The 1901 Jewish Encyclopedia
Third king of all Israel; reigned from about 971 to 931 B.C; second son of David and Bath-sheba (2 Samuel 12:23-25). He was called Jedidiah (= "beloved of Yhwh") by Nathan the prophet, the Chronicler (1 Chronicles 22:9) assuming that David was told by Yhwh that his son's name should be Solomon (="peaceful"). These two names are predictive of the character of his reign, which was both highly favored and peaceful.
The sources for the history of the reign of Solomon are 2 Samuel 11- and the corresponding portions of cles, also 1 Kings 1-11:43 and 1 Chronicles 28:1- ix 31. Some second or third-hand material is found in Josephus, Eusebius, and elsewhere, mostly taken from the books of Kings and Chronicles. The circumstances attending Solomon's birth indicate that he was "beloved of Yhwh" (2 Samuel 12:24,25), and that Nathan stood in close association with David's household. Bath-sheba's relations with Nathan at the attempted accession of Adonijah (1 Kings 1) show that she was a woman of no mean talent. Solomon's respect and reverence for her, even after his accession to the throne, point in the same direction. By nature and training Solomon was richly endowed and well equipped for the office of leader.
The question of David's successor had come to the front in see see ABSALOM (2)'s rebellion. That uprising had been crushed. As David was nearing his death, Adonijah, apparently (1 Chronicles 3:1-4) in order of age the next claimant to the throne, prepared to usurp it, but passed over, in the invitation to his coronation, some of the most influential friends and advisers of David, as well as his brother Solomon. This aroused the suspicions of Nathan, who so arranged that simultaneously with Adonijah's coronation the court advisers, by order of David, crown Solomon, son of Bath-sheba, king of Israel. Adonijah fled in terror to the horns of the altar, and left them only on the oath of Solomon that his life should be spared.
Beginning of Solomon's Reign.
David, before he died, had given Solomon a charge regarding his own actions as a man, and regarding his attitude toward several of the influential personages about the king's court. As soon as Solomon had become established over the kingdom, Adonijah, through Bathsheba, the queen-mother, asked the king for Abishag the Shunammite as a wife. This request was equivalent to asking for coregency, and Solomon so regarded it, for he quickly sent Benaiah to slay Adonijah. Abiathar, formerly David's trusted priest, who had conspired with Adonijah, was sent to the priest-city Anathoth, to his own fields, and deprived of his priestly office. Joab, learning the fate of Adonijah and Abiathar, fled to the altar for refuge; but Solomon commissioned the same executioner, Benaiah, to slay him there. Shimei, who had cursed David, was also in the list of suspects. He was given explicit orders to remain in Jerusalem, where his movements could be under surveillance. But on the escape of two of his servants to Philistia he left Jerusalem to capture them; and on his return he, too, fell under the sword of the bloody Benaiah. This completed the destruction of the characters whose presence about the court was likely to be a perpetual menace to the life of Solomon.
Thenceforth Solomon proceeded both safely and wisely in the development of his government. He came into possession of a kingdom organized and prosperous. His part was to increase its efficiency and glory and wealth; but to succeed in this he needed special gifts. When he went to Gibeon to offer sacrificesâa thousand burnt offeringsâYhwh appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Ask what I shall give thee." Solomon, conscious of the heavy responsibility of the ruler of such a realm, chose the wisdom that is needful in a judge. His choice of this rather than long life, wealth, honor, and the destruction of his enemies, greatly pleased Yhwh.
The wisdom of the young king was soon put tothe test. Two harlots appeared before him, each carrying a child, one living and the other dead. Their dispute involved a decision as to the maternity of the children. Solomon, knowing the tender affections of a mother, ordered the living child to be cut into halves with a sword. The problem solved itself, and the king's insight and justice received due praise in Israel.
Solomon chose as his advisers the influential men of his kingdom (1 Kings 4:1-20). His standing army consisted of 12,000 cavalry, with 4,000 stalls for his chariots. The commissary department was thoroughly organized, and his court was one of great magnificence. The organization of Solomon's government carried with it a definite policy regarding his non-Israelitish subjects. Following the custom of the day, he secured for himself a wife from each of the neighboring royal houses, thus binding the nations to him by domestic ties. These various alliances introduced to the Israelitish court a princess from Egypt (for whom the king erected a special residence), and others from the Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Zidonian, and Hittite courts, who brought with them certain alien customs and religions, and, best of all, a kind of guaranty of peace. A court of such mixed elements involved also certain requirements which were a charge upon the royal treasury, such as homes for these foreigners and the installation of places for their religious observances. Solomon seems to have fulfilled all his obligations of this nature so lavishly as to have aroused his people near the close of his reign to the point of rebellion.
No sooner had the king thoroughly organized and set in motion his civil and military machinery than he planned to carry out the desires of David by building a temple to Yhwh. In doing this he utilized his father's friendship with Hiram of Tyre to secure from the latter an agreement to supply cedar from Lebanon for use in the building. He levied also upon his own people and sent, in courses, 150,000 men to Lebanon to cut and hew the timber. Stones were cut for the buildings to be constructed, and the timber was floated in rafts to Joppa and transferred to Jerusalem. Stones and timber were put together noiselessly. Seven years of work completed the Temple, and thirteen years the king's palace. The best and most skilled workmen were Phenicians. Their artistic taste was exercised both on the buildings and on the vessels with which they were furnished (1 Kings 7:13 et seq.). In addition to completing these two chief structures, Solomon enhanced in other ways the architectural beauty of the city.
Solomon's foreign alliances formed the basis for foreign commercial relations. From the Egyptians he bought chariots and horses, which he sold to the Hittites and other peoples of the North. With the Phenicians he united in maritime commerce, sending out a fleet once in three years from Ezion-geber, at the head of the Gulf of Akaba, to Ophir, presumably on the eastern coast of the Arabian peninsula. From this distant port, and others on the way, he derived fabulous amounts of gold and tropical products. These revenues gave him almost unlimited means for increasing the glory of his capital city and palace, and for the perfection of his civil and military organizations.
Solomon's wisdom seems to have been as resplendent as his power and glory. His tact in dealing with his subjects and his acquaintance with all that was known in that day regarding trees, fruits, flowers, beasts, fishes, and birds gave him great renown. His genius in composing proverbs and songs was known far beyond the bounds of his own kingdom. His wisdom was said to have surpassed that of the children of the East and all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman,and Chalcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol (1 Kings 4:30,31). People came from all parts to see the wisest man in the world. The Queen of Sheba traveled with a train of attendants, carrying much wealth, from southwestern Arabia, about 1,500 miles distant, to test the wisdom of Israel's ruler.
Solomon's religious ancestry and training had given him a basis for a strong life. His own request at Gibeon and his zeal in the worship of Yhwh fore-told a vigorous religious career. But, though he built the Temple, and in the prayer attributed to him expressed some of the loftiest sentiments of a man thoroughly zealous in his worship of Israel's God, his career did not fulfil his early religious resolves. The polytheistic worship introduced by his foreign wives into Jerusalem and his faint and ineffectual opposition to their request that their gods should be shown respect led to his moral and religious deterioration, until he lost his hold on the people as well as on his own faith. Disaffection in Edom and in Syria, and the utterances of the prophet Abijah to Solomon's overseer, Jeroboam, portended disintegration and dissolution. In the decline of his life his power waned, and his death was the signal for the breaking up of the kingdom.
The extent of Solomon's permanent literary work is very uncertain. It is possible that he left several psalms and a portion of the Book of Proverbs. It seems to be probable that his life formed the basis of the Book of Ecclesiastes, and possibly of some elements of the Song of Songs.
Importance in Jewish Legend.
âIn Rabbinical Literature and Legend:
Solomon not only occupies a very important part in rabbinical legend, but is glorified even from a theological point of view. It must be added, however, that the Tannaim, with the exception of Jose b. á¸¤alafta, were inclined to treat only of his weaknesses and his downfall. Solomon was one of those men to whom names were given by God before their birth, being thus placed in the category of the just ("áºaddiá¸³im"; Yer. Ber. , 11b; Gen. R. 45:11; Tan., Bereshit, 30). Besides his three principal names, Jedidiah (2 Samuel 12:25), á¸²ohelet (Ecclesiastes 1:1 et passim, Hebr.), and Solomon, various others are assigned to him by the Rabbis, namely, Agur, Bin, Jakeh, Lemuel, Ithiel, and Ucal (Proverbs 30:1, 31:1), the interpretations of which, according to the earlier school, are as follows: "He who gathered the words of the Torah, who understood them, who later enunciated them, who said to God in his heart, 'I have the power; consequently, I may transgress the prescriptions of the Torah.' " The later school, on the other hand, adopts the following explanations: Agur ="he who girt his loins"; Bin = "he who built the Temple"; Jakeh = "he who reigned over the whole world"; Ithiel = "he who understood the signs of God"; and Ucal = "he who could withstand them" (Cant. R. 1:1; Midr. Mishle 30:1; Targ. Sheni to Esther 1:2). Solomon was also one of those who were styled "baá¸¥urim" (="chosen"), "yedidim" (="friends"), and "ahubim" (="beloved ones"; Ab. R. N., ed. Schechter, p. 121). Solomon's instructor in the Torah was Shimei,whose death marked Solomon's first lapse into sin (Ber. 8a).
His Prayer for Wisdom.
The Rabbis concluded that Solomon was twelve (in Targ. Sheni c. thirteen) years old when he ascended the throne; he reigned forty years (1 Kings 11:42), and consequently he lived fifty-two years, as did the prophet Samuel (Seder 'Olam R.; Gen. R. c. 11; but comp. Josephus, "Ant." 8:7, Â§ 8, where it is stated that Solomon was fourteen years old when he began to reign, and that he ruled eighty years; comp. also Abravanel on 1 Kings 3:7). He was considered by the Rabbis, who glorified him, to have been the counterpart of David, his father: each reigned forty years, and over the whole world; both wrote books and composed songs and fables; both built altars and transported the Ark of the Covenant with great ceremony; and in both dwelt the Holy Ghost (Cant. R. c.). Solomon is particularly extolled by the Rabbis for having asked in his dream nothing besides wisdom, which they declare served him as a shield against sinful thoughts. In this respect Solomon's wisdom was even superior to that of his father. Solomon passed forty days in fasting so that God might bestow upon him the spirit of wisdom (Pesiá¸³. R. 14 [ed. Friedmann, p. 59a, b]; Num. R. 19:3; Eccl. R. 7:23; Midr. Mishle 1:1, 15:29).
Solomon and Pharaoh.
Solomon was the wise king par excellence, a fact which is expressed in the saying, "He who sees Solomon in a dream may hope for wisdom" (Ber. 57b). He is said to have understood the languages of the beasts and the birds and to have had no need of relying on witnesses in delivering a judgment, inasmuch as by simply looking at the contending parties he knew which was right and which was wrong. The words "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 29:23) are interpreted to this effect, and an example of such a judgment is that pronounced in the case of the two har-lots (comp. 1 Kings 3:16 et seq.), which judgment was confirmed by a BAT á¸²OL (Cant. R. c.; Targ. Sheni to Esther 1:2). Indeed, Solomon's bet din was one of those in which the Holy Ghost manifested its presence through a bat á¸³ol. Independently of this, Solomon is considered as one of the Prophets, in whom the Holy Ghost dwelt. It was under the inspiration of the latter that he composed his three works, Canticles, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes (Soá¹ah 48b; Mak. 23b; Cant. R. 1:1; Eccl. R. 1:1, 10:17). His wisdom is stated to have excelled that of the Egyptians (1 Kings 5:10), which assertion is the basis of the following legend: "When Solomon was about to build the Temple he applied to Pharaoh, King of Egypt, for builders and architects. Pharaoh ordered his astrologers to choose all the men who would die in the current year; and these he sent to Solomon. The latter, however, by simply looking at them, knew what their fate was to be; consequently he provided them with coffins and shrouds and sent them back to Egypt. Moreover, he gave them a letter for Pharaoh informing him that if he was in want of articles required for the dead, it was not necessary for him to send men, but that he might apply direct for the materials he needed" (Pesiá¸³. R. c.; Pesiá¸³. 4:34a; Num. R. 19:3; Eccl. R. 7:23).
Owing to his proverbial wisdom, Solomon is the hero of many stories, scattered in the midrashic literature, in which his sagacity is exemplified. Most of them are based upon his judgment regarding the harlot's child; many of them have been collected by Jellinek in "B. H." , one of which is mentioned in Tos. to Men. 37a as occurring in the Midrash. It runs as follows: "Asmodeus brought before Solomon from under the earth a man with two heads, who, being unable to return to his native place, married a woman from Jerusalem. She bore him 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; while his brothers contended that he was entitled to one share only. They appealed to Solomon, whose sagacity enabled him to decide that the son with two heads was only one man; and the king consequently rendered judgment in favor of the other six brothers" (comp. "R. E. J." 45:305 et seq.). The well-known litigation between the serpent and the man who had rescued it is stated in Midrash Taná¸¥uma (see Buber, "Mebo," p. 157) as having taken place before Solomon, who decreed the serpent's death. Solomon applied his wisdom also to the dissemination of the Law. He built synagogues and houses in which the Torah was studied by himself, by a multitude of scholars, and even by little children. All his wisdom, however, did not make him arrogant; so that when he had to create a leap-year he summoned seven elders, in whose presence he remained silent, considering them more learned than himself (Cant. R. c.; Ex. R. 15:20).
On the other hand, the members of the earlier school of Solomon's critics represent him in the contrary light. According to them, he abrogated the commandments of the Torah by transgressing against the three prohibitions that the king should not multiply horses nor wives nor silver and gold (comp. Deuteronomy 17:16-17 with 1 Kings 10:26-11:3). He was likewise proud of his wisdom, and, therefore, relied too much on himself in the case of the two harlots, for which he was blamed by a bat á¸³ol. Judah b. Ila'i even declared that, had he been present when Solomon pronounced the sentence, he would have put a rope round Solomon's neck. His wisdom itself is depreciated. Simeon b. Yoá¸¥ai said that Solomon would better have been occupied in cleaning sewers, in which case he would have been free of reproach. His Ecclesiastes has, according to one opinion, no sacred character, because "it is only Solomon's wisdom" (R. H. 21b; Meg. 7a; Ex. R. 6:1; Eccl. R. 10:17; Midr. Teh. to Psalms 72:1; BIBLE CANON).
On account of his modest request for wisdom only, Solomon was rewarded with riches and an unprecedentedly glorious reign (comp. 1 Kings 3:13, 5:1 et seq.). His realm is described by the Rabbis as having extended, before his fall (see below), over the upper world inhabited by the angels and over the whole of the terrestrial globe with all its inhabitants,including all the beasts, fowls, and reptiles, as well as the demons and spirits. His reign was then so glorious that the moon never decreased, and good prevailed over evil. 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 fowls of their own accord entered the kitchen of Solomon's palace, so that they might be used as food for him. Extravagant meals for him (comp. 1 Kings 4:22-23) were prepared daily by each of his thousand wives, with the thought that perhaps the king would feast on that day in her house (Meg. 11b; Sanh. 20b; B. M. 86b; Gen. R. 34:17; Cant. R. c.; Eccl. R. 2:5; Targ. Sheni c.).
More frequently it was the eagle that executed Solomon's orders. When David died Solomon ordered the eagles to protect with their wings his father's body until its burial (Ruth R. 1:17). Solomon was accustomed to ride through the air on a large eagle which brought him in a single day to Tadmor in the wilderness (Eccl. R. 2:25; comp. 2 Chronicles 8:4). This legend has been greatly developed by the cabalists as follows: "Solomon used to sail through the air on a throne of light placed on an eagle, which brought him near the heavenly yeshibah as well as to the dark mountains behind which the fallen angels 'Uzza and 'Azzael were chained. The eagle would rest on the chains; and Solomon, by means of a ring on which God's name was engraved, would compel the two angels to reveal every mystery he desired to know." According to another cabalistic legend, Solomon ordered a demon to convey down to the seven compartments of hell Hiram, King of Tyre, who on his return revealed to Solomon all that he (Hiram) had seen in the nether world (Zohar 2:112b-113a, 4:233a, b; Naphtali b. Jacob Elhanan, "'Emeá¸³ ha-Melek," pp. 5d, 112c, 147a; Jellinek, c. 2:86).
With reference to Solomon's dominion over all the creatures of the world, including spirits, several stories are current, the best known of which is that of Solomon and the ant (Jellinek, c. 5:22 et seq.). It is narrated as follows: "When God appointed Solomon king over every created thing, He gave him a large carpet sixty miles long and sixty miles wide, made of green silk interwoven with pure gold, and ornamented with figured decorations. Surrounded by his four princes, Asaph b. Berechiah, prince of men, Ramirat, prince of the demons, a lion, prince of beasts, and an eagle, prince of birds, when Solomon sat upon the carpet he was caught up by the wind, and sailed through the air so quickly that he breakfasted at Damascus and supped in Media. One day Solomon was filled with pride at his own greatness and wisdom; and as a punishment therefor the wind shook the carpet, throwing down 40,000 men. Solomon chided the wind for the mischief it had done; but the latter rejoined that the king would do well to turn toward God and cease to be proud; whereupon Solomon felt greatly ashamed.
"On another day while sailing over a valley where there were many swarms of ants, Solomon heard one ant say to the others, 'Enter your houses; otherwise Solomon's legions will destroy you.' The king asked why she spoke thus, and she answered that she was afraid if the ants looked at Solomon's legions they might be turned from their duty of praising God, which would be disastrous to them. She added that, being the queen of the ants, she had in that capacity given them the order to retire. Solomon desired to ask her a question; but she told him that it was not becoming for the interrogator to be above and the interrogated below. Solomon thereupon brought her up out of the valley; but she then said it was not fitting that he should sit on a throne while she remained on the ground. Solomon now placed her upon his hand, and asked her whether there was any one in the world greater than he. The ant replied that she was much greater; otherwise God would not have sent him there to place her upon his hand. The king, greatly angered, threw her down, saying, 'Dost thou know who I am? I am Solomon, the son of David!' She answered: 'I know that thou art created of a corrupted drop [comp. Ab. 3:1]; therefore thou oughtest not to be proud.' Solomon was filled with shame, and fell on his face.
"Flying further, 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. The demons found there only an eagle, which they took before Solomon. Being asked whether it knew of an entrance to the palace, the eagle said that it was 700 years old, but that it had never seen such 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 many inscriptions on the doors. In the interior of the palace was an idol having in its mouth a silver tablet which bore the following inscription in Greek: 'I, Shaddad, the son of 'Ad, reigned over a million cities, rode on a million horses, had under me a million vassals, and slew a million warriors, yet I could not resist the angel of death.'"
The most important of Solomon's acts was his building of the Temple, in which he was assisted by angels and demons. Indeed, the edifice was throughout miraculously constructed, the large, heavy stones rising to and settling in their respective places of themselves (Ex. R. 52:3; Cant. R. c.). The general opinion of the Rabbis is that Solomon hewed the stones by means of the SHAMIR, a worm whose mere touch cleft rocks. According to Midrash Tehillim (in Yalá¸³., 1 Kings, 182), the shamir was brought from paradise by the eagle; but most of the rabbis state that Solomon was informed of the worm's haunts through the chief of the demons, who was captured by Benaiah, Solomon's chief minister (ASMODEUS). The chief of the demons, Ashmedai or Asmodeus, told Solomon that theshamir had been entrusted by the prince of the sea to the mountain cock alone (the Hebrew equivalent in Leviticus 11:19 and Deuteronomy 14:18 is rendered by A. V. "lapwing" and by R.V. "hoopoe"), and that the cock had sworn to guard it well. Solomon's men searched for the nest of the bird and, having found it, covered it with glass. The bird returned, and, seeing the entrance to its nest closed by what it supposed to be a glass door, brought the shamir for the purpose of breaking the glass. Just then a shout was raised; and the bird, being frightened, dropped the shamir, which the men carried off to the king (Giá¹. 68b).
Solomon, in his prophetic capacity, realized that the Temple would be destroyed by the Babylonians, and therefore he caused an underground receptacle to be built in which the Ark was afterward hidden (Abravanel on 1 Kings 6:19). For each of the ten candlesticks made by Solomon (1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 4:7) he used 1,000 talents of gold, which, being passed 1,000 times through the furnace, became reduced to one talent. There is a difference of opinion among the Rabbis as to whether Solomon's candlesticks were lit or only the one made by Moses. A similar difference exists with regard to Solomon's ten tables, five of which were on one side and five on the other side of the table made by Moses (Men. 29a, 99b). Solomon planted in the Temple different kinds of golden trees which bore fruit in their proper seasons. When the wind blew over them the fruit fell to the ground. Later, when the heathen entered the Temple to destroy it, these trees withered; but they will flourish again on the advent of the Messiah (Yoma 21b).
Even with regard to his noble act in building the Temple, however, Solomon did not escape the severe criticisms of the Tannaim. The construction of such a magnificent edifice, they said, filled Solomon with pride; consequently when he wished to introduce the Ark of the Covenant into the Sanctuary, the gates shrank to such an extent that it could not be brought in. Solomon then recited twenty-four hymns, but without avail. He then sang: "Lift up your heads, O ye gates; . . . and the King of glory shall come in" (Psalms 24:7). The gates, thinking that Solomon applied to himself the term "King of glory," were about to fall on his head, when they asked him, "Who is this King of glory?" Solomon answered: "The Lord strong and mighty," etc. (ib. verse 8). He then prayed: "O Lord God, turn not away the face of thine anointed, remember the mercies of David thy servant" (2 Chronicles 6:42); and the Ark was admitted (Shab. 30a; Num. R. 14:10; comp. Ex. R. 8:1 and Tan., Wa'era, 6, where this haggadah is differently stated in the spirit of the Amoraim).
The Tannaim lay particular stress on Solomon's criminal act in marrying the daughter of Pharaoh, which they declare took place on the night when the Temple was completed. This assertion is at variance with Seder 'Olam R. , where it is held that Solomon married her when he began to build the Temple, that is, in the fourth year of his reign (comp. 1 Kings 6:1). The particular love which he manifested for her (comp. ib. 11:1) was rather a depraved passion; and she, more than all his other foreign wives, caused him to sin. He had drunk no wine during the seven years of the construction of the Temple; but on the night of its completion he celebrated his wedding with so much revelry that its sound mingled before God with that of the Israelites who celebrated the completion of the sacred edifice, and God at that time thought of destroying with the Temple the whole city of Jerusalem. Pharaoh's daughter brought Solomon 1,000 different kinds of musical instruments, explaining to him that each of them was used in the worship of a special idol. She hung over his bed a canopy embroidered with gems which shone like stars; so that every time he intended to rise, he, on looking at the gems, thought it was still night. He continued to sleep, with the keys of the Temple under his pillow; and the priests therefore were unable to offer the morning sacrifice. They informed his mother, Bath-sheba, who roused the king when four hours of the day had flown. She then reprimanded him for his conduct; and verses 1-9 of Proverbs 31 are considered by the Rabbis as having been pronounced by Bath-sheba on that occasion. The destructive effect on the Temple of Solomon's marriage to Pharaoh's daughter is further expressed in the following allegory: "When Solomon wedded Pharaoh's daughter, Michael [another version has Gabriel] drove a rod into the bed of the sea; and the slime gathering around it formed an island on which, later, Rome [the enemy of Jerusalem] was built." R. Jose, however, declares that Solomon's sole intention in this marriage was to convert the daughter of Pharaoh to Judaism, bringing her thus under the wings of the Shekinah (Sifre, Deut. 52; Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 1:39c; Shab. 56b; Yer. Sanh. 2:6; Sanh. 21b; Lev. R. 12:4; Num. R. 10:8).
Solomon's throne is described at length in Targum Sheni (c.) and in two later midrashim published by Jellinek ("B. H." 2:83-85, 5:33-39), the second also by J. Perles (in "Monatsschrift," 21:122 et seq.). According to Targum Sheni, which is compiled from three different sources, there were on the steps of the throne twelve golden lions (See comp. Solomon, Biblical, Data) and twelve golden eagles so placed that each lion faced an eagle. Another account says that there were seventy-two lions and the same number of eagles. Further it is stated that there were six steps to the throne (comp. ib.), 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. There was also on the top of the throne a golden candlestick, 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 candlesticks was a golden jar filled with olive-oiland 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. By a mechanical contrivance the throne followed Solomon wherever he wished to go.
The description given in the two midrashim mentioned above differs somewhat from the foregoing. Referring to the words "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord" (1 Chronicles 29:23), the second midrash remarks that Solomon's throne, like that of God, was furnished with the four figures representing a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle, with cherubim and wheels (comp. Ezekiel 1:5 et seq.). While the first midrash agrees to a greater extent with Targum Sheni, the second one substitutes for the order in which the pairs of animals were arranged the following: a sheep and a wolf; a deer and a bear; a roebuck and an elephant; a buffalo and a griffin; a man and a demon; a mountain-cock and an eagle; a dove and a sparrow-hawkâthe clean beasts and fowls being to the right and the unclean ones to the left of the throne.
The Mechanism of the Throne.
Solomon's progress to his throne is similarly described in Targum Sheni and in the two midrashim. According to the former work, when the king reached the first step, the ox, by means of some sort of mechanism, 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 all kinds of fragrant spices. In the second midrash it is said: "When Solomon wished to sit on his throne, the ox took him gently on its horns and handed him over to the lion, which in turn delivered him to the sheep, and so on until the seat was reached. Then the demon placed him on the seat, which was of gold studded with precious stones, and put under his feet a foot-stool of sapphire which he had brought from heaven [comp. Exodus 24:10]. The six steps also were studded with precious stones and with crystal; and there were besides arches from which palm-trees arose high over the throne to make a shadow for the king's head." Both midrashim state that when Solomon was seated a silver serpent turned a wheel which caused the eagles to spread their wings over the king's head. Then one lion placed the crown on his head, while another placed the golden scepter in his hand. It is explained in the first midrash that six steps were constructed because Solomon foresaw that six kings would sit on the throne, namely, Solomon, Rehoboam, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah. After Solomon's death King Shishak, when taking away the treasures of the Temple (comp. 1 Kings 14:26), carried off the throne, which remained in Egypt till Sennacherib conquered that country. After Sennacherib's fall Hezekiah gained possession of it. When Josiah was slain by Pharaoh Necho the latter took it away; but, not knowing the proper use of it, he was struck by one of the lions and became lame. Nebuchadnezzar, into whose possession the throne subsequently came, shared a similar fate. The throne then passed to the Persians, with whom it remained till it came into the possession of Ahasuerus, who, however, could not sit upon it (see also Num. R. 12:21; Midr. Abba Gorion to Esther 1:2).
The glory of so great a king as Solomon would have been incomplete, in the eyes of the later rabbis, had he not had, like the Roman emperors, a magnificent circus or hippodrome; and a description of his arena is given in the second of the two mid-rashim mentioned above. According to R. Ze'era, the circus was in use one day in every month, under the successive superintendence of each of the twelve commissaries who had to provide for the king's household (comp. 1 Kings 4:7 et seq.). In the thirteenth month of an embolismic year, for which there was a special commissary (see Rashi on 1 Kings 4:19), there were no horse-races, but races were run by 10,000 young men of the tribe of Gad (or of Naphtali, according to another opinion), "the calves of whose legs were removed, rendering the runners so swift that no horse could compete with them." The hippodrome was three parasangs long and three parasangs wide, and in the middle of it were two posts surmounted by cages in which all kinds of beasts and fowls were confined. Around these posts the horses had to run eight times. As to the day of the month on which the races took placeâwhether the last day, the first, the second, or the thirdâdifferent opinions are expressed. Those favoring the last, first, and second days are supported by the fact that on those days Solomon used to flood the cisternsâon the last day of the month for the scholars and their pupils, for the priests and the Levites; on the first day for the Israelites who lived in Jerusalem; and on the second day of the month for those who lived outside that city; the water which flowed from paradise was poured into the cisterns through the mouths of two golden lions, which, besides, exhaled a very fragrant odor.
There were four companies of charioteers, each containing 4,000 men divided into smaller groups; these were placed on separate platforms arranged one above the other. Facing each company were two doors of olive-wood in which different kinds of precious stones were set, and which were decorated with gold and with all kinds of carved figures. The spectators also were divided into four groups: (1) the king with his household, the scholars, the priests, and the Levites, dressed in blue; (2) the people of Jerusalem, dressed in white; (3) the people who lived outside Jerusalem, dressed in red; and (4) the Gentiles who from distant countries brought presents to Solomon, and who were dressed in green.These four colors symbolized the four seasons of the yearâautumn, winter, spring, and summer (comp. Perles, c. notes).
Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
The meeting of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba is narrated in Targum Sheni as follows: "Solomon, when merry from wine, used to assemble before him all the kings, his vassals, and at the same time ordered all the other living creatures of the world to dance before them. One day, the king, observing that the mountain-cock or hoopoe was absent, ordered that the bird be summoned forthwith. When it arrived it declared that it had for three months been flying hither and thither seeking to discover some country not yet subjected to Solomon, and had at length found a land in the East, exceedingly rich in gold, silver, and plants, whose capital was called "Kitor" and whose ruler was a woman, known as 'the Queen of Saba [Sheba].' The bird suggested that it should fly to the queen and bring her to Solomon. The king approved this proposal; and Solomon, accordingly, caused a letter to be tied to the hoopoe's wing, which the bird delivered to the queen toward the evening as she was going out to make her devotions to the sun. Having read the letter, which was couched in somewhat severe terms, she immediately convoked a council of her ministers. Then she freighted several vessels with all kinds of treasures, and selected 6,000 boys and girls, all of the same age, stature, and dress, and sent them with a letter to Solomon, acknowledging her submission to him and promising to appear before him within three years from that date. . . . On being informed of her arrival, Solomon sent his chief minister, Benaiah, to meet her, and then seated himself in a glass pavillon. The queen, thinking that the king was sitting in water, lifted her dress, which caused Solomon to smile."
It is stated in 1 Kings 10:1 that the queen came to propound riddles to Solomon: the text of these is given by the Rabbis. A Yemenite manuscript entitled "Midrash ha-á¸¤efeáº" (published by S. Schechter in "Folk-Lore," 1890, pp. 353 et seq.) gives nineteen riddles, most of which are found scattered through the Talmud and the Midrash and which the author of the "Midrash ha-á¸¤efeáº" attributes to the Queen of Saba (Sheba). The first four riddles are also given in Midrash Mishle 1:1, where their transmission is attributed to R. Ishmael. SHEBA, QUEEN OF.
Solomon Loses His Kingship.
The Rabbis who denounce Solomon interpret 1 Kings 10:13 as meaning that Solomon had criminal intercourse with the Queen of Sheba, the offspring of which was Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed the Temple (comp. Rashi ad loc.). Solomon's champions, on the other hand, deny the whole story of the Queen of Sheba and of the riddles, and interpret the words "Malkat Sheba" as meaning "the Kingdom of Sheba"; that is to say, the kingdom of Sheba offered its submission to Solomon (B. B. 15b). According to the same rabbis, the sin ascribed to Solomon in 1 Kings 11:7 et seq. is only figurative: it is not meant that Solomon fell into idolatry, but that he was guilty of failing to restrain his wives from idolatrous practises (Shab. 56b). Still, the legend prevalent in rabbinical literature is that Solomon lost his royalty, riches, and even his reason on account of his sins. This legend is based on the words "I, á¸²ohelet, was king over Israel in Jerusalem " (Ecclesiastes 1:12, Hebr.), which show that when he uttered them he was no longer king. He gradually fell from the highest glory into the deepest misery. At first, Solomon reigned over the inhabitants of the upper world as well as over those of the lower; then only over the inhabitants of the earth; later over Israel only; then he retained only his bed and his stick; and finally his stick alone was left to him (Sanh. 20b).
Solomon and Asmodeus.
The Rabbis do not agree, however, as to whether Solomon died in poverty or returned to his throne. He "saw three worlds," which, according to one opinion; means that he was successively a private person, a king, and again a private man. According to a contrary opinion; he was king, private person, and again king (Sanh. c.; Giá¹. 68b; Eccl. R. 1:12). Solomon's ejection from the throne is stated in Ruth R. 2:14 as having occurred because of an angel who assumed his likeness and usurped his dignity. Solomon meanwhile went begging from house to house protesting that he was the king. One day a woman put before him a dish of ground beans and beat his head with a stick, saying, "Solomon sits on his throne, and yet thou claimest to be the king." Giá¹á¹in (c.) attributes the loss of the throne to Asmodeus, who, after his capture by Benaiah, remained a prisoner with Solomon. One day the king asked Asmodeus wherein consisted the demons' superiority over men; and Asmodeus replied that he would demonstrate it if Solomon would remove his chains and give him the magic ring. Solomon agreed; whereupon Asmodeus swallowed the king (or the ring, according to another version), then stood up with one wing touching heaven and the other extending to the earth, spat Solomon to a distance of 400 miles, and finally seated himself on the throne. Solomon's persistent declaration that he was the king at length attracted the attention of the Sanhedrin. That body, discovering that it was not the real Solomon who occupied the throne, placed Solomon thereon and gave him another ring and chain on which the Holy Name was written. On seeing these Asmodeus flew away (see ASMODEUS, and the parallel sources there cited). Nevertheless Solomon remained in constant fear; and he accordingly surrounded his bed with sixty armed warriors (comp. Song of Solomon 3:7). This legend is narrated in "'Emeá¸³ ha-Melek" (pp. 14d-15a; republished by Jellinek, c. 2:86-87) as follows: "Asmodeus threw the magic ring into the sea, where it was swallowed by a fish. Then he threw the king a distance of 400 miles. Solomon spent three years in exile as a punishment for transgressing the three prohibitive commandments [see above]. He wandered from city to city till he arrived at Mashkemam, the capital of the Ammonites. One day, while standing in a street of that city, he was observed by the king's cook, who took him by force to the royal kitchen and compelled him to do menial work. A few days later Solomon, alleging that he was an expert in cookery, obtained the cook's permission to prepare a new dish.The king of the Ammonites was so pleased with it that he dismissed his cook and appointed Solomon in his place. A little later, Naamah, the king's daughter, fell in love with Solomon. Her family, supposing him to be simply a cook, expressed strong disapproval of the girl's behavior; but she persisted in her wish to marry Solomon, and when she had done so the king resolved to kill them both. Accordingly at his orders one of his attendants took them to the desert and left them there that they might die of hunger. Solomon and his wife, however, escaped starvation; for they did not remain in the desert. They ultimately reached a maritime city, where they bought a fish for food. In it they found a ring on which was engraved the Holy Name and which was immediately recognized by Solomon as his own ring. He then returned to Jerusalem, drove Asmodeus away, and reoccupied his throne." It may be noticed that this story also is at variance with 1 Kings 14:21, where it appears that Solomon had married Naamah in David's lifetime. According to Midrash al-Yithallel (Jellinek, c. 6:106 et seq.), God sent Asmodeus to depose Solomon, as a punishment for the king's sin. Agreeing with Giá¹. c. as to the means by which the fraud of Asmodeus was exposed, the narrative continues as follows (Midr. al-Yithallel, c.): "Benaiah sent for Solomon, and asked him how his deposition had happened. Solomon replied that when sitting one day in his palace a storm had hurled him to a great distance and that since then he had been deprived of his reason. Benaiah then asked him for a sign, and he said: 'At the time of my coronation my father placed one of my hands in thine and the other in that of Nathan the prophet; then my mother kissed my father's head.' These facts having been ascertained to be true, Benaiah directed the Sanhedrin to write the Holy Name on pieces of parchment and to wear them on their breasts and to appear with them before the king. Benaiah, who accompanied them, took his sword and with it struck Asmodeus. Indeed, he would have killed the latter had not a bat á¸³ol cried: 'Touch him not: he only executed my commands.'"
His Final Fate.
The disagreement among the Rabbis with regard to the personality of Solomon extends also to his future life ("'olam ha-ba"). According to Rab, the members of the Great Synagogue purposed including Solomon among those denied a share in the future life, when the image of David appeared, imploring them not to do so. The vision, however, was not heeded; nor was a fire from heaven, which licked the seats on which they sat, regarded until a bat á¸³ol forbade them to do as they had purposed (Sanh. 104b; Yer. Sanh. 10:2; Cant. R. 1:1). On the other hand, Solomon is considered to resemble his father in that all his sins were forgiven by God (Cant. R. c.). Moreover, David is said to have left a son worthy of him (B. B. 116a). When R. Eliezer was asked for his opinion of Solomon's future life, he gave his pupils an evasive answer, showing that he had formed no opinion concerning it (Tosef., Yeb. 3:4; Yoma 66b; comp. Tos. ad loc.).
The Rabbis attribute to Solomon the following "taá¸³á¸³anot": 'erubin (see 'Erub); washing of hands; the recitation of the passage beginning "We-'al ha-bayit ha-gadol" and, together with David, of that beginning "U-bene Yerushalayim," both of which occur in the benediction recited after a meal (Ber. 48b; Shab. 14b; 'Er. 21b).
- Allg. Zeit. des Jud. 1890, pp.445 et seq.;
- Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, 1:350 et seq., 2:440 et seq.;
- R. FÃ¤rber, KÃ¶nig Salomon in der Tradition, Vienna, 1902;
- M. GrÃ¼nbaum, Gesammelte AufsÃ¤tze zur Sprach- und Sagenkunde, pp. 22 et seq., 167 et seq., Berlin, 1901;
- idem, Neue BeitrÃ¤ge zur Semitischen Sagenkunde, pp. 190 et seq., ib. 1893;
- E. Hoffmann, Salamon KirÃ¡ly LegendÃ¡ja, Budapest, 1890;
- Steinschneider, Hebr. Bibl. 18:38,57.
âIn Arabic Literature:
Solomon is the subject of a large number of traditions and legends in Arabic literature, in which he completely overshadows in importance his father, David. Solomon is spoken of as the messenger of God ("rasul Allah"), and is in a way a prototype of Mohammed. Hence the importance assigned to his relations with the Queen of Sheba, the submission of whose country is taken to mean the submission of Arabia. The letter addressed to her, summoning her to accept Islam, begins with the same formula ("Bi-ism Allah al-Raá¸¥man al-Raá¸¥im") as that used in the documents issued by Mohammed. The name Solomon is given to all great kings, and it is related that there were a number of Solomons, or universal kings, who lived before the creation of Adam (D'Herbelot, in "BibliothÃ¨que Orientale," 5:369).
Solomon is represented as having authority over spirits, animals, wind, and water, all of which obeyed his orders by virtue of a magic ring set with the four jewels given him by the angels that had power over these four realms. A similar ring is mentioned in stories of the "Arabian Nights." The power inherent in the ring is shown by the following story: It was Solomon's custom to take off the ring when he was about to wash, and to give it to one of his wives, Amina, to hold. On one occasion, when the ring was in Amina's keeping, the rebellious spirit Sakhr took on Solomon's form and obtained the ring. He then seated himself on the throne and ruled for forty days, during which time the real king wandered about the country, poor and forlorn. On the fortieth day Sakhr dropped the ring into the sea; there it was swallowed by a fish, which was caught by a poor fisherman and given to Solomon for his supper. Solomon cut open the fish, found the ring, and returned to power. His forty days' exile had been sent in punishment for the idolatry practised in his house for forty days, although unknown to him, by one of his wives (Koran, sura 38:33-34; Baiá¸awi, 2:187; á¹¬abri, "Annales," ed. De Goeje, 1:592 et seq.).
As a Judge.
Solomon's superiority to David is shown in his judgments. While still a child he renders decisions reversing those previously given by his father, as in the famous case, related in the Old Testament, of the two women claiming the one child. In the Arabic tradition a wolf has carried away the child of one of the women, both of whom claim a surviving child. David decides in favor of the elder woman, but Solomon starts to divide the child with a knife, whereupon the younger woman protests andreceives the child (Bokhari, "Recueil des Traditions Mahometanes," 2:364, Leyden, 1864). So in the decision regarding the sheep which has devastated a field (sura 21:78,79; Baiá¸awi, 1:621; á¹¬abari, c. 1:573), and in the judgment concerning the treasure discovered in a field after it has been sold, and which is claimed by both buyer and seller (Weil, "Biblical Legends of the Mussulmans," p. 192), Solomon's opinion is held to be superior to David's. When the judges of the realm objected to having one so young interfere in their counsels, David proposed that Solomon be examined publicly before a tribunal of lawyers. This was done, whereupon Solomon not only answered all questions as soon as they were put, but confounded his judges by asking them questions which they could not answer (Weil, c. pp. 193-196).
As a Warrior.
In Arabic tradition, unlike the Biblical and later Jewish, Solomon is a great warrior. Various warlike expeditions of his are mentioned, and it was the daughter of the conquered King of Sidon who introduced idolatry into his house. His love for horses led him to forget at one time the afternoon prayer (sura 38:30-31): he had become so much interested in inspecting a thousand horses drawn up before him that the time for prayer passed unnoticed; in repentance therefor he killed the horses. On another occasion he boasted that seventy wives would bear him seventy sons, every one of whom would be a warrior. Unfortunately he forgot to add "if God will," in consequence of which he had only one son, who was misshapen and unfit to be a soldier (Bokhari, c. 2:364; Baiá¸awi, 2:187).
Queen of Sheba.
Solomon's interview with the Queen of Sheba and the events leading up to it are narrated in great detail, as befitting their importance in the history of Islam. Solomon in a dream is advised by Abraham (according to some, after the building of the Temple) to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca. After completing this he proceeds to Yemen, being carried by the winds through the air on a green silk carpet, upon which are assembled men, beasts, and devils, while birds fly overhead in close ranks, so as to form a canopy. On the journey Solomon notices the absence of the hoopoe, or lapwing (Arabic "hudhud"), and threatens it with dire punishment. When the bird returns it appeases the king's anger by reporting the wonderful things it has beheld, telling of Queen Bilkis, her marvelous history and beauty, and of her kingdom. Solomon at once despatches the bird with a letter to Bilkis, bidding her embrace the faith or prepare to be conquered by his hosts. She devises various plans to test his reputed knowledge, but finally, being satisfied that he is all that is claimed for him and more, submits herself with her kingdom to Solomon. An account of the splendor of the reception accorded Bilkis by Solomon and of the puzzles and riddles which she propounded and he solved may be found in sura 27:15-45 and the commentaries on that passage (Baiá¸awi and Zamakhshari), in á¹¬abari, 1:576-586, and elsewhere. For other stories concerning Solomon, his dealings with the spirit Sakhr, his building of the Temple, the stone which cut stone without noise, and a comparison of Solomon with Jemshid (comp. GrÃ¼nbaum), see the works mentioned in the bibliography below.
Death of Solomon.
Solomon died at the age of fifty-three, having reigned forty years. As the building of the Temple was not finished at his death and he was afraid that the jinn would not continue to work thereon if he were not there to command them, the angel of death took his soul while he was leaning upon his staff, praying. His body remained in that position a year, until the jinn had finished the Temple, when a worm that had been gnawing at the staff caused it to crumble to pieces; Solomon's body fell, and the jinn discovered that he was dead. It is said that Solomon collected the books of magic that were scattered throughout his realm, and locked them in a box, which he put under his throne to prevent their being used. After his death the jinn, so as to make people believe that Solomon had been a sorcerer, declared that these books had been used by him; many believed the statement to be true, but the accusation was a malicious falsehood.
- Bokhari, Recueil des Traditions Mahometanes, ed. Krehl, Leyden, 1864;
- commentaries on the Koran (Baidawi and Zamakhshari);
- D'Herbelot, in BibliothÃ¨que Orientale, 5:367-375;
- M. GrÃ¼nbaum, Neue BeitrÃ¤ge zur Semitischen Sagenkunde, pp. 189-240, Leyden, 1893 (cites Arabic authors);
- Hughes, Dictionary of Islam;
- Koran, suras 21:81,82; 27:15-45; 34:11-13; 38:29-30;
- á¹¬abari, Annales, ed. De Goeje, 1:572-597 (see also Index);
- Weil, Biblical Legends of the Mussulmans, pp. 200-248.
Murder of Joab and Shimei.
The Biblical data concerning the character and deeds of Solomon are not of uniform historical value. As authentic beyond question must pass the account of his elevation to the throne (2 Samuel 12:24; 1 Kings 1:5 et seq.); the violent removal of Adonijah, the rightful heir, as well as of his supporters (ib. 1:6; 2:13 et seq., 28); and the murder of Joab and Shimei (ib. 2:36 et seq.). That in resorting to these measures Solomon merely executed his father's injunction is an afterthought (ib. 2:5 et seq.) interpolated to cleanse Solomon's memory from the stigma. This is apparent through comparison with the more trustworthy accounts of the manner in which Solomon's agents were rewarded (Benaiah, ib. 2:35, 4:4; Zadok, ib. 4:4; Nathan's sons, ib. 4:5). That Solomon showed political sagacity is authenticated by the narratives, resting on good foundations, concerning his alliances by treaty or marriage with neighboring dynasties, the erection of fortresses, and the organization of his army after Egyptian models (see Eduard Meyer, "Gesch. des Alterthums," , Â§ 319); and under him the process of absorbing the non-Hebrew aboriginal population was carried to a certain culmination which contributed not a little toward making his reign a peaceful one (1 Kings 9:20). Similarly the story of his extensive building operations (ib. 6:1, 9:11) and that of the redistricting of the empire for taxing purposes reflect actual conditions.
The Building of the Temple.
A critical sifting of the sources leaves the picture of a petty Asiatic despot, remarkable, perhaps, only for a love of luxury and for polygamous inclinations. Solomon certainly could not hinder Edom's independence under Hadad (1 Kings 11:14 et seq.)âanevent which could not have taken place at the beginning of his reign; otherwise the Hebrew king could not have sailed from Ezion-geber. The rise of Damascus (ib. 11:23 et seq.) was another fatal check to his foreign policy. His naval excursions were planned not so much with a view to promoting commerce as with an eye to securing the appointments regarded as indispensable for the proper equipment of the court of an Oriental despot (ib. 10:22,28 et seq.; 2 Chronicles 1:16 et seq.). Nor was the building of the Temple an act of particular devotion to Yhwh, as the facts show that Solomon did not scruple to erect sanctuaries to other deities (1 Kings 11:4 et seq.). These edifices contributed to the splendor of the capital, and were a source of revenue to the court; but Solomon's administration of the country, by its disregard of the old tribal units and its unequal assessment of taxes, rearoused the slumbering jealousy and discontent of the northern section, and did more than anything else to disrupt David's empire.
In the Deuteronomic Historiography.
Later, when the Temple had actually become the religious center of the Judean kingdom, its builder, Solomon, was naturally credited with the religious convictions of the age. The prayer at the dedication (ib. 8:14 et seq.) reflects the Deuteronomic prophetic point of view. The young Solomon is represented in this Deuteronomic historiography as one of the wisest of men (e.g., in the narratives of his dream and of his judgment), far famed for his wealth, which was the reward for his craving for wisdom, but still more renowned for his wonderful sagacity, his proverbs and sayings, so that the Queen of Sheba could not resist the desire to pay him a visit. According to this historiography, only after old age had robbed him of his mental powers did Solomon fall a victim to the blandishments of the alien women in his harem, and thus was held accountable for the empire's decline (ib. 11:1 et seq.).
Deuteronomy 17:14 gives a more accurate account of the conditions under Solomon. Later, the Chronicler removes every reproach from Solomon. He does not mention Adonijah's assassination, the rebellion of Hadad and Rezon, or Solomon's idolatry and polygamy. In keeping with the tendency to connect some great man with certain literary compositionsâe.g., Moses with the Law, David with the PsalmsâSolo mon now passes for the author par excellence of gnomic sayingsâof the Proverbs and even of other "Wisdom" books, Ecclesiastes, the Song of Songs, and Psalms (Psalms 72,; see comp. the Psalms of Solomon). Later rabbinical and Mohammedan lore continues along similar lines to establish Solomon as a veritable wonder of wisdom, learning, power, and Splendor (comp. Stade, "Geschichte des Volkes Israel," 1:310 et seq.).
Solomon, having been the wise king par excellence, was regarded later as the author of various works treating of all the sciences and particularly of magic. The legend of Solomon and Asmodeus (Solomon in Rabbinical Literature) was current as early as the time of Josephus, who states ("Ant." 8:2, Â§ 5) that God enabled Solomon to acquire skill to expel demons and that he left collections of incantations and directions as to the use of exorcisms (comp. Origen, "Epistola ad Mattheam," 26:63; Nicetas Choniates, "Annales," p. 95). Other writings of Solomon are quoted by Eusebius ("PrÃ¦paratio Evangelica," 9:31), Suidas (s. á¼Î¶ÎµÎºÎ¹Î±Ï), and Michael Glyeas ("Annales," 2:183), while Maimonides ("Yad," á¸²iddush ha-á¸¤odesh, , and elsewhere) ascribes to Solomon works on mathematics, and Shem-á¹¬ob Falaquera (in "Sefer ha-Ma'alot") attributes to him works on physics and theology.
The chief source of the pseudo-Solomonic works is Arabic literature, in which connection the legend that Solomon was the inventor of the Arabic and Syriac scripts is of interest. It is, indeed, supposed by the Arabs that Solomon wrote orginally in Arabic various scientific works. Abraham Jagel in the fourth part of his "Bet Ya'ar ha-Lebanon" (quoted in "Kerem á¸¤emed," 2:41 et seq.) says that Solomon wrote his scientific works in another language than Hebrew so that they might be understood by the foreign kings who came to hear his wisdom (comp. 1 Kings 5:14). Besides two works of Solomon quoted in the Zohar (see below), Johanan Allemanno enumerates in "Sha'ar ha-á¸¤esheá¸³," the introduction to his "á¸¤esheá¸³ Shelomoh," thirty works of Solomon taken chiefly from the writings of Abu Aflaá¸¥ al-Sarakosti and Apollonius of Tyana. The Arabic work of the former on palm-trees, the title of which was probably "Kitab al-Nakhlah," was translated (in the fourteenth century ?) into Hebrew under the title "Sefer ha-Tamar" or "Sefer ha Temarim." The chief authority in this work is Solomon; and the author, besides, quotes twenty aphorisms ("ma'amarim") of that king, each of which, with the exception of the first, refers to a special work. There is, however, a difference, with regard to the titles of a few works, between the "Sefer ha-Temarim" and the "Sha'ar ha á¸¤esheá¸³" as well as between the two manuscripts of the latter work. Several other works ascribed to Solomon are enumerated by Fabricius in his "Codex Pseudepigraphus Veteris Testamenti," 1:1014 et seq.
The following is a list of the pseudo-Solomonic works, beginning with those which are better known: (1) "Sifra di-Shelomoh Malka," or "The Book of King Solomon," quoted in the Zohar (1:76b et passim, 3:10b et passim). As this work is once (3:193b) referred to as "Sifra de-á¸¤okmeta di-Shelomoh Malka," e., "The Book of Wisdom of King Solomon," it would seem that the see Wisdom of Solomon is meant (comp. Wolf, "Bibl. Hebr." 3:1033). (2) "Sifra de-Ashmedai," a work quoted in the Zohar under various titles signifying respectively "The Book of Asmodeus, Which He Gave to King Solomon" (Zohar 3:194b), "The Book of Asmodeus the King (ib. 77a), "The Magic Book of Asmodeus" (ib. 3:43a), "The Magic Book Which Asmodeus Taught King Solomon" (ib. 2:128a), and, finally, "The Book Which Asmodeus Left for King Solomon" (ib. 3:19a). This work is supposed to be the book of magic containing formulas for subjugating demons and the authorship of which is so often ascribed to Solomon; it may be identical with the"Kitab al-Uhud," mentioned by D'Herbelot in his "BibliothÃ¨que Orientale" (comp. Wolf c. 3:1035). (3)"Sefer ha-Refu'ot," on medicaments. This work, which is referred to by Abu Aflah in his citation of the fourteenth of Solomon's aphorisms, is known from other sources also; thus Naá¸¥manides, also, in the introduction to his commentary on the Pentateuch mentions the "Sefer ha-Refu'ot" written by Solomon. Abraham Jagel (c.) relates that in his time there came to Rome, from the King of Armenia to Pope Clement VIII., an envoy who disparaged the European physicians, declaring that in his own country they used medical works left to them by Solomon which were more nearly complete and more systematic than the European works. Jagel thinks it is quite possible that the Armenians might possess medical works of Solomon inasmuch as they have always remained in their own country, while the Jews, being driven from one country to another, would be likely to lose them. It is very likely that this is the book of medicine which Hezekiah concealed (Hezekiah in Rabbinical Literature).
The "ClaviculÃ¦ Salomonis."
Closely connected with the last-mentioned work is (4) "Sefer Raziel," as at the end of the description of the book of medicine transmitted by the angel Raziel to Noah (Jellinek, "B. H." 3:160; see Noah in Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature) it is said: "To Solomon was revealed the book of secrets ["Sefer ha-Razim"] by means of which he ruled over demons and everything in the world" (see RAZIEL, BOOK OF). It seems that the authority who ascribed the "Book of Raziel" to Solomon confounded "Sefer Raziel" and "Sefer-ha-Razim." (5) "Mafteaá¸¥ Shelomoh," containing incantations, and mentioned by Gedaliah ibn Yaá¸¥ya ("Shalshelet ha-Kabbalah, p. 80a, Amsterdam, 1697) as extant in Hebrew. This work exists in various translations (Latin, French, Italian, and German), and consists mainly of two parts: the first containing secrets useful for every kind of divination; the second, different kinds of pentacles. The title in the Latin and German translations is "ClaviculÃ¦ Salomonis," extended in the German translation of 1626 to "ClaviculÃ¦ Salomonis et Theosophia Pneumatica." In the Latin translation is a long introduction in the form of a dialogue between Solomon and his son Rehoboam in which the title of the work is cited as "Secretum Secretorum" (Secret of Secrets). "But," Solomon says, "I named it also Cla vicula,' because, like a key which opens a treasure, so this work introduces thee into the magical arts." The introduction says further that when the Babylonian philosophers decided to renew Solomon's tomb, they found therein this work, enclosed in an ivory case; but that none of them could understand it, they being unworthy to possess it. Then one of them, the Greek Zoe, proposed that they should fast and pray to God for intelligence. Zoe alone, however, carried out this proposal; and an angel revealed to him the mysteries of the book.
Works Indorsed by the Sages.
The following four works are mentioned by Allemanno as quoted by Apollonius: (6) "Beá¸¥irat ha-Middot," on the choice of attributes, perhaps identical with the "Sefer ha-Beá¸¥irot" quoted by Abu Aflaá¸¥. (7) "Ha-Mar'ot ha-Elyonot" (The Upper Mirrors). (8) "Yemli'ush" (?). (9) "Melakah Elohit," or "The Divine Work." All these four works are supposed to have been written by Solomon at the angels dictation. Steinschneider thinks that the "Melakah Elohit" was composed by Apollonius himself, and that it may be identical with the work cited by Allemanno in another passage of the "Sha'ar ha-á¸¤esheá¸³"as "Meleket Muskelet." According to Sylvestre de Sacy (in "Notices et Extraits des Manuscrits Arabes," 4:119), the full Arabic title of this work is "Sirr al-Khaliá¸³ah wa-á¹¢ana'at al-á¹¬abi'ah" (The Secret of Creation and the Work of Nature). It is therefore identical with a work which is ascribed to Solomon and the Hebrew title of which is "Sod ha-á¹¬ib'im," mentioned in Jacob ProvenÃ§al's responsum published in the "Dibre á¸¤akamim" (Metz, 1849) of Eliezer Ashkenazi. (10)"Sefer ha-Miáºpon," a work on alchemy. The other works quoted by Abu Aflaá¸¥ are: (11) "Sefer ha-Nisyonot," on experiments; (12)"Sefer-ha-Ziá¸³nah," on old age; (13) "Sefer ha-Meshalim," on parables; (14) "Sefer ha-Shelemut," on perfection; (15) "Sefer ha-Ma'ala lim," or "The Book of Works", (16) "Sefer ha-Yiá¸¥ud," on unity; (17) "Sefer ha-Derishah," on research; (18) "Sefer á¸²eri'at ha-Shemirah," on the observance of certain customs; (19) "Sefer ha-Raáºon," on the will; (20) "Sefer Gillui ha-Shaá¸³rut," on the detection of falsehood; (21) "Sefer ha-Yashar"; (22) "Sefer-ha-Baá¸³á¸³ashah," on supplication, missing in Allemanno's list; (23) "Sefer ha-Emunah," on faith; (24) "Sefer ha-Beá¸¥irot" (comp. No. 6); (25) "Sefer ha-Nebu'ah," on prophecy, not mentioned by Steinschneider; (26) "Sefer Shemirut ha-Zeruz," on promptness; (27) "Sefer Kittot ha-á¸¤akamim," on the various sects of wise men; (28) "Sefer-ha-Takliyot," on the end of all things. Allemanno calls attention to three works of Solomon particularly recommended by sages, one of which is the "Sefer Raziel" (see No. 4) and the other two are (29) "Meleket Mushkelet" (comp. No. 9), and (30) "Sefer ha-Almadil." This title, probably from the Arabic "al-mudhil" (= "the secret revealer"), figures in the Latin manuscript No. 765 of the Leipsic Library ("Catalogo KÃ¼htzii," No. 11) as "Almodal de Duodecim Choris Angelorum in Aquis Supra-CÅlestibus." Wolf (c. 1:111) calls the work "Almandel," deriving it from the Arabic "al-mandal" (= "a circle"), that is to say, the circle described by magicians on the ground and in the center of which they sit when in voking demons. The Leipsic catalogue enumerates the following works by Solomon: (31) Speculum Salomonis" (in German), on metallurgy (comp. No. 7); (32) "Preparatio Speculi Salomonis Insignis," also in German; (33) "Semiphoras" (), that is to say, the Tetragrammaton, a treatise in German on the unutterable name of God; (34) "Septem Sigilla Planetarum"; (35) "Anelli Negromantici dal Salomone" (in Italian), on necromancy; (36) "Verum Chaldaicum Vinculum," also with the German title "Wahrhafte Zubereitung des so Genanten Cinguli Salomonis oder Salomons Schlange"; (37) "Beschwerungen der Olympischen Geister"(38) "Salomonis Trismosini," called in the Leyden catalogue (p. 367) "Criszmosin," and described as a treatise on colors; Wolf (c. 4:983), however, describes it as a cabalistic work.
Albertus Magnus in his "Speculum Astrologicum" (quoted by Fabricius, c. p. 1051) mentions the following four works of Solomon's: (39) "Liber Quatuor-Annulorum" (40) "De Novem Candariis [Candelariis ?]"; (41) "De Tribus Figuris Spirituum"; "De Sigillis ad DÃ¦moniacos." Trithemius (in Fabricius, c. p. 1052) mentions: (42) "LamenÃ©" (?), perhaps identical with No. 8; (43) "Liber Pentaculorum," probably identical with No. 5; (44) "De Officiis Spirituum"; (45) "De Umbris Idearum"; (46) "Hygromantia ad Filium Roboam"; (47) Î¤á½¼Î½ Î£Î¿Î»Î¿Î¼ÏÎ½Î±Îºá¿¶Î½ ÎÏÎ´Î·ÏÎ¹Ï, mentioned by Fabricius (c. pp. 1046, 1056) from other sources; (48) "Somnia Salomonis" (Venice, 1516); and (49) "Liber de Lapide, Philosophico" (Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1625).
See also Psalms of Solomon; SOLOMON, TESTAMENT OF; and Wisdom of Solomon.
- Benjacob, Oáºar ha-Sefarim, p.191, No. 640;
- Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphicus, 1:1014 et seq., Hamburg and Leipsic, 1718;
- I. S. Reggio, in Kerem Hemed, 2:41 et seq.;
- Steinschneider, in Ha-Karmel, 6:116,125;
- idem, in Cat. Bodl. cols. 2289-2303;
- Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. , No. 1967; , No. 1967;
- Winer, B. R. s. Salomoh.
These files are public domain.
Singer, Isidore, Ph.D, Projector and Managing Editor. Entry for 'Solomon'. 1901 The Jewish Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tje/​s/solomon.html. 1901.