King Solomon – quick facts
- What was young Solomon like? He appears to have begun his reign with high ideals and the resolve to live up to them. His dream (3:5) in which he asked God for the gift of wisdom above all other possible benefits, was a natural expression of his aspirations to rule wisely and well.
- Was there a contradiction? In the eyes of many of his contemporaries and of later generations, his wealth and ostentation make it seem that his very success was his undoing.
- What was Solomon’s personality? Solomon was a pious man, as is evident from his prayer (I Kings 8:23-53) and his care for religious observances. He was, however, far too tolerant of divergent practices for the taste of his people.
- Solomon and marriage. His many marriages — although they were undertaken as a matter of diplomacy – also had their influence. He had to permit his foreign wives to practice their own religions and to build suitable shrines and altars for them.
- Solomon and Yahweh. These were probably also necessary as an inducement to foreign traders to visit or settle in Jerusalem. His sanction of so many alien cults side by side with that of the Temple in Jerusalem (1 K. 11:5—6) seemed like the first step in a process of syncretism and dilution of the national religion. In the end “when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods” (11 :4).
- What did the Bible author think of Solomon? In short, to the historian of Kings, the collapse of Solomon’s kingdom was the inevitable sequel to his “sin” of marrying foreign wives and its corollary of idolatry. (Polygamy as such was no sin.) The passage in I Kings ll, although written by later historians is probably a valid reflection of the feelings of many of his subjects towards the end of the king’s life.
- What happened to Solomon? Solomon died in 924 or 922 BCE having reigned “forty years”.