Biblical King Solomon - Interesting Facts

King Solomon was the last of the Biblical kings of the United Monarchy period. He was that child of King David and Bathsheba, chosen to be David's successor, even though he wasn't the oldest son.

Solomon is thought to have had hundreds of wives and concubines, and to have maintained mostly peaceful relations with his neighbors during the decades of his reign.

Solomon has been credited with writing Ecclesiastes, Proverbs, and Song of Songs in the Old Testament.

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Solomon at his throne, painting by Andreas Brugger, 1777
Solomon at his throne, painting by Andreas Brugger, 1777. By Painting: Andreas Brugger; Photo: Andreas Praefcke (Own work (own photograph)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Basics on King Solomon, including the meaning of his name and the name used in I Chronicles

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Image ID: 1625070 [Side view of Solomon's temple as reconstructed in 1810] (1810)
Image ID: 1625070 [Side view of Solomon's temple as reconstructed in 1810] (1810). © NYPL Digital Gallery

Prior to Solomon's financing the construction of the First Temple on the mount in Jerusalem, the sacred articles were housed in a moveable tabernacle. The First Temple was destroyed about 350 years later. Nothing remains of the building, although descriptions in I Kings provide some clues.

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Image ID: 1622921 [God comes to Solomon in a dream and imparts great wisdom to him]
Image ID: 1622921[God comes to Solomon in a dream and imparts great wisdom to him]. NYPL Digital Gallery

Solomon was renowned for his wisdom, which was granted him in a dream dialogue with Yahweh. Solomon's wisdom may appear a bit different from that of other ancient sages, but like the Socratic philosophers, he wanted to do what was right.

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Image ID: 1622925 Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
Image ID: 1622925 Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. NYPL Digital Gallery

Solomon and Sheba are sexually linked in the popular imagination -- it makes a better story than what appears in the canonical Books of the Old Testament. There Solomon and Sheba's encounter has as much romance as any encounter between Trojan War hero Odysseus or his son, Telemachus, and the local lords whose islands they visited: see, for example, Odyssey Book XV.

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Solomon With His Women Meets the Queen of Sheba
Solomon With His Women Meets the Queen of Sheba. Image ID: 1622915 (1890). © NYPL Digital Gallery

The wife of Solomon, when mentioned in the singular, is the daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh, but Solomon had hundreds more. No wonder people look to the Queen of Sheba as just one in the long series.

It was the wives of Solomon who led the king into idolatry, according to the Old Testament.