the spirit of Solomon appears to Dante Alighieri in the Heaven of the Sun with other exemplars of inspired wisdom.
  • In Neal Stephenson's three-volume The Baroque Cycle, 17th century alchemists like Isaac Newton believe that Solomon created a kind of "heavier" gold with mystical properties and that it was cached in the Solomon Islands where it was accidentally discovered by the crew of a wayward Spanish galleon.
    In the third volume of The Baroque Cycle, The System of the World, a mysterious member of the entourage of Czar Peter I of Russia, named "Solomon Kohan" appears in early 18th century London. The czar, traveling incognito to purchase English-made ships for his navy, explains that he added him to his court after the Sack of Azov, where Kohan had been a guest of the Pasha. Solomon Kohan is later revealed as one of the extremely long-lived "Wise" (like Enoch Root), and compares a courtyard full of inventors' workstations to "an operation I used to have in Jerusalem a long time ago," denominating either facility as "a temple."
  • Isaac Rosenberg, the famous 20th century Jewish poet, references Solomon in a great number of his early poems.
  • King Solomon is the subject of the Afrikaans poem 'Salomo O Salomo'
  • King Solomon is depicted as a very powerful magician in The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.
  • Solomon Kane is given The Staff of Solomon by his shaman friend N'longa, and uses it throughout his various adventures.
  • Charles Williams speaks about the Stone of Suleiman in his novel Many Dimensions (1931).




See also



  1. ^ a b Barton, George A.. "Temple of Solomon". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York, NY.: Funk & Wagnalls. pp. 98–101. doi:10.1038/2151043a0. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  2. ^ a b c Peter J. Leithart, A House for My Name, 157, Canon Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-885767-169-1
  3. ^ 1 Kings 11:1-3
  4. ^ 1 Kings 14:21 and 2 Chronicles 12:13
  5. ^ a b "1 Kings 1 (ESV)".;&version=47;. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  6. ^ Peter J. Leithart, A House for My Name, 164, Canon Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-885767-169-1
  7. ^ "Jewish Encyclopedia". Jewish Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  8. ^ a b "1 Kings 3 - Passage Lookup - New International Version". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  9. ^ "1 Kings 10 - Passage Lookup - New International Version". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  10. ^ Confirmed anew in the recent History Channel quasi-promotional production about Indiana Jones's[citation needed] positive impact on archaeology. (released Mid-May 2008, the week before the 22 May 2008 USA release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) History Channel producers were shown interviewing the guardian priest, and expert discussions about the Ark were part of the fare served up.
  11. ^ a b This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.
  12. ^ "The Kingdom of Israel". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  13. ^ "Solomon, Testament of:". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  14. ^ Dever 2001
  15. ^ a b Finkelstein The Bible Unearthed
  16. ^ David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
  17. ^ "IBSS - The Bible - The Bible Unearthed". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  18. ^ Archaeologist says newly found Jerusalem wall confirms biblical story of Solomon, Nir Hasson, Haaretz, Feb. 32, 2010 [1]
  19. ^ Jerusalem city wall dates back to King Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Fe. 23, 2009, [2]
  20. ^ "High-precision radiocarbon dating and historical biblical archaeology in southern Jordan — PNAS". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  21. ^ Kiderra, Inga (2008-10-27). "King Solomon's (Copper) Mines?". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  22. ^ Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001). The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. Simon and Schuster. 
  23. ^ David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition pp20
  24. ^ Thompson, Thomas L., 1999, The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past, Jonathan Cape, London, ISBN 978-0224039772 p. 207
  25. ^ Dever 2001, p. 160
  26. ^ Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple, by Hershel Shanks, p113
  27. ^ Kitchen 2003, p. 135
  28. ^ a b Kitchen 2003, p. 123
  29. ^ Dever 2001, p. 145
  30. ^ "Temple Mount: Excavation Controversy". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  31. ^ ibid
  32. ^ Harrison, R. K. (1969). Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) pp. 722–724.
  33. ^ Archer, G. L. (1964). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press) pp. 276–277.
  34. ^ Thiele, E. R. (1983) The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondevan/Kregel) pp. 193–204.
  35. ^ Thiele, Mysterious Numbers p. 78.
  36. ^ J. Liver, "The Chronology of Tyre at the Beginning of the First Millennium B.C.," Israel Exploration Journal 3 (1953) 113-120.
  37. ^ Frank Moore Cross, "An Interpretation of the Nora Stone," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 208 (1972) 17, n. 11.
  38. ^ William H. Barnes, Studies in the Chronology of the Divided Monarch of Israel (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1991) 29-55.
  39. ^ Lipinski, Edward On the skirts of Canaan in the Iron age Peeters Publishers ISBN 978-9042917989 p.99 [3]
  40. ^ [4]
  41. ^ "Pools of Solomon". Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  42. ^ René Taylor 1. Arquitectura y Magia. Consideraciones sobre la Idea de El Escorial, Ediciones Siruela, Madrid, enhanced from monograph in Rudolph Wittkower's 1968 festschrift. 2. Hermetism and the Mystical Architecture of the Society of Jesus in "Baroque Art: The Jesuit Contribution" by Rudolf Wittkower & Irma Jaffe
  43. ^ Gruber, Hermann (1910-10-01). "Masonry (Freemasonry)". in Remy Lafort, Censor. The Catholic encyclopedia: an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history of the Catholic Church. IX. New York: Robert Appleton Company. OCLC 1017058. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  44. ^ "All About Jewish Theatre - Theatre in Spotlight: Yiddishpiel Theatre Tel Aviv , Director Shmuel Atzmon–Wircer". 2009-05-26. Retrieved 2010-03-03. 
  45. ^
  46. ^

External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of the United Kingdom
of Israel and Judah

971 – 931 BCE
Succeeded by
in Judah
Succeeded by
Jeroboam I
in Israel


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Solomon ruled the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah in the 900s BCE. He was the son of King David and is credited with authorship of large portions of the Bible's Book of Proverbs and all of Ecclesiastes. He is particularly notable for his pithy quotes.

Solomon is a prophet in Islam.


  • The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
  • A wise son maketh a glad father: but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
  • It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
  • In much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
  • I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with.
  • Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

SOLOMON' (loth century B.e.), the son of David by Bathsheba, and his successor in the kingdom of Israel. The many floating and fragmentary notes of various dates that have found a place in the account of his reign in the book of Kings (q.v.) show how much Hebrew tradition was occupied with the monarch under whom the throne of Israel reached its highest glory; and that time only magnified in popular imagination the proportions of so striking a figure appears from the opinions entertained of him in subsequent writings. The magnificehce and wisdom of Solomon (cf. Matt. vi. 29; Luke xi. 31) and the splendour of his reign present a vivid contrast to the troublous ages which precede and follow him, although the Biblical records prove, on closer inspection, to contain so many incongruous elements that it is very difficult to form a just estimate of his life and character. A full account is given of the circumstances of the king's accession (contrast the summary notices, 1 Kings xxii. 41 seq., 2 Kings xv. 1, xxi. 24, xxiv. 18, &c.). He was not the true heir to the throne, but was the son of David by Bathsheba, wife of Uriah the Hittite, whom David sent to his death "in the forefront of the battle." The child of the illegitmate union died; the second was called Jedidiah ("beloved of Yah [weh]") or Shelomoh (the idea of requital or recompense may be implied); according to 1 Chron. iii. 5, on the other hand, Solomon was the fourth, or rather the fifth, child of Bathsheba and David. The episode forms the prelude to family rivalries. David's first-born, Amnon, perished at the hands of the third son, Absalom, who lost his life in his revolt (2 Sam. xiii. - xx.). The second, Chileab, is not mentioned in the history, and the fate of the fourth, who regarded himself as the future king, is described in 1 Kings i., ii. Bathsheba, relying upon David's promise that Solomon should succeed him, vigorously advanced her son's claims with the support of Zadok the priest, the military officer Benaiah, and David's bodyguard; Adonijah, for his part, had David's old priest Abiathar, the commander Joab, and the men of Judah. A more serious breach could scarcely be imagined. The adherents of Solomon gained the day, and with his accession a new regime was inaugurated, not, however, without bloodshed.

Solomon's age at his accession is not recorded. The tradition that he was only twelve (1 Kings ii. 12 Septuagint; or fourteen, Jos. Ant. viii. 7, 8) may rest upon iii. 7 ("I am but a little child"; if this is not hyperbole), or upon the chronological scheme embodied in 2 Sam. xiii. 23, 38, xiv. 28, xv. 7. It agrees with his subordinate position in portions of ch. i., but his independent actions in ch. ii. suggest a more mature age, and according to xi. 42, xiv. 21, his son Rehoboam was already born (but contrast again xii. 24 Septuagint, 2 Chron. xiii. 7). See further, Ency. Bib. col. 4681, n. 5.

1 Heb. Shelomoh, as though "his peace"; but the true meaning is uncertain; evidence for its connexion with the name of a god is given by H. Winckler and Zimmern, Keilinschr. u. das Alte Test., 3rd ed., pp. 22 4, 474 seq. The English form follows the o) o iwv of N.T. and ,osephus; the Lat. Salomo agrees with ZaXwµwv (one of several variant forms shown in MSS. of the LXX.).

The acute observation that 2 Sam. ix. - xx.; 2 Kings i. ii. 1-9, 13 sqq., were evidently incorporated after the Deuteronomic redaction of the books of Samuel (K. Budde, Samuel, p. xi.) is confirmed by the framework of Kings with its annalistic material similar to that preserved in 2 Sam. v. - viii., xxi. - xxiv.; 1 Kings ii. 10-12. With this may belong iii. 3 (the compiler's judgment); and especially v. 3 sqq., where reference is made to David's incessant wars (2 Sam. viii.). That 2 Sam. ix. - xx., &c., had previously been omitted by the Deuteronomic redactor himself (Budde) cannot be proved. These post-Deuteronomic narratives preserve older material, but with several traces of revision, so that 1 Kings i. ii. now narrate both the end of David's reign and the rise of Solomon (see I. Benzinger's commentary on Kings, p. xi.; C. Holzhey, Buch d. Konige, p. 17). The latter, however, is their present aim, and some attempt appears to have been made in them to exculpate one whose accession finds a Judaean parallel in Jehoram (2 Chron. xxi. 1-4). Thus it has been held that David's charges (ii. 1-9) were written to absolve Solomon, and there is little probability in the story that Adonijah after his pardon really requested the hand of Abishag (ii. 13-25), since in Oriental ideas this would be at once viewed as a distinct encroachment upon Solomon's rights as heir (cf. W. R. Smith, Kinship and Marriage, 2nd ed., p. Iio).

Every emphasis is laid on the wisdom of Solomon and his wealth. Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream and offered to grant whatever he might ask. Confessing his inexperience, the king prayed for a discerning heart, and was rewarded with the gift of wisdom together with riches and military glory. There follows an example of his sagacity: the famous story of the steps he took to determine which of two claimants was the mother of a child (iii. 16-28).' His wisdom excelled that of Egypt and of the children of the East; by the latter may be meant Babylonia, or more probably the Arabs, renowned through all ages for their shrewdness. Additional point is made by emphasizing his superiority over four renowned sages, sons of Mahol; but the allusion to these worthies (who are incorporated in a Judaean genealogy, i Chron. ii. 6) is no longer intelligible. He is also credited with an interest in botany and natural history (iv. 33), and later Jewish legend improved this by ascribing to him lordship over all beasts and birds and the power of understanding their speech. To this it added the sovereignty over demons, from a wrong interpretation of Eccles. ii. 8 (see Lane, Arabian Nights, introd., n. 21, and ch. I, n. 25). As his fame spread abroad, people came to hear his wisdom, and costly presents were showered upon him. The sequel was the visit of the Queen of Sheba (1 Kings iv. 29-34; x.). The interesting narrative appears in another light when we consider Solomon's commercial activity and the trading intercourse between Palestine and south Arabia. 2 His wealth was in proportion to his wisdom. Trading journeys were conducted with Phoenician help to Ophir and Tarshish. With the horse-breeding districts of the north he traded in horses and chariots (x. 28 seq.; see MIzRAIM), and gold accumulated in such enormous quantities that the income for one year may be reckoned at about 4,IOO,000 in weight (x. 11 seq., 14 sqq.). Silver was regarded as stones; the precious cedars of Lebanon as sycamores. His realm extended from Tiphsah (Thapsacus) on the Euphrates to the borders of Egypt (iv. 21, 24), and it agrees with this that he gains important conquests in the north (2 Chron. viii. 3 seq.; but see 1 Kings ix. 18). He maintained a very large harem (xi.), and among his wives was the daughter of an Egyptian Pharaoh. For his distinguished consort, who brought Gezer as a dowry, a special palace was built (iii. 1, ix. 16, 24), and this was only one of many building enterprises.

The description of the magnificent temple of Jerusalem, 1 For parallels, see R. Flint in Hastings's Dict. Bib. iv. 562, n. 1. For the Pompeian wall-painting representing Solomon's judgment (the figures are pygmies!), see A. Jeremias, Altes Test. im Lichte d. alt. Orients 2nd ed., p. 492 seq. (with illustration and references).

2 For Mahommedan stories of Solomon, the hoopoe and the queen of Sheba, see the Koran, Sur. xxvii., which closely follows the second Targum to Esther i. 2, where the Jewish fables may be read in full. On this story, see also J. Halevy, Ecole pratique des hautes etudes (1905), pp. 52 4, and the Chinese parallel in the Mittheilungen of the Berlin Seminar for Oriental Languages (1904), vii. i. pp. 117-172. For the late legends of Solomon see M. Griinbaum, Neue Beitrage zur semit. Sage, pp. 198-237 (Leiden, 1893); G. Salzberger, Die Salomo-Sage in der semitischen Literatur (Berlin, 1907).

which occupies considerable space in Solomon's history (v. - viii.), appears in more elaborate form in the chronicler's later work. The detailed record stands in contrast to the brief account of his other buildings, e.g. the palace, which, from an Oriental point of view, was of the first importance (vii. 1-12). But the Temple and palace were adjoining buildings, separated only by a wall (cf. Ezek. xlii. 20, xliii. 7 seq.), and it cannot be said that the former had originally the prominence now ascribed to it. Nor can the accounts given by Deuteronomic writers of its significance for the religious worship of Israel be used for an estimate of contemporary religion (v. 1-6, viii.). Whatever David had instituted at Jerusalem, it is at Gibeon that Solomon observed the opening sacrificial ceremonies, and there he received the divine revelation, "for that was the great high-place" (iii. 4 sqq.). Though this is justified by a late writer (iii. 2), subsequent history shows that the high-places, like the altars to heathen deities in Jerusalem itself, long remained undisturbed; it was the Deuteronomic reformation, ascribed to Josiah, which marked the great advance in the religion of Yahweh, and under its influence the history of the monarchy has been compiled. Moreover, with the emphasis which is laid upon the Jerusalem Temple is to be associated the new superiority of Zadok, the traditional ancestor of the Zadokites, the Jerusalem priests, whose supremacy over the other Levitical families only enters into the history of a much later age (see Levites).

In fact, Solomon, the pious saint, is not the Solomon of the earlier writings. Political, commercial and matrimonial alliances inevitably left their mark upon national religion, and the introduction of foreign cults which ensued is characteristically viewed as an apostasy from Yahweh of which he was guilty in his old age. 3 The Deuteronomic writer finds in it the cause of the subsequent separation of the two kingdoms (xi. 1-13), and he connects it with certain external troubles which prove to have affected the whole course of his reign. The general impression of Solomon's position in history is in fact seriously disturbed when the composite writings are closely viewed. On the one side we see genial internal conditions prevailing in the land (iv. 20, 25), or the exalted position of the Israelites as officials and overseers, while the remnant of the pre-Israelite inhabitants serve in labour gangs (ix. 20 sqq.). On the other hand is the mass of toiling Israelites, whose oppressed condition is a prelude to the later dissensions (1 Kings v. 13 sqq.; cf. Kings xii.; see the divergent tradition in 2 Chron. ii.). The description of Solomon's administration not only ignores the tribal divisions which play an important part in the separation of Israel from Judah (xii. 16; cf. 2 Sam. xix. 43 - xx. 2), but represents a kingdom of modest dimensions in which Judah apparently is not included. Some north Judaean cities might be named (iv. 9 seq.), but south Judah and Hebron the seat of David's early power find no place, and it would seem as though the district which had shared in the revolt of Adonijah was freed from the duty of furnishing supplies. But the document has intricate textual peculiarities and may be the Judaean adaptation of a list originally written from the standpoint of the north-Israelite monarchy. Further speculation is caused when it is found that Solomon fortifies such cities as Megiddo, Beth-horon and Tamar, and that the Egyptian Pharaoh had slain the Canaanites of Gezer (ix. 15 sqq.). We learn, also, that Hadad, a young Edomite prince, had escaped the sanguinary campaign in the reign of David (2 Sam. viii. 13 seq.), and had taken refuge in Egypt. He was kindly received by Pharaoh, who gave him the sister of his queen Tahpenes to wife. On David's death he returned and ruled over Edom, thus not merely controlling the port of Elath and the trade-routes, but even (according to the Septuagint) oppressing Israel (xi. 14-22, 25, see Septuagint on v. 22). 4 Moreover, an Aramaean dependant 3 On the relation between trade and religion in old Oriental life, see the valuable remarks by G. A. Smith, Ency. Bib. col. 5157 seq.

4 The narrative contains composite features (see the literature cited in article Kings). There is a curious resemblance between one form of the story and the Septuagint account of the rise of Jeroboam.

of Hadadezer, king of Zobah, to the north of Palestine (see David's war, 2 Sam. viii. 3 sqq., x. 6 sqq.), deserted his lord, raised a band of followers and eventually captured Damascus, where he established a new dynasty. Like Hadad, "he was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon" (xi. 23-25). To these notices must also be added the cession of territory in north Palestine to Hiram, king of Phoenicia (ix. ir). It is parenthetically explained as payment for building materials, which, however, are otherwise accounted for (v. 6, i 1); or it was sold for 120 talents of gold (nearly £750,000 sterling), presumably to assist Solomon in continuing his varied enterprises - but the true nature of the transaction has been obscured, although the consequences involved in the loss of the territory are unmistakable. If these situations can with difficulty find a place in our picture of Solomon's might, it is clear that some of them form the natural introduction to the subsequent history, when his death brought internal discontent to a head, when the north under Jeroboam refused allegiance to the south, and when the divided monarchy enters upon its eventful career by the side of the independent states of Edom, Damascus and Phoenicia.

It is now generally recognized in histories of the Old Testament that a proper estimate of Solomon's reign cannot start from narratives which represent the views of Deuteronomic writers, although, in so far as late narratives may rest upon older material more in accordance with the circumstances of their age, attempts are made to present reconstructions from a combination of various elements. Among the recent critical attempts to recover the underlying traditions may be mentioned those of T. K. Cheyne (Ency. Bib., art. "Solomon") and H. Winckler (Keilinschr. u. d. Alte Test., 3rd. ed., pp. 233 sqq.). But, in general, where the traditions are manifestly in a later form they are in agreement with later backgrounds, and it is questionable whether earlier forms can be safely recovered when it is held that they have been rewritten or when the historical kernel has been buried in legend or myth.. It is impossible not to be struck with the growing development of the Israelite tribes after the invasion of Palestine, their strong position under David, the sudden expansion of the Hebrew monarchy under Solomon, and the subsequent slow decay, and this, indeed, is the picture as it presented itself 'to the last writers who found in the glories of the past both consolation for the present and grounds for future hopes. But this is not the original picture, and, since very contradictory representations of Solomon's reign can be clearly discerned, it is necessary in the first instance to view them in the light of an independent examination of the history of the preceding and following periods where, again, serious fluctuation of standpoint is found. Much therefore depends upon the estimate which is formed of the position of David (q.v.). See also JEws: History, § 7 seq; PALESTINE: Old Testament History. On Solomon's relation to philosophical and proverbial literature, see PROVERBS. Another aspect of his character appears in the remarkable "Song of Solomon," on which see CANTICLES. Still another phase is represented in the monologue of Ecclesiastes. In the Book of Wisdom, again, the composition of an Egyptian Hellenist, who from internal evidence is judged to have lived somewhat earlier than Philo, Solomon is introduced uttering words of admonition, imbued with the spirit of Greek philosophers, to heathen sovereigns. The so-called Psalter of Solomon, on the other hand, a collection of Pharisee psalms written in Hebrew soon after the taking of Jerusalem by Pompey, and preserved to us only in a Greek version, has nothing to do with Solomon or the traditional conception of his person, and seems to owe its name to a transcriber who thus distinguished these newer pieces from the older "Psalms of David" (see SOLOMON, PSALMS OF). (S. A. C.)1

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Hebrew שְׁלֹמֹה (Shlomo), from שָׁלוֹם (shalom), peace).


Proper noun




  1. (Biblical) A king of Israel famous for his wisdom.
  2. A male given name.






Solomon (plural Solomons)

  1. A very large champagne bottle (named after the King) with the capacity of about 20 liters, equivalent to 28 standard bottles.

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(Redirected to James C. Solomon article)

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American botanist (born 1952)

Standard form: Solomon

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From BibleWiki

Kings of Israel
Jeroboam I.
Jeroboam II.

Meaning: peaceful (Heb. Shelomoh)

David's second son by Bathsheba, i.e., the first after their legal marriage (2 Sam. 12). He was probably born about B.C. 1035 (1Chr 22:5; 1Chr 29:1). He succeeded his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen years of age. Nathan, to whom his education was intrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., "beloved of the Lord" (2 Sam 12:24f). He was the first king of Israel "born in the purple." His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons: "Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign after me."

His history is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 Chr. 1-9. His elevation to the throne took place before his father's death, and was hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah (1 Kg 1:5ff). During his long reign of forty years the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendour. This period has well been called the "Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. The first half of his reign was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell, mainly from his heathen intermarriages (1 Kg 11:1ff; 1 Kg 14:21, 1 Kg 14:31).

Before his death David gave parting instructions to his son (1 Kg 2:1ff; 1Chr 22:7ff). 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 Kg 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.

For some years before his death David was engaged in the active work of collecting materials (1Chr 29:6ff; 2Chr 2:3ff) 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 (1Chr 22:8); that honour was reserved to his son Solomon.

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 Kg 7:1ff). 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 Kg 7:7; 1 Kg 10:18ff; 2Chr 9:17ff), "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 (Eccl 2:4ff). He then built Millo (LXX., "Acra") for the defence of the city, completing a line of ramparts around it (1 Kg 9:15, 1 Kg 9:24; 1 Kg 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 Kg 9:15ff; 2Chr 8:2ff). Among his great undertakings must also be mentioned the building of Tadmor 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 Kg 9:26ff; 1 Kg 10:11f; 2Chr 8:17f; 2Chr 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 Kg 4:22f).

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 Kg 4:32f).

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" (Matt. 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 Kg 10:1ff; 2Chr 9:1ff) 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 Kg 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 (Jdg 8:27), or the Danites (Jdg 18:30, 31), but was downright idolatrous." (1 Kg 11:7; 2Kg 23:13.)

This brought upon him the divine displeasure. His enemies prevailed against him (1 Kg 11:14ff, 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.

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Simple English

Solomon was a King of Israel, the son of King David of Israel. His name means "Peace". He is written about in the Bible. (2 Samuel). He was the author of several Old Testament books. He wrote Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs and much of Proverbs. He is famous for building the first temple, having lots of wisdom, being very rich, and having lots of wives. Because of his wives, though, his kingdom became divided right after his [[death]. His wives worship idol gods. Furthermore they worship idol gods because many of them where not of Jewish lineage.

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