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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Old Testament Tales- Solomon

1. Who were Solomon’s brothers and which were born of the same mother?
2. How did Solomon come to be king?
3. Why was Solomon a good military choice?
4. What sort of promises did David require of Solomon?
5. What sort of wisdom did Solomon have, and why?
6. How did Solomon judge between two women?
7. How did Solomon organize the country?
8. How did Solomon relate to neighboring countries?
9. How had Israel changed between Saul’s time and Solomon’s time?
10. How had the armies changed?

People with lots of wives and concubines tend to have large families, and David’s family was no exception (1 Chron 3). The wives he married in Hebron (before becoming king) gave him six sons, Amnon (born of Ahinoam, a Jezreelite; Amnon died after raping Tamar), Daniel (born of Abigail, a Carmelite), Absalom (grandson of the King Of Geshur; Tamar’s brother, he died after leading a rebellion), Adonijah (son of Haggith, heir apparent—he had himself proclaimed king when David dies, but Bathsheba and the prophet Natahn persuade David to have Solomon crowned at once), Shephatiah (Abital), and Ithream (Eglah). After becoming king in Jerusalem, David’s wives game him thirteen more sons, Shimeah, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon (all by Bathsheba), Ibhar, Elishua, Eliphelet, Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet. Solomon appears kind of in the middle of the list and wasn’t even the first-born of his mother since his older sibling died. The obvious heir, Adonijah gave up the throne to Solomon on David’s orders, and Solomon ruled as co-regent with his father (1 Kings 1). When David died, Adonijah tried to acquire David’s final wife, presumably as a political power ploy, and was condemned to death.

Before David died (1 Kings 2), he prepared Solomon for kingship with a tour through major events and people of his reign. A descendant of Saul who had been spared during earlier troubles was marked out to be watched before he could destabilize the kingdom. Obligations due to alliances and previous kindnesses were made clear. The names of trusted and un-trusted advisors were communicated, and Solomon began his reign as a new broom, sweeping out the dangers of the old. The priest Abiathar who had supported Adonijah was exiled, and Joab, the over-zealous military leader, was killed.

Solomon was young enough to provide stable leadership, close enough to his father to provide continuity, familiar with the dark side of war and politics through his mother, and not related to any great Jewish house or line. It turns out he was also wise and good at taking advice, all of which made him a good choice for king. As a holy man he prayed often and dreamed that God offered him a gift (1 Kings 3). Solomon asked for understanding and was given divine wisdom to go with his human intelligence. In the famous story of two harlots both claiming ownership over a baby, Solomon threatens to cut the child in half, knowing the true mother would let her child grow up with another rather than let it die.

Solomon divided the country into 12 provinces, instituting taxes to support the royal household as well as the arm7 (1 Kings 4)—no more David’s rushing in from the fields with food for soldiers. He made alliances with neighboring lands, built forts on high ground with space in the plains for mustering large armies, and even equipped his army with war-chariots at last (1 Kings 9,10). Forts guarded the trade routes through Israel, facilitating Solomon’s rising fortunes. A large army was kept in Jerusalem, ready to march and ride to wherever it was needed. Roads must have been leveled and graded—a huge and continuing undertaking.

1 comment:

sarah said...

it's interesting how people from every generation...every period in history somehow organize their lives.