SOLOMON, 3rd King of Israel
Son of David and Bathsheba, former wife of Uriah the Hittite
reigned 40 years, beginning when he was about 16 or 18 years old
Followed by his son, Rehoboam
Chart on later Kings of Judah and Kings of Israel
Compare 2 Chronicles with 1 and 2 Kings


Kings: Saul | David | Solomon | Rehoboam | Abijah | Asa |


SOLOMON [BibleGateway Search 1] mother: BATHSHEBAfather: DAVID
Cross Reference Bible links
* 2 Samuel 5:14 | 2 Samuel 12:24 | * 1 Kings 1:10 - 1 Kings 14 |
* 2 Kings 21:7 | 2 Kings 23:13 | 2 Kings 24:13 | 2 Kings 25:16 |
* 1 Chronicles 3:5,10 | 1 Chronicles 6:10,32 | 1 Chronicles 14:4 |
1 Chronicles 18:8 | 1 Chronicles 22 ff | 1 Chronicles 23:1 |
1 Chronicles 28:5 ff | 1 Chronicles 29
* 2 Chronicles 1 | 2 Chronicles 2 | 2 Chronicles 3:1,3 |
2 Chronicles 4 - 2 Chronicles 10:2,6
More references in 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and more
Genealogy: Matthew 1:7
2 Samuel 11:3 | 2 Samuel 12:24 |
1 Kings 1:11 - 1 Kings 2
1 Chronicles 3:5

[BibleGateway Search 2]


SOLOMON [Easton Bible Dictionary]

Peaceful, (Heb. Shelomoh), David's second son by Bathsheba, i.e., the first after their legal marriage (2 Samuel 12). He was probably born about B.C. 1035 (1 Chronicles 22:5; 29:1). He succeeded his father on the throne in early manhood, probably about sixteen or eighteen years of age. Nathan, to whom his education was intrusted, called him Jedidiah, i.e., "beloved of the Lord" (2 Samuel 12:24,25). He was the first king of Israel "born in the purple." His father chose him as his successor, passing over the claims of his elder sons:
"Assuredly Solomon my son shall reign after me."

His history is recorded in 1Kings 1-11 and 2Chr. 1-9. His elevation to the throne took place before his father's death, and was hastened on mainly by Nathan and Bathsheba, in consequence of the rebellion of Adonijah (1 Kings 1:5-40). During his long reign of forty years the Hebrew monarchy gained its highest splendour. This period has well been called the "Augustan age" of the Jewish annals. The first half of his reign was, however, by far the brighter and more prosperous; the latter half was clouded by the idolatries into which he fell, mainly from his heathen intermarriages (1 Kings 11:1-8; 14:21,31).

Before his death David gave parting instructions to his son (1 Kings 2:1-9; 1 Chronicles 22:7-16; 28). As soon as he had settled himself in his kingdom, and arranged the affairs of his extensive empire, he entered into an alliance with Egypt by the marriage of the daughter of Pharaoh (1 Kings 3:1), of whom, however, nothing further is recorded. He surrounded himself with all the luxuries and the external grandeur of an Eastern monarch, and his government prospered. He entered into an alliance with Hiram, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly assisted him in his numerous undertakings. (See HIRAM.)

For some years before his death David was engaged in the active work of collecting materials (1 Chronicles 29:6-9; 2Chr. 2:3-7) for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent abode for the ark of the covenant. He was not permitted to build the house of God (1 Chronicles 22:8); that honour was reserved to his son Solomon. (See TEMPLE.)

After the completion of the temple, Solomon engaged in the erection of many other buildings of importance in Jerusalem and in other parts of his kingdom. For the long space of thirteen years he was engaged in the erection of a royal palace on Ophel (1 Kings 7:1-12). It was 100 cubits long, 50 broad, and 30 high. Its lofty roof was supported by forty-five cedar pillars, so that the hall was like a forest of cedar wood, and hence probably it received the name of "The House of the Forest of Lebanon." In front of this "house" was another building, which was called the Porch of Pillars, and in front of this again was the "Hall of Judgment," or Throne-room (1 Kings 7:7; 10:18-20; 2Chr 9:17-19), "the King's Gate," where he administered justice and gave audience to his people. This palace was a building of great magnificence and beauty. A portion of it was set apart as the residence of the queen consort, the daughter of Pharaoh. From the palace there was a private staircase of red and scented sandal wood which led up to the temple.

Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of securing a plentiful supply of water for the city (Eccl 2:4-6). He then built Millo (LXX., "Acra") for the defence of the city, completing a line of ramparts around it (1 Kings 9:15,24; 11:27). He erected also many other fortifications for the defence of his kingdom at various points where it was exposed to the assault of enemies (1 Kings 9:15-19; 2Chr 8:2-6). Among his great undertakings must also be mentioned the building of Tadmor (q.v.) in the wilderness as a commercial depot, as well as a military outpost.

During his reign Palestine enjoyed great commercial prosperity. Extensive traffic was carried on by land with Tyre and Egypt and Arabia, and by sea with Spain and India and the coasts of Africa, by which Solomon accumulated vast stores of wealth and of the produce of all nations (1 Kings 9:26-28; 10:11,12; 2Chr 8:17,18; 9:21). This was the "golden age" of Israel. The royal magnificence and splendour of Solomon's court were unrivalled. He had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines, an evidence at once of his pride, his wealth, and his sensuality. The maintenance of his household involved immense expenditure. The provision required for one day was "thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal, ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallow-deer, and fatted fowl" (1 Kings 4:22,23).

Solomon's reign was not only a period of great material prosperity, but was equally remarkable for its intellectual activity. He was the leader of his people also in this uprising amongst them of new intellectual life. "He spake three thousand proverbs: and his songs were a thousand and five. And he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall: he spake also of beasts, and of fowl, and of creeping things, and of fishes" (1 Kings 4:32,33).

His fame was spread abroad through all lands, and men came from far and near "to hear the wisdom of Solomon." Among others thus attracted to Jerusalem was "the queen of the south" (Matthew 12:42), the queen of Sheba, a country in Arabia Felix. "Deep, indeed, must have been her yearning, and great his fame, which induced a secluded Arabian queen to break through the immemorial custom of her dreamy land, and to put forth the energy required for braving the burdens and perils of so long a journey across a wilderness. Yet this she undertook, and carried it out with safety." (1 Kings 10:1-13; 2Chr 9:1-12.) She was filled with amazement by all she saw and heard: "there was no more spirit in her." After an interchange of presents she returned to her native land.

But that golden age of Jewish history passed away. The bright day of Solomon's glory ended in clouds and darkness. His decline and fall from his high estate is a sad record. Chief among the causes of his decline were his polygamy and his great wealth. "As he grew older he spent more of his time among his favourites. The idle king living among these idle women, for 1,000 women, with all their idle and mischievous attendants, filled the palaces and pleasure-houses which he had built (1 Kings 11:3), learned first to tolerate and then to imitate their heathenish ways. He did not, indeed, cease to believe in the God of Israel with his mind. He did not cease to offer the usual sacrifices in the temple at the great feasts. But his heart was not right with God; his worship became merely formal; his soul, left empty by the dying out of true religious fervour, sought to be filled with any religious excitement which offered itself. Now for the first time a worship was publicly set up amongst the people of the Lord which was not simply irregular or forbidden, like that of Gideon (Judges 8:27), or the Danites (Judges 18:30,31), but was downright idolatrous." (1 Kings 11:7; 2Kings 23:13.)

This brought upon him the divine displeasure. His enemies prevailed against him (1 Kings 11:14-22,23-25,26-40), and one judgment after another fell upon the land. And now the end of all came, and he died, after a reign of forty years, and was buried in the city of David, and "with him was buried the short-lived glory and unity of Israel." "He leaves behind him but one weak and worthless son, to dismember his kingdom and disgrace his name."

"The kingdom of Solomon," says Rawlinson, "is one of the most striking facts in the Biblical history. A petty nation, which for hundreds of years has with difficulty maintained a separate existence in the midst of warlike tribes, each of which has in turn exercised dominion over it and oppressed it, is suddenly raised by the genius of a soldier-monarch to glory and greatness. An empire is established which extends from the Euphrates to the borders of Egypt, a distance of 450 miles; and this empire, rapidly constructed, enters almost immediately on a period of peace which lasts for half a century. Wealth, grandeur, architectural magnificence, artistic excellence, commercial enterprise, a position of dignity among the great nations of the earth, are enjoyed during this space, at the end of which there is a sudden collapse. The ruling nation is split in twain, the subject-races fall off, the pre-eminence lately gained being wholly lost, the scene of struggle, strife, oppression, recovery, inglorious submission, and desperate effort, re-commences.", Historical Illustrations.


SOLíOMON [Smith Bible Dictionary]

(peaceful ).

I. Early life and occasion to the throne .

--Solomon was the child of Davidís old age, the last born of all his sons. (1 Chronicles 3:5) The yearnings of the "man of war" led him to give to the new-horn infant the name of Solomon (Shelomoth, the peaceful one ). Nathan, with a marked reference to the meaning of the kingís own name (David, the darling, the beloved one ), calls the infant Jedidiah (Jedidíyah), that is, the darling of the Lord. (2 Samuel 11:24,25) He was placed under the care of Nathan from his earliest infancy. At first, apparently, there was no distinct purpose to make him the heir. Absalom was still the kingís favorite son, (2 Samuel 13:37; 18:33) and was looked on by the people as the destined successor. (2 Samuel 14:13; 15:1-6) The death of Absalom when Solomon was about ten years old left the place vacant, and David pledged his word in secret to Bath-sheba that he, and no other, should be the heir. (1 Kings 1:13) The words which were spoken somewhat later express, doubtless, the purpose which guided him throughout. (1 Chronicles 28:9; 20) His sonís life should not he as his own had been, one of hardships and wars, dark crimes and passionate repentance, but, from first to last, be pure, blameless, peaceful, fulfilling the ideal of glory and of righteousness after which he himself had vainly striven. The glorious visions of (Psalms 72:1) ... may be looked on as the prophetic expansion of these hopes of his old age. So far,all was well. Apparently his influence over his sonís character was one exclusively for good. Nothing that we know of Bath-sheba lends us to think of her as likely to mould her sonís mind and heart to the higher forms of goodness. Under these influences the boy grew up. At the age of ten or eleven he must have passed through the revolt of Absalom, and shared his fatherís exile. (2 Samuel 15:16) He would be taught all that priests or Levites or prophets had to teach. When David was old and feeble, Adonijah, Solomonís older brother attempted to gain possession of the throne; but he was defeated, and Solomon went down to Gihon and was proclaimed and anointed king. A few months more and Solomon found himself, by his fatherís death, the sole occupant of the throne. The position to which he succeeded was unique. Never before, and never after, did the kingdom of Israel take its place among the great monarchies of the East. Large treasures, accumulated through many years, were at his disposal.

II. Personal appearance .

--Of Solomonís personal appearance we have no direct description, as we have of the earlier kings. There are, however, materials for filling up the gap. Whatever higher mystic meaning may be latent in (Psalms 45:1) ... or the Song of Songs, we are all but compelled to think of them us having had at least a historical starting-point. They tell of one who was, in the eyes of the men of his own time, "fairer than the children of men," the face "bright, and ruddy" as his fatherís, (Solomon 5:10; 1 Samuel 17:42) bushy locks, dark as the ravenís wing, yet not without a golden glow, the eyes soft as "the eyes of cloves," the "countenance as Lebanon excellent as the cedars," "the chiefest among ten thousand, the altogether lovely." (Solomon 5:13-18) Add to this all gifts of a noble, far-reaching intellect large and ready sympathies, a playful and genial humor, the lips "full of grace," and the soul "anointed" as "with the oil of gladness," (Psalms 45:1) ... and we may form some notion of what the king was like in that dawn of his golden prime.

III. Reign.

--All the data for a continuous history that we have of Solomonís reign are--
(a) The duration of the reign, forty sears, B.C. 1015-975. (1 Kings 11:4)

(b) The commencement of the temple in the fourth, its completion in the eleventh, year of his reign. (1 Kings 6:1,37,38)

(c) The commencement of his own palace in the seventh, its completion in the twentieth, year. (1 Kings 7:1; 2 Chronicles 8:1)

(d) The conquest of Hamath-zobah, and the consequent foundation of cities in the region of north Palestine after the twentieth year. (2 Chronicles 8:1-6)

IV. Foreign policy . --

  • 1. Egypt. The first act of the foreign policy of the new reign must have been to most Israelites a very startling one. He made affinity with Pharaoh, king of Egypt, by marrying his daughter (1 Kings 3:1) The immediate results were probably favorable enough. The new queen brought with her as a dowry the frontier city of Gezer. But the ultimate issue of alliance showed that it was hollow and impolitic.

  • 2. Tyre. The alliance with the Phoenician king rested on a somewhat different footing. It had been a part of Davidís policy from the beginning of his reign. Hiram had been "ever a lover of David." As soon as he heard of Solomonís accession he sent ambassadors to salute him. A correspondence passed between the two kings, which ended in a treaty of commerce. The opening of Joppa as a port created a new coasting-trade, and the materials from Tyre were conveyed to that city on floats, and thence to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 2:16) In return for these exports, the Phoenicians were only too glad to receive the corn and oil of Solomonís territory. The results of the alliance did not end here. Now, for the first time in the history of the Jews, they entered on a career as a commercial people.

  • 3. The foregoing were the two most important to Babylon alliances. The absence of any reference to Babylon and Assyria, and the fact that the Euphrates was recognized as the boundary of Solomonís kingdom, (2 Chronicles 9:26) suggests the inference that the Mesopotamian monarchies were at this time comparatively feeble. Other neighboring nations were content to pay annual tribute in the form of gifts. (2 Chronicles 9:28)

  • 4. The survey of the influence exercised by Solomon on surrounding nations would be incomplete if we were to pass over that which was more directly personal the fame of his glory and his wisdom. Wherever the ships of Tarshish went, they carried with them the report, losing nothing in its passage, of what their crews had seen and heard. The journey of the queen of Sheba, though from its circumstances the most conspicuous, did not stand alone.

V. Internal history .--

  • 5. The first prominent scene in Solomonís reign is one which presents his character in its noblest aspect. God in a vision having offered him the choice of good things he would have, he chose wisdom in preference to riches or honor or long life. The wisdom asked for was given in large measure, and took a varied range. The wide world of nature, animate and inanimate, the lives and characters of men, lay before him, and he took cognizance of all but the highest wisdom was that wanted for the highest work, for governing and guiding, and the historian hastens to give an illustration of it. The pattern-instance is, in all its circumstances, thoroughly Oriental. (1 Kings 3:16-28)

  • 6. In reference to the kingís finances, the first impression of the facts given us is that of abounding plenty. Large quantities of the precious metals were imported from Ophir and Tarshish. (1 Kings 9:28) All the kings and princes of the subject provinces paid tribute in the form of gifts, in money and in kind, "at a fixed rate year by year." (1 Kings 10:25) Monopolies of trade contributed to the kingís treasury. (1 Kings 10:28,29) The total amount thus brought into the treasury in gold, exclusive of all payments in kind, amounted to 666 talents. (1 Kings 10:14)

  • 7. It was hardly possible, however, that any financial system could bear the strain of the kingís passion for magnificence. The cost of the temple was, it is true, provided for by Davidís savings and the offerings of the people; but even while that was building, yet more when it was finished one structure followed on another with ruinous rapidity. All the equipment of his court, the "apparel" of his servants was on the same scale. A body-guard attended him, "threescore valiant men," tallest and handsomest of the sons of Israel. Forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen made up the measure of his magnificence. (1 Kings 4:26) As the treasury became empty, taxes multiplied and monopolies became more irksome.

  • 8. A description of the temple erected by Solomon is given elsewhere. After seven years and the work was completed and the day came to which all Israelites looked back as the culminating glory of their nation.

  • 9. We cannot ignore the fact that even now there were some darker shades in the picture. He reduced the "strangers" in the land, the remnant of the Canaanite races, to the state of helots, and made their life "bitter with all hard bondage." One hundred and fifty-three thousand, with wives and children in proportion, were torn from their homes and sent off to the quarries and the forests of Lebanon. (1 Kings 5:15; 2 Chronicles 2:17,18) And the king soon fell from the loftiest height of his religious life to the lowest depth. Before long the priests and prophets had to grieve over rival temples to Molech, Chemosh, Ashtaroth and forms of ritual not idolatrous only, but cruel, dark, impure. This evil came as the penalty of another. (1 Kings 11:1-8) He gave himself to "strange women." He found himself involved in a fascination which led to the worship of strange gods. Something there was perhaps in his very "largeness of heart," so far in advance of the traditional knowledge of his age, rising to higher and wider thoughts of God, which predisposed him to it. In recognizing what was true in other forms of faith, he might lose his horror at what was false. With this there may have mingled political motives. He may have hoped, by a policy of toleration, to conciliate neighboring princes, to attract larger traffic. But probably also there was another influence less commonly taken into account. The widespread belief of the East in the magic arts of Solomon is not, it is believed, without its foundation of truth. Disasters followed before long as the natural consequence of what was politically a blunder as well as religiously a sin.

VI. His literary works.

--little remains out of the songs, proverbs, treatises, of which the historian speaks. (1 Kings 4:32,33) Excerpts only are given from the three thousand proverbs. Of the thousand and five songs we know absolutely nothing. His books represent the three stages of his life. The Song of Songs brings before us the brightness of his -youth. Then comes in the book of Proverbs, the stage of practical, prudential thought. The poet has become the philosopher, the mystic has passed into the moralist; but the man passed through both stages without being permanently the better for either. They were to him but phases of his life which he had known and exhausted, (Ecclesiastes 1:1; Ecclesiastes 2:1) ... and therefore there came, its in the confessions of the preacher, the great retribution.


SOLOMON [ISBE]


SOLOMON [Thompson Chain Reference]


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