The Reign of King SolomonSolomon commanded an army of 1,400 chariots, which represented the most advanced military technology of the period. David had conquered substantial lands of the Philistine and Edomite peoples, and it was Solomon who reaped the rewards. He married the Pharaoh’s daughter, thereby cementing an alliance with one of the most powerful empires of the period.
Solomon commanded an army of 1,400 chariots, which represented the most advanced military technology of the period. David had conquered substantial lands of the Philistine and Edomite peoples, and it was Solomon who reaped the rewards. He married the Pharaoh’s daughter, thereby cementing an alliance with one of the most powerful empires of the period.
Solomon’s reign is shrouded in many mysterious legends which feature him communing with demons, performing magic, and even being imprisoned by a demonic spell. Rarely has any Israelite monarch evoked such wild flights of fantasy, yet it seems that Solomon stands apart with the enormity of a figure out of myth. Nearly all knowledge of him comes solely from the Scriptural texts “Kings I” and “Chronicles II,” reinforced to some degree by archaeological findings in Megiddo and elsewhere.
Solomon's Achievements and Downfall
Solomon’s rise to power was accompanied by fratricide and an overturning of the old order. When he discovered that David’s older son Adoniyah was collaborating with the powerful general Joab son of Tzeruyah, he killed Joab, and later killed Adoniyah when the latter showed signs of defiance. Solomon’s actions were endorsed by David, who on his deathbed gave Solomon his blessing as the future king.
The First Temple was, by all accounts, an imposing and ornate structure that was to exert a deep influence on the future development of religion in Judea. But Solomon still built shrines to other gods, and the heavy burden of taxation that he imposed upon Israel was to lead to the shattering of his kingdom after his death. It has been speculated that his foreign wives were a strong influence, and in the end led him astray. Solomon is therefore judged a failure in hindsight by the Scriptural texts, but a magnificent failure: like a meteor rising high, aflame with power and light, only to fall with a devastating crash to earth.
When he died, the era of apparent prosperity died with him, to be replaced with a kingdom torn asunder and a dynasty that would never regain its former glory.
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