The beginning of Solomon’s reign was not easy as he had to overcome those who had revolted against his father (see King David) but he was blessed with “an understanding mind” (I Kings 3:9) and stories of his wisdom spread far and wide even causing the Queen of Sheba from distant Africa to visit him.
During the forty years Solomon ruled there were no wars and he was able to consolidate the kingdom David had bequeathed him and develop the trade with neighboring countries, including southwards to Etzion-geber (Gulf of Eilat/Akaba). Reputed to have had a thousand wives, no doubt many of them were politically expedient, as was his marriage to the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh.
Streamlining the administration and tax collecting apparatus enabled him to build the magnificent Temple (I Kings 8) using not only the cedars of Lebanon but also the architectural expertise of the builders and craftsmen provided by his friend and ally, the Phoenician king Hiram.
People came from far and wide to attend the festivities when the Temple was dedicated and the Ark of the Covenant was carried in by the priests.
In addition to the Temple, Solomon built an equally splendid royal palace and the heavy tax burden resulted in a plot against the king, led by Jeroboam. And so were sown the seeds of the civil war which would result in the split of the United Monarchy into two separate kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south.
Known for his wisdom and justice the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are often attributed to Solomon as is Song of Song.
Text content copyrights: Bein Harim Ltd., Beryl Ratzer (www.ratzer.com)
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