King Solomon ruled all of Israel in an outstanding way from 977 to 937 BCE (12). Despite his wealth and power, Solomon is known to history for his wisdom and as the builder of the Temple of Jerusalem. He has been credited with authoring all or parts of three books of the Bible (Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon).
King Solomon was the ruler of ancient Israel who reigned from 961-922 BC (8). He is the son of David and Bathsheba. Solomon succeeded his father as king and his territory extended from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, and to the border of Egypt. With his wealth he built the great Temple of Jerusalem. In 950 BCE Solomon's household included 700 wives and 300 other mistresses (1). To insure the future peace and security of his kingdom, Solomon yielded to the custom of the times and made many domestic alliances with subject races and tribes by marrying foreign women.
An able administrator, Solomon kept the kingdom of Israel largely intact, strengthened its protection, and made alliances with several surrounding nations. He united his already strong position and even extended his influence by skillful diplomacy rather than war (8). International commerce and a large copper-mining industry aided in Solomon's wealth. Contact with other nations showed his advanced intelligence. Solomon displayed political and administrative wisdom and showed himself equal to his father by taking full advantage of the chance for economic expansion.
The Song of Solomon is a book of the Old Testament. It is a unique collection of love poetry. In Christian versions of the Bible it usually appears after the Book of Ecclesiastes. In the Hebrew Bible it is found after the Book of Job. It is believed to be written by King Solomon, but the actual author or authors of the book are unknown. It is a non-religious subject so it did not appear in all pre-Christian Jewish literature. The Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs, is quite erotic for the Bible. It was included in the Hebrew Bible despite significant opposition. Some have regarded the book as a dramatic poem, while others see it basically as love lyrics.
Solomon carefully cultivated ties of friendship, which had existed between Israel and the kingdom of Tyre. This had great economic advantages. The biggest bond was with Egypt, which was cemented by his marriage to the daughter of the reigning Pharaoh. Solomon showed outstanding power, since he was able to claim and partially enforce authority over Palestine. The important and strategic Canaanite City of Gezer is said to have revolted against Pharaoh and after being destroyed, to have been handed over to Solomon as a property of marriage with Pharaoh's daughter when she was given to him in marriage. Solomon took important steps to further prosperity and to move a big portion of the national income into the royal treasury to finance his lifestyle and his buildings. His division of the country into 12 districts must have been a highly efficient thing to do, but it was reformed as one after his reign.
One of the main sources of the enormous revenue required to support Solomon's brilliant reign was direct taxation in the form of money, goods, or unpaid labor that furnished for his building projects. Besides taxes in money and produce, Solomon required large donations of free labor from the poor whom he practically pushed into slavery.
Another important source of revenue for the royal treasury was that he expanded trade to a remarkable degree. The use of the Arabian camel brought a tremendous increase in trade. Caravans could now travel through deserts because of the camel's ability to go without water for a couple days. Solomon's fleets traded in the Mediterranean and Red seas, and his subjects mined gold in what is now Saudi Arabia. By thus exercising control over virtually all the trade routes both to the east and the west of the Jordan, Solomon increased the...
Bibliography: 3) Elkins, William R. Song of Songs. New York: Vantage Press Inc., 1956.
4) Fisher, Vardis. The Valley of Vision. Canada: McLeod, George J., 1951.
9) Russell, L. M. "God with us" The Christian Century Dec. 1991: 108.
11) The Encyclopedia of Jewish Religion. 378-9. 1965.
12) The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia. Volume 9, 636-7. New York: KTAV Publishing House inc., 1969.
13) Young, P. "Solomon so Long?" History Today Aug. 1996: 3-4.
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