• Annemeet Hasidi-van Der Leij

History of Jerusalem, part 8. The wisdom of king Solomon


Even at a young age, Solomon became known for his wisdom. People from surrounding nations also came to hear Solomon’s wisdom. He composed 3000 proverbs and 1005 songs. He wrote the Song of Songs, the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

One of the most celebrated visits to Solomon was that of the Queen of Sheba, who came from southern Arabia. Historically, Arabia was a country rich in gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Solomon needed Sheba’s products and trade routes; the queen of Sheba needed Solomon’s cooperation in marketing her country’s goods. The queen came to Solomon with camels carrying spices, gold and precious stones. She asked him questions and riddles and was amazed at his wisdom. Solomon's vast construction projects had all been at public expense. After his death, the Israelites agreed to the ascent to the throne of his son Rehoboam on condition that he lower taxes. When Rehoboam refused to accede to their demands, the kingdom split into two: the kingdom of Judah (from Jerusalem to the south, including Benjamin) and the kingdom of Israel (north of Jerusalem to Dan). The territory ruled by Jerusalem was reduced to the area of the tribe of Judah. During the following 342 years ('8-586 B.C.E.) the city underwent great changes and witnessed many dramatic religious and political events. With slight interruptions all of its rulers were descendants of David. The monarchy was relatively stable, though there were cases of palace intrigue and political assassination. The small Judean kingdom never again reached the political or military greatness of the days of David. It suffered many years of war with the kingdom of Israel to the north as well as raids from Egypt.

In the year 966 BCE King David’s son Solomon, who reigned Israel after his father, built the First Temple. It was built instead of the Tabernacle. David was not allowed to built God’s Temple, because he had too much blood on his hands:

“David said to Solomon: ‘ My son, I had it in my heart to build a house for the name of the Lord my God. But this word of the Lord came to me: “You have shed much blood and have fought many wars. You are not to build a house for My Name, because you have shed much blood on the earth in My sight.” 1 Chron. 22: 7, 8.

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