HIS LIFE AND TIMES.
REV. F. W. FARRAR, D.D., F.R,S.
ARCHDEACON AND CANON OF WESTMINSTER; AND CHAPLAIN
IN ORDINARY TO THE QUEEN.
ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH & COMPANY
88 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
Chequered fortunes of David—His early prosperity as a king—
His career darkened—Uriah and Bathsheba—Joab's power over
David—The birth of Solomon—Significance of David's remorse.
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON 5
Influences which surrounded the childhood of Solomon—His
father—Evil effects of his fall—His family—Bathsheba—David's
fondness for his children—The name Shelômôh—Jedidiah—In-
fluence of Nathan—His retirement—Solomon comes to be
secretly regarded as the heir to the throne—Claims of Absalom.
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON 13
Troubles of the period—The crime of Amnon—David's supine-
ness—Absalom's revenge—His flight, return, and forgiveness--
His ambition—His rebellion— Ahitophel—David's flight from
Jerusalem—His impotent resentment against Joab—The murder
of Amasa—Solomon learns who are the friends and the enemies
of his house—Intestine quarrels—The numbering of the people—
Dislike of the measure and its imperfect results—The pestilence—
The vision on the threshing-floor of Araunah.
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON 24
Feebleness of David's age—Abishag of Shunem—Conspiracy of
Adonijah—His adherents—His attempted coronation feast—
Adherents of Solomon—Counter efforts of Nathan and Bath-
Sheba—Interviews of David with Bathsheba and Nathan—David
rouses himself, and orders Solomon to be anointed and crowned—
Popular enthusiasm—Collapse of Adonijah's plot—Terror of
his guests—He is magnanimously pardoned—General amnesty—
David's last song, and death—His dying directions to Solomon—
THE KINGDOM OF SOLOMON 35
Development of Jewish royalty—The nation enters upon its
manhood—The Gibborim—The army—The nation realizes its
unique position--Possession of a strong and beautiful capital—
Passionate fondness for Jerusalem—Commencing centralization
of worship—The Ark at Jerusalem—"Jehovah's people"—Out-
burst of poetry—Dawn of prose literature—Elements of
danger—Limits of the kingdom—Lines of possible progress—
Significance of the records of Solomon.
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN 43
Tragic events—Secret ambition of Adonijah—His visit to Bath-
sheba, the Queen-mother—Interview between them—Her unsus-
pecting acceptance of his request for the hand of Abishag—She
visits the king—Her gracious reception—Sudden fury of Solo-
mon—Possible causes for his violent anger—He dooms Adonijah
to death—Alarm of Joab—Benaiah ordered to slay him—Hesi-
tates to drag him from the horns of the altar—Execution of
Joab—Fate of his posterity—Disgrace and banishment of the
High Priest Abiathar — Zadok and the House of Eleazar-
Destiny of the two families of Eleazar and Ithamar—Shimei
ordered to live at Jerusalem—His visit to Gath to recover his
slaves—His execution—Vigour of Solomon's rule—His kindness
to Chimham, son of Barzillai—Foreign enemies—Escape of
Hadad from the massacre of the Edomites—His reception in
Egypt—His return—The Syrian Rezon—Geshur— Solomon's
affinity with Pharaoh—One of the Tanite dynasty—National
disapproval of the wedding in later times—Establishment of
Solomon's power—The Second Psalm—Note on the Pharaoh
of z Kings iii. 1.
SOLOMON'S SACRIFICE AND DREAM 58
General peacefulness of Solomon's reign—He offers a tenfold
hecatomb at Gibeon—His dream—Modes of Divine communi-
cation—His prayer for wisdom—The ideal not perfect—A con-
ditional promise—Great sacrifice on Mount Zion—The dead and
the living child—Nature of Solomon's wisdom—The wisest
man of his age—His proverbs and songs, and other intellectual
efforts—Riddles—Hiram and Abdemon.
THE COURT OF SOLOMON 63
Growing complexity and magnificence of the Court—High
officers—Azariah, grandson of Zadok—Use of the word
"Priest"—The two Scribes—The Recorder—The Captain of the
Host—Zadok—Bamoth or High Places—The Farmer-general
"The King's friend"—The Chamberlain; growing importance
of this official—The Superintendent of the levies—Forced
labour—The twelve districts to supply the Court—Significance
of these districts—Judah possibly exempted— Immense exaction
of provisions—The burdens not felt at first—Prevailing peace
Solomon's one conquest.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON 71
The Temple—The design of David—He is forbidden to build—
His immense preparations—In what sense the Temple was
"exceeding magnifical"—Its substructions, walls, and cisterns,
and the toil they involved—Embassy from Hiram of Tyre, and
compact between the two kings—The levy or corvée—The
burden-bearers and quarrymen—The Canaanites were the
Helots of Palestine—The Giblites—The slaves of Solomon—
Hiram of Naphtali—General form of the Temple and its measure-
ments—Curious statements of the Chronicler—The Holy of
Holies quite dark—Outer lattices of the Holy Place—The outer
chambers—What a visitor would have seen—The outer court—
The inner court—The brazen altar—The molten sea and the
caldrons—Why the brazen oxen were permitted—The actual
Temple—What was its external aspect?—Had it pillars within?—
Jachin and Boaz—Theories about them—The Porch—The Sanc-
tuary and its furniture—The Oracle; its doors—The Ark—The
Cherubim— Built in silence—The general workmanship—Time that
it occupied in building—Organization of Levitic ministry—The
Temple a symbol of God's Presence—The actual building not used
for prayer or public worship—The sacrifices, and what they
involved—Water for ablutions—The Ceremony of Dedication—
The old Tabernacle—The procession—Transference of the Ark to
its rock—The staves—Splendour of the ceremony—The Cloud of
Glory—Solomon's prayer; its spirituality—Stupendous thank-
offering and festival—The fire from heaven—Prominence of the
king in priestly functions—Second vision of Solomon—Intense
affection and enthusiasm inspired by the Temple, as illustrated in
various Psalms—Functions of the Levites.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII.
ON THE PLAN AND ASPECT OF THE TEMPLE 100
Ideal reconstructions—Few remains—Scantiness of trustworthy
information—Fancies of Josephus—Recent excavations—The
Talmud—Size of the platform—Theories as to the style—I. Prof,
Wilkins and the Greek theory; now abandoned—2. Canina and
the Egyptian theory—3. Fergusson, Robins, and others believe
that the architecture was Asiatic and Phoenician; reasons for
this view—Analogous buildings—The Temple as restored on the
SOLOMON'S OTHER BUILDINGS AND CITIES 107
The passion for building—Solomon's palace, and its adjoining
edifices—Obscurity of all details—The House of the Forest of
Lebanon; its shields—The Porch of pillars—The Hall of Judg-
ment—The Palace—The staircase to the Temple—Water supply-
Gardens—Summer retreats—Works of national usefulness—For-
tification of the city—A chain of fortress-towns—Hazor,
Megiddo, Gezer — The Beth-Horons — Baalath — Store cities,
and chariot towns—Roads—Tadmor in the wilderness.
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE 114
The ideal of peaceful wealth—Extended commerce: I. by land
and II. by sea—I. Influence and splendour of Phoenicia: i.
Land traffic with Tyre; Hiram and Solomon; Embarrassed con-
dition of Solomon's resources; He alienates twenty cities; Scorn
and dissatisfaction of Hiram; An obscure transaction; Inexplic-
able conduct of Solomon; Prosperity of Hiram—ii. Land traffic
with Arabia; Spices and precious stones—iii. Egypt and the
Tanite dynasty; Land traffic with Egypt; Horses and chariots;
Profits of the trade; Two great inland roads—II. Sea-traffic
The Phoenician traffic with Tarshish—ii. Traffic by the Red Sea
to Ophir; Ezion-Geber—Theories about Ophir; identified by many
with Abhîra at the mouths of the Indus— Beautiful and curious
articles of export—i. Ivory (Shen habbîm)—ii. Apes (Kophîm)—
Hi. Peacocks (tukkiîm)--iv. Almug-trees—Sanskrit origin of these
words—Did the fleets circumnavigate Africa?—Result of the
commerce—Losses—Intercourse with idolators—The Red Sea
fleets a failure—The king's revenue—His enormous expenses —
Advantages of the commerce, direct and indirect.
SOLOMON IN ALL HIS GLORY 129
Visitors and presents—Royal state—Solomon, on a progress, as
described by Josephus—As described in the Song of Songs—A
nuptial psalm (Ps. xlv.)— Allusion to Solomon by our Lord—
Other allusions—His ivory throne—Visit of the Queen of Sheba—
Traditions about the Queen of Sheba—Legends of her visit and
questions—Her admiration of his buildings and his magnificence
—Interchange of presents—Naturalization of the balsam-plant-
Our Lord's allusion—Summary of Solomon's wealth and grandeur.
CHAPTER XI I.
THE DECLINE OF SOLOMON 139
An unsubstantial pageant—Solomon's heart not "perfect"—Two
deadly evils—What a king ought not to do: 1. The multiplication
of horses; 2. Accumulations of treasure; 3. Polygamy—Number
of his wives—Evils of polygamy—Solomon's apostasy—Moral de-
terioration—Influence of strange wives—Immoral tolerance:
Worship of Ashtoreth; 2. Of Milcom; 3. Of Chemosh—Idol
shrines on "the mount of corruption"—Evil effects of extrava-
gant luxury—Grievous bondage felt by the people—Expense of
maintaining the Court—A Divine warning—The growth of adver-
saries--Degeneracy of the people, and of the youth—Illustrated
in the advice of the "young men" to Rehoboam--Torpor of the
priesthood—Silence of the prophets—Jeroboam, his early life,
his rapid rise, his politic bearing—Ahijah the Shilonite—Symbol
of the disruption of the kingdom Jeroboam begins to plot and is
forced to fly into Egypt—Alienation of Egypt under Shishak I.—
Close of the reign—Gifts and character of the king—Three stages
in his career: I. His early prosperity; 2. The zenith of his glory;
3. His decline—"Vanity of vanities"—Arabian legend of his
death—His life less interesting than that of David—Doubts ex-
pressed as to his salvation—Orcagna—Vathek—Dante—Services
which Solomon rendered—The darker aspect of his reign—The
THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON, AND BOOKS ATTRIBUTED TO HIM. 166
Character of Solomon's wisdom — I. His interest in natural
science—Admiration—Similitudes—Legendary magical powers—
Importation of new forms of animal and vegetable life—2. Solo-
mon as a poet —The One Hundred and Twenty-seventh Psalm—
The Seventy-second Psalm—Changed intellectual tendency of his
age—3. The Canticles—Date of the Book—Probably written by a
Northern Israelite—Some characteristics of the Book—Its allusions
to an age of luxury—Its allusions to nature—Difference of its tone
from that of the Nature-Psalms—Not on the surface a religious
poem—Supposed outline of the poem as an idyl of consecrated
love—This view adopted by most modern critics—The poem
allegorized by Rabbis, Fathers, and Schoolmen—Real subject of it
—Specimens of the allegoric interpretation—Not an epithalamium
—Difficulties of believing it to be intentionally allegoric—The
allegoric application religiously tenable, though not to be regarded
as primary—The sanctification of love—Human love as a symbol
THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES 182
Due to the general impulse given to Jewish thought by Solomon,
though it cannot have been written by him —The title Qoheleth-
Conjectures as to the date of the Book—"Elohim"—A struggle
perplexity and despondeney—Outline of the Book: I. The
Prologue; 2. The first section, personal experiences; 3. The
second section; 4. The third section; 5. The fourth section,
partial conclusion; 6. The Epilogue—A general summary—Pro-
gressiveness of revelation—Doubts of some of the Rabbis—Two
general lessons—The emptiness of worldly pleasure—The teaching
of bitter experience.
THE BOOK OF PROVERBS. 192
Solomonic proverbs—Three words—I. Mashal, "a parable";
Various applications of the word 2. Chîdâh, "a riddle";
Enigmas in the East; "Dark sayings" in the Proverbs—Prov.
xxvi. 10-3. M'létzah, "a figure "—Outline of the Book: 1. The
Introduction; A manual of moral guidance—2. The Wisdom
section; How it differs from the rest of the Book; Conceptions of
"wisdom" among the Hebrews—3. "The Proverbs of Solomon;"
Their general structure; Their substance; Twofold beauty of
tone: i. It is kindly; ii. It is religious—Few traces of the national
religion—4. "The words of the wise"—5. Further "words of the
wise"—6. Hezekiah's collection—7. Three appendices: α. The
words of Agur; β. The exhortation of Lemuel; γ. The acrostic
of the virtuous woman—General remarks : I. Cosmopolitan spirit
—2. Had the Hebrews a philosophy? —3. Three phases of thought
about difficulties in the moral government of the world: α. The'
era of general principles; β. The era of difficulties; γ. The era
of acquiescence; δ. The final eschatological conclusion—4.
Sapiential literature not Messianic, yet in one sense Christologi-
cal—5. Exaltation of morality —6. Frequent references to the Book
in the New Testament.
LEGENDS OF SOLOMON 208
Predominance of Solomon in legend—Knowledge ascribed to him
—I. The Talmud: i. Solomon, the demon Ashmodai, and the
worm Shamîr; ii. Solomon, Naama, and the ring; iii. The Hag-
gada, Solomon and the demons—II. Legends in the Qur'ân-
i. His power—ii. His early judgment—iii. The magic wind;
The steeds; The hoopoe; Balkis, Queen of Sheba—III. Ethiopian
legend—IV. The Angel of Death.
Chequered fortunes of David—His early prosperity as King—His
career darkened—Uriah and Bathsheba—Joab's power over David
—The birth of Solomon—Significance of David's remorse.
FEW careers have been more chequered than that of David;
few even of the lives recorded in the sacred volume are more
deeply instructive. The ruddy shepherd-lad, who tended his
few poor sheep in the wilderness, rapidly sprang into the great
warrior, the darling and hero, the poet and ruler of his people.
Gaining yearly as Saul lost, superseding even Jonathan in the
favour of the multitude, he had been so openly regarded as the
future wearer of the crown, that the king's jealousy drove him
into outlawry, and repeatedly sought his life. Save from im-
minent perils, and from incessant temptations to adopt a career
of crime, he had shown such consummate tact and skill as the
chief of a dangerous band, that on Saul's death he had been
chosen king by the tribe of Judah, and solemnly anointed at
Hebron. After he had reigned seven and a half years as King
of Judah, the murder of Ishbosheth, son of Saul, left Israel
free to elect a successor, and David was unanimously invited to
rule over the Twelve Tribes. Then began a period of un-
exampled prosperity. He gained secure possession of the City
of Jerusalem, and consecrated it by the translation of the Ark
thither from Gath-Rimmon. He strengthened his throne by a
Court, a Bodyguard, and an Army. God "made him a great name
like unto the name of the great men that are in the earth."1 He
became the father of a large and beautiful family, He was recog-
nized not only as a King, but also as a Psalmist and Prophet. At
1 2 Sam. vii. 9.
times he even wore an ephod, and exercised many of the func-
tions of the priestly office.1 On every border of his kingdom he
drove back and subdued his hostile neighbours. The Philistines,
the Moabites, the rising power of Syria, the predatory Edomites,
and Amalekites, were thoroughly broken into submission. From
a petty chieftain he became a great sovereign. With the Phœ-
nicians in the north-west, he was in cordial and intimate alliance.
One misfortune alone—a three years' famine—seems to have
disturbed the brighter and earlier portion of his reign.
Then calamity burst over him like thunder out of a clear sky,
and his glory and prosperity were shattered by his own sin.
The crime, the infamy, of one hour precipitated upon him for
all the rest of his life a terrible load of disgrace and ruin.
He had an officer named Uriah, who like many of those who
served in his bodyguard, belonged to the old race of Canaan.
He was by birth a Hittite, but had probably become a prose-
lyte, and was, at any rate, conspicuous for his chivalrous bravery
and austere sense of duty. Among his comrades was Eliam, a
son of Ahitophe1,2 who, like himself, had risen by valour and
conduct to be one of the thirty commanders of David's thirty
companies. Eliam had a fair daughter named Bathsheba,3 and
it was natural that he should have given her in marriage to a
fellow-officer so distinguished as Uriah. The Hittite soldier
loved her with a passionate tenderness.4 While he was absent
in the war against the Ammonites, Bathsheba lived in his
house, which was one of those which clustered under the shadow
of David's palace on Mount Zion. One evening David, accord-
ing to his wont, was walking on his palace-roof, after the burning
1 2 Sam. vi. 13, 17, 18; I Chron. xvi. 42.
2 2 Sam. xxiii. 34. Jerome ("Qu. Heb." on 2 Sam. ix. 3; I Chron. iii. 5)
mentions the tradition, which he had learnt from the Rabbis who taught
him Hebrew, that these two Eliams—the son of Ahitophel and the father
of Bathsheba—were one and the same person. Eliam's name is omitted
from 1 Chron. xi., whence some have inferred that he lost his post, and was
involved in his father's ruin, but perhaps he may be dimly indicated under
the name of "Ahijah the Pelonite" (I Chron. xi. 36). Pelonî in Hebrew
means "so and so," like the Spanish Don Fulano.
3 2 Sam. xi. 3. It is a somewhat suspicious circumstance, due perhaps
to Jewish falsification, that in I Chron. iii. 5, Eliam is disguised into Am-
miel, and Bathsheba into Bathshua. Bathshua is a heathen name. "The
daughter of Shua, the Canaanites" (I Chron. ii. 3; Gen. xxxviii. 2-12).
4 2 Sam. xii. 3.
heat of day, when he saw Bathsheba, who was "very beautiful to
look upon," washing herself in a cistern on the top of her house.
Forgetful of all his past, and of all that was due from him as
God's anointed, he made Bathsheba the victim of his guilty
passion. There is no need to detail the fresh crimes in which
he was entangled by the desire to hide his guilt. His attempt at
concealment was frustrated by the fine feeling and honourable
firmness of his unsuspecting soldier,1 and no way remained to
escape the consequences of his misdoing except to plot the base
murder of Uriah while he was fighting the king's battles before
Rabbath-Ammon. David, whom God had chosen from the
sheepfolds, to be the ruler of His people Israel, became the secret,
treacherous assassin of his brave commander. The murder
could only be carried out by making Joab his accomplice.
From that hour his peace was gone. It might have been said
to him as to the chief in the great tragedy—
"Not poppy nor mandragora,
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owd'st yesterday."
Joab, as commander-in-chief and nephew of the king, had
already been too powerful for a subject, but from that time he
became the complete controller of David's destiny, because he—
and at first he alone—was master of his guilty secret. Ahito-
phel too, hitherto David's most trusted counsellor, was now
secretly his enemy. He may not, at first, have been aware of
the murder of Uriah, but he was the grandfather of the woman
whom David had so foully wronged.2
That woman was the mother of King Solomon. The date of
Solomon's birth cannot be ascertained with any certainty, be-
cause we do not know the age at which he ascended the throne.
1 That Uriah had become a proselyte we infer from his language in
2 Sam. xi. II.
2 See Blunt's "Undesigned Coincidences," Pt. II. x. p. 145. Professor
Blunt is usually credited with the first notice of this probability. It had,
however, been pointed out in the commentary of David Qimchi, and he
only quotes it from earlier expositors (see Grätz, "Gesch. d. Juden." i. 263).
In 2 Sam. xv. 31, David's prayer that God would turn the counsel of
Ahitophel to foolishness seems to be a play on his name, "brother of
foolishness" (?), though his advice was regarded as an "oracle of God''
(2 Sam. xvi. 23).
He speaks of himself indeed at that time as "a little child," but
the expression is metaphorical, and is only used as the language
of deep humility.1 He succeeded to the crown in early man-
hood. If so, he was probably born not long after the year B.C.
1035 of the chronology which is most usually adopted, and
which is, so far as we can discover, reasonably accurate.2
But before we leave the tragic circumstances which accom-
panied David's first introduction to the mother of Solomon, it
is worth notice that the deadly wound which it inflicted on
the king's conscience, and the indignation which it caused
in the hearts of all to whom it became known, are proofs
of that loftier morality and keener sense of sin which resulted
from the Divine training of the Hebrew people. There were
many of the surrounding nations among whom this crime of a
brilliant and successful monarch would have been regarded as
venial or indifferent. The subjects of a Pagan autocrat would
have easily forgiven such an offence, and he would have found
no difficulty in forgiving himself. Indeed it is doubtful whether
any Egyptian or Assyrian subject would have ventured to in-
quire into circumstances which were surrounded with mystery
and doubt. But "the eye of the Lord is ten thousand times
brighter than the sun," and it was by a holy inspiration that His
prophets had been taught to look on sin "with such a glance as
strook Gehazi with leprosy, and Simon Magus with a curse."
The gaze of Nathan pierced through the precautions which
veiled the guilty secret of the king, and his voice—the voice of
the king's own conscience, and of the conscience of all the nation
—awoke the offender to that burst of heartfelt penitence which
expressed itself in language never to be forgotten in the Peni-
tential Psalms. The king's repentance was as signal as had been
1 I Chron. xxii. 5; xxix. 1. "Solomon my son is young and tender." But
the same phrase is applied to Rehoboam, when he was forty-one (2 Chron.
xii. 13; xiii. 7), unless that (מא) be a clerical error for twenty-one (כא).
2 The systems of chronology vary. Ewald dates the reign of Solomon
from 1025-986; Usher from 1017-977. Hales, Jackson, and Bunsen adopt
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON.
Influences which surrounded the childhood of Solomon—His father—Evil
effects of his fall—His family—Bathsheba— David's fondness for his
children—The name Shelômôh—Jedidiah—Influence of Nathan—His
retirement—Solomon comes to be secretly regarded as the heir to the
throne—Claims of Absalom.
THE brief sketch in the last chapter will suffice to show us some
of the conditions of the Court and family into which Solomon
His father was a king who, in many respects, had fallen from
his high estate. The golden dawn and glorious noonday of his
reign were over. He was no longer the pride and the idol of
Israel and Judah. Not only had his administration ceased to be
so vigorous as once it was, but the dark story of his relations
to Bathsheba and Uriah was but an imperfect secret, and in
proportion as it became known David lost ground in the affec-
tions of his people. There was, indeed, no concealment in the
intensity of his remorse, and God forgave him, and restored to
him the clean heart and the free spirit. But the forgiveness of
sins is not the same thing as the remission of consequences,
and the consequences of sin are moral and spiritual as well as
physical. They leave their scars upon a man's character. Re-
pentance is less strong and less beautiful than his elder
brother Innocence. No man can stain his soul with such
crimes as those of David, and remain unscathed thereafter.
His powers of resistance are weakened; his tranquillity
becomes less secure. The intercourse of the boy Solomon with
his father must have been intercourse with a gloomy and
saddened man, who was still capable indeed of flashes of his
old nobleness, but whose recorded deeds show a marked dete-
rioration from the splendid religious promise of his youth. He
withdrew more and more into the pompous surroundings of
a Court, and the voluptuous seclusion of the harem. His
judicial duties were so much neglected as to give strength to
the complaints and promises of Absalom. The spell of his
early ascendency was broken, and a deep indignation against
him burned in many hearts. In a twofold way his evil
example produced bitter fruit. On the one hand, it caused the
enemies of the Lord to blaspheme; on the other, it acted as
a spiritual empoisonment in the hearts of all who were unstable.
It broke down in many minds the altar of confidence in the
reality of virtue, leading them to say, "If he is not good, no one
is good." His sons inherited from him the legacy of imperious
passions, and they had also before their eyes the fatal example
of a weakness in the Reason and the Conscience which, in
David if in any one, ought to have sufficed to keep those
passions under firm control. The transgression of the monarch
tended to lower the morality of the entire nation.
The influence of David over any of his sons now that he was
weak and fallen, can hardly have been entirely beneficial, but it
is probable that his intercourse with Solomon was small. Be-
sides his daughters, David had at least twenty sons born of his
numerous wives.1 Following the bad custom of polygamy
which had only been practised to a very small extent by the
early patriarchs of his race, or by his immediate predecessor,
he had two wives during his wanderings, five during his reign
at Hebron, and an unknown number at Jerusalem, besides the
harem of ten or more concubines which was regarded as an
almost necessary appendage of Eastern royalty. The number
of his family, and the mutual jealousies between the separate
establishments, would naturally tend to diminish his intercourse
with his sons; nor is it the custom in the East for fathers to
take much part in the early training of their children, however
fondly they may be beloved. Polygamy necessarily tends to
break down domestic affections.
To Bathsheba must have fallen the chief share in the educa-
1 Seer 1 Sam. xxvii. 3; 2 Sam. iii. 2-5, v. 13-16; I Chron. iii. 5-8,
xiv. 4-7. There were also sons of concubines who are not named (2 Sam.
xv. 16; 1 Chron. iii. 2).
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON. 7
tion of her child, and it is impossible to suppose that her
influence could have been very good. We know but little of
her, but that little is almost wholly to her disadvantage. If
her name was originally Bathshua1 this may possibly imply
that she was, in part at least, of heathen extraction; but
whether this be so or not she must have had a deep share in
David's guilt. In her son's reign, the young and beautiful
maiden of Shunem could be faithful to her peasant lover in
spite of the unequalled magnificence of the royal match which
was so passionately pressed upon her.2 Not so Bathsheba.
She seems to have offered no resistance to the far graver crime
of adultery committed against a most tender and faithful hus-
band. She came to David in secret. She must have acquiesced,
at least with silent complicity, in the base plot by which the
king would fain have concealed his guilt; and to that plot she
seems to have opposed no remonstrance. Of Uriah's murder
she may have known nothing, but, if he was sacrificed without
her cognizance at the time, she can hardly have remained
unaware of that which afterwards, in Court circles at any rate,
became an open secret. Yet she was so far from turning with
abhorrence from the hands which were red with her husband's
blood, that directly the legal period of mourning for Uriah was
over, she was content to add one more to the discreditable
number of David's wives. We may make every allowance for
the different views of morality taken by Eastern peoples in
ancient days, but the fact remains—Bathsheba had been a
willing adulteress, and she continued to enjoy till death the
earthly fruits of her transgression. There is no certainty, and
little probability in the notion of the Rabbis that she was "the
mother of King Lemuel," whose appeals to her son are preserved
in the Thirty-first Chapter of Proverbs; but, if she were, those
exhortations to chastity would have come with more weight
from other lips.
According to the order of names in I Chron. iii. 5, Solomon
was the youngest of five sons born to David and Bathsheba.
The eldest—the child of the adultery—died in infancy. The
1 I Chron iii. 5.
2 She is called the Shulamite, but Shunem was known as Sulem in the
days of Eusebius and Jerome, and the village is now called Solam. See
Robinson's "Researches in Palestine," vol. iii. p. 402. The only other
Shunammite in Scripture is Elisha's hostess (2 Kings iv. 12).
other three were Shimea, Shobab, and Nathan, of wham the
latter became the ancestor of Christ after the extinction of
Solomon's line in the person of Jeconiah.1 Possibly, however,
Solomon's name may only be placed last by way of emphasis,
for in 2 Sam. xii. it is implied that Solomon was born first of the
sons of Bathsheba after her legal marriage, and this is also
distinctly stated by Josephus.2 David was a fond father to all
his children, but the circumstances of Solomon's birth tended
to make him specially dear to the rapidly-ageing king. He was
the son of a mother passionately, if guiltily, beloved, and his
birth came to fill up the void caused by the death of the first
child. David would naturally regard his birth and survival as
a proof that God in mercy had accepted his prayers, and seen
his remorseful tears.
When Solomon was born, the kingdom was at peace. David
had seen enough, and more than enough of war. The thought
of all the blood which he had shed weighed heavily upon his
conscience, and his enemies called him "a man of blood." His
yearning for peace appears in the name Absalom—"Father of
Peace"—which he had given long before to the son born to
him in Hebron of Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of
Geshur. By this time it must have been still stronger, and he
gave to his son by Bathsheba the stately name of Shelômôh,
or "The Peaceful,"3 the name which is still so common in the
East in the form Suleimân.4 Nathan was immediately in-
formed of the auspicious birth, and the child was placed
under his sponsorship and care.5 He, too, hailed the birth
1 Luke iii. 31. Salathiel, the direct descendant of Solomon and Bath-
sheba in the line of Nathan, was probably adopted by Jeconiah. Comp.
Zech. xii. 12; and comp. I Chron. iii. 17; Jer. xxii. 30; Matt. i. 11, 12.
Salathiel's real father was Neri (Luke iii. 27), of the house of Nathan. If
"Assir" ("captive") was (as the Talmudists assert) a son of Jehoiachin,
he died young, and the exiled king adopted his kinsman, Salathiel.
2 "Antiq." vii. 7, 4,
3 According to one reading in 2 Sam. xii. 24, Bathsheba conferred the
4 Comp. the names Shelômith, Lev. xxiv. 11; I Chron. xxvi. 25;
Numb. xxxiv. 27. So Frederick is Friedereich, "rich in peace." We speak
of Solomon because the New Testament and Josephus translated Shelô-
moh not by Σαλωμὼν), as is done by the LXX., but by Σολομών. The
long vowel is retained in Salôme.
5 2 Sam. xii. 25. The verse may either mean—" He (David) sent him (the
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON. 9
of the child as a sign that God had restored to David the
favour which had been promised to his repentance. He there-
fore gave to Solomon, "because of Jehovah," the more sacred
name of Jedidiah—"Beloved of Jah."1 David himself had been
called by a name which meant "The Beloved," "The Darling";
but to Solomon the prophet desired to give a name expressive
of something deeper than family affection.2 This name, how-
ever, is never again referred to, for it was not meant to be used
in common life. The name Solomon was like a prophetic inti-
mation of the ideal and the history of the magnificent unwarlike
In Nathan we might have expected that the boy would have
had a pure, wise, and faithful teacher; and such, we may trust,
was to some extent the case. But it is impossible to overlook the
fact that, after his one exhibition of fearless faithfulness, Nathan
seems to have sunk into comparative apathy. He lived till
Solomon's accession certainly, and perhaps late into the reign,
of which he wrote the earlier annals.4 If the Jewish tradition
mentioned by Jerome be correct, Nathan was the eighth, perhaps
the adopted, son of Jesse,5 and the same as the warrior
Jonathan, who is called David's "uncle" in 2 Sam. xxi. 21.6 He
has also been identified with the Nathan whose sons occupied
high places in Solomon's Court,—one of them, Zabud, being
"The King's Friend," and also "Priest."7 But the father of these
child) into the hand of Nathan;" or "He sent by the hand of Nathan," i.e.,
as Ewald (iii. 168) explained it "entreated the oracle through Nathan, to
confer on the new-born child some name of lofty import;" or even "He
(Jehovah) sent by the hand of Nathan." Comp. I Chron. xxii. 9.
1 Amahilis Domino. Comp. Lemuel, Jonathan, Nathanael, Adeodatus,
Diodorus, Theodore, Gottlieb, &c.
2 Comp. Ps. cxxvii. 2. "So every Muhammedan, besides his so-called
baptismal names, may have an additional name of loftier significance
ending in eldîn, which signifies the man in his religious capacity" (Ewald,
iii. 165: comp. Noor-ed-Din, Saleh-ed-Din, &c.).
3 I Chron. xxii. 9.
4 2 Chron. ix. 29.
5 Jerome, " Qu. Hebr."; I Sam. xvii. 12; I Chron. ii. 13-15.
6 It is more probable that "uncle " in I Chron. xxvii. 32 is a mistake
for "nephew," the mistake arising from a wrong punctuation of 2 Sam. xxi.
21. This Jonathan is described as a wise man, a scribe, and David's coun-
7 It does not follow that this Nathan was of Aaronic descent, for David's
officials was more probably the younger brother of Solomon.
The prophet Nathan himself did not continue to play any
memorable part in the religious service of the people. After
Solomon's accession his name is not mentioned, and although
David consulted him about the building of the Temple, and
the organization of public worship, we do not hear of his
voice being raised in any of the crimes and tumults which
marked the closing years of the hero-king. It was Gad the
seer, not Nathan the prophet, who warned David of the
punishment which would follow the guilty pride—possibly the.
tyrannous purpose of levying a poll-tax or conscription—
which had induced him to number the people in defiance of
the wishes of his wisest counsellors.1 If, indeed, we could
attach any importance to a confused fragment of the Greek
historian, Eupolemus, Nathan may have had some message for
David during the three years' pestilence.2 But Eupolemus con-
fuses different events, and if the census had any reference to the
system of collecting funds for the future Temple, Nathan may
have persuaded himself that the measure was justifiable. Pos-
sibly the weight of advancing years may have impaired his
energy, but to him we must still attribute the best of the influences
which surrounded the life of the youthful prince. Himself •
trained in the School of the Prophets, he must have instructed
Solomon in all the poetry, the "wisdom of the East," and the his-
torical literature of his nation, and especially in whatever portions
of the Mosaic law were then committed to writing. The literary
capacities which Solomon had inherited from his father must.
have received a careful cultivation, although they assumed a
sons are also called priests (2 Sam. viii. 18), and even Ira (2 Sam. xx. 26).
By the time the Books of Chronicles were written there was some feeling
against the union of civil and ecclesiastical offices, and instead of "kohen,''
"priest," they have " chief at the hand of the king." The LXX. render
the name αυλάρχαι in the case of David's sons, and the Authorized Version
"officers," while the Vulgate honestly gives sacerdotes, and the Revised
Version "priests," as well as Luther and Coverdale. See Ewald, "Alter-
thümsk.," p. 276.
1 2 Sam. xxiv. 25; I Chron. xxi. xxvii. 23, 24.
2 The passage is preserved in Eusebius, "Prep. Ev." ix. 30, "An angel
painted David the place where the Temple was to be, but forbade him to
build it, as being stained with blood, and having fought many wars. His
name was Dianathan." The blundering name is taken apparently from the
διὰ Νόθαν in the LXX. Version. Sec 2 Sam. vii. and I. Chron. xxii.
THE CHILDHOOD OF SOLOMON. 11
different development from that which has immortalized the
name of David as "the sweet Psalmist of Israel."
Though Solomon was the first Jewish king "born in the
purple," it is by no means certain that he had been destined
from the first to be David's heir. The old king may have felt
the same reluctance to name his successor as has been felt by
other great sovereigns; and to nominate an infant or a young boy
would be dangerous. It is not till the time of Adonijah's rebellion
that we hear of an oath to Bathsheba that her son should suc-
ceed to the throne,1 and as there is no independent mention of
that oath we do not know at what period it was given. It was
felt indeed that the king's nomination was one of the most
powerful factors in a claim to the throne, but the nomination
could hardly be arbitrary. The murder of Amnon, David's
eldest son, took place when Solomon was a child. Of the second
son, Chileab or Daniel, we hear no more, and it is probable that
he died early. Of the remaining sons, Absalom was the eldest
He certainly regarded himself as the intended heir. Not only
was David already a king when Absalom was born at Hebron,
but the youth was of royal descent on both sides, since his
mother Maacah was a daughter of the king of Geshur. He
was also strong in the admiration of the multitude, and in the
passionate affection which his father entertained for him. When
Absalom perished in battle against his father, Adonijah, the
eldest surviving son, regarded his own claims as valid. Next
in order to Adonijah were at least twelve sons of whom we know
next to nothing, and who may have been excluded either from
the lack of any commanding qualities, or because their
mothers were of private and undistinguished families.2 The pro-
raise to Bathsheba may have been one of the whispered secrets
of the palace, but it does not seem to have been generally
11 Kings i. 13, 17.
2 In 2 Sam. iii. 1-5, we have six sons of David mentioned—Amnon,
Chileab, Absalom, Adonijah, Shephatiah, Ithream; in 1 Chron. iii. 1-9 we
have (if the text be correct) besides these (Daniel being put for Chileab)
Shimea, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, Elishama, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg,
Japhia, Eliada; besides the sons of the concubines, and Tamar. A similar
list, with variations, occurs in 2 Sam. v.14-16 ; and in I Chron. xiv. 3-7, where
Ibhar is put next to Solomon. Besides these we have a Jerimoth in 2 Chron.
xi. 18, whose daughter Mahalath was married to Rehoboam. Josephus
("Antiq." vii, 3, § 3) gives a totally different list of eleven sons. Some of
them became "priests" (2 Sam. viii. 18, Authorized Version "chief rulers").
known. It would be unfair to ascribe it solely to the ascendency
which Bathsheba had acquired over the mind of the uxorious
king. Solomon early displayed the capacity which marked
him as conspicuously superior to all his brethren. It was
clear to all "that the Lord loved him."1 David's insight in
choosing him to be his heir had received the prophetic ap-
proval of Nathan. But however early this design was formed,
there was an obvious wisdom in confining the knowledge of the
secret to a few. To make it generally known while Solomon
was a child would have been to awaken the turbulent jealousies
of his powerful and unscrupulous rivals, and to mark him out
for almost certain destruction. It must have early become clear
that such men as Amnon and Absalom and Adonijah—men of
fierce passions and haughty temperament—would be singularly
unfitted to carry out the peaceful and religious designs which
David wished to bequeath to his successor. The promise of
calm wisdom and stately demeanour which marked the childhood
of Solomon,2 combined with David's passionate devotion to
Bathsheba to make him pass over the pretensions of his elder
sons, and with the approval of his truest religious adviser, to
swear by the name of Jehovah, "Assuredly Solomon my son
shall reign after me."
1 2 Sam. xii. 24.
2 Compare Wisd. viii. 19, "But I was a clever child, and received a good
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON.
Troubles of the period—The crime of Amnon—David's supineness—Absa-
lom's revenge—His flight, return, and forgiveness—His ambition—His
rebellion—Ahitophel—David's flight from Jerusalem—His impotent
resentment against Joab—The murder of Amasa—Solomon learns who
are the friends and the enemies of his house—Intestine quarrels—The
numbering of the people—Dislike of the measure and its imperfect
results—The pestilence—The vision on the threshing-floor of Araunah.
THE youth of Solomon fell in a dark and troubled period,
during which the sins and errors of David were bringing about
their natural retribution.
The first event which shocked the nation and rent the king's
heart was the horrible misconduct of his eldest son Amnon,
who had been born to him during his days as a fugitive, by his
first wife Ahinoam of Jezreel. There is no need to detail one
of the foulest incidents which sully the sacred page. It is not
often that the fierce light of history burns into the secrets of an
Eastern palace, but, in this instance, it reveals a state of things
truly shocking. Violent and insolent as his ancestor Reuben, this
first-born of David did not allow the Mosaic law to restrain the
growth of his ungovernable passion for his half-sister Tamar.1
Aided by the cunning of his cousin Jonadab, the son of David's
brother Shimeah, he accomplished his purpose, and then, with a
1 Grätz ("Gesch. d. Juden." i. 264) assumes, without a shadow of proof,
that Tamar was a daughter of Maacah by an earlier marriage, so that there
was no blood-relationship between her and Amnon. A man guilty of con-
duct so atrocious as that of Amnon would hardly be hindered by any
sudden revulsion of feeling, rendered his crime yet more detest-
able by driving the maiden from him with pitiless brutality. His
conduct can only be accounted for by the glare of unnatural
horror often flung by a guilty conscience when a deed of shame
is done. With her "sleeved upper garment"1 rent, and ashes
on her head, the dishonoured princess fled to her own brother
Absalom, uttering loud cries of despair. He, with a deeply-
seated purpose of revenge bade her to dissemble her anguish
as he dissembled his own rage, and to remain in her palace
quiet though desolate. Under such circumstances it was David's
duty2 to see that punishment fell on the head of the atrocious
criminal. But David, like Eli, yielded to a foolish fondness for
his son, and spared to bring him to justice because he was his
first-born, and he did not like "to vex his soul."3 He was
"very wroth," but he did nothing.
But if the king would do nothing, Absalom determined that
due vengeance should wipe out the shame of incest and out-
rage.4 He nursed his wrath, and said nothing to Amnon. He
was sullenly waiting for the opportunity which was sure to rise
when suspicion had been lulled to sleep. After two years had
elapsed he made "a feast like the feast of a king"5 at Baal-
Hazor, near the little town of Ephraim—the hamlet in which
our Lord took refuge after His excommunication by the Priests.6
Sheep-shearings were recognized seasons of festivity,7 and it
was quite in accordance with Absalom's known character, that
he should desire to make the occasion as splendid as possible.
He, therefore, invited the king and the princes to be present
at the celebration. David, as Absalom no doubt had expected,
declined to go in person, on the plea that his visit would in
volve Absalom in great expense; but he permitted all the
king's sons to go. It seems to have been regarded as a matter
of course that Amnon would not be invited; but when David
1 2 Sam. xiii. 18. It was her dress as a princess (comp. Gen. xxxvii. 3).
2 See Levit. xx. 17.
3 2 Sam. xiii. 21. LXX.
4 It is a touching sign of Absalom's affection for his dishonoured sister
that he called his own daughter after her—Tamar (2 Sam. xiv. 27).
5 2 Sam. xiii. 27. LXX.
6 This cannot be regarded as certain. The words mean, according to
Ewald, "on the borders of the tribe of Ephraim." A various reading is
"the valley of Rephaim."
7 Gen. xxxviii. 12, 13; I Sam. xxv. 4, 36.
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON. 15
had refused the invitation, and contented himself with blessing
Absalom, there was a plausible excuse for asking permission
that the eldest son, the presumptive heir to the throne, should
be present as David's representative. It was not without mis-
giving that the king granted the request, for hatred is not easily
concealed, and David was aware of his own neglect, and of the
deadliness of Amnon's offence. But he could never resist the
subtle fascination of Absalom's appeals, and disguising his sus-
picion he gave a reluctant assent. Revenge was now within
Absalom's reach. He ordered his servants to wait till Amnon
was flushed with wine, and then fearlessly to murder him,
promising them the protection of his position and influence.
The murder was accomplished. The banquet broke up in wild
confusion, and the terrible news was brought to Jerusalem that
all the princes were slain. In that awful moment as amid his
wailing courtiers he grovelled in the dust with rent clothes, and
recognized the fatal similitude to his own crime in these deeds
of lust and blood, the iron must indeed have entered deep into
His nephew, the subtle Jonadab, removed the most over-
whelming part of his anguish by assuring him that Absalom
could only have killed Amnon. He had read the secret of
Absalom's revenge in his face, as he read the secret of Amnon's
lawless passion. The appearance of the king's sons on their
mules, all weeping bitterly, confirmed the surmise of Jonadab.
But the facts were still sufficiently terrible. Dark spirits were
walking in the house of the Psalmist of Israel. A brother had
outraged his sister, and had fallen by his brother's hand.
Absalom was now the heir, and though his father had never
said him nay he did not venture to appear before the deeply-
incensed king, but fled to the Court of his maternal grandfather,
Talmai, king of Geshur. There he remained in exile for three
years. For a year David continued to wear mourning for
Amnon, and then his heart began to go forth once more to his
banished son.1 Joab, loyal to his master in every respect so long
as he was left undisturbed in the command of the army, read
the king's hidden yearning, and by the device of the widow of
Tekoah, induced him, to recall Absalom. Perhaps his conduct
in the matter was not quite so disinterested as it looked. Ab-
1 2 Sam. xiv. 1. Dr. Edersheim and others render it "the king's heart
was against Absalom" (comp. Dan. xi. 28).
salom, at any rate, had ulterior designs. In murdering Am-
non he had borne in mind that his brother's removal left his
path clear to the throne, and he relied for success on his own
prowess, cunning, and popularity, supported as they were by
his father's boundless pride in his beauty. It probably never
occurred to him to regard Solomon as an obstacle in his way.
The kingdom needed a strong ruler, and being in the prime of
life he would not have feared that his wishes could be thwarted
by an inconspicuous child, the son of a mother of no import-
ance. He had been forbidden to see his father's face, and this
was the condition of his return. It was, however, essential to
his plans that there should be an open reconciliation between
his father and himself, and he had not the least doubt that this
could be assured if once the king could be induced to permit
him to enter his presence. Five years had now elapsed since
the tragedy at Baal-Hazor, and he thought that it was time for
the condonation of a fratricide, which he defended by his duty
as an avenger. He sent for Joab twice, but Joab was afraid or
unwilling to visit a prince who was in disgrace. With charac-
teristic insolence he therefore ordered his servants to set Joab's
barley-field on fire, and when the rude soldier came to demand
compensation he vehemently reproached him with having
brought him back from Geshur to no purpose. Joab accordingly
used his irresistible influence to bring about an interview between
David and his son, and it ended, as Absalom had expected, in
his father's extending to him full forgiveness, ratified by a kiss
He might now have felt assured that he would succeed to the
throne, but his impetuous vanity and ambition would not suffer
him to await his father's death, His position as the king's
eldest son enabled him to surround himself with chariots and
horsemen and a bodyguard, and he also deliberately set himself
to create a popular movement in his own favour. In this base
plot he was aided not only by his own peerless beauty, an in-
fluence doubly powerful in Eastern countries, but also by the
growing remissness of the king's old age, and possibly of his
long illness. He gradually got round himself a powerful
party, and the conspiracy grew stronger every day, while the
king, rarely leaving the precincts of his palace, remained in
unsuspecting security. For four years, with unsleeping assi-
duity, he set himself to steal away the hearts of the people
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON. 17
by blandishments and bribes. At last the time seemed ripe
for throwing off the mask. David's rule had in some way
alienated his own tribe of Judah, and the disaffection was
particularly strong in his early capital of Hebron. The in-
habitants of that old and sacred city perhaps looked with
jealousy on the growing glories of Jerusalem by which they had
been so totally thrown into the shade. Absalom, under pre-
tence of a vow, asked leave to sacrifice at Hebron, and went
thither with two hundred followers, from whom he had con-
cealed his designs. But no sooner was he safe in Hebron, than
he sent for Ahitophel, whose wisdom had secured him the high
post of the king's counsellor, and whose counsel was reverenced
in those days like an oracle of God. Now, Ahitophel was the
grandfather of Bathsheba, and it is difficult to imagine that he
would have joined Absalom if he had been aware that his own
great-grandson was David's destined successor. It is indeed
possible that ambition may have been suppressed by the sterner
passion of revenge. Like Absalom himself he may have nursed,
during many years, a secret wrath for Bathsheba's dishonour.
His motives must be only a matter of conjecture; but as his
grand-daughter was now the king's favourite wife, and the
mother of four of his sons, his defection is, at any rate, a clear
sign of David's waning popularity.
On receiving the news of this formidable revolt, David im-
mediately decided to leave Jerusalem until he should have
gathered a sufficient force to fight against his son's adherents.
He took with him all his wives and sons, only leaving ten con-
cubines to look after the royal abodes. Bathsheba and her
young son must therefore have been with him during that long
and tragic day, so full of heart-shaking scenes, which is described
at greater length than any other day in the whole Bible. Per-
haps they stood by David's side under the olive-tree by the
last house in the suburbs of Jerusalem, on the edge of the dark
Kidron, while the soldiers and people defiled past him. On the
sensitive mind of a boy those scenes must have left a deep im-
pression, and they also taught him the friends on whom he could
1 In 2 Sam. xv. 7 it is clear that the true reading is, "It came to pass
after four (not forty) years." This is the reading of the Peshito, the Vul-
gate, Josephus, and most modern critics. The conduct of Absalom was
like that of Agamemnon (Euripides, "Iphig." 337 sqq.) and Bolingbroke
(Shakespeare, "Richard II.," act v. sc. ii.).
most securely rely. For without the aid of the mercenary and
alien bodyguard known as Cherethites, Pelethites,1 and Gittites
David must have been crushed at once. They were under the
command of Benaiah and Ittai of Gath, and they acted in
concert with a body of six hundred, the little nucleus of the first
standing army known to the Hebrews. The whole force was
popularly spoken of as the Gibborim or Heroes, a name which
properly belonged only to those who had shown distinguished
prowess.2 Of the priests, Zadok was conspicuous for loyalty,
and his reputation as a seer added greatly to David's strength.
Abiathar also remained faithful, but he is mentioned after Zadok,
though he was older and had the precedence in religious rank,
and he seems to have shown tardiness in taking the final
decision.3 Hushai the Archite,4 David's "friend," and perhaps,
like Ittai, of alien race, was also faithful. With rent garments
1 The origin of these names is disputed. Ewald and Hitzig (following the
LXX. in Ezek. xxv. 16; Zeph. ii. 5) regard them as Cretans (comp. Tacitus,
"Hist." v.2, but see 1 Sam. xxx. 14), and Philistines; but Gesenius,Thenius,
and Keil think that they are the names of officers, "executioners (2 Kings
xi.4) and couriers" (1 Kings xiv. 28), from כרת "to slay," and פלת "to run."
Josephus calls them σωματοφύλακες (2 Sam. xxiii. 23). In 2 Sam. xx. 23
and 2 Kings xi. 4 the word rendered in our Authorized Version by
"Cherethites" and "captains" is really כרי, perhaps "Carians."
2 The word "Gittites" in 1 Sam. xv. 18 should probably be "Gibborim"
or "Heroes," as in xvi. 6. This is the reading of the LXX. Grätz
("Gesch. d. Juden." i. 270) thinks that Ittai and the mercenary force had
been got together evidently but a short time before the rebellion, 2 Sam.
xv. 19) to overawe the designs of the Tanite Pharaoh Psusennes (?) on the
domains of Geshur. It has been conjectured that by "Gittites" are,
meant soliders who had served under David in old days at Gath.
3 He "stood still" (according to the conjectural reading) until all the
people had streamed out of the city, whereas Zadok and his Levites had at
once taken out the Ark to accompany David (2 Sam. xv. 24). But the
meaning of the passage is not quite clear. It may be that Abiathar had
accompanied Zadok with the Ark, and that his name has dropped out of
2 Sam. xv. 24 (of which there is a very possible trace in the LXX. reading απὸ
Βαιθάε), and that Abiathiar stood still (comp. Josh. iii. 17) with the king
under the olive-tree (LXX.), by "the last house" (2 Sam. xv. 17, Hebr.),
while the Ark was motionless until all the people had passed.
4 This title is of certain meaning. It might mean "from the town of
Erek," but no town of that name is known. Perhaps the Archites, like the
Jebusites, &c., were the remnant of some aboriginal tribe of Palestine.
Josephus, with a strange play on the word, calls him αρχιεταῖρος, "chie
of the companions."
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON. 19
and ashes on his head, he joined David at the little oratory
(proseucha) on the top of the Mount of Olives (2 Sam. xv.
32, Hebr.). Mephibosheth, still perhaps brooding over the
miserable fate of Saul and his house, and the bloody end
of so many of his brethren, seems to have been lukewarm
at the best, but his powerful agent, Ziba, made up for this
remissness of the last surviving son of the friend of David's
youth. Joab also and his brother Abishai remained loyal
to their uncle and old master, and shared with Ittai the com-
mand of the forces. On the other side of the Jordan three
powerful and generous sheykhs, Shobi, the son of Nahash, who
had survived the destruction of his native Rabbah,1 Machir of
Lo-debar, and the aged Gileadite, Barzillai, rendered to the
fugitive king an invaluable service. The friends who thus rallied
round David were, with few exceptions, the friends and partisans
of Solomon at a later period.
It is needless to follow the story of Absalom's rebellion, defeat,
and death.2 The king's impolitic outburst of sorrow at the news
of his son's death shows how easy it would have been for
Absalom to have succeeded but for his own headstrong folly
His murder—for it was nothing else, though Joab may have
thought it justifiable—left no real competitor between Solomon
and the throne.3
Solomon was already of an impressionable age, and the events
of this rebellion must have taught him much. Among other
things he must have perceived the dangerous power of Joab
and the reckless use which he made of it. His language to the
king was even insolent in its tone of menace, and David in his
resentment superseded him in his command, and placed Amasa
—another of his nephews—in his place. The resentment was
perfectly impotent. Joab, master of David's secrets, was master
of David's fate. He had made himself indispensable, and he
1 He may have been a brother of the insulting Hanun, and as Nahash
had been a firm friend, and perhaps a kinsman, of David, David may have
made him "chief" (δυνάστης, Josephus, "Antiq." vii. 9, § 8) of the Am-
monite country in his brother's place.
2 It has been supposed that in Psalms iii., xxxix., xli., lv., lxii., lxiii., we
have allusions to the circumstances of Absalom's conspiracy.
3 The mode of Absalom's murder seems to have been exceptionally cruel.
Joab transfixed him with three wooden staves, and left his armour-bearers
to kill him. He had old grudges to satisfy.
gave David plainly to understand that, while he would be
faithful in all other respects, he did not mean to be cashiered
from his command. His brutal murder of Amasa caused a
shock of disgust, and men remembered long afterwards his
horrible appearance as he went in pursuit of Sheba with his
girdle and all his garments down to his sandals soaked in his
murdered cousin's blood.1 Yet David did not dare to punish
him! There had been an obvious injustice and feeble im-
policy in the appointment of Amasa, a rebel and the son
of an Ishmaelite,2 over the head of the very commander
who had just defeated him in the king's battle. Indeed,
Amasa at once proved his own incompetence, and Joab, by
bringing the rebellion of Sheba to a speedy and successful
issue, placed himself beyond the reach of David's anger. The
manner of Amasa's murder had been craftily made to wear the
appearance of an accident, and perhaps this furnished David
with an excuse for not bringing to justice a kinsman who had
nought for him for so many years, and had become far too
powerful for his control. He hates him, he feels his dependence
on him, he is afraid of him, curses him again and again, tries
get rid of him, yet, in spite of the murders of Abner and
Amasa, always kept him at hand, and finally commands his son
to punish the servant whom he feared to touch himself.3
Again, Solomon must have perceived that the animosities of
the house of Saul still smouldered beneath the surface. The
curses heaped upon David in his hour of shame by Shimei, son
of Gerar, who was of Saul's family, showed that there were still
many adherents of the old royal house. He followed David to
curse him as the murderer of his race, and never stopped his
curses till the king and his followers had reached a spot which per-
haps from this circumstance received the pathetic name of Aye-
phim—"the place of the weary."4 David had certainly behaved
with generosity to the descendants of his former master, and
especially to Jonathan's son Mephibosheth. The guilt—for so
it was regarded at the time5—of the execution of Saul's seven
sons and grandsons—five sons of his daughter Merab,6 and two
1 I Kings ii. 5.
2 2 Sam. xvii. 25, Hebr.; comp. I Chron. ii. 17.
3 See Oort, "Bible for Young People," iii. 87 (E. tr.).
4 See 2 Sam. xvi. 14 (the probable reading).
2 Sam. xvi. 7.
6 So we should read in 2 Sam. xxi. 8.
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON. 21
of his sons by Rizpah—must fall not upon David, but upon the
priesthood who furnished David with the answers of the oracle,
and on the Gibeonites who demanded this horrible expiation
by human sacrifice. But the lonely anguish of Rizpah, as, for
month after month, in burning heat and searching cold, seated
on sackcloth upon the rocks, she scared the vultures and the
jackals from the crosses on which hung the blackened and
shrivelled bodies of her two sons—
"Dead in the dim and lion-haunted ways,"
had awakened a deep sympathy, and the action of Mephibosheth
himself in not joining the faithful soldiers and courtiers who
left Jerusalem with David seems to show that a reaction in
favour of Saul's house was not deemed impossible even then.
Ziba, at any rate, charged his master with cherishing secret
hopes of the overthrow of David, and although Mephibosheth
excused his tardiness by the fact that he was lame, it has been
said that the excuse was as lame as he who offered it.1
Solomon's later policy towards Joab and Shimei and Abiathar
was probably influenced by all that he had seen and heard,
when, as a boy, he stood with his father under the olive-tree
beside the Ark, and accompanied his mother Bathsheba on that
long day of flight and weeping up the slopes of Olivet and
down the deep valley into the wilderness of Jordan.
He must also have learnt that the kingdom was still far from
consolidated. The furious quarrel between the men of Judah
and the men of Israel, and the revolt of Sheba the Benjamite
from the mountains of Ephraim, showed that tribal jealousies
could at any moment be fanned into a flame. The tribe of
Ephraim could not acquiesce in the loss of its old pre-eminence;
the men of Benjamin could not readily forget that the first
monarch of Israel had been one of themselves.
Another great calamity broke the returning peace of David's
later years. It was the numbering of the people and the pesti-
lence, which was regarded by the national conscience as the
punishment for this offence.
1 It must however be admitted that later Jewish sentiment condemned
the act as hasty and unfair. "In the hour when David said, 'Thou and
Ziba divide the land,' a Bath Kol (voice from heaven) came forth and said
to him, 'Rehoboam and Jeroboam shall divide the kingdom'" (Talmud,
Shabbath, 56. 2, quoted by Dr. Edersheim, "Bible History," v. 31).
This passage of David's history is surrounded by obscurities,
for we are not told his exact motive.
There could have been nothing sinful in the mere wish to
ascertain the numbers of the population, and the statistics
of its various elements. The growth and organization of the
kingdom rendered such a step desirable. Possibly, also, David
was in dread of an Egyptian encroachment on his southern ter-
ritories, and may have felt it necessary to be prepared for war.1
Solomon in his reign carried out the census more completely, and
no pestilence followed, and no blame is attached to him. Moses
had thrice been ordered to take a census of the Israelites in the
wilderness, partly in order to ascertain the number of the fight-
ing men.2 But in Exod. xxx. 12 we find a command never to
number the people without requiring of every man half a shekel
as atonement-money, which was to be for every man "a ransom
for his soul unto the Lord," for the express reason "that there
may be no plague among them when thou numberest them."
David exacted no atonement-money, and may not even have
been aware of this law. It is clear, however, that the census—
or its unavowed motives—was repugnant to the general feeling.
Joab and his officers ventured to dissuade the king from his
purpose, but they counselled in vain. The mass of the people
shared Joab's sentiments, because they disliked so prominent
an assertion of regal power. They looked on the census as an
ill-omened expedient of worldly policy, and its results were not
even entered in the official chronicles.3 The historians ascribe
the impulse to "the anger of the Lord," and to "a Satan," and
Joab did the work both tardily and imperfectly.4 At the end of
nine months and twenty days he informed David that the
effective military force of Israel numbered 800,000 men, and of
Judah, 500,000.5 The tribe of Levi was omitted from the census
1 The little raid of the Egyptians on Gezer (i Kings ix. 16) is not defi-
nitely dated, and may have occurred before David's death. It was only
Solomon's marriage with Pharaoh's daughter which robbed it of its threat-
ening character, for Gezer was a Canaanite city on the lower border of
Ephraim. The site of Gezer has very recently been identified at Abu
Shusheh, also called Tell-el-Gezer, between Ramleh and Jerusalem (L.
Oliphant, "Haifa," p. 253).
2 Exod. xxxviii. 26; Numb. i. 2, 3, xxvi. 1-4,
3 I Sam. xxiv. 1; I Chron. xxi, 1. 4 I Chron. xxi. 5, 6; xxvii. 24.
5 In I Chron. xxi. 5 we have the astounding, total numbers. of 1,100,000
for Israel, and 470,000 fighting men for Judah.
THE YOUTH OF SOLOMON. 23
as a matter of course, in accordance with the ancient precedent,1
but the Chronicler says that Joab also purposely omitted to
number the tribe of Benjamin, because "the king's word was
abominable to him,"2 and that he did not include those who
were under twenty years of age.3 He seems to have thought
that by thus frustrating David's purpose he might avert the
calamitous retribution which was expected by the religious
sense of the nation. Of that feeling Gad became the spokes-
man, and David, having already experienced three years'
famine,4 and three months' flight from his enemies, has now to
suffer the misery of a three days' pestilence.5 His conscience,
though often tardy in its action, was never seared, and he
admitted that he had sinned a grievous sin, for which he im-
plored forgiveness. The "death" raged the appointed time,
and had slain 77,000 victims, when David saw the vision of the
Destroying Angel, with his sword outstretched over Jerusalem,
standing by the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.6
The king's prayer of agonized remorse was heard, and the
plague was stayed. The same day the seer came to David,
and bad him to rear an altar on the threshing-floor and offer
burnt-offerings. From that time David used to sacrifice on the
spot hallowed by such tremendous associations. It became
the site of the future altar of burnt-offering in the Temple of
Solomon,7 and its consecration added another impulse to the
growing desire to centralize in the capital the religious worship
of the entire nation.
1 Numb. i, 47-49.
2 I Chron. xxi. 6. Comp. Josephus, "Antiq." vii. 13, § 1.
3 The reason given, "because the Lord had said he would increase Israel
like to the stars of the heavens," shows how many current feelings were
offended by David's census. There is still throughout the East a super-
stitious prejudice against all numberings, as being calculated to provoke
a jealous Nemesis (Niebuhr, "Descr, de l'Arabie," p. 14).
4 I Chron. xxi. 12.
5 But according to one explanation of 2 Sam. xxiv. 15 the pestilence was
shortened and only lasted from morning till noon (LXX., Peshito), or
"till the time of the evening sacrifice."
6 2 Sam. xxiv. 23. The true rendering is, "All this did Araunah the
king give unto the king"—in which case we must suppose that Araunah
belonged to the old royal race of Jebus; or, as in the Revised Version,
"All this, O king, doth Araunah give unto the king."
7 2 Chron. iii.1.
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON.
Feebleness of David's age—Abishag of Shunem —Conspiracy of Adonijah
—His adherents — His attempted coronation feast Adherents of
Solomon Counter efforts of Nathan and Bathsheba Interviews
of David with Bathsheba and Nathan—David rouses himself, and
orders Solomon to be anointed and crowned—Popular enthusiasm—
Collapse of Adonijah's plot—Terror of his guests—He is magnani-
mously pardoned—General amnesty—David's last song, and death—
His dying directions to Solomon—His burial.
The infirmities of old age came rapidly on one whose days
from his youth upwards had been passed in hardships, battles,
and anxious labours. At the age of thirty he had been chosen
king in Hebron, and he had reigned there for seven and a half
years. He had reigned thirty-three years in Jerusalem. He
was not, therefore, much more than seventy,1 and in modern
times many men at that age are full of vigour. But the Jews
at this period rarely outlived the threescore years and ten of
man's allotted time. Indeed, Solomon and Manasseh were the
only kings of Judah who survived the age of sixty; and in
Solomon's case, it is not even certain that he reached that age.
David was already bedridden, and the vital force was so
much exhausted that he could get no warmth from the clothes
heaped upon him. His attendants knew no better plan for him
than to provide a nurse, fair and young, who might tend and
cherish him.2 Their choice fell upon the beautiful Abishag of
1 Josephus, "Antiq." vii. i5, § 2.
2 Josephus ("Antiq." vii. 14, § 3) says that this was the advice of his phy-
ians. It is recommended by Galen ("Method, Medic." viii. 7), and this
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON. 25
Shunem, a little town of Issachar on the southern slopes of
little Hermon.1 It is singular that, even for this subordinate and
humble purpose, they thought it necessary to search out the
loveliest maiden whom they could find in all the coasts of
Another of David's vain, ambitious, unruly sons determined
to seize the opportunity for usurpation which was opened to
him by his father's increasing feebleness. Now that Amnon
and Absalom were dead, Adonijah, the eldest surviving prince,
entered into a conspiracy to forestall his father's death and to
seize the kingdom. In personal gifts, as in recklessness of
character, he resembled his two elder brothers, and he was
undeterred by the warning of their fate. Like Absalom, beauti-
ful and bad, he had been born while David was king at Hebron;
but as the name of his mother—Haggith—means "a dancer,"
we may conjecture that she was a person of inferior rank to
Maacah of Geshur, and Ahinoam of Jezreel. But Adonijah,
as well as his elder brothers, had been puffed up by the admi-
ration and undue leniency of his father, who "had not displeased
him at any time by saying, Why hast thou done so?" His
first step was to imitate Absalom by providing himself with
chariots, horsemen, and fifty runners. His next step was to
secure two adherents who stood in the highest offices of Church
and State—Joab, the commander of the army, and Abiathar,
the high priest. Strange to say, he succeeded in winning over
both these great officials to his side. Either they were unaware
of the choice of Solomon to be David's successor, or they pre-
ferred the beauty and strength of a young man of thirty-five—
who might now claim the rights of primogeniture—to that of
one who had scarcely emerged from the seclusion of the harem
and was little more than a boy. They might also have thought
that their adhesion to the plot would secure its triumph, seeing
the decrepitude into which David had now sunk. Jealousy
may also have had its part in their motives. Joab could hardly
fail to observe that Benaiah had superseded him in the con-
method of giving warmth was adopted till long after the Middle Ages.
Reinhard, "Bibelkrankh. d. A. Test.," p. 171, mentions that a similar
plan was recommended to Frederic Barbarossa.
1 It is three and a half miles north of Jezreel. The Syriac and Arabic
versions read "Sulamite" here, as in Cant. vi. 13, "Oh Shulamite." On
the identity of the two names Gesenius and Fürst are agreed.
fidence of the king, and Abiathar, the sole survivor of a house-
hold slain for David's sake, the faithful companion of David's
wanderings and of his reign at Hebron,1 could hardly have
looked with complacency on the growing influence of Zadok.
Or had Adonijah promised both of them an amnesty for past
crimes and past slackness as the price of their adhesion? Both
of them, it must be remembered, but especially Joab, had good
reason to dread the beginning of a new reign, unless the new
king were hound to them by the closest obligations.
Strengthened by the support of two such followers, Adonijah
threw off the mask, and—once more in imitation of Absalom's
methods—invited all the princes except Solomon, and "all the
men of Judah, the king's servants,"2 to a great banquet. He
evidently reckoned on the tribal jealousy which made Absalom
fix upon Hebron as the headquarters of his revolt. The actual
spot which Adonijah selected for his coronation-sacrifice was
"the stone of Zoheleth, which is by En-rogel." Nothing is
known about this "stone of the serpent," one of the many
Ebens with which Palestine abounds, and which probably
possessed a sacred character. A spring of water would be
necessary for the occasion, but we only know that En-rogel,
"the fullers' fountain," lay at the south-east, on the boundary
line between Judah and Benjamin,3 and therefore in the close
vicinity of Jerusalem.4 It may perhaps be identified with the
Fountain of the Virgin, opposite the village of Siloam.5
But Adonijah, in his contempt for the failing powers of his
father, had not taken sufficient account of the weight of influ-
ence opposed to his pretensions. Zadok, the younger and
more popular priest, and descendant of the older line of Aaron's
family, was on the side of Solomon,6 and was supported by
1 2 Sam. ii, 1-3.
2 I Kings i. 9. In verse 25 we have instead, "all the captains of the
host." Abishai was probably dead.
3 Josh, xv, 7; xviii. 16.
4 It was a well-known spot (Josh. xv. 7; xviii. 16). In Absalom's re-
bellion the two young priests Ahimaaz and Jonathan had waited there for
news from the city (2 Sam. xvii. 17). Regel means "a foot," and clothes
were stamped with the feet.
5 Josephus, "Antig." vii. 11, says that it was "in the royal garden,"
which is possible enough.
6 From I Chron. xvi. 39 we should conjecture that Zadok was in per-
manent charge of the old Tabernacle "in the high place at Gibeon; "but
the point is uncertain.
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON. 27
Nathan, the venerable prophet. Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada
a man of great personal prowess and distinction, could com-
mand the allegiance of the Gibborim, and this trained bodyguard
of 600 warriors was always ready for action. And if Adonijah
had won over the younger princes of David's family to favour
his pretensions, two older and weightier princes—Shimei and
Rei—perhaps the sole and now aged survivors of David's goodly
band of brothers, were faithful to Solomon.1
Nathan, shaking off the lethargy of ease and years, saw that
not a moment must be lost. Solomon had been from his birth
his special ward, and lie had always marked him out as the
destined heir of David's throne, and the fulfiller of designs for
which David was unfitted by his past history. But it is difficult
to get access to an Eastern king at any time, and especially
when he is bedridden. Nathan could find no other way of
letting David know the imminence of the crisis than by obtain-
ing an interview with Bathsheba, and relying on her ascendency
over the mind of her husband. He told her that at that moment
the son of Haggith was practically king, while David knew
nothing of it; and that Adonijah's success meant the certain
death of herself and of Solomon.2 He instructed her at once
to visit the king's bedchamber, and to remind him of his oath
to her that Solomon should reign. He promised to be close at
hand, and to confirm the news that Adonijah had been pro-
claimed in defiance of the king's wishes. Perhaps he feared
that, in the decay of his powers and the apathy of age, David
might delay all effective action till it was too late, unless his old
feelings and affections were roused by Bathsheba.
Bathsheba went to the aged hero who was alone with Abishag.3
1 Ewald conjectures that this Shimei was David's brother Shimeah
("Gesch. Isr." iii. 266). There is a Shimei, a high officer of Solomon in
Kings iv. i8, and he had a brother Shimeah (I Chron. iii. 5). Rei has
been identified by Jerome ("Qu. Hebr." in I Kings i. 8) with Ira the Jairite,
David's "priest" (2 Sam. xx. 26); but Ewald identifies him with Raddai
(I Chron. ii. 14), the fifth son of Jesse. In Hebrew, however, the inter-
change of Raddai and Rei (רֵעִי) is without parallel, and that of Rei (רעי)
and Ira (עירא) is easy.
2 1 Kings i. 12. The impression left by the narrative is, that Solomon
was still too young to take vigorous steps on his own behalf.
3 Had Abishag been anything more than a nurse, the most stringent
laws of Eastern etiquette would have rendered the entrance of Bathsheba
she entered with a deep how and prostration,1 which showed
David that she had something serious to tell. The evident
trepidation and solemnity with which both Bathsheba and
Nathan approach the old and broken king contrasts with
the free and bold intercourse of earlier days. It shows
that David; as his power grew, became more and more an un-
approachable Eastern sovereign.2 In answer to his brief ques-
tion Bathsheba reminded him of his oath that Solomon should
sit on his throne, narrated to him the details of Adonijah's
conspiracy, and told him that the eyes of the nation were upon
him to exercise his acknowledged privilege of appointing his
successor.3 If the throne were suffered thus to go by de-
fault, she indicated that her own life and that of Solomon—
who alone of the princes had not been invited to Adonijah's
feast—would speedily be sacrificed.4
While she was yet speaking the Prophet was announced, as
had been concerted between them. He, too, prostrated himself
as though he felt a certain dread in delivering his message.
"Had David really sanctioned," he asked, "the accession of
Adonijah? At that moment a coronation feast was being
held, and the prince's followers were shouting, 'God save king
Adonijah.' Was this in accordance with David wish? had he
ordered it to be concealed from Nathan, and Zadok, and
Benaiah, and Solomon, who had been omitted from the number
of invited guests?"
Then Bathsheba—who in accordance with Eastern propriety
1 1 Kings i. 31, "Then Bathsheba bowed with her face to the earth,
and did reverence." The word (sometimes rendered worship, as in Ps.
lxv. 11; I Chron. xxix. 20) was applied to these Eastern acts of servile
homage (2 Sam. ix. 6; Esth. iii, 2-5), which had now found their way into
2 How widely different is the access to the palace of Ishbosheth, where
the murderers had only to pass one woman who had fallen asleep in
cleaning wheat—2 Sam. iv. 6 (Hebr).
3 So the Persian kings nominated their successors (Herodotus, vii. 2).
4 This was no extravagant supposition. Cleopatra and her son Caranus
were put to death by Alexander (Pausan. viii. 7, § 5); Roxana, and her son
Alexander, by Cassander (Justin. xv. 2). The murder of all "the seed
royal "was quite a common incident in Eastern despotism (2 Kings xi. 1).
See "Speaker's Commentary," ad loc. Gratz explains " I and my son
shall be counted sinners " (I Kings i, 21), to mean that David's marriage
with Bathsheba "als eine schandbare gebrandmarkt werden würde."
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON. 29
had left the chamber while Nathan was speaking—was recalled.
The king—swearing by his most solemn form of appealed, by
"the Lord that had redeemed his soul out of all distress"1—
renewed the oath which he had sworn at sonic previous period,
and, with a flash of all his old energy, took the decisive step of
having Solomon anointed and enthroned even in his own life-
time. With another solemn prostration Bathsheba retired, and
Zadok, Nathan, and Benaiah were summoned to the king's
chamber. He ordered them to mount his young son upon his
own royal mule which none but the king might ride,2 and to
conduct him in procession to Gihon, a place which, like
En-rogel, had a supply of water, and was not far from the
city.3 There Zadok was to anoint him with the consecrated oil
taken from David's tabernacle on Mount Zion. This was a
step of solemn-import.4 It had not been done in the case of
Adonijah, perhaps because the sacred oil was in the charge of
Zadok;5 or perhaps, again, because Adonijah was regarded
as the legitimate successor. Then they were to blow the
trumpets,6 and shout "God save king Solomon."
The Levite Benaiah—half-priest, half-soldier—replied to the
king's commands with an emphatic "Amen," and a prayer that
1 2 Sam. iv. 6; comp. Ps. xix. 14. "O Lord, my strength, and my
2 Comp. Gen. xli. 43; 2 Kings x. 16; Esth. vi. 8. This circumstance
would have a great effect on the popular imagination. In Persia it was
death to pit, even by accident, in the king's seat (Herodotus, vii. 16;
Q. Curt, viii. 4, 17).
3 See 2 Chron. xxxii. 20 ; xxxiii. 14. It was probably at the east of
Jerusalem, and afterwards became a part of the city (2 Chron. xxxii. 20;
xxxiii. 14). The Targ. of Jonathan, and the Syriac and Arabic Versions in
1 Kings i., identify it with Siloam. According to the Talmud, kings ought
always to be anointed near a fountain—Keritoth, 5 (Otho, "Lexic.
Rabbin." s.v. Rex).
4 Judg. ix. 8; I Sam. x. i, xvi. 13; 1 Kings xix. 16; 2 King 3:6;
2 Chron, xxiii. 11. It has been inferred from these passages (the anointing
of Saul, David, Jehu, and Joash) that the anointing was only necessary in
cases of a disputed succession.
5 1 Kings i. 39, "Zadok the priest took a (rather the) horn of oil out of
the tabernacle" (lit. out of the tent). The question arises, out of which
tabernacle? He could hardly have had time to go to Gibeon and back, so
that probably David's tabernacle on Mount Zion is meant.
6 Comp. the tumultuous consecration of Jehu (2 Kings ix. 13).
God might ratify his choice,1 and make the throne of Solomon
even greater than the throne of his father, Then the impos-
ing procession set forth, with its bodyguard of Cherethites and
Pelethites, and it was seen at a glance that nothing short of a
civil war could shake the crown of the youth who had on his
side the Prophet, the Priest of the house of Eleazer, and the
Captain of the bodyguard, and who had thus been anointed
and proclaimed by the king's direct command. The people
were also on his side. The boisterous feast of Adonijah awoke
no popular enthusiasm; but it was kindled so vehemently on
behalf of Solomon, that the earth rang again with the music of
pipes and dances.2 The coup d'etat of Bathsheba and Nathan
had been managed from first to last with consummate skill, and
was crowned with complete success.
Adonijah's feast had ended, and the revolt had still to be
carried out, when the practised ear of Joab caught the sound of
the trumpet from Gihon, and of the tumultuous rejoicing in the
city.3 His heart misgave him, and, as he spoke, the company
caught sight of their fellow-conspirator Jonathan, the son of
Abiathar, who came running towards them.4 Adonijah affected
to regard his approach as a good omen,5 but Jonathan only
brought the fatal tidings, that while they had been feasting the
friends of Solomon had been acting; that he had been solemnly
anointed at Gihon, and was at that moment sitting on the throne
of the kingdom amid the rapturous congratulations of his Court.
He then added the most chilling proof that Adonijah's attempt
had failed — it was that the aged king had given his public
sanction to the coronation of Solomon. Apparently he had
been brought forth from his sick-chamber, and, in sign of
prayerful approval of his servant's blessing, "bowed himself
1 Jer. xxviii. 6, "The prophet Jeremiah said, Amen: the Lord do so."
2 Josephus, "Antiq." vii. 14, 5; 1 Kings i. 40. In this verse, by a slight
variation of reading, the Septuagint has "danced with dances" for "piped
with pipes." "The earth rent with the sound " (LXX., ερράγη), should
probably be "the earth rang." (Vulg., insonu. Josephus, ως περιη-
χεῖσθαι τὴν γῆν.
3 This shows that both En-rogel and Gihon were near the city, and
within hearing distance of each other.
4 He, too, had joined Adonijah, though he had acted as a watchman and
spy against Absalom (2 Sam. xv. 27; xvii. 17).
5 Perhaps this was an auspicious formula (2 Sam. xviii. 27).
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON. 31
upon the bed,"1 and blessed the God of Israel who had thus
enabled him before he died to see one of his sons sitting upon
At these tidings the inflated bubble of Adonijah's crude and
ill-starred conspiracy immediately burst. The guests rose and
scattered themselves in every direction. Adonijah himself,
deserted by every one of his adherents, fled in terror to the
altar—perhaps the one which David had erected on the thresh-
ing-floor of Araunah—and grasped hold of the horns of the
altar.3 His cry for pity was brought to the young king. "Be-
hold," they said, "Adonijah feareth king Solomon: for, lo, he
hath caught hold of the horns of the altar, saying, Let king
Solomon sware unto me to-day that he will not slay his servant
with the sword."
Solomon behaved with calm magnanimity. The devotion of
the people had shown that he had nothing to fear from
Adonijah's rivalry. Had Adonijah been successful he would
certainly have put Solomon, if not Bathsheba also, to death.
So much was known from the character of the man. But
Solomon was unwilling to add another pang and another tragedy
to those which had already rent the heart of his father. He gave
his word, which he thought sufficient without the addition of
an oath, that so long as Adonijah's conduct was trustworthy,
not a hair of his head should fall to the ground.4 Adonijah was
led down the altar steps and taken into Solomon's presence.
He bowed himself before his younger brother, who, without
deigning to reproach him, only addressed to him the laconic
order, "Go to thine house." He was not even imprisoned or
deprived of his rank; but he was told plainly that a second
offence would not be overlooked.
The other conspirators were for the present pardoned. The
rebellion, to which they had lent their influence, was treated as
folly which might be disdainfully amnestied in the joy of a new
1 1 Kings i. 47; comp. Gen. xlvii. 31.
2 In the solemn assembly described in I Chron. xxviii., when David gave
to Solomon his charge about building the temple, we are told that "the
king stood up upon his feet."
3 See 2 Sam. vi. 17, 18; Exod. xxvii. 2, xxix. 12, xxx. 10. Sprinkled
with the blood of, the sacrifices they were "symbols of blessing and salva-
tion," by grasping which the offender put himself under God's protection
(Bähr, "Symbolik," i. 47).
4 A proverbial expression (1 Sam. xiv. 45; 2 Sam, xiv. xx).
accession, unless they should be guilty of some fresh trans-
And now David's death drew near. He had been on the
throne for forty years and six months.2 His last poem has been
preserved to us. In it he calls himself "the man who was
raised on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet
Psalmist of Israel." He alludes to his prophetic gift as coming
from the Spirit of God. The God and the Rock of Israel had
taught him, "He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in
the fear of God." Such a righteous ruler is as the cloudless
light of the morning sun, and the tender grass which springs up
and gleams in the sunshine after rain. He expresses the con-
viction that God had granted him an everlasting covenant, and
would cause all his salvation and all his desire to grow.3 Worth-
lessness, indeed, would still continue, and required no gentle
handling. It must be beaten down as with iron and the staff of
a spear, and finally burnt with fire.
But besides this last legacy of song David left some specific
directions to his youthful, inexperienced son. He bids him to
be courageous, and show himself a man;4 and he assures him
that the one secret of his future prosperity depends on his
obedience to the will of God as written in the law of Moses.
He seems to have addressed him both in a private exhorta-
tion, in which he gave him full directions about building the
"house of the Lord,"5 and also at a very solemn public gather-
1 Of these events the Books of Chronicles give no hint. They say only
(I Chron. xxiii. 1): "So when David was old and full of days, he made
Solomon his son king over Israel." Then, after a long account of David's
preparations, and of his organization of the worship, they pass to a solemn
assembly in which David proclaims Solomon as his successor (xxviii.), and
has him anointed, "the second time" by Zadok, to be "ruler" (xxix. 22);
after which the narrative passes on to David's death, and Solomon's offer-
ing; at Gibeon (2 Chron. i.).
2 2 Sam. v. 5; I Chron. iii. 4,
3 The true rendering seems to be-
" For is not my house so with God?
Yet He bath made, with me an everlasting covenant,
Ordered in all things and sure;
For all my salvation and all my desire
Will He not make it to grow?" —2 Sam. xxiii. 1-7.
4 Comp. Deut. xxxi. 7; Josh. i. 6, 7, &c.
5 I Chron. xxii.
THE ACCESSION OF SOLOMON. 33
ing,1 in which he entrusted him to the charge of the whole con-
gregation, and ended his address with a very noble prayer and
blessing, and with enormous holocausts.
To our modern notions it would have seemed better had he
confined his directions to matters of moral duty and public
service; but again and again in reading the life of David we
are reminded of the differing moral standards of different ages
and countries, and of the imperfect views prevalent in those
times of comparative ignorance, "which God winked at."
David had suffered so terribly at the hands of Joab and Shimei
in the frightful clays which succeeded Absalom's rebellion that
he felt as if he had neglected the demands of justice by per-
mitting them to live. Trained to regard as sacred the duties
of "the avenger of blood," his conscience was uneasy at the
thought that he had been too remiss and too impotent to see
those duties fulfilled. He recalled Joab's two murders of Abner
and of Amasa when he had "shed the blood of war in peace,
and put the blood of war upon his girdle that was about his
loins, and in his shoes that were on his feet;"2 and he enjoined
Solomon not to let his hoar head go down to the grave in peace.3
He gave the same injunction respecting Shimei, the only dan-
1 1 Chron. xxii.-xxix. At the close of this scene the Chronicler says
(ver. 20) that the whole congregation "worshipped the Lord and the king."
The expression significantly shows both the exaltation of the monarch and
the sacred character with which he had been invested.
2 See 2 Sam. iii. 39; xix. 5-7; xx. 10. David does not venture to remind
Solomon of Joab's murder of Absalom, which perhaps rankled most deeply
in his heart, but to which Solomon himself owed his throne. Nor does he
mention Adonijah's rebellion. But Joab had evidently been a lifelong thorn
in David's side; he had found "this son of Zeruiah" too hard for him
(2 Sam. iii. 39).
3 Joab was probably not much younger than David, though he was his
nephew. Zeruiah, the mother of the three heroes, Joab, Abishai, and
Asaliel, was indeed a "sister of the sons of the Jesse" (1 Chron. ii. 16),
but perhaps herself a daughter not of Jesse, but of Nahash, a former hus-
band of Jesse's wife. Abigail, at any rate, mother of Amasa and sister of
Zeruiah (2 Sam. xvii. 25), is called the "daughter of Nahash." The Rabbis
identify Jesse and Nahash; but if, as Dean Stanley conjectured, Nahash
was the king of Amnion, we can account for the kindness existing between
Nahash and David, and the cruel character of Nahash was reflected in his
grandsons. Further, if Joab was thus a grandson of the king of Ammon
as well as a nephew of David, we can see a fresh reason for the position he
gerous representative of the cause of Saul. On the other hand,
he enjoined kindness to Chimham and the other sons of Bar-
zillai the Gileadite, who had shown him such conspicuous loyalty
at the most trying moment of his life.1
So David died, and was buried in the city which he had
founded, and his sepulchre was pointed out down to the remotest
days of Jewish history.2
1 2 Sam. xix. 31
2 Acts ii. 29; comp. Neh. iii. 16; Ezek. xliii. 7-9. There were no graves
in Jerusalem but those of the kings and (tradition says) of the Prophetess
Huldah. Legend spoke of treasures concealed in David's tomb (Josephus,
"Antiq." vii. 13, § 3).
THE KINGDOM OF SOLOMON.
Development of Jewish royalty—The nation enters upon its manhood
—The Gibborim—The army—The nation realizes its unique position
—Possession of a strong and beautiful capital—Passionate fondness
for Jerusalem—Commencing centralization of worship—The Ark at
Jerusalem—"Jehovah's people "—Outburst of poetry—Dawn of prose
literature—Elements of danger—Limits of the kingdom—Lines of
possible progress—Significance of the records of Solomon.
"THEN sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father, and
his kingdom was established greatly."1 It was never quite
forgotten by the national consciousness that the throne of the
King of Judah and Israel was "the throne of the Lord."
The time of his full accession to the throne offers us the
opportunity of judging the nature and resources of the kingdom
which he was thus called upon to rule.
That kingdom had been amazingly developed since the rude
and simple days of King Saul, though we can as little regard it
"as one of the great Oriental Empires on a par with Chaldaea
1 According to Tarikh Montekheb, and most of the Eastern historians,
Solomon was not twelve years old when he came to the throne. (D'Her-
belot, " Bibl. Orient.," s.v. Soloman Ben Daoud.) This tradition is also
adopted by Eupolemus in the fragment preserved by Eusebius. Josephus
says he was fourteen ("Antiq." viii. 7, § 8). Most modern writers suppose
that he was about twenty; and he must certainly have been more than
twelve or fourteen, if he had a son about the commencement of his reign.
He reigned forty years, and Rehoboam at his accession was forty-one
(1 Kings xi. 42; xiv. 21). If, indeed, we could assume that forty-one is
a clerical error for twenty-one in I Kings xiv. 21, many difficulties would
be removed. Comp. 2 Chron. xiii. 7.
and Assyria," as we can place David on a level with such great
world-potentates as Rameses and Cyrus.1
In Saul's days Israel and Judah were little more than a loose
federation of tribes, each more or less independent of the
others, and all of them, time after time, an easy prey to the
surrounding nations. The immense advance made by David
may be estimated by the fact that his household troops and
bodyguard alone consisted of six hundred trained and mighty
warriors,2 whereas in the wars against the Philistines, before his
conquest of Goliath, Saul and Jonathan his son had been the
only two well-armed men in the host of Israel.3 The nation
passed from boyhood to full manhood in the days of David as
thoroughly and as rapidly as Greece did in the days of Miltiades
The Gibborim ("heroes," or bravi) were to David what the
Prætorian cohort was to the Roman emperors, or the Varangian
Guard to the Byzantine emperors, or the Janissaries to the
Sultans, or the Swiss Guards to the French kings.
They were soldiers by profession, dependent on the king for
their houses and their pay, and subservient to him with an
allegiance which was not without danger to the popular liberty.
To belong to this body was itself a distinction, and the records
of deeds of prowess achieved by the leading officers were like
the chronicles of chivalry, and fired the imagination of younger
aspirants for warlike fame. Besides them, or mingled up with
them and often under the same command, were the Cherethites,
Pelethites, and Gittites, in all probability a band of foreign mer-
cenaries, who served as a body of lictors to execute the king's
David hardly possessed a "standing army" (as we should
understand the term) in addition to these private troops; but,
if we can rely upon the accuracy of the numbers, there were
1,300,000 men in Israel and Judah capable of bearing arms.4
1 These are the opinions of Canon Rawlinson, "Five Great Monarchies,"
vol. ii. p. 333, quoted approvingly by Grätz, i. 299.
2 The nucleus of these had been with him in his wanderings (2 Sam.
xxiii.8-13; I Sam. xxv. 13).
3 Even in a time of war Saul had only had 3,000 men with him (1 Sam.
4 A sort of standing army had been one of the evils of a monarchy
which Samuel had foretold (I Sam. viii. xi, 12).
THE KINGDOM OF SOLOMON. 37
Besides the levies which could be called out at any time, David
seems to have maintained in his service a body of 288,000 men,
who served in monthly relays of 24,000 under the command
apparently of leading Gibborim.1 But much obscurity hangs
over this statement, for this body of troops took no discernible
part either in Absalom's or Adonijah's rebellion. They may,
however, have been a sort of drilled militia serving in garrison
towns. Cavalry was never an effective branch of the service, as
it had been always discouraged by the religious teachers of the
nation. David houghed the horses which he took in war, for
the nature of the country made them, in any case, all but use-
less. The offensive arms used by the soldiers were chiefly
spears and bows; for defence they were supplied with shields,
and probably with nothing else, though the Qurân credits David
with the invention of chain armour.2
But besides this strong military organization David left to his
people the tradition of victory. When the troops of Israel
went to battle they were very far from being the timid warriors
of old days whom a single champion could terrify. They had
grown into a force which had a prestige to maintain, and which
struck terror into the enemy by its very name and by the fame
of its leaders.
The whole nation was further elevated by the consciousness
of its position. A people which has produced so gifted a son as
David rises at once to a higher rank. A vista of infinite possi-
bilities opens before it. David owed none of his advantages to
the accident of birth. Warrior and Poet and King and Priest
and Prophet as he was, he had come to the front by the blessing
of God upon his own natural genius. Many a bright-eyed
youth on the hills of Judah as he contemplated that brilliant
career of a sovereign taken from the sheepfolds may have felt in
his heart the stirrings of high and honourable ambition.
The sense of nationality was enhanced by the possession for
the first time of an undisputed capital. No city in the land
could thenceforth rival Jerusalem, and David by conquering it
from the Jebusites rendered a service of which the effects
1 1 Chron. xxvii. 1-15. Afterwards the troops were divided by their
different arms (2 Chron. xiv. 8).
2 Sura xxi. 80, quoted by Ewald, iii, 146. Goliath, however, had
squamous armour (qasqassîm, I Sam. xvii, 5), and Ahab's "harness''
(2 Chron. xviii. 33) was a sort of coat of mail, or corslet (shiryôn).
lasted for many centuries. He furnished the Hebrews with a
citadel beautiful, central, and all but impregnable from its natural
advantages. Jerusalem soon attracted to itself the passionate
affection which has magnetized the imagination of Jews for so
many centuries. Beautiful in situation, the joy of the whole
earth, God was well known in her palaces for a sure refuge. In
exile their poets sang—
"If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her cunning;
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
If I remember thee not;
If I prefer not Jerusalem
Above my chief joy"1 (Ps. cxxxvii. 5-8).
And at the most solemn moment in the history of the Lord
Himself, His only recorded outburst of weeping was when He
cried to Jerusalem, "If thou hadst known, even thou at least
in this thy day, the things that belong to thy peace! but now
they are hid from thine eyes."
But besides this, David, with deep insight, was determined
that Zion, "the City of David," should henceforth be the centre
not only of the national life, but also of all the deepest religious
associations of the people. This consecration of a new city
into a shrine was by no means an easy task. Palestine abounded
in high places and sanctuaries of all kinds, many of which, like
Hebron, had been venerated from time immemorial. Moreover,
the old Tabernacle of the Wanderings still stood at Gibeon, and
David did not venture to remove it. The Ark, however, was
not at that high place. After its capture by the Philistines, it
had come to be regarded with such intense terror, that the men
of Bethshemesh, only desirous of getting rid of it, sent to the
people of Kirjath-jearim to come and fetch it; and they had
placed it on a hill under the charge of Eleazar the son of
Abinadab. David's first attempt to carry it thence to Jerusalem
had been cut short by the tragic death of Uzzah, and it had been
left at the house of Obed-Edom in Gath-Rimmon. But hearing
that it had brought to Obed-Edom a great increase of prosperity,
David had brought it to Mount Zion with a joyous procession of
1 Compare Psalms xlviii. 12, 13; cxvii. 18, 19; cxxii.; cxxv. 2.
2 Luke xix. 42--ἔκλασυσεν, "He wept aloud." In the case of Lazarus
He only εδάκρυσεν, "shed silent tears."
THE KINGDOM OF SOLOMON. 39
Levites, singers, elders, and soldiers, amid a scene which made
a deep impression on the national imagination. Thenceforth it
never left Jerusalem till it was either destroyed in the invasion
of Nebuchadnezzar, or carried away to Babylon, or, according
to the Jewish tradition, safely hidden by Jeremiah.1 For a short
time it made Jerusalem as sacred as Gibeon, until, in the reign of
Solomon, the old Tabernacle was removed from Gibeon alto-
gether, and stowed away in one of the chambers of the Temple.
Solomon did but carry out the far-seeing plan of his father,
which caused the capital of the nation to be henceforth regarded
also as the City of Jehovah, and the "Kibleh" or sacred direction
of the nation's worship, which it continued to be, even when they
were carried into distant lands.2
Of David's great preparations for the building of the Temple,
and of the elaborate religious reform with which it was con-
nected, we shall speak hereafter; but the Temple was only the
visible sign of the impress which he stamped upon his people,
and which was his most memorable service. It was the sole
effectual mode of counteracting their tendency to plunge into a
career of worldly commerce and conquest, and to become ob-
livious of the loftier mission to which they were called. With
the distinctness of their nationality was brought home to them
the lofty consciousness that they were "Jehovah's people." The
monarchy had not been inaugurated until they had learnt the
lessons of the long period of the Judges, which taught them, by
reiterated crises of defeat and servitude, that they could only
be strong in God's protection, and that this protection depended
on their own faithfulness. David immortalized his own yearn-
ings and convictions in imperishable song, and thus they passed
into the common thoughts of the nation. The supreme gifts
with which God had endowed him were given him for the pur-
pose of fixing the faith of Israel, and pointing to the Messianic
hope which was to be their main support during ages of affliction.
It was granted to him to pour forth the songs which were the
most precious part of their worship. The poetic spirit thus
awakened did not wholly desert them for more than five hun-
dred years, and it echoed to the last the sacred aspirations by
which it had been inspired in the breast of the hero-king.
This outburst of poetry was naturally accompanied by a wider
1 2 Macc. ii. 1-8. 2 Dan vi. 10.
development of prose literature. We henceforth hear of a
Recorder or Historiographer as one of the regular officials in
the Court of the kings of Judah. For the first time the
"Chronicles" or State papers began to be carefully preserved.1
No less than three great prophets—Samuel, Gad, and Nathan—
became biographers of parts of his life and reign,2 and it formed
an epoch sufficiently important for long subsequent notice by
heathen historians like Nicolaus of Damascus and Eupolemus.3
But it would be wrong to overlook the fact that the legacy
left by David to his son was not one of unmixed good. In the
senile neglect of kingly duties which seems to have marked his
later years, and which forfeited in great measure the old affec-
tion of his people, we mark the deteriorating influence of more
pompous surroundings, a deeper seclusion, a more arbitrary
government. All his Temple preparations were less inspiring
and less significant than one of his earlier outbursts of spiritual
emotion. In a larger harem, a more punctilious etiquette, a
more materialized conception of religion, we find traces of the
lowered ideal of the kingliness and worship which had shone forth
in days when he was as yet unweakened by his great sin, and its
terrible retribution. The grandeur of Solomon's inheritance was
impaired by the personal deterioration of its glorious founder.
We may conclude this survey of the state of the people over
whom Solomon was now called to reign, by mentioning the
limits of the kingdom which David's power had so widely ex-
tended. When Saul died, Israel was struggling for bare exist-
ence against the paltry power of the Philistines. Before David
died he was king of a district which might be said, with little
exaggeration, to stretch from the Orontes to the border of the
Egyptian desert, and from the Mediterranean to the Euphrates.
Parts of this territory were nominally ruled by native kings, but
they all more or less acknowledged the supremacy of David.
Very early in his reign at Jerusalem, he had crushed the Philis-
tines and taken from them Metheg-ha-Ammah, "the bridle of
the mother city," or, as it is expressed in the Chronicles, "Gath
and her daughters,"4 though he allowed Gath to retain a tribu-
tary king.5 He almost annihilated the predatory hordes of
1 1 Chron. xxvii. 24. 2 Ibid. xxix. 29.
3 Josephus, "Antiq." vii. 5, § 2; "C. Apion." i. 23; Eusebius, "Prcep.
Ev." lx. 30.
4 2 Sam. viii. 1; I Chron. xviii. 1. 5 I Kings ii. 39.
THE KINGDOM OF SOLOMON. 41
Amalek in the south. Aided especially by Benaiah, who slew
with his own hand two sons of Ariel the king of Moab,1 he
had reduced the Moabites to tribute, and put a multitude of
them to death. Northwards he had conquered Hadarezer,
king of Zobah, who had probably lent his assistance to Hanun,
king of Ammon, when that foolish son of David's old friend
Nahash had rejected the advances of David with wanton
insult.2 In this war he stormed Rabbah, the strong capital of
Ammon.3 It was from this city that he took the jewelled crown
of Milcom which, according to Jewish tradition, no one but Ittai
of Gath had ventured to tear from the idol's forehead.4 He de-
feated the kings of Zobah and Maacah in a great victory. In a
subsequent battle at Helam,5 he so completely routed the Syrian
forces of Damascus, and their auxiliaries, of whom some had
joined them from beyond the Euphrates, that he broke down the
Aramæan supremacy and subjected the Syrians to tribute. These
successful wars greatly increased his wealth,6 and he received
large congratulatory or propitiatory presents from Toi, king of
Hamath on the "Orontes,7 who sent his own son to cement the
treaty between them. The overthrow of the Edomites in the
Valley of Salt, somewhere to the south of the Dead Sea,8 and
the occupation of their towns with Israelite garrisons completed
the triumphs by which David "gat him a great name," and
handed down to his son a strong and compact empire. In his
person the old promise to Abraham was first fulfilled.9
What his son made of that empire we shall see in the follow-
ing pages. Israel was liable to a new danger. That the Israelites
should feel that they had now attained to a cosmopolitan condi-
tion, and that their kingdom could enter into a feeling of solid-
1 2 Sam. xxiii. 20, 21; I Chron. xi. 22. The true reading is, "he slew
the two sons of Ariel of Moab."
2 2 Sam. x. 4.
3 Ibid. xii. 29. The Ark was taken to this siege, and David himself
was present at the capture.
4 Josephus, " Antiq." vii. 5. ; Jerome, "Qu. Hebr. " ad I Chron. xx. 2.
5 2 Sam. x. 16, 17. The Vulgate reads חֵילָם, and renders "adduxit
6 From Hadarezer's soldiers were taken the "shields of gold" (2 Sam.
viii. 7), which were the proudest of all the trophies of Jerusalem (Cant. iv. 4).
7 Josephus says that Toi wanted to buy off David's opposition with
"vessels of ancient workmanship" ("Antiq," vii. 5; § 4).
8 2 Sam. viii. 13.
9 Gen. xv. 18-21.
arity with surrounding kingdoms was natural, and in some
respects advantageous. But the advantage would be purchased
at a fatal cost if the sons of the Chosen People forgot their
unique function, and, while they entered into the career of
worldly politics, ceased to look, or looked only with a feeling of
half contempt, at the rock whence they were hewn, and the hole
of the pit whence they were digged. Would Solomon guide
them safely through the perils of contamination from those
"gay religions full of pomp and gold" which adored devils for
deities, and against which the very existence of the Hebrews
was intended to be a Divine protest? Would he inspire them
with loftier ideals than those of vulgar magnificence, material
prosperity, and a liturgical religion? Would he leave them
with a deeper conviction that no national happiness was com-
parable with that of the nation which had the Lord for their
God? Or would he, on the other hand, sink into a mere Oriental
despot, absolute amid the torpor of a dreadful serfdom, gorged
with wealth amid an oppressed population, the loveless lord of
a voluptuous harem, ruling over the destinies, but not in the
hearts of his people? If he fell into the latter temptations, the
"Syrian, ready to perish," who was the father of the race, would
have been a safer pattern and a less erring guide.
The sacred records enable us indeed to answer these ques-
tions, but their treatment of the reign of Solomon differs
characteristically from their account of David. The rich and
varied story of the hero occupies a large part of two entire books.
The original documents which recorded the fame of Solomon—
the "Book of the Acts of Solomon," and the writings of Nathan,
Ahijah, and Iddo—have disappeared, but the Books of Kings
and Chronicles devote not more than ten or eleven chapters to
the Wise King; and those chapters are mainly occupied with
details about his commerce, his buildings, and his organization.
They dwell but lightly on his fall, to which indeed the Chronicler
makes no allusion. There was little of spiritual instructiveness
in a reign during which, from the disappearance of Nathan from
public life down to the rise of Ahijah, the voice of the prophets
was dumb, and men spoke in whispers under a despotic rule.1
1 The details derivable from other sources such as Josephus, and the few
fragments of Pagan historians, Dins, Eupolcimus, Nicolaus of Damascus,
Alexander Polyhistor, Menander, and Laitus, which are referred to by him
("Antiq." 5, § 3), by Eusebius ("Præp. Evang." ix. 30), and by Clemens
of Alexandria ("Strom," 1. 21, § 114), are of little or no importance.
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN.
Tragic events—Secret ambition of Adonijah His visit to Bathsheba—The
Queen-mother —Interview between them—Her unsuspecting acceptance
of his request for the hand of Abishag—She visits the king—Her
gracious reception—Sudden fury of Solomon—Possible causes for his
violent anger—He dooms Adonijah to death—Alarm of Joab—
Benaiah ordered to slay him—Hesitates to drag him from the horns of
the altar—Execution of Joab—Fate of his posterity—Disgrace and
banishment of the High Priest Abiathar—Zadok and the House of
Eleazar—Destiny of the two families of Eleazar and Ithamar—Shimei
ordered to live at Jerusalem—His visit to Gath to recover his slaves—
His execution—Vigour of Solomon's rule—His kindness to Chimham,
son of Barzillai—Foreign enemies—Escape of Hadad from the massacre
of the Edomites—His reception in Egypt—His return—The Syrian
Rezon—Geshur—Solomon's affinity with Pharaoh—One of the Tanite
dynasty—National disapproval of the wedding in later times— Estab-
lishment of Solomon's power—The Second Psalm—Note on the Pha-
raoh of 1 Kings iii. x.
BEFORE entering on the peaceful developments of Solomon's
government, it will be necessary to glance at some of the
troubles which marked the beginnings of his reign, before he
had won for himself a secure seat upon David's throne.1
1 It is obviously no part of my task to enter into minute critical questions
as to the date and origin and character of various elements in the Books of
Kings. They are acknowledged by all inquirers to be honest and trust-
worthy sources of information, though they are fragmentary and did not
assume their final form till about B.C. 560. But though the language and
references of these Books show that they were not composed as a whole
till nearly five centuries after the earlier events which they record, the author
The first tragedy was but a sequel to the rebellion of
Solomon had not stained his accession by any deeds of blood.
The deadly spirit of Eastern monarchies, which
"Bears like the Turk no brother near the throne,"
had not led him to interfere with the rank or peace of any of
David's other sons. Even Adonijah had been magnanimously
pardoned, and had been allowed with unusual generosity to live
in his own palace, and resume his position as a prince of the
royal house. But the vain and restless spirit of the son of
Haggith could not rest content. He brooded sullenly over the
collapse of his conspiracy, and on the vain fancy that the
choice of Israel had confirmed the right of seniority by which
he claimed the kingdom. He determined upon subtle means to
strengthen his pretensions, and vainly hoped that the young
brother—whose qualities, were as yet unknown, and whom in
his heart he probably despised—would not be keensighted
enough to penetrate his designs. He determined, if possible,
to gain for his wife, Abishag, the beautiful maiden of Shunem,
who had been selected rather as the nurse than as the bride of
David's old age. The possession of a late king's wife would, by
all the customs and traditions of Eastern monarchy, greatly
enhance the dignity of his position, and give him opportunities
for urging further claims.1
Yet he did not venture to approach Solomon himself with a
request, which even to his stupidity must have been seen to be
of a perilous character. He determined to ingratiate himself
with Bathsheba, and so to beguile the king into granting a
favour of which perhaps he might not suspect the secret import,
or which, at any rate, he would not like to refuse if his mother
As Queen-mother, Bathsheba was now the highest lady in
undoubtedly made use of ancient and authentic documents. The Books
of Chronicles are later in date, and are written to present certain views
and aspects of the Sacred History, especially as seen from a Levitical
1 See 2 Sam. xii. 8, where Nathan says to David that God had "given
him his master's wives into his bosom." See, too, 1 Kings xx. 7; 2 Kings
xxiv. 15; Herodotus, iii. 68; Selden, "Uxor. Hebr." i. 10. The request was
at the best unseemly and illegal (Levit. xviii. 8; xx. 11).
INITIAL TROUBLES OF' SOLOMON'S REIGN. 45
the realm. Owing to the jealousies which are inherent in
polygamy, the wife of an Eastern king, even if she be the chief
wife, is yet only one among many, and is in reality a sort of
superior slave. The rank of queen is held by the king's mother.
Every reader of the chronicles of Israel and Judah will have
been struck by the fact that the name of the Queen-mother is
carefully recorded, even when the record is silent as to the king's
wives.1 The influence of Bathsheba must have been further
strengthened by the fact that to her in no small measure Solo-
mon was indebted for the saving of his life, and for his throne.
She was visibly alarmed by the visit of Adonijah. "Comest
thou peaceably?" she asked him, in a formula which was cus-
tomary at moments of misgiving.2 He said, "Peaceably," and
asked leave to prefer a request. "Say on," she said. Adonijah
reminded her, with no very scrupulous regard for truth, that
the kingdom had been his, and that all Israel set their faces on
him, but that he now recognized that though he was king by the
will of men, he was not so by the grace of God, who had be-
stowed the kingdom on his brother. He had come to ask but
for one compensation for so immense a loss, and he once more
intreated Bathsheba not to refuse him. "Say on," she repeated,
cautiously confining herself to the fewest words. Then he
asked her to obtain Solomon's permission for him to wed
Abishag the Shunammite.
Strange to say, Bathsheba failed to see the significance
of the request. Perhaps she pitied the prince who had so
nearly wrested the splendid prize of royalty from her son's
hands, and she may have thought that the position of Abishag
differed entirely from that of David's other wives. "Well,"
she answered, "I will speak for thee unto the king."
She seems to have lost no time in fulfilling her promise.
Solomon received her with every demonstration of love and
respect. He rose to meet her, bowed himself before her, and
ordered another throne to be placed for her at the right hand
of his own. Then she mentioned her "small petition," and
begged him not to refuse it. "Ask on, my mother," he said;
"for I will not say thee nay."3
1 See I Kings xv. 13; 2 Kings xi. 1.
2 I Sam. xvi. 4, 5; 2 Kings ix. 22.
3 We see at once the difference of Bathsheba's position as wife of David,
whom she approached with prostration, and as Queen-mother, to whom
Then she spoke the fatal words which doomed Adonijah to
death. "Let Abishag, the Shunammite, be given to Adonijah
thy brother to wife."
Was there any secret jealousy or scheme of secret ambition
at work in the mind of Bathsheba, which made it seem to her
not undesirable that the beautiful Shunammite—one it must be
remembered so beautiful that she had been sought for "out of
all the coasts of Israel"—should be removed from the Court of
Solomon? It is not possible to unravel the dark intrigues of
Eastern palaces; but Bathsheba, if any such motive had been
working in her mind, must have been amazed and terrified by
the sudden, and to her incomprehensible, blaze of anger with
which her "small petition " was received.
"And why," he burst out, "dost thou ask Abishag, the
Shunammite, for Adonijah? Ask for him the kingdom also,
for he is my elder brother; even for him, and for Abiathar the
priest, and for Joab the son of Zeruiah!
Was the king's sudden fury clue only to the suspicion of
It may be so; but an attentive study of the Song of Songs
has led many critics to believe that other and more passionate
feelings were also at work. Passing over for the present the
question of the authorship of Canticles, it is very probable that
the little poem may be founded on traditional circumstances;
and if so, the lovely Shulamite of the Song, whose pure love
for her shepherd lover triumphs over all the seductions of a
royal wooer, may have been meant for no other than Abishag
of Shunem, and may indicate that Solomon desired to make
her his queen. By the ordinary custom of Eastern Courts he had
a right to do so,1 and the damsel was young,2 and "very fair." If
so, the transports of jealousy may have precipitated the conduct
which he believed to be also dictated by the safety of his
the king himself bows. An Eastern king's wife receives little public notice,
but a Queen-mother (Sultana walidé) is received with the deepest respect
even by the reigning king. See Cheyne's Isaiah i. p. 47 (on Isa. vii. 13).
1 See 2 Sam. xii. 8, xvi. 22; Herodotus, iii. 68-88.
2 I. Kings i. 2-4, "A young virgin . . . very fair."
3 Compare the helpless remonstrance of Ishbosheth with Abner when he
took Rizpah, Saul's concubine (2 Sam. iii. 7; see, too, Wollaston, "Mu-
hammad," p. 5).
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN. 47
At any rate, he at once swore, by the most solemn form of
oath, that this petition should cost Adonijah his life.
He had a strong and ready agent at hand in the person of
Benaiah, and this officer apparently, on that same day, de-
spatched the prince with his own hand: "He fell upon him that
he died."1 According to Eastern notions this execution was amply
justified, and there is not the least sign that Solomon showed
any cruel jealousy towards his other brothers. Indeed, he ad
vanced the sons of his brother Nathan to posts of great honour
and responsibility, and when his own line became extinct, the
Davidic succession was restored in the person of Salathiel, a
descendant of Nathan.2 In this respect Solomon contrasts
favourably even with a Constantius for it would have been even
easier for Solomon than it was for the Christian emperor to
sweep away every adult sharer in the royal blood.
The terrible news of Adonijah's execution was at once con-
veyed to Joab. Whether he was still secretly fostering the
cause of Adonijah we do not know, but Solomon was convinced
that this was the case. A various reading in I Kings ii. 28
says that "he had turned after Adonijah, though he turned not
after Solomon." His conduct showed his terror if it did not
prove his guilt. He at once fled to "take sanctuary," as it
would have been called in the Middle Ages, at the tabernacle
of the Lord—probably the old tabernacle of the wilderness,
which was still served by Zadok or Abiathar at Gibeon—and
there he "caught hold on the horns of the altar." And King
Solomon, when he heard the tidings—so runs the addition of
the Septuagint Version—"sent to Joab, saying, What hath
happened to thee, that thou hast fled unto the altar? And
Joab said, I was afraid of thee, and fled unto the Lord!" But
Solomon had determined that this dangerous and blood-stained
man should die. The protection and pardon which David had
promised him had ended with David's life. Innocent blood
still remained unavenged. Joab had left himself without
excuse. He could not lord it over Solomon as he had lorded
it over David by threatening to divulge the guilty secret of his
life. He had no time, and he had probably lost the power, to
raise an armed resistance against the compact force of mer-
1 The Septuagint adds, "And Adonijah died on that day,"
2 Zech. xii. 12; Luke iii. 27-31.
cenaries whom Benaiah commanded. Benaiah received the
order to fall on him, and went at once to Gibeon. But when
he saw the defenceless old man clinging to the horns of the
altar, he hesitated to slay him there, and bade him in the king's
name to come forth. "Nay," said Joab, "but I will die here."
Benaiah scrupled to violate the sanctity of the place which
had been respected when Adouijah had taken refuge there after
his first rebellion.1 He went back to the king for further in-
structions. But Solomon not hesitate. The altar, in his
judgment, was not meant to shelter so heinous a criminal. The
law of Moses was expressly on his side, for it had ordered that
a wilful murderer was to he torn away even from the altar,
since blood was a pollution of the land.2 He considered that
recent events were as a Divine warning to wipe away in the
blood of the guilty the dark stains of unpunished crime which
might mar the prosperity of David's house. We must judge
him neither by our customs nor by our moral standards.
Benaiah obeyed, and, without one friend to lift an arm or
breathe a petition in his favour, the hoary conspirator fell in
Gibeon, hard by the scene of his vilest and most treacherous
murder—the murder of Amasa "at the great stone of Gibeon."3
It was a just retribution, but a deplorable end to a career of
glory which had struck terror into the enemies of Israel. The
conqueror of the City of Waters, the suppressor of Absalom's
and Sheba's rebellions, died as a common criminal by the
hands of justice.
Solomon's vengeance pursued his guilty cousin no further,
and his friends—who, be it remembered, must have been
Solomon's own kinsmen of David's house—were allowed to bury
him honourably on his own estate in "the wilderness." But
men remarked that a curse—the curse of David after Joab's
murder of Abner4—seemed to cling to his descendants. It
1 So in Athaliah's case the High Priest Jehoiada was naturally anxious
that she should not be slain within the precincts of the sacred building
(2 Kings xi. 15).
2 Exod. xxi. 14; Numb. xxxv. 30-33.
3 2 Sam. xx. 8.
4 Comp. Deut. xix. 13. The fact that Abner was murdered at Hebron,
a refuge city (Josh. xxi. 13), took away from Joab even the poor excuse
that he was acting as a Goel ("blood-avenger") for Asahel his brother;
besides which Abner had only slain Asahel in self-defence, and against his
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN. 49
was believed that those descendants were marked out by
calamity, and that among them. were always some who were
afflicted with leprosy, or were personally contemptible, or who
fell by the sword, or were sunk in poverty and want.1 From
Jewish history they henceforth disappear.
The High Priest Abiathar seems to have viewed the acces-
sion of Solomon with only a sullen acquiescence, and the king
believed that he also was a supporter of the new plot. But he
hesitated to put him to death. He was old; he had long occupied
the highest position in the priesthood; above all, he had been
for many years the unswervingly faithful follower of David's
fortunes when he was a hunted outlaw, although David had
been the unwitting cause of the dreadful massacre at Nob, in
which Ahimelech, the father of Abiathar, and all his kinsmen
had perished.3 The "sharer of all the afflictions wherewith
David had been afflicted," the priest of his religion, the coun-
sellor of his reign—he who had so often consulted the once
famous but now neglected Urim and Thummin—he who
probably had anointed him king at Hebron4 —could not be
put to death with so little formality as even Joab. He was
banished to his paternal estate at Anathoth,5 and "thrust out"
from all priestly functions during the remainder of his life, not
without a significant warning that he would not again be spared
if he gave ground for offence.6 From this time he vanishes
from history. He was regarded as "a man of death." A doom
hung over his head, and, aged as he was, it is probable that he
did not long survive so terrible a disgrace.
Zadok now became sole priest, and in his person was restored
1 2 Sam. iii. 29, "Let there not fail from the house of Joab one that
. . . handleth the distaff" (like a woman). The word means "distaff" in
Prov. xxxi. 19. The rendering of the Authorized Version, "that leaneth on
a staff" (i.e. a cripple), is also tenable.
2 See I Sam. xxii. 20; 2 Sam. xv. 24-29.
3 The line of descent was Eli, Phinehas, Ahitub, Ahijah, Ahimelech,
Abiathar. It is not certain whether Ahijah and Ahimelech were not
brothers, or even the same person called by two equivalent names.
4 See for Abiathar's previous history I Sam, xxii., xxiii. 6, 9, xxx. 7;
2 Sam. ii. 1, 4, v. 19, xv., xvii. 15-17; I Kings ii. 26; I Chron. xxvii. 34.
5 Anathoth (now Anata) was a priest's city N.N.E. of Jerusalem, and
little more than an hour's distance (Josh. xxi. 18; 1 Chron. vi. 60; Jer. i. 1,
6 I Kings ii. 26, "I will not at this time put thee to death."
the lost prerogative of the house of Eleazar, the elder son of
Aaron. Eli had been a descendant not of Eleazar, but of
Aaron's younger son Ithamar,1 and from him the priesthood
had descended through several generations. How the house
of Ithamar had succeeded in displacing the house of Eleazar
we are not told, though it is implied that it was in conse-
quence of the Divine sanction.2 The Jewish legend on the
subject is striking, and not impossible. They say that Phi-
nehas, the son of Eleazar, had approved and even carried
out with his own hand the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter, but
that this human sacrifice—as in the analogous story of Ido-
meneus of Crete—had aroused such an outburst of popular
indignation that Phinehas and his family had in consequence
been displaced. Had Eli proved himself worthy, the priesthood
would have been established in his line, but his culpable negli-
gence and the crimes of his sons brought down a curse upon
his whole family. When Zadok—then a young and valiant
man—had joined David at Hebron, it was found that, of the
twenty-four priestly courses, only eight were of the line of
Ithamar, and sixteen were of the line of Eleazar.3 From
this time Zadok is always mentioned before Abiathar, though
the actual precedence seems to have belonged to the latter as
the older man, and the one already in uncontested possession
of the dignity. After the conquest of Jerusalem, and the re-
moval of the Ark to Mount Zion, Zadok was perhaps provided
for by being placed at the head of the priestly service in the
capital, while Abiathar remained in charge of the ancient
Tabernacle on the High Place of Gibeon.4 When the design
of building a magnificent Temple to Jehovah as the centre of the
national worship had once been determined on, it may well have
been felt that it would be interfered with by the existence of so
venerable a shrine as that of Gibeon, and Solomon may not
have been sorry that the defection of Abiathar enabled him to
concentrate the sacerdotal dignity in the person of the repre-
1 See 1 Chron. xxiv. 3; 2 Sam. viii. 17; and compare I Chron. vi. 4-15;
Ezra vii. 1-5.
2 I Sam. ii. 30. 3 I Chron. xii. 23; xxiv. 4.
4 Or the arrangement may have been the other way. See 1 Chron. xvi.
39, compared with xv. 11; 2 Sam. xv. 21, 25. We might almost infer
from these passages that the functions of the priests at the two sanctuaries
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN. 51
sentative of the older and more powerful line by whose hands
he had been anointed king.1 In that line it continued undis-
turbed till the days of the Maccabees.2
There were eighteen high priests, each averaging a term of
twenty-five years' office, for the four hundred and fifty-four years
from this time till the Captivity; and then, after a lapse of fifty-
two years, the line resumed its office, and there were fifteen
more high priests of this family till the days of Antiochus
Epiphanes. The house of Abiathar, on the other hand,
dwindled, for some time at least, into misery and insignificance.
Some of its members perished by the sword in the flower of
their age,3 while others were reduced to a poverty so abject that
they had to come crouching as suppliants to the priests of the
house of Zadok to obtain some inferior offices about the Temple,
or at least "a piece of silver, and a morsel of bread." Zadok no
doubt took part in that organization of the priesthood and of the
whole Levitic system which was one great work connected with
the completion of the Temple. From this time, however, we
hear little or nothing about him. As he joined David in his
early wanderings he must now have been at least sixty years
old, and sixty years was regarded as an advanced age among
the Jews of this epoch. Zadok's name is not mentioned in the
long details of the ceremony of Dedication; and in the list of
Court officers, Azariah, "the son" or more accurately the
grandson—of Zadok is mentioned first as the Priest. The son
of Zadok was the swift runner and crafty diplomatist Ahimaaz,
who must have died in his father's lifetime, leaving the heritage
of the chief priesthood to Azariah his son.4
The supporters of Adonijah were now crushed, but one power-
ful enemy of the house of David still remained. Shimei was
the sole formidable representative of the ruined house of Saul.
1 This seems to be the sole historical instance of the deposition of a High
Priest during more than eight centuries.
2 B.C. 170. They also furnished the chief Levites (Ezek. xl. 46; and
in Ezek. xliii. 19, xliv. 15. &c., they alone arc recognized, nothing being
said of the "sons of Abiathar,"
3 1 Sam. ii. 33-36 (see the reading of the Septuagint).
4 For Ahimaaz see 1 Chron. vi. 8, 9; 2 Sam, xv., xviii. The Ahimaaz
of 1 Kings iv. 15 is a different person, and in 1 Chron. vi. 9, 10 there is
some obvious disruption in the text (see infr. p. 64). Josephus says that
Ahimaaz became High Priest, and such seems to have been the Rabbinic
tradition. If so, it can only have been for a very short time.
David had felt that he was still dangerous, and held that the
pardon which he had bestowed was not binding on his successor.
At any rate, Solomon, in his determination to secure his throne
by vigorous measures, sent for Shimei, and ordered him to leave
his home at Bahurim in the limits of the tribe of Benjamin, in
which Saul's adherents were chiefly to be found,1 and to come
and live under surveillance at Jerusalem. He told him in the
most distinct terms that if, on any pretext whatever, he left the
limits of the city and crossed the Wady of Kidron, he should be
put to death; and his blood would be upon his own head.2
Shimei accepted these conditions on oath,3 and for three years
he observed them. At the end of that time two of his slaves ran
away to Achish, king of Gath, and Shimei went to Gath to
demand their extradition. Perhaps he fancied that the fact
would not be known, or persuaded himself that the nature of
his errand would be a sufficient justification, or that the stern
decree had practically fallen into desuetude: or perhaps he
imagined that as he had not crossed the Kidron, or entered the
domain of Benjamin, there could be no great harm in his going.4
But Solomon was not a man to suffer the suspicion of any
weakness in his conduct. Shimei had proved himself wholly
undeserving of favour in past days, and now, with strange levity
and infatuation, and without even asking leave, he had broken
the oath which he had taken, and defied the warning by which
it had been accompanied. Again we must not judge of Solo-
mon's conduct by modern rules. Judged, as he should be
judged, by the standard of his contemporaries, he was so far
from being regarded unmerciful, that he was specially credited
with not having sought from God the death of his enemies.5
He probably saw in Shimei's conduct a proof that the curse of
1 Bahurim, where Shimei lived (I Kings ii. 8) was very near Jerusalem
(2 Sam. iii. 16; xvii. 18).
2 Only by crossing Kidron could he enter the tribe in which he was most
dangerous, but he was also forbidden to go "any whither."
3 I Kings ii. 42.
4 A curious Talmudic notice says: "Let a man reside in the same place
as his Rabbi; for so long as Shimei the Son of Gera lived, just so long did
Solomon (Shimei's disciple) defer marrying the daughter of Pharaoh "
(Berachoth, f. 8, 1; Schwab, "Traité des Berakhoth," p. 252; Hershon,
"Treasures of the Talmud," p. 257). Shimei seems to have had illustrious
descendants in Mordecai and Esther (Esth. ii. 5).
5 I Kings iii. 11.
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN. 53
God was resting upon him, and that he was foredoomed to a
bloody end. Sending for him, he sternly upbraided him, and
once more gave to Benaiah the fatal order. In the person of
Shimei the last of the domestic enemies of David's house
perished, and the kingdom was established in the hands of
Solomon. He had made clear to all men that it was no fainéant
who had succeeded to the warrior and poet who had founded
the throne. He had illustrated some of the precepts which were
afterwards enshrined in his Proverbs as representing an ideal
royalty. "A king that sitteth on the throne of judgment scat-
tereth away all evil from his eyes." "A wise king scattereth
the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them." "The wrath of
the king is as messengers of death, but a wise man will pacify
it." "An evil man seeketh only rebellion, therefore an evil
messenger shall be sent against him." "The fear of a king is as
the roaring of a lion; whoso provoketh him to anger endanger-
eth his own soul." "Take away the wicked from before the
king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness."1
On the other hand, "in a king's favour is life." Solomon con-
tinued the grateful acknowledgment which David had bestowed
on the loyal house of Barzillai. Chimham, the youngest son of
the aged Gileadite, continued to reside at his Court and to eat at
his table; and having apparently received a grant from David's
paternal estate, he founded a family of which the descendants
were still flourishing in the days of Ezra. He founded at Bethle-
hem a khan, or caravanserai, which was known by his name
ages afterwards.2 Probably the sudden outburst of commerce in
Solomon's reign made it a prosperous undertaking, and con-
sidering the stationary character of all Eastern institutions, we
may well believe that it was in the stable of that caravanserai
that the Christ was born.
But if Solomon did not wholly escape from opposition in his
own kingdom, it was hardly likely that foreign enemies would
leave him undisturbed. They had quailed before the prowess of
David, and they feared the name of Joab even when David was
dead. But of Solomon and of Benaiah, the new commander
of the forces, they knew nothing. It was not without a
1 Prov. xx. 8, 25; xvi. 14; xvii. 11; xx. 2; xxv. 5.
2 Jer. xli. 17. The house of Barzillai became mingled with the priestly
line of Hakkoz by the intermarriage of an heiress of that line with the son
of Hakkoz (Ezra ii. 61).
struggle that Solomon was allowed to fulfil the omen of his
The first and most persistent of his enemies was Hadad, a
prince of Edom. "Revenge and wrong," the poet says,
"Bring forth their kind;
The foul cubs' like their parents are."
Hadad had reasons to hate the name of David with an undying
hatred. After the defeat of the Edomites Joab had remained no
less than six months in the conquered country with the express
object of exterminating the detested race. Such a task is, how-
ever, always impossible. Some of the Edomites had escaped
from this indiscriminate massacre, and among them were some
of the king's servants, who had been so fortunate as to save a
little child—the sole survivor of his house. They fled by way of
Midian and Paran to Egypt; and the reigning Pharaoh, who was
hostile to the growing power of Israel, had given to Hadad a
warm welcome. He had not only maintained him and assigned
him an estate, but had even condescended to bestow upon the
homeless fugitive the hand of the sister of his own queen, or
Queen-mother, Tahpenes.1 This lady bore him a son, who was
named Genubath, who was treated in all respects like an Egyp-
tian prince. But the splendours of Pharaoh's palace did not lull
the wrath and vengeance which Hadad nursed in his heart
against the destroyers of his race. On hearing that his old
enemies were dead, he begged Pharaoh's leave to return from
the placid pomp of an Egyptian palace to the wild freedom of
his native land. The Egyptian king was hurt by the request,
which he regarded as ungrateful; but with all the passion of an
avenger of blood Hadad persisted in his wish, and, whether
openly or secretly, succeeded in escaping from Egypt. He found
his people slowly recovering from the dreadful blow which had
1 Gebîrah may mean "Queen-mother " (I Kings xv. 13). In the Septuagint
this Pharaoh is wrongly called Shishak (Σουσακίμ), and his queen Theke-
mina, and it is added that an elder sister of Thekemina, named Anô, was
given in marriage to Jeroboam. The Pharaoh must have been one of the
Tanite kings of Lower Egypt, but we cannot pronounce with any certainty
what was his name. The Septuagint additions are quite apocryphal. The
protector of Hadad must have lived some time before the accession of
Shishak, and the name of Shishak's queen was not Tahpenes, but
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN. 55
been inflicted on them in the last reign, and he was acknow-
ledged as their king.1 Solomon was far too strong to be seriously
shaken, but Hadad harassed him continually with a guerilla
warfare, which could be easily carried on from the mountain
fastnesses of Idumæa.2
Nor was Hadad the only enemy. One of David's most decisive
and splendid victories had been gained over Hadarezer, son of
Rehob, king of Zobab. A Syrian named Rezon, son of Eliada, had
escaped from the overthrow, and from the wreck of the Syrian
forces had collected an army sufficiently strong to conquer
Damascus. Whether he was long able to maintain himself
there we do not know, but he was a thorn in Solomon's side
during the whole period of his reign.
Besides these troubles in the south and west of his dominions,
Solomon was also harassed for a short time by a revolt of the
Canaanites who rallied round the little kingdom of Geshur.
From this danger, however, he was liberated when he espoused
Pharaoh's daughter. For Pharaoh, landing an army at Joppa,
took Geshur,3 and presented it to Solomon as the dowry of his
daughter. The marriage seems to have taken place early in
the reign. Tradition long remembered these espousals, and
the crown which on that day the Queen-mother herself placed
upon the head of her still youthful son.4
This magnificent alliance—the most magnificent ever made
by any Hebrew king—gave Solomon a new grandeur in the
eyes of all surrounding nations. The Pharaoh in question must
have been a king of the twenty-first or Tanite dynasty, then
1 I Kings xi. 22, LXX., "And he was indignant against Israel, and
reigned in the land of Edom.'' This depends on the reading Edom for Aram
(אַרָם Aram, Syria) in I Kings xi. 25. If the reading Aram be right, then
we must suppose with Josephus ("Antiq." viii. 7, § 6) that Hadad failed in
his attempt on Idumaia, but in some way or other became king of part
of Syria, which may have been ceded to him by Rezon. But there is a
confusion in the original text.
2 I Kings xi. 14-25 sufficiently shows that though narrated out of order,
these events belong to the early parts of Solomon's reign.
3 Gezer is identified by Ewald with Geshur; and Geshur may have
become troublesome because Absalom was a grandson of its king Tohnai.
Deut. xxiii. 7, 8 seems to permit marriage with Egyptians.
4 Cant. iii, 11. This was probably Solomon's first marriage. Pharaoh
would have been less likely to give his daughter to Solomon if he already
had a wife—the Ammonitess Naamah—and a son Rehoboam.
rather in the decline of its power. Shishak, between 990-980 B.C.,
founded a new dynasty after the middle of Solomon's reign.1
The father-in-law of Solomon must therefore have been one of
the last two kings of the Tanites—either Psinaces or his son,
Psusennes II. More probably it was the former, for
Psusennes II. only reigned fourteen years, and with him the
dynasty of Zoan came to an ond.2 Of Pharaoh's daughter we
hear very little. It is clear that she bore no son to Solomon,
and she probably died before the shameful multiplication of his
harem. Whether she became a proselyte to Judaism we do not
know, but at any rate Solomon was not turned aside by her to
build a temple for any deity of Egypt. The national conscience,
however, was never entirely reconciled to this departure from
theocratic traditions. "When Solomon married the daughter
of Pharaoh," says the Talmud, "Gabriel descended and fixed.
a reed in the sea. A sandbank formed around it, upon which
the mighty city of Rome was subsequently built."3 The meaning,
I suppose, is that at the moment of his sin began the series of
events which after long centuries destroyed his people by
Roman vengeance, and made of Jerusalem and the Temple
a heap of desolation.
As regards the other foes, Hadad was little more than a
marauder, and Rezon was probably crippled by Solomon's con-
quest of Hamath.4 Solomon, in consequence of his own con-
fidence in the Divine establishment of his power was now king
as far as the Euphrates on the east, and as far as the river of
Egypt on the south. The Second Psalm remains as a triumphant
epinician ode in which he, or a poet of the time speaking in
his name, gives thanks to God who has made him triumph over
his enemies, and in which he uses the large, prophetic style of
utterance which only acquires its full significance when we
regard Solomon in his better aspects as the type of the Perfect
King of David's line who should rule in righteousness over all
1 Mr. R. S. Poole, "Dictionary of the Bible," s.v. Shishak, dates his
accession from Egyptian sources circ. 983.
2 Josephus says ("Antiq." viii. 6, § 2) that after his time (when the Bubas-
tite dynasty began) Egyptian kings dropped the exclusive title of Pharaoh,
and were known by their own names. According to Brugsch, "Gesch.
Ægypt." 657, the name of Psusennes on the monuments was Piseskban.
But see infra.
3 Sanhedrin f, 21. 2. 4 2 Chron. viii. 3.
INITIAL TROUBLES OF SOLOMON'S REIGN. 57
NOTE ON THE PHARAOH OF 1 KINGS III. I.
It appears from the Egyptian monuments that the twenty-first, or Tanite
dynasty of Egyptian kings was founded by Hir-hor, an ambitious priest of
Amon at Zoan (Tanis) about B.C. 1100. For the most part the annals of
Egypt during the reigns of these kings are a blank. Hir-hor raised himself
to power by driving out Rameses XIII. (?), when the country had sunk
into moral and intellectual degeneracy. The manes of his successors on
the monuments are (according to Brugsch) Plankhi, Pinotem I., Piseb-
khan I., Pinotem II. The names seem to be Assyrian, and Hir-hor pro-
bably made an alliance with Assyria. But the house of Rameses still had
adherents, and Pinotem I. married a princess of that family. After about one
hundred and thirty years (B.C. 1100-975) Shashanq I. founded the dynasty
of Bubastis (Pibeseth, Ezek. xxx. 17), and strengthened himself by marrying
a daughter of the last Tanite king. See Brugsch, "History of Egypt from
the Monuments," ii. 200-214. (E. tr.); Rawlinson, "Ancient Egypt," vol.
ii. ch. xxiii. pp. 412-416; Lenormant, "Hist. Anc.'' vol. 1. p. 304.
SOLOMON'S SACRIFICE AND DREAM.
General peacefulness of Solomon's reign—He offers a tenfold hecatomb at
Gibeon—His dream—Modes of Divine communication—His prayer
for wisdom.—The ideal not perfect—A conditional promise — Great
sacrifice on Mount Zion—The dead and the living child—Nature of
Solomon's wisdom—The wisest man of his age—His proverbs and
songs, and other intellectual efforts—Riddles—Hiram and Abdemon.
IT is not possible to discover the exact order of events in
Solomon's reign; but it probable that the inaugural sacrifice
with which he celebrated the secure establishment of his throne
was not offered until God had given him some peace before the
face of his enemies. That peace was lasting. He was not
again seriously troubled till towards the close of his reign of
Accordingly, when his vigour and self-reliance had struck
terror into all opponents, he went in solemn procession to the
High Place at Gibeon, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and
offered the enormous sacrifice of a thousand burnt-offerings on
the venerable altar which Bezaleel had constructed nearly five
centuries before.1 The splendour of this tenfold hecatomb illus-
trated the magnificence of his conceptions as one who intended
to be every inch a king; and while it showed his sense of grati-
1 See 2 Chron. 1. 2, 3. For going to Gibeon, the chief seat of the
national worship, served by the entire priesthood, Solomon is certainly
not to blame. Where it is said (1 Kings iii. 3) that he "loved the Lord
. . . only he sacrificed and burn: incense in high places," the phrase
expresses the view of later centuries. The implicit prohibition of Lev.
xvii, 3-5 could hardly apply to a Lime when the Ark was at Zion and the
Tabernacle at Gibeon; and high places, in the absence of a regular temple,
were sanctioned by prophets and priests alike. Perhaps the Wady Sulei-
man may retain a trace of Solomon's visit to Gibeon.
SOLOMON'S SACRIFICE AND DREAM. 59
tude for God's protection, it would also powerfully influence the
imagination of the people and prepare them for the religious
development by which the reign was to be marked.1
And there at Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a
dream of the night. The consultation of Urim and Thummim
seems to have fallen into desuetude after the days of David,
and about this time there occurred a marked cessation of pro-
phetic activity. We never read that Solomon, like his father,
inquired of the Lord by the high priest. To a certain extent
he was his own priest, and he seems to have offered some of
his burnt-offerings with his own hand. The prophetic work of
Nathan and Gad was finished, and Ahijah of Shiloh had not
yet risen into prominence. Dreams were the third—and indeed
the lowest order of Divine communications. In a dream
God bids Solomon to choose some sign of His favour, and
Solomon, in accordance with the whole tendency of his cha-
racter, asks for kingly wisdom. He is but "a little child," pro-
bably not more than twenty years of age,2 and cannot compare
himself with his father David—a warrior, a poet, a statesman,
a king trained by long and varied experience. Israel had grown
into a mighty and countless people, and Solomon prays for an
understanding heart that he may be enabled in his constant
functions of a judge to discern between good and evil.3
His prayer was pleasing to God, for it was noble and unselfish.
A man of smaller mind might have asked for riches, or glory,
or success in war; and specially—considering the vagueness
and dimness of ancient views about immortality—for length of
days. And God, to reward his better choice, promised him in
pre-eminent, measure the gift of a wise and understanding heart,
and gave him in addition the riches and honour which he had
not directly sought. He had shown something of the spirit
1 The sacrifice of 1,000 victims was sufficiently known to give rise in later
Greek (Julian and Eustathius) to the word χιλιόμβη, for what the LXX.
calls χιλίαν ολοκαύτωσιν. Xerxes offered 1,000 at Troy (Herodotus, vii.
43), and Crœsus 3,000 (Herodotus, i. 50).
2 In 1 Chror. xxix. 1; 1 Kings iii. 7, he is called "young and tender"
at his accession. But the phrase, "I am a child," was more or less pro-
verbial (Jer. i 6).
3 See James i. 5; Wisdom vii. 7, ix. 12. The importance of the king's
judicial functions in the days when he was both the judge and the jury is
illustrated in the training of Cyrus (Xen. "Cyrop." i, 3 § 16; comp. 1 Sam.
viii. 20; 2 Sam. xv. 2-4).
which seeks first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,
and therefore all other things were added unto him. The pro-
mise of length of days was, however, made conditional on
Solomon's continued faithfulness, and he forfeited its fulfilment
by his subsequent apostasies. He reigned forty years, but died
at the age of sixty, and did not attain the age of his father.1
The conditions on which the gift of "wisdom" were made to
depend might have served to Solomon as a warning that his
ideal of wisdom was not as yet the highest—that all wisdom
begins and ends in the fear of the Lord; that without holiness
the gift of earthly prudence and political insight and varied
knowledge are of no permanent avail.
Solomon awoke, and behold it was a dream.2 But he felt
that it was a Divine dream; and in sign of his gratitude he
went from Gibeon to the altar on Mount Zion, and stood before
the Ark, and offered fresh burnt-offerings and thank-offerings,
and made a great feast to all his servants.3
The instance which the historian gives us of Solomon's wis-
dom is exactly of a kind which would have taken the fancy of an
Two harlots came to the king as he sat in the gate to decide
all causes. They brought with them two infants, one living and
one dead, and each of them claimed the living child as her own.
It was a case of conflicting testimony, which to many might
have seemed impossible to decide. Solomon at once decided it
by a flash of intuitive sagacity. He ordered one of his soldiers
to cut the living child in two, and give half to each of the
women.4 Then the passionate cry of the mother's heart, "O my
lord, give her the living child and by no means slay it,"
revealed at once to whom the child belonged. "Give her the
living child and by no means slay it"—the king meditatively
repeated the mother's words, and then burst forth with swift
decision—"She is the mother thereof."
But Solomon's fame for wisdom was founded on far richer and
wider endowments than this swift practical sagacity, this "dis-
1 Compare Wisdom iv. 8, 9.
2 Ps. cxxvii. 2, "God given to His beloved even sleeping."
3 1 Kings iii. 15. This is not mentioned in the Book of Chronicles.
4 See Suet. Claud. 15. Josephus says that he ordered the two children
to be divided between the mothers, and that the people at first laughed at
his simplicity. See Ambrose, "De Off." ii. 8.
SOLOMON'S SACRIFICE AND DREAM. 61
cernment to understand judgment." God gave him "wisdom"
in a higher significance. He had at least a partial sense of
the relation in which man stands to God, and man to man;
of the wisdom which begins with righteousness, and regards
it as the highest end of life to depart from evil. He had an "un-
derstanding exceeding much," in which is included intellectual
power, and "wisdom for a man's self;" and "largeness of
heart even as the sand that is on the sea-shore;" that is, an infi-
nite thirst for knowledge, and capacity for attaining it. Egypt
and Arabia and Chaldæa were famed as the homes of wisdom,
but neither Egypt, nor Arabia, nor Chaldæa had produced any
men whose learning and insight were equal to those of Solomon.
He surpassed all the children of the East.2 All the surrounding
nations heard his fame. He was wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite,
and Heman, and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol. Ethan
and Heman, the Ezrahites, were celebrated as poets and musi-
cians.3 Heman is called "the king's seer in the words of the
Lord,"4 and the Eighty-eighth Psalm remains in all its depth
and beauty to attest his powers of inspired thought and expres-
sion. Chalcol and Dardas seem also to have taken large share
in the organization of the Temple services with its psalms and
hymns and spiritual songs. Perhaps the words "sons of
Mahol" refer to all four of the persons mentioned, and it is not
impossible that they are thus meant to be described as "sons of
the choir," or sacred singers.6 But none of the four could be
1 Gen. xli. 8; Exod. vii. 11; Acts vii. 22.
2 Comp. Job i. 3; Matt. ii. 1. These Benî Kedem seem to be the nomad
tribes of Arabia and Mesopotamia. (See Gen. xxix. 1; Judg. vi. 3, 33,
vii. 12). It is interesting to find this frank recognition of Ethnic wisdom and
inspiration from which that of Solomon differed not in kind, but in degree.
3 I Chron. ii. 6, xv. 19; Ps. lxxxviii. title, xxxix. title. Ezrahite seems to
be a mere transposition of Zerahite. They were descendants of Zerah, the son
of Judah. If so, however, they cannot be identified with the Singers and
Levites of 1 Chron. vi. 44. There seems then to have been two Hemans,
and two Ethans, except on the not impossible supposition that Heman the
(Kohathite) married a heiress of the house of Zerah, and was
reckoned in Zerah's genealogy.
4 I Chron. xxv. 5.
5 For Chalcol and Dara (Darad, or Darda), see I Chron. ii. 6, where they
are great-grandsons of Jacob, by the line of Zerah, son of Judah, and brothers
of Ethan and Heman.
6 It is true that Machôl means "a dance" rather than "a choir," but in
Ps. cl. 4, it may perhaps be used for an instrumen of music; and Rashi
compared to Solomon. Of the extensive literature which tradi-
tion assigns to him but little remains. Of his three thousand
Proverbs only a handful are preserved, and they contain scarcely
any allegories or riddles, or passages of figurative poetry, but
chiefly the sententious antithetic apothegms which preserve in
the memory the results of experience, and the lessons of insight.
Of his thousand and five songs1 there is only one which, with the
exception of two psalms,2 has been even traditionally ascribed
to him. Besides these songs and proverbs, he spoke, we are
told, of the trees, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop of
the wall; and of beasts, and fowl, and creeping things, and
fishes. It is a matter of conjecture whether this passage refers
to a dawning knowledge of natural history and botany, or
whether it merely implies a poetic admiration of all that is beau-
tiful in nature, and skill in the application of it to moral instruc-
tion or religious parable.3 Of this skill we find traces not only
in the "Wisdom literature" assigned to his authorship, but also
—and that with exquisite freshness—in some of the Psalms.4
Various forms of veiled and pregnant speech known as "rid-
dles" and "dark sayings" were also much cultivated in this
epoch of literature. Riddles have always played an important
part in the story of the East. Josephus preserves a curious tra-
dition that Solomon, and Hiram, king of Tyre, challenged each
other to trials of skill in this form of "wisdom"—inability to
read the riddle being acknowledged by pecuniary fines.5 At
first Hiram was entirely defeated in this intellectual contest,
but at last he discovered a Tyrian youth named Abdemon, of
great natural gifts, by whose assistance he successfully encoun-
tered, and even defeated, his royal ally.
says that these four "were skilled in composing hymns, which were recited
in the dances of song." See Dr. W. Allis Wright, s.v. in "Dictionary of
the Bible." Comp. "daughters of song," Eccles. xii. 4. Grätz says that
these four were descendants of Chamul, son of Pharez, and that מחול is
only a transposition of חמול (Numb. xxvi. 21).
1 The LX.X. says 5,000 songs.
2 Ps. lxxv., cxxvii. The eighteen apocryphal "Psalms of Solomon"
belong to the age of the Maccabees.
Eccles. xlvii. 17. Josepluts, "Antig." viii. 2, § 5; κα’
θ’ εκαστον γὲ εῖδος
δένδρου παραβολὴν εῖπεν. On the nature of Solomon's wisdom see Hooker,
"Eccl. Pol.'' III. viii. 9; Bacon, "Advt. of Learning," book i.
4 See Renan, "Hist. des Langues Sémitiques,” p. 127.
5 Comp. Theophilus in Eusebius, " Præp. Ev." ix. 34, § 19.
THE COURT OF' SOLOMON.
Growing complexity and magnificence of the Court—High officers—
Azariah grandson of Zadok—Use of the word "Priest"—The two
Scribes—The Recorder—The Captain of the Host—Zadok—Bamoth
or High Places—The Farmer-general—"The King's friend"—The
Chamberlain, growing importance of this official—The Superintendent
of the levies—Forced labour—The twelve districts to supply the Court
—Significance of these districts—Judah possibly exempted—Immense
exaction of provisions—The burden not felt at first—Prevailing peace
—Solomon's one conquest.
THE fourth chapter of the First Book of Kings shows how vast
a stride the Jewish monarchy had. taken during the reign of
David. Saul had been a king of primitive simplicity, content
with a humble and modest royalty, dwelling under the pome-
granate tree in the Precipice,1 or under the tamarisk in the High
Place at Gibeah,2 carrying his great spear in his hand, and often
with no larger army about him than a few faithful henchmen.
David, in his later years, had surrounded himself with some-
thing of the state of other monarchies, but his harem and his
palaces were insignificant compared with those of Solomon,
who in his splendour and magnificence followed the dubious
model of Egyptian, Phœnician, and Assyrian kings.
He was surrounded by an immediate circle of high officers,
who held the rank of princes (sarim), and ate at his table. In
David's warlike Court the highest rank was assigned to the
Captain of the Host, and the Captain of the Bodyguard. In
1 Authorized Version, "in Migron" (1 Sam. xiv, 2).
2 I Sam. xxii. 6.
Solomon's Court precedence is assigned to more peaceful
First among them was Azariah, the "son," or rather the
grandson of Zadok,1 who is called the "Priest."2 He certainly
did not supersede either Zadok or Abiathar, but he had pro-
bably suceeded to the office of Chief Priest by his father's
death. It has been supposed that the priestly title is given to
him in the older sense in which it is given to the sons of David,
for whose title of "priests "3 the Chronicler substitutes the ex-
planation "chief about the king."4 Even David on certain
occasions wore the ephod, so Azariah—being of priestly birth
—might no doubt have performed sacerdotal duties connected
with the palace. There is, however, no need for the supposition
here, for it is obvious that the clause, "this is he that executed
the priest's office in the house that Solomon built in Jerusalem,"
in 1 Chron. vi. to has been accidentally misplaced, and applies
to the grandson of Zadok, not to the son of Johanan.
Next to him were two "Scribes"—Elihoreph and Ahiah—sons
perhaps of the Sheva (probably the same as Seraiah), who had
been scribe to David.5 They seem to have acted as Secretaries
of State, and the extension of Solomon's power made it neces-
sary to employ the services of two, whereas hitherto one had
Next to these came Jehoshaphat, the son of Ahilud, the
"Recorder" or "Remembrances," who had held the same office
in the reign of David.6 This necessity for an officer to act as
1 Zadok, Ahimaaz, Azariah.
2 The Septuagint omits the title, which perplexed the translators. We
find, however, that even in David's time there seems to have been an ap-
proximation between the royal and priestly functions, and the development
of this connection was probably strengthened by Phoenician influences
(Movers, " Phönizier," p. 548). In 2 Sam. viii. 18, we are told that
"David's sons were priests."
3 Kohanim, 2 Sam. viii. 18; LXX., "chief courtiers;" Syriac, "mag-
nates;" but it is strange to render the same word in two quite different
senses in two lines.
4 Literally, "the first at the king's hand."
5 See 2 Sam. viii. 37; xx. 25. In I Chron. xviii. 16, he is called Shavsha.
Grätz (i. 245) calls the scribe (Sopher) "Listenführer," or "Rottenführer
über den Heerbann." The Rabbis derived the title from saphar, "to
count." Comp. Isa. xxxiii. 18. See Grätz's learned note (i. 457).
2 Sam. viii. 16, xx. 24; 1 Chron. xviii. 15. LXX., ο επὶ
THE COURT OF SOLOMON. 65
annalist, or royal historiographer, is another indication of the
growing importance of the Jewish throne.
Benaiah was promoted to the captaincy of the host left vacant
by the execution of Joab. The present text of the Book of
Kings would lead us to suppose that he also continued to be
Captain of the bodyguard. It would, however, have been
dangerous to the stability of the throne to concentrate two such
offices in the hands of one man. The Captain of the Body-
guard was more than ever needed as a counterpoise to any
military ambition which might be kindled in the breast of the
Commander-in-chief. It is probable, therefore, that a sentence
preserved in the Greek translation represents the original
reading, and that Eliab, the son of Shaphat, replaced Benaiah
in the command of the Cherethites and Pelethites.
Zadok, as long as he lived was the Chief Priest, but as in
the analogous case of Annas in the days of our Lord, the
disgrace of Abiathar, by the civil power, did not obliterate the
memory of his long priesthood, and he was still regarded as
being one of the titular heads of the priesthood during the
remainder of his life.
There was no longer a famous shrine at Gibeon, but the wor-
ship at the High Places still continued for ages after the Temple
was built. It was too deeply rooted in the notional customs to
be got rid of, and it was only after centuries of struggle that
Hezekiah ventured upon a step, which was regarded by many
as revolutionary and impious, in destroying the High Places
altogether.1 It is quite certain that neither Solomon nor any of
his predecessors were conscious of any dereliction of duty in
sanctioning the continuance of local sanctuaries.2 If the pro-
hibition of Deuteronomy was then in existence, it was clearly
unknown to the majority of the nation.3 It was only in later
times that the toleration of these Bamoth came to be looked upon
as a blot—though a venial blot—on the memory of even the
των; Isa. xxxvi. 3, ο υπομνηματογράφος. Comp. Suet., "Aug," 79, "Qui
e memoria Augusti." Mazkhir, or "Chancellor." Grätz ("Gesch. d.
Juden." i. 459) calls him "Erinner." See Ezek. xxi. 24; xxix. 16.
1 See the remark of the apostate Rabsbakeh, 2 Kings xviii. 22; 2 Chron.
2 Judg. 20, xiii. 19; I Sam. ix. 12; &c.
3 Deut. xii. 13, 14.
The post of Superintendent, or Farmer-general, over the
twelve heads of local administration was held by Azariah, the
son of Nathan; and his brother Zabud was also a "kohen,"
and "the king's friend." It has been assumed too hastily that
the Nathan here intended was the Prophet, and that the high
promotion of his two sons indicates that he had sunk into
courtly proclivities, which hampered the outspoken faithfulness
of his earlier days. But Nathan is rarely mentioned without
his title of "the Prophet," and it is at least as probable that
Azariah and Zabud were sons of Nathan, the brother of Solomon,
and therefore nephews of the king. It is true that Nathan was
either younger than Solomon or only a little older, so that his
sons must have been very young men. But it must be re-
membered that this list does not entirely apply to the early
part of the reign. As we find Solomon's sons-in-law in it, we may
easily find his nephews. It was necessary to provide mainten-
ance, and occupation, and high official rank for the members of
the royal family. The title "Priest" in its lay sense, or civil
sense, seems only to have been given to the princes of the
house of David. If this conjecture be correct, it is another
indication of the often renewed attempt to unite kingly and
priestly functions. This cannot surprise us, since it began, even
in the previous reign, and seems to have been borrowed from
the Phœnicians. It was a direct means of strengthening the
royal house and the Court party.1 Solomon had no intention
of allowing Zadok to become a priest of the kind that kings have
had to cope with in all ages from the days of Ethbaal down to
those of Thomas à Becket. We shall see that, even in the most
solemn details of the Temple inauguration, Solomon is every-
thing, and Zadok or his successor sinks into such complete
insignificance that his name is not once mentioned during the
The Secretary and the Recorder were permanent officials in
the royal establishment, and to them we must add a new and
important functionary—the Chamberlain, or High Steward,
who was "over the household."2 The existence of such an
1 See Movers, "Phönizier," p. 50. We may recall the facts that
"Bishop of Osnaburgh" was even in this century the title of one of our
princes; and that Charles II., on his deathbed, is said to have pronounced
the blessing over his own bishops.
2 Nearly three centuries later, in the Court of Hezekiah, we read
THE COURT OF SOLOMON. 67
officer to regulate the admissions to the king, the management
of the palace, and the etiquette of the Court, shows that the
more primitive form of royalty was now being rapidly assimi-
lated to the statelier usages of the great surrounding kingdoms.
As the form of government became more and more personal,
the Chamberlain, from his right of immediate access to the king,
became the most important personage in the affairs of govern-
ment, just as the eunuchs were often the chief ministers in the
Courts of the Byzantine Emperors.
The function of the last great official on the list is somewhat
ominous. Such splendour as that of Solomon could not be
maintained except at the cost of heavy taxation. We now find,
almost for the first time, an officer who "was over the tribute,"
or rather "the Levy," that is, the corvée or forced labour.1 This
office was held by Adoniram or Adoram, the son of Abda.
Under Saul there had been an overseer of the flocks, and David
had been obliged to appoint a custodian of the king's treasures,
and stewards who managed his pastures, vineyards, olives,
sycomores, camels, herds, and flocks.2 If David's numbering
of the people had been due to an intention of subjecting them
to a poll-tax, something like this must have been actually carried
out under the government of Solomon. The people began to
discover too late that "bondage with ease" is not to be com-
pared to "strenuous liberty." In tribute, and proscription for
various kinds of compulsory service, the people were now
beginning to feel the burden of monarchy, of which they had
been so emphatically warned by their indignant prophet.3
Adoram must have had a long spell of toil under David and
Solomon; at the beginning of Rehoboam's reign, when he
must have been an old man, his unpopular office cost him his
For the Court of Solomon, with its polygamy, and the multi-
"Eliakim, who was over the household, and Shebna the Scribe, and Joah
the son of Asaph the Recorder." The Chamberlain has now became the
chief official (2 Kings xviii. 18; comp. Isa. xxii. 15, where Shebna is a
person of great and objectionable influence).
1 He is said to be "al-ha-Alas." He is cursorily mentioned in 2 Sam.
xx. 24, which refers to the closing years of David. The word Mas, "levy,"
is of dubious derivation.
2 I Chron xxvii, 25-31.
3 I Sam, viii. 11-18.
tude of its retainers, soldiers, and eunuchs,1 must have consisted
of some thousands of persons, and their maintenance was very
costly. To secure a due provision of food and delicacies for
the palace, the king appointed twelve officers, one for each
month of the year; and each was bound to furnish the requisite
contributions in kind and money from one of the twelve districts
into which the land was divided.2 The importance of their
position may be estimated from the fact that two of them were
sons-in-law of Solomon, married to his daughters Taphath and
Basmath, of whom we hear nothing farther.3 In the division of
districts we find Mount Ephraim, three sections of the maritime
plain, the plain of Jezreel, Asher, Issachar, Naphtali, Benjamin,
and three sections of the country east of the Jordan. The
districts seem, however, to have been formed with very little
reference to ancient tribal limits, which were scarcely likely to
find favour in schemes of monarchical centralization. The ob-
ject of the whole arrangement was mainly the somewhat ignoble
one of supplying the inexhaustible expenses of a luxurious Court.
It was very remarkable that Judah does not seem to have been
included in the division, though it occupied so large a portion
of Palestine. It is difficult to suppose that so obscure a place
as Sochoh4 could have been intended as the tax station for
1 That the degraded service of eunuchs in the royal harem must have been
introduced by this time seems clear if the word sarîsîm be taken literally in
I Sam. viii. 15 ; 1 Chron. xxviii. I. There could have been no more
ominous proof of commencing decadence and faithlessness.
2 Compare the exactly similar arrangement in the courts of ancient and
modern Persia (Herodotus, i. 692; Chardin, "Voy. en Perse,'' iii. 345). It
is curious that some of the officers are not named, but only called by their
patronymic, "the son of Hesed," &c. This is probably due to an accidental
mutilation of the original document, for names are given by Josephus. If
we accept the conjecture (suggested by the LXX., καὶ Νασέφ εῖς εν γῆ
’Ιούδα), and add " in the land of Judah" to I Kings iv. 19 (taking Judah
from ver. 20), there would be thirteen instead of twelve of these Netzibim.
The Targum adopts this reading, and says that the thirteenth deputy was
"to maintain the king in the intercalary month."
3 The allusion is, however, a proof that this organization could not have
been fully established till Solomon was far advanced in his reign. The
husband of Taphath—the son of Abinadab—may have been Solomon's
first cousin (1 Sam. xvi. 8).
4 There were two Sochohs. The one here meant bordered on Philistia.
Grätz says, "Auffallend ist besonders dass über Juda kein Nezib gesetzt zu
THE COURT OF SOLOMON. 69
Judah. Had Judah, then, an immunity from the burden of this
impost? If so, the exemption was most impolitic, and could
not have failed to exacerbate the existing jealousies. An in-
teresting notice informs us of the immense stores required by
the household for a single day—namely, thirty cors of fine
flour, sixty cors of meal, ten stall-fed and twenty pasture-oxen,
and a hundred sheep, besides harts, roebucks, fallow-deer, and
fowls. Taking the cor at one of its lower valuations, this seems
to imply as much as 18,000 lbs. of bread a day; and considering
how little meat is required in the East, we should conjecture that
the maintenance would be enough for at least ten thousand
persons.1 Solomon also collected a large force of chariots and
chariot-horses (susim), and he had twelve thousand horsemen,
and swift horses for the royal couriers,2 requiring a large pro-
vision of straw and barley. They were kept in various cities
and barracks. In the intoxication of personal grandeur, the
old dislike to cavalry and chariots was forgotten, and the old
injunctions —as Samuel had prophesied would be the case—
were set aside.3 But there must have been many who
looked on this innovation with dislike. They did not care
to see "the chariots of Pharaoh" in the Court of Solomon,4
remembering that "a horse is a vain thing to save a man," and
that God, who "delighteth not in the strength of a horse," had
enabled David with his simple infantry to defeat the immense
cavalry of Hadarezer, as Barak had defeated Sisera before.
But it was not in the earlier years of the reign that the
burden proved intolerable. On the contrary, the people at first
enjoyed an immense prosperity, due to peace and extended
commerce. They lived in festivity and ease, and exulted in the
power of their king, whose dominion was acknowledged from
Tiphsah on the west bank of the Euphrates5 to Gaza and the
1 Thenius says the flour would daily feed fourteen thousand. As many
or more were daily fed by the kings of Persia.
2 Not "dromedaries," as in Authorized Version. Comp. Esth. viii. 10,
3 Deut. xvii. 16; I Sam. viii. 11, 12; 2 Sam. viii. 4; Josh. xi. 9.
4 Cant. i. 9.
5 Tiphsah, or Thapsacus, was afterwards attacked by Menahem (2 Kings
xv. 16). It was the ford (pasach, "to pass over") of the Euphrates; Xen.,
"Anab." i. 4, §11; Arrian, "Exp. Alex." ii. 13, iii. 7. Its site is believed
to be the modern Suriyeh. The phrase "on this side the river," literally is,
"beyond the river" (I Kings iv. 24), and furnishes a curious proof that the
passage was not composed till the days of the Exile; the western bank of
the river being described from the Babylonian point of view.
Mediterranean; and from Damascus to the "stream of Egypt,"
i.e., Rhinokolura (the Wady el Areesh). They were proud that
his mere name was sufficient to protect them from all their
enemies. It was only by slow degrees that the glamour of suc-
cess was dissipated, and the nation began to realize the burden
of oppression. At this time the general community below the
Court officials and princes consisted of four classes of persons.
These were, in descending degrees of dignity—
1. The freeborn Israelites (ezrach, Exod. xii. 49, &c.), whose
burdens were made as light as possible.
2. The native Canaanites, who were in vassalage to the
Crown, and were sufficiently numerous to be sometimes formid-
able (Toshabîm, Lev. xxii. 23, &c).
3. The strangers—like the Athenian Metoikoi or "resident
aliens"—whom commerce or other influences had drawn into
the country, and who generally placed themselves under special
protection (Gerîm, Lev. xvii. 8, &c.).1
4. Slaves of three classes, namely either—
(1) Slave taken in war; or
(2) One who had sold himself into slavery in consequence of
poverty or debt.
(3) One born in the house (verna, "the children of the
From the burden of war they were happily exempt. The
raids of Hadad and Rezon did not give any serious trouble
to the nation at large, and the only aggressive action taken
throughout the reign was so transient that it is omitted alto-
gether in the Book of Kings, and dismissed in a single line of
the Second Book of Chronicles.3 "Solomon," we are told,
"went to Hamath-Zobah, and prevailed against it." Of further
details we know absolutely nothing, and it has even been con-
jectured that Hamath-Zobah cannot mean the great Harnath on
the Orontes, but must mean some other Hamath in the separate
kingdom of Zobah. Since, however, Toi, king of Hamath,showed
signs of weakness when he sent presents to David, Solomon
may have had little difficulty in annexing his capital. It was
reconquered for Israel by the warlike Jeroboam II. some two
centuries after this date.4
1 Lev. xxv. 44; see Grätz, 1. 336. On the toshabîm, see Jahn, "Arch.
Bibl." i. 11, § 181. They and the gerîm are rendered προσοίκοι, προσήλυτοι, γειώρας, in the LXX.
2 Gen. xiv. 14. 3 2 Chron. viii. 3. 4 2 Kings xiv. 28.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON.
The Temple—The design of David—He is forbidden to build—His immense
preparations—In what sense the Temple was "exceeding magnifical"—
Its substructions, walls, and cisterns, and the toil they involved—Em-
bassy from Hiram of Tyre, and compact between the two kings—The
levy or corvée—The burden-bearers and quarrymen—The Canaanites
were the Helots of Palestine—The Giblites—The slaves of Solomon—
Hiram of Naphtali—General form of the Temple and its measurements
—Curious statements of the Chronicler—The Holy of Holies quite dark
—Utter lattices of the Holy Place—The outer chambers—What a
visitor would have seen— The outer court. —The inner court—The
brazen altar—The molten sea and the caldrons—Why the brazen oxen
were permitted—The actual Temple--What was its external aspect?—
Had it pillars within? —Jachin and Boaz—Theories about them—The
Porch—The Sanctuary and its furniture—The Oracle; its door—The
Ark—The Cherubim—Built in silence—The general workmanship—
Time that it occupied in building—Organization of Levitic ministry—
The Temple a symbol of God's Presence—The actual building not used
for prayer or public worship—The sacrifices and what they involved—
Water for ablutions—The Ceremony of Dedication—The old Taber-
nacle—The procession—Tranference of the Ark to its rock staves
—Splendour of the ceremony--The Cloud of Glory—Solomon's prayer;
its spirituality—Stupendous thank-offering and festival—The fire from
heaven—Prominence of the king in priestly functions—Second vision of
Solomon—Intense affection and enthusiasm inspired by the Temple,
and illustrated in various psalms—Functions of the Levites.
FIRST and foremost among the buildings of Solomon was the
Temple on Mount Moriah, which was destined for so many
centuries to exercise a profound influence on the religious con-
ceptions of the Jewish people. As soon as there began to be
kings and palaces, it was felt incongruous that after so long a
period the Ark of the Lord should still be housed in wood and
For this Temple David had, "with much labour,"1 made im-
mense preparations, but he had not been permitted to carry
out his cherished design.2 The voice of Nathan did but in-
terpret for him his own sense of religious fitness when it assigned
the building of the House of God to a son, whose course should
have been less chequered by moral failure, whose hands should
have been less stained with blood,
Yet he did everything else which was possible to him. He
collected stonemasons and artificers, and amassed—according
to the Chronicler— 100,000 talents of gold and 1,000,000 talents
of silver, and brass and iron without weight, and cedar-trees in
abundance, and onyx stones, and stones edged with antimony,
and precious stones and lustrous marble.3 The gold and silver is
doubtless meant to include the contribution attributed to David
out of his private property namely, 3,000 talents of gold,
and 7,000 talents of silver, and the free-will offerings of the
princes—namely, 5,000 talents of gold, 10,000 darks and 10,000
talents of silver. The mention of darics—coins named after
Darius—shows us that the author of these statements lived
many centuries after the days of which he is speaking.4 Even
the smaller sums sound enormous, but the larger are mani-
festly due to that fatality of enormous exaggeration, which,
whether due to corruption of the text or not, affects some of
the numbers stated in the Books of Chronicles. Nothing can
be more futile than the attempt to show that such a prince
as David could have been able to amass gold—not to speak of
the other treasures—which amounted in value, on the very
lowest computation, to £120,000,000, and which, if the Jewish
talent be meant, represented many thousands more than a
billion pounds. At the very zenith of even Solomon's magnifi-
cence his annual revenue only reached the sum of six hundred
and sixty-six talents. David no doubt had made the best pre-
1 Not "in my trouble," as in Authorized Version (1 Chron. xxii. 14).
2 The preparations are mentioned by the Chronicler (1 Chron. xxix. 6-9;
2 Chron. ii. 3-7), but the Book of Kings says nothing about them. See I
Kings vi. 2 and 2 Chron. iii. 3. The wish and intention are recorded in
2 Sam. vii. 1-29.
3 1 Chron. xxii.
4 I Chron. xxix. 4.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 73
parations in his power, but the scale of them must be measured
by very different numbers.
Jewish tradition has accepted the most extravagant state-
ments about the Temple of Solomon, yet sober and trust-
worthy documents prove that, though small, it was indeed for
that age "exceeding magnifical." The substructions alone
deserve to rank with the Cloaca Maxima at Rome and others
of the greatest works of early ages. Mount Moriah, already a
sacred locality from having been the supposed scene of Abra-
ham's sacrifice, lies north-east of Mount Zion.1 It had acquired
recent and additional sacredness from the vision of the angel
whom David had seen during the pestilence with his sword
drawn over Araunah's threshing-floor.2 The altar reared by
David to commemorate his deliverance, marked the site of the
future Temple, which might otherwise have been built on the
loftier heights of the Mount of Olives. But the choice of this
hallowed site caused immense difficulties. The sides of the hill
were steep; its summit was rough and of insufficient size for the
fore-courts of the house. The entire sanctuary, with its two
fore-courts, had to be made into a large square, which we may
assume from the notices of Ezekiel to have been five hundred
paces in length and in breadth.3 These courts had to be sup-
ported by immense walls which have partly survived the ravages
of so many conquests. The earliest of these those on the
east side—are doubtless the work of Solomon, though large
additions were made by Joash and other later kings, until all
the four sides were completed, and the original area of the
summit much enlarged. The immense blocks of smooth and
bevelled stone, of which some are 30 feet-long and 7 feet high,
and weigh more than 100 tons, are in the finest style of Cyclo-
pean architecture, and are still the admiration of every traveller.4
These walls were of astonishing heighth. Part of the old wall
1 Gen. xxii. 2. The site of the Temple is called Mount Moriah in 2 Chron.
iii. 1 alone, but it says nothing about Abraham.
2 1 Chron. xxii,
3 Ezek. xlii. 15-20; xlv. 2. Comp. Josephus, "Antiq." xv. 11, § 3;
"De 13. J." v. 5. The Rabbis say, "hie mount of the Temple was five
hundred yards square" ("Middoth," c. 2).
4 The largest stone—that at the south-west corner — is 38 1/2 feet long.
According to Sir C. Warren, these huge blocks were hewn from a quarry
above the level of the wall and lowered by rollers down an inclined plane.
now rises 30 feet, but Captain
Warren discovered that an even
greater extent of its surface lies
buried under the débris of ages,
beneath the soil of the nineteen-
times captured city.1 The stone
was partly hewn from those deep
quarries, drains, and caverns,
over which Jerusalem is built.
Cisterns of immense capacity
and subterranean conduits had
also to be hewn out of the solid
rock for the storage and con-
veyance of the water which was
necessary to purge the profusion
of refuse accumulated by count-
less sacrifices under the blazing
1 Josephus grossly exaggerates when
he says that the eastern side was 450
feet high. Still, vast substructions were
required to build the great level of the
Temple area. Of the extent of these
some estimate may be formed from
the excavations of Sir C. Warren and
Captain Wilson, described in "The
Recovery of Jerusalem." At the south-
east angle of the wall it descends to a
depth of 80 feet below the present sur-
face; and at the south-west angle by
"Robinson's arch," no less than three
pavements were discovered, showing
the gradual filling up of the valley,
on the lowest of which were found the
fallen voussoirs of the arch. That the
whole of this mighty wall was meant
to be visible seems to be proved by
the fact that the stones are carefully
dressed, edge-drafted, sad bevelled.
See the appended diagram, and Bart-
lett's " Walks about Jerusalem," pp.
161-178. -Williams, "The Holy City,"
pp. 315-362. Kugel, "Gesch. der
Baukunst," 125 ff. (1855).
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 75
At a very early stage of his preparations, Solomon received an
embassy from Hiram, king of Tyre, who had always been on
the friendliest terms with David, and whose daughter Solomon
is said to have married.1 Hiram, as we learn from a fragment
of Menander of Ephesus, preserved in Josephus, was the son of
a king named Abibaal,2 and had ascended the throne in early
youth in B.C. 1001. He was in the eleventh year of his reign
when Solomon, who had now been king for three years, entered
into close relations with him. His alliance was of the utmost
importance for the future commerce of Israel, and alone ren-
dered possible the splendid buildings which now began to adorn
Jerusalem. He reigned thirty-four years, and died at the age
of fifty-three. He was succeeded by his son Baleazar, and his
grandson Abdastartus;3 and then after various sanguinary re-
volutions the throne was seized by Ethbaal, priest of Astarte,
the father of Jezebel. When the Greek translators say that he
sent his servants "to anoint" Solomon, the assertion must be
due to some singular confusion, but it points to a close alliance
between the kings who first raised Tyre and Jerusalem re-
spectively to the zenith of their fame.
Solomon, welcoming the proffered friendship of the Tyrian
king, begged him to allow his skilled workmen to hew cedar-
trees and cypress-trees out of Lebanon, and Hiram in return
for annual gifts of twenty thousand cors of wheat and barley,
and twenty thousand "baths" of oi1,4 gave him large assistance.
The labour involved was immense. The trees were sent down
the heights of Lebanon by the process technically known as
schlittage,5 and thence by road or river to the sea-shore. Huge
1 Tatian, "Orat. ad Græce," p. 171. Neither David nor Solomon seem
to have considered that Hiram occupied a kingdom which had been in-
tended to form part of "the Promised Land" (Numb. xxxiv. 6-8;
Judg. i. 31).
2 There is an interesting relic of this prince at Florence, a sardonyx with
the inscription of "Abibaal." It represents a king with a high crown and
staff, and in front of him a four-rayed star. (Duncker, ii. 264, E. tr.).
3 Menander of Ephesus quoted by Josephus ("C. Apion." i. 18).
4 This is the reading of the LXX. and Josephus in 1 Kings v. 11. Comp.
2 Chron. ii. 10. Josephus says that the official correspondence between the
two kings was preserved in the Jewish and Tyrian archives. "Pure," or
'beaten oil," i.e., oil extracted by beating the olives, not by the press, was
he best kind. The Chronicler (2 Chron. ii. 10) adds barley and wine.
5 Schlittage is still much used in the Vosges to carry trees down hill. They
are pushed along an artificial path called vovtou, made of rounded trunks.
rafts of the costly timber were thence floated by sea to Joppa, a
hundred miles, and then with infinite toil were dragged about
thirty-five miles up the steep and rocky roads to Jerusalem.1 These
works required a levy (mas), or "tribute of men" out of all Israel
to the number cat thirty thousand, who worked in relays of ten
thousand for three months, of which one month was spent in
Lebanon and two at home.2 Adoniram was at the head of this
army of soccage labourers, who were not called bondmen (a thing
which had been expressly forbidden by the law of Lev. xxv. 39),
though such they practically were.3 Besides these there were
no less than seventy thousand burden-bearers and eighty thou-
sand quarrymen who were under the charge of three thousand
six hundred officers.4 These, according to the Chronicler, were
bondslaves from the unextirpated remnants of the Canaanite
races. They were in fact the helots of Palestine.5 We may be
very sure that, in being torn from their homes, to serve an alien
king, for the purposes of an alien worship, in lives made bitter
with hard bondage, there must have seethed in the midst of
them a fearful spirit of sullenness, venting itself in curses, secret
indeed, yet all the more deep and not unheard in heaven. An
accidental allusion shows both the novelty and permanence of
this body of slaves; for lowest of all among the exiles who
returned from Babylon—lower even than the Nethinim, the
posterity of the Gibeonites who had been doomed for ever to be
"hewers of wood and drawers of water"—are 392 hierodouloi, or
menial ministers who are called "sons of the slaves of Solo-
mon," the dwindling and miserable remnant of that vast levy of
1 Mr. Twisleton mentions that the stone of St. Paul's, quarried in Port-
land, and sent to London round the North Foreland, had to go more than
twelve times as far.
2 The ill-omened word Alas, "tribute," or "task," was familiar to the
Israelites in the history of their Egyptian bondage (Exod.
3 I Kings v. 13. See 2 Chron. viii. 9, and 1 Kings ix. 22. (This passage
is not in the LXX.)
4 Three thousand three hundred in I Kings v. 16; but see 2 Chron. ii.
2-18. The number employed is far larger than that required for the most
gigantic modern works, but it must be remembered that there were few
inventions for saving human labour.
5 In I Kings ix. 20-23 we have a statement that there were (apparently
to build the cities, &c., in Palestine), five hundred and fifty overseers,
which would imply some twenty-seven thousand five hundred work-
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON 77
serfs,1 who in achieving these great works "laboured without
reward, suffered without redress, and perished without pity."
For the skilled work the king had to rely on Sidonian
artisans, among whom special mention is made of the Giblites,
the people of Gebal or Byblos, which was north of Berytos, and
nearest to the cedars of Lebanon.2 Ezekiel long afterwards
mentions the wisdom and artistic genius of this Phœnician
community.3 Even in Homer the Sidonians are famed for
embroidered robes and skill in workmanship,4 and Solomon
asked for cunning workmen in gold and brass, in carving, en-
graving, and in blue and crimson.
In addition to so large a host of workers, others were em-
ployed in casting bronze in earthen moulds. This was done in
the clay soil of the Jordan valley, between Succoth and Zarthan.
The polishing and moulding of the bronze was beyond the skill
of the Israelites, and for all this ornamental work the king had
to borrow the services of another Tyrian, also named Hiram,
who, though born at Tyre, was the son of a woman of Naphtali,
and whose skill, like that of Michael Angelo, seems to have
been serviceable for every branch of artistic work.5 Three
years, during which materials were being amassed, were needed
before the work began.6
That the general character of the architecture was Phoenician
we cannot doubt. Walls of huge stones roofed with cedar,
planks of wood overlaid with gold, simplicity of outline, massive-
ness of structure, buildings and rooms in shape like cubes,
cedar beams, upper storeys of light wood-work were cha-
racteristics of the buildings of Tyre as they were of Solomon's
temple and palaces. From Tyre, too, came the use of curtains
dyed in the scarlet juice of the trumpet-fish, and the dyes
obtained from the purple-fish, crimson, purple, violet, and
amethyst, which were so costly, because three hundred pounds
of the fish were required to dye only fifty pounds of wool.
1 Ezra ii. 55. LXX.
2 I Kings v. 18, Authorized Version, "stone-squarers;" Vulgate, Giblii;
LXX. (Alex.), καὶ οι Βιβλιοι.
3 Ezek. xxvii. 9.
4 Hom., Il, vi. 290, xxiii. 743; Od. iv. 614.
5 The expression "father" in 2 Chron.. ii. 13, iv. 16, seems to mean
6 I Kings vi. 1; 2 Chron. iii. 1.
Volumes have been written about the Temples of Solomon
and of Herod, but the very wide differences of view between
competent inquirers prove conclusively that the data are insuf-
ficient to enable ,us to form any detailed conception of their
The general measurements are indeed tolerably certain, and
they at once show us that the actual building was of very small
size. The walls were very thick, and the spaces within them,1
measured sixty cubits or 90 feet in length2 from east to west, and
twenty cubits or 30 feet in breadth from north to south. In heighth
the main part of the building was thirty cubits or 45 feet. These
numbers show that the dimensions of the Temple were meant to
be exactly twice as large as those of the ancient Tabernacle, of
which the general plan was scrupulously followed.3 The cham-
1 This is not expressly stated, but is inferred from various details.
2 We have the high authority of Mr. Fergusson, "Temples of the Jews,"
p. 16, for saying that the assumption that a cubit 18 inches meets all the
3 Wisd. ix. 8., "Thou hast commanded me to build a Temple in Thy
Holy Mount, and an Altar in the city wherein Thou dwellest, a copy of the
Holy Tabernacle which Thou didst before prepare from the beginning."
Thus the Temple was 45 feet high, and probably the Tabernacle was 15
feet + a ridge of 7 1/2 feet == 22 1/2 feet. The doubling of the proportions
will be better understood by this diagram of the Tabernacle which also
shows that the side - chambers had their analogy in the old "Tent of
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 79
bers upon the roof, if such there were, might seem to have implied
a complete departure from the ancient model, but they may
have been meant to occupy (by analogy), the space which must
have intervened between the flat roof of the old Tabernacle, and
the tent-like covering of the outer curtain which protected it.
The Porch, too, represented the space between the actual
entrance of the Temple and the ground overshadowed by the
outer covering of skins.1 This Porch extended along the whole
breadth of the house, and was ten cubits deep from east to
west. If the numbers given by the Chronicler be correct, it rose
to the astonishing and altogether disproportionate heighth of
120 cubits or 180 feet. It would thus be four times loftier than
the body of the house. This number is not mentioned in the
Book of Kings, which does not say how high the Porch was.
Neither the Temple of Venus (Astarte), at Paphos, represented
on coins of Caracalla, nor any other, presented this astonishing
disproportion; and as the Temple of Zerubbabel was sixty
cubits high, and that of Herod one hundred and twenty cubits
high, it is possible that the number may have been corrupted in
course of time. The true heighth of the Porch was, in all pro-
bability, thirty cubits, or 45 feet, i.e., it was of the same heighth
as the house itself. This is what we should expect, as it was the
case also in the Tabernacle. It may seem incredible that
the Chronicler should have added together the thirty cubits of
each side of the Porch, and so made it one hundred and twenty
cubits high; but there does seem some ground for suspecting
him of this extraordinary practice. Indeed, he admits it in the
case of the wings of the Cherubim. For be first tells us that
the wings were twenty cubits long, and then explains himself to
mean that each of the wings was five cubits long.2
The Holy of Holies, the Shrine, or Oracle, was overlaid with
pure gold, which expended the astonishing amount of six hundred
talents.3 As in the Tabernacle, it was a perfect cube,4 and it
was left in the mystery of unbroken darkness. This need not,
indeed, have been the case, for it was twenty cubits high, and
the three storeys of chambers which were built along its sides,
were only fifteen cubits high. Thus there would have been
room to let in latticework windows (like those of a cathedral
1 See the pictures and plans of the Tabernacle by Fergusson in the
"Dictionary of the Bible."
2 2 Chron. iii. 11. 3 2 Chron. iii. 8. 4 Comp. Rev. xxi. 16.
clerestory) in the topmost five cubits. This, however, would
have interfered with the awful sanctity of the shrine, wherein
was shadowed forth the dwelling-place of God amid thick
darkness. Nor was light a matter of necessity, for the Holiest
Place was only entered once, and then only for a few moments,
during the whole year. On the other hand, in the Holy
Place or Sanctuary where incense was daily burnt on the
golden table, and in which the Priests in their courses were
daily employed in lighting or putting out the lamps, and
placing or removing the shewbread, windows were indispen-
sable both for light and ventilation.1 They were made with
narrow lights, i.e., with crosswork lattices in the fifteen cubits of
wall which rose above the chambers.2 Two sides of the Temple
were surrounded by three storeys of chambers. They are called
side-chambers,3 and they certainly ran the length both of the
Holy and the Holiest Place. Whether they also enclosed the
end of the Holiest Place seems doubtful. Each storey was five
cubits high. The lowest storey was five cubits broad, the
second six, and the third seven. The greater breadth of the
upper storey was possible, because the wall of the house was
thick enough to allow of rebatements of one and two cubits
broad, in which the cedar floor of the chambers rested, without
any holes for the joists in the sacred building.4 A winding
stair led up into the middle chamber of the middle storey, and
thence into the upper storey. These chambers communicated
with each other, and were, according to Josephus, thirty in num-
ber. They were useful for a multitude of purposes. It does not
appear that they were ever inhabited, but they served as store-
rooms for the priests' garments, and for the immense accumu-
lations of Temple furniture.5 The hangings and coverings of
the old Tabernacle—of which we hear no more—were probably
stored away in one of these rooms, which cannot have been
mere cupboards, but must obviously have had windows on
the outside. We are nowhere told the number or the length
1 As in the old Tabernacle, the golden candlestick was only lit in the
evening and put out in the morning.
2 Authorized Version, "windows of narrow lights"; marg., "skewed and
closed"; Revised Version, "windows of fixed lattice-work."
3 I Kings vi. 5, Revised Versicn.
4 Thus they were a sort of "lean-to."
5 I Kings vii. 51; 2 Kings xi. 10; 2 Chron. v. 1.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 81
of these chambers, which, indeed, are not mentioned at all
in the Book of Chronicles. Ezekiel says, "The side-chambers
were three, one over another, and thirty in order." This seems
to mean that there were thirty in all on the sides of the house,
besides those (if any) at the end of the Oracle. Josephus
seems to understand "thirty in order " as though it meant thirty
times three, for he says there were ninety chambers. It is much
more probable that there were three storeys of five chambers on
each side, so that if there were any at the end there would be
thirty-nine in all.
The splendour of the Temple consisted in the costliness of its
materials. Every effort was made to build an abode which
should be worthy of Jehovah's habitation as far as the re-
sources and knowledge of that day permitted. But the art
of the period was immature, and the resources of so small a
kingdom were very limited compared with those of the Roman
or Byzantine Empire. Justinian's boast, "I have vanquished
thee, O Solomon," and the Khalif Omar's boast as he pointed to
the Dome of the Rock, "Behold, a greater than Solomon is
"here," might have been uttered by smaller potentates with
equal arrogance and equal truth.
Let us try to represent what a visitor would have seen had he
been permitted to wander into the sacred courts and buildings
of this most celebrated of earthly shrines.
Passing through the thickly clustering houses of the Levites1
and "the Porticoes,"2 he might enter the Temple precincts by
one of the numerous gateways mentioned in the Book of
Chronicles and elsewhere.3 These gates were of wood, overlaid
with brass. When he stood in the Outer Court he would have
seen on one side of the Temple area a grove of trees—olives,
palms, cedars, and cypresses —which added to the beauty of
the building, but were afterwards abused for idolatrous pur-
pose.4 The Halls of Assembly in this court were the work
1 I Chron. ix. 27.
2 These porticoes (Parbarim) are rendered "suburbs" in 2 Kings
xxiii. 11; comp. 1 Chron. xxvi. 18.
3 "Two gates did Solomon construct devoted to acts of mercy. Through
one gate the bridegrooms used to pass, through the other the mourners.
The people on the Sabbath rejoiced with the bridegrooms and consoled the
4 Ps. lii. 8; xcii. 13. There may be some dim reminiscence of fact in
82 THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON.
of later times. In the Outer Court itself he would have seen no
permanent structure, but morning and evening it would be
crowded with worshippers and with Levites passing to and fro
in their daily ministrations. To pass from the Outer Court into
the court which Jeremiah1 calls "the Higher Court," and which
is usually known as "the Court of the Priests," the visitor
would have had to pass up some steps, through an enclosure
built with three rows of hewn stones surmounted by a cornice
of cedar beams. Here he would have seen the great brazen
Altar, which, indeed, was visible over the partition from the
Outer Court. It was always intended that the people, standing
in the Outer Court, should see the whole series of daily and
festal ministrations and sacrifices which were conducted on
their behalf by the sons of Aaron. It was a large structure
covered with brass, and filled inside with earth and stones.
It was forbidden to clamp these stones together with iron,
because, as the Talmud says, iron is to shorten life, and the
altar to prolong life.2 It stood ten cubits high, the length and
the breadth of it being twenty cubits.3 On the south-eastern
side the stranger would have admired the huge laver for the
constant ablutions of the priests which was regarded as one
of the finest specimens of the skill of Hiram of Naphtali. It
was made of brass, and was known as the "brazen" or "molten
sea." It had a length and breadth of thirty cubits, and stood
five cubits high on the backs of twelve brazen oxen of the same
height, of which three faced towards each quarter of the heavens.4
It contained two thousand5 "baths" of water. Its rim was in
the form of a lily-blossom, and under this rim hung a garland
of wild gourds in bronze to the number of three hundred, which
the legend that Solomon planted in the Temple golden trees, which
produced all manner of fruits, and withered at the approach of idolaters
(Yoma, f. 21. 2).
1 Jer. xxxvi. 10. 2 Middoth, iii. 4.
3 According to the Talmud the altar was on the line of demarcation
between the districts of Judah and Benjamin (Yoma, f. 12. 1). The
Gemarists referred to this as a fulfilment of the blessing to Benjamin in
Deut. xxxiii. 12. We cannot tell whether it was of the form described
in Ezek. xliii. 14-16. It was a new altar. What became of Bezaleel's
old altar at Gideon is not stated.
4 A similar vessel of stone, 30 feet in circumference, adorned with the
image of a bull, lies among the fragments of Amathus in Cyprus (0.
Muller, "Archäol." § 240. 4; Duncker, ii. 184).
5 Or three thousand (2 Chron. iv. 5).
THE BUILDINGS OF' SOLOMON. 83
had been cast in two rows. It served as a great reservoir for
all the requirements of purification, and smaller supplies of
pure water could be carried wherever they were wanted in ten
brazen cauldrons on wheels, of which five stood on the right
of the Temple and five on the left. These, too, were adorned
with cherubic emblems and "pensile garlands." There were
no oxen under the laver of the Tabernacle (Exod. xxxviii. 8).1
Perhaps the devout and instructed stranger might have asked
with surprise whether these twelve brazen oxen were not so
many violations of the strict terms of the Second Commandment,
and whether the sanction of such "graven images" in the
House of God was not a defiance of the express law of God?
He would probably have been told in reply that a tacit excep-
tion had been made even by Moses in favour of the figures of
the Cherubim, which were symbols of the Divine Presence, and
that the idea of the Cherubim involved the fourfold attitudes of
the ox, the eagle, the lion, and the man. It is certain, however,
that this answer was not found perfectly satisfactory. Josephus
says that Solomon "sinned and fell into error about the obser-
vation of the Laws" in supporting the molten sea with oxen, and
in planting lions on the steps of the throne.2
There are four extant descriptions of Solomon's Temple.
The most ancient and trustworthy is that found in the Book of
Kings (v.-vii.). Later, but founded no doubt on early descrip-
tions and documents, is that in the Second Book of Chronicles.
The description of Josephus ("Antiq." viii. 3, § 7, 8) is mingled
with all kinds of Rabbinic and apocryphal exaggerations. A
fourth description is preserved by Eusebius3 from the Greek his-
torian Eupolemus. Of the value of this account we are unable to
judge, because we do not know from what sources it was derived.
It is probable that the actual Temple stood on an elevated
platform, like that which now rises 16 feet above the level
of the ground, upon the centre of which lies the Sakhra rock,
which g.ves its name of "Dome of the Rock" to the Mosque
of Omar. The Temple of Herod, according to the Mishna,
was entirely built on raised arches.4
We know that inside the Temple no stone was visible; all was
of gilded cedar wood and olive and cypress wood variously carved,
1 The reading "oxen" in 2 Chron. iv. 3 should probably he "wild-
gourds,'" as in 1 Kings vii. 24. 2 Josephus, "Antiq.," viii. 7, § 5.
3 Eusebius, "Præp. Ev." ix. 34. 4 Parah. iii. 3. 6.
and tapestried in parts by purple and embroidered hangings.
But what was the external aspect of the sacred building itself—
"the joy of the whole earth"? Strangely enough our existing
records leave us entirely in the dark on this point. In the works
of later Rabbis we have glowing and highly imaginative descrip-
tions of the aspect of the Third Temple, but even these are
too vague to help our imagination. The outside of Solomon's
Temple, and its general appearance, are left almost undescribed.
We know that there was a richly-ornamented porch, but we do
not even know with any certainty whether the building itself
was covered with one level roof,1 or whether, on the outside, as
well as within, the Holy of Holies appeared to be of lower
elevation. We do not know whether the roof was flat, or, as
the Rabbis say, ridged. On the top of it there seem to have
been some gilded upper chambers.2 There can be no reasonable
doubt that the roof of the old Tabernacle rose in a ridge,
for otherwise the outer skins would have sunk down and torn
the curtains, which, in case of a rainfall, might have been broken
through altogether. It is true that the Temple was covered
with beams and boards of cedar, but unless they were sloped to
both sides, or supported by pillars, it would have been difficult to
secure beams more than 30 feet long from becoming warped and
sagged.3 We know that on approaching it we should have seen a
1 As Ewald thinks. He supposes that the space of ten cubits above the
roof of the Holy of Holies was left quite empty, but that the roof of the
Holy Place was prolonged to the end of the building (iii. 238).
2 2 Chron. iii. 9. In 2 Kings xviii. 12 we read of altars on the top of
the upper chambers.
3 This is the ground plan of Mr. Robins. It should be noticed that
when Solomon is said to have made "pillars for the House of the Lord
(1 Kings x. 12), the words should be rendered "rails" or "balustrades"
(Comp. 2 Chron. ix. 11).
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON 85
three-storeyed house, over which rose the lattice-perforated wall
of the Temple itself; but, besides this uncertainty about the
roof, we do not even know whether the outer surface was of
stone, or whether it was over-laid with cedar wood, or with
precious metals,1 as the Chronicler seems to imply; nor whether
it was ornamented or left blank. Nay, it has even been a
matter of dispute whether the general character of the Temple
was Greek, or Egyptian, or Phoenician; though the use of
cedar beams and large blocks of stone hewn in squares, and
joined without mortar, together with the whole history of the
structure, seems to prove decisively that the style of architec-
ture was borrowed directly from neighbouring Tyre.2
Approaching the Porch the eye would have been first caught
by two superb pillars, which were regarded as being in those
days a miracle of art, and which for unknown reasons received
the names of Jachin (the name of a son of Simeon in Numb.
xxvi. 12) and Boaz, the name of Solomon's ancestor.3 They
were of gigantic thickness, being each twelve cubits (18 feet
in circumference, and were of fluted bronze. The actual
shafts were only eighteen cubits (27 feet) in height.4 Their
"capitals," which were five cubits (7 feet) high, resembled
an opening lotos-blossom, and round the calyx of each was
a net-work, to which was attached a double wreath of bronze
pomegranates to the number of two hundred. On the top
of the chapiter was a beam or abacus ornamented with lily-
1 That it was overlaid externally with thin plinths of gold and silver
might seem incredible, yet according to Polybius (x. 27, § 10) this was
actually the case with the roof of the palace at Ecbatana., and according to
Herodotus (i. 98), with two rows of the external battlements of the city-
2 Duncker, ii. 278. From the amount of cedar wood employed in the
construction the Temple is called "Lebanon" (Zech. xi. 1).
3 "After some favourite persons of the time, perhaps young sons of
Solomon" (Ewald, iii. 237). He illustrates the conjecture by the names of
Phasael and Marianne which Herod gave to his two towers at Jerusalem.
The LXX., in 2 Chron. iii. 17, call them Κατόσθωσις and ’Ισχυς, "cor-
rection" and "strength." The words cannot mean, "He will establish,"
and "In strength," as Reville suggests.
4 In 2 Chron. iii. 15 and Jer. lii. 21 (LXX.) the height is said to have
been thirty-five cubits, but this is perhaps an error for thirty-six, the height
of the two together.
work.1 Yet, strange to say, it is a matter of dispute whether
these two pillars stood detached before the Porch, or were
mere ornaments within it, or formed part of its absolute sup-
port, or, as is now believed by many, belonged to a detached
gate (loran) in front of the Porch itself.2 They were broken up
and carried away four centuries afterwards by the king of
The Porch was probably hung inside with gilded shields,
David's spoils of war, won from the splendidly equipped soldiers
1 Pomegranates typified good works. "Giotto placed a pomegranate fruit
in the hand of Dante, and Ratfaelle crowned his Dante with blossoms of
the same." "Lilies" were a new ornament, and peculiar to this epoch
(only mentioned in Canticles and in Hosh. xiv. 5).
2 The use and position of these pillars depends a good deal on the
rendering of the word כֹּתֶוֶת, translated "chapiter" in our Authorized
Version, but epithema in the Septuagint. Some have taken it to mean "an
entablature." Taking advantage of this hint, Fergusson, in his latest de-
signs, supposed that the pillars were neither detached like obelisks, and
with exaggerated capitals, but that they supported a screen or gateway,
"like the vine-bearing screen described by Josephus and the Talmud as
existing in front of the Temple of Herod." His design for this supposed
gateway is "based on the Japanese and Indian toran like those forming
gateways to the Great Tope at Sanchi. His conception may be roughly in-
dicated thus. It will be seen that this harmonizes with the statement in
1 Kings vii. i6, for thus there is a double "chapiter" or epithema of network
ornamented with pomegranates, each epithema being five cubits high, and
one (a melathron) of lily-work six cubits high; and thus also we get the
total height of thirty-five cubits in 2 Chron. iii. 15.
3 2 Kings xxiv. 13; Jer. lii. 21, 22
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 87
of Hadarezer; perhaps also with other specimens of armour like
the sword of Goliath. It was ornamented apparently with the
sort of conventional circular carving which is described as lily-
work, and was exceedingly common in Persian buildings.
Passing through this porch, the Priests came to the large
two-leaved door of the Holy Place, made in four squares.1 It
was a door of cypress wood2 overlaid with gold of Parvaim,3 and
it turned on golden hinges. The gold of ceiling and walls was
carved with ornaments of flowers and pomegranates, and palm
branches.4 In the Holy Place stood the golden altar of incense,
and the golden table on which was placed the daily offering of
shewbread, or "bread of the face," bread offered up in the
presence of God. According to the statement of the Chronicler,
instead of the one table of shewbread in the Tabernacle there
were ten—five on the south and five on the north side.5 What
became of the old golden seven-branched candlestick we are not
told. It must undoubtedly have been preserved, but Solomon
seems to have supplied its place with ten candlesticks, five on
each side the door of the Holiest.6 Nothing that was in the
Holiest Place was visible from the Sanctuary except the projecting
ends of the golden staves which had been used to carry the Ark.7
The door of the Holiest Place, which was probably much
smaller than that of the Holy Place, was made of wild-olive
wood, and seems to have been in two leaves. The object of
1 Such seems to be the meaning of the obscure clause in I Kings vi. 34.
The advantage of the construction would be that only a quarter of the
door need be opened at a time.
2 Authorized Version, "fir-tree."
3 Gold of Parvaim must mean the best gold, but is variously explained
and occurs here only. It has been derived (1) from Sepharvaim (Knobel); (2)
from Sanskrit paru, "hill" (Hitzig); (3) from Sanskrit pûrva, "eastern,"
(Wilford); (4) from Taprobane (Bochart).
4 2 Chron. iii. 5, where "chains"=festoons, and "cieled" should be
5 2 Chron. iv. 8. But the Book of Kings only mentions one table of
shewbread (1 Kings vii. 48), and 2 Chron. xiii. 11, xxix. 18, speak of one
candlestick and one table for shewbread in common use.
6 Josephus, with his usual extravagance, says that Solomon made ten
thousand candlesticks and ten thousand tables; to say nothing of ten
thousand priestly garments of fine linen with purple girdles, two hundred
thousand trumpets and albs for the Levites, &c.
7 It is not clear how these were visible, as there was a curtain (2 Chron.
iii. 14). Perhaps they bulged out this curtain; or was the curtain inside?
the leaves was to open only a small part of the door if necessary.
What is meant by "the lintel and sideposts were a fifth part of
the wall" is very uncertain. The Vulgate renders it "the portal
having posts of five angles," but neither does this throw much
light on the subject. Perhaps it is meant that as the cedar
partition was twenty cubits broad, and twenty cubits high, so
the framework of the door was four cubits high and broad;
whereas the door of the Holy Place was a fourth part of the
wall, namely five cubits broad and high. The wooden leaves of
this smaller door, like those of the Holy Place, were carved
with cherubim, palm-trees, and open flowers, and overlaid with
gold. This door of the Oracle—or at least one leaf of it—was
always open, but the interior was concealed from view by a veil
of blue, purple, and crimson,1 woven with cherubim, before which
hung festoons of golden chains. The partition in which the
door stood was of cedar wood. The floors of the entire house
were of cypress wood, overlaid with gold.
The question naturally arises whether the entire structure was
supported by interior pillars or not? They are not mentioned,
but it seems almost certain that they must have existed in order
to give stability to the cedar beams. If so, there were probably
four on each side in the Holy Place, and two on each side in
the Oracle. The tables in the Holy Place would then stand in
the interspaces of the pillars.
The Holiest Place was plunged in unbroken and perpetual
gloom. It contained nothing but the Ark, and one or two other
precious memorials of the Mosaic age.2 Such was the sanctity of
this most venerable relic and of the stone tablets of the Mosaic
Law which it contained, that it was transferred into the Temple
of Solomon unaltered, and placed upon the now sacred rock on
which had stood the threshing floor of Araunah,3 and which was
identified by uncertain Jewish tradition with the rock on which
Abraham had purposed to offer his son Isaac.4 But though the
1 Mentioned only in 2 Chron. iii. 14.
2 Nothing is however said of the pot of manna, the rod of Aaron, and
the Book of the Law.
3 See x Chron. xxii. 1. In the LXX. addition to the narrative of 2 Sam.
xxiv. 25 we find "Solomon afterwards enlarged this altar of David, for
at first it was but small." (See 2 Chron. iii. 1.) "Moriah" means "ap-
pearance of Jehovah."
4 Josephus, " Antiq." i. 13, § 1. vii. 13 § 4. Targum of Onkelos on
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 89
Ark and its original capporeth or "propitiatory" was left un-
changed, Solomon overshadowed it with a new and magnificent
covering. This consisted of two cherubim ten cubits high,
their outstretched wings, of which each was five cubits long,
extended to the wall on either side, and touched each other
over the centre of the Ark.1 These cherubim, which were
doubtless analogous in conception to the winged figures so pre-
valent in Egypt and Assyria, represented the highest forms of
created intelligence. Those on the "mercy-seat" were represented
as gazing down upon the Tables of the Moral Law as the direct
revelation of Jehovah's will. In the Tabernacle these cherubic
figures faced each other;2 in the Temple they looked outward
towards the Holy Place.3 We do not know whether they were
in the shape of winged angels or of winged calves. That they
were not like the "fourfold visaged four" of Ezekiel may be re-
garded as certain, but each of the four cherubic emblems was
regarded as forming a perfect cherub, and as symbolizing the
highest forms of created life, as being themselves an aspect of
the revelation of the Divine, and especially in proportion as
they remain in union with the moral law of God.
It is needless to add that the service of the Temple required
a countless number of golden, silvern, and brazen vessels,
which were made under the superintendence of the Tyrian
artist. Even the commonest utensils for the service of the
Sanctuary and the Oracle—the censers, the bowls, the plates,
and even the instruments to trim the lamps—were of pure gold.
The whole structure was completed in sacred silence. The
awful sanctity of the shrine would have been violated if its erec-
tion had been accompanied by the harsh and violent noises
which would accompany the ordinary toil of masons. Every
stone and beam therefore had been carefully prepared before-
hand, and was merely carried to its place; "So that neither was
1 In 2 Chron. iii. 10, they are called "cherubim of image work'' (marg.,
moveable). The odd word צעצעים is probably a clerical error for עצים,
"wooden." Josephus is probably insincere, when he says, "No man can
tell, or even conjecture, of what shape the cherubim were." Pagan slanders
about the Jews worshipping an ass, &c., made him chary of the admission
of animal symbols. On this subject see my article in Kitto's "Cyclo-
pxdia," and Canon Cheyne's " Isaiah," vol. i. p. 40.
2 Exod. xxxvii. 9.
3 2 Chron. iii. 13, "Their faces were inward, i.e., towards the Holy
hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while
it was building."1
The workmanship must have been good, for we only read of
necessary repairs first in the reign of Joash, about B.C. 856, a
century and a half after the Temple had been dedicated, and
once again two centuries later, in the days of King Josiah. It
had stood upwards of four 'centuries, when it was destroyed by
The erection occupied seven years and a half,2 in spite of the
small size of the actual Temple. Size indeed was no element of
its magnificence, for it was much smaller than many an English
church. But it must be remembered that it was not in-
tended either for priests or worshippers. Ancient and Eastern
worship was mainly in the open air; the shrine itself only
symbolized the residence of God. Even when we allow for
immense preparations, the time devoted to the building is com-
paratively insignificant. The temple of the Ephesian Artemis
took two hundred years to build, and four hundred to embellish.
One pyramid required the toil of three hundred and sixty
thousand men for twenty years.3 Westminster Abbey did not
assume its present size and aspect for many centuries. But no
building in the world has ever been more widely famous than
the Temple of Solomon. The name of the Jewish capital had
no connection either with the Temple or with Solomon, but it
was so identified with the king and the city in the imagination
of mankind that the word Jerusalem was significantly perverted
into Hierosolyma, as though it were of Greek derivation, and
meant "the Temple of the Solymi."
Israel had now an earthly king, but the tribes had not
forgotten that their ideal was still a theocratic government;
that, in the highest sense of all, the Lord God was their King,
and that in that House and in Jerusalem He had put His name
for ever. The Temple was thenceforth the centre of all their
national life, and that centre was no idol shrine, no material
image, but the symbolic palace of Him whom heaven, and the
1 Probably in consequence of the prohibition of iron tools in erecting the
altar (Exod. xx. 25).
"No workman's axe, no ponderous hammer rung,
Like some tall palm the noiseless fabric sprung."
2 From the fourth to the eleventh year of Solomon's reign.
3 Pliny, "Hist Nat." xxxvi. 12.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 91
heaven of heavens, could not contain. The Tabernacle of God
was with men. He would dwell with them and walk with them,
but still they should see nothing material: no manner of simi-
litude should confuse their conception of a God who was a
Spirit. This was the one fact which struck the heathen with most
amazement. When the profane foot of Pompey intruded into the
Holiest he was lost in astonishment to find nothing there
vacuam sednz et inania arcana.1 In consequence of this the
general view of the Greeks and Romans about the Jews was
that, as they had no visible object of worship, they worshipped
the clouds—"Nil praeter nubes et coeli numen adorant."
For it must be remembered that the actual Temple was not
in those days primarily intended to be a House of Prayer. Its
golden chambers were not trodden by the feet of a single
worshipper except the Priests and Levites, and none but the
High Priest ever entered into the darkness of the Holiest Place,
and that but once in the whole year. The Temple was the
visible House of God, the place where His honour dwelt, a House
for Him rather than for His congregation. And the main
public worship of the Temple precincts consisted of chanting
and sacrifice, although we read also of prayers being offered
both publicly and privately in the great open court.
It is probable that the taste of a modern worshipper would
have been shocked beyond measure by the appearance and
smell of the Temple Court. On many occasions it must have
been converted—there is no other expression—into a ghastly
abattoir, which but for immense care in purification would soon
have been prolific of pestilence.2 In that comparatively con-
fined area cattle, large and small, were constantly being slain
to the number of many thousands. The floors must literally
have swum with blood, and under the blaze of Eastern sunlight,
the burning of fat and flesh on the large blazing altar must have
been carried on amid heaps of sacrificial foulness—offal and
skins and thick smoke and steaming putrescence—which must,
beyond all human possibility of prevention, have given to the
Outer Court the semblance of huge shambles. No doubt the
system of rocky subterranean drainage was colossal, and it is
1 Tacitus, "Hist." v. 9.
2 The Talmud invents two miracles—that "the carcases never became
putrid, and no fly was ever to be seen in the slaughter-houses" (Yoma,
f. 21. 1).
probable that there was once a perennial spring on the
Temple Mount.1 All that an army of Priests and Levites.
could do to keep the place clean and tolerable was done.
The molten sea, the wheeled caldrons of water, the supplies
stored up in rocky cisterns, and brought from the Pools of
Solomon at Etam, were doubtless in incessant requisition; but
as the driven and doomed animals were constantly congre-
gated and slaughtered in the actual precincts, no power short
of a stupendous and unrecorded miracle could have kept pure
and clean and sweet, to our modern conceptions, the crowded
scene of sacrifice where, morning and evening, droves of
oxen were assembled, and sometimes even in hecatombs the
victims bled. We must not, however, forget either that these
sacrifices were full of awful significance to the worshippers, or
that the sacrificial ceremonies were accompanied by private
devotions, and by the thrilling music of psalms and hymns and
The ceremony of the Dedication was by far the most mag-
nificent that the nation had ever seen.2 So immense were the
preparations which it required that, as has sometimes been the
case with modern coronations, it was postponed for nearly a
year after the completion of the building. It was thus made
nearly coincident with the autumn Feast of Tabernacles, so that
the two feasts in succession occupied fourteen days.3
The old Tabernacle—contrasting strangely in its rough sim-
plicity with the gorgeous costliness of the new Temple, and
a striking proof of the vast advance made by the fortunes of
the people—was brought by a solemn procession of Priests and
Levites from the High Place at Gibeon, which was henceforth
1 See Tacitus, "Hist." V. 12, "fons perennis aquæ"; and comp. Ps.
xlvi. 4, lxxxvii. 7; Zech. xiv. 18; Ezek. xlvii. 1-12. The water supply of
Jerusalem has been grievously diminished by denudation and the cutting
down of trees.
2 From I Kings vi. 38, ix. 1, we should infer that Solomon delayed the
dedication Thirteen years, till all his buildings were finished. It seems better
to suppose that this is merely due to the arrangement of the documents;
for from 2 Chron. v.-vii., we should certainly draw the more natural con-
clusion that the Temple was dedicated as soon as it was finished.
3 The Temple was finished in the eighth month of the eleventh year
(I Kings vi. 38); it was dedicated it. the seventh month (Tisri or Ethanim)
of the twelfth year.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 93
to be abandoned.1 With it they brought all that yet remained
of its ancient vessels and furniture, especially the golden altar
of incense and the golden table of shewbread.2 This removal
was doubtless inaugurated with sacrifices. But far more splendid
was the procession of Priests, Princes, and chief representatives
of the tribes which brought the Ark from the temporary sanc-
tuary in which it had been placed on Mount Zion forty years
before. It was in the month Ethanim,3 and was doubtless a
repetition on a more imposing scale of the triumphal march,
accompanied by songs and dances, with which David had
accompanied the Ark from the house of Obed-Edom.
The Priests lifted the Ark out of its shrine, and replaced it
in the Holiest; the Levites of the family of Kohath carried it
from Gibeon to the Temple Mount. All the Elders, and Priests,
and Levites, and people of Israel flocked to Jerusalem, from
the borders of Harnath, on the north of Libanus, to the torrent
of Egypt—the brook
Egypt from Syrian ground."
No true Israelite, however distant his home, would like to be
absent from the celebration of an event of such unique im-
portance in the history of his nation.
The king himself accompanied the procession in all his
royal state, and again the road swam with the blood of sacri-
fices, too many to be counted. The great Outer Court was
thronged with myriads of worshippers who were not allowed
to proceed further. The Ark passed into the darkness of the
Oracle, and was seen no more till it was carried away by Nebu-
chadnezzar four centuries afterwards, except so far as it was
dimly visible under its blood-besprinkled mercy-seat to the
eyes of the High Priest by the light of his burning censer on
the Day of Atonement.
So mysterious was the emblem, that the historians record it
1 It was probably stowed away in one of the chambers (1 Chron. xxiii. 32).
It was supposed to be still in existence in the days of Jeremiah (see
2 Macc. ii. 4). The Rabbis say that it was put in a room at the top of the
2 Eupolemus ap. Eusebius, Præp. Ev." ix. 34.
3 Ethanim (called Tisri after the Exile) was part September and October.
The name, perhaps, means (LXX., 'Αθανίμ) the "month of gifts," i.e.,
vintage offerings (Thenius).
as noticeable that the staves by which it was carried were now
drawn out in sign of rest. This had been previously forbidden.1
The ends of these long staves were only visible when a spec-
tator stood in the Holy Place, opposite to the door of the
Holiest, but even then could not be seen by any one who stood
in the Porch or Court.2
When the Ark was deposited on its rocky support,3 under the
protecting wings of the golden cherubim, the king, who com-
pletely absorbed the leading, functions on this occasion, took
his seat in the presence of his congregated people on a brazen
scaffold three cubits high, five broad, and five long, which had
been erected for him in the midst of the Court of the Priests,
in front of the altar. From this point he was visible to the
whole congregation assembled in the Outer Court, for he was
only separated from them by a low partition wall, and he stood
on higher ground. The steps of the huge altar itself were occu-
pied by dense groups of Priests and Levites, and musicians,
robed in white, and holding in their hands the glittering harps
and cymbals, and the psalteries in their red frames of precious
wood.4 A hundred and twenty trumpeters, all Priests, rent the
air with the sudden blast of their silver trumpets, as the king
took his seat, clad in his gorgeous robes and conspicuous in
manly beauty. Then the mighty song of praise swelled from
innumerable voices. The moment was one of awful solemnity,
in which the feelings of the Priests and of the whole congrega-
tion were wrought to the highest pitch, and amid the blaze of
sudden glory—the Shekinah or glory-cloud, which was to them
a token of God's immediate approval—even the anointed
ministers of the house were overpowered with awe, and so
much dazzled as scarcely to be able to perform their ministry.
1 Exod. xxv. 13-15. Nothing is said of the sacred objects mentioned
in Heb. ix. 4.
2 2 Chron. v. 9, where the words, "were seen from the Ark," are almost
certainly a corruption for "from the Holy Place" (1 Kings viii. 8).
3 Just as the Greeks regarded the Temple of Delphi as the navel
(omphalos) of the world, so the Jews regarded the Temple of Jerusalem as
the centre point of the universe, for which they quoted Ezek. v. 5 (Yoma,
4 The One Hundred and Thirty-sixth Psalm, or some psalm of the same
structure, was chanted by alternate choirs of Levites, who, at the close of
the ceremony, seem to have chanted in an unwonted attitude of prostration
(2 Chron. vii. 3).
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 95
When the burst of music and psalmody was hushed, the heart
of the king–deeply moved at that supreme moment of his
life—broke into brief words of prophetic song. Turning his
face to the standing multitudes he blessed them, and briefly
spoke of the history and significance of the new House of God.
Then in the presence of all the congregation he came forward
to the altar of the Lord, and with his palms upturned to heaven,
as though to receive its outpoured gifts—which was the usual
attitude of Eastern prayer—he kneeled down. This is the first
instance in Scripture in which this attitude of prayer is men-
tioned, and it was a sign of deep humiliation. To the latest
days of Jewish history men as a rule stood up, instead of kneel-
ing down, to pray.
The prayer was a long and passionate entreaty to God to
show His favour to His Temple, and to hear the prayers and
supplications of His people, both individually and collectively,
and even of strangers, who in the agonies of sin, or defeat, or
famine, or pestilence, or exile, should pray either in the courts
of that house or turning their face towards it.1 But the most re-
markable feature of the prayer is its extreme spirituality. Rising
far above the spirit of his age, the builder of the Temple feels,
and expresses the thought of St. Paul, that God dwelleth not
in temples trade with hands, neither is worshipped with man's
hands as though He needed anything, seeing that "the heaven
of heavens cannot contain Thee, how much less the house that
I have built." The king then rose from his knees, and once
more blessed the congregation with a loud voice, ending with
an exhortation to the people to be faithful to God's command-
Then began the stupendous thankoffering of 22,000 oxen, and
120,000 sheep. Doubtless neither king nor people had yet fully
realized that these were not in themselves pleasing to God, but
that to Him the righteousness of a sincere heart is dearer than
thousands of rams, and ten thousands of rivers of oil. We find
it hard to realize the possibility of so immense a slaughter, but
it may be paralleled even by modern instances.2 The brazen
1 Dr. Edersheim ingeniously compares it with the Lord's Prayer. It
resembles in many respects the Book of Deuteronomy, and consists of an
introduction, seven petitions, and a solemn conclusion.
2 Julian's holocausts were so enormous that men sneeringly declared
that the race of men was threatened with extinction. Josephus tells us of
altar however, huge as it was, was wholly inadequate to such
unprecedented masses of offerings, and, for this occasion, Solo-
mon consecrated the whole Court. The Chronicler adds to the
older narrative that during this tremendous ceremony a fire de-
scended miraculously from heaven and consumed the offerings,
and that when the vast multitude saw the falling flame, and the
glory-cloud of God's visible Presence, they prostrated them-
selves upon the earth, while once more the trumpets pealed
forth, and the Levites raised the choral chant, "Praise the
Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever!" The
sacrifice was followed by a feast of the collected myriads of
worshippers, which lasted for a week, and was succeeded by
the Feast of Tabernacles.1 When the whole ceremony of in-
auguration was finished—the day of which David had dreamed
and sung far off2 — the king dismissed the people, who in their
turn blessed him and went to their homes with hearts full of joy
and gratitude for all that God had done for their nation and for
the house of David. There was no more magnificent solemnity
than this in the whole history of the Jews, and the memory
and the consequences of it continued to the latest days. And
so unique was the position of Solomon towards the house—so
fully was the half-sacerdotal character of his soverignty recog-
nized—that he not only offered sacrifices in person three times
every year upon the brazen altar, but was even permitted—if we
rightly understand an obscure text in the Book of Kings3—to
the 256,500 paschal lambs offered in Jerusalem in one year ("B. J." vi. 9,
3). Dean Stanley refers to Burton's "Pilgrimage," i. 318, where we are
told that the Khalif Moktader, at Mecca, sacrificed 40,000 camels, and
50,000 sheep. It must be remembered that, except in the case of whole
burnt-offerings, the greater part of the animal was eaten when the fat parts
had been burnt on the altar.
1 This is the probable meaning of 1 Kings viii. 65, 66, where, however,
the words, "and seven days, even fourteen days," which do not accord with,
"On the eighth day," are not in the LXX., and are probably interpolated
from 2 Chron. vii. 9. Nothing whatever is said of the Day of Atonement,
which does not seem to have been observed. There are other difficulties,
for the eighth day of the Feast should be the twenty-second of the month
(Lev. xxiii. 39), but in 2 Chron, vii. 10 it is called the twenty-third.
2 See Ps. cxxxii.
3 I Kings ix. 25. This and other texts are no doubt susceptible of the
interpretation that "qui facit per alium facit per se;" but certainly the
impression left by the repetition of such notices is that Solomon performed
those priestly offices in person.
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 97
enter into the Holy Place itself and burn incense upon the
golden altar. If this was so, the concession was unique, and in
later times the leprosy of King Uzziah was regarded as a direct
punishment for his presumptuous usurpation of an office which
belonged properly to the Priests alone.1
Nor was this Cloud of Glory and descending flame the only
token of Divine favour. When all was over Solomon once more
saw a vision such as he had seen in Gibeon towards the begin-
ning of his reign. God said to him in his dream that He had
accepted his prayer, and, on the one condition of faithfulness,
would establish the kingdom in his house, and continue to bless
If we would estimate the mingled enthusiasm and love
inspired in the hearts of faithful Israelites by the Temple and its
services, we have only to read such a Psalm as the Eighty-fourth.
"How amiable are Thy tabernacles, Thou Lord of hosts!
My soul longeth, yea fainteth, for the courts of the Lord.
* * * * *
Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house:
They will still be praising Thee.
* * * * *
I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."
or Psalm cxxii.—
"I was glad when they said unto me,
Let us go into the house of the Lord.
* * * * *
For my brethren and companions' sake
I would now say, Peace be with thee.
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God
I will seek thy good."2
1 It was the belief of the Jews that the Second Temple differed from the
first in the presence of five things—the Ark; the Sacred Fire; the She-
kinah; the Holy Spirit (i.e., the possession by the High Priest of the gift
of prophecy); and the Urim and Thummim (Yoma, f. 21. 2). This,
however, is only an inference by Gematria, from the omission of the final
h (ה) in the verb, "I will be glorified" (ואנבד) in Hag. i. 8; since the
letter (ה) = 5. The Talmudic hyperboles about the Temple are amazing,
e.g., that the noise of its opening gates was heard ten miles off, and that
the goats of Jericho smelt its incense (Yoma, f. 39, 2).
2 Similar feelings are expressed in Psalms xxiv., xxvi., xlii., lxxii., and
The affection of the nation for this sacred building and its
successors never ceased. They called it the "House of the
Sanctuary," the "House of Ages."1 In the Talmud we find the
enigma, "Let the Beloved, son of the Beloved, come and
let him build the Beloved to the Beloved on the land of the
Beloved, by which the Beloved may be atoned for":—which
means, "Let Solomon (2 Sam. xii. 25), the son of Abraham (Jer.
xi. 15), build the Temple (Ps. lxxxiv. 1) to God (Isa. v. 1) in
Benjamin (Deut. xxxiii. 12) to atone for Israel (Jer. xii. 7).
The Temple was the last relic of their independent nationality
for which they fought. When it rose in lurid light above their
last struggle with the legions of Titus,
"As 'mid the cedar courts and gates of gold
The trampled ranks in miry carnage rolled,
To save their Temple every hand essayed,
And with cold fingers grasped the feeble blade;
Through their torn veins reviving fury ran,
And life's last anger warmed the dying man."
To this day a Jew entering Jerusalem for the first time rends
his garments and cries, "Our holy and beautiful house, where
our fathers praised Thee, is burned with fire."2
"Since the destruction of the Temple," said Rabbi Simon Ben
Gamaliel, "a day has not passed without a curse, the dew does
not come down with a blessing, and the fruits have not their
The completion of the Temple was the natural occasion for
carrying out in practice that reorganization of the entire minis-
tries of service which, as we read in the Book of Chronicles,
David had devised, and which was rendered absolutely essential
by the great multitude of the Priests and Levites.
The Levites, divided into the three main families of Koha-
thites, Gershonites, and Merarites, were no less than 38,000 in
number. They now acquired a new importance and a large
increase of duties. They were divided as follows—the general
care of the Temple service was entrusted to 24,000; 6,000 were
officers and judges; 4,000 were porters; 4,000 were musicians.
1 Josephus, "Antiq." viii. 15, § 2.
2 Moed Qaton, f. 26. I.
3 Soteh, f. 48. 1; Berakhoth, f. 59. 1 (Hershon, "Talmud. Miscell."
p. 230, &c.)
THE BUILDINGS OF SOLOMON. 99
How elaborate was the musical service may be judged by
the fact that besides the singers there was a band of no more
than 288 with their leaders, all skilled in playing musical
instruments: the 3,700 singers were also divided into 24
courses.1 Probably the antiphonal service of the sanctuary
was of a character as stately and imposing as was at all
possible to the resources of the age, and the music, simple
as it must have been, had a charm for the multitude who
assembled in the Temple Courts and deepened their affection
for their holy and beautiful House of God.
The two families of Priests were divided into twenty-four
courses, numbering one thousand seven hundred and sixty, and
were required to provide for the due maintenance of the services
week by week. Besides these there were numerous Nethinim
—temple-serfs, descendants of the ancient Gibeonites—who were
employed in the more menial offices as hewers of wood and
drawers of water. The whole worship of the nation was
thus concentrated round one building which was meant to sym-
bolize the actual residence and presence of Jehovah in the midst
of His people. This was the reason why no treasures of gold
or precious stones were deemed too costly, no skill of art too
elaborate to be lavished on a sanctuary where God was believed
to dwell between the outstretched wings of the cherub-chariot.2
1 The details are given in i Chron. xxiii.-xxvi.
2 This expression is used of the two cherubim of Solomon even in
1 Chron. xxviii. 18. The Temple is called the " Palace " of Jehovah in
xxix. i, 19, though there only. The word is a Persian word (bîrah ), else-
where only found in Nehemiah, Esther, and Daniel.
APPENDIX TO CHAPTER VIII.
ON THE PLAN AND ASPECT OF THE TEMPLE.
Ideal reconstructions—Few remains—Scantiness of trustworthy information
—Fancies of Josephus—Recent excavations—The Talmud—Size of
the platform—Theories as to the style—I. Professor Wilkins and the
Greek theory; now abandoned—2. Canina and the Egyptian theory—
3. Fergusson, Robins, and others believe that the architecture was
Asiatic and Phoenician; reasons for this view—Analogous buildings—
The Temple as restored on the Phoenician theory.
THE authorities on which we have to depend for the recon-
struction of Solomon's Temple are purely verbal. We do not
possess even the slightest pictured outline, and the sole remains
of it, if there be any, are only in the massive substructions of the
vast platform on which it rested. Practically the Book of Kings
is our only real authority. The authors of the Book of
Chronicles furnish but few elucidatory details. Josephus idea-
lizes and exaggerates, doubles, and sometimes even quadruples,
the authentic proportions. He is also misled by attributing to
Solomon the architectural features which belonged only to the
Temple of Herod with which he was familiar. The "great and
broad cloisters," the "high gates overlaid with gold, and fronting
each of the four winds," and other details, are, as far as Solomon
is concerned, the mere product of the Jewish historian's
imagination. A single fact may suffice to convict him of extra-
vagant hyperbole. He says that Solomon filled up great valleys
into which a man could not look without his head swimming,
and that the ground was elevated four hundred cubits (600
feet). The recent excavations of Captain Warren and others
have shown that "the lowest stone of the oldest wall of the
ON THE PLAN AND ASPECT OF THE TEMPLE. 101
present Temple area stands on the rock itself, and the summit
of Mount Moriah is but 163 feet above the rock on which
the lowest stone rests. That is to say, Josephus has quadrupled
the height in his glowing description.1 . . . He rarely con-
tradicts the Sacred Scriptures, but rather omits or supplements
them, or else takes advantage of some verbal discrepancy or
peculiar mode of expression to introduce his own notions,
whenever it serves his purpose to do so, or tends to exalt
the glory of his people Israel."2
If Josephus can only be used with extreme caution as an
authority for Solomon's Temple, the Talmud may be pro-
nounced absolutely worthless for this purpose. It hardly even
professes to preserve a single traditional detail of the smallest
value. Indeed, the allusions of the Talmud have reference
almost exclusively to Herod's Temple; and although this Third
Temple, like that of Zerubbabel, five centuries earlier, was in
its main conception a reproduction of that of Solomon, which
was again five centuries before Zerubbabel's, yet it differed in
size, in magnificence, and probably also in many external par-
ticulars. The ideal Temple of Ezekiel is modelled on that of
Solomon, but throws no high on the points which are obscure.
In reading the descriptions of Herod's Temple, we must re-
member Mr. Fergusson's warning, that it made up "a rich and
varied pile worthy of the Roman love of architectural display,
but in singular contrast with the modest aspirations of a purely
Modern excavations, though they have produced many in-
teresting results, have not as yet succeeded in finally solving
such elementary problems as the size of the platform on which
Solomon's Temple was built, or the part of the entire platform
which the Temple occupied, or the position of his palace with
reference to it. Even as to the space occupied by the Temple
1 The only things which he diminishes are the Cherubim. He makes these
only half their real height, but, to make up for it, says that they were of solid
2 I take these remarks from the interesting and valuable pamphlet of Mr.
E. C. Robins, F.S.A., "A Review of the Various Theories respecting the
Form, &c., of the Temple of Solomon" (Dryden Press, London, 1886),
Mr. Robins has very kindly allowed me to avail myself of his researches in
this Appendix, and to use the designs by which they were illustrated when
he read his paper before the Society of Architects.
precincts, there are discrepancies of theory. Substructions
traditionally known as "Solomon's Stables" occupy the south-
east corner of the Haram area. Here, undoubtedly, are the
most ancient remains, and it is an interesting fact that one of
the lowest stones bears a Phœnician inscription. This, and
other inscriptions, are in red paint, apparently put on by a brush,
for there are also a few
splashes of red paint.
They are believed to be
quarry-marks, made be-
fore the stones were placed
in situ. The larger letters
are five inches high. The
letters resemble O Y Q,
and may be numerals. See
"The Recovery of Jeru-
salem," by Captains Wil-
son and Warren ( 1871),
p. 139, &c. The appended
diagram will clearly illus-
trate the whole subject.
The re-constructive de-
signs of modern architects
and antiquaries, though
they must of necessity
bear some sort of resem-
blance to each other, are
yet so widely unlike in
details that they go upon
entirely different assump-
tions, even as to the national style of architecture adopted.
1. According to Professor Wilkins, in his "Prolusiones Archi-
tectonicæ," the style was European, and distinctively Greek. He
thinks, in fact, that it became the type of Greek architecture
in subsequent ages,
"Ere first to Greece the builders' art was known,
Or the light chisel brushed the Parian stone,"
On the assumption that the Jewish cubit was 21.888 inches, he
draws a plan of the Temple which is nearly the size of the
Temple of Paestum. He has scarcely found a single follower
ON THE PLAN AND ASPECT OF THE TEMPLE. 103
except Mr. Hakewill. It will be sufficient to give the design
of Professor Wilkins.1
2. Far more reasonable and less arbitrary is the view of those
inquirers who looked to Egypt for the type of Solomonic
This was the opinion adopted by Professor Hosking in the
"Encyclopadia Britannica"; by Commodore Canina, of Rome,
in his small folio on "Jewish Antiquities"; by Mr. Thrupp,
his book on "Ancient Jerusalem"; and by the Count de Vogüé,
in his book on "Jerusalem and Its Temples." It is now de-
servedly abandoned as untenable. Eupolemus, indeed, in a
fragment preserved by Eusebius, says that Pharaoh sent to
Solomon, with his daughter, eighty thousand workmen to help
in building the Temple. But he calls the Pharaoh Vaphres,
and the story is, on the face of it, entirely unhistorical.2
3. The belief that the style of architecture of Solomon's
Temple was Asiatic, and specifically Phœnician, may now be
regarded as established by the historic evidence of our docu-
ments, and by the skilled reasoning of Mr. Fergusson and
1 For the use of these illustrations I am indebted to the kindness of Mr.
2 Eupolmus in Eusebius, "Præp. Ev." ii. 30-35.
many other architects, among whom Mr. Robins must take a
Mr. Robins follows the views of Mr. Fergusson, and points out
that Solomon from first to last was indebted to the assistance of
Phoenician workmen for every detail of art with which his temple
was enriched. There is no Egyptian feature of ornament in
the Temple which is not also Phoenician, and the pomegranate
1 Mr. Fergusson has dealt with the subject in "Principles of Beauty in
Art," 18,19; "The History of Ancient and Modern Architecture," 1865;
"The Temples of the Jews," 1878; and articles on the Tabernacle and
Temple in Smith's "Dictionary of the Bible," 1863. Mr. Lewin takes the
same view, and also Messrs. Perrot and Chipiez, in the "Revue Générale
de l'Architecture," Jan., 1886.
ON THE PLAN AND ASPECT OF THE TEMPLE. 105
is not an Egyptian fruit. Phœnician art ultimately came from
Assyria and Persia, and it is to those countries that we must
look for illustrative details. The style of masonry at the
south-eastern angle of the Haram area closely resemble that at
Passargardæ. Architects consider that the Temple bore a more
general resemblance to that of Venus (=Astarte) at Paphos—an
island colonized by Phœnicians—than to any other. There are,
indeed, no remains of this temple worth speaking of, but repre-
sentations of it are found on coins and gems.1
1 Kugler, "Gesch. d. Baukunst," 121.
The details of the design by Mr. Robins are entirely gleaned
from examples at Nineveh and Persepolis—the doors and windows
from Persepolitan palaces; the upper and crowning members of
the cornice from the tomb of Darius, and a pavilion in the sculp-
tures at Khorsabad; the lower cornice from the bas-relief of
El-tell-Armarna, and from the stylobate of the temple at Khor-
sabad; the enrichments for the pavement, and other details
from ornamental pottery at Konyunjik; the pillars from Perse-
polis, with adapted capitals and network.
SOLOMON'S OTHER BUILDINGS AND CITIES.
The passion for building—Splomon's palace, and its adjoining edifices:—
Obscurity of all details—The House of the Forest of Lebanon; its
shields—The Porch of pillars—The Hall of Judgment—The Palace—
The staircase to the Temple—Water supply—Gardens—Summer re-
treats—Works of national usefulness — Fortification of the city—A
chain of fortress towns—Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer—The Beth-Horons—
Baalath— Store cities, and chariot-towns — Roads — Tadmor in the
KINGS that have once indulged their passion for magnificence
by the erection of great buildings are scarcely ever content with
rearing a single edifice. Solomon's work as a builder was con-
tinued with more or less activity through the remainder of his
First came the erection of a palace, which occupied thirteen
years.1 The old palace on Mount Zion was amply sufficient for
a humble warrior-chieftain like David, but seemed altogether
too insignificant for a grand Oriental potentate like Solomon. A
king who now began to be so closely connected with the dynasts
of Tyre and Egypt, was not content even with cedarn chambers.
The description of this palace, and of his other royal buildings
in Jerusalem, is given so briefly in the Book of Kings, that we
can form no real impression of its architecture. Strange to say,
it is even a disputed point whether the palace, the House of the
Forest of Lebanon, the pillared portico, the porch of the throne,
and the palace of Pharaoh's daughter, were so many separate
1 It was much larger than the Temple, and no preparations had been
buildings, or whether, as Josephus says, they were but portions
and wings of the one royal palace. No commentator or archæ-
ologist, ancient or modern, has attempted any real or intelligible
description of these works, for the sufficient reason that the
details are far too brief and obscure. Of the ancients Josephus
gives reins to his fancy, and talks of Corinthian pillars adorned
with leaves and branches, of magnificent and refreshing groves,
and many other marvellous facts; while the commentator Villal-
pandus furnishes us with a ground-plan of which the details must
be drawn from his inner consciousness. Others make the build-
ing so small that it would have been physically impossible for
the king and his harem to find room in it.
It is almost certain that the description of 1 Kings vii. 1-13 is
meant to apply to the various parts of one structure,1 which served
all the purposes of royalty, and was built on Ophel, the southern
continuation of the Temple mount. The first part of this struc-
ture is called "The House of the Forest of Lebanon." Some have
supposed that this refers to a summer villa built by Solomon at
the foot of Mount Lebanon;2 but this notion is at once refuted
by the fact that the chief and splendid ornament of this hall of
cedars consisted of two hundred shields of beaten gold, and three
hundred bucklers of the same precious material.3 Each of the
shields, which like the Greek θυρεοὶ, the Latin scuta, were large
enough to cover the whole body, required an outlay of six hundred
shekels of gold (about £1,200) and each of the bucklers (ασπίδες,
clypei) required three manehs of gold (about £300) for its gild-
ing.4 These golden shields were all carried away by Shishak,
king of Egypt, in the following reign, and assuredly he did not go
to Lebanon to fetch them. The royal hall in Jerusalem was called
by admiring fancy "the House of the Forest of Lebanon," because
its pillars resembled a forest of cedar wood. It was a house
one hundred cubits long, fifty broad, and thirty high. Four (or
according to the Septuagint, three) rows of cedar pillars, of which
three rows stood over one another, fifteen in a row, supported a
1 Kings vii. 2 should be rendered "For he built," not "he built also."
2 See 1 Kings ix. 19; 2 Chron. viii. 6.
3 For the ornamenting of buildings with shields see 2 Sam. viii. 7;
Kings x. 17; Cant. iv. 4; Ezek. xxvii. 11; 1 Macc. iv. 57, vi. 2.
4 According to 2 Chron. ix. 16, a maneh of gold is one hundred shekels.
It is usually taken to be of the value. of 2 1/2 lbs. of gold. Rehoboam re-
placed them by brazen ones.
SOLOMON'S OTHER BUILDINGS AND CITIES. 109
building of three storeys. If there were only forty-five pillars,
and yet four rows of fifteen, we can only suppose that one row
of pillars was built into the side-wall.1 Each storey had but a
single chamber, of which the lattices were opposite to each
other, and the beams as well as the pillars were of cedar wood.
The chambers, perhaps, constituted the royal treasury.2 But is
it not a somewhat idle attempt to attempt to restore a building out
of unscientific descriptions and an uncertain text?3
In front of this building was erected another porch—which
being a colonnade only was called the Porch of Pillars—fifty
cubits long and thirty wide, of which we are not told the
And in front of this, perhaps separated from it by a court,
rose the proper porch of the palace, which served as the Throne-
room, or Hall of Judgment. It was entirely wainscotted with
cedar wood, and was "the King's Gate," where he administered
justice to his people. In this hall stood the regal throne, which
was the wonder of the age.
Abutting on these buildings, but separated from them by a
court, of which the walls were built of large hewn masses of
stone, was the actual palace, also built of polished marble, and
overlaid within with beams of cedar wood like the walls of the
Temple. Behind this stood the harem, of which the finest
1 So Josephus, "Antiq." vii. 5, § 2.
2 As it seems impossible to form any very definite conception of the build-
ing from the scanty data, I simply append the note of Reuss, "Voici l'idée
que nous now, faisons de cette construction. Trois étages de pièces
reposaient sur une colonnade, laquelle en formait le rez-de-chaussée;
cette colonnade ainsi que les planchers intermédiaires, étaît en bois de
cèdre. Les quarante-cinq pièces étaient disposées de manière qu'elles
avaiént vue sur une sour intérieure, et elles recevaient le jour non par des
fenêtres ("hallôn," vi. 4), qui, en Orient, sont géndralement petites, mais
par de larger ouvertures, qui prenaient peut-être tout l'espace entre les
cloisons qui séparaient une pièce de l'autre; de sorte que le tout formait
trois galeries superposées." The text, he adds, tells us nothing of the
number of the columns, the size of the court, the extent of the rooms, the
external appearance, the necessary staircases, the height of the storeys,
the number of the rooms, &c.
3 Mr. Fergusson (s.v. Palace, in the "Dictionary of the Bible") says
that all the earlier attempts to restore the plan of these buildings were
Vitruvian (i.e., classic), which, like the Egyptian plans, necessarily failed.
We must go for help to Nineveh and Persepolis. Diagram sections are
given in "Dictionary of the Bible," vol. ii. p. 659.
110 SOLOMON'S BUILDINGS IN THE HARAM AREA.
SOLOMON'S OTHER BUILDINGS AND CITIES. 111
portion was devoted to the use of the Queen consort, the
daughter of Pharaoh. Hitherto this princess had lived m a
part of David's old palace on Mount Sion, but Solomon has
scruples about assigning this to her as a permanent residence,
because the site had been hallowed by the temporary sojourn
of the Ark. Nothing is said about the structure of the harem,
which remained in mysterious seclusion from the public eye.
We only know that it must have been magnificent and costly
to contain its vast retinue of concubines, and eunuchs, and men
and women singers.
As the palace stood on a lower elevation than the Temple,
the king built for his private use a staircase of the red and
scented sandal wood, which now became an article of import
for the wealthy. This precious staircase led to the seats in the
Temple, which were specially used for the king on State occasions,
of which one seems to have stood in the inner court surrounded
by a balustrade, and another was supported on a platform or
pediment of brass.1
But palaces, however splendid, would have been but dreary
residences if they had not easy access to parks and gardens.
The laying out of these was a task far from easy in a district
so rocky and hilly as that which surrounds Jerusalem. But it
had been no small part of the king's care for his people to pro-
vide the capital with an elaborate and most costly system of
water-courses, derived in part from perennial springs of water on
the Temple Mount, and partly from enormous pools, of which the
water was conveyed by aqueducts, or through vast subterranean
conduits hewn out of the solid rock.2 By means of this water
Solomon was able to provide a king's garden on the southern
slopes of the hills on which the city stood,3 as well as a "House
of the Vine" (Beth-hac-Cerem) perhaps near the hill now known
as Fureidîs (or "Little Paradise ").4 He also had a beautiful
pleasance at Etam, not far from Bethlehem. The ideal Solomon
of Ecclesiastes speaks language which could doubtless have
been used literally by the real Solomon: "I builded me houses;
1 See 2 Kings xi. 14, xvi. 18, xxiii. 3; 2 Chron. vi. 13.
2 On this water system for the supply of Jerusalem are founded the
idealized conceptions of the prophets (Joel iii. 18; Zech. xiv. 8; Ezek.
xlvii. 1-12; comp. Tacitus, "Hist." v. 12; Eusebius, "Præp. Ev." ix. 37;
Josephus, "B. J." ii. 9, § 4; "Antiq." xviii. 3, § 2.
2 Kings xxv. 4; Neh. iii. 15.
4 Jer. vi. 1.
I planted me vineyards; I made me gardens and orchards; I
planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits; I made me pools of
water to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees."1
It is probable also that he had summer retreats, in which he
could exchange the parched and sultry air of Judaea for the
pleasant breezes cooled by the snows of Lebanon, and for walks
overshadowed by its cedars. These may be included among
his buildings in this region, mentioned in'the Book of Kings,2
of which tradition preserves a find recollection in the allusions
of the Song of Songs to "the tower of Lebanon, which looketh
towards Damascus," with its gardens and living streams.3 He
also had a vineyard at Baal-Hermon or Baal-Hamon,4 producing
a revenue of which four-fifths was paid to the king.
These works of personal magnificence were accompanied by
others of national usefulness. The kingdom which contained
such treasures of wealth could not be left defenceless. After
Solomon's palaces were completed he turned to the task of forti-
fication. He built Millo (called Acra in the LXX.)—a name given
apparently to some wall raised on an earthwork—and thereby
"closed the breaches of the City of David," so that no vulnerable
point might be left in the circuit of the city. This fortification,
as the Septuagint adds (it Kings x. 22), suppressed the last hopes
of the native races. He also protected his entire domain by a
chain of forts built at every point of chief access. The fortifi-
cation of the old Canaanite capital Hazor, at the foot of
Lebanon (Judg. iv. 2), gave security to Naphtali and the
north from any possible attacks of Rezon, king of Damascus.
Megiddo was made defensible to command the rich plain of
Jezreel. Gezer, the town which Pharaoh had conquered and
given to him as the dower of his daughter, protected the defiles
on the west of Ephraim. The walls of Bethhoron, the Upper
and the Nether, dominated one of the natural passes leading to
Jerusalerm5 Baalath—probably on the borders of Dan—over-
awed the Philistines. He also built store cities for provisions,
and cities to accommodate his cavalry and horses. This branch
of his military array was always looked on with distrust, and
1 Ecci. ii. 4-6. 2 I Kings ix. 19.
3 Cant. vii. 5 ; iv. 4. 4 Cant. viii. 11 (LXX.); Judg. iii. 3.
5 It was the scene of three great battles—the victories of Joshua (Josh. x.),
of Judas Maccabæus (x Macc. iii. 13-24), and of the Jews over Cestius
Gallus (Josephus, "B. J." ii. 19).
SOLOMON'S OTHER BUILDINGS AND CITIES. 113
even with hatred, by the stricter Israelites. It was never likely
to be of any real service among the rocky ways of a country
which over the larger part of its extent is a series of rounded
hills. It flourished so little as to be an actual subject of derision
to the enemies of Judah.1
Some towns he must have also built for the purposes of his
extended commerce. They were chiefly in the northern dis-
tricts, and especially in the direction of Hamath, which he had
conquered. Josephus, who follows some magnificent Jewish tra-
dition, says that these towns stood on paved roads which traversed
the land in various directions. The main road for the increasing
traffic between Egypt and Asia ran past Gaza and west of Jeru-
salem to Damascus, where it was joined by another road, which
led from Tyre to Thapsacus on the Euphrates. To be at once
an emporium and a protection for the northern traffic, Solomon
built the most famous of all his cities, Tadmor, in the wilderness,
the Greek Palmyra.2 It stood in an oasis, in which there still
grow a few palms, and the site was so admirably chosen, and so
well supplied with water, that it flourished for a thousand years.
Why the words "in the land" are added to "in the wilderness"
is uncertain, but they probably imply that even this distant
oasis belonged to the territory which Solomon had conquered.3
The ruins sufficiently show to what splendour the city rose.
Tradition also assigns to Solomon the building of the Syrian
Baalbek, but this is impossible. Baalbek cannot be identified
with Baalath, and if Solomon had built this great Syrian city,
it would certainly have been mentioned in the royal records of
1 See 2 Kings xviii. 23.
2 The text in I Kings ix. 18 has Tamar; the margin has Tadmor; 2
Chron. viii. 4 has Tadmor. It always was a city of merchants. Movers
tries to identify Tadmor with Hazezon - Tamar, "the sanctuary of the
palm," or En-gedi (Ezek. xlvii. 19; xlviii. 28). Tadmor is a day's journey
from the Euphrates, and 176 miles from Damascus. It is difficult to be-
lieve that it was occupied by Israelites, and the LXX. does not accept the
3 After "in the land" Ewald would add the words, "of Aram;" Ber-
theau and Keil would add, "of Hamath;" and Böttcher would read
instead, "in the wilderness of Paran."
The ideal of peaceful wealth—Extended commerce: I. by land and II. by sea
—I. Influence and splendour of Phoenicia i. Land traffic with Tyre;
Hiram and Solomon; Embarrassed condition of Solomon's resources;
He alienates twenty cities; Scorn and dissatisfaction of Hiram; An
obscure transaction; Inexplicable conduct of Solomon; Prosperity of
Hiram—ii. Land traffic with Arabia; Spices and precious stones—iii.
Egypt and the Tanite dynasty; Land traffic with Egypt Horses and
chariots; Profits of the trade; Two great inland roads—II. Sea traffic:
i. The Phoenician traffic with Tarshish—ii. Traffic by the Red Sea to
Ophir; Ezion-Geber—Theories about Ophir; identified by many with
Abhîra at the mouths of the Indus—Beautiful and curious articles of
export—i. Ivory (Shen habbîm)—ii. Apes (Kôphîm)—iii. Peacocks
(tukkiîm)—iv. Almug-trees—Sanskrit origin of these words—Did the
fleets circumnavigate Africa?—Result of the commerce—Losses—In-
tercourse with idolators—The Red Sea fleets a failure—The king's
revenue—His enormous expenses—Advantages of the commerce, direct
IT would have been in Solomon's power to chose for his people
the ideal of military glory which had prevailed in the days of
his father; but he chose instead the ideal of peaceful wealth
and material aggrandisement. He might have said to his
people, as a modern statesman said to the French bourgeoisie,
"Enrichissez-vous." Nothing is more remarkable in his reign
than the immense and sudden development of a widely-extended
commerce which kindled the imagination of the Chosen People,
but which brought them few real advantages, and vanished
almost as soon as it had been established. Yet though the
special traffic vanished, being almost exclusively connected
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 115
with luxuries and with the Court, it gave the earliest strong
impulse to those commercial tendencies which totally altered
the characteristics of the Jews, and changed them in time from
an agricultural into a mercantile race—a face whose famous
Rabbis spoke of agriculture in tones of scorn.
This traffic was twofold, by land and by sea: by land, with
Tyre, Egypt, and Arabia; by sea, with Spain, India, and the
coasts of Africa.
I. It is not strange that two great neighbouring Powers—
Phœnicia and Egypt — should have exercised so strange a
spell of fascination over the mind of Israel. Phœnicia—the
land of palms—was the representative of enterprise and culture,
and the pride of life; and under the first Hiram, Tyre, which
was but a hundred miles from Jerusalem, had sprung to the very
summit of her glory. Even the comparatively humble palace
of David had been built by Tyrian workmen, and was a "house
of cedar,"1 and from that day forward Phœnician elements began
to be mingled with Hebrew civilization. The Tyrians supplied
the world with the scarlet robes of kings. The discovery of
Tarshish had affected the Phœnicians much as the discovery
of the New World affected Spain. It poured into their coffers
a flood of wealth. For oil and trinkets their sailors brought back
from Tarshish—"the fountains of Tartessus rooted in silver,"—
such abundance of precious ore that the very anchors of the home-
ward-bound vessels were made of silver to save unnecessary
freight.2 Copper (aes Cyprium) had long been supplied them
from Cyprus, and they brought tin and other metals even from the
Scilly Isles. From two to three hundred talents of gold came
to them yearly from Tarshish and from the island of Thasos.
Their art was at this epoch the most renowned in the ancient
world. Their capital was "the crowning city, whose merchants
are princes, whose traffickers the honourable of the earth." The
twenty-seventh chapter of Ezekiel is the splendid epitaph of
their magnificence, no less than the prediction of their impend-
ing fall. "O thou that art situate at the entry of the sea, which
art a merchant of the people for many isles, Thus saith the Lord
God; O Tyrus, thou hast said, I am of perfect beauty." Judah
supplied her with wheat, and comfits, and honey, and oil, and balm.
1 2 Sam. v. 11; vii. 2.
2 Herodotus, iv. 152; Aristotle, "De mirab. ausc." 147 Duncker,
"Hist. of Antiq." ii. 85 (E. tr.). Tartessus is the Guadalquiver.
The merchants of Syria traded in her wares for vessels of clay
and metal, armour, emeralds, purple broidered work, fine linen,
and pearls, and agate. The name Sidon (צִידוֹי), which the Book
of Genesis gives to the firstborn of Canaan, means "a fishing,"
and since about 2,000 years B.C. these maritime cities had en-
joyed the riches and blessings of the sea. They had probably
been strengthened by emigration at the overthrow of the kingdom
of the Hittites by the Amorites about B.C. 1,300, and had gradu-
ally spread their settlements towards the north-west. When
they had exhausted the fishery of the purple limpet on their
own coasts, they obtained it from the Straits of Eubcea and the
bays of Hellas. The luxury and commercial prosperity of Tyre,
"the joyous city whose antiquity is of ancient days,"1 seemed
inexhaustible, and the wealth and art of Sidon were famous
even in the days of Homer.
1. The land traffic with Tyre was chiefly founded on the
exigencies of Solomon's architectural undertakings. We have
already seen that he would have been unable to construct either
the Temple or his palaces without the aid of the skilled wood-
carvers and metal-casters of Phœnicia. He is said to have
visited Tyre in person, and even to have worshipped in one of
the Sidonian Temples. Documents, genuine or spurious, were
long preserved, which professed to be an interchange of letters
between Hiram and Solomon. For more than twenty years this
amicable and mutually advantageous intercourse continued,
and, as in the days of Herod Agrippa, Hiram's country "was
nourished by the king's country" in return for commercial and
artistic benefits. It is even possible that Solomon among his
numerous wives may have married a daughter of Hiram, for
this is stated by Eusebius on the authority of Tatian,2 and he
tolerated in later days the worship of Astarte in honour of a
Sidonian wife.3 This alliance between the Tyrian and Israelite
king had a singular ending, of which the details are excessively
obscure. Like all kings, even down to our own day, who have
yielded to the passion for building, Solomon embarrassed his
resources, immense as they were. Not being a wholly irre-
sponsible despot, he could not afford to be like Louis XIV.,
who is said to have burnt the accounts of the building of
Versailles without looking at them. When the Temple and his
1 Isa. xxiii. 7. 2 "Præp. Ev." x. 11. 3 1 Kings xi. 5.
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 117
palatial buildings were finished, it became necessary to settle
his obligations with the king of Tyre, and it seems that the only
way left him of doing this was to alienate a part of his own
dominions. At the end of twenty years Solomon gave to Hiram
"twenty cities in the land of Galilee;"1 and apparently in
return for these Hiram gave Solomon one hundred and twenty
talents of gold. Now the alienation of any part of the soil of
Judaea was in opposition alike to the letter and spirit of the
Mosaic law. "The land shall not be sold for ever," says the
Book of Leviticus; "for the land is mine; for ye are strangers
and sojourners with me."2 Even if the district had been
conquered by Solomon himself, and if the inhabitants were
still mainly Canaanites, still the region was within the limits of
the Promised Land, and was part of Jehovah's gift to His
people.3 Solomon may have been wholly unaware of the
existence of any such law in the complete desuetude into which
most of the Mosaic ordinances had fallen, but in any case the
voluntary cession of twenty Galilean cities by way of equivalent
for a debt might well appear to be a blot on Solomon's admini-
stration, and one of the earliest proofs that he had exhausted
the capabilities of his treasury. What follows is still more
surprising, especially if we are right in supposing that Hiram
one hundred and twenty talents of gold represented the balance
after the debt was paid. Hiram went and visited his new
acquisition, delighted with the thought that henceforth he
would be less wholly dependent on the produce of a rival king-
dom, and that Tyre would add an inland district to her strip of
sandy coast. A personal visit to the territory disenchanted
these hopes, and filled him with vexation. Frankly he con-
sidered himself to have been overreached, and inadequately
rewarded. The transaction evidently appeared to him to
have been a shabby one. The cities "were not right in
his eyes." He said, in strong disgust, "What cities are these
which thou halt given me, my brother?"4 The very name of
the ceded land kept alive for years afterwards the memory of
Hiram's disappointment. It was "called Cabul unto this day."
1 1 Kings ix. 11-14. 2 Lev. xxv. 23, 24.
3 In Numb. xxxiv. 6-8 the Mediterranean is assigned as the western
border of the Promised Land, and it only failed of being so through the
supineness of Asher (Judg. i. 31, 32).
4 "He said to Solomon that he did not want the cities" (Josephus).
"Cabul" means "as nothing,"1 as though Solomon, with all his
vaunted magnificence and fabulous generosity, had given to his
hereditary ally and friend as good as nothing for the long years
of assistance in carrying out designs which could not have been
accomplished without his aid.
The sequel of this transaction looks yet more dubious.
Solomon did not return the gold, but Hiram did return the cities.
Either because of the miry and unproductive character of
the soil, or the turbulent poverty of the inhabitants, they were
of no use to him, and he did not even care to keep them, fore-
seeing that they would only be a cause of annoyance and
expense. This being so, we might have supposed that, for his
own credit and reputation, Solomon would not acquiesce in the
imputation of having overreached one whose aid he had so freely
used for twenty years, and that he would have given him an
even more munificent equivalent. This, however, he either could
not or would not do. He quietly took back his rejected gift,2
and reoccupied with Israelites the twenty despised towns which
up to that time seem to have belonged to "Galilee of the Gen-
tiles." Of further dealings between Hiram and Solomon we not
unnaturally hear no more. Hiram had furnished Solomon with
gold as well as timber during the building of the Temple.3 If
he now sent a hundred and twenty talents of gold4 as an equiva-
lent for the cities, Solomon should have returned it. But the
details of the whole transaction are too obscure for us to under-
stand. It is, however, certain that Hiram must have gained
from his intercourse with Solomon, for he was an eminently
prosperous king. Ascending the throne as a youth, B.C. 1001,
he had resubdued the rebellious cities of Cyprus, and had used
1 Not as in the English margin "displeasing" or "dirty," the meaning
also assigned to the word by Josephus. The Authorized Version has "he
(i.e., Hiram) called them the land of Cabul," but the verb may be rendered
impersonally—"one called them" (LXX., προσηγορεύθησαν). There was
in this very region a town already called Cabal (Josh. xix. 27) in Asher (nine
miles east of Accho), and perhaps Hiram took up the name and played
2 2 Chron. viii. 2.
3 Kings ix. 11-14; Josephus, "Antiq." viii. 5, § 3.
4 The talent of gold is usually estimated at £ 6,000. Josephus, quoting
Menander, talks of Hiram having to pay large fines for failing to answer
riddles; but he represents the hundred and twenty talents as a voluntary
present from Hiram to Solomon ("C. Apion." i. 17).
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 119
his rich resources in enlarging the island on which Tyre was
built and surrounding it with walls of solid masonry. He also
built or restored the Temples of Ashtoreth and Melkarth, in the
latter of which he dedicated a pillar of gold, seen there by
Herodotus five hundred years later by the side of an erect
emerald which gave light by night.1 His reign of thirty-four
years seems to have been of unbroken prosperity.
2. Another part of Solomon's land traffic was with Arabia,
from which must have been mainly derived the supply of spices
of which we now begin to find such prominent mention. The
very word spicery (nêcoth) 2 is from the Arabic, naka'at, and
seems to mean gum tragacanth and frankincence, the aromatic
resins of various thorny shrubs. Myrrh no doubt formed part
of the spicery which the Queen of Sheba gave to him; spike-
nard is the root of a species of valerian which grows in the
Himalayas;3 aloe is the heart-wood of an Indian tree;4 and
cassia is the bark of a species of cinnamon. All these became
common in the days of Solomon.5 They may have come to
him by sea traffic, but are largely imported throughout the East,
and may have been brought chiefly from Eastern Arabia.6 From
this source also he may have derived a great part of his precious
stones, though the sapphires (lapis lazuli) could only have come
3. Egypt as well as Phœnicia became a more and more
potent factor in the development of the Hebrews under Solo-
mon. The Ramesid dynasty ruled at Thebes till B.C. 1100;
but under the successors of Rameses VI., from 1200 to 1074,
the High Priests of Thebes became almost equally powerful,
and at last the twentieth dynasty succumbed. They were suc-
ceeded, according to the Egyptian priest Manetho, by seven
princes, who belonged to Tanis or Zoan, who reigned for a hun-
dred and fourteen years. We have already given the names of
these princes as furnished by the monuments. In Manetho
they are different. He says that the first of them was Smendes,
1 Herodotus, ii. 44; Duneker, ii. 266. The pillar was probably of green
glass (Theophrastus, "Lap." 23).
2 Hebr., Gen, xxxvii. 25.
3 Nardostachys jata-mansi. 4 Aquilaria agallocha.
5 Prov. vii. 17; Cant. iv. 10, 14, 16; Ps. xlv. 8.
6 Ewald thinks that nêsheq in I Kings x. 25 means not "armour," but
some Arabian perfume.
who removed the seat of government from Thebes, where it had
been placed for five centuries, to the Delta. He was succeeded
by Psusennes I. who reigned for forty-six years (1048-1002), and
was perhaps the protector of the young prince of Edom. The
fourth king of this house was Amenothis (998-989), and some
have thought this was the Pharaoh who gave his daughter in
marriage to Solomon. The last Tanite king was Psusennes II.,
who in 960 was succeeded by Shishak (Scheshonk, Sesonchis),
the founder of the dynasty of Buhastis. Shishak seems to have
been of Semitic origin, and to have forced his way to favour,
which was cemented by the marriage of his son Osorkon to
Rakatnat, the daughter of Psusennes. With him ceased the
friendly relations between Egypt and Judah. He is the king of
Egypt (Melek Mizraim), not honoured in 1 Kings xi. 40 with the
title Pharaoh, who plundered Jerusalem of the wealth which
Solomon had amossed.1
The main traffic with Egypt was for the horses and chariots
for which the land of the Pharaohs became famous, and which
are so prominently represented in the Egyptian frescoes.2 Solo-
mon kept the profits of this trade, as of all his commerce, in
his own hands. He was the kingly merchant, and his people
had but a small share of the accruing advantages. The trans-
port was carried on by large caravans, and the trade was exten-
sive because Solomon had not only to keep up his own large
supply of four thousand two hundred horses3 for his fourteen
hundred chariots (three fine horses for each chariot), and
chargers4 for his twelve thousand horsemen, but he also found a
large demand for these warlike and splendid equipages among
all the Hittite and Aramean kings. The Hittites were more or
1 Africanus and Eusebius allot one hundred and thirty years to the
Tanite dynasty. The list of Africanus, is, Smendes, Psusennes I., Nepher-
cheres, Amenothis, Bochor, Psinaches, Psusennes II.
2 Gen. xlvii. 17; Exod. ix. 3, xiv. 6; Deut. xvii. 16; 2 Chron. xii. 3; 2
Kings xviii. 24; Isa. xxxi. 1-3; Jer. xlvi. 4; Ezek. xvii. 15, &c. See
Bochart, "Hieroz." i. 169.
3 Forty thousand in 1 Kings iv. 26 is a misreading for four thousand.
See 2 Chron. ix. 25.
4 פָּרָשִׁים. The "dromedaries" of 1 Kings iv. 23 are rather "runners"—
i.e., swift riding-horses. In Cant. i. 9 Ewald renders it "Pharaoh's chariots
at Solomon's Court." The two towns mentioned in 1 Chron. iv. 31, Beth-
marcaboth, "house of chariots," and Hazar-Siusim, "Court of chargers,"
may be among the cities which Solomon built for his stables.
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 121
less tributary, but the various principalities clustering round
their chief capitals of Carchemish (Jerablûs) and Kadesh near
Emesa, were still under chieftains of such importance that
Solomon numbered Hittite princesses among his wives. The
Hittites are represented on the Egyptian monuments riding in
chariots drawn by two horses, and containing three men apiece.1
When we are told that in this commerce "a chariot came up
and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels, and a horse for
a hundred and fifty,"2 the meaning is disputed; but it seems to
be that this was the amount of profit on each separate sale.
Eight or nine pounds would have been far too small a sum for
an Egyptian war-horse, and thirty-five pounds for a chariot, the
best of its kind and imported all the way from Egypt. The
"linen-yarn" introduced by our Authorized Version3 into this
Egyptian commerce seems to be a pure mistake. The word ren-
dered "linen-yarn" by Le Clerc and other commentators either
means (as the Septuagint understands it) "from Coa," or "from
Tekoah," as Thenius supposes;4 or the verse may mean "a drove
(or string) of royal merchants used to fetch a drove (or string) of
horses at a price."
Two great inland roads were used for these various branches
of traffic, and Solomon doubtless improved these roads as well
as rendering them more safe and useful by the construction of
stations and caravanserais. The khan, or caravanserai, of his
hereditary guest Chimham at Bethlehem, which remained
famous for so many centuries, may have been one of these.
The caravan route from Egypt led through Palestine, and then
turned westward across Cœle-Syria to Carchemish on the
Euphrates, passing thence across Mesopotamia to Harran, to
the Tigris, and thence to Nineveh, Babylon, and the Persian
Gulfs The route was perhaps deflected for a time by the build-
ing of Tadmor. The second route led along the Western Coast
of Arabia through Mecca and Midian into Northern. Egypt and
Palestine. No doubt both these great arteries of commerce
1 The Hitittes (or Khita as they are called in the monuments), once a
powerful and literary people, but now their power was broken. Toi, king
of Hamath, was their chief king in David's time.
2 I Kings x. 29.
3 Ibid. x. 23. The word is מקוה.
4 Following the LXX., καὶ εκ θεκνουέ.
5 See Professor Sayce, "The Bible and the Monuments"
were stirred into unwonted activity by the impulse derived from
the magnificent designs of the wise king.
II. But far deeper admiration was stirred by his wider and
more daring sea commerce, of which we find early traces in
Psalm cvii. and in the Book of Proverbs.1
1. The sea commerce of the ancients also followed two routes.
One of these was exclusively in the hands of the Phœnician
sailors of Tyre and Sidon. They sailed from these harbours to
Chittim (Cyprus), and so among the Ægean islands, and to
Sicily, Malta, and the Northern Coast of Africa. Their ulti-
mate destination was generally Tarshish, the flourishing
Phœnician colony in Spain, probably not far from the mouth
of the Tartessus or Guadalquiver. In order to reach this they
had to sail through Abyla and Calpe (Gibraltar), the famous
"Pillars of Hercules" and to launch into the mysterious At-
lantic.2 From this destination the Phœnician merchantmen
were called "ships of Tarshish," though they often sailed along
the whole coast of Spain, braved the terrors of the Bay of
Biscay, and reached as far as the Cassiterides and the southern
shores of Britain. Was Solomon allowed to break through the
exclusive monopoly of the Phœnicians and to share in this
traffic? In the Book of Kings we are told that, he had a
"Tharshish navy" with the navy of King Hiram,3 but this may
merely apply to his Red Sea traffic, the name "Tharshish
navy "being generic to imply ships of a particular build, just
as we might talk of "an Indiaman" without necessarily im-
plying that the ship sailed only to India. The commodities
mentioned as forming the freight of this Tharshish navy are
such as could not come from Spain, nor would a voyage to
Tartessus have occupied three years. In the Book of Chronicles
we are told that "the king's ships went to Tharshish with the
servants of Huram;"4 but here too the articles imported are
the same, and it is possible that some confusion or misun-
derstanding may have arisen.5 It hardly seems likely that an
1 Prov. xxiii. 34, 35; Ps. cvii. 23-30.
2 If Old Hippo was founded by Sidon the Phœnician sailors had done
this long before. A passage of Dioclorus (v. 19. 2) makes it probable that
they had even visited Madeira and the Canaries.
3 I Kings x. 22. 4 2 Chron. ix. 21.
5 Keil's argument that "at sea" (בַּיָּם ) can only mean "on the Medi-
terranean" will hardly stand.
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 123
exclusively maritime people would have permitted the partner-
ship of a king who might prove to be a very dangerous rival.
It would surely have been impossible for Solomon to keep a
separate navy either at Tyre or Sidon, and the miserable and
dangerous harbours or roadsteads of Dor, Acco, or Joppa, would
have been wholly unsuitable for such a purpose.1
2. But much more novel and splendid was the new naviga-
tion attempted for the first time from Ezion-Geber to Ophir,
Ezion-Geber ("the giant's backbone") was the harbour of
Eiath, or Eloth, a town at the north of the Gulf of Akaba, and
probably on the site now occupied by the wretched village of
Akaba itself.2 Eloth was still a city in the time of Abulfeda
(about 1300), but of Ezion-Geber there are no traces. It de-
rived its name from the double line of hills which here run down
towards the sea. Hiram and his Tyrians would feel no sort of
jealousy about mercantile voyages starting from a port wholly
out of their reach, and sailing to regions which they could not
independently visit. They were, therefore, quite ready to gain
commercial advantages by enabling Solomon to build ships
on the Red Sea,3 and by supplying him with trained mariners.
Their share of voyages which brought back four hundred and
twenty talents of gold must have been considerable. Solomon was
so deeply interested in the venture that he visited Eloth in per-
son, perhaps to see the ships launched.4 Of the general incidents
of these voyages we are unfortunately told nothing, but in Solo-
mon's time Jewish and Phœnician sailors seem to have made
their way to the far-distant Ophir. It would be tedious and useless
to go through the list of places which have been identified with
this famous name. Keil, who has written a special treatise on,
this commerce of Solomon, maintains that Ophir is neither in
1 I cannot agree with Prof. Sayce in thinking that Jon. i. 3, Ezek. xxvi. 2,
Hosh. xii. 7, show that any real maritime connection ever sprung up be-
tween the two kingdoms.
2 Akaba, according to Ewald, means "back," and is a dialectic variation
and abbreviation of Ezion-Geber. Josephus says that in his day it was
3 2 Chron. viii. 18. This is perhaps the meaning of the statement that
Hiram sent him "ships." He might have sent "ships" to Joppa as
models; otherwise the phrase is perplexing. The Jews never took kindly
to the sea-life (Jon. i. 9).
4 2 Chron. viii. 17.
India, nor on the East Coast of Africa,1 but in the southern part
of Arabia.2 On the other hand, it is now generally identified
with Abhîra, i.e., the land of "the herdsmen," at the mouth of the
Indus,3 "inhabited by a people speaking the Dravidian language,
allied to the modern Tamil." Not only are the imports all of
them of Indian origin, but the names given to them, with the
exception of the gold and silver and precious stones, are wholly
unknown to Hebrew. They are Sanskrit words, which even at
this early age have undergone dialectic variation. They are the
names of ivory, apes, peacocks, and almug wood. It can be easily
understood that the inhabitants of the brooding and changeless
East were filled with astonishment when for the first time they
saw the smooth lustrous ivory used for furniture; and balus-
trades and harps and psalteries made of the rich-coloured
scented sandal wood. How much greater must have been their
amazement when they saw the inexpressible glories of the
peacock's plumage, and grew familiar with that "great iridescent
work of God"! Curiosity, and something of horror, must have
mingled with the feelings with which they first gazed on the
wrinkled, chattering apes with their dreadful caricature of the
human face and form-
"Simla quam similis, turpissima bestia nobis!"
i. The word used for "ivory" is shen habbîm," tooth of ele-
phants " (LXX., οδοντες ’ελεγάντινοι). Shen," tooth," and kar-
noth shen "horns of tooth," are Hebrew words, but habhîm is
derived from the Sanskrit ibhas, "elephant," and seems to come
direct from the Tamil corruption of the word, preceded by the
ii. The word rendered "apes" is kophîm, and is connected
with the Sanskrit kapi, in the Tamil form of it. The apes
Quatremére places it at Sofala (" Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscr." 1845)—
"For thee his ivory load Behemoth bore,
And far Sofala teemed with golden ore."
2 Partly because, in Gen. x. 29, Ophir is a son of Joktan.
3 Lassen, " Indische Altcrth." i. 538; Duncker, "Hist. of Antiq." ii. 265.
4 I take these particulars mainly from. Prof. Max Mtiller's " Lectures on
the Science of Language,'' 5th edit., pp. 223-228, who refers to Lassen's
"Indische Alterthumskunde," i. 537. But some would read "Shen,
kabnîm," ivory, ebony. Comp. Ezek. xxvii. 15. The plural indicates, as in
the case of algummim, &c., that the wood was brought in planks.
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 125
meant are perhaps the long-tailed variety common in various
parts of India. Apes are mentioned here alone in the Bible.
That these apes did not come, as some have conjectured from
Gibraltar, seems clear from the fact that the Phœnician vessels
might long ago have made them familiar in Palestine if they
had been brought from Calpe. They may have been brought
in the course of the three years' voyage from South India, or
even from Ceylon.
iii. Peacocks are called tukkiîm.1 The word has been
understood to mean Numidian birds, delicacies from Tucca in
Mauretania, or another species of monkey. There is now no
doubt that it means the peacock, which in old classical Tamil
still bears the name tôkei, dialectically pronounced tôgei, a name
still used on the coasts of Malabar.2 In modern Tamil tôkei
only means the peacock's tail. Ivory and apes and gold might
come from other countries, but the peacock is indigenous in
iv. Almug-trees, or, as the Book of Chronicles calls them,
algum-trees,3 have been sometimes taken for the trees which supply
the thyine or citron wood of North Africa, which was so much
in use among the luxurious Romans;4 but they are now believed
to be the red sandal wood which is peculiar to India, and of
which the temple doors of India are often made.5 The wood
would serve well for the frames of harps and psalteries, though
hardly for pillars, as it has no strength.6 In Sanskrit the sandal-
wood tree is called valguka, and it is. chiefly found on the coast
1 Omitted by the LXX. Josephus says that the fleets brought home
"ivory and Ethiopians, and apes."
2 "It has been derived from the Sanskrit word sikhin, meaning, fur-
nished with a crest " (Max Mülner).
3 2 Chron. ii. 8, "Send me album-trees out of Lebanon." If it grew on
Lebanon it must be cypress.
4 Vulg., Thyina; LXX., πεύκινα, πελεκητά--
"Their sumptuous gluttonies and gorgeous feasts,
On citron table or Atlantic stone" (" Par. Regained," iv.).
5 In Rabbinical writings almug is coral. Josephus, like the LXX., calls
it "pine-timber," but says it is whiter and more glittering than the wood
of the fig-tree ("Antiq." viii. 7, § 7).
6 I Kings x. 12. Perhaps the word rendered "pillars" should be
"railings," as in the margin of the Revised Version. In 2 Chror ix. 11,
"stairs" seem to be meant (marg. of Authorized Version).
Some have supposed that the Tharshish-fleets of Solomon
sailing from Joppa circumnavigated Africa, and even visited
"Farthest Indian isle Taprobane,"
from which they may have derived cinnamon, the aromatic bark
of Cinnamonium zeylanicum. But if they got to Ceylon at all,
it is much more likely that they sailed thither direct from Ezion-
Geber, through the straits of Babel Mandeb. Phœnician ships
would hardly have braved the passage round the "Capo Tor-
mentoso," to which the Optimism of King John of Portugal gave
the title of "the Cape of Good Hope." But the three years oc-
cupied by the voyage of Solomon's mariners from the Red Sea
haven would have allowed ample time for the ships to visit
the coasts of India;1 and although it is not of course impossible
that the products named might have been obtained from nearer
places whither the names of them might also have found their
way, yet there is, to say the least, a strong probability that the
fleets of Solomon, with their Phœnician and Jewish sailors, did
get as far as the mouths of the Indus to which gold and gems
might have been brought from the North, and sandal wood,
apes, and peacocks from Southern and Central India. In this
very spot we find a place which Ptolemy names Abider, and
Hindu geographers Abhira,2 and where recent travellers still find
a race of Ahirs, "the descendants, in all probability, of the people
who sold to Hiram and Solomon their precious wares." The
identification is very ancient. In the LXX. "Ophir" is trans-
lated Sophir, and "Sofir" is in Coptic the name for India. The
Arabic Versions render it "India." In the Vulgate, Job xxvii.
16, "it cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir," is rendered,
"Non conferctur tinctis Indiae coloribus."3 Josephus identifies
it with the Golden Chersonnese, i.e., the Malay Peninsula.
1 This was achieved by Pharaoh Necho (Herodotus, iv. p. 42).
2 The identification of Ophir with Ablrtra cannot be regarded as certain,
but Lassen and Max Muller point out that besides these words here
noticed, the Biblical names for "cotton," "nerd," and " bdeliuim,” are of
Sanskrit origin, and point to early commercial intercourse between India
and Palestine, Ezekiel (xxvii. 13 ff.) is a witness for the wonderful area
reached by Tyrien commerce.
3 Max Müller l.c. Mr. Twistleton in the "Dictionary of the Bible,"
follows Keil in arguing that Ophir was some port in Arabia, because in
Gen. x. "Ophir" is a son of Joktan.
SOLOMON'S COMMERCE. 127
The results of this wide commerce which so dazzled Solomon's
contemporaries were far more showy than solid. If it enriched
the king, it by no means seems to have enriched the people.
Even the king must have been liable to heavy losses, and his
gains, whatever they may have been, were neutralized by the
overwhelming expenses necessary to maintain the splendour
and luxury of a Court arranged upon a scale too ambitious for
the resources of his little kingdom. Every branch of the trade
seems either to have ceased or languished at the death of Solo-
mon or even earlier. The intercourse with foreign nations often
enlarges the intellectual capacities of a rising people, but this is
chiefly the case when it introduces them to new and noble forms
of literature, or improved conceptions of life. In these respects
the Hebrews of that day had little or nothing to learn. They
had been chosen for God's people, and had been isolated from
the nations around them, in order that they might keep alive the
germs of a revelation indefinitely purer than that which was
vouchsafed to any other branch of the Semitic or Aryan race.
Whatever literature may have been existing in Phœnicia or
Egypt a thousand years before Christ, it was valueless by com-
parison with the oracles of God. Israel contracted the taint of
monstrous idolatry, a despotic monarchy, and a disgraceful
polygamy, but made no real progress in the art of life. The
attempts made to revive the Red Sea commerce were spasmodic
and unsuccessful. The chief effort—that made by King Jehosha-
phat—ended in the shipwreck of all his vessels in a storm at
Ezion-Geber; and when Ahaziah, king of Israel, offered his co-
operation it was decidedly refused. Gold and silver and ivory
could be got from other quarters; sandal-wood, apes, and
peacocks, when the novelty had worn off, were not considered
worth the risk and the immense cost of their importation.
Neither the Indian wood, nor the Indian bird or animal are
once again mentioned in Scripture.1
The profits of this expedition are said to have reached 420
talents of gold. The king's annual revenue is stated at 666
talents of gold,2 which would perhaps be £ 5,000,000 of our
1 The "peacocks" in Job xxxix. 13 have no place there. The verse
should be rendered, "The wing of the female ostrich bcateth joyously: is
it a kindly pinion and plumage?"
2 The fact that Hengstenberg and others should connect this accidental
number of talents with the number of the Beast (1) in the Book of Revela-
money. This did not include the profits of his commerce,
whether derived from "merchantmen," or (as the Revised Ver-
sion renders the word) chapmen or itinerant traffickers, or
other traders;1 or from "the tribute of the subject people;"2 or
from all the kings of the mingled people,3 or the governors of
provinces. It is amazing to think that so immense a revenue
should so soon have been dissipated. But nothing consumes
the wealth of kings so rapidly as magnificent buildings.
Although the commercial side of Solomon's activity was not
without its drawbacks, there can be no doubt that it had
counterbalancing and permanent advantages, both direct and
indirect. Among the latter may be mentioned the construction
of better roads, which is always a powerful element in advancing
civilization. We should infer that Solomon's attention was
turned in this direction from the necessities of the case. His
roads are not specially mentioned in Scripture, but Josephus
tells us that "he did not neglect the care of the ways, but laid
a causeway of black stone along the roads which led to Jeru-
salem which was the royal city, both to render them easy for
travellers, and to manifest the grandeur of his riches and
government." The black stone was perhaps basalt. It is true
that in modern Palestine there are scarcely any traces of such
roads, but the same remark applies to the great military road
from north to south constructed by the Romans a thousand
tion, a number which, like the 888 of the name Jesus in the Sibylline books,
is decided simply by the fact that the numerical value of "Neron Kesar"
(the Emperor Nero), in Hebrew letters is 666 —shows the wildly absurd
principles, or no principles, which have dominated for so many thousands
of years in the so-called "interpretation" of Scripture.
1 The "spice merchants" of our Authorized Version in I Kings x. 15 is
2 LXX., I Kings x.
Where by mistake the Authorized Version reads "Arabia"; LXX., τῶν
βασιλέων τοῦ πέραν.
4 See Grätz, i. 323.
SOLOMON IN ALL HIS GLORY.
Visitors and presents—Royal state—Solomon, on a progress, as described
by Josephus—As described in the Song of Songs—A nuptial psalm
(Ps. xlv.) —Allusion to Solomon by our Lord—Other allusions—His
vory throne—Visit of the Queen of Sheba—Traditions about the Queen
of Sheba—Legends of her visit and questions—Her admiration of his
buildings and his magnificence—Interchange of presents—Naturaliza-
tion of the balsam-plant—Our Lord's allusion—Summary of Solomon's
wealth and grandeur.
HISTORY, Poetry, and Legend combine to magnify the splen-
dour of Solomon. Many visitors flocked yearly to Jerusalem
to witness the magnificence of the great king, to see his temple,
to hear his wisdom, and to admire his foreign curiosities; and,
according to the Eastern custom, none of these came empty-
handed. Some of them brought presents of gold and of silver;
others brought rich garments from Babylon and Tyre; others
brought armour,1 spices, horses, and mules. The habits of the
Court were completely changed. Saul, in his rustic kingliness,
even David in his warlike simplicity, would have gazed with
astonishment on this outburst of Egyptian gorgeousness. But
Solomon profited in some respects by the fact that both Egypt
and Assyria during his day were under temporary eclipse,
so that he filled an unusually large space in the eyes of his
Even David and Absalom had been content to ride on
mules, as Solomon himself had done when he was first ap-
pointed king. But now he never rode forth except in one of
1 1 Kings x. 25; the word is of doubtful meaning.
"Pharaoh's chariots," which were so elegant and bright as to be
compared to a lovely maiden.1 The prosaic narrative of Jose-
phus and the soft poetry of the Canticles alike describe the
traditional reminiscences of the king's pomp and luxury as he
went to visit his well-watered garden at Etam, or was carried
in his luxurious palanquin to his summer retreats amid the hills
of myrrh and the leopard-haunted woods of Lebanon.2 Jose-
phus tells us that when he started from Jerusalem for his
gardens, he would ascend one of his glittering chariots at
early dawn to ride down the green windings of the Wady
Urtâs. The chariot was doubtless one of the choicest of
those which had been imported from Egypt, and resembled the
richly-chased and brilliantly-coloured cars in which we see the
kings of Egypt represented at peaceful ceremonies in their
temple frescoes. It was drawn by swift and stately horses,
magnificently caparisoned, and was followed by a train of
archers, riding on war-horses, in purple attire. They were
youths chosen to be of the king's bodyguard for their beauty
and stature, and "their long black hair flowed behind them,
powdered with gold-dust, which glittered in the sun as they
galloped along after their master."3
Yet more brilliant is the picture delineated in the Song of
Songs. Leaning from her lattice, the lovely Shulamite sees
a dim cloud coming up from the pasture-land, which seems
to breathe of myrrh and frankincense. It is indeed the
smoke of delicious spices burnt before the advance of a royal
visitor. As it approaches nearer she recognizes the flashing
armour of the Gibborim, or "mighty-men," who form the
king's bodyguard. Their swords are girded on their thighs,
and sixty of the most valiant of them are ranged around a
chariot-litter to protect Solomon from the brigands who might
attack him in the night. As the cavalcade approaches, she sees
the splendour of the royal palanquin. It is made of cedar
wood, its pillars are of silver, its floor of gold, its cushions of
purple, its carpet of rich embroideries, woven for as a
token of love by the maidens of Jerusalem. Inside it sits the
king himself, wearing his royal crown, the jewelled crown which
1 Cant. i. 9.
2 2 Chron. xi. 6; Cant. iv. 8; Robinson, "Palestine," i. 168.
3 Josephus, "Antiq." viii. 7, § 3.
SOLOMON IN ALL HIS GLORY. 131
his mother placed upon his head on the day when he married
the Princess of Egypt. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and
gaze upon King Solomon!1
In manlier tones than those of the Song of Songs a
psalmist describes another phase of this many-sided splen-
dour in what is called "a song of loves," written for the
sons of Korah to a tune called "Lilies." He describes the
king as fairer than the sons of men, his lips full of grace, his
life enriched with blessings. With his sword upon his thigh
he rides prosperously forth, capable of terrible deeds, but
only in the cause of truth, mercy, and righteousness. His
arrows shall be in the heart of his enemies; his Divine throne
and righteous sceptre shall be for ever. Because he has loved
righteousness and hated iniquity God has anointed him with
the oil of gladness above all other kings. His garments breathe
forth perfumes of Arabian and Indian spices, and music makes
him glad out of his ivory palaces. Among his loved ones are
the daughters of kings, and pre-eminent among them stands at
his right hand the queen, as in a blaze of light, clothed in gar-
ments richly covered with the wrought gold of Ophir, in which
she has been carried from the inner palace on Tapestries of
needlework, surrounded by her virgin companions, amid a
burst of rejoicing melodies. The gazing multitude exult in her
1 Cant. iii. 6-11. We may borrow a few illustrative lines from Mr.
Browning's "Popularity "
"Who has not heard how Tyrian shells
Enclosed the blue, that dye of dye,
Whereof one drop worked miracles,
And coloured like Astarte's eyes
Raw silk the merchant sells?
Enough to furnish Solomon
Such hangings for his cedar-house,
That, when gold-robed he took the throne,
In that abyss of blue, the Spouse
Might swear his presence shone.