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King Solomon

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					Solomon King of Israel

Judgment of Solomon

Reign Born Died Place of death Predecessor Successor

971 - 931 BCE

unknown c.931 BCE Jerusalem David Rehoboam

Consort

Naamah, pharaoh's daughter, 699 other wives

Offspring Royal House Father Mother

Rehoboam House of David David Bathsheba

Family
   Solomon's father was David of Bethlehem, the son of Jesse. Solomon's mother was Bathsheba who, before David, had been married to Uriah the Hittite. Solomon's siblings were Absalom, who was killed in the Battle of Ephraim Wood, Amnon, who was killed by order of Absalom for raping Tamar, (2 Samuel 13:1-29) and Adonijah, who was put to death (1 Kings 2:13-25).

Succession
 Solomon became king after the death of his father David. According to the biblical book of 1 Kings, when David was " old and advanced in years" "he could not get warm." [3] "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."[4] 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) [5] 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)

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Wisdom
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 [6]  "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)[7] 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) [8] One account, known as the Judgment of Solomon, has two mothers who came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel about which was the true mother of a baby. (The other's baby died in the night and each claims the surviving child as hers.) 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 rather than have the child killed. Solomon then declares the woman who shows the compassion is the true mother, and gives the baby back to her.

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Queen of Sheba

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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.

Renaissance relief of the Queen of Sheba meeting Solomon - gate of Florence Baptistry

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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 account gives 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#Ethiopian account) 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 the 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.

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

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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[9].

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.[10]

Solomon's sins
     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, the Lord commands kings not to multiply horses, wives or gold. Solomon sins in all three of these areas. Solomon collects 666 talents of gold each year, 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, like the sons of God in Genesis 6, marries foreign women, and these women turn Solomon to other gods...Because of his sin, the Lord punishes Solomon by tearing the kingdom in two."[2]

The book of Kings goes on to state:   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."[11]
Marriages

According to 1 Kings 11:3 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. According to 1 Kings 11:4 "his 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).

Solomon's enemies

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

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]

Succession of Rehoboam and the division of the kingdom
Solomon's son Rehoboam succeeded Solomon as king, but the kingdom split under his reign into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Rehoboam reigned over the southern kingdom.


				
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