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SOLOMON (Heb. שְׁלֹמֹה; tenth century b.c.e.), son of *David, king of Israel. Born of Bath-Sheba, Solomon was so named by David (ii Sam. 12:24; according to the keri, Targ. Jon., and according to the Pesh., by his mother), while Nathan called him Jedidiah (Heb. יְדִידְיָה; ii Sam. 12:25). Apparently his principal name was Solomon, analogous to the similar Phoenician names שלמין and בעל שלם (cf. the interpretation of the name in i Chron. 22:9), Jedidiah being an affectionate or honorable appellation "because of the Lord" or, according to the Septuagint, "by word of the Lord" (ii Sam. 12:25; cf. Deut. 33:12; ii Kings 22:1). Following the intervention of Nathan and Bath-Sheba, David decided to have Solomon anointed king in his own lifetime, and not his son *Adonijah the son of Haggith who, supported by some army commanders and a section of "the king's servants" led by Joab son of Zeruiah and Abiathar the priest, was proclaimed king by them beside En-Rogel without David's knowledge (i Kings 1:7, 9, 18, 19, 24, 25, 41, 44). David's mighty men and the Cherethites and the Pelethites, later joined by "the king's servants," sided with Solomon (1:8, 10, 33, 38, 47), who was inducted at the Gihon spring. He was brought down there riding on a mule, and, in the presence of Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, was anointed king by Zadok the priest, to the sound of the blowing of the ram's horn and of the people's shout of "Long live King Solomon" (1:32–40). The account does not mention Solomon's qualities by virtue of which he was found worthy of the king-ship despite his being one of the king's younger sons (i Chron. 3:1–10). This is ascribed to David's vow to Bath-Sheba, not mentioned in ii Samuel, that Solomon would succeed to the throne (i Kings 1:13, 17, 30). Solomon's succession was accompanied by the destruction or banishment of rivals: Joab and Adonijah were killed; Abiathar the priest was banished to Anathoth; the killing of Shimei son of Gera, however, may be explained as a measure taken against potential rebels among survivors of the former royal house.

The Kingdom of Solomon

Already at the outset of his reign Solomon was distinguished as a king who took vigorous action against opponents and did not shrink from a blood vengeance. David's last testament to Solomon should not necessarily be regarded as a tendentious projection by the author of the narrative in order to attribute the bloodshed by the newly crowned king to the instructions of the founder of the royal house. First, David's hostility to Joab was well known. Second, it was certainly unnecessary to ascribe the matter of the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite to David's last testament (2:5–9). Third and primarily, the account of Solomon's elevation contains no exaggerated praise of him. In any event, the bloodshed, associated as it was with a blood vengeance, reflects the upheavals that afflicted the royal court of David, in consequence of which Solomon became king even during his father's lifetime, as emphasized again by the Chronicler in his idealistic, apologetic explanation of Solomon's second, public induction ("And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time," i Chron. 29:20–25; cf. 23:1; 28:1–11, 20–21). Solomon reigned jointly with his father apparently from 967 to 965 b.c.e. and on his own from 965 to 928 b.c.e. According to the biblical account, it was from David that Solomon inherited a kingdom which extended from "beyond the (Euphrates) river to the border of Egypt" (i Kings 5:1). The verse is a late gloss, defining Solomon's territory anachronistically, and attempting to raise Solomon to the status of the great imperialists of the Neo-Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and perhaps Persian periods. "Beyond the river" (Heb. ever ha-nahar is the equivalent of Akkadian eber nāri, first used two centuries after Solomon in Neo-Assyrian sources for the territory west of the Euphrates (Cogan, 213)). Indeed, in the time that has transpired since the appearance of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica, both archaeological evidence and critical study of the biblical texts have undermined the confidence of scholars about the greatness of Solomon. Some scholars despair of recovering the historical Solomon, while others call his very existence into question. J.M. Miller (apud Handy 1–24) has framed the basic issues involved in separating the historical Solomon from the Solomon of legend: (1) The Davidic–Solomonic empire of the magnitude described in the Bible does not seem to fit the circumstances following the collapse of the international system of the Bronze age ca. 1200. (2) Some have argued that the collapse of the Hittite Empire and the withdrawal of Egypt from Asia would have enabled the rise of an empire centered in Palestine. But if that is the case such an empire should have left some epigraphical sources. (3) The biblical descriptions of Solomon's territorial holdings are not of a piece. Close examination reveals that some of the passages point to a relatively modest, and therefore more credible, realm. (4) Archaeological evidence available at present has not revealed anything like an empire centered in the Palestinian hill country in the 10th century. The land of the Philistines was certainly not included in his kingdom, it being clearly stated that Solomon had dominion "to Gaza" (i Kings 5:4 [4:24]), and hence the translation "to the land of the Philistines" (5:1 [4:21]) is correct. It is unlikely that Solomon's dominion extended north over the neo-Hittite kingdom of Hamath, where, according to Chronicles, he built (or reconstructed) store-cities, and reached as far as Tadmor (Palmyra) in the wilderness, where he also fortified himself (ii Chron. 8:3–5). More likely is the account in i Kings 9:18 where the ketiv reads Tamar, which fits the geographic horizon of the chapter as an important point of the southern border (Cogan, 302). In addition, if Rezon held Damascus, Solomon could not have held much Aramean territory. Similarly, if he handed 20 cities over to Hiram, he did not have dominion in *Phoenicia.

Solomon may have had some share in the exchange of merchandise between the northern and southern countries, as indicated by the obscure passage (i Kings 10:28, 29) which tells of "the king's traders" and that "Solomon's import of

horses was from… Que" – according to the Septuagint and the Vulgate in Cilicia (cf. ii Chron. 1:16 which has קְוֵא instead of קְוֵה as in i Kings 10:28; see *Que). From Anatolia Solomon imported horses which he sold in Egypt; he sold chariots from Egypt to the Aramean and neo-Hittite kingdoms in Syria, "to all the kings of the Hittites and the kings of Aram." However, Na'aman (apud Handy, 71) points out that it was in the eighth–seventh century that Egypt and Que were export centers of horses and chariots, and that the role of Solomon's traders is anachronistically borrowed from that of the tamkāru traders of the Neo-Assyrian empire. More likely is some control by Solomon of the commercial route that passed through Jordan on the way from Arabia to Damascus. Associated with this economic activity of Solomon is the story of the *Queen of Sheba, who came to Jerusalem "with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones" (i Kings 10:2). "Never again came such an abundance of spices" (10:10; ii Chron. 9:1–9) as those which she gave to Solomon. That the queen came to test Solomon's wisdom smacks of legend. The use of the term ḥiddot, "riddles" (i Kings 10:1), an Aramaic loan whose shape points to a sound shift no earlier than the sixth century, indicates a late origin for the present text. Nonetheless, early South Arabian trade with Mesopotamia involving wood and spices transported by camels is attested in the early ninth century and may have begun as early as the tenth (Na'aman apud Handy, 72–3). In addition, queens are well attested in Arabia, though according to Kitchen (apud Handy, 141), not after 690 b.c.e. In sum, the story is not to be dismissed as utter anachronistic fantasy.

The Bible speaks of close relations between Solomon and *Hiram (son of Abibaal according to Josephus, king of Tyre), who, according to quotations cited by Josephus (Apion 1:113–5; Ant. 8:144–7), was also renowned for buildings he erected and royal projects he undertook. There is probably some basis to the biblical account that Israel cooperated with Tyre in sailing in the Red Sea. The servants of Hiram, "seamen who were familiar with the sea," sailed with Solomon's servants to Ophir, from which, as also from southern countries as a whole and perhaps from Africa, too, they brought gold and silver, sandalwood and ivory, apes and peacocks (i Kings 9:26–28; 10:11, 22). The port from which the ships put to Sea was *Ezion-Geber (Jazirat Faraun in the gulf south of Elat?). Alongside Solomon's ships (9:26) the Bible mentions "the fleet of Hiram." (10:11, 22). The reference to "a fleet of ships of Tarshish" is to a type of large ship adapted for transporting metal and for sailing great distances (Isa. 2:16; Ezek. 27:25; Ps. 48:8). In the barter trade between Hiram and Solomon, Israel provided Tyre with wheat and oil, while Tyre supplied Israel with cedar and cypress wood and with gold (i Kings 5:22–25 [8–11]; 9:11). The builders of Hiram and of Solomon cooperated in constructing the Temple (5:32 [18]). Apparently the execution by Hiram, the metal craftsman (not the king of the same name) of the bronzework in the Temple (7:13–15) was not an isolated or exceptional circumstance. The cooperation with Hiram in shipping, in work, and in barter provided Solomon with the opportunity of importing metal – copper and iron – from Anatolia and Cyprus and of establishing bronze foundries for the needs of the Temple in the plain of the Jordan (7:46). Another source of copper was Edom, where there is evidence of major copper smelting from Feinan in Jordan from the tenth–ninth century (Cogan, 273; Muhly, 1501, Levy). Based on mutual advantage and on the resulting economic prosperity, special relations apparently developed between Israel and Tyre, which, commencing already in the days of David and perhaps in those of Abibaal, culminated in a treaty between the two kingdoms. These relations explain the biblical account which tells of the personal friendship between Solomon and Hiram ("for Hiram always loved of David") and which refers in particular to Solomon's wisdom (i Kings 5:15–26 [1–12]: cf. the exaggerated phraseology in ii Chron. 2:2–15).

Solomon's relations with the other kingdoms, too, were peaceful, while his marriage to foreign women – Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians, and neo-Hittites – led to the establishment of close ties between Israel and the neighboring peoples. The marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt to the king of Israel is a special case, treated at length by the Bible, which states that Solomon brought her to the city of David (i Kings 3:1), built a house for her (7:8; 9:24; ii Chron. 8:11), and received Gezer from Pharaoh "as dowry to his daughter" (i Kings 9:16). The father-in-law was undoubtedly a pharaoh of the 21st Dynasty (Siamon or Psusennes ii, both of whom reigned in the days of Solomon). There is indeed some basis for conjecturing that the marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh to the king of Israel – an exceptional event in the annals of the pharaohs – reflects a period of Egyptian weakness. Note that Hadad the Edomite was married to the sister of a Pharaoh (i Kings 11:15–22). Though Solomon's marriage into the Egyptian royal family is condemned in i Kings 11:1, it was probably a matter of pride for the Hebrew writer of i Kings 3:1 and 9:16, who wished to preserve the tradition that a parvenu dynast had managed to acquire a bride from a kingdom both ancient and renowned for its wisdom (i Kings 5:10).

Economy and Society

The ancient figurative description of every man dwelling safely under his vine and under his fig tree within Israel's borders "from Dan even to Beer-Sheba" (i Kings 5:5 [4:25]) depicts a flourishing agricultural situation. The passages which tell of the huge quantity of bronze (7:47), the gold and the silver, the luxuries and other precious articles (9:28; 10:10, 11, 12, 14, 22, 25), as well as the statements that silver was regarded as stones (or "it was not considered as anything in the days of Solomon," 10:21) and that cedars were as common as sycamore trees (10:27), exaggerated though they may be, yet reflect a prosperous situation.

The wealth and of the initiative of the kingdom expressed itself primarily in building, as is evident from the Bible and from archaeological finds: the magnificent buildings of the Temple and the king's house together with their appurtenances and ornamentations, the plans of which were apparently based on those of northern Syrian temples (a very close parallel to Solomon's Temple, and contemporary with it, was found in Ain Dara in Syria; see Monson); the extension of Jerusalem to the north; the erection of cities for chariots and horsemen and of store-cities within the kingdom; the special construction of the Israelite house (four-roomed house, in archaeological terminology); the construction in hewn stone and the ornamentation of buildings with proto-Eolithic capitals; public buildings like those brought to light at Beth-Shemesh and at Tell Belt Mirsim, and regarded by some as storehouses; a casemate wall characteristic of, though not exclusive to, this period in the fortification of cities, such as that uncovered at Hazor, Megiddo, Beth-Shemesh, and Tell Belt Mirsim; the impressive and similar, almost identical, four-pillared gateways at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer, built apparently according to a uniform, well-devised, royal plan (these three cities are mentioned in the Bible alongside Jerusalem as an example of the building executed by Solomon, i Kings 9:15). Archaeologists differ over the question of whether this building activity is to be assigned to Solomon in the tenth century or whether it is of a later date (see survey in Dever apud Handy, 217–51; Finkelstein, Rainey, 2001). The peace which reigned in Palestine in the days of Solomon was based not only on political relations but also on chariot cities and principally on fortified cities at the approaches to the mountains of Judah and Jerusalem, at the entrance to the valley of Jezreel, and in Galilee, some of which – Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Beth-Horon, Baaloth – are mentioned in the Bible. The defense of Jerusalem was apparently of the greatest importance to Solomon.

The organization of the internal administration, begun in the days of David, was further advanced under Solomon, as can be seen from the list of his officials, among whom are included scribes, the recorder, the commander of the army, priests, the officer in charge of the district officers, the minister over the household, the king's friend, and "Adoniram in charge of the forced labor" (i Kings 4:1–7). The division into districts (see Rainey, 174–79), the inception of which may date from David's reign, was consolidated and stabilized in the days of Solomon, when each of the officers had to make provision for the king's household "for one month in the year" and supply not only "Solomon's provision" (4:7; 5:2–8 [4:22–28]) but also the needs of the court in general, such as horses and swift steeds (= rekhesh, רֶכֶשׁ, but perhaps rekhev רֶכֶב, "chariots," 5:8 [4:28]). This division, deviating partially from the boundaries of the tribes, reflects the administration that, alongside the ancient tribal division (4:15–18), was based on new territorial units, which differed from the earlier tribal grouping and some of which may have been inhabited also by the surviving Canaanite population (4:8–14, 19; cf. 9:20, 21). Even though Judah had its own special officer (4:19), it was not included among the 12 districts on an equal footing with the rest, for not only did it constitute a special political unit alongside Israel (4:20; 5:5 [4:25]), but it was apparently exempted from the economic obligations to the royal household laid on the other parts of the country.

The construction of buildings, the splendor of the royal court, and the economic expansion involved the duty not only of providing supplies for the court but also "a levy of forced labor," i.e., compulsory service (*corvée), the mas, well known from the Amarna letters of the 14th century, imposed both on the surviving Amorites and on the Israelites (5:27–30 [13–16]; 9:20–23). Solomon, it is stated with much exaggeration, had 70,000 "burden-bearers," 80,000 "hewers of stone in the hill country," and a levy of 30,000 men of whom 10,000 a month were sent "by courses" to Lebanon (5:27–29 [13–15]). Alongside them are mentioned 3,300 chief officers "who had charge of the people who carried on the work" (5:30 [16]; cf. the figure of 550 "who had charge of the people," 9:23; these may have been in charge of the non-Israelite workers, or of the king's work in a limited sense, or may represent a different tradition). The men of the levy worked in Lebanon, at building in Israel, and at the copper foundry, such as that in the plain of the Jordan between Succoth and Zarethan (5:31 [17], 32 [18], 7:46 and see above). The revolt against the House of David which broke out at the outset of Rehoboam's reign specifically because of the onerous burden of service (i Kings 12) had its roots in various features that marked Solomon's reign. The people were embittered not only by the heavy taxation, which was an innovation in the kingdom that had come into being against the background of a lengthy tribal regime, but also by the contrast between the heavy burdens on the one hand and the splendor and luxury of the royal court on the other. Likewise the barrier between Israel and Judah, which enjoyed special privileges, alienated the northern tribes from the Davidic kingdom. *Jeroboam son of Nebat, who was "in charge over all the forced labor of the house of Joseph" (11:28), probably revolted against the king not only in his capacity as the officer in charge of the compulsory service but as the standard bearer of the antagonism between the House of Joseph and the northern tribes in general on the one hand and Judah on the other. The divorce from the tribal tradition expressed, for example, in the geographical division of the districts and perhaps also in the fostering of a sacred center in Jerusalem, lacking though it did an ancient tradition, incited the tribes, in an attachment to time-honored centers such as Beth-El, Penuel, Shechem, and Dan, to rebel against the House of David. Thus the kingdom of Solomon, although characterized by economic development and by internal political security, provoked both a social revolt and tribal opposition or a general conservative tribal antagonism, the spokesman of which was the Yahweh prophet Ahijah the Shilonite. But in the days of Solomon the kingdom was still at the height of its power and Jeroboam was compelled to flee to Egypt. The author of the Book of Kings, in keeping with his religious conceptions, ascribes the revolt and the division to the idolatry of the king, in which he was influenced by his foreign wives.

The Wise King and Judge

The Bible attributes the peace and prosperity reigning in the country to the wisdom of Solomon, a literary topos already present in the prologue to the Code of *Hammurapi (cos ii, 336–37. King Asshurbanipal of Assyria (669–627) boasts of his own wisdom (Streck Asb. 256 i. 17). Solomon's wisdom is mentioned already in that part of David's last testament which is not formulated in the style of the Book of Deuteronomy (i Kings 2:6, 9). The Bible describes the king as wiser than all men, as uttering proverbs and songs, solving riddles, and speaking of trees and beasts, of fowl, creeping things, and fishes, this being the type of wisdom renowned in eastern lands. His wisdom was essentially part of the totality of the wisdom of the East and the wisdom of Egypt, although it was higher in degree (5:9–14 [4:29–34]; 10:1, 3). Outside the book of i Kings, Prov. 25:1 speaks of "proverbs of Solomon collected by King Hezekiah and his circle." According to the Bible, Solomon was held in high esteem and extolled among other peoples too. Primarily, however, Solomon was considered a wise judge, as is evident from the dream at Gibeon and from the case of the two harlots. Solomon's wisdom was manifested mainly in connection with his royal authority as conceived both in modern times and in the Ancient East. It expressed itself in the function of dispensing justice to individuals and principally of establishing a just and righteous regime for the people as a whole. More precisely, it expressed itself in a capacity for leadership that distinguishes between good and evil ("Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil; for who is able to govern this Your great people?" 3:9). The account of the dream at Gibeon likewise associates the king's riches and honor with his understanding ("a wise and discerning mind," 3:12, 13). The other passages, too, which mention the king's wisdom in connection with his political acts apparently refer to a quality of leadership (5:21 [7], 26 [12]; 10:6, 7, 9: "He has made you king, that you may execute justice and righteousness," ibid. 23, 24). One of the most important halls in the king's house which was near the Temple was called "the Hall of the Throne" or "the Hall of Judgment" (7:7), symbolizing the decisive quality of leadership as conceived already in the days of the Judges (on David's judicial function, cf. ii Sam. 8:15; 12:1–6; 14:5–21).

In addition to this "wisdom," Solomon's royal authority was enhanced by his status as a sacral king, who supervised the religious rites, himself offered sacrifices, blessed the people after the manner of the priests, and took a decisive part in the dedication of the Temple, the sanctification of the court, and the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles (i Kings 3:15; 8:1–5, 14, 22, 54–56, 62–66). The proximity of the king's house to the Temple, to which no explicit parallel has been found in the Ancient East, also set the seal of divine election and perhaps even of divine favor on the royal authority which produced a decisive change in the regime in Israel. The transition from the Tabernacle to the Temple apparently also symbolized the transition from a tribal to a monarchical regime. Henceforth associated with the Temple, which was conceived in the ancient part of Solomon's prayer as the house of God's habitation (8:13), the kingdom of the House of David was bound up with the city, which as early as in the days of Solomon may have begun to assume a holy character. Yet on the basis of the experience of generations, this close proximity of the royal palace to the Temple provoked the anger of Ezekiel (43:7–10), while the Chronicler saw fit to omit a description of the king's house, the building of which took 13 years, from the account of the Temple.

It is this variegated conception of the quality of leadership informed with a divine inspiration which brought such renown to the wise king that succeeding generations ascribed to him the composition of such widely different poetry and wisdom works as the Song of Songs, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, which contain numerous motifs characterizing the attribute of kingship. In assessing the reign of Solomon, it is important to distinguish the main narrative, in which Solomon rules a peaceful and prosperous kingdom, from the details which tell us of the burdensome yoke he laid on the people (i Kings 12:4), of the internal opposition by one of his most talented officials, Jeroboam, who was able to build on northern resentment, and of the opposition of the prophet Ahijah. Most telling of all is the fact that the kingdom did not survive his death.

See also *History: Kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

[Samuel Abramsky /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]

In the Aggadah

Solomon succeeded to the throne at the age of 12 (sor 14). His original name, Jedidiah, the "beloved of God," was superseded by that of Solomon (Shelomoh) because of the peace (shalom) that prevailed throughout his reign. He was also known as Koheleth (Eccles. 1:1), Lemuel (Prov. 31:1), Agur, Jakeh, and Ithiel (Prov. 30:1; Eccl. R. 1:2). Solomon chose wisdom, knowing that once he possessed it all else would come of itself (pr 14:59; Song R. 1:1, no. 9). This God-granted wisdom made him the wisest of mankind. His 800 proverbs are equal to 3,000 since each verse in his book may be interpreted in two or three different ways (Song R. 1:1, nos. 10, 11). He was an expert horticulturist, and he succeeded in growing all types of foreign plants in Ereẓ Israel (Targ. Eccles. 2:4–6; Eccl. R. 2:5). He understood the language of the beasts and birds and they submitted to his judgment (Song R. 1:1, no. 9; Tanh. B., Introd., 157). The two women who claimed the child were really spirits who were sent by God to reveal Solomon's wisdom. All doubt about the fairness of his verdict was dispelled when a heavenly voice proclaimed: "This is the mother of the child" (Mak. 23b). Other perceptive judgments of Solomon are recorded in the case of the slave who claimed he was the master's son (A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 4 (1967), 145–6); the double-headed son who claimed a double inheritance (ibid., 151–2); and the three men who could not find the money they hid before the commencement of the Sabbath (ibid., 1 (1967), 86–87). He had such confidence in himself that he would have dispensed judgment without resort to witnesses, had he not been prevented by a heavenly voice (rh 21b). Many came to seek his advice (Jellinek, op. cit., 4 (1967), 148–50). The most famous of those who consulted him was the Queen of Sheba (Targ. Sheni 1:3, 8–10). She asked numerous riddles of Solomon, all of which he answered promptly and correctly (Ms. Midrash ha-Ḥefez, tr. by S. Schechter in Folk-Lore, 1 (1890); 349–58).

Solomon, however, is regarded as the prototype of the rationalist who ultimately is led to sin by his rational approach. He was determined to find reasons for all the divine precepts and succeeded until he came to the law of the Red Heifer, which he was unable to fathom (Eccles. R. 7:23, no. 4). He finally transgressed the biblical laws in that he possessed too many horses, amassed an overabundance of gold and silver, and above all in that he married more than the 18 wives permitted to a monarch (Deut. 17:16–7; Sanh. 21a), because he thought that with his wisdom he would not be affected by his transgression. At this God declared, "As thou livest, Solomon and a hundred of his like shall be annihilated before a single letter of the Torah will be obliterated" (tj, Sanh. 2b, 20c), and in fact Scripture records that his many wives finally "turned away his heart after other gods" (i Kings 11:4). The rabbis declare that "It would have been better for Solomon to have cleaned sewers than to have this verse written of him" (Ex. R. 6:1). When he married the daughter of Pharaoh, the archangel Gabriel descended from heaven and inserted a reed in the sea around which accumulated silt and on which the city of Rome was ultimately built (Sanh. 21b). On the nuptial night she brought him a thousand musical instruments. Although each one was dedicated to a different idol, Solomon neglected to stop her (Shab. 56b). She spread over his bed a tapestry studded with diamonds and pearls which gleamed like constellations in the sky and created an illusion of stars. Solomon slept on until the fourth hour of the morning, causing deep sorrow among the people since the daily sacrifice could not be offered because the Temple keys lay under Solomon's pillow (Lev. R. 12:5).

The most important of Solomon's acts was his building of the Temple, in which he was assisted by angels and demons. Indeed, the edifice was throughout miraculously constructed, the large, heavy stones rising and settling in their proper places by themselves (Ex. R. 52:4). Solomon split the stone by means of the shamir, a worm whose mere touch cleft rocks. He was informed of the worm's location by the chief of the demons, Ashmedai, who was captured by Benaiah, Solomon's chief minister (Git. 68a). Solomon was so assiduous in this task that the Temple's erection took only seven years, about half the time for the erection of the king's palace, despite the greater magnificence of the sanctuary. In this respect, he was the superior of his father, King David, who first built a house for himself, and then thought about a tabernacle for God. Indeed, it was Solomon's meritorious work in connection with the Temple that saved him from being reckoned by the sages as one of the impious kings, among whom his sins might rightfully have placed him (Sanh. 104b; Song R. 1:1, no. 5). Second only to the Temple in beauty was Solomon's throne. None before or after him could construct a similar work of art, and when his vassal-kings saw its beauty they prostrated themselves and praised God. Jewels and gold adorned the throne and animals guarded its approach. These animals also lifted Solomon from step to step when he ascended the throne (Targ. Sheni 1:2, 5–7). The throne did not long remain in the possession of the Israelites. During the life of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, it was taken to Egypt. Shishak, the father-in-law of Solomon, appropriated it as indemnity for his widowed daughter. Ultimately, the throne was taken to Babylonia, Greece, and finally to Rome (Esth. R. 1:12).

Because of his sins, Solomon gradually lost his throne, his wealth, and even his wisdom. At first he ruled over the inhabitants of the upper world as well as over those of the lower; then only over the inhabitants of the earth; later over Israel alone; then he retained only his bed and his staff; and finally only his staff was left to him (Sanh. 20b). There is a difference of opinion on whether Solomon returned to his throne. He "saw three worlds" which, according to one opinion, means that he was successively a private person, a king, and again a private person. According to another, however, he was king, private person, and again king (Sanh. 20b; Git. 68b). For three long years, he journeyed about as a mendicant from city to city and from country to country, atoning for his sins. While a beggar, during his old age, he wrote Ecclesiastes, saying wherever he went, "I Koheleth was king over Israel in Jerusalem" (Eccles. 1:12). Previously, in his youth, he had written the Song of Songs, and in his middle age Proverbs (Song R. 1:1, no. 10).

[Aaron Rothkoff]

In Islam

From various allusions, which are found in the works of Arab poets, it is evident that tales concerning King Solomon (Sulaymān) were circulated in the Arabian Peninsula even before the appearance of *Muhammad. In the *Koran Solomon is not only the successor of King David (Sura 27:1b) but also the faithful servant of Allah (38:29). He did not even momentarily abandon the service of Allah; it was rather the devils who negated it and taught the people sorcery, thus estranging them from the worship of the Creator (2:96). Once, however, when gazing at his horses, Solomon overlooked the recital of the evening prayer at its proper time; but as a sign of repentance, he killed his beloved horses (38:31–33). In the most positive description of the character of Solomon, one recognizes Christian influence. As a faithful servant, Solomon requests that eternal kingship be granted to him (38:34). He is awarded wisdom and intelligence, understands the speech of the birds, and rules over the wind which blows with strength (27:15, 16, 81; 31:11), as well as over the spirits (21:82; 34:11, 12; 38:35–38). It is no wonder that Solomon's fame reached distant lands and that the Queen of Saba (Sheba) came to visit him (27:20–45). No one was aware of his death until a worm ate away the staff which supported his body, the staff broke, and his body collapsed (34:14).

There are certain characteristics common both to David and Solomon (see *David, in *Islam), Some have been transferred from David to Solomon (the invention of armor), while others have been transferred from Solomon to David, such as the domination of animals and birds (38:17, 18). Solomon participated in the judgment decided by his father concerning the pastureland on which sheep grazed (21:78). David was as wise as Solomon (21:79–82).

Following Jewish aggadah and ancient legends, some of which originated in Persia, the Muslim commentators on the Koran and legend writers devote an important place to Solomon's character, birth, wisdom, intelligence as a judge and investigator of complicated affairs, his rule over the jinn (spirits) who obeyed his commands and built palaces, fortresses, bath houses, and dams for him, and his mastery of sorcery and mysticism. Solomon's chief counselor, Aṣāf b. Barakhyā, also made use of the king's magic ring (khatam Sulaymān). Solomon lost his kingdom because he listened to the voice of his wife Tarāda, the daughter of the king of Sidon; he was punished by being exiled from his kingdom. Solomon died at the age of 58, after having ruled Israel for 40 years (as did his father David).

[Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg]

In the Arts

in literature

As the king of Israel appointed to build the Temple and as the legendary embodiment of wisdom, Solomon became a prototype of Jesus in the medieval Christian world. Treatment of the subject in literature, art, and music involves not only Solomon himself but also the sub-themes of the Queen of Sheba and the Shulammite of the Song of Songs. In literature, one of the earliest surviving works on the theme is an Anglo-Saxon legend, the poetical Dialogue of Solomon and Saturn (manuscript at Cambridge; ed. R.J. Menner, 1941). There is also a 15th-century Dyalogus Salomonis et Marcolfi (Cologne, 1473); but from this period, beginning with the anonymous German mystery, Das Spil von Kunig Salomon mit den zweyen Frawen (1461), most writing on the theme was in dramatic form. One unusual medieval work was the 15th-century Russian "Tale of the Centaur," based on the midrashic account of Solomon's construction of the Temple. During the Renaissance era plays included a Spanish Farsa de Salomón (c. 1530) by Diego Sanchez; a Fastnachtspiel by the Meistersinger Hans Sachs (1550); an anonymous Italian Rappresentatione del Re Salomone (Florence, 1562), apparently preceded by an earlier work on the subject (c. 1512); and a drama celebrating the Danish heir to the throne, written by H.J. Ranch of Viborg (1584). However, the outstanding treatment was probably the German neo-Latin playwright Sixtus Birck's Sapientia Salomonis (1547), a performance of which by the boys of Westminster School was given before Elizabeth i of England in 1565. Although the 17th century produced further dramas – notably Joost van den Vondel's Salomon (1648) in Holland, the Auto del Rey Salamo (1612) by Balthasar Dias in Portugal, and Pedro Calderón de la Barca's La Sibila del Oriente y Gran Reina de Sabá (Madrid, 1682) in Spain – a more philosophical and pessimistic note was struck by writers emphasizing Solomon's outlook as the traditional author of Ecclesiastes. Two examples are the anonymous German Schau-Platz der Eitelkeit… (1668), a five-act prose drama, and the English poet Matthew Prior's verse soliloquy, Solomon on the Vanity of the World, written in the 1690s but published only in 1718; works of this type were common throughout the following century. Apart from the texts of various oratorios, such as Thomas Morell's Solomon (1749) which was set to music by Handel, the two outstanding 18th-century treatments were both in German: Friedrich Gottlieb Klopstock's tragedy, Salomo (1764), and Johann Jacob Bodmer's religious drama, Die Thorheiten des weisen Koenigs (Zurich, 1776).

The subject proved even more attractive to some of the major writers of the 19th century, who often displayed greater ingenuity in their use of the legendary material made accessible by modern scholarship; and Jews were prominent for the first time among these authors. Lippmann Moses Bueschenthal's five-act German tragedy, Der Siegelring des Salomo (Berlin, 1820), was followed by Kornel Ujejski's Polish biblical poem, Pieśni Salomona (1846) and Heinrich *Heine's romantic poem, "Salomo" (in Romanzero, 1851). Among works on the theme published in the second half of the century were "Azrael," the Spanish Jew's first tale in the third part of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Tales of a Wayside Inn (1872), on the Angel of Death's encounter with Solomon; Victor Hugo's grandiose poem "Salomon" (in La légende des siècles, 1877); the U.S. poet John Greenleaf Whittier's "King Solomon and the Arts" (1877); Robert *Browning's poem, "Solomon and Balkis" (1883); Paul *Heyse's five-act drama, Die Weisheit Salomos (1887); and Károly Szász's Hungarian biblical play, Bölcs Salomon (1889). Others who turned to the subject included the Portuguese dramatist Eugénio de Castro e Almeida (Belkiss, Rainha de Sabá, d'Axum e do Hymiar, 1894), the English poet Arthur Symons (The Lover of the Queen of Sheba, 1899), and the Czech poet Julius *Zeyer. Among 20th-century authors the theme has, if anything, enjoyed even greater popularity. Works which it has inspired include the U.S. poet Vachel Lindsay's "King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba" (in The Chinese Nightingale and Other Poems, 1917); Alfons Paquet's German drama, Markolph; oder Koenig Salomo und der Bauer (1924); the Irish poet W.B. Yeats' "Solomon and the Witch" (1924); and "Solomon's Parents" (in Poems of Thirty Years, 1925) by the English writer Gordon Bottomley.

Some of the outstanding modern interpretations of the story have been written by Jews. The Danish poet Oscar Ivar *Levertin's works on Jewish themes include Kung Salomo och Morolf (1905). Three other important works were Edmond *Fleg's biography, Salomon (1929); Ḥayyim Naḥman *Bialik's Va-Yehi ha-Yom… (English version by Herbert Danby, And It Came to Pass… 1938), a collection of legends; and Sammy *Gronemann's biblical comedy, Der Weise und der Narr; Koenig Salomo und der Schuster ("The King and the Cobbler," 1942), Nathan *Alterman's Hebrew version of which (1942) was staged in Israel both as a play and as a successful and pioneering Hebrew musical comedy. Gronemann also wrote a comedy entitled Die Koenigin von Saba (1951). Three treatments in Yiddish are Abba Isaac Buch's Ashmedai… (1911), a drama about Solomon and Jeroboam; Saul Saphire's historical novel, Shlomo Hamelekh (1931); and Jerakhme'el Steigman's Maysehlekh vegn Shlomo Hamelekh (1931), tales for children.

in art

In art, too, Solomon is a major biblical theme. Scenes from his life are often found in Byzantine manuscripts, and his figure is sculpted on medieval cathedrals and appears in stained glass; several scenes are also portrayed in the Raphael Loggie in the Vatican. Solomon is also an important figure in art of the Islamic world. The main scenes treated are the anointing and coronation of Solomon, the judgment of Solomon, the construction of the Temple, the visit of the Queen of Sheba, and Solomon worshiping idols. The anointing and crowning of Solomon (i Kings 1:39 and Song of Songs 3:11) appear in medieval sculpture, stained glass, and in manuscripts – notably the ninth-century Bibles of Charles the Fat and St. Paul-Without-the-Walls and the 15th-century Hours of Turin by Hubert and Jan Van Eyck (now destroyed). Bath-Sheba sitting at the right hand of Solomon (i Kings 2:19) was regarded as a type of the coronation of the virgin. This interpretation is explicit in the sumptuous Tapestry of the Three Coronations in Sens Cathedral, France. The judgment of Solomon (i Kings 3:16–28) has generally been popular with artists. It appears in several French and German Hebrew manuscripts, such as the 13th-century British Museum Miscellany and Bibliothèque Nationale Pentateuch, the Second Nuremberg Haggadah, and the Tripartite Maḥzor from the Kauffman Collection, Budapest. In the Middle Ages the judgment of Solomon was regarded as an example of justice and was often depicted in lawcourts. There is a 15th-century sculpture of the subject at the Palace of the Doges, Venice. Among Renaissance treatments are a drawing of the school of Mantegna (Louvre) and a painting by Giorgione (private collection, England). The subject was also popular in the 17th century, particularly with the French school. There are paintings by Rubens (Copenhagen State Museum), Jacob Jordaens (Prado, Madrid), and Nicolas Poussin (Louvre). In the 18th century it was included by Tiepolo in his ceiling for the Archbishop's palace, Udine. Solomon constructing the Temple (i Kings 6:1ff. and 2 Chron. 3:1ff.) is a subject found in 15th-century French manuscripts, notably the Jewish Antiquities of Josephus in the Bibliothèque Nationale illustrated by Jean Fouquet. As the real appearance of the Temple was unknown, Fouquet visualized it as a French Gothic cathedral of his own time, and other artists such as Giotto and Taddeo Gaddi imagined it in the form of the Dome of the Rock, i.e., as a circular or octagonal building surmounted by a cupola.

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba was not a common subject until the 12th century. From that time onward, however, they often appeared as a pair. The two episodes treated in medieval art are the meeting of Solomon and Sheba (i Kings 10:1ff. and 2 Chron. 9:1ff.) and Sheba enthroned beside the king. In Christian iconography Solomon was the type of Jesus and Sheba represented the gentile Church; hence Sheba's meeting with Solomon bearing rich gifts foreshadowed the adoration of the Magi. On the other hand, Sheba enthroned represented the coronation of the virgin. Sculptures of the Queen of Sheba are found on great Gothic cathedrals such as Chartres, Rheims, Amiens, and Wells, and the reception of the queen was a popular subject during the Italian Renaissance, as it appealed to the contemporary taste for pageantry and display. It appears in the famous bronze doors to the Florence Baptistery by Lorenzo Ghiberti, in frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli (Campo Santo, Pisa) and in the Raphael Loggie (Vatican). The Venetians predictably exploited the decorative possibilities of the subject. There are examples by Tintoretto (Prado) and Veronese (Pinacotheca, Turin). In the 17th century, Claude Lorrain (1600–1682) painted one of his peaceful landscapes of harbors at sunset, representing the queen embarking on her journey to Solomon (National Gallery, London). Depictions of the idolatry of Solomon (i Kings 11:4ff.) are found in medieval art, where the elderly monarch is shown kneeling before an idol to which a woman is pointing. This was also quite a common subject in the 16th and 17th centuries.

in music

Two early musical works are Josquin de Pré's motet, Stetit autem Salomon (1538), and a curiosity – a canon for 96 voices by Pietro Valentini called Nodus Salomonis ("Solomon's Knot"), first published in 1631 and republished and analyzed in 1650 by Athanasius Kircher in his Musurgia Universalis; the entire canon is nothing but a kind of "change ringing" on the G major chord. Early oratorios on the theme include Carissimi's Judicium Salomonis (1669) and F.T. Richter's L'incoronazione di Salomone (Vienna, 1696). The subject is taken up by northern composers: G.C. Schuermann's "spiritual opera," Salomon (Brunswick, 1701), J.G. Keiser's opera, Salomon (Hemburg, 1703), and M.A. Charpentier's oratorio, Judicium Salomonis (Paris, 1702). Porsile's L'esaltazione di Salomone (Barcelona, 1711) is held to be the first oratorio performed in Spain (in honor of the emperor Charles iii). Zadok the Priest (the description of Solomon's coronation) is the first of a set of four coronation anthems composed by Handel for George iii (1727) and is still sung at every British coronation. Handel's oratorio, Solomon, was first performed at Covent Garden on March 17, 1749; the "Entry of the Queen of Sheba" from this work is often performed as a concert piece, and the oratorio was reedited by *Mendelssohn with cuts and the addition of an organ part. Solomon's judgment again appears as an oratorio subject in I. Holzbauer's Il Giudizio di Salomone (Mannheim, 1766), and in a Polish work, Sad Salomona, by Chopin's teacher Elsner (tragedy with dances and incidental music; Warsaw, 1806). The 19th century gave new prominence to the Queen of Sheba. Gounod's four-act opera, La Reihe de Saba (text by M. Carré and J. Barbier, after Gérard de Nerval), had its premiere at the Paris Opera in 1862; but a more lasting success was gained by Karl *Goldmark's Die Koenigin von Saba (text by S.H. *Mosenthal, première in Vienna, 1875). Some of the melodic material is supposed to have been based on synagogal motifs. Ernest *Bloch's Schelomo, Rhapsodie Hébraïque, for cello and orchestra, was inspired by a figurine of Solomon sculpted by the wife of the cellist Alexander Barjanski. Bloch's work was composed in 1915 and first performed in 1917 with Barjanski as soloist and the composer conducting. Later works on the subject are Reynaldo *Hahn's La Reine de Scheba (1926; text by Edmond *Fleg); Belkis, Regina di Saba, a ballet by O. Respighi (1932); and Randall Thompson's Solomon and Balkis, an opera in one act, based on Kipling's The Butterfly that Stamped (1942). The music for Sammy Gronemann's Shelomo ha-Melekh ve-Shalmai ha-Sandelar was written by Alexander Argov.

Ashmedai, an opera based on the talmudic legend of Satan assuming the appearance of the king by Yosef *Tal (to a libretto by Israel Eliraz), had its première at the Hamburg State Opera in autumn 1971; the score includes electronic effects.

See also: *Song of Songs, in the Arts; *Temple, in the Arts.

[Bathja Bayer]


F. Thieberger, King Solomon (1947); J.A. Montgomery, The Books of Kings (1951), 67–248 (incl. bibl.); Bright, Hist, 190–208 (incl. bibl.); Alt, Kl Schr, 2 (1953), 1–62; idem, in: vt, 1 (1961), 2–22; A. Malamat, in: Sefer N.H. Tur-Sinai (1960), 77–85; idem (ed.), in: Bi-Ymei Bayit Rishon (1962), 24–46, incl. bibl. (Eng. sect., 8–9); idem, in: jnes, 22 (1963), 1–17; Y. Yadin, in: ba, 23 (1960), 62–68; idem, in: A. Malamat (ed.), Bi-Ymei Bayit Rishon (1962), 66–109 (Eng. sect. 11); idem, in: Qadmoniyot, 3 (1970), 38–56; Y. Aharoni, in: A. Malamat (ed.), Bi-Ymei Bayit Rishon (1962), 110–31 (Eng. sect. 12); Aharoni, Ereẓ, 258–64; S. Abramsky, Leksikon Mikra'i, 2 (1965), 840–4; J.A. Soggin, Das Königtum in Israel (1967); M. Noth, Geschichte Israels (1950), 187–99 (incl. bibl.). in the aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, index; M. Aberbach and L. Smolar, in: jqr (1968), 118–32. in islam: ʿUmāra, Ms. fol. 58v–82v; Thaʿlabī, Qiṣaṣ (1356 A.H.), 244–77; Kisāʿī Qiṣaṣ (1356 a.h.), 278–95; G. Salzberger, Salomons Tempelbau und Thron in der semitischen Sagenliteratur (1912); H. Speyer, Die biblischen Erzählungen im Qoran (1931, repr. 1961), 383–402; H.Z. Hirschberg, in: Eretz-Israel, 3 (1954), 213–20; J. Walker, in: Shorter Encyclopedia of Islam (1953), s.v. (includes extensive bibliography). add. bibliography: T. Ishida (ed.), Studies in the Period of David and Solomon and Other Essays (1982); L. Handy (ed.), The Age of Solomon: Scholarship at the Turn of the Millennium (1997); J. van Seters, in: cbq, 59 (1997), 45–57; J. Muhly, in: cane, 3:1501–21; R. Hess, in: G. Young (ed.), Crossing Boundaries and Linking Horizons Studies… Astour (1997), 279–93; I. Finkelstein, in: nea 62 (1999), 35–42; M. Cogan, iKings (ab; 2000); J. Monson, in: bar, 26 (Ain Dara Temple, well illustrated; 2000), 20–35, 67; A. Rainey, in: nea, 64 (2001), 140–49; T. Levy et al, Antiquity, 302 (2004), 865–79; A. Rainey, in: A. Rainey and R.S. Notley, The Sacred Bridge (2006), 157–89.


views updated May 18 2018


SOLOMON , or, in Hebrew, Shelomoh, was the son of David and third king of Israel and Judah (c. 960920 bce). During Solomon's reign the united kingdom reached its greatest extent and height of prosperity. The account of this reign, in 1 Kings 111, is in its present form a collage of various historical and literary sources. Solomon's accession to the throne (1 Kgs. 12), portrayed as the result of palace intrigue and a struggle for power between two sons of David and their supporters, is part of the so-called court history of David. The hand of the Deuteronomistic historian, the author of the larger history of the monarchy in Kings, may be seen in his treatment of the theophany in 1 Kings 3:115 and its parallel in 9:19, in the account of the building of the Temple and its dedication (chapters 58), and in Solomon's failures and God's rejection of his rule over the northern state of Israel (1 Kgs. 11). This historian did make use of an earlier source, the "book of the deeds of Solomon" (1 Kgs. 11:41), which probably contained information on building activities and other royal undertakings gleaned from royal inscriptions. The basic history by the Deuteronomist was also embellished by later additions having to do with the greatness of Solomon's reign. The treatment of Solomon in 2 Chronicles 19 depends upon Kings, with some omissions and additions. The sources cited by the Chronicler, however, namely books by the prophets Nathan, Ahijah, and Iddo, are most likely fictitious.

Solomon's greatest achievement, according to the historian of Kings, was his building of the Temple and palace in Jerusalem (1 Kgs. 58). Originally the Temple was built as a royal sanctuary, one of many temples throughout the realm, but through the centralization reform of King Josiah (2 Kgs. 2223) it became the only legitimate cult place in the kingdom, and it is from this perspective that the Temple's significance is treated in Kings. Solomon is also credited with the construction of major fortifications at Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer for the consolidation of his realm, and this building activity seems to be confirmed by archaeology. The Bible also suggests that the state prospered greatly from various commercial ventures, a fact attested by a marked rise in the level of the material culture of the land as evidenced by archaeological finds. Nevertheless, one must be cautious in accepting all that is attributed to Solomon's reign, for it is unlikely that he had political control over the whole region from the Euphrates to the border of Egypt or that his court and military force were as large as 1 Kings 5:18 (EV 4:2128) states.

The biblical tradition celebrates Solomon's wisdom. The historian of Kings tells the story (1 Kgs. 3) of how Solomon experienced a dream theophany at Gibeon in which God granted him his request for wisdom in order to govern his people aright and, along with wisdom, gave him long life and prosperity. This gift of wisdom is then illustrated by a folktale in which Solomon makes a successful judgment between two mothers who claim the same infant. This theme of Solomon's wisdom is greatly expanded by later additions, including the story of the queen of Sheba's visit and other remarks about Solomon's great wisdom and wealth (1 Kgs. 10).

The Deuteronomist regards the decline of Solomon's realm and the ultimate division of the kingdom as the result of Solomon's marriages to many foreign wives. While these may have been diplomatic marriages made as a matter of state, the historian viewed them as encouraging the importation of foreign deities into the kingdom, thereby compromising the exclusive worship of Yahveh. A more immediate cause of political unrest and division of the kingdom is attributed to Solomon's heavy taxation of the Israelites, from which no relief was given by his successor, Rehoboam, a condition that led to Israel's revolt (1 Kgs. 12). The Chronicler refrains from any criticism of Solomon's reign.

On the basis of the statement about Solomon's composition of many proverbs and songs (1 Kgs. 5:12 [EV 4:32]), later editors of the Bible attributed to Solomon much of the Book of Proverbs as well as the Song of Songs. It also led to the composition of works in Solomon's name. The author of Ecclesiastes calls himself "the son of David," thereby suggesting his identity with Solomon. Two later Jewish works using Solomon's name are the Wisdom of Solomon, written in Greek in Alexandria, and the Psalms of Solomon, probably written in Hebrew in Roman Palestine. An early Christian work ascribed to Solomon is the Testament of Solomon.

Both the New Testament and the Qurʾān (sūrah 21:7881) make reference to Solomon's wisdom, but it is especially in Jewish aggadah (Ginzberg, 1956) that his wisdom and career receive the fullest amplification. Solomon is made an expert in many fields of science as well as in occult and hidden wisdom. Many additional stories are told in the aggadah to illustrate Solomon's ability to judge wisely. Special attention is given to the building of the Temple and to Solomon's throne, which later becomes a prize of war transmitted from one invading kingdom to another down to Roman times. The aggadic tradition also tells about a period of humiliation that Solomon endured for his sins against the Law. During this time he was an outcast, and an impostor reigned in his stead until he eventually regained the throne.

The Solomonic tradition embraces the whole wisdom tradition, both in its worldly aspect and in its piety, and embodies all the fantasies about the past glory of the united kingdom of Israel and Judah at the height of its power.

See Also

Biblical Temple.


Treatments of the history of Solomon's reign can be found in John Bright's A History of Israel, 3d ed. (Philadelphia, 1981), and in the contribution by J. Alberto Soggin, "The Davidic-Solomonic Kingdom," to Israelite and Judean History, edited by John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller (Philadelphia, 1977). A discussion of the literary tradition can be found in Burke O. Long's 1 Kings with an Introduction to Old Testament Historical Literature (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1984). This also contains an extensive bibliography. For the aggadic traditions, see Louis Ginzberg's The Legends of the Bible (New York, 1956), pp. 553578.

New Sources

Cazeaux, Jacques. Saül, David, Salomon: la royauté et le destin d'Israël. Paris, 2003.

Knoppers, Gary N. Two Nations under God: The Deuteronomistic History of Solomon and the Dual Monarchies. Atlanta, 1993.

Torijano, Pablo A. Solomon, the Esoteric King: From King to Magus, Development of a Tradition. Leiden and Boston, 2002.

John Van Seters (1987)

Revised Bibliography


views updated Jun 11 2018


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.


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.


views updated Jun 08 2018


Son and successor of david as king (c. 961-922 b.c.) of all Israel. According to 2 Sm 12.25, his name seems originally to have been Jedidia (Heb. y e dîdyâ, beloved of Yahweh), and the name Solomon (Heb. še lōmōh, often associated with šālôm, peace, but probably an abbreviation of a longer name meaning something like "may Yahweh guard his welfare") was probably adopted on his accession to the throne.

Solomon's mother was Bathsheba, David's partner in adultery (2 Sm 11.2-5), but the precise details of his birth and early life are not clear, because of the complex nature of the Biblical record. For instance, it is usually assumed that he was the second son of David and Bethsabee, the first having died as punishment for the sin of adultery (2 Sm 12.1325); but elsewhere (1 Chr 3.5; 14.4; 2 Sm 5.14) he is listed as their fourth son. In David's time there was no strict rule of primogeniture determining royal succession. Accordingly, David did no one any injury in selecting Solomon as his heir. That he did so is certain, but the details are confused. Solomon, having obtained the crown through the intercession of his mother and of the Prophet nathan, consolidated his position by the ruthless removal of those who stood in his way.

More space in the Bible (1 Kgs 1.111.43; 2 Chr1.19.31) is devoted directly to Solomon than to any other king except David, but curiously he does not emerge as a clearly delineated person. Most of the material deals with the Temple of Jerusalem [see temples (in the bible)] and his building operations; and the rest, partly owing to the complex nature of the literary form, tells relatively little about the man himself. Even his celebrated wisdom, the tradition of which provides the basis for the later ascription to him of most of the sapiential books of the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and certain Psalms), is dealt with mostly in general terms. The single specific illustration, the story of the two mothers (1 Kgs 3.1628), is a familiar theme in Oriental folklore. It is unlikely, however, that his reputation as the wise king is entirely without foundation.

Solomon's fabled magnificence, alluded to by Jesus (Mt 6.29), is probably exaggerated; in any case, it was purchased at too high a price in excessive taxation, forced labor, and the destruction of tribal loyaltiesall of which helped pave the way for the division of the kingdom immediately after his death.

All in all, however, Solomon was an outstanding king. Taking advantage of the momentary weakness of Egypt and Assyria, he consolidated his already strong position and even extended his sphere of influence by skillful diplomacy rather than war. It is especially as a peaceful king that Christian tradition sees in him a type of Christ. Despite his very real shortcomings he seems to have been sincerely devoted to the service of God; yet he apparently did not grasp the full implications of uncompromising monotheism.

Many events of Solomon's life as described in the Bible have provided themes for Christian art. These include the encounter between Solomon and Bethsabee (1 Kgs 2.1924), Solomon's dream (3.415), the judgment for the two mothers (3.1628), and the meeting with the Queen of Sheba (10.113), as well as the Temple and its furnishings. Sometimes the motif is given a typological interpretation, as when Solomon's invitation to Bethsabee to share his throne is understood to foreshadow Mary's crowning at the hand of Christ or when his judgment is set in relation to the Last Judgment. The earliest example of Solomon in Christian art is the bas-relief of Solomon's judgment on the silver reliquary of the cathedral of Milan (end of the 4th century).

Bibliography: Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Bible, translated and adapted by l. hartman (New York, 1963) 226063. m. rehm and a. legner, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765) 9:272275. j. bright, A History of Israel (Philadelphia 1959) 190208. l. rÉau, Iconographie de l'art chrétien, 6 v. (Paris 195559) 2.1:286299.

[b. mcgrath]


views updated May 23 2018


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). □


views updated May 17 2018


SOLOMON , family of Australian pioneers and statesmen. emmanuel solomon (1800–1873) was born in London and transported to Sydney as a convict in 1818 for housebreaking. After being pardoned, he went into business as a merchant in Sydney with his brother and settled in Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, in 1838, two years after it was founded. He was a general merchant and auctioneer and in 1840 opened the city's first theater. Well known for his philanthropic gifts, Solomon helped finance the building of large apartment blocks for the colonists to replace the primitive homes of the early settlers. He served in the South Australian parliament in 1862–65 and 1867–71.

His nephew, judah moss solomon (1818–1880), who was born in London and arrived in Sydney in 1831, became Emmanuel Solomon's partner in business in Adelaide. Judah Moss Solomon played an active part in municipal affairs. He was elected to the town council in 1852 and in 1869–71 served as mayor. From 1858 to 1874 he represented Adelaide in the South Australian Parliament and played an important part in introducing a public health act. When a small Jewish community was established in 1848, Judah Moss Solomon was elected first president of the congregation.

Judah Moss Solomon had two sons. The elder, benjamin solomon (1844–1922), was appointed chief censor of Australia on the outbreak of World War i. His brother, vabian louis solomon (1853–1908), born in Adelaide, settled in Darwin in the Northern Territory in 1874 and worked as a merchant and shipping agent. He founded the Northern Territory Times, the first newspaper in the region, and became mayor of Darwin. Vabian Solomon was prominent in the development of the mining and pearl-fishing industries and on his return to Adelaide became the representative of the Northern Territory in the South Australian Parliament, serving from 1890 to 1901. An expert on financial matters, he was an important political figure in South Australian politics and was premier for a short time in 1899, the first Jew to become premier of an Australian colony or state. Vabian Solomon represented South Australia at the convention which framed the federal Australian constitution. In deference to his religious beliefs, the convention did not meet on Saturdays. He was elected to the first federal Parliament in 1901 and served for two years. In 1905 he was again elected and remained in Parliament until his death. His daughter Esther was the first woman elected to the Adelaide City Council.


H. Munz, Jews in South Australia (18361936) (1936). add. bibliography: adb, 6, 163–64; 12, 11–12; H.L. Rubinstein, Australia i, 394–96; E. Richards, "The Fall and Rise of the Brothers Solomon," in: ajhsj, 8:2 (1975), 1–28.

[Isidor Solomon]


views updated May 17 2018


SOLOMON , family of English origin which won distinction in St. Helena and South Africa. The founder was nathaniel solomon (1735–1800), a merchant with interests in the East India trade, who married Phoebe Mitz (or De Mitz) of Leiden in 1774, when she was 14 years old. She was widowed at 40, had 21 children, and lived to a great age. The eldest son, saul solomon (i; 1775–1850), left for India at the age of 20, but, on becoming dangerously ill, was put ashore at St. Helena. On his recovery he started trading with passing ships and in time acquired almost a monopoly in the provisioning of ships and the wholesale trade. His brothers joseph and benjamin joined him and by 1815 he had become a wealthy man, noted for his hospitality. He became sheriff of St. Helena and was appointed consul for the Netherlands and France. He kept in touch with the earliest Cape Town congregation. His brother Benjamin (1786–1877) settled in Cape Town where for many years he was usher of the court. saul solomon (ii; d. 1892), their nephew, was educated in Cape Town. Apprenticed to a bookseller and printer, he eventually became a partner and finally took over the business with his brothers. They printed the Government Gazette and in 1863 became proprietors of the newspaper, The Cape Argus, which remained a leading daily and was the start of the largest chain of newspapers in South Africa. On the grant of parliamentary government to the Cape in 1854, Saul Solomon was elected a member of the Assembly. He played a leading part in securing responsible government for the Colony in 1872, but because of a physical infirmity declined office. He was a powerful debater, brilliant in repartee, liberal in outlook, and a spokesman for the African population. Like other of the Solomons who settled at the Cape, he became a Christian and married a Christian, but retained an interest in Jews and Jewry. Of his sons saul solomon (iii; 1875–1960) became a judge of the Transvaal Supreme Court, and william ewart gladstone solomon (1880–1966), a painter, was principal of the Government Art School in Bombay. edward solomon, son of Joseph Solomon and nephew of the first Saul, became a Congregational minister. His three sons were all knighted: sir edward philip solomon (1845–1914), minister of public works in the Transvaal under General Botha; sir richard solomon (1850–1913), first high commissioner of the Union of South Africa in London (1910–13); and sir william henry solomon (1852–1930), chief justice of the Union (1927–29).


I. Abrahams, Birth of a Community (1955), index.

[Lewis Sowden]


views updated May 11 2018

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’.


views updated Jun 11 2018

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.


views updated May 14 2018

Solomon ★★ ½ 1998

Solomon is crowned King of Israel and vows to build a temple to house the Ark of the Covenant. In return, he is granted the gift of widom, which he doesn't seem to make much use of. He falls deeply in love with the Queen of Sheba but when she is forced to return to her homeland, Solomon falls into such a depression that he neglects his kingdom and allows corruption to spread. 172m/C VHS, DVD . Ben Cross, Vivica A. Fox, Anouk Aimee, Max von Sydow, Maria Grazia Cucinotta, Stefania Rocca, David Suchet, Richard Dillane; D: Roger Young. CABLE