You told the prophet Samuel not to look at the person, but at his heart (1 Sam 16:7), so I understand that even though Solomon sinned by worshiping in high places, You knew that his heart was right, and that’s what matters to You.
The Princes of Israel in Solomon’s Reign
It’s not what we do, but why we do it and where are heart was at.
So king Solomon was king over all Israel (1 Kgs 4:1).
And he had many princes, scribes, a recorder, priests, and a household (1 Kgs 4:2-6).
And Solomon had twelve officers over all Israel, which provided victuals for the king and his household: each man his month in a year made provision (1 Kgs 4:7-19).
Solomon had many people in his kingdom, he reigned over all kingdoms from the river to the land of the Philistines to the border of Egypt.
“And Solomon’s provision for one day was thirty measures of fine flour, and threescore measures of meal,
Ten fat oxen, and twenty oxen out of the pastures, and an hundred sheep, beside harts, and roebucks, and fallowdeer, and fatted fowl.
For he had dominion over all the region on this side the river, from Tiphsah even to Azzah, over all the kings on this side the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him.
And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.
And those officers provided victual for king Solomon, and for all that came unto king Solomon’s table, every man in his month: they lacked nothing.
Barley also and straw for the horses and dromedaries brought they unto the place where the officers were, every man according to his charge” (1 Kgs 4:22-28).
Solomon excelled in wisdom and a caring heart that God gave him. He was wiser than all men, and his fame was in all the nations. He spoke 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs.
He had complete knowledge of trees from the cedar tree to the hyssop, all beasts, fowls, creeping things, and fish. And all kings of the earth came to hear his wisdom.
David had wanted to build a cedar house for the Lord but He had told him that his hands were bloody so he would have Solomon build His house, which was patterned after the tabernacle.
Hiram, the king of Tyre, who was a very close friend to David, sent his servants and cedar and fir to help, and Solomon gave Hiram 20,000 measures of wheat (about 125,000 bushels) and 20 measures of pure oil year by year.
Solomon then raised a levy (forced laborers) of 30,000 men and he sent them to Lebanon. And he had 70,000 that bare burdens, 80,000 hewers in the mountains (non-Hebrews). And 3,300 men that ruled over the people that did the work on the house.
They also brought great stones, costly stones, and hewed stones to lay the foundation of the house, each stone was approximately 15 X 12 feet in diameter.
They didn’t begin building the house until Solomon had been king for four years (c. 966 B.C.), which was 480 years since Moses rescued the Israelites from Egypt.
The house was 90 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 45 feet tall. The porch before the temple of the house was 30 X 15 feet. The windows were narrow lights, and against the wall were chambers that went all around, both of the temple and of the oracle.
The nethermost chamber was 7½ X 9 X 10½ feet. He also made narrowed rests round about, that the beams shouldn’t be fastened in the walls.
This was done so there would be no holes in the temple wall, being built with a series of ledges on which the beams for the three floor of side chambers rested.
They didn’t use hammers, axes, or any iron tools to build the house. There was a winding staircase that led up to the middle chamber and out into the third.
When he finished the house he covered it with beams and boards of cedar, then he build chambers against all the house that was 7½ feet high.
“And the word of the Lord came to Solomon, saying,
Concerning this house which thou art in building, if thou wilt walk in my statutes, and execute my judgments, and keep all my commandments to walk in them; then will I perform my word with thee, which I spake unto David thy father:
And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel” (1 Kgs 6:11-13).
The walls inside the house were made of cedar and covered the floor with planks of fir. On the side of the house was the oracle and holy places which were 30 feet and built with cedar, but the temple before it was 60 feet.
The cedar of the house was carved with knops and open flowers (these carvings were not in violation of the 2nd commandment (Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image…Ex 20:4) because they were not made to worship, but to beautify God’s house. And there was no stone seen.
The Ark of the Covenant was set in the oracle and the forepart of it was 30 X 30 X 30 feet and was overlaid with pure gold, and the altar was covered with cedar. He then had the inside and outside walls, the floor, and the altar, covered with pure gold, and he made a partition before the oracle.
Within the oracle he made two cherubim’s of olive trees that were 15 feet high and each wing spread out 7½ feet, the cherubims were also covered in pure gold. There were carved figures of cherubims, palm trees, and open flowers.
There were two doors made of fir that had two leaves and they also had carvings of cherubims, palm trees, and open flowers.
An inner court with three rows was of hewed stone and a row of cedar beams.
“In the fourth year was the foundation of the house of the Lord laid, in the month Zif:
And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it” (1 Kgs 6:37-38).
“Solomon also built himself a house which took 13 years, almost twice as long. He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon (Four rows of cedar pillars in the palace created the impression of a great forest)” (1 Kgs 7:2).
It had three stories and was 150 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high. It was covered with cedar, the windows were set in three to a row, all the doors and posts were square, with the windows.
The fashion that the windows and doors were made let the light from one area reflect onto another. The porch was 75 X 45 feet. Then he made another porch for the throne where he might Judge people, and it was covered with cedar.
The part where he lived had another court within the porch that was made like the other one. He also made a house for his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter.
All these were made of costly stones and hewed out and sawed with saws. The fountain was 15 X 12 feet. The great court that was built to go all around was like the one in God’s house.
“And king Solomon sent and fetched Hiram out of Tyre.
He was a widow’s son of the tribe of Naphtali, and his father was a man of Tyre, a worker in brass: and he was filled with wisdom, and understanding, and cunning to work all works in brass. And he came to king Solomon, and wrought all his work” (1 Kgs 7:13-14).
Hiram made two pillars of brass that were 27 feet high and 12 feet apart. He made two five foot high chapters (capital of the pillars) of molten brass that was placed on the pillars.
Nets of checker work and wreathes of chain work was done for the chapters and placed on top of the pillars, seven for each, with pomegranates at the very top. He named the pillars, one Jachin and the other Boaz.
He then made a molten sea, a reservoir of water that corresponds to the bronze laver made for the tabernacle (Ex 30:17-21; 38:8) that was used for by the priests for ritual cleansing.
The diameter of the molten sea was 15 X 7½ X 45 feet, two rows of knops surrounded it, and was set on 12 oxen, a set of 3 looking in each direction. The thickness of it was the width of a human’s open hand, and it contained 2,000 baths.
He made 10 bases of brass that were 6 x 6 x 4½ feet, and there were borders between the ledges that contained lions, oxen, and cherubims. Each base had four brazen wheels and plates of brass, and the four corners had under setters.
Under the borders were four wheels that were like wheels of a chariot, and the axletrees of the wheels were joined to the base, the height being two feet.
There were four under setters to the four corners of one base, which were of the very base itself. In the top was a round compass that was nine inches high and on the top of the base were borders.
On the plates of the ledges and borders cherubims, lions, and palm trees were carved. He then made 10 lavers of brass that were six feet, each containing 40 baths.
He put five bases on the right side of the house and five on the left, and he put the molten sea on the right side of the house that faced the south-east.
“And Hiram made the lavers, and the shovels, and the basons. So Hiram made an end of doing all the work that he made king Solomon for the house of the Lord:
The two pillars, and the two bowls of the chapiters that were on the top of the two pillars; and the two networks, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters which were upon the top of the pillars;
And four hundred pomegranates for the two networks, even two rows of pomegranates for one network, to cover the two bowls of the chapiters that were upon the pillars” (1 Kgs 7:40-42).
“And Solomon made all the vessels that pertained unto the house of the Lord: the altar of gold, and the table of gold, whereupon the shewbread was,
And the candlesticks of pure gold, five on the right side, and five on the left, before the oracle, with the flowers, and the lamps, and the tongs of gold,
And the bowls, and the snuffers, and the basons, and the spoons, and the censers of pure gold; and the hinges of gold, both for the doors of the inner house, the most holy place, and for the doors of the house, to wit, of the temple.
So was ended all the work that king Solomon made for the house of the Lord. And Solomon brought in the things which David his father had dedicated; even the silver, and the gold, and the vessels, did he put among the treasures of the house of the Lord” (1 Kgs 7:47-51).
David had conquered many of the strong cities of Palestine that were previously unconquered, such as Beth-sham and Jerusalem. The Jezreel Valley, the Shephelah, all of Galilee, and the Transjordan.
Ammon, Moab, Edom, and certain Aramean kingdoms paid homage to David by sending tribute to the court at Jerusalem. David confined the Philistines to the southern coast and maintained friendly relations with Phoenicia.
By the time of his death about 960 B.C., David had carved out a kingdom of considerable proportions and placed Israel on the political map. Equally important, David created the machinery that carried out the day-to-day administration of his kingdom.
Several lists of officials found in the biblical record provide a glimpse of the inner working of David’s kingdom (2 Sam 8:16-18; 1 Chr 18:15-17; 27:32-34).
The Reign of Solomon (960-922 B.C.)
The golden era of Solomon’s reign brought Israel four decades of peace and prosperity, built upon David’s military success Solomon inherited a kingdom whose borders stretched from Gaza into central Syria.
This mastery gave him control of important segments of the major trade routes, the International Coastal Highway and the King’s Highway. Solomon used these vital arteries, ultimately touching all the Near East, to create a network of trade relationships that funneled enormous wealth through his kingdom.
Solomon expended his new wealth on an ambition building program that gave Israel the outward trappings of an important political power.
Our major sources for this period include 1 Kgs 3-11 and 2 Chronicles 1-9, but archaeology has also cast light on the material culture Solomon fashioned.
Solomon’s Economic Policies
Solomon treaded out into international waters through his economic policies. The extent of his international contacts is suggested by the 700 wives and 300 Concubines found in his royal harem.
King customarily sealed political alliances by accepting in marriage a member of the other royal household. Solomon numbered Ammonite, Edomite, Moabite, Hittite, and Phoenician women within his care (1 Kg 11:1).
An unnamed Egyptian king of the weak 21st Dynasty also sent a daughter to the court at Jerusalem, presenting Solomon the city of Gezer as her dowry (1 Kg 9:16).
These wide-ranging alliances provided many economic opportunities for an entrepreneur like Solomon.
First Kings 3-11 hints at several trade relationships Solomon established. Undoubtedly, Solomon’s most lucrative commercial ventures came through his Phoenician connection.
Following David’s lead, Solomon maintained strong ties with the Phoenician king of Tyre, Hiram. The Phoenicians were among the ancient world’s most able seamen and merchants.
From 1000 B.C. onward, Phoenician ships sailed out of their ports on the modern Lebanese coast in search of trade goods. The Phoenicians established coastal trading colonies throughout the Mediterranean basin, some as far away as Spain.
The principal Phoenician home ports – Tyre, Sidon, Byblos, and Arvad – served as clearinghouses for the world’s commodities.
Solomon wisely entered a joint trading venture with Hiram that became mutually beneficial for both parties. With Hiram’s help Solomon built a new port facility and stationed a fleet at Ezion-geber on the Gulf of Aqaba. Since Israel had no previous seafaring experience, Hiram provided the skilled craftsmen and experienced sailors necessary to maintain and operate the fleet (1 Kg 9:26-28; 10:11-12, 22).
The ships plied the Red Sea, sailing to Ophir and returning with enormous quantities of gold along with exotic animals, woods, silver, and precious stones.
An inscription from Tell Qasile mentions the gold of Ophir, although the exact location of the land remains uncertain. Some scholars locate Ophir on the east African coast, Somaliland, while others place the legendary land of gold in Saudi Arabia.
Judging from the list of goods brought back by Solomon’s ships, the fleet touched several ports along both the coast of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The Phoenicians gained access to new markets and the land routes Solomon controlled, while Solomon added sea trade to his economic activities.
The famous visit of the queen of Sheba also undoubtedly had trade overtones. Sheba was one of several small kingdoms located in the Arabian Peninsula known for their spices, perfumes, precious stones, and gold.
These isolated principalities needed market outlets for their goods. Solomon’s control of the trade routes offered the camel caravans of Sheba access to the opulent courts of the Levant and beyond.
Solomon also became a “broker,” handling military hardware. According to 1 Kings, Solomon imported horses from Kue (Que,later called Cilicia) in southeastern Turkey, a region noted for its fine steeds. Egypt supplied Solomon with war chariots. Solomon deployed 1,400 chariots throughout his kingdom for national defense, but evidently sold the surplus to Aramean and Hittite kings (1 Kg 10:26-29).
Solomon’s Building Program
With his newfound wealth Solomon sponsored a building program designed to strengthen his kingdom and provide the outward trappings of a royal court suitable to Israel’s new status.
The Bible contains frequent references to his extensive constructions, while archaeology has provided additional evidence illuminating Israel’s earliest attempts at monumental architecture. Excavations have revealed a burst of building activity in the 900s, most likely attributable to Solomon.
The evidence suggests that Solomon drew freely upon foreign architectural traditions, especially Phoenician and Aramean, and may have employed a royal architect his execute his plans.
Solomon rebuilt several strategic strongholds that guarded the major routes and functioned as a key administrative centers.
First Kings 9:15 gives special prominence to Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer. All three were ancient Canaanite cities located at strategic points on the International Coastal Highway.
Solomon’s architects encircled each city with a new casemate wall entered by an imposing six-chambered gate.
Archaeology has revealed a string of small fortresses and agricultural settlements (Ramat Matred, Baalath-beer) built in the 10th century to protect the caravan routes and secure the southern limits of Solomon’s kingdom.
Substantial building took place at Arad and Beer-sheba also. Particularly interesting is the small temple at Arad constructed in the 10th century.
These excavated materials indicate that Solomon’s building program outside of Jerusalem was more extensive than even the Bible records. The Bible gives considerable attention to the building activities of David and Solomon in Jerusalem (1 Kg 5-9; 2 Chr 2-4; 8).
Jerusalem: City of David & Solomon
When David captured Jerusalem and made it his capital it acquired an unprecedented position among biblical cities. Over the span of the previous two decades, archaeologists have increased our knowledge of Jerusalem dramatically.
Excavations conducted byBenjamin Mazar, Nahman Avigad, Yigael Shiloh, Kathleen Kenyon, Magen Broshi, and many others have disclosed new information, settling old questions and raising new ones.
Excavating Jerusalem has not been an easy task; many gaps in our knowledge of the city’s history remain. The numerous destructions of the city, rebuilding and reuse of material, quarrying activities, and erosion throughout the ages have disturbed or destroyed the evidence sought by archaeologists.
The fact that Jerusalem was built on ridges, unlike most ancient cities, and the fact that Jerusalem is still an occupied city further complicates the task of reconstructing history through archaeology.
Nonetheless, we now have a much better understanding of how Jerusalem developed.