Ready for Paul?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Wisdom of Solomon

1. Who built the Solomon’s Temple?
2. How long did it take to build the Temple and how long to build the palace?
3. What has the Bible got to say about the value of pi?
4. Did Solomon believe God only cared for Israelites?
5. Who is the Queen of Sheba?
6. How many concubines did Solomon have?
7. How many times did God appear to Solomon?
8. Why did the prophet Ahijah tear the robe into twelve pieces?
9. What is “the book of the acts of Solomon?”
10. How did Solomon lose God’s favor?

In common with many great rulers of the time, King Solomon was a writer and is credited with writing the book of Proverbs (a very practical comparison of the value of pursuing wisdom as opposed to the danger of pursuing folly), the Song of Solomon (a love song, sometimes interpreted as allegorical of God’s relationship with mankind, sometimes as a poem written for one of Solomon’s many weddings) and Ecclesiastes (often considered a rather sad volume, thought the more recent translation of “vanity” as “a puff of air, a light breeze from God’s mouth” gives a much more positive sound to the writing.) It’s probably the case that Solomon’s proverbs were combined with writings of other wise men at a later date, just as David’s psalms were combined with others when collected together.

As he grew wealthier, Solomon poured his riches into building projects—a temple for the Lord, and a palace for the king. The temple was started in Solomon’s 4th year, 480 years (1 Kings 6:1, or 12 generations—possibly 300 years) after Exodus. (Various listings of names of high priests support the 12 generations interpretation.) Temple building took 7 years, and the palace took a further 13 (1 Kings 7:1) since it included many additional structures. The Bible records building practices, and builders, that are well-authenticated as appropriate to the time and place; it also records a value of approximately three for pi, the relationship between the circumference and radius of a circle (1 Kings 7:23-26).

God appeared to Solomon early in his reign and gave him the gift of wisdom (1 Kings 3). He appears again after the dedication of the Temple, promising disaster to nation and Temple if Solomon betrays God’s trust. Solomon allowed his many wives to continue worshipping their own gods—probably essential if he was to maintain the alliances bought by these marriages. Eventually though, Solomon began to worship his wives’ and concubines’ gods (1 Kings 11:5: he has 700 wives and 300 concubines at this point), perhaps demonstrating the wisdom of God’s separating His own people from others. As a result the agreement with God is broken and only a remnant of the country is ruled by Solomon’s line.

The Queen of Sheba was one of Solomon’s most famous visitors. She probably came from Saba on the southwestern Arabian peninsula rather than Africa, and she visits shortly after Solomon’s building of a cargo fleet on the Gulf of Aqaba (I Kings 9:26-28: Note, the Red Sea named here is the same as the Red Sea of Exodus) and her gifts (10:2) may well be in exchange for trade agreements.

Near the end of Solomon’s reign, after he’d lost favor with God, the prophet Ahijah meets Solomon’s servant Jeroboam and tears a new robe into 12 pieces (1 Kings 11:31), representing the 12 tribes. Jeroboam is given 10 pieces, with only two remaining to fulfill God’s promise to the house of David, that there would always be a Davidic king. Solomon is understandably displeased with this arrangement and Jeroboam flees to Egypt. Solomon’s son Rehoboam takes the throne on Solomon’s death, but doesn’t last long, lacking both his father’s wisdom and his holiness.

Various books are referenced in the account of Solomon that aren’t in the Bible, suggesting our account is built from older texts, including the book of the acts of Solomon, not all of which were preserved.

No comments: