young monarch, even to the extent of recognizing him as an equal. That this is the case is clear from his willingness to provide his own daughter as a wife for Solomon, a concession almost without parallel in Egyptian history since it was a candid admission to the world of Egypt's weakness and conciliation. Normally Egyptian kings took foreign princesses but did not give up their own daughters to foreign kings" (Kingdom of Priests, Baker, Grand Rapids, 1987, p. 292. Compare to David Rohl, A Test of Time: The Bible—From Myth to History, Arrow Books, London, 1996, pp. 173-185).
It is clear from the history of the neighboring countries that an unusual era of peace enveloped Israel, enabling Solomon to greatly develop and enrich his nation through many profitable commercial alliances.
Prosperous alliance with Phoenicia
Not only did Solomon lack foreign enemies, he found a powerful ally in King Hiram, a faithful friend of his father, David.
"Now Hiram king of Tyre sent his servants to Solomon, because he heard that they had anointed him king in place of his father, for Hiram had always loved David ... So the Lord gave Solomon wisdom, as He had promised him; and there was peace between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty together " (1 Kings 5:1,12).
Regarding this treaty, a thousand years later the Jewish historian Josephus noted that copies of this alliance could be read in the public archives in Tyre. "The copies of these epistles," writes Josephus, "remain at this day, and are preserved not only in our books, but among the Tyrians also; insomuch that if any one would know the certainty about them, he may desire of the keepers of the public records of Tyre to shew him them, and he will find what is there set down to agree with what we have said" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book VIII, Chapter II, Section 7).
In Solomon's day, the Israelites were just beginning to clearly define their own culture. To initiate such vast projects as the temple (see G. Ernest Wright, "The Stevens' Reconstruction of the Solomonic Temple," Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 18,
1955, pp. 41-44), fortified towns and maritime trade, Solomon could have found no more enterprising a people to help than the Phoenicians.
One author explains, "Solomon was a thoroughly progressive ruler. He had a flair for exploiting foreign brains and foreign skill and turning them to his own advantage. That was the secret, otherwise scarcely understandable, of how the [nation] ... developed by leaps and bounds into a first class economic organism. Here also was to be found the secret of his wealth which the Bible emphasises. Solomon imported smelting technicians from Phoenicia. Huram . . . , a crafftsman from Tyre, was entrusted with the casting of the Temple furnishings (1 Kings 7:13,14). In Ezion-Geber Solomon founded an important enterprise for overseas trade . . . The Phoenicians had behind them practical experience accumulated over many centuries. Solomon therefore sent to Tyre for specialists for his dockyards and sailors for his ships: 'And Hiram sent in the navy his servants, ship-men that had knowledge of the sea...' (1 Kings 9:27)" (Werner Keller, The Bible As History, Bantam, New York, 1980, pp. 211-212. On Ezion-Geber, see Gary D. Pratico, "Where Is Ezion-Geber?", Biblical
Archaeology Review, September/October 1986, pp. 24-35; Alexander Flinder, "Is This Solomon's Seaport?", Biblical Archaeology Review, July/August 1989, pp. 31-42).
Archaeologists who have studied the remains of Solomon's time clearly see the Phoenician influence which the Bible, instead of hiding the facts, candidly admits. "Where the Israelites replaced Canaanite towns, the quality of housing was noticeably poorer," says The New Bible Dictionary, "though standards improved rapidly in the days of David and Solomon, partly through Phoenician influence ... The
Temple Mount is disputed between Arabs and Jews, no excavations are permitted in the immediate area where Solomon's temple existed. But the Bible mentions three other cities that Solomon expanded and fortified. Does any archaeological evidence support the biblical record?
The first city mentioned is Hazor, a northern Israelite habitation that was lost in time until a century ago. The first extensive excavations were done under the direction of archaeologist Yigael Yadin in the 1950s. He writes about Hazor, "What I'm about to say may sound like something out of a
An artist's rendering depicts Solomon's magnificent temple, constructed on a hill above Jerusalem (inset) as a permanent home for the ark of the covenant. The ark rested in the Holy of Holies, a room at the rear ofthe tem- i ■
huge bronze basin used for cleansing rituals.
commonest-type house . . . has become known generally as the four-room house, which appears to be an original Israelite concept" (Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1982, p. 490).
Throughout Israel, Solomon fortified the great cities: "And this is the reason for the labor force which King Solomon raised: to build the house of the Lord, his own house, the Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer" (1 Kings 9:15).
Regarding Jerusalem, as long as the detective story, but it's true. Our great guide was the Bible. As an archaeologist, I can't imagine anything more exciting than to work with the Bible in one hand and a spade in the other. This was the real secret of our discovery of the Solomonic period" (Hazor, Random House, New York, 1975, p. 187).
Yadin found the elaborate and sturdy main gate and part of the wall, which archaeologists now call the Solomonic style of architecture. Eventually, he found the same Solomonic-type gate in all three of the cities mentioned in the Bible.
Megiddo in 1993, archaeologists Israel Finkelstein and David Ussishkin report, "The grandeur of Solomon's Megiddo is clearly evident in the archaeological finds at Megiddo—in large palaces, with fine, smooth-faced ashlar masonry and in elaborate decorative stonework" ("Back to Megiddo," Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1994, p. 36).
Archaeologist Bryant Wood sums up the discoveries: "Probably the most famous of the architectural finds related to the kingdom period are the early tenth-century 'Solomonic gates' at Megiddo, Hazor and Gezer, built by David's son Solomon ..." ("Scholars Speak Out," Biblical Archaeology Review,May/June 1995, p. 34). So the biblical account accords nicely with the archaeological evidence.
Enter the queen of Sheba
One of the most colorful accounts about Solomon is relegated to myth by some scholars. It concerns the visit of the queen of Sheba.
"Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels that bore spices, very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she spoke with him about all that was in her heart. So Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing so difficult for the king that he could not explain it to her . . .
"Then she said to the king: 'It was a true report which I heard in my own land about your words and your wisdom. However I did not believe the words until I came and saw with my own eyes; and indeed the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity exceed the fame of which I heard. Happy are your men and happy are these your servants, who stand continually before you and hear your wisdom! Blessed be the Lord your God ...' Then she gave the king one hundred and twenty talents of gold, spices in great quantity, and precious stones. There never again came such abundance of spices as the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon" (1 Kings 10:1-10).
This story has been the inspiration for many paintings and movies, but does it have
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