The Search Continues for King Solomon’s Mines

The Search Continues for King Solomon’s Mines


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The biblical Solomon, a king of Israel and son of King David, was renowned for his fabled wisdom, power and his personal fortune, often described as one of the largest in the ancient world. But while Solomon’s famed wealth is a story as old as the ages, the popular fascination with locating a portion of this fantastic fortune is a far more recent affair. The idea of mines full of riches was first introduced in the late 19th century by author H. Rider Haggard in his blockbuster adventure novel, King Solomon’s Mines, whose publication coincided with a boom in archeological discoveries of ancient sites in the Middle East and Africa.

Half a century later, American rabbi and archaeologist Nelson Glueck made headlines of his own when he announced that he had located Solomon’s mines in the Great Rift Valley near the modern-day boundary of Israel and Jordan. These mines, however, weren’t filled with gold–they were extensive copper-smelting plants that Glueck maintained were the true source of Solomon’s wealth. Unable to connect archaeological evidence to biblical accounts, however, modern historians soon began to doubt Glueck’s connection of Solomon to the region’s copper production.

For the past few decades, conventional wisdom has held that the ancient Egyptians built most of the mines in the region during the 13th century B.C.—a theory supported by the discovery of an Egyptian temple at the complex in 1969. In 2008, however, researchers located a mining site in neighboring Jordan (known as Khirbat en-Nahas) that archaeological evidence suggested became operational 300 years later that previously assumed, during the 10th century B.C. The following year, another excavation identified a site in Israel’s Timna Valley, dubbed Site 30, which was home to a copper-smelting camp also believed to have been built in same time period as the Jordanian mine— likely too late for an Egyptian settlement but squarely within the biblical timeframe for Solomon’s famed mines.

Earlier this year, Dr. Erez Ben-Yousef, an archaeologist from Tel Aviv University who had helped discover Site 30 while a graduate student at the University of California, San Diego, led a new dig in a previously unexamined section of the site known as Slaves’ Hill. As with elsewhere at the Timna Valley site, Ben-Yousef’s team uncovered archaeological evidence of dozens of the furnaces used to smelt copper as well as layers of copper slag, a by-product of the smelting process. The team also found a trove of personal items, including clothing, ceramics, fabrics and tools, and the remnants of a variety of food items, indicating a highly developed, long-term settlement at the site. Nearly a dozen artifacts from the Slaves’ Hill site, including date and olive pits, were sent to the University of Oxford for radiocarbon dating, which confirmed their age to the 10th century B.C., reinforcing their belief that the sites were not Egyptian.

It’s hoped that these most recent revelations will help convince the archaeological community of the unlikelihood that the Egyptians constructed and controlled the important copper-smelting centers in the region, but the researchers stress that though the sites date to the time of the fabled King Solomon, there is no evidence that he or his Israelite tribe were the ones who built the mines. In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest that it was another group mentioned in the Bible, the Edomites, who actually controlled the operations.

The Edomites were a semi-nomadic tribe, usually depicted in the Bible as a traditional enemy of the Israelites before their eventual forced conversion to Judaism in the 2nd century B.C. Their early civilization thrived on trade, but by the time of the construction of the copper-smelting mines at Khirbat en-Nahas and the Timna Valley more than 3,000 years ago, they had developed into a highly organized state. Tens of thousands of workers toiled away at these desert sites—some of the largest copper-smelting mines in the ancient world—with a high level of efficiency. True to their early nomadic nature, they eschewed long-term housing in favor of tent camps at the periphery of the mines, leaving little physical trace of their physical existence behind until now. As for any concrete evidence of King Solomon or what, if any role, he may have played in the copper-mine production in the region, the search continues: Dr. Ben-Yousef will lead another dig at the site later this year.


Timna Valley

The Timna Valley (תִּמְנָע, Hebrew pronunciation: [timˈna] ) is located in southern Israel in the southwestern Arava/Arabah, approximately 30 kilometres (19 mi) north of the Gulf of Aqaba and the city of Eilat. The area is rich in copper ore and has been mined since the 5th millennium BCE. There is controversy whether the mines were active during the biblical united Kingdom of Israel and its second ruler, King Solomon. [1]

A large section of the valley, containing ancient remnants of copper mining and ancient worship, is encompassed in a recreation park.

In July 2011, the Israeli government approved the construction of an international airport, the Ramon Airport, in the Timna Valley. [2]


Sheba gold mine

Sheba mine is today one of the oldest, and richest, working gold mines in the world having been in production for more than a century and it is estimated that production will continue for several decades to come. Large amounts of money flowed into Barberton and several stock exchanges operated here.

West Tree Gold Mine Caswell Lake Gold Mine

In the intermediate area there was also a number of other properties that also resulted in satisfactory gold results to the north of the West Tree Gold Mine. Some of these properties that were idle during this time period had included the Wood, Bennet, McIntyre, Saville, Foisey, Adair, Churchill, Queen of Sheba, and Cochrane claims.

The Queen of Sheba''s Gold Mines Discovered

Apr 21, 2016 · When the Queen of Sheba made her celebrated visit to king Solomon, the Bible records that among other gifts, she brought "very much gold, and precious stones" (1 Kings 10:2) deed, the record goes on to say that she gave Solomon "an hundred and twenty talents of gold" (1 Kings 10:10) now appears that a British archaeologist has loed the source of the Queen''s incredible wealth[1].

Oldest gold in the world in Barberton, Mpumalanga, South

Sheba mine is today one of the oldest, and richest, working gold mines in the world having been in production for more than a century and it is estimated that production will continue for several decades to come. Large amounts of money flowed into Barberton and several stock exchanges operated here.

Queen of Sheba''s lost gold mine discovered, archaeologist

In the Hebrew Bible, the Queen of Sheba is described as arriving in Jerusalem to greet King Solomon with "a very numerous retinue, and with camels bearing spices, a large amount of gold, and

Gold Mining History of Barberton South Africa Umjindi

Sheba Gold Mine One of the first discoveries in the Sheba valley was the "Nil Desperandum Lode". While prospecting downstream from the Nil Desperandum Lode, Edward Bray (18241887) discovered the rich Golden Quarry which yielded 8 oz of gold per ton in a trial crushing.

Sheba Mine in Umjindi Rural, Mpumalanga Pathfinda

Mining Wonder of the World. Barberton is a town born out of gold, so naturally it makes sense that visitors take a tour of a gold mine to get a true sense of this "gold rush town".. Sheba Mine has been mining gold for over a century from Bray''s famous "Golden Quarry" and is considered one of the "Mining Wonders of the World".

Vantage Goldfields Limited

Its prospecting rights cover some 16,000 ha of greenstone terrain containing known gold deposits and other exploration targets. These mineral rights surround the central core of the Barberton Goldfield where Pan African Resources plc currently produces some 100,000 oz/annum from three mines (Sheba, Fairview, New Consort). Report Archives

The Ethiopian Gold Mine that may have supplied the Queen

Jun 19, 2018 · Ever wondered where the Queen of Sheba got her gold from? Sudan and Ethiopia are both in the region of what was the kingdom of Sheba, and both have ancient mines. In fact, the Asosa zone of Ethiopia could contain the oldest gold mine in the world at 6000 years old. Some geologists have argued that this zone is still rich with the precious metal

Barberton Mines Pan African Resources

Barberton Mines first produced gold in 1886, after the discovery of the first gold nugget by Edwin Bray. The mining complex consists of three mines: Fairview, New Consort and Sheba. Barberton Mines is the birthplace of BIOX® (''Biological Oxidation''), an environmentally friendly process of releasing the gold from the sulphide that surrounds

Increasing Production to

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the Sheba Reef in his Golden Quarry below Eureka City, which sparked the gold rush with reputedly 50,000oz from the first 11,000t. The Sheba mine is renowned for its high grades (even now). At the peak there were apparently

350 gold mines in the district and production has exceeded 10moz.

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Looking for EVANDER GOLD MINES (PTY) LTD in Evander? Affordable Reliable Experienced Get Trading Hours, 2019 Contact Details, and a MAP with Directions to our premises. Call or Enquire Now!

Gold Mining History of Barberton South Africa Umjindi

Sheba Gold Mine One of the first discoveries in the Sheba valley was the "Nil Desperandum Lode". While prospecting downstream from the Nil Desperandum Lode, Edward Bray (18241887) discovered the rich Golden Quarry which yielded 8 oz of gold per ton in a trial crushing.

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Gold Mines Barberton South Africa. Tourist, Travel, Holiday and Barberton Gold Mines. Mines. Of Sheba Gold Mine: One of the first discoveries in the Sheba valley was the "Nil Desperandum Lode".

Mystery Of King Solomon''s Mines: An Unsolved Ancient

Aug 09, 2018 · King Solomon in his Court, as he receives the Queen of Sheba. Credit: Public Domain The Search Continues for King Solomon''s Mines. The Gold of Ophir Inscription. Tags: Ark of the Covenant, gold, King Solomon, King Solomon''s Mines, Ophir, Queen Of Sheba, Solomon''s Temple. More From Ancient Pages.

Queen of Sheba''s Lost Gold Mine Discovered? Seeker

A British archaeologist claims she may have uncovered the treasure mine from which the fabled Queen of Sheba drew her wealth, the UK daily The Observer reported. Hidden on a hill on the Gheralta

Pan African uncovers nearterm gold mine at historic Royal

Sep 06, 2018 · "The Sheba Fault Shear Zone has been a prolific goldbearing geological structure, producing numerous gold deposits and mines within the Pan African stable, notably the existing underground Sheba Mine and, more recently, the reemergence of the Royal Sheba Project," it

Pan African uncovers nearterm gold mine at historic Royal

Sep 06, 2018 · "The Sheba Fault Shear Zone has been a prolific goldbearing geological structure, producing numerous gold deposits and mines within the Pan African stable, notably the existing underground Sheba Mine and, more recently, the reemergence of the Royal Sheba Project," it

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owners of sheba gold mine supremewheels . Sheba Mining Atlas. Sheba is a Gold Mine (Mpumalanga), also known as Barberton, in South Africa owned by Pan African Resources. General: Sheba is part of the Barberton mines complex. Barberton first produced gold in 1886, after the discovery of the first gold nugget by Edwin Bray.

THE STRATIGRAPHY, STRUCTURE. AND GOLD

the stratigraphy structure. and gold mineralization of the"jamestown and sheba hills areas of the barberton mountain land contents chapter 1 introduction general statement loion and extent of area investigated physiography climate and vegetation history and mining

(PDF) Wallrock alteration as a guide to goldbearing

Gold at the Sheba Gold Mine is found in a variety of rocks, the most important being the schists and chert of the Zwartkoppie Formation and the overlying metagreywacke and shale of the Fig Tree Group.

BarbertonMines Lowvelder

• Ten gold bars from Sheba were lost in the De Kaap River when a flash flood carried away the carriage and horses. • Three Hotels operated up at Eureka City. • Thomas Mine had a shaft that was operated by a mule. • Sheba Mine was the richest gold mine in the world for most of its early mining life. Overview Barberton Mines

Sheba gold mine barberton vacancies eduioncare

It also includes an introduction to the early gold mining history of the Reef and incorporates .. Route Barberton Sheba Mine Barberton .. Reef and UG2 exposures and will provide opportunities for seeing the layering in the sequence. More details » Get Price

Mpumalanga mines list

Aug 15, 2019 · This video is unavailable. Watch Queue Queue. Watch Queue Queue

Cultural and historical backgrounds of Barberton

Sheba mine is today one of the oldest, and richest, working gold mines in the world having been in production for more than a century and it is estimated that production will continue for several decades to come. Large amounts of money flowed into Barberton and several stock exchanges operated here.

Golden Quarry Dusty Tracks Off Road Adventures

The Edwin Bray tunnel (Golden Quarry), which is still in production today is part of the Sheba mine system, the quarry is one of the oldest and richest working gold mines in the world. Fashioned entirely by hand, this vast cavernous mine is considered by many to be one of the mining wonders of the world.

THREE HISTORICAL FACTS ON GOLD MINING IN BARBETON

SHEBA GOLD MINE. One of the first discoveries in the Sheba valley was the "Nil Desperandum Lode". While prospecting downstream from the Nil Desperandum Lode, Edward Bray (18241887) discovered the rich Golden Quarry which yielded 8 oz of gold per ton in a trial crushing. This led to intense prospecting and mining activity in the vicinity and

Queen of Sheba Gold Mine, Coolgardie, Coolgardie Shire

Queen of Sheba Gold Mine, Coolgardie, Coolgardie Shire, Western Australia, Australia : The Queen of Sheba Gold Mine was loed between the King Solomon and Rose Hill gold mines, just southeast of town. Little information was found. It was run by a private unregistered Kalgoorlie

Barberton Gold Cc, Gold Mines, Mpumalanga, 013 712 9

Barberton Gold Cc Phone and Map of Address: 2 Mine Rd, Barberton, 1300, South Africa, Mpumalanga, Business Reviews, Consumer Complaints and Ratings for Gold Mines in

Sheba gold mine barberton vacancies eduioncare

It also includes an introduction to the early gold mining history of the Reef and incorporates .. Route Barberton Sheba Mine Barberton .. Reef and UG2 exposures and will provide opportunities for seeing the layering in the sequence. More details » Get Price

Golden Quarry Dusty Tracks Off Road Adventures

The Edwin Bray tunnel (Golden Quarry), which is still in production today is part of the Sheba mine system, the quarry is one of the oldest and richest working gold mines in the world. Fashioned entirely by hand, this vast cavernous mine is considered by many to be one of the mining wonders of the world.

The Queen of Sheba''s Gold Mines Discovered

Apr 21, 2016 · When the Queen of Sheba made her celebrated visit to king Solomon, the Bible records that among other gifts, she brought "very much gold, and precious stones" (1 Kings 10:2) deed, the record goes on to say that she gave Solomon "an hundred and twenty talents of gold" (1 Kings 10:10) now appears that a British archaeologist has loed the source of the Queen''s incredible wealth[1].

BARBERTON GOLD MINES Pan African Resources

• Mining started in 1886 at Sheba Mines – oldest operating mine • Currently BML have three operations i.e. Sheba, New Consort and Fairview • BML treat about 24 000 ore tons per month at about 11g/t • BML also have a Tailings Retreatment Plant (90,000t/m) • Combined gold production per month is 290kg

The Ethiopian Gold Mine that may have supplied the Queen

Jun 19, 2018 · Ever wondered where the Queen of Sheba got her gold from? Sudan and Ethiopia are both in the region of what was the kingdom of Sheba, and both have ancient mines. In fact, the Asosa zone of Ethiopia could contain the oldest gold mine in the world at 6000 years old. Some geologists have argued that this zone is still rich with the precious metal

Queen of Sheba''s Lost Gold Mine Discovered? Seeker

A British archaeologist claims she may have uncovered the treasure mine from which the fabled Queen of Sheba drew her wealth, the UK daily The Observer reported. Hidden on a hill on the Gheralta

A View from the Beach: Queen of Sheba''s Gold Mines Found?

Queen of Sheba''s Lost Gold Mine Discovered?A British archaeologist claims she may have uncovered the treasure mine from which the fabled Queen of Sheba drew her wealth, the UK daily The Observer reported. Hidden on a hill on the Gheralta plateau in northern Ethiopia, the unexplored mine lies within the Queen''s former territory, a nearly 3,000yearold Sheba kingdom that scholars believe

The Biblical World: The Queen of Sheba Gold Mines

The Queen of Sheba Gold Mines 1 Kings 10:113 and 2 Chronicles 9:112 recounts how the Queen of Sheba came to visit King Solomon to test him with very hard questions. We are told that she was impressed not only with his wisdom but also all of his wealth. She was so impresses that she left him with a halfaton of Gold.

Sheba gold mine barberton china

Barberton, Mpumalanga Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sheba mine is today one of the oldest and richest working gold mines in the world,

Original Solomon''s Gold Series Part 1: Where is Ophir

Feb 13, 2017 · NEW! Become a partner of The God Culture to bring Free Conferences to the Philippines. You can now be a part of our efforts and give monthly support whether

Sheba Mine in Umjindi Rural, Mpumalanga Pathfinda

Mining Wonder of the World. Barberton is a town born out of gold, so naturally it makes sense that visitors take a tour of a gold mine to get a true sense of this "gold rush town".. Sheba Mine has been mining gold for over a century from Bray''s famous "Golden Quarry" and is considered one of the "Mining Wonders of the World".

The Search Continues for King Solomon''s Mines HISTORY

Aug 29, 2018 · These mines, however, weren''t filled with gold–they were extensive coppersmelting plants that Glueck maintained were the true source of Solomon''s wealth. Unable to

Questions On the Queen of Sheba''s Gold judith weingarten

Mar 20, 2012 · Questions On the Queen of Sheba''s Gold The Golden You may have heard that the Queen of Sheba''s gold mines have (or have not) been found in Ethiopia.* Those who are following the story might object that, regardless of the news report, the gold mines if they ever existed would not have been in Ethiopia.

THE HISTORY OF MINING IN THE BARBERTON GREENSTONE

Gold mining has continued almost uninterruptedly up to the present day – a period of close on 130 years. Queen of Sheba and King Solomon (Summers, 1969). By the time the first European explorers arrived in southern Africa during the 19th century many ancient gold workings had been abandoned and largely forgotten.

The Search Continues for King Solomon''s Mines HISTORY

Aug 29, 2018 · These mines, however, weren''t filled with gold–they were extensive coppersmelting plants that Glueck maintained were the true source of Solomon''s wealth. Unable to

Sheba Mine, Barberton, Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga

Sheba Mine, Barberton, Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga, South Africa : A gold mine loed 13 miles NE of Barberton. Started in 1885. Hydrothermal, fault/shearhosted zones of mineralisation in the Archean metasedimentary rocks of the Barberton Greenstone

Queen of Sheba Gold Mine, Coolgardie, Coolgardie Shire

Queen of Sheba Gold Mine, Coolgardie, Coolgardie Shire, Western Australia, Australia : The Queen of Sheba Gold Mine was loed between the King Solomon and Rose Hill gold mines, just southeast of town. Little information was found. It was run by a private unregistered Kalgoorlie


Solomon

According to biblical tradition (and some say myth), King Solomon was the third and last king in the ancient United Kingdom of Israel. Other faiths, such as Islam and Rastafarianism, also embrace the notion of Solomon as a sagacious king and powerful prophet of Israel. He was renowned for his wisdom, his prolific writings, and his building accomplishments. Born around 1010 BCE, Solomon was the tenth son of King David (the second king of ancient united Israel) and the second son of Bathsheba. Like King Saul and King David, King Solomon reigned for 40 years in one of the highest and most prosperous periods in Israel's history - called by many, “The Golden Age” of Israel.

During his reign, Solomon controlled the trade routes coming out of Edom, Arabia, India, Africa, and Judea he constructed an elaborate and profitable web of alliances (cemented by an enormous assemblage of hundreds of wives and concubines), and he purportedly built the first Temple of God in Jerusalem, which was destroyed (along with the entire city of Jerusalem) by the Babylonians in 586 BCE. Despite initial sovereign successes, the end of Solomon's rule was marked by several insurrections and attacks from both foreign and domestic enemies, as well as a disintegration of national and religious integrity because of cultural appeasements within Israel, which compromised and weakened the social fabric of the United Kingdom. He died in 931 BCE at age 80, possibly the most prosperous and productive king ever to rule over Israel.

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The Traditional Story of King Solomon

The story of King Solomon begins with his father, King David, and his mother, Bathsheba. In the Hebrew scriptures, 2 Samuel 3 states that King David, anointed by the Prophet Samuel before King Saul's demise to be his replacement, officially became King of Judea (1010 BCE). Later, 2 Samuel 5 states that (in 1002 BCE) all the elders of Israel approached him to be their ruler, and “The king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.” King David's reign lasted 40 years, and like King Saul, it started off better than it ended.

David's initial zeal for God and for ethical integrity paved the way for his early fame and fortune, although being a man of warfare and blood (according to the scriptures), God decided that David was not suitable to be the one to build God's Temple (that would be placed in the hands of his son, Solomon). Moreover, David's illicit affair and subsequent devious actions (leading to the assassination of Uriah the Hittite and its cover-up) complicated the rest of David's reign - along with the rape of Tamar, the murder of Ammon, and the attempted coup of Absalom, among other controversies.

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By the end of David's life, he had lost touch with Israelite society and eventually lost political control of it, as well. This led to an attempted coup by his son, Adonijah (whose mother was Haggith, David's fifth wife), who proclaimed himself to be king with the assistance of General Joab and Abiathar the Priest however, the majority of Israel's institutional agents did not support Adonijah's claim. The Hebrew scriptures state that the Prophet Nathan went first to Bathsheba to alert her to Adonijah's usurpation of the throne, who then went to her husband, King David, to break the troubling news to him. Eventually, the Prophet Nathan joined the two, and King David officially made Solomon his heir apparent. David said, “Assuredly Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he shall sit on my throne in my place” (1 Kings 1).

Solomon Becomes King

King David died from natural causes in 961 BCE, was buried in Jerusalem, and, as suggested in the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, facilitated the establishment of the eternal kingdom of God through his piety and lineage. Before his death, David gave his final admonition to his son, Solomon, saying, “Keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, his commandments, his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn. . . for you are a wise man” (1 Kings 2).

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The threat of civil war and Adonijah's immediate execution as a traitor was averted for a time however, Adonijah attempted to possess King David's former asexual concubine, Abishag the Shunammite, behind King Solomon's back. This enraged Solomon most likely because of Adonijah's surreptitious political triangulation of Bathsheba and because of Adonijah's political machinations to be following in King David's footsteps. Thereafter, “King Solomon sent by the hand of Benaiah the son of Jehoiada' and he struck [Adonijah] down, and he died” (1Kings 1). King Solomon also dispatched the other ringleaders of the coup - General Joab and Abiathar the Priest, although Joab was executed and Abiathar was exiled.

Perhaps one of the more fantastical yet pivotal parts of the biblical story of Solomon is the divine gift that he received from God as recorded in the Hebrew scriptures. Solomon implored, “Now, O Lord God, let your promise to David my father be established, for you have made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude. Now give me wisdom and knowledge.” According to the Hebrew scriptures, this impressed God, so Solomon received not only knowledge and wisdom, but also “riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings have had who were before you, nor shall any after you have the like” (2 Chronicles 1). The Qur'an also indicates that Solomon received a divine gift of wisdom, along with other special gifts (21:78–79) - "And We made Sulaiman [Solomon] to understand (the case) and unto each of them We gave judgment and knowledge."

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Features of Solomon's Reign

Solomon's prosperity and success were also achieved through ingenious reforms and innovations such as the improvement of defense measures the expansion of the royal court the financial windfall from more sophisticated taxation, labor conscriptions of Canaanites and Israelites, tributes and gifts from foreign countries under the influence of Solomon and a land and sea trading system that utilized a powerful navy and army to protect assets and trade routes. According to the Hebrew scriptures, “The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and he made cedars as abundant as the sycamores, which are in the lowland” (2 Chronicles 1).

King Solomon was also famous for his international relationships, forming alliances with other nearby powerful nations such as Egypt, Moab, Tyre, Arabia, etc. Many of these partnerships were cemented through royal marriages and the giving of concubines to Solomon, eventually gaining him 700 wives and 300 concubines. One of King Solomon's more famous political-amorous relationships was with the Queen of Sheba (which some speculate to be modern-day Yemen), who visited Israel with a lavish tribute of 120 talents of gold. The Hebrew scriptures state, “And when the queen of Sheba had seen the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his servants, the service of his waiters and their apparel, his cupbearers and their apparel, and his entryway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her” (2 Chronicles 9).

Clearly, the Queen was impressed with Solomon and his accomplishments, and the two cultivated an intimate relationship, with Sheba helping create, foster, and maintain Solomon's trading with other Arabian kings. Additionally, according to the Rastafarian faith, Solomon and Sheba conceived a child together, whose descendants included Haile Selassie I, "the God of the Black race," as Selassie would then be related to both King David and Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

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Solomon's Temple

King Solomon is credited in the Hebrew scriptures as sponsoring, planning, funding, and executing the building of the Temple to house the Ark of the Covenant, per the wishes of his father, King David, and God. The building of the Temple is recorded in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, with the ground-breaking beginning in the fourth year of Solomon's reign, and construction was completed seven years later with an ostentatious dedication. In a seven-day celebration, Solomon sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep to celebrate the Temple's completion and God's willingness to dwell among them, therein.

The architectural design of the Temple was modeled after the tabernacle that had housed the Ark of the Covenant for decades (if not centuries). Quite lavish, it was double the size and built mainly from stone, with cedar paneling to hide all masonry, which was overlaid with gold. The inside of the Temple was decorated with elaborate carvings (gourds and open flowers), golden lampstands, an altar of incense (also called “the golden altar”), and two bronze pillars among other embellishments. In a less-advanced architectural age, at over 100 feet long by 40 feet wide by 60 feet high (30 x 12 x 18 m) with outer doors of ivory, the First Temple must have seemed an impossibility, a miraculous achievement, for most visiting Israelites.

According to the Hebrew scriptures, after the Temple was completed, Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant finally moved from the tent that King David had made for it and placed it in its specialized chamber on the most western end of the Temple called, “The Holy of Holies.” A perfect 20 x 20 x 20 ft. (6 x 6 x 6 m) cube, this was the most sacred room that no one besides the Chief Priest could enter (on the Day of Atonement) without dying. Institutionally and nationally, it was the intersection of the Divine with his People through his mediator. The Temple did not just house the Levitical priests of God. Side rooms and a courtyard were constructed around the whole building, with areas sectioned off for both the priests and the common people of Israel.

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Solomon's Literature

King Solomon is also credited for contributing several books and literary works to the Hebrew scriptures including the Book of Proverbs, the Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes, as well as traditionally penning some extra-biblical works including musical songs, poetry, histories, and scientific works in botany and zoology (although no extant writings have been discovered, currently). Under Solomon, Israel's golden age produced most of the works that were eventually gathered together into the “The Writings” or “Kethubim” section of the Hebrew scriptures.

Although theology is a component of Solomon's writings, the wisdom genre (also seen in Egyptian and Akkadian literature) focuses more on areas outside of theology - providing advice on the created world, relationships, practical matters, and assorted personal topics or challenges. Thus, Proverbs deals with the art of living, with how to make intelligent choices for one's future well-being. The Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) is a romantic poem that presents the ultimate union between the bride and the bridegroom, focusing on themes of love, wisdom, beauty, power, desire, sex, loyalty, etc. The Book of Ecclesiastes is a royal testament that includes personal reflections, meditations, and instructions on the meaning and purposes of life, alluding to several aspects that would have been relevant to Solomon's own personal experiences - wisdom, futility, riches, servants, hedonism, productivity, and humble self-realization. Although Solomon was the original sage for many of his proverbs, he also searched his kingdom and empire for other writings and ideas of erudite men and included them in his compilations.

Losing Favour With God

Despite all these great accomplishments, the Hebrew scriptures indicate that the decline of Solomon was similar to the fall of the previous kings of United Israel - similar, in that personal vanity and religious/moral compromise led to social disintegration and strife. Solomon slowly deprioritized his relationship and obligations to God in order to appease his many foreign wives and in order to protect the prosperity and longevity of his rule. Ultimately, “[Solomon's] wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been” (1 Kings 11). Solomon's ungrateful, disloyal actions and attitude - despite being the wisest and most blessed man on the earth - provoked the anger and judgment of the Lord.

Thus, although still able to keep control of the nation of Israel because of God's promise to King David, Solomon lost the protection and favor of God that earlier had provided remarkable peace and prosperity when he was obedient to God. Solomon soon found new challenges from within and without his kingdom, including Jeroboam who was promised to reign over Israel by the Prophet Ahijah, from Hadad of Edom who challenged Solomon's territorial control in the southern territory of Israel, and from Rezon of Damascus, who threatened Solomon's control over the northern territory of Israel.

King Solomon died of natural causes in 931 BCE at the age of 80. His son, Rehoboam, inherited the throne, which led to a civil war and the end of the United Kingdom of Israel in in 930 BCE.

Epigraphical & Archaeological Evidence for King Solomon

As with King David, verifying the existence of King Solomon is challenging, at best, especially since epigraphs typically provide imprecise information, and the biblical accounts rest upon a presupposition of supernatural realities. Although there is much archaeological and epigraphical evidence to substantiate the possibility of some/many (non-supernatural) scriptural assertions, archaeological finds to date have provided mostly indirect affirmation. With such huge gaps in archaeological evidence and with the contamination of too many archaeological fields, it is easy to speculate, theorize, or make an argument from silence, but it is difficult to empirically prove or disprove the existence of Solomon. Still, some provocative-yet-controversial archaeological finds have been recently unearthed over the last century that require consideration.

Although its first discoverer is unknown, in 1828 CE, Jean–François Champollion, who also discovered the Rosetta Stone in 1799 CE, examined the Bubastite Portal gate (built in 925 BCE) at the temple of Amun in Thebes. On its walls, among the historical paintings, a long list of defeated peoples by Pharaoh Shoshenq is accessible, including those from the “Highland/Heights of David,” presumably led by King Rehoboam, which led Champollion to conclude that Pharaoh Shoshenq and King Shishak of Egypt, as referenced in 1 Kings in the Hebrew scriptures, are one and the same.

In 1868 CE, Missionary Frederick Augustus Klein discovered an intact stele in Dhiban, Jordan, called the “Mesha Stele” or the “Moabite Stone,” with text that he could not read. Although the stele was smashed by contentious locals the next year, a papier-måché impression had been made of it and the stele was reassembled. The inscription on the stele references the Moabites, their god, and also references the nation of Israel and Omri, her sixth king. Similar finds such as the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III and the Chronicle of Sennacherib also confirm the existence of Israelite kings during the Assyrian hegemony.

Between 1957 CE and 1971 CE, archaeologist Yigael Yadin began excavations at two of the three cities mentioned in 1 Kings 9 (fully at Hazor and in a cursory investigation at Megiddo), which had gates supposedly built by King Solomon c. 960 BCE. Based on compared archaeological evidence from all three sites, which included Macalister's excavation report at Gezer from 1902–09 CE, Yadin concluded that the three city gates were designed by the same engineer (based on the same structural dimensions), built by the same workers (stylistically and methodologically from Phoenicia), and utilized the same material (they contained ashlar masonry quarried in Tyre). Additionally, in the 1860s CE, Charles Warren discovered a wall and courtyard in Jerusalem that were later found to be identical to the one in Megiddo and dating from the period of King Solomon.

In 1993 CE, Avraham Biran discovered the Tel Dan Inscription on a broken stele in northern Israel. The inscription commemorates the victory of an Aramean king over its southern neighbors, and specifically references both the “king of Israel,” and the “king of the House of David.” This is perhaps the first real, direct, historical evidence for the Davidic Dynasty in Israel.

In 2010 CE, Eilat Mazar and her team discovered a 10th century BCE wall between the Temple Mount and the modern-day Arab neighborhood of Silwan. The wall was part of a larger complex that included a gatehouse, guard tower, and other buildings. Based on artifacts found in and around the area, Mazar suspects that the wall is at least 3,000 years old, which would place its construction in the time period of King Solomon (as referenced in 1 Kings).

In 2012 CE, Eilat Mazar and her archaeological team discovered an ancient structure at the Ophel in Jerusalem that dated back to the Solomonic era. In a bedrock depression within that structure, the archaeologists also discovered a large storage jar (or pithos) with the earliest alphabetical letters ever found in Jerusalem written on an earthenware jug. Although the seals do not directly reference King David or King Solomon, the Ophel Inscription not only suggests an advanced society living in Jerusalem earlier than previously believed it also indicates a fully-functioning administration that collected taxes and implemented regulations during the period of King Solomon's reign.

In 2013 CE, Erez Ben-Yosef and his archaeological team discovered radiocarbon dating evidence forcing many archaeologists and historians to revise their presumptions about the copper mines in Israel's Aravah Desert. Previously assumed to be Egyptian, the new evidence suggests that the mines were actually operated by the Edomites, the ancient enemies of Israel repeatedly referenced in the Hebrew scriptures, who lived during the period of Solomon.

In 2014 CE, students and faculty from Mississippi State University discovered six official clay seals in southern Israel near Gaza. Although the seals do not directly reference King David or King Solomon, the Khirbet Summeily clay seals indicate official government activity in 10th century BCE, which had been assumed to be too tribal for such sophistication.

In 2016 CE, Israeli archaeologists discovered numerous small artifacts from the Temple Mount, which have been dated to the time of the First Temple, nearly 3,000 years ago. Shards from the archaeological dig include pottery fragments (a standard in general archaeological dating), olive pits, animal bones, and they all share a uniform date from the Solomonic period, according to the team's findings.

Conclusion

By no means conclusive, the aforementioned discoveries do give some credence to the theory that a United Kingdom of Israel once existed in the Mediterranean region although Israel's regional influence, military prowess, infrastructural contributions, and early pivotal leaders are still somewhat veiled. Fortunately, new archaeological discoveries continue to be made and advanced technology continues to bring to light the shadows of that which has been hidden for centuries and centuries.

Archaeological and historical evidence of other kings of Israel and Judah - such as Omri, Ahab, Joram, Ahaziah, Jehu, Hezekiah - have been uncovered in the historical landscape (and one could conceivably expect more to follow). Still, considering the traditional view of King Solomon as the wisest, most prosperous man on earth and King of his time (and of all future kings of Israel), the lack of direct historical and archaeological references to him, to the name “King Solomon” outside of the Hebrew scriptures, which portray him as the wisest of all fools, is quite ironical or evidential, indeed.


Contents

The life of Solomon is primarily described in 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles. His two names mean "peaceful" and "friend of God", both considered "predictive of the character of his reign". [11]

Chronology Edit

The conventional dates of Solomon's reign are derived from biblical chronology and are set from about 970 to 931 BCE. [12] Regarding the Davidic dynasty, to which King Solomon belongs, its chronology can be checked against datable Babylonian and Assyrian records at a few points, and these correspondences have allowed archaeologists to date its kings in a modern framework. [ citation needed ] [ dubious – discuss ] According to the most widely used chronology, based on that by Old Testament professor Edwin R. Thiele, the death of Solomon and the division of his kingdom would have occurred in the spring of 931 BCE. [13]

Childhood Edit

Solomon was born in Jerusalem, [14] the second born child of David and his wife Bathsheba, widow of Uriah the Hittite. The first child (unnamed in that account), a son conceived adulterously during Uriah's lifetime, had died as a punishment on account of the death of Uriah by David's order. Solomon had three named full brothers born to Bathsheba: Nathan, Shammua, and Shobab, [15] besides six known older half-brothers born of as many mothers. [16]

The biblical narrative shows that Solomon served as a peace offering between God and David, due to his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. In an effort to hide this sin, for example, he sent the woman's husband to battle, in the subsequently realised hope that he would be killed there. After he died, David was finally able to marry his wife. As punishment, the first child, who was conceived during the adulterous relationship, died. [17] Solomon was born after David was forgiven. It is this reason why his name, which means peace, was chosen. Some historians cited that Nathan the Prophet brought up Solomon as his father was busy governing the realm. [18] This could also be attributed to the notion that the prophet held great influence over David because he knew of his adultery, which was considered a grievous offense under the Mosaic Law. [19]

Succession and administration Edit

According to the First Book of Kings, when David was old, "he could not get warm". [20] "So they sought a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunamite, and brought her to the king. The young woman was very beautiful, and she was of service to the king and attended to him, but the king knew her not." [20]

While David was in this state, court factions were maneuvering for power. David's heir apparent, Adonijah, acted to have himself declared king, but was outmaneuvered by Bathsheba and the prophet Nathan, who convinced David to proclaim Solomon king according to his earlier promise (not recorded elsewhere in the biblical narrative), [21] despite Solomon's being younger than his brothers.

Solomon, as instructed by David, began his reign with an extensive purge, including his father's chief general, Joab, among others, and further consolidated his position by appointing friends throughout the administration, including in religious positions as well as in civic and military posts. [22] It is said that Solomon ascended to the throne when he was only about fifteen. [23]

Solomon greatly expanded his military strength, especially the cavalry and chariot arms. He founded numerous colonies, some of which doubled as trading posts and military outposts.

Trade relationships were a focus of his administration. In particular he continued his father's very profitable relationship with the Phoenician king Hiram I of Tyre (see 'wealth' below) they sent out joint expeditions to the lands of Tarshish and Ophir to engage in the trade of luxury products, importing gold, silver, sandalwood, pearls, ivory, apes and peacocks. Solomon is considered the most wealthy of the Israelite kings named in the Bible.

Wisdom Edit

Solomon was the biblical king most famous for his wisdom. In 1 Kings he sacrificed to God, and God later appeared to him in a dream, [24] asking what Solomon wanted from God. Solomon asked for wisdom. Pleased, God personally answered Solomon's prayer, promising him great wisdom because he did not ask for self-serving rewards like long life or the death of his enemies.

Perhaps the best known story of his wisdom is the Judgment of Solomon two women each lay claim to being the mother of the same child. Solomon easily resolved the dispute by commanding the child to be cut in half and shared between the two. One woman promptly renounced her claim, proving that she would rather give the child up than see it killed. Solomon declared the woman who showed compassion to be the true mother, entitled to the whole child. [25]

Solomon was traditionally considered the author of several biblical books, "including not only the collections of Proverbs, but also of Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon and the later apocryphal book the Wisdom of Solomon." [26]

Wealth Edit

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Israelite monarchy gained its highest splendour and wealth during Solomon's reign of 40 years. In a single year, according to 1 Kings 10:14, Solomon collected tribute amounting to 666 talents (18,125 kilograms) of gold. Solomon is described as surrounding himself with all the luxuries and the grandeur of an Eastern monarch, and his government prospered. He entered into an alliance with Hiram I, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly assisted him in his numerous undertakings.

Construction projects Edit

For some years before his death, David was engaged in collecting materials for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent home for Yahweh and the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon is described as undertaking the construction of the temple, with the help of an architect, also named Hiram, and other materials, sent from King Hiram of Tyre.

After the completion of the temple, Solomon is described in the biblical narrative as erecting many other buildings of importance in Jerusalem. For 13 years, he was engaged in the building of a royal palace on Ophel (a hilly promontory in central Jerusalem). This complex included buildings referred to as:

The House (or Hall) of the Forest of Lebanon [27] The Hall or Porch of Pillars The Hall of the Throne or the Hall of Justice

as well as his own residence and a residence for his wife, Pharaoh's daughter. [28]

Solomon's throne is said to have been a spectacle, seeing that it was one of the earliest mechanical devices built by man. Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of securing a plentiful supply of water for the city, and the Millo (Septuagint, Acra) for the defense of the city. However, excavations of Jerusalem have shown a distinct lack of monumental architecture from the era, and no remains of either the Temple or Solomon's palace have been found.

Solomon is also described as rebuilding cities elsewhere in Israel, creating the port of Ezion-Geber, and constructing Palmyra in the wilderness as a commercial depot and military outpost. Although the location of the port of Ezion-Geber is known, no remains have ever been found. More archaeological success has been achieved with the major cities Solomon is said to have strengthened or rebuilt, for example, Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer. [29] These all have substantial ancient remains, including impressive six-chambered gates, and ashlar palaces however it is no longer the scholarly consensus that these structures date to the time, according to the Bible, when Solomon ruled. [30]

According to the Bible, during Solomon's reign, Israel enjoyed great commercial prosperity, with extensive traffic being carried on by land with Tyre, Egypt, and Arabia, and by sea with Tarshish, Ophir, and South India.

Wives and concubines Edit

According to the biblical account, Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines. [31] The wives were described as foreign princesses, including Pharaoh's daughter [32] and women of Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon and of the Hittites. His marriage to Pharaoh's daughter appears to have cemented a political alliance with Egypt, whereas he clung to his other wives and concubines "in love". [33] [34] The Message, a biblical paraphrase, says that Solomon was "obsessed with women". [35]

The only wife mentioned by name is Naamah the Ammonite, mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam. The biblical narrative notes with disapproval that Solomon permitted his foreign wives to import their national deities, building temples to Ashtoreth and Milcom. [36]

In the branch of literary analysis that examines the Bible, called higher criticism, the story of Solomon falling into idolatry by the influence of Pharaoh's daughter and his other foreign wives is "customarily seen as the handiwork of the 'deuteronomistic historian(s)'", who are held to have written, compiled, or edited texts to legitimize the reforms of Hezekiah's great-grandson, King Josiah who reigned from about 641 to 609 BCE (over 280 years after Solomon's death according to Bible scholars). [37] Scholarly consensus in this field holds that "Solomon's wives/women were introduced in the 'Josianic' (customarily Dtr) edition of Kings as a theological construct to blame the schism [between Judah and the Northern Kingdom of Israel] on his misdeeds". [37]

Relationship with Queen of Sheba Edit

In a brief, unelaborated, and enigmatic passage, the Hebrew Bible describes how the fame of Solomon's wisdom and wealth spread far and wide, so much so that the queen of Sheba decided that she should meet him. The queen is described as visiting with a number of gifts including gold, spices and precious stones. When Solomon gave her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked", she left satisfied (1 Kings 10:10).

Whether the passage is simply to provide a brief token, foreign witness of Solomon's wealth and wisdom, or whether there is meant to be something more significant to the queen's visit is unknown nevertheless the visit of the Queen of Sheba has become the subject of numerous stories.

Sheba is typically identified as Saba, a nation once spanning the Red Sea on the coasts of what are now Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen, in Arabia Felix although other sources place it in the area of what is now northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. [38] [39] In a Rabbinical account (e.g. Targum Sheni), Solomon was accustomed to ordering the living creatures of the world to dance before him (Rabbinical accounts say that Solomon had been given control over all living things by Yahweh), but one day upon discovering that the mountain-cock or hoopoe (Aramaic name: nagar tura) was absent, he summoned it to him, and the bird told him that it had been searching for somewhere new (see: Colloquy of the Queen of Sheba).

The bird had discovered a land in the east, exceedingly rich in gold, silver, and plants, whose capital was called Kitor and whose ruler was the Queen of Sheba, and the bird, on its own advice, was sent by Solomon to request the queen's immediate attendance at Solomon's court.

An Ethiopian account from the 14th century (Kebra Nagast) maintains that the Queen of Sheba had sexual relations with King Solomon and gave birth by the Mai Bella stream in the province of Hamasien, Eritrea. The Ethiopian tradition has a detailed account of the affair. The child was a son who went on to become Menelik I, King of Axum, and founded a dynasty that would reign as the first Jewish, then Christian Empire of Ethiopia for 2,900+ years (less one usurpation episode, an interval of about 133 years until a legitimate male heir regained the crown) until Haile Selassie was overthrown in 1974. Menelik was said to be a practicing Jew who was given a replica of the Ark of the Covenant by King Solomon and, moreover, that the original was switched and went to Axum with him and his mother, and is still there, guarded by a single priest charged with caring for the artifact as his life's task.

The claim of such a lineage and of possession of the Ark has been an important source of legitimacy and prestige for the Ethiopian monarchy throughout the many centuries of its existence, and had important and lasting effects on Ethiopian culture as a whole. The Ethiopian government and church deny all requests to view the alleged ark. [b]

Some classical-era Rabbis, attacking Solomon's moral character, have claimed instead that the child was an ancestor of Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Solomon's temple some 300 years later. [40]

Sins and punishment Edit

According to 1 Kings 11:4 Solomon's "wives turned his heart after other gods", their own national deities, to whom Solomon built temples, thus incurring divine anger and retribution in the form of the division of the kingdom after Solomon's death (1 Kings 11:9–13). 1 Kings 11 describes Solomon's descent into idolatry, particularly his turning after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. In Deuteronomy 17:16–17, a king is commanded not to multiply horses or wives, neither greatly multiply to himself gold or silver. Solomon sins in all three of these areas. Solomon collects 666 talents of gold each year (1 Kings 10:14), a huge amount of money for a small nation like Israel. Solomon gathers a large number of horses and chariots and even brings in horses from Egypt. Just as Deuteronomy 17 warns, collecting horses and chariots takes Israel back to Egypt. Finally, Solomon marries foreign women, and these women turn Solomon to other gods.

According to 1 Kings 11:30–34 and 1 Kings 11:9–13, it was because of these sins that the Lord punishes Solomon by removing most of the Tribes of Israel from rule by Solomon's house. [41]

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the Lord commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.

Enemies Edit

Near the end of his life, Solomon was forced to contend with several enemies, including Hadad of Edom, Rezon of Zobah, and one of his officials named Jeroboam who was from the tribe of Ephraim.

Death, succession of Rehoboam, and kingdom division Edit

According to the Hebrew Bible, Solomon is the last ruler of a united Kingdom of Israel. After a reign of forty years, he dies of natural causes [42] at around 60 years of age. Upon Solomon's death, his son, Rehoboam, succeeds him. However, ten of the Tribes of Israel refuse to accept him as king, splitting the United Monarchy in the northern Kingdom of Israel under Jeroboam, while Rehoboam continues to reign over the much smaller southern Kingdom of Judah. Henceforth the two kingdoms are never again united.

King Solomon is one of the central biblical figures in Jewish heritage who has had lasting religious, national, and political influence. As the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem and as the last ruler of the united Kingdom of Israel before its division into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, Solomon is associated with the peak "golden age" of the independent Kingdom of Israel. He is considered a source of judicial and religious wisdom.

According to Jewish tradition, King Solomon wrote three books of the Bible:

  • Mishlei (Book of Proverbs). A collection of fables and wisdom of life.
  • Kohelet (Ecclesiastes). A book of contemplation and self-reflection.
  • Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs). An unusual collection of poetry interspersed with verse. The verse has been interpretated both literally (describing a romantic and sexual relationship between a man and a woman) and metaphorically (describing a relationship between God and his people).

The Hebrew word Tehillim appears in the title of two hymns (72 and 127) in the Book of Psalms. This Hebrew word means "to Solomon", but it can also be translated as "by Solomon," thus suggesting to some that Solomon wrote the two psalms. [43] [44] [45]

Rabbinical tradition attributes the Wisdom of Solomon (included within the Septuagint) to Solomon, although this book was probably written in the 2nd century BCE. In this work, Solomon is portrayed as an astronomer. Other books of wisdom poetry such as the Odes of Solomon and the Psalms of Solomon also bear his name. The Jewish historian Eupolemus, who wrote about 157 BCE, included copies of apocryphal letters exchanged between Solomon and the kings of Egypt and Tyre.

The Gnostic Apocalypse of Adam, which may date to the 1st or 2nd century, refers to a legend in which Solomon sends out an army of demons to seek a virgin who had fled from him, perhaps the earliest surviving mention of the later common tale that Solomon controlled demons and made them his slaves. This tradition of Solomon's control over demons appears fully elaborated in the early pseudographical work called the Testament of Solomon with its elaborate and grotesque demonology. [46]

As with most biblical personages in the middle era of Israelite society, the historicity of Solomon is hotly debated. Current consensus states that regardless of whether or not a man named Solomon truly reigned as king over the Judean hills in the 10th century BCE, the Biblical descriptions of his apparent empire's lavishness is almost surely an anachronistic exaggeration. [47]

As for Solomon himself, scholars on both the maximalist and minimalist sides of the spectrum of biblical archeology generally agree Solomon himself probably existed. [47] However, a historically accurate picture of the Davidic king is difficult to construct. According to some archaeologists, Solomon could have only been the monarch or chieftain of Judah, and that the northern kingdom was a separate development. Such positions have been criticized by other archaeologists and scholars, who argue that a united monarchy did exist in the 10th century BC, while admitting that the biblical account contains exaggerations. [48] [49] [50] [51] [52]

Arguments against biblical description Edit

Historical evidence of King Solomon other than the biblical accounts has been so minimal that some scholars have understood the period of his reign as a 'Dark Age' (Muhly 1998). The first-century Romano-Jewish scholar Josephus in Against Apion, citing Tyrian court records and Menander, gives a specific year during which King Hiram I of Tyre sent materials to Solomon for the construction of the Temple. [53] However, no material evidence indisputably of Solomon's reign has been found. Yigael Yadin's excavations at Hazor, Megiddo, Beit Shean and Gezer uncovered structures that he and others have argued date from Solomon's reign, [54] but others, such as Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, argue that they should be dated to the Omride period, more than a century after Solomon. [30]

According to Finkelstein and Silberman, authors of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts, [55] at the time of the kingdoms of David and Solomon, Jerusalem was populated by only a few hundred residents or less, which is insufficient for an empire stretching from the Euphrates to Eilath. According to The Bible Unearthed, archaeological evidence suggests that the kingdom of Israel at the time of Solomon was little more than a small city state, and so it is implausible that Solomon received tribute as large as 666 talents of gold per year. Although both Finkelstein and Silberman accept that David and Solomon were real inhabitants of Judah about the 10th century BCE, [47] they claim that the earliest independent reference to the Kingdom of Israel is about 890 BCE, and for Judah about 750 BCE. They suggest that because of religious prejudice, the authors of the Bible suppressed the achievements of the Omrides (whom the Hebrew Bible describes as being polytheist), and instead pushed them back to a supposed golden age of Judaism and monotheists, and devotees of Yahweh. Some Biblical minimalists like Thomas L. Thompson go further, arguing that Jerusalem became a city and capable of being a state capital only in the mid-7th century. [56] Likewise, Finkelstein and others consider the claimed size of Solomon's temple implausible.

Arguments in favour of biblical description Edit

These views are criticized by William G. Dever [57] and André Lemaire, [58] among others. Lemaire states in Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple [58] that the principal points of the biblical tradition of Solomon are generally trustworthy, although elsewhere he writes that he could find no substantiating archaeological evidence that supports the Queen of Sheba's visit to king Solomon, saying that the earliest records of trans-Arabian caravan voyages from Tayma and Sheba unto the Middle-Euphrates etc. occurred in the mid-8th century BCE, [59] placing a possible visit from the Queen of Sheba to Jerusalem around this time—some 250 years later than the timeframe traditionally given for king Solomon's reign. [60] Kenneth Kitchen argues that Solomon ruled over a comparatively wealthy "mini-empire", rather than a small city-state, and considers 666 gold talents a modest amount of money. Kitchen calculates that over 30 years, such a kingdom might have accumulated up to 500 tons of gold, which is small compared to other examples, such as the 1,180 tons of gold that Alexander the Great took from Susa. [61] Similarly, Kitchen [62] and others consider the temple of Solomon a reasonable and typically sized structure for the region at the time. Dever states "that we now have direct Bronze and Iron Age parallels for every feature of the 'Solomonic temple' as described in the Hebrew Bible". [63]

Middle way Edit

Some scholars have charted a middle path between minimalist scholars like Finkelstein, Silberman, and Philip Davies [64] (who believes that "Solomon is a totally invented character") [65] and maximalist scholars like Dever, Lemaire and Kitchen. For instance, the archaeologist Avraham Faust has argued that biblical depictions of Solomon date to later periods and do overstate his wealth, buildings, and kingdom, but that Solomon did have an acropolis and ruled over a polity larger than Jerusalem. [66] In particular, his archaeological research in regions near Jerusalem, like Sharon, finds commerce too great not to be supported by a polity and such regions probably were ruled loosely by Jerusalem. [67] [68] Scholars like Lester Grabbe also believe that there must have been a ruler in Jerusalem during this period and that he likely built a temple, although the town was quite small. [69]

Archaeology Edit

General observations Edit

The archaeological remains that are considered to date from the time of Solomon are notable for the fact that Canaanite material culture appears to have continued unabated there is a distinct lack of magnificent empire, or cultural development—indeed comparing pottery from areas traditionally assigned to Israel with that of the Philistines points to the latter having been significantly more sophisticated. [ citation needed ] However, there is a lack of physical evidence of its existence, despite some archaeological work in the area. [30] This is not unexpected because the area was devastated by the Babylonians, then rebuilt and destroyed several times. [62]

Temple Mount in Jerusalem Edit

Little archaeological excavation has been done around the area known as the Temple Mount, in what is thought to be the foundation of Solomon's Temple, because attempts to do so are met with protests by the Muslim authorities. [70] [71]

Precious metals from Tarshish Edit

The biblical passages that understand Tarshish as a source of King Solomon's great wealth in metals—especially silver, but also gold, tin and iron (Ezekiel 27)—were linked to archaeological evidence from silver-hoards found in Phoenicia in 2013. The metals from Tarshish were reportedly obtained by Solomon in partnership with King Hiram of Phoenician Tyre (Isaiah 23), and the fleets of Tarshish-ships that sailed in their service, and the silver-hoards provide the first recognized material evidence that agrees with the ancient texts concerning Solomon's kingdom and his wealth (see 'wealth' below).

Possible evidence for the described wealth of Solomon and his kingdom was discovered in ancient silver-hoards, which were found in Israel and Phoenicia and recognized for their importance in 2003. The evidence from the hoards shows that the Levant was a center of wealth in precious metals during the reign of Solomon and Hiram, and matches the texts that say the trade extended from Asia to the Atlantic Ocean. [72]

Biblical criticism: Solomon's religiosity Edit

From a critical point of view, Solomon's building of a temple for Yahweh should not be considered an act of particular devotion to Yahweh because Solomon is also described as building places of worship for a number of other deities. [40] Some scholars and historians argue that Solomon's apparent initial devotion to Yahweh, described in passages such as his dedication prayer (1 Kings 8:14–66), were written much later, after Jerusalem had become the religious centre of the kingdom, replacing locations such as Shiloh and Bethel. Earlier historians maintain that there is evidence that these passages in Kings are derived from official court records at the time of Solomon and from other writings of that time that were incorporated into the canonical books of Kings. [73] [74] [75] More recent scholars believe that passages such as these in the Books of Kings were not written by the same authors who wrote the rest of the text, instead probably by the Deuteronomist. [63]

Judaism Edit

King Solomon sinned by acquiring many foreign wives and horses because he thought he knew the reason for the biblical prohibition and thought it did not apply to him. When King Solomon married the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh, a sandbank formed which eventually formed the "great nation of Rome"—the nation that destroyed the Second Temple (Herod's Temple). Solomon gradually lost more and more prestige until he became like a commoner. Some say he regained his status while others say he did not. In the end however, he is regarded as a righteous king and is especially praised for his diligence in building the Temple. [76] King Josiah was also said to have had the Ark of the Covenant, Aaron's rod, vial of manna and the anointing oil placed within a hidden chamber which had been built by King Solomon [77] [78]

The Seder Olam Rabba holds that Solomon's reign was not in 1000 BCE, but rather in the 9th century BCE, during which time he built the First Temple in 832 BCE. [79] However, the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia gives the more common date of "971 to 931 BCE". [11]

Christianity Edit

Christianity has traditionally accepted the historical existence of Solomon, though some modern Christian scholars have also questioned at least his authorship of those biblical texts ascribed to him. Such disputes tend to divide Christians into traditionalist and modernist camps.

Of the two genealogies of Jesus given in the Gospels, Matthew mentions Solomon, but Luke does not. Some commentators see this as an issue that can be reconciled while others disagree. For instance, it has been suggested that Matthew is using Joseph's genealogy and Luke is using Mary's, but Darrell Bock states that this would be unprecedented, "especially when no other single woman appears in the line". Other suggestions include the use by one of the royal and the other of the natural line, one using the legal line and the other the physical line, or that Joseph was adopted. [80]

Jesus makes reference to Solomon, using him for comparison purposes in his admonition against worrying about your life. This account is recorded in Matthew 6:29 and the parallel passage in Luke 12:27

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Solomon is commemorated as a saint, with the title of "Righteous Prophet and King". His feast day is celebrated on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (two Sundays before the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord).

The staunchly Catholic King Philip II of Spain sought to model himself after King Solomon. Statues of King David and Solomon stand on either side of the entrance to the basilica of El Escorial, Philip's palace, and Solomon is also depicted in a great fresco at the center of El Escorial's library. Philip identified the warrior-king David with his own father Charles V, and himself sought to emulate the thoughtful and logical character which he perceived in Solomon. Moreover, the structure of the Escorial was inspired by that of Solomon's Temple. [81] [82]

Islam Edit

In Islamic tradition, Solomon is venerated as a prophet and a messenger of God, as well as a divinely appointed monarch, who ruled over the Kingdom of Israel. [83] Solomon inherited his position from his father as the prophetic King of the Israelites. Unlike in the Bible where Solomon was granted an incomparable realm because God was impressed by his wish to have wisdom, [84] the Quran states that Solomon prayed earnestly to God to grant him a kingdom which would be greater than any realm after him. [85] As in Judaism, Islam recognizes Solomon as the son of King David, who is also considered a prophet and a king but refuses to accuse Solomon of idolatry, claiming instead that an enslaved jinn escaped his captivity and took over his kingdom and posed as Solomon, while others thought indeed that he became a ruthless king. [86]

And they followed what the devils taught during the reign of Solomon. It was not Solomon who disbelieved, but it was the devils who disbelieved. They taught the people witchcraft and what was revealed in Babil (Arabic: بَـابِـل ‎, Babylon) to the two angels Harut and Marut. They did not teach anybody until they had said "We are a test, so do not lose faith." But they learned from them the means to cause separation between man and his wife. But they cannot harm anyone except with God's permission. And they learned what would harm them and not benefit them. Yet they knew that whoever deals in it will have no share in the Hereafter. Miserable is what they sold their souls for, if they only knew. [83]

The Quran [87] [88] [89] ascribes to Solomon a great level of wisdom, knowledge and power. He knew the Mantiq al-tayr (Arabic: مـنـطـق الـطـيـر ‎, language of the birds). [88] [90] Solomon was also known in Islam to have other supernatural abilities bestowed upon him by Allah, after a special request by Solomon himself, such as controlling the wind, ruling over the jinn, enslaving demons, and hearing the communication of ants:

"And to Solomon (We made) the wind (obedient): its early morning (stride) was a month's (journey), and its evening (stride) was a month's (journey) and We made a font of molten brass to flow for him and there were Jinns that worked in front of him, by the leave of his Lord, and if any of them turned aside from Our command, We made him taste of the Penalty of the Blazing Fire." [91] (34: 12) and "At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: 'O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it.'—So he smiled, amused at her speech and he said: 'O my Rabb (Arabic: رَبّ ‎, Lord)! So order me that I may be grateful for Thy favors, which Thou hast bestowed on me and on my parents, and that I may work the righteousness that will please Thee: and admit me, by Thy Grace, to the ranks of Thy righteous Servants. ' " (27: 18–19)

In Medieval traditions, when Islam spread through Persia, Solomon became equated with Jamshid, a great king from Persian legends whom similar attributes are ascribed to. [92]

Baháʼí Faith Edit

In the Baháʼí Faith, Solomon is regarded as one of the lesser prophets along with David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, along with others. [93] Baháʼís see Solomon as a prophet who was sent by God to address the issues of his time. [94] Baha'ullah wrote about Solomon in the Hidden Words. [95] He also mentions Solomon in the Tablet of Wisdom, where he is depicted as a contemporary of Pythagoras. [96]

One Thousand and One Nights Edit

A well-known story in the collection One Thousand and One Nights describes a genie who had displeased King Solomon and was punished by being locked in a bottle and thrown into the sea. Since the bottle was sealed with Solomon's seal, the genie was helpless to free himself, until he was freed many centuries later by a fisherman who discovered the bottle. [97] In other stories from the One Thousand and One Nights, protagonists who had to leave their homeland and travel to the unknown places of the world saw signs which proved that Solomon had already been there. Sometimes, protagonists discovered words of Solomon that were intended to help those who were lost and had unluckily reached those forbidden and deserted places.

Angels and magic Edit

According to the Rabbinical literature, on account of his modest request for wisdom only, Solomon was rewarded with riches and an unprecedented glorious realm, which extended over the upper world inhabited by the angels and over the whole of the terrestrial globe with all its inhabitants, including all the beasts, fowl, and reptiles, as well as the demons and spirits. His control over the demons, spirits, and animals augmented his splendor, the demons bringing him precious stones, besides water from distant countries to irrigate his exotic plants. The beasts and fowl of their own accord entered the kitchen of Solomon's palace, so that they might be used as food for him, and extravagant meals for him were prepared daily by each of his 700 wives and 300 concubines, with the thought that perhaps the king would feast that day in her house.

Seal of Solomon Edit

A magic ring called the "Seal of Solomon" was supposedly given to Solomon and gave him power over demons or Jinn. The magical symbol said to have been on the Seal of Solomon which made it efficacious is often considered to be the Star of David [ citation needed ] though this emblem (also known as the Shield of David) is known to have been associated with Judaism only as recently as the 11th century CE while the five pointed star (pentagram) can be found on jars and other artifacts from Jerusalem dating back to at least the 2nd and 4th centuries BCE and is more likely to have been the emblem found on the ring purportedly used by King Solomon to control the Jinn or demons. Asmodeus, king of demons, was one day, according to the classical Rabbis, captured by Benaiah using the ring, and was forced to remain in Solomon's service. In one tale, Asmodeus brought a man with two heads from under the earth to show Solomon the man, unable to return, married a woman from Jerusalem and had seven sons, six of whom resembled the mother, while one resembled the father in having two heads. After their father's death, the son with two heads claimed two shares of the inheritance, arguing that he was two men Solomon decided that the son with two heads was only one man. The Seal of Solomon, in some legends known as the Ring of Aandaleeb, was a highly sought after symbol of power. In several legends, different groups or individuals attempted to steal it or attain it in some manner.

Solomon and Asmodeus Edit

One legend concerning Asmodeus (see: The Story of King Solomon and Ashmedai) goes on to state that Solomon one day asked Asmodeus what could make demons powerful over man, and Asmodeus asked to be freed and given the ring so that he could demonstrate Solomon agreed but Asmodeus threw the ring into the sea and it was swallowed by a fish. Asmodeus then swallowed the king, stood up fully with one wing touching heaven and the other earth, and spat out Solomon to a distance of 400 miles. The Rabbis claim this was a divine punishment for Solomon's having failed to follow three divine commands, and Solomon was forced to wander from city to city, until he eventually arrived in an Ammonite city where he was forced to work in the king's kitchens. Solomon gained a chance to prepare a meal for the Ammonite king, which the king found so impressive that the previous cook was sacked and Solomon put in his place the king's daughter, Naamah, subsequently fell in love with Solomon, but the family (thinking Solomon a commoner) disapproved, so the king decided to kill them both by sending them into the desert. Solomon and the king's daughter wandered the desert until they reached a coastal city, where they bought a fish to eat, which just happened to be the one which had swallowed the magic ring. Solomon was then able to regain his throne and expel Asmodeus. [98] The element of a ring thrown into the sea and found back in a fish's belly also appeared in Herodotus' account of Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos (c. 538–522 BCE).

In another familiar version of the legend of the Seal of Solomon, Asmodeus disguises himself. In some myths, he's disguised as King Solomon himself, while in more frequently heard versions he's disguised as a falcon, calling himself Gavyn (Gavinn or Gavin), one of King Solomon's trusted friends. The concealed Asmodeus tells travelers who have ventured up to King Solomon's grand lofty palace that the Seal of Solomon was thrown into the sea. He then convinces them to plunge in and attempt to retrieve it, for if they do they would take the throne as king.

Artifacts Edit

Other magical items attributed to Solomon are his key and his Table. The latter was said to be held in Toledo, Spain during Visigoth rule and was part of the loot taken by Tarik ibn Ziyad during the Umayyad Conquest of Iberia, according to Ibn Abd-el-Hakem's History of the Conquest of Spain. The former appears in the title of the Lesser Key of Solomon, a grimoire whose framing story is Solomon capturing demons using his ring, and forcing them to explain themselves to him. In The Book of Deadly Names, purportedly translated from Arabic manuscripts found hidden in a building in Spain, the "King of the Jinn" Fiqitush brings 72 Jinn before King Solomon to confess their corruptions and places of residence. Fiqitush tells King Solomon the recipes for curing such corruptions as each evil Jinn confesses.

Angels Edit

Angels also helped Solomon in building the Temple though not by choice. The edifice was, according to rabbinical legend, miraculously constructed throughout, the large heavy stones rising and settling in their respective places of themselves. The general opinion of the Rabbis is that Solomon hewed the stones by means of a shamir, a mythical worm whose mere touch cleft rocks. According to Midrash Tehillim, the shamir was brought from paradise by Solomon's eagle but most of the rabbis state that Solomon was informed of the worm's haunts by Asmodeus. The shamir had been entrusted by the prince of the sea to the mountain rooster alone, and the rooster had sworn to guard it well, but Solomon's men found the bird's nest, and covered it with glass. When the bird returned, it used the shamir to break the glass, whereupon the men scared the bird, causing it to drop the worm, which the men could then bring to Solomon.

In the Kabbalah Edit

Early adherents of the Kabbalah portray Solomon as having sailed through the air on a throne of light placed on an eagle, which brought him near the heavenly gates as well as to the dark mountains behind which the fallen angels Uzza and Azzazel were chained the eagle would rest on the chains, and Solomon, using the magic ring, would compel the two angels to reveal every mystery he desired to know.

The palace without entrance Edit

According to one legend, while traveling magically, Solomon noticed a magnificent palace to which there appeared to be no entrance. He ordered the demons to climb to the roof and see if they could discover any living being within the building but they found only an eagle, which said that it was 700 years old, but that it had never seen an entrance. An elder brother of the eagle, 900 years old, was then found, but it also did not know the entrance. The eldest brother of these two birds, which was 1,300 years old, then declared it had been informed by its father that the door was on the west side, but that it had become hidden by sand drifted by the wind. Having discovered the entrance, Solomon found an idol inside that had in its mouth a silver tablet saying in Greek (a language not thought by modern scholars to have existed 1000 years before the time of Solomon) that the statue was of Shaddad, the son of 'Ad, and that it had reigned over a million cities, rode on a million horses, had under it a million vassals and slew a million warriors, yet it could not resist the angel of death. [11]

Throne Edit

Solomon's throne is described at length in Targum Sheni, which is compiled from three different sources, and in two later Midrash. According to these, there were on the steps of the throne twelve golden lions, each facing a golden eagle. There were six steps to the throne, on which animals, all of gold, were arranged in the following order: on the first step a lion opposite an ox on the second, a wolf opposite a sheep on the third, a tiger opposite a camel on the fourth, an eagle opposite a peacock, on the fifth, a cat opposite a cock on the sixth, a sparrow-hawk opposite a dove. On the top of the throne was a dove holding a sparrow-hawk in its claws, symbolizing the dominion of Israel over the Gentiles. The first midrash claims that six steps were constructed because Solomon foresaw that six kings would sit on the throne, namely, Solomon, Rehoboam, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah. There was also on the top of the throne a golden candelabrum, on the seven branches of the one side of which were engraved the names of the seven patriarchs Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job, and on the seven of the other the names of Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses, Aaron, Eldad, Medad, and, in addition, Hur (another version has Haggai). Above the candelabrum was a golden jar filled with olive oil and beneath it a golden basin which supplied the jar with oil and on which the names of Nadab, Abihu, and Eli and his two sons were engraved. Over the throne, twenty-four vines were fixed to cast a shadow on the king's head. [11]

By a mechanical contrivance the throne followed Solomon wherever he wished to go. Supposedly, due to another mechanical trick, when the king reached the first step, the ox stretched forth its leg, on which Solomon leaned, a similar action taking place in the case of the animals on each of the six steps. From the sixth step the eagles raised the king and placed him in his seat, near which a golden serpent lay coiled. When the king was seated the large eagle placed the crown on his head, the serpent uncoiled itself, and the lions and eagles moved upward to form a shade over him. The dove then descended, took the scroll of the Law from the Ark, and placed it on Solomon's knees. When the king sat, surrounded by the Sanhedrin, to judge the people, the wheels began to turn, and the beasts and fowls began to utter their respective cries, which frightened those who had intended to bear false testimony. Moreover, while Solomon was ascending the throne, the lions scattered various fragrant spices. After Solomon's death, Pharaoh Shishak, when taking away the treasures of the Temple (I Kings xiv. 26), carried off the throne, which remained in Egypt until Sennacherib conquered that country. After Sennacherib's fall Hezekiah gained possession of it, but when Josiah was slain by Pharaoh Necho, the latter took it away. However, according to rabbinical accounts, Necho did not know how the mechanism worked and so accidentally struck himself with one of the lions causing him to become lame Nebuchadnezzar, into whose possession the throne subsequently came, shared a similar fate. The throne then passed to the Persians, whose king Darius was the first to sit successfully on Solomon's throne after his death subsequently the throne came into the possession of the Greeks and Ahasuerus. [11]

Masonic rituals refer to King Solomon and the building of his Temple. [99] Masonic Temples, where a Masonic Lodge meets, are an allegorical reference to King Solomon's Temple. [100]

The Solomon Islands, a country and archipelago in Melanesia, were named for King Solomon by the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña, who became the first European to see the islands in 1568. [101] [102]


Mining Weekly

Perhaps the most famous legend concerning gold and its mining is the narrative of King Solomon&rsquos Mines in the legendary land of Ophir.

Solomon, one of the most prominent characters of the Bible&rsquos Old Testament, was the third king of Israel and is believed to have reigned between 970 and 931 BCE. Under his leadership, Israel is said to have grown from a mere city State to a mini empire that came to dominate the Middle East for the four decades of his reign during the tenth century BCE.

Apart from his reputation as a wise king and prolific lover, Solomon is renowned for his extraordinary wealth, and the Old Testament states that he was the possessor of &ldquogold according to all his desire&rdquo.

By the end of his reign, it is estimated that he had accumulated some 500 t of gold, which, today, would be worth well over R60-trillion. His love of the precious metal is evidenced by the fact that he had drinking cups made of pure gold and had 300 shields beaten from it, while his great throne in Jerusalem was made of ivory and gold. On the steps leading up to the throne stood 12 life-size golden lions facing 12 golden eagles.

Apart from gold, Solomon is said to also have had large quantities of silver and copper. The gold, silver and copper were used to adorn the First Temple, the main temple in ancient Jerusalem built by Solomon.

But the question that has perplexed archaeologists, historians and explorers alike for over 4 000 years is where the extraordinary amount of gold came from.

The first classical reference to Solomon&rsquos golden eldorado is a guarded reference in the Bible to a place called Ophir. Unfortunately, the exact location of Ophir was never revealed in the Bible and, thus, its whereabouts have remained a secret all these centuries.

It is understood that Solomon, in collaboration with Phoenician King Hiram, of Tyre (in present day Lebanon), dispatched expeditions of Phoenician mariners to the lands of Ophir to obtain large tonnages of gold.

It is known that the Phoenicians were among the greatest traders and explorers of the ancient civilisations around the Mediterranean Sea. They established commercial outposts throughout the Mediterranean and were known to have ventured onto the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in pursuit of trade. According to Greek historian Herodotus, who, incidentally, is considered the Father of History, a Phoenician expedition commissioned by Pharaoh Necho II, of Egypt, managed to circumnavigate Africa in a voyage that lasted three years.

Because the Phoenicians were such experienced mariners, employing state-of-the-art deep-hulled ships which allowed them to navigate oceans of variable tides, winds and currents, and were known to have travelled and traded extensively, the location of the legendary Ophir could be anywhere in Africa, Asia or, some have even postulated, in the Americas.

Many have speculated on the location of Ophir and, over the centuries, it has been placed in Arabia, the Asian subcontinent and south-eastern Africa, with some even ludicrously suggesting Peru.

At one time, a popular theory was that the ruined city of Great Zimbabwe, once the capital of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, was the land of Ophir. While archaeological evidence suggests that Great Zimbabwe was a thriving commercial centre, conducting a lucrative international trade in gold mined in the kingdom and ivory in a network that extended as far as China, it is believed that the kingdom predominantly flourished during the medieval period, thousands of years after Solomon is said to have lived.

The city of Sofala, in Mozambique, was also at one time associated with Ophir, with particular reference being made by John Milton in his epic poem, Paradise Lost.

The theory that Ophir is located somewhere in the heart of Africa was certainly stimulated in the late nineteenth century by the publication of Rider Haggard&rsquos popular adventure novel, King Solomon&rsquos Mines. It tells the story of an adventurer by the name of Allan Quartermain and his quest to find his missing brother in an unexplored region of Africa. It is while they are in this unexplored region of Kukuanaland that the group of adventurers unearth the fabled treasure of the biblical king&rsquos mines.

Modern scholars, however, place Ophir&rsquos location on either the coast of Pakistan, southern India, northern Sri Lanka or somewhere in south-west Arabia, in the region of modern Yemen.

Interestingly, archaeological investigations of ancient copper mining sites in southern Jordan, conducted in 2008, suggest that these mines were producing the metal as early as the tenth century BCE, the time King Solomon is said to have reigned over Israel.

It is believed that these ancient copper mines could have been part of &lsquoKing Solomon&rsquos mines&rsquo and were the main source of the enormous amounts of copper that was needed to build and adorn the First Temple in Jerusalem.

While the source of at least Solomon&rsquos great copper wealth has been ascertained, the source of his immense treasure of gold and the location of the eldorado that was Ophir remain a mystery and the search continues.


King Solomon's Mines King Solomon's Mines ▷線上看完整版(2020)在线观看

King Solomon's Mines (1885) is a popular novel by the English Victorian adventure writer and fabulist Sir H. Rider Haggard.It tells of a search of an unexplored region of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain for the missing brother of one of the party. It is the first English adventure novel set in Africa, and is considered to be the genesis of the lost world literary genre
King Solomon's Mines (1985) - IMDb

Allan is leading a safari in search of legendary diamond mines and to save the damsel's father . They are pursued by German soldiers and must confront natives , animals and several dangers and risks until they find the King Salomon's mines .
The Search Continues for King Solomon’s Mines - HISTORY

The idea of mines full of riches was first introduced in the late 19th century by author H. Rider Haggard in his blockbuster adventure novel, King Solomon’s Mines, whose publication coincided .
King solomons mines

Action adventure with Patrick swazye. This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
King Solomon's Mines (1950 film) - Wikipedia

King Solomon's Mines is a 1950 Technicolor adventure film, the second of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard.It stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson.It was adapted by Helen Deutsch, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Found: Fresh Clues to Mystery of King Solomon's Mines

Found: Fresh Clues to Mystery of King Solomon's Mines Analysis of 3,000-year-old animal waste confirms that an ancient mining complex in Israel dates to the golden age of the biblical monarch.
King Solomon's Mines (1985 film) - Wikipedia

King Solomon's Mines is a 1985 action adventure film, the fourth of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard. It stars Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone, Herbert Lom and John Rhys-Davies. It was adapted by Gene Quintano and James R. Silke and directed by J. Lee Thompson.
King Solomon's Mines (1937 film) - Wikipedia

King Solomon's Mines is a 1937 British adventure film directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Anna Lee, John Loder and Roland Young.The first of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard, the film was produced by the Gaumont British Picture Corporation at Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush.
King Solomon's Mines (TV Mini-Series 2004) - IMDb

With Patrick Swayze, Alison Doody, Roy Marsden, John Standing. An adventurous quest for a treasure hidden in King Solomon's mines, based on H. Rider Haggard's timeless tale.
King Solomon's Mines (1950) - IMDb

Directed by Compton Bennett, Andrew Marton. With Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, Richard Carlson, Hugo Haas. Adventurer Allan Quartermain leads an expedition into uncharted African territory in an attempt to locate an explorer who went missing during his search for the fabled diamond mines of King Solomon.

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King Solomon's Mines King Solomon's Mines 2020 完整版 |下載帶字幕的電影

King Solomon's Mines (1885) is a popular novel by the English Victorian adventure writer and fabulist Sir H. Rider Haggard.It tells of a search of an unexplored region of Africa by a group of adventurers led by Allan Quatermain for the missing brother of one of the party. It is the first English adventure novel set in Africa, and is considered to be the genesis of the lost world literary genre
King Solomon's Mines (1985) - IMDb

Allan is leading a safari in search of legendary diamond mines and to save the damsel's father . They are pursued by German soldiers and must confront natives , animals and several dangers and risks until they find the King Salomon's mines .
The Search Continues for King Solomon’s Mines - HISTORY

The idea of mines full of riches was first introduced in the late 19th century by author H. Rider Haggard in his blockbuster adventure novel, King Solomon’s Mines, whose publication coincided .
King solomons mines

Action adventure with Patrick swazye. This feature is not available right now. Please try again later.
King Solomon's Mines (1950 film) - Wikipedia

King Solomon's Mines is a 1950 Technicolor adventure film, the second of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard.It stars Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger and Richard Carlson.It was adapted by Helen Deutsch, directed by Compton Bennett and Andrew Marton and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Found: Fresh Clues to Mystery of King Solomon's Mines

Found: Fresh Clues to Mystery of King Solomon's Mines Analysis of 3,000-year-old animal waste confirms that an ancient mining complex in Israel dates to the golden age of the biblical monarch.
King Solomon's Mines (1985 film) - Wikipedia

King Solomon's Mines is a 1985 action adventure film, the fourth of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard. It stars Richard Chamberlain, Sharon Stone, Herbert Lom and John Rhys-Davies. It was adapted by Gene Quintano and James R. Silke and directed by J. Lee Thompson.
King Solomon's Mines (1937 film) - Wikipedia

King Solomon's Mines is a 1937 British adventure film directed by Robert Stevenson and starring Paul Robeson, Cedric Hardwicke, Anna Lee, John Loder and Roland Young.The first of five film adaptations of the 1885 novel of the same name by Henry Rider Haggard, the film was produced by the Gaumont British Picture Corporation at Lime Grove Studios in Shepherd's Bush.
King Solomon's Mines (TV Mini-Series 2004) - IMDb

With Patrick Swayze, Alison Doody, Roy Marsden, John Standing. An adventurous quest for a treasure hidden in King Solomon's mines, based on H. Rider Haggard's timeless tale.
King Solomon's Mines (1950) - IMDb

Directed by Compton Bennett, Andrew Marton. With Deborah Kerr, Stewart Granger, Richard Carlson, Hugo Haas. Adventurer Allan Quartermain leads an expedition into uncharted African territory in an attempt to locate an explorer who went missing during his search for the fabled diamond mines of King Solomon.

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Contents

Schmid and Rupprecht are of the view that the site of the temple used to be a Jebusite shrine which Solomon chose in an attempt to unify the Jebusites and Israelites. [13]

In ancient literature Edit

Rabbinic sources [14] state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates. [15]

The Jewish historian Josephus says "the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built". The temple was subsequently replaced with the Second Temple in 516 BCE. [16] [ additional citation(s) needed ]

The exact location of the Temple is unknown: it is believed to have been situated upon the hill which forms the site of the 1st century Second Temple and present-day Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is situated. [17]

During the United Monarchy the Temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the God of Israel. From the reign of King Manasseh until King Josiah, Baal and "the host of heaven" were also worshipped there. [18]

Until the reforms of King Josiah, there was also a statue for the goddess Asherah ( 2 Kings 23:6 ) and priestesses wove ritual textiles for her. ( 2 Kings 23:7 ) Next to the temple was a house for the temple prostitutes ( 2 Kings 23:7 ) [19] who performed sacred prostitution at the temple. [20] It is unclear whether the prostitutes included both male and female or just male prostitutes. [21]

According to Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Asherah was Yahweh's consort, and she was worshipped alongside Yahweh. [22] [23] According to Richard H. Lowery, Yahweh and Asherah headed a pantheon of other Judean gods that were worshipped at the temple. [24]

The temple had chariots of the sun ( 2 Kings 23:11 ) and temple worshipers would face east and bow to the sun. ( Ezekiel 8:16 ) Some Bible scholars, such as Margaret Barker, say that these solar elements indicate a solar cult. [25] They may reflect an earlier Jebusite worship of Zedek [26] or possibly a solarized Yahwism. [27] [28]

According to the Tanakh, the Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant. It says the Ark contained the Ten Commandments and was moved from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem by David before being moved into Solomon's temple. [29] However, many biblical scholars believe the story of the Ark was written independently and then incorporated into the main biblical narrative just before the exile into Babylon. [30] Archaeologists speculate that the Ark may have contained pagan gods and remained in Kiriath Jearim for much longer, possibly until shortly before the Babylonian conquest. [31]

During the Deuteronomic reform of King Josiah, the cult objects of the sun and Asherah were taken out of the temple and the practice of sacred prostitution and the worship of Baal and the hosts of heaven were stopped. [32]

Sacrifice Edit

A korban was a kosher animal sacrifice, such as a bull, sheep, goat, or a dove that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). Sacrifices could also consist of grain, meal, wine, or incense. [33] [34] [35] Offerings were often cooked and most of it eaten by the offerer, with parts given to the Kohen priests and small parts burned on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. Only in special cases was all of the offering given only to God, such as in the case of the scapegoat. [36] [37] Under Josiah, sacrifices were centralized at Solomon's temple and other places of sacrifice were abolished. The temple became a major slaughtering center and a major part of Jerusalem's economy. [38]

Construction Edit

In the Bible book 2 Samuel, Hiram I, the king of the Phoenician city state Tyre, becomes an ally of David, following his conquest of Jerusalem. [39] The friendship continues after Solomon succeeds David and a literary account of how Hiram helps Solomon build the Temple is given in the Bible books 1 Kings chapter 5 to 9 and 2 Chronicles chapter 2 to 7. [40]

Hiram agrees to Solomon's request to supply him with cedar and cypress tree for the construction of the Temple. [41] He tells Solomon that he will send the trees by sea: "I will make them into rafts to go by the sea to the place that you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away." [41] In return for the lumber, Solomon sends him wheat and oil. [39] Solomon also brings over a skilled craftsman from Tyre, also called Hiram (or Huram-abi [42] ), who oversees the construction of the Temple. [39] Stonemasons from Gebal (Byblos) cut stones for the Temple. [43]

According to 1 Kings, the foundation of the Temple is laid in Ziv, the second month of the fourth year of Solomon's reign and construction is completed in Bul, the eighth month of Solomon's eleventh year, thus taking about seven years. [44] According to Flavius Josephus, "Solomon began to build the temple in the fourth year of his reign, on the second month, which the Macedonians call Artemisius, and the Hebrews Jar, five hundred and ninety two years after the exodus out of Egypt, but after one thousand and twenty years from Abraham's coming out of Mesopotamia into Canaan and after the deluge one thousand four hundred and forty years and from Adam, the first man who was created, until Solomon built the temple, there had past in all three thousand one hundred and two years." [45]

After the Temple and palace (taking an additional 13 years) is completed, Solomon gives Hiram twenty towns in the Galilee as a partial payment for goods delivered. [46] But when Hiram comes to see the towns he isn't pleased: "What are these towns that you have given me, my brother?" he asks. Though he remains on friendly terms with Solomon. [47]

The Bible book 2 Chronicles fills in some details of the construction not given in 1 Kings. It states that the trees sent as rafts were sent to the city of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast, [41] and in return for the lumber supplied, Solomon, in addition to the wheat and oil, sent wine to Hiram. [48]

Transfer of the Ark of the Covenant Edit

1 Kings 8:1-9 and 2 Chronicles 5:2-10 record that in the seventh month of the year, at the feast of Tabernacles, [49] the priests and the Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant from the City of David and placed it inside the Holy of Holies.

Dedication Edit

1 Kings 8:10–66 and 2 Chronicles 6:1–42 recount the events of the temple's dedication. When the priests emerged from the holy of holies after placing the Ark there, the Temple was filled with an overpowering cloud which interrupted the dedication ceremony, [50] "for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord [such that] the priests could not stand to minister" (1 Kings 8:10–11 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14). Solomon interpreted the cloud as "[proof] that his pious work was accepted": [50]

The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever. (1 Kings 8:12-13)

The Lord said to Moses: Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the mercy seat that is upon the ark, or he will die for I appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

The Pulpit Commentary notes that "Solomon had thus every warrant for connecting a theophany with the thick dark cloud". [50]

Solomon then led the whole assembly of Israel in prayer, noting that the construction on the temple represented a fulfilment of God's promise to David, dedicating the temple as a place of prayer and reconciliation for the people of Israel and for foreigners living in Israel, and highlighting the paradox that God who lives in the heavens cannot really be contained within a single building. The dedication was concluded with musical celebration and sacrifices said to have included "twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep". [52] These sacrifices were offered outside the temple, in "the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord", because the altar inside the temple, despite its extensive dimensions, [53] was not big enough for the offerings being made that day. [54] [55] The celebration lasted eight days and was attended by "very great assembly [gathered] from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt". [56] The subsequent feast of Tabernacles extended the whole celebration to 14 days, [57] before the people were "sent away to their homes". [58]

After the dedication, Solomon hears in a dream that God has heard his prayer, and God will continue to hear the prayers of the people of Israel if they adopt the four ways in which they could move God to action: humility, prayer, seeking his face, and turning from wicked ways. [59] Conversely, if they turn aside and forsake God's commandments and worship other gods, then God will abandon the temple: "this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight". [60]

Joash's restoration Edit

2 Kings 12:1–17 and 2 Chronicles 24:1–14 recount that King Joash and the priests of the temple organised a restoration programme funded from popular donations. The temple was restored to its original condition and further reinforced. [61]

Plunder and destruction Edit

According to the Tanakh, the Temple was plundered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire king Nebuchadnezzar II when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem during the brief reign of Jehoiachin c. 598 BCE (2 Kings 24:13). A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587 BCE, subsequently burning the Temple, along with most of the city (2 Kings 25). According to Jewish tradition, the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B'Av, the 9th day of Av (Hebrew calendar). [62]

Architecture Edit

Solomon's Temple is considered by Finkelstein to be built according to Phoenician design, and its description is in accordance with the way a Phoenician temple looked like. [63] The detailed descriptions provided in the Tanakh are the sources for reconstructions of its appearance. Technical details are lacking, since the scribes who wrote the books were not architects or engineers. [64] Nevertheless, the descriptions have inspired modern replicas of the temple and influenced later structures around the world.

Archeologists categorize the Biblical description of Solomon's Temple as a langbau building. That is, a rectangular building that is longer than it is wide. It is furthermore classified as a tripartite building, consisting of three units the ulam (porch), the heikal (sanctuary), and the debir (the Holy of Holies). It is also categorized as being a straight-axis temple, meaning that there is a straight line from the entrance to the innermost shrine. [65]

Porch Edit

The ulam, or porch, featured two bronze pillars Jachin and Boaz. It is unclear from the biblical descriptions whether the porch was a closed room, a roofed entranceway, or an open courtyard. [66] Thus, it is not known whether the pillars were freestanding or structural elements built into the porch. If they were built into the porch, it could indicate that the design was influenced by similar temples in Syria or even Turkey, home to the ancient Hittite empire. While most reconstructions of the Temple have the pillars freestanding, [67] Yosef Garfinkel and Madeleine Mumcuoglu finds it likely that the pillars supported a roof over the porch. [66]

Sanctuary (main chamber) Edit

The porch led to the heikal, main chamber, or sanctuary. It measured 40 cubits in length, 20 cubits in width, and 30 cubits in height and contained a candelabrum, a table and a gold-covered altar used for offerings. [66] [68] In the sanctuary, loaves of Showbread were left as an offering to God. [68] At the far end of the sanctuary there was a wooden door, guarded by two cherubim, leading to the Holy of Holies. [67] [68]

The walls of the sanctuary were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold ( 1 Kings 6:29-30 ). Chains of gold further marked it off from the Holy of Holies. The floor of the Temple was of fir overlaid with gold. The doorposts, of olivewood, supported folding doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olivewood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold ( 1 Kings 6:15 et seq.) This main building was between the outer altar, where most sacrifices were performed, and inside at the far end was the entry to the Holy of Holies, originally containing the Ark of the Covenant. The main hekhal contained a number of sacred ritual objects including the seven-branched candlestick, a golden Altar of Incense, and the table of the showbread. According to 1 Kings 7:48 these tables were of gold, as were also the five candlesticks on each side of the altar. The candle–tongs, basins, snuffers, fire-pans, and even the hinges of the doors were also gold.

Holy of Holies Edit

The Holy of Holies, also called the "Inner House," was 20 cubits in length, breadth, and height. The usual explanation for the discrepancy between its height and the 30-cubit height of the temple is that its floor was elevated, like the cella of other ancient temples. [64] It was floored and wainscotted with cedar of Lebanon, and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold amounting to 600 talents or roughly 20 metric tons. It contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high and each having outspread wings of 10 cubits span, so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room. There was a two-leaved door between it and the Holy Place overlaid with gold also a veil of tekhelet (blue), purple, and crimson and fine linen. It had no windows and was considered the dwelling-place of the "name" of God. [ citation needed ]

The Holy of Holies was prepared to receive and house the Ark and when the Temple was dedicated, the Ark, containing the original tablets of the Ten Commandments, was placed beneath the cherubim. [ citation needed ]

Surrounding chambers Edit

Chambers were built around the Temple on the southern, western and northern sides (1 Kings 6:5–10). These formed a part of the building and were used for storage. They were probably one story high at first two more may have been added later. [64]

Courts Edit

According to the Bible, two courts surrounded the Temple. The Inner Court (1 Kings 6:36), or Court of the Priests (2 Chr. 4:9), was separated from the space beyond by a wall of three courses of hewn stone, surmounted by cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36). It contained the Altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the Brazen Sea laver (4:2–5, 10) and ten other lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). A brazen altar stood before the Temple (2 Kings 16:14), its dimensions 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high (2 Chr. 4:1). The Great Court surrounded the whole Temple (2 Chr. 4:9). It was here that people assembled to worship. (Jeremiah 19:14 26:2).

Molten Sea Edit

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Molten Sea or Brazen Sea ( ים מוצק "cast metal sea") was a large basin in the Temple for ablution of the priests. It is described in 1 Kings 7:23–26 and 2 Chronicles 4:2–5. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. According to the Bible it was five cubits high, ten cubits in diameter from brim to brim, and thirty cubits in circumference. The brim was "like the calyx of a lily" and turned outward "about an hand breadth" or about four inches. It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their faces outward. The Book of Kings states that it contains 2,000 baths (90 cubic meters), while Chronicles (2 Chr. 4:5–6) states it can hold up to 3,000 baths (136 cubic meters) and states that its purpose was to afford opportunity for the purification by immersion of the bodies of the priests.

The fact that it was a wash basin which was too large to enter from above lends to the idea that water would likely have flowed from it down into a subcontainer beneath. The water was originally supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a conduit from Solomon's Pools. The molten sea was made of brass or bronze, which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18:8). Ahaz later removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone pavement (2 Kings 16:17). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25:13).

Also outside the temple were 10 lavers, each of which held "forty baths" (1 Kings 7:38), resting on portable holders made of bronze, provided with wheels, and ornamented with figures of lions, cherubim, and palm-trees. The author of the books of the Kings describes their minute details with great interest (1 Kings 7:27–37). Josephus reported that the vessels in the Temple were composed of orichalcum covered in gold in Antiquities of the Jews.

Because of the religious and political sensitivities involved, no archaeological excavations and only limited surface surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted since Charles Warren's expedition of 1867–70. [69] [70] [71] There is no solid archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple, and the building is not mentioned in surviving extra-biblical accounts. [8]

Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman argue that the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem was not built until the end of the 7th century BCE, around three hundred years after Solomon. [8] They believe the temple should not really be assigned to Solomon (whom they see as little more than a small-time hill country chieftain) and argue that it was most likely built by Josiah, who governed Judah from 639 to 609 BCE. [8]

William G. Dever challenges this position and argues that the biblical description of the Temple itself shows profound similarities with other temples of the time (Phoenician, Assyrian and Philistine), suggesting that this cult structure was actually built by Solomon (whom he sees as an actual king of Israel) in the 10th century BCE, although the biblical description is undoubtedly excessive. [72] [73] [74] These views are shared by the archaeologist Amihai Mazar, who underlines how the description of the Temple in the Bible, albeit exaggerated, is substantially in line with the architectural descriptions already present in the Levant in the second millennium BCE. [75] [76]

Sources mentioning the First Temple Edit

  • An ostracon (excavated prior to 1981), sometimes referred to as the House of Yahweh ostracon, was discovered at Tel Arad, dated to the 6th century BCE which mentions a temple which is probably the Temple in Jerusalem. [77]
  • A thumb-sized ivory pomegranate (which came to light in 1979) measuring 44 millimetres (1.7 in) in height, and bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription "Sacred donation for the priests in the House of ---h,]", was believed to have adorned a sceptre used by the high priest in Solomon's Temple. It was considered the most important item of biblical antiquities in the Israel Museum's collection. [78] However, in 2004, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported the inscription to be a forgery, though the ivory pomegranate itself was dated to the 14th or 13th century BCE. [79] This was based on the report's claim that three incised letters in the inscription stopped short of an ancient break, as they would have if carved after the ancient break was made. Since then, it has been proven that one of the letters was indeed carved prior to the ancient break, and the status of the other two letters are in question. Some paleographers and others have continued to insist that the inscription is ancient, some dispute this so the authenticity of this writing is still the object of discussion. [80]
  • Another artifact, the Jehoash Inscription, which first came to notice in 2003, contains a 15-line description of King Jehoash's ninth-century BCE restoration of the Temple. Its authenticity was called into question by a report by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which said that the surface patina contained microfossils of foraminifera. As these fossils do not dissolve in water, they cannot occur in a calcium carbonate patina, leading initial investigators to conclude that the patina must be an artificial chemical mix applied to the stone by forgers. As of late 2012, the academic community is split on whether the tablet is authentic or not. Commenting on a 2012 report by geologists arguing for the authenticity of the inscription, in October 2012, Hershel Shanks (who believes the inscription is genuine) wrote the current situation was that most Hebrew language scholars believe that the inscription is a forgery and geologists that it is genuine, and thus "Because we rely on experts, and because there is an apparently irresolvable conflict of experts in this case, BAR has taken no position with respect to the authenticity of the Jehoash Inscription." [81]

Temple Mount Sifting Project Edit

  • By 2006, the Temple Mount Sifting Project had recovered numerous artifacts dating from the 8th to 7th centuries BCE from soil removed in 1999 by the Islamic Religious Trust (Waqf) from the Solomon's Stables area of the Temple Mount. These include stone weights for weighing silver and a First Temple period bulla, or seal impression. [82] [dubious – discuss]

Objects found next to the Temple Mount Edit

  • In 2018 and a few years previously, two First Temple period stone weights used for weighing half-shekel Temple donations were found during excavations under Robinson's Arch at the foot of the Temple Mount. The tiny artifacts, inscribed with the word beka, which is known from related contexts in the Hebrew Bible, were used to weigh silver pieces on a scale, possibly at the very spot where they were unearthed. [83][84]

Other Edit

  • In 2007, artifacts dating to the 8th to 6th centuries BCE were described as being possibly the first physical evidence of human activity at the Temple Mount during the First Temple period. The findings included animal bones ceramic bowl rims, bases, and body sherds the base of a juglet used to pour oil the handle of a small juglet and the rim of a storage jar. [85][86] [dubious – discuss]

There is archaeological and written evidence of three Israelite temples, either contemporary or of very close date, dedicated to Yahweh (Elephantine temple, probably Arad too), either in the Land of Israel or in Egypt. Two of them have the same general outline as given by the Bible for the Jerusalem Temple.

  • The Israelite temple at Tel Arad in Judah, 10th to 8th/7th century BCE [87] and possibly dedicated to Yahweh [88] and Asherah. [89]
  • The Jewish temple at Elephantine in Egypt, already standing in 525 BCE [90]
  • The Israelite temple at Tel Motza, c. 750 BCE discovered in 2012 a few kilometres west of Jerusalem.
  • Several Iron Age temples have been found in the region that have striking similarities to the Temple of King Solomon. In particular the Ain Dara (archaeological site), Ain Dara temple in northern Syria with a similar age, size, plan and decorations. [91]

Freemasonry Edit

Rituals in Freemasonry refer to King Solomon and the building of his Temple. [92] Masonic buildings, where lodges and their members meet, are sometimes called "temples" an allegoric reference to King Solomon's Temple. [93]

Islam Edit

The Temple in Jerusalem is mentioned in verse 7 of the surah Al-Isra in the Quran with the words " (We permitted your enemies) to. enter your Temple" commentators of Quran such as Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur [94] postulate that this verse refers specifically to the Temple of Solomon.

Kabbalah Edit

Kabbalah views the design of the Temple of Solomon as representative of the metaphysical world and the descending light of the creator through Sefirot of the Tree of Life. The levels of the outer, inner and priest's courts represent three lower worlds of Kabbalah. The Boaz and Jachin pillars at the entrance of the temple represent the active and passive elements of the world of Atziluth. The original menorah and its seven branches represent the seven lower Sephirot of the Tree of Life. The veil of the Holy of Holies and the inner part of the temple represent the Veil of the Abyss on the Tree of Life, behind which the Shekhinah or Divine Presence hovers. [95]

Popular culture Edit

Solomon's Temple appears in Solomon and Sheba (1959) and in the novel King Solomon's Mines (1885). It also appears in the video game Assassin's Creed where the main character Altaïr Ibn-La'Ahad deals with Robert de Sablé. [96] [97] It appears too in Assassin's Creed Unity (2014) where the Knight Templar Jacques de Molay is burned and dies. [98] [99]

The same architectural layout of the temple was adopted in synagogues leading to the hekhal being applied in Sephardi usage to the Ashkenazi Torah ark, the equivalent of the nave. [100]


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Yet no archaeological evidence has been found that even remotely supports the grandeur described in the biblical accounts of David and Solomon, who ostensibly reigned between 1050 B.C.E. and 930 B.C.E. The only material sign of the kings' existence is controversial too: a stele found in northern Israel, from the mid-9th century B.C.E., inscribed with the words "House of David." But not everyone agrees that's what the stone even says.

Jerusalem is conquered

According to the bible, after David assumed the throne and conquered Jerusalem from the Jebusites, he consolidated the kingdom, including by conquering Edom. David's son Solomon took it further, building up Jerusalem and the Temple and entering into political alliances. After Solomon died, in around 930 B.C.E., his son Rehoboam was unable to hold the kingdom together: it split into Israelite and Judahite entities fighting each other.

Is that what happened? Did a great United Monarchy take form, chiefly under David, develop further under his son, and then fall apart?

There are archaeological remains from the 10th century B.C.E., but they have settled nothing. "Maximalists" comb the remains for support for the biblical narrative. "Minimalists" argue that the ruins have not been proved to be related to an Israelite kingdom, let alone one run by David or Solomon.

The stepped stone structure (in the bible: Millo) in the City of David, Jerusalem, atop of which King David supposedly built his palace. City of David Foundation

Take the stone palace found in Jerusalem. Maximalists say it dates to the appropriate time and obviously belonged to David. Minimalists say its period hasn't been proven, let alone its provenance (more on this below).

The biblical narrative may have gone overboard on extolling the virtues of the two kings, but a preponderance of evidence indicates that some kind of powerful polity did rule from Jerusalem. One of the best arguments is the massive copper production during the 10th century B.C.E., at Timna, three hundred kilometers south of Jerusalem.

Mountains of slag

There, in the dry desert, Dr. Erez Ben-Yosef of Tel Aviv University has spent 14 years excavating copper mining and smelting sites of Jordan and Israel, dating to the 10th century B.C.E. The mines in the Aravah valley are in the very territory the Bible says David won from the Edomites, who then became subject to Israel (2 Samuel 8:13-14).

The copper industry in the region – at Timna and Khirbat en-Nahdas in southern Israel, and at Faynan in Jordan – was clearly vast. More than 100,000 tons of slag from the Iron Age have been discovered in the area.

Until the collapse of Mediterranean civilizations in 1200 B.C.E., Cyprus had been the main regional source of copper. After the collapse, the mines in the Aravah valley came to the fore, Ben-Yosef and Prof. Israel Finkelstein of Tel Aviv University told Haaretz.

If David and Solomon were historical figures, they would have wanted to control the Aravah mines. They would have needed copper to make agricultural tools and weapons, says Ben Yosef: "Copper was the oil of the time and to control this region would have been a major asset."

The sheer scale of copper production at Timna and Faynan would have required the support of a major polity, scholars studying the Aravah agree.

For one thing, the mines needed external assistance. Separating copper from ore required maintaining charcoal fires at about 1,200°C for eight to 10 hours (using blowpipes and foot bellows). No food was available in the barren reaches of the desert where the mines were: there had to be a procurement and import system, also for wood to make the charcoal. Supplies would have traveled as much as hundreds of kilometers.

Water was a bit closer, but: "There is no water near the mines. It had to been brought in from the Yotvata oasis 15 kilometers away," Ben-Yosef says.

Asses fed on grapes

Supporting Timna's massive mining operations, therefore, required long-distance trade, or in other words, complex economic activity involving a bureaucratic apparatus.

Archaeologists have indeed found evidence of imports from afar (and cloth) dating to the time of David and Solomon. Next to 5-meter high fortification walls, the archaeologists found slingstones, a variety of seeds, fish bones, and donkey bones and dung preserved well enough to be analyzed: it shows the draught animals at Timna ate hay and pomace, the pulp from pressing grapes, olives and suchlike, imported from the Mediterranean coast, more than 200 km afar.

The fruits, cereals, fish and textiles were probably imported from Philistia and Judah.

Donkey dung preserved by the arid desert climate revealed the draught animals at Timna ate hay and grape pomace 3,000 years ago Erez Ben-Yosef / TV Project

More than 200 samples found at Faynan, Timna and Khirbat en-Nahas have been dated by radiocarbon analysis, to the 10th and 9th century B.C.E.

United-Monarchy skeptics such as Finkelstein do stress that the existence of the vast mining operation does not necessarily mean there was a powerful United Monarchy. There could be other explanations, including the original assumption, which is that the Aravah mines had been controlled by Egypt.

Egypt collapses

No question, the Egyptians had indeed been at Timna in some fashion or other before the postulated United Kingdom era, around the 12th-13th century B.C.E. We know this from Egyptian artifacts, hieroglyphics, and a temple dedicated to the goddess Hathor found at the site.

Irrespective of who controlled them, Prof. Philip R. Davies of the University of Sheffield speculates that the copper mines were particularly active in the 10th century B.C.E. because of heavy demand for copper in Egypt, especially when the supply from Cyprus collapsed.

"Any major power in the region would want to control the mines," Davies told Haaretz, adding, "I don't see that any of the small emerging kingdoms of the Levant could have secured control of this operation."

Indeed, everyone agrees that the actual 10th-century B.C.E. miners were the Edomites. The question is who was in control.

"My preferred candidate is Egypt. Edom does not seem to have been politically developed to the extent of organizing all this," Davies elaborates.

However, this period is marked by the fall of the Hittite Empire in Anatolia, the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization in Greece and, further down the line, Egypt, Babylonia and Assyria also sank into a down-spiral.

Not one single shard of Egyptian pottery has been found associated with the 10th century B.C.E. copper operations. Moreover, in the early 10th century, the great Egyptian civilization was in decline, together with most of the rest of the Levantine empires, creating a power vacuum and enabling the advent of the new polity – the Philistines.

"After the decline of the Egyptian empire in the Levant, around 1130 B.C.E., Egyptian interventions in Syro-Palestine diminished significantly," Egyptologist Shirley Ben Dor Evian, curator of Egyptian Archaeology at the Israel Museum, Jerusalem and researcher at Tel Aviv University told Haaretz.

Nomad power: The Edomite theory

Finkelstein doesn't necessarily agree with Davies that the Edomites were inadequate to controlling the mines, though the Edomites were desert nomads, like the Bedouins today. Finkelstein feels the mines may have empowered the Edomites, and that outside control, whether from Jerusalem or Egypt, was not necessary.

The entrance complex with a two-room gatehouse flanked by animal pens and piles of dung, dating to the 10th century B.C.E. Erez Ben-Yosef / TV Project

"The mines were operated mainly by locals and the prosperity there brought about the rise of a desert [Edomite] polity," Finkelstein suggests.

The notion that local pastoral nomads procured resources via a complex system of trade networks and then decided to live in stone fortress (buildings), instead of tents, is supported by Finkelstein's colleague Nadav Naaman, Jewish History professor at Tel Aviv University.

"It is reasonable to assume that there was an Edomite polity in the south in the 10th century B.C.E. that operated the mines in Timna and in Faynan," Na'aman says, adding, "I doubt whether David or Solomon were involved with the copper production in the Aravah." Or maybe they were.

Molten sea of copper

The bible doesn't mention mines and Solomon in the same breath, but Solomon is said to have used a vast quantity of copper in furnishing the temple in Jerusalem. That lends credence to the theory that he would have sought control over the Aravah copper mines.

At the entrance to the temple stood two colossal, hollow copper pillars eight meters tall, 1.7 meters in diameter and topped with 2.2-meter capitals (1 Kings 7:15-16.) The copper "molten sea," a huge basin used by the priests for washing, had a capacity of 66,000 liters (1 Kings 7:23-26, 44-46). That's 66 tons in displacement volume.

"And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about." (1 Kings 7:23)

Some experts feel the sheer elaboration lends verisimilitude to the biblical description.

"These descriptions do not make any sense on theological grounds," points out Dr. Gabriel Barkay, director of the Temple Mount Sifting Project. "There is no reason to specify these technical details that basically are instructions to the contractor. This information has to come from some archive that is now lost." (The contractors would have been the Phoenicians.)

Nadav Naaman assumes that the grand descriptions of the 10th century B.C.E. temple were written centuries later, but he does think that Solomon did build the First Temple in Jerusalem.

Once upon a time, city folk knew who erected major buildings, Naaman points out. "Local traditions may persist for centuries. I assume there was a local memory that it was Solomon who built the Jerusalem Temple on the Temple Mount," he says.

Trading with the Phoenicians

According to the bible, David conquered Edom but it was Solomon who consolidated the Judahic empire, including through trade. Put otherwise, if there was a United Monarchy, it would have traded, as big states do.

The bible has ample descriptions of trade at the time, not least in metals it also describes the Phoenicians coming to Jerusalem to build, and Solomon's joint business venture with King Hiram of Tyre. Hiram sent cedar timber from of Lebanon, as well as wood and stone craftsmen (2 Samuel 5:11 1 Chronicles 14:1) to build the "House of Cedars" and the First Temple. In return Solomon sent wheat, barley, olive oil and wine (1 Kings 5:2-6 2 Chronicles 2:3-10).

There is also a richness of evidence that the peoples around the Mediterranean were briskly trading for centuries and possibly millennia before. It isn't impossible that the vaunted "United Kingdom" might have been just a sort of trading hub, as Mycenaean Greece served as a focus for trade reaching much of the Levant. Never mind that archaeologists often disagree on who traded with whom, let alone who built what.

David's Palace and the Zionists

"David captured the stronghold of Zion, which is now the City of David" (2 Samuel 5:7)

This biblical passage describing how David wrested the stronghold of Mount Zion from the Jebusites and made it his capital, and then built a new palace with the help of the Phoenician king, Hiram of Tyre (2 Samuel 5:17) gained new life in 2005, when Prof. Eilat Mazar from the Hebrew University, announced that she had found the ruins of David's Palace.

Not all agree that the structures she found was a palace, let alone one built by David. At the very least, its dating is controversial.

The structure Mazar uncovered lies on a hill in Jerusalem's City of David, just south of the Temple Mount, at the entrance to the contemporary Palestinian village of Silwan. At the foot of the structure are previously discovered massive terraces towering to a height of 16.5 meters, known as the "Stepped Stone Structure".

"We have proved that the Large Stone Structure [the palace] was built together with the Stepped Stone Structure. They form a single architectural unit that can be dated to the 10th century B.C.E.," Mazar told Haaretz.

She believes the Stepped Stone Structure terraces were actually supporting walls for David's palace, erected by Phoenician builders in the 10th century B.C.E. But her dating of the palace and stepped stone structure is controversial, since it is based on pottery shards found above and below the stratum she excavated - but not in the stratum itself.

Finkelstein for one doesn't share Mazar's interpretation of either structure. He thinks both the Stepped Stone Structure and the "palace" show more than one phase of construction, the earliest probably dating to the 9th century B.C.E. "My dating of the structure comes from my understanding of the pottery found within," he says.

Na'aman takes Mazar's side, on other grounds entirely.

The bible mentions an area in Jerusalem known as the "Millo" (meaning "mound", 1 Kings 9:15, 1 Kings 9:24, 11:27) atop the Stepped Stone Structure, where King David is supposed to have built his palace. Na'aman however thinks the Millo actually encompassed both the Stepped Stone Structure and the space between that and the palace.

King David's palace? Prof. Eilat Mazar believes these are the ruins of King David's palace, found in the City of David, south of Temple Mount. Avi Balaban

He also thinks that both the Stepped Stone Structure and that space should be dated to the United Monarchy, and that it should be attributed to the King Solomon, who – the bible says – was building within this Millo. What was he building? The Stepped Stone Structure, says Na'aman.

"It fits very well with the account in 1 Kings 11:27 of the rebellion of Solomon's taskmaster Jeroboam, who was supervising the stoneworkers from Mount Ephraim," says Na'aman. "If you look at the Stepped Stone Structure and realize how much stones and earth you need to construct it and how many workers were required, you can understand why they rebelled," he quips.

The Saulide theory

Or maybe it was Saul, after all. Philip Davies, professor emeritus of biblical studies at Sheffield, suspects that it was actually Saul's Israelite kingdom that built the Stepped Stone Structure.

"Since a few biblical texts assign Jerusalem to Benjamin, and since Jerusalem is quite near to Saul's reported base, I would have to deduce that any Iron IIa remains in Jerusalem [1000-925 B.C.E.] can much more probably to be assigned to him than to a hypothetical 'David'," says Davies.

"If we did not have bible stories about a 'United Monarchy', would any archaeologist ever suggest such a thing existed? Why are possible Iron Age structures in Jerusalem assigned to David and not Saul?" Davies presses. "It's because the history of Judah is not solely in the hands of academic archaeologists but religious believers and Zionists, who have their own history - one that the rest of us do not believe in."

There are even more theories. Some archaeologists think the monuments might be the remains of an immense substructure of terrace walls on which the Jebusites built a fortress, for instance.

Actually, the Stepped Stone Structure is just part of a larger problem facing archaeologists excavating in Jerusalem. Lying above tombs from the 9th century B.C.E. sit Byzantine houses that are still in use.

Jerusalem has been occupied continuously for millennia, severely constraining the excavation options. Also, the city was destroyed several times. New cities were built atop the ruins, often using material repurposed from those ruins. Piled-up debris, in some places 30 meters deep, obscures the early contours of the site and makes interpreting the excavated evidence a precarious task.

However much the archaeologists dance on the head of a pin, each will have his own perspective on the Stepped Stone Structure. None are likely to ever find evidence beyond the contextual to support their theories.

Divided kingdom of united critics

Israel Finkelstein is famously careful when dealing with biblical material. He sees the description of a great United Monarchy – a sort of a Golden Age – as the product of authors who lived around 250 years after the time of David and Solomon, who were advancing a royal ideology of their own time.

"I see David and Solomon as historical figures – the founders of the Jerusalem dynasty. But at the same time I see the text as layered," Finkelstein told Haaretz. "For Solomon, there is very little information about his actual reign. For David, there is more, especially the material that describes him as a leader of a Habiru band on the southern fringe."

Therefore, the "Golden Age" should be understood as a Golden Age to come rather than an account of the past, according to Finkelstein, who suspects that if anything, David and Solomon ruled over little more than a village located on the Temple Mount.

"In order to understand Jerusalem of the 11th and 10th centuries B.C.E., one needs to take a broader look. First, I think that the original mound of Jerusalem was located on the Temple Mount. Second, Jerusalem started expanding from this original mound only in the 9th century B.C.E. This means that in the 11-10th centuries, the city was inhabited, but was still modest in size and material culture," Finkelstein says.

It is a convenient theory, but there is not one shred of evidence to support it.

Qeiyafa: A Davidic city in Judah

Meanwhile, about 32 km southwest of Jerusalem, in the vicinity of the low plain of Elah, Hebrew University professor Yosef Garfinkel unearthed what he believes was a mighty Judahic city dating to the time of David. The site is called Khirbet Qeiyafa and has archaeologists wrangling mightily over what the city had been.

"Khirbet Qeiyafa indicates that urbanism started in Judah at 1000 B.C.E., the time of King David," Garfinkel says.

If David ruled over a small kingdom, with a total population of around 5,000 people in a few cities and villages as Finkelstein claims, that does not fit with mighty Qeiyafa, Garfinkel objects.

Beneath later Hellenistic layers, Garfinkel found buildings, walls and two gates that date to the 11th century B.C.E. He is confident that the Khirbet Qeiyafa is the remains of the biblical town of Shaarayim.

As usual, not all agree. Na'aman insists that the bible identifies Shaarayim elsewhere (1 Samuel 15:35, Joshua 15:35). He feels speculation on the affiliation of the city is premature and new evidence will be needed.

Garfinkel however says that in material culture, Khirbet Qeiyafa is clearly Judahic. For example, it features private houses abutting the city wall, an arrangement unknown in Philistia but found at Judahic sites (including Be'er Sheva).

The main point, in Garfinkel's eyes, is the sheer magnitude of the Qeiyafa fortifications: there had to be a central administration that could enable such immense works, he argues. That in turn supports the theory of the United Monarchy.

Moreover, no figurines of female fertility goddesses were found, though they would likely have been if the site had been Philistine, Garfinkel says. And he has another card up his sleeve: two pottery sherds featuring proto-Canaanite writing, with verbs characteristic of Hebrew.

Finkelstein agrees with Garfinkel that Qeiyafa is not Philistine, but points out that it doesn't have to belong to the kingdom of Judah: it could have been early north Israelite. For one thing, much of Qeiyafa's material culture, including the shrine models, have parallels in the Israelite north rather than in Judah, he points out, and suggests, "It should probably be affiliated with the highlands."

Was 'David' a person?

Beyond whether or not there was a kingdom, there's a question of whether or not there was a man.

In 1952, after resigning from the military, Yigal Yadin devoted himself to research and began his life work in archaeology. In 1955 he found the city gates of the biblical city of Hazor (aka Hatzor). A few years later, with Bible in one hand and spade in the other, he excavated at Megiddo (Armageddon, in Christian tradition), where he found a monumental palace.

Guided by the book of 1 Kings and the stratigraphy, Yadin dated pottery inside the palace to the 10th century B.C.E., the golden era of King Solomon.

It is perhaps a strange irony of fate that shortly after Yadin had made these discoveries, the reaction against the biblical school began to assert itself, resulting in the "minimalist" school of Israeli archaeology, headed by scholars from the University of Copenhagen. To them, David and Solomon were fabled characters no more historical then legendary Viking kings such as Ragnar Lodbrok.

The skeptics suffered a severe setback in 1993, when archaeologists working in the northern Israel site of Tel Dan uncovered a victory stele with a word on it, bytdwd, that many, if not all, translate as "beit david" - the "House of David".

"I am inclined to deduce from the stele that Judah was ruled, though always as a regional tributary to either Israel or Aram, by the 'house of David'," Davies told Haaretz. But: "'David' is hardly a personal name, perhaps a title. It's uncertain whether the dwd in bytdwd denotes a person," Davies told Haaretz.

He suspects the Judahite tribes came to think of a 'David' as the founder of 'Judah', but until it became a kingdom much later, in the mid-8th century B.C.E., probably, thanks to Assyrian recognition – "Judah" denoted a territory, not a political entity.

The Dark Age of the Middle East

Uncertainty continues to prevail because there is simply no contemporaneous extra-biblical information regarding Solomon, explains Gabriel Barkay. In fact, there are no historical sources from Egypt, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia for the years from 1200 to 900 B.C.E., which won this period the soubriquet of the "Dark Age", says Egyptologist Dr. Mario Martin from Tel Aviv University.

Take the "Solomonic" ruins at Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer. All three are named in the Bible as major provincial capitals (1 Kings 9:15). But Finkelstein for one thinks, based on radiocarbon results, that Megiddo was built in the early 9th century B.C.E., well after David or Solomon would have reigned.

Hebrew University Prof. Amnon Ben-Tor, who has directed excavations at Hazor since 1990, thinks based on pottery that the monumental construction there dates to the 10th century B.C.E.

"Hazor is well-planned, with fortifications, gates and well-built domestic buildings that could not have been built by semi-nomads," Ben-Tor says.

The Gezer palace, uncovered in 2016, also dates to the 10th century, based on pottery. Its fortification wall and six-chambered gate are typical of the 10th-century northern cities.

"We have a radical change in city planning between the Iron Age I (1150 B.C.E.) and II (10th century B.C.E.). This is attributed to a new polity taking over and building new fortifications and administrative buildings," Dr. Steven Ortiz, co-director of the excavations, told Haaretz.

But all good things come to an end, and if there was a United Kingdom, it did too.

Egypt invades

In 2016, the Gezer excavators discovered an Egyptian jar stopper inside the 10th century stratum, with a 'design' typical of 22nd Dynasty pharaohs. The only 22nd Dynasty pharaoh known to have invaded Israel and Judah is the Egyptian pharaoh Shishak (aka Sheshonk I), who did so about five years after Solomon is said to have died, and was succeeded by Rehoboam.

Rehoboam – unlike his fabled father – is generally accepted to be a historic figure.

"Shishak's ascension to the throne reunified the Egyptian kingdom and led to reinvolvement in the Levant," Egyptologist Shirley Ben Dor Evian told Haaretz. The Egyptian forces also swarmed over the Aravah copper mines.

Shishak's raid of Israel and Judah is described in the bible (1 Kings 14:25, 26 2 Chronicles 12:1-12).

In contrast to Exodus, for example, there is archaeological evidence for Shishak's invasion of Israel and Judah, and of the copper mines in the Aravah.

A scarab found at Khirbet Hamra Ifdan, at the gateway to the copper district in Faynan – explored by Prof. Thomas Levy with Dr. Mohammad Najjar of the University of California – reads, "Bright is the manifestation of Re, chosen of Amun/Re" which corresponds with the throne name of Shishak. The pharaoh's name also appears on a fragment of stele left in a dump at Megiddo by the excavators in 1925. The stele may have been erected to commemorate his victory.

Regarding Jerusalem, the situation is less clear. A relief on a temple wall at Karnak describes Shishak's campaign and lists cities in Israel and Judah that his forces captured. Jerusalem isn't on the list.

The Karnak stone is broken and that part may have gone missing. Another theory is that Shishak never destroyed Jerusalem because King Rehoboam, cringed and paid him tribute. The bible for its part describes how Shishak enters the Temple and strips it of its treasures (1 Kings 14:25), which may have induced the pharaoh to spare the city.

In other words, this evidence is painfully indirect, but if the biblical description of Shishak's conquest of Jerusalem is true, it could lend credence to the narrative of the United Kingdom.

Barkay believes it. "Psychologically, why would the writers invent it if not true, especially since they admired the house of David and the house of God?" he asks. "In addition, Shishak captured cities around Jerusalem. Being so close, it is unthinkable he would not strip Jerusalem of its treasures."

While many scholars accept Shishak's invasion of Israel and Judah in 925 B.C.E. as a historical event, they don't necessarily think that supports the biblical narrative prior to the Egyptian invasion - in effect, the United Monarchy.

"Shishak was interested in places where there might be threats. A campaign against a Saulide 'Israel' is entirely plausible. But there is no evidence that Jerusalem was the seat of political power," says Davies. "It was probably still a rather small village."

Furthering that point, Finkelstein notes that as Shishak set out to reestablish Egyptian domination over Canaan, he could have targeted the nascent Israelite polity centered in the Gibeon Plateau. "Sites in this region are mentioned by Shishak," Finkelstein told Haaretz, adding, "Jerusalem is not either Jerusalem cooperated with the Pharaoh, or it was unimportant."

Agamemnon, but not David?

In 1870, Henrich Schliemann put his shovel in the Asiatic mound Hissarlik and found Troy. A few years later, following instructions in the Iliad, he went to the area where the city's destroyers were said to have come from, and dug up "Golden Mycenae", Agamemnon's city (Homer 11.45).

Today, Homeric kings such as Agamemnon, Nestor, Diomedes and Odysseus are widely accepted as historical figures.

"Linear B and Hittite documents confirm the existence of many Homeric personal and place names, e.g., Alexandros and possibly Eteocles Ilion and Troy," says Barry Strauss, professor of History and Classics at Cornell University. "Archaeology demonstrates the existence of citadels and palaces from the Mycenaean era. In fact, the evidence shows that the Homeric tradition in myriad ways large and small is based on a (vastly exaggerated) kernel of historical truth. I find the Homeric kings existence plausible, if not proven."

Davies qualifies that while he thinks Agamemnon might be historical, he doubts that Paris, Odysseus, Achilles and Hector were. "There is an important difference between the historicity of a name, and the historicity of the details of a narrative. I don't know any classicist who would advocate looking for a wooden horse," he says.

The descriptions of King Solomon and David in the bible were probably embellished, to paint a picture of a vast, prosperous kingdom. But the bible's writers typically lived centuries after the period they were writing about. Nor were they beholden to today's principles of veracity, and, as they say, the story is written by the winners.

When we read and try to interpret biblical narratives it is vital that we understand how historical narrative and cultural memory works. The bible mythologies the grandeur of David and Solomon and the memory of their kingdom have changed over time, all the individual stories have been forgotten. All cultures smooth the individual stories into one useful narrative.

Apparently sometimes the Bible is right, other bits have been distorted, and often we simply cannot know.


Watch the video: King Solomons Mines Rediscovered?