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Solomon

Solomon

Legends have connected the biblical King Solomon, son of David, with magical practices. Although it does not possess any biblical authority, there is a considerable body of Middle Eastern folklore concerning Solomon that grows out of his reputation as one of the wisest of men, coupled with the possible identification of Solomon with a still older mythical figure named Suleiman. Arabic and Persian legends speak of a prehistoric race that was ruled by 72 monarchs by the name of Suleiman.

Nineteenth-century occultist John Yarker, author of The Arcane Schools (1909), stated: "It does not seem that these Sulei-mans who are par excellence the rulers of all Djinn, Afreets and other elemental spirits, bear any relationship to the Israelite King." The name, he said, is found in that of a god of the Babylonians. Dr. Kenealy, the translator of Hafiz, said that the earliest Aryan teachers were named Mohn, Bodles, or Solymi, and that Suleiman was an ancient title of royal power, synonymous with "Sultan" or "Pharaoh."

A Persian legend states that in the mountains of Kaf, there is a gallery built by the giant Arzeak, where there are statues of a race who were ruled by the Suleiman or wise King of the East. There is a great chair or throne of Solomon hewn out of the solid rock called the Takht-i-Suleiman or throne of Solomon.

It is to these older Suleimans that we must look for a connection with the tradition of occultism. It is not unlikely that the legend relating to Solomon and his temple have been confused with these, and that the protagonists of the antiquity of Freemasonry, who trace their organization to the building of Solo-mon's Temple, have intermingled some still older rite or mystery relating to the ancient dynasty of Suleiman with the circumstances of the Masonic activities of the Hebrew monarch. Hebrew historian Josephus notes,

"God enabled Solomon to learn that skill which expels demons, which is a science useful and sanative to men. He composed such incantations, also, by which distempers are alleviated, and he left behind him the manner of using exorcisms, by which they drive away demons, so that they never return. And this method of cure is of great force unto this day; for I have seen a certain man of my own country, whose name was Eleazar, releasing people that were demoniacal, in the presence of Vespasian and his sons, and his captains, and the whole multitude of his soldiers.

"The manner of the cure was this. He put a ring that had a root of one of these sorts mentioned by Solomon to the nostrils; and when the man fell down immediately, he adjured him to return unto him no more, making still mention of Solomon, and reciting the incantations which he composed. And when Eleazar would persuade and demonstrate to the spectators that he had such a power, he set, a little way off, a cup, or basin full of water, and commanded the demon as he went out of the man, to overturn it, and thereby to let the spectators know that he had left the man."

Some claimed fragments of these magical books of Solomon are mentioned in the Codex Pseudepigraphus of Fabricius, and Josephus himself has described one of the antidemoniacal roots, which appears to refer to legends of the perils involved in gathering the mandrake root, or mandragoras.

The Islamic Solomon

The Qur'an alleges that Solomon had power over the winds, and that he rode on his throne throughout the world during the day, and the wind brought it back every night to Jerusalem. This throne was placed on a carpet of green silk, of a prodigious length and breadth, and sufficient to afford standing room to all Solomon's army, the men on his right hand and the jinn on his left. An army of the most beautiful birds hovered near the throne, forming a kind of canopy over it and the attendants, to screen the king and his soldiers from the sun.

A certain number of evil spirits were also made subject to Solomon, whose business it was to dive for pearls and perform other work.

It is also stated that the devils, having received permission to tempt Solomon, in which they were not successful, conspired to ruin his character. They wrote several books of magic, and hid them under his throne, and when he died they told the chief men among the Jews that if they wished to ascertain the manner in which Solomon obtained his absolute power over men, Genii, and the winds, they should dig under his throne. They did so and found the books, abounding with the most impious superstitions.

The more learned and enlightened refused to participate in the practices described in those books, but they were willingly adopted by the common people. Muslims asserted that the Jewish priests published this scandalous story concerning Solomon, which was believed until Mahomet, by God's command, declared him to have been no idolater.

It was further maintained by some Muslims that Solomon brought a thousand horses from Damascus and other cities he conquered, although some say they were left to him by his father David, who seized them from the Amalekites; others claimed that they came out of the Red Sea and were provided with wings. The king wished to inspect his horses and ordered them to be paraded before him. Their symmetry and beauty so much occupied his attention that he gazed on them after sunset, and thus neglected evening prayers until it was too late. When aware of his omission, he was so greatly concerned at it that he ordered the horses to be killed as an offering to God, keeping a hundred of the best of them. This, we are informed, procured for him an ample recompense, as he received for the loss of his horses dominion over the winds.

The following tradition was narrated by Muslim commentators relative to the building of the temple of Jerusalem. According to them, David laid the foundations of it, and when he died he left it to be finished by Solomon. That prince employed Jinn, and not men, in the work; and this idea may relate to what is said in Kings 6:7, that the temple was "built of stone, made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer, no axe, nor any tool of iron, heard in the house while it was building." The rabbis noticed a worm that they claimed assisted the workmen, the power of which was such as to cause the rocks and stones to separate in chiseled blocks.

While engaged in the erection of the temple, Solomon found his end approaching, and he prayed that his death might be concealed from the Jinn until the building was finished. His request was granted. He died while in the act of praying, leaning on the staff that supported his body in that posture for a whole year. The Jinn, who believed he was still alive, continued their work. At the expiration of the year the edifice was completed. When a worm that had entered the staff ate through it and, to the amazement even of the Jinn, the body fell to the ground, the king was discovered to be dead.

The inhabitants of the valley of Lebanon believed that the celebrated city and temple of Baalbec were erected by the Jinn under Solomon's direction. The object of the erection of Baalbec was variously stated, one tradition affirming that it was intended to be a residence for the Egyptian princess whom Solomon married, and another that it was built for the Queen of Sheba.

The Magical Solomon

From the sixteenth century on, occultists have studied the great grimoire known as The Key of Solomon (Clavicula Salomonis ) to which tradition ascribes an ancient history before it was committed to writing. This book of ceremonial magic has two sections: the Great Key and the Lemegeton or Lesser Key. The first is concerned with magic spells, rituals, and talismans, the second with the evocation of spirits.

There is also another work known as The Testament of Solomon that was translated into German from an ancient Greek manuscript. Manuscripts of the Testament have also been reported from Greek monasteries, and the work is extremely rare in any format. The work claims to be Solomon's own story covering the period between the building of the Temple in Jerusalem and his own fall from grace. It tells the story of a vampire-like Jinn and the magic ring of Solomon and details the various spirits and the magical means of controlling them. The ring of Solomon is also the subject of stories in the Arabian Nights.

In the seventeenth century, Freemasons began to trace their work backward to Hiram, the architect of Solomon's kingdom. This indirect reference to Solomon has possibly been the single reference that has kept Solomon associated with the occult world.

Sources:

Conybeare, F. C., ed. The Key of Truth. London, 1898.

Mathers, F. L. MacGregor, ed. The Key of Solomon the King. London: George Redway, 1908. Reprint, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972.

Shah, Sayed Idires. The Secret Lore of Magic: Books of the Sorcerers. London: Frederick Muller, 1957.

Waite, Arthur E. The Book of Ceremonial Magic. London: William Rider, 1911. Reprint, New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1961. Reprint, New York: Causeway Books, 1973.

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Solomon

Solomon

Solomon (reigned ca. 965-ca. 925 B.C.) was a king of the ancient Hebrews. He rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and erected the first Hebrew temple there. His wisdom is proverbial.

Solomon was the youngest son of David and Bathsheba. He inherited an empire that extended in the northeast to the Euphrates, in the southeast to the Gulf of Aqaba, and in the southwest to the borders of Egypt and Philistia.

Solomon ruled as a grand monarch, supreme in power and regal in splendor. History and legend have endowed him with great gifts, of which his wisdom is the most famous. Impartial and eager for wisdom and understanding, he was famous as a wise and evenhanded judge. Three sections of the Bible are ascribed to his authorship: Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon (Song of Songs).

The King's reign was a peaceful one. With consummate diplomatic skill he entered into numerous friendly alliances with the great powers of his time, often securing them through marriage. His most important marriage was with the Pharaoh's daughter. It secured peace on his southern border and kept the road open to Ezion-geber, site of his iron and copper refinery.

Solomon believed that his kingdom and especially his capital city of Jerusalem should reflect the power and glory of Israel's king. He undertook a series of elaborate building operations, fortifying the strategic and economic towns within his realm. In Jerusalem he built luxurious palaces, completed the defense wall around the city, and erected a magnificent temple on Mt. Moriah.

Solomon also sponsored industrial and commercial enterprises that brought him wealth. He built a great fleet, sending naval expeditions along the coast of the Red Sea and through the Mediterranean as far as Spain. He carried on an extensive caravan trade to Arabia and Egypt, developed copper and iron mines, and built refineries for smelting.

Heavy expenses caused Solomon to severely regulate the fiscal administration of Israel. The cost of maintaining his court necessitated the collection of extremely high taxes. To raise these taxes, he consolidated his administration, creating 12 new districts with royal officers in charge of each.

Despite the magnificence of Solomon's rule, the people were dissatisfied and harbored many grievances against him. His death was immediately followed by a rebellion of the northern tribes and the division of his kingdom.

Further Reading

Although there is no single authoritative biography of Solomon, there are numerous volumes of fiction, making it difficult to distinguish between the historical and the legendary. The best shorter essays are in Rudolph Kittel, Great Men and Movements in Israel (1929), and James Fleming, Personalities of the Old Testament (1939). The best treatment of Solomon is in the Holy Scriptures, supplemented with the commentaries published by each of the major religious groups. For historical background the following works are recommended: W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity (1940); Max I. Margolis and Alexander Marx, A History of the Jewish People (1944); S. W. Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, vol. 1 (1952); and Martin Noth, The History of Israel (1958). □

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Solomon

Solomon, d. c.930 BC, king of the ancient Hebrews (c.970–c.930 BC), son and successor of David. His mother was Bath-sheba. His accession has been dated to c.970 BC According to the Bible. Solomon's reign was marked by foreign alliances (notably with Egypt and Phoenicia) and the greatest extension of Israel's territory in biblical times. He built numerous cities, constructed copper smelting furnaces in the Negev, and had the first temple built at Jerusalem. However, his despotism resulted in the alienation of N Israel and the revolt of Jeroboam I. The biblical account of Solomon derives from the "Succession Narrative" in Second Samuel and First and Second Kings; Temple archives; and various folk-tales, but what the Bible says about the glory of his reign is impossible to confirm from the archaeological record.

Solomon's wisdom is proverbial. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were ascribed to him, as was Wisdom of Solomon, a book of the Old Testament Apocrypha, and the Song of Solomon bears his name. The Psalms of Solomon (1st cent. BC) and the Odes of Solomon (early 2d cent. AD) are found in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Solomon's original name was Jedidiah.

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Solomon

Solomon son of David, king of ancient Israel c.970–c.930 bc, builder of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. In the Bible Solomon is traditionally associated with the Song of Solomon, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs, while his wisdom is illustrated by the Judgement of Solomon. Discontent with his rule, however, led to the secession of the northern tribes in the reign of his son Rehoboam.

James I and VI of England and Scotland was known as the English Solomon.
Solomon's ring a magic ring belonging to Solomon, which according to the Haggada was thrown into the river and retrieved from a fish that had swallowed it.
Solomon's seal a figure like the Star of David. It is also the name for a plant of the lily family, with arching stems that bear a double row of broad leaves with drooping green and white flowers in their axils; the name has been variously explained as referring to markings seen on a transverse section of the rootstock, to the round scars left by the decay of stems, or to the use of the root ‘to seal and close up green wounds’.

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Solomon

Solomon [ Cutner, Solomon] (b London, 1902; d London, 1988). Eng. pianist. Début at 8, playing Tchaikovsky's 1st conc. at Queen's Hall, London, 1911. Studied in Paris with Lazare Lévy and Marcel Dupré. Returned to London with dislike of pf. and was advised by Sir Henry Wood to retire for a while. Resumed career 1923. Amer. début 1926. Gave f.p. of Bliss's pf. conc., NY World Fair 1939. Brilliant career as conc. soloist, recitalist, and chamber-mus. player of exceptional sensitivity cut short by incapacitating illness 1965. CBE 1946.

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Solomon

Solomon (Heb., Shelomoh, 10th cent. BCE). King of Israel. Solomon was the son of King David and Bathsheba. According to the biblical account, he was anointed king by Nathan the prophet and Zadok the priest, he reigned c.967–c.928 BCE and his kingdom stretched from the borders of Egypt to the Euphrates (1 Kings 5. 1). He was, however, condemned in the aggadic tradition for his toleration of the idolatry of his wives.

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Solomon

Solomon (d. 922 bc) King of Israel (c.972–922 bc), son of David and Bathsheba. His kingdom prospered thanks partly to economic relations with the Egyptians and Phoenicians, enabling Solomon to build the Jerusalem Temple. His reputation for wisdom reflected his interest in literature, although the works attributed to him, including the Song of Solomon, were probably written by others.

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Solomon

Solomon. Oratorio by Handel to text adapted from Bible by unknown author. F.p. London 1749 (comp. 1748).

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Solomon

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