King Solomons Reign Israels Golden Years

by Mario Seiglie

In earlier issues The Good News has discussed various archaeological finds that illuminate and verify the biblical record. In this issue, we focus on the reign of Solomon, successor of David as king of Israel.

Once David had consolidated the Israelite empire, under the guidance of God he chose his son Solomon to be his successor. The reign of this young man became truly legendary. Under Solomon's rule Israel reached the pinnacle of wealth and power. Tragically, the glory of Solomon's kingdom barely outlasted his own lifetime.

What has archaeology revealed about King Solomon's reign in the 10th century B.C.? Remarkably, there is much evidence to corroborate the biblical account.

Unusual period of peace

What does the Bible say about the wider international condition during Solomon's time? God had told David: "Behold, a son shall be born to you, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies all around. His name shall be Solomon [meaning 'peaceful'], for I will give peace

What has archaeology revealed about King Solomon's reign in the 10th century B.C.? Remarkably, there is much evidence to corroborate the biblical account.

Hazor Excavations Images

This aerial view of excavations at Hazor shows construction from Solomon's time. The same construction methods for the city gate were discovered at Hazor as at Megiddo and Gezer, confirming the account that Solomon constructed fortifications at these three cities (1 Kings 9:15).

and quietness to Israel in his days" (1 Chronicles 22:9, emphasis added throughout).

Was this a time of peace in Israel? What do the archaeological records show? From contemporary Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions, we find these once-powerful kingdoms afflicted by military weakness.

Assyria was occupied with constant battles against the Arameans. Internal strife over dynastic disputes further weakened the kingdom. "These Assyrian preoccupations," states Donald Wiseman, professor of Assyriology, "left David and Solomon free to extend their own territory into south Syria. The intruders from the Syrian desert impoverished Assyria under the aged Ashurnasirpal I ..." (The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1979, Vol. 1, p. 334). Meanwhile, the Assyrians held the Babylonians in check, blocking any Chaldean intrusion into Israelite territory.

On Israel's southern flank, the Egyptians were also experiencing a general decline. Commenting on the beginning of this long period of weakness, one authority observes: "After the empire [of the previous centuries], Egypt never regained her former dominance in the eastern Mediterranean world ... In large part this foreign weakness arose from domestic weakness. Egypt kept breaking up into smaller states ... From the time of Samuel to the fall of the kingdom of Israel, Egypt was normally in a state of divided weakness" (The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon, Nashville,1962, Vol. 2, p. 52).

This international backdrop is faithfully reflected in the biblical account. In fact, the weak priestly dynasty ruling Egypt made great concessions to Solomon because of his increasing power and influence.

Opinion among scholars is divided over which pharaoh was Solomon's contemporary. Eugene Merrill believes it was Siamun. "... Siamun soon realized that Solomon was to be ruler of a kingdom which would rival or even exceed his own in power and influence. He therefore decided it was to his best advantage to cultivate amicable relations with the

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