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Solomon Summary and Overview

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Solomon in Easton's Bible Dictionary

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 (1 Chr. 22:5; 29:1). He succeeded his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen years of age. Nathan, to whom his education was intrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., "beloved of the Lord" (2 Sam. 12:24, 25). He was the first king of Israel "born in the purple." His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons: "Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign after me." His history is recorded in 1 Kings 1-11 and 2 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 Kings 1:5-40). During his long reign of forty years the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendour. This period has well been called the "Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. The first half of his reign was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell, mainly from his heathen intermarriages (1 Kings 11:1-8; 14:21, 31). Before his death David gave parting instructions to his son (1 Kings 2:1-9; 1 Chr. 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 T0001791.) For some years before his death David was engaged in the active work of collecting materials (1 Chr. 29:6-9; 2 Chr. 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 Chr. 22:8); that honour was reserved to his son Solomon. (See TEMPLE T0003610.) 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 Chr. 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 (Eccl. 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 Chr. 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 Israel 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 Chr. 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" (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 Kings 10:1-13; 2 Chr. 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 (Judg. 8:27), or the Danites (Judg. 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.

Solomon in Smith's Bible Dictionary

(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. #1Ch 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. #2Sa 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, #2Sa 13:37; 18:33| and was looked on by the people as the destined successor. #2Sa 14:13; 15:1-6| The death of Absalom when Solomon was about ten years old left the place vacant, and David pledged his word in secret to Bath-sheba that he, and no other, should be the heir. #1Ki 1:13| The words which were spoken somewhat later express, doubtless, the purpose which guided him throughout. #1Ch 28:9, 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 #Ps 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. #2Sa 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 #Ps 45:1| ... or the Song of Songs, we are all but compelled to think of them us having had at least a historical starting-point. They tell of one who was, in the eyes of the men of his own time, "fairer than the children of men," the face "bright, and ruddy" as his father's, #So 5:10; 1Sa 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." #So 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," #Ps 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. #1Ki 11:4| (b) The commencement of the temple in the fourth, its completion in the eleventh, year of his reign. #1Ki 6:1,37,38| (c) The commencement of his own palace in the seventh, its completion in the twentieth, year. #1Ki 7:1; 2Ch 8:1| (d) The conquest of Hamath-zobah, and the consequent foundation of cities in the region of north Israel after the twentieth year. #2Ch 8:1-6| IV. Foreign policy. -- 1. Egypt. The first act of the foreign policy of the new reign must have been to most Israelites a very startling one. He made affinity with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, by marrying his daughter #1Ki 3:1| The immediate results were probably favorable enough. The new queen brought with her as a dowry the frontier city of Gezer. But the ultimate issue of alliance showed that it was hollow and impolitic. 2. Tyre. The alliance with the Phoenician king rested on a somewhat different footing. It had been a part of 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. #2Ch 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. 3. The foregoing were the two most important to Babylon alliances. The absence of any reference to Babylon and Assyria, and the fact that the Euphrates was recognized as the boundary of Solomon's kingdom, #2Ch 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. #2Ch 9:28| 4. The survey of the influence exercised by Solomon on surrounding nations would be incomplete if we were to pass over that which was more directly personal the fame of his glory and his wisdom. Wherever the ships of Tarshish went, they carried with them the report, losing nothing in its passage, of what their crews had seen and heard. The journey of the queen of Sheba, though from its circumstances the most conspicuous, did not stand alone. V. Internal history.-- 1. 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. #1Ki 3:16-28| 2. 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. #1Ki 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." #1Ki 10:25| Monopolies of trade contributed to the king's treasury. #1Ki 10:28,29| The total amount thus brought into the treasury in gold, exclusive of all payments in kind, amounted to 666 talents. #1Ki 10:14| 3. 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. #1Ki 4:26| As the treasury became empty, taxes multiplied and monopolies became more irksome. 4. 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. 5. 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. #1Ki 5:15; 2Ch 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 ritual not idolatrous only, but cruel, dark, impure. This evil came as the penalty of another. #1Ki 11:1-8| He gave himself to "strange women." He found himself involved in a fascination which led to the worship of strange gods. Something there was perhaps in his very "largeness of heart," so far in advance of the traditional knowledge of his age, rising to higher and wider thoughts of God, which predisposed him to it. In recognizing what was true in other forms of faith, he might lose his horror at what was false. With this there may have mingled political motives. He may have hoped, by a policy of toleration, to conciliate neighboring princes, to attract larger traffic. But probably also there was another influence less commonly taken into account. The widespread belief of the East in the magic arts of Solomon is not, it is believed, without its foundation of truth. Disasters followed before long as the natural consequence of what was politically a blunder as well as religiously a sin. VI. His literary works. --little remains out of the songs, proverbs, treatises, of which the historian speaks. #1Ki 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, #Ec 1:1 ... 2:1| ... and therefore there came, its in the confessions of the preacher, the great retribution.

Solomon in Schaff's Bible Dictionary

SOL'OMON (peaceful), from b.c. 1021-981 king of Israel, was the son and successor of David. Soon after the birth of Solomon, the prophet Nathan was sent by divine authority to give him the name of "Jedidiah," signifying "beloved of the Lord."; Toward the close of David's life a conspiracy was detected to place Adonijah on the throne. To settle the government in the order of the divine appointment, David caused Solomon to be invested with the robes of royalty and resigned to him voluntarily the sceptre of government, giving him a solemn charge respecting the administration of it. The early part of his reign was exceedingly prosperous, and was marked by several public acts which displayed his wisdom and piety. 1 Kgs 2:19, 1 Kgs 2:27, 1 Kgs 2:31; 1 Kgs 3:1, 1 Kgs 3:9, 1 Kgs 3:16-28. His court was distinguished for its magnificence, his dominions and revenue were vast, his personal character exalted, his wisdom proverbial, and his capital and palace renowned for wealth and splendor. 1 Kgs 4 and 1 Kgs 10. During his reign, for the only time in Jewish history, there was a flourishing commerce. The great event of his reign was the erection of the temple in Jerusalem (hence called Solomon's temple), begun in his fourth and finished in his eleventh year, which was designed by David, his father. 1 Chr 22:1-11. The plan and materials of the house and the furniture, as well as of the royal palace, are minutely described, 1 Kgs 6-7 (see Temple), as are also the services at the dedication of it. 1 Kgs 8. After this, Solomon received a renewed assurance of the divine favor and of a gracious answer to his prayers and supplications, and at the same time one of the most fearful denunciations of wrath in case he should forsake God's law. 1 Kgs 9:1-10. In the latter part of Solomon's reign he was led by his numerous foreign wives and concubines into the practice of idolatry and other abominable sins, which drew upon him and the country heavy judgments. 1 Kgs 11. From the height of wisdom he sunk to the depth of folly. We are told that the Arabs call the southern side of the Mount of Olives the "Mount of Solomon," because his idolatrous altars were built here. It is called the "Mount of Corruption," 2 Kgs 23:13, from the same cause. He reigned forty years, and was succeeded by his son Rehoboam. 1 Kgs 11:42-43. "Solomon," wrote his biographer, "spake three thousand proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five." 1 Kgs 4:32. Thus he was a voluminous author and handled many topics. His repentance after his long course of folly is thought to be expressed in Ecclesiastes , which teaches the sad but wholesome lesson of the vanity of all things and the paramount importance of "fearing God and keeping his commandments." The life of Solomon is very simply and truthfully told in the Bible. No excuse is made for him, no sin is glossed over. This is in itself a strong proof of the genuineness of the record, and a great contrast to the legends in which he is a hero of unparalleled splendor, to whom all power upon earth is committed. His life, so brilliant in its promise, so prosperous in its course, so disastrous in its close, albeit his sins were forgiven, is not alone in history. Two characters are recalled - Seneca, the tutor of Nero, who combined great wisdom with low avarice, and Lord Bacon, "the wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind." These instances show us that there may well be great elevation of sentiment with great laxity of life; that the pearls of wisdom can be cast before the swine of selfishness and folly. There is, however, this difference - that Solomon was endowed with divine wisdom, and that his folly belongs to the later period of his life and cannot impair the authority of the inspired writings of his youth and manhood.

Solomon in Fausset's Bible Dictionary

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," Psalm 127:2) was his God-given name (Psalm 60:5). Solomon evidently refers (Psalm 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, THE SONG OF SOLOMON; ECCLESIASTES, THE BOOK OF.) 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; Psalm 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; Psalm 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; Psalm 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; Psalm 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 Zif, 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 Bul ('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 Etham ("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 Balkis) 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. frontSHEBA (1).) 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. frontPROVERBS.) He knew botany, from the lowly hyssop (probably the tufty wall moss, Orthotrichum 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." frontECCLESIASTES, THE BOOK OF.) 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" (Psalm 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.