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King of Israel
Judgement of Solomon.jpg
Judgment of Solomon
Nineteenth century engraving by Gustave Doré
Reign 971 - 931 BCE
Born c.1011 BCE
Birthplace Jerusalem
Died c.932 BCE
Place of death Jerusalem
Predecessor David
Successor Rehoboam
Consort Naamah, Pharaoh's Daughter, 99 other wives
Offspring Rehoboam
Royal House House of David
Father David
Mother Bathsheba

Solomon (Hebrew: שְׁלֹמֹה, Modern Šəlomo or Šlomo Tiberian Šəlōmōh, Arabic: سليمانSulaymān; Greek: Σαλωμων; Latin: Salomon) was, according to the Hebrew Bible, a King of Israel. In the Qur'an he is described as a Prophet, son of Dawood and known as Sulaiman. The biblical accounts identify Solomon as the son of David.[1] He is also called Jedidiah in 2 Samuel 12:25, and is described as the third king of the United Monarchy, and the final king before the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah split; following the split his patrilineal descendants ruled over Judah alone.

The Bible accredits Solomon as the builder of the First Temple in Jerusalem,[1] and portrays him as great in wisdom, wealth, and power, but ultimately as a king whose sin, including idolatry and turning away from God, leads to the kingdom being torn in two during the reign of his son Rehoboam.[2] Solomon is the subject of many other later references and legends.

Biblical account

A reconstruction of the ancient Middle East, as how the area may have been seen through the eyes of the ancient Israelites.


Solomon's father was David, king of the united Kingdom of Israel with Bathsheba. Solomon had many siblings including Amnon, who was killed on the order of their half-brother, Absalom, for raping Absolom's sister, Tamar. (2 Samuel 13:1-29) Absalom was killed in the Battle of Ephraim Wood, and Adonijah, who had tried to usurp the throne, was put to death. (1 Kings 2:13-25)


Solomon had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines. The wives are described as foreign princesses, including Pharaoh's daughter and women of Moab, Ammon, Sidon and of the Hittites. These wives are depicted as leading Solomon astray.[3] The only wife that is mentioned by name is Naamah, who is described as the Ammonite.[4] She was the mother of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam.


Solomon became king after the death of his father David. According to the biblical First Book of Kings, when David was " old and advanced in years" "he could not get warm." [5] "So they sought for a beautiful young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king."[5]

While David was in this state Adonijah, David's fourth son, acted to have himself declared king, he being heir-apparent to the throne after the death of his elder brothers Amnon and Absalom. But Bathsheba, a wife of David and Solomon's mother, along with the prophet Nathan induced David to proclaim Solomon king. Adonijah fled and took refuge at the altar, and received pardon for his conduct from Solomon on the condition that he show himself "a worthy man" (1 Kings 1:5-53).

Adonijah asked to marry Abishag the Shunammite, but Solomon denied authorization for such an engagement, although Bathsheba now pleaded on Adonijah's behalf. He was then seized and put to death (1 Kings 2:13-25). As made clear in the earlier story of Absalom's rebellion, to have sex with the King's wife or concubine was in this society tantamount to claiming the throne; evidently, this applied even to a woman who had shared the bed of an old king.

David's general Joab was killed, in accord with David's deathbed request to Solomon because he had killed generals Abner and Amasa during a peace (2 Samuel 20:8-13; 1 Kings 2:5). David's priest Abiathar was exiled by Solomon because he had sided with rival Adonijah. Abiathar is a descendent of Eli, which has important prophetic significance. (1 Kings 2:27) [6] Shimei was confined to Jerusalem and killed three years later when he went to Gath to retrieve some runaway servants in part because he had cursed David when Absalom, David's son, rebelled against David. (1 Kings 2:1-46) [7]

Artist's depiction of Solomon's court (Ingobertus, c. 880.)


One of the qualities most ascribed to Solomon is his wisdom. Solomon prays:

"Give Thy servant an understanding heart to judge Thy people and to know good and evil."1 Kings 3:9 [8]

"So God said to him, "Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked..."" (1 Kings 3:11-12)[8] The Bible also states that: "The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart." (1 Kings 10:24) [9]

In one account, known as the Judgment of Solomon, two prostitutes who came before Solomon to resolve a quarrel about which was the true mother of a baby. One mother had her baby die in the night after rolling over it in her sleep and crushing it; each claims the surviving child as her own. When Solomon suggests dividing the living child in two with a sword, the true mother is revealed to him because she is willing to give up her child to the lying woman, as heartbreaking a decision as it is. Solomon then declares the woman who shows compassion to be the true mother, and gives the baby back to her.

Queen of Sheba

Solomon and the queen of Sheba by Giovanni Demin (1789-1859)

Renaissance relief of the Queen of Sheba meeting Solomon - gate of Florence Baptistry

King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba

In a brief, unelaborated, and enigmatic passage, the Bible describes how the fame of Solomon's wisdom and wealth spread far and wide, so much so that the queen of Sheba decided that she should meet him. The queen is described as visiting with a number of gifts including gold and rare jewels to decorate the temple, and also bringing with her a number of riddles. When Solomon gave her "all her desire, whatsoever she asked," she left satisfied (1 Kings 10:10).

Whether the passage is simply to provide a brief token foreign witness of Solomon's wealth and wisdom, or whether there is meant to be something more significant to the queen's visit and her riddles is unknown; nevertheless the visit of the Queen of Sheba has become the subject of numerous stories.

Sheba is typically identified as Saba, a nation once spanning the Red Sea on the coasts of what are now Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia and Yemen, in Arabia Felix. In a Rabbinical account (e.g. Targum Sheni), Solomon was accustomed to ordering the living creatures of the world to dance before him (Rabbinical accounts say that Solomon had been given control over all living things by God), but one day upon discovering that the mountain-cock or hoopoe (the Hebrew name for the creature is Shade) was absent, he summoned it to him, and the bird told him that it had been searching for somewhere new.

The bird had discovered a land in the east, exceedingly rich in gold, silver, and plants, whose capital was called Kitor and whose ruler was the Queen of Sheba, and the bird, on its own advice, was sent by Solomon to request the queen's immediate attendance at Solomon's court.

In an Ethiopian account (Kebra Nagast) it is maintained that the Queen of Sheba had sexual relations with King Solomon (of which the Biblical account gives no hint) and gave birth by the Mai Bella stream in the province of Hamasien, Eritrea. The Ethiopian tradition has a detailed account of the affair. (See Queen of Sheba)

The child was a son who went on to become Menelik I, King of Axum, and founded a dynasty that would reign in the eventual stalwart Christian Empire of Ethiopia for 2900+ years (less one usurpation episode and interval of ca. 133 years until a "legitimate" male heir regained the crown) until Haile Selassie was overthrown in 1974. Menelik was said to be a practicing Jew, had been gifted with a replica Ark of the Covenant by King Solomon, but moreover, the original was switched and went to Axum with him and his mother, and is still there, guarded by a single priest charged with caring for the artifact as his life's task.

The claim of such a lineage and of possession of the Ark has been an important source of legitimacy and prestige for the Ethiopian monarchy throughout the many centuries of its existence, and had important and lasting effects on Ethiopian culture as a whole. The Ethiopian government and church deny all requests to view the alleged ark.[10]

Some classical-era Rabbis, attacking Solomon's moral character, have claimed instead that the child was an ancestor of Nebuchadnezzar II, who destroyed Solomon's temple some 300 years later.[11]

Solomon's sins

According to 1 Kings 11:4 Solomon's "wives turned his heart after other gods", their own national deities, to whom Solomon built temples, thus incurring divine anger and retribution in the form of the division of the kingdom after Solomon's death. (1 Kings 11:9-13)

1 Kings 11 describes Solomon's descent into idolatry, particularly his turning after Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom, the abomination of the Ammonites. In Deuteronomy 17:16-17, a king is commanded not to multiply horses, wives or gold. Solomon sins in all three of these areas. Solomon collects 666 talents of gold each year, (1 Kings 10:14) a huge amount of money for a small nation like Israel. Solomon gathers a large number of horses and chariots and even brings in horses from Egypt. Just as Deuteronomy 17 warns, collecting horses and chariots takes Israel back to Egypt. Finally, Solomon marries foreign women, and these women turn Solomon to other gods.

According to 1 Kings 11:9-13, it was because of these sins that "the Lord punishes Solomon by tearing the kingdom in two":[2]

And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods. But he did not keep what the LORD commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, "Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant. Yet for the sake of David your father I will not do it in your days, but I will tear it out of the hand of your son. However, I will not tear away all the kingdom, but I will give one tribe to your son, for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem that I have chosen.

Solomon's enemies

The United Kingdom of Solomon breaks up, with Jeroboam ruling over the Northern Kingdom of Israel (in green on the map) and Rehoboam ruling Judah to the south.

Near the end of his life Solomon was forced to contend with several enemies including Hadad of Edom, Rezon of Zobah, and one of his officials named Jeroboam who was from the tribe of Ephraim.[2]

Succession of Rehoboam and division

On Solomon's death, his son, Rehoboam, succeeded him as king. However, ten of the Tribes of Israel refused to accept him as king and split to form the northern Kingdom of Israel, while Rehoboam continued to reign in the southern Kingdom of Judah.

Apocryphal texts

Rabbinical tradition attributes the Wisdom of Solomon to Solomon although this book was probably written in the 2nd century BCE. In this work Solomon is portrayed as an astronomer. Other books of wisdom poetry such as the Odes of Solomon and the Psalms of Solomon also bear his name. The Jewish historian Eupolemus, who wrote about 157 BCE, included copies of apocryphal letters exchanged between Solomon and the kings of Egypt and Tyre.

The Gnostic Apocalypse of Adam, which may date to the 1st or 2nd century, refers to a legend in which Solomon sends out an army of demons to seek a virgin who had fled from him, perhaps the earliest surviving mention of the later common tale that Solomon controlled demons and made them his slaves. This tradition of Solomon's control over demons appears fully elaborated in the early Gnostic work called the "Testament of Solomon" with its elaborate and grotesque demonology.[12]

Building and other works

During Solomon's long reign of 40 years, the Israelite monarchy, according to the Bible, gained its highest splendour and wealth. In a single year, according to 1 Kings 10:14, Solomon collected tribute amounting to 666 talents of gold (39,960 pounds).

Solomon is described as surrounding himself with all the luxuries and the external grandeur of an Eastern monarch, and his government prospered. He entered into an alliance with Hiram I, king of Tyre, who in many ways greatly assisted him in his numerous undertakings. For some years before his death, David was engaged in collecting materials for building a temple in Jerusalem as a permanent abode for the Ark of the Covenant. Solomon is described as completing its construction, with the help of an architect, also named Hiram, and other materials, sent from Hiram king of Tyre.

After the completion of the temple, Solomon is described as erecting many other buildings of importance in Jerusalem; for the long space of thirteen years he was engaged in the erection of a royal palace on Ophel (a hilly promontory in central Jerusalem); Solomon also constructed great works for the purpose of securing a plentiful supply of water for the city, and the Millo (Septuagint, Acra) for the defense of the city. However, excavations of Jerusalem have shown a distinct lack of monumental architecture from the era, and remains of neither the Temple nor Solomon's palace have been found, although it should be noted that a number of significant but politically sensitive areas have not been extensively excavated, including the site that the Temple is traditionally said to have been located.

Solomon is also described as rebuilding major cities elsewhere in Israel, creating the port of Ezion-Geber, and constructing Tadmor in the wilderness as a commercial depot and military outpost. Solomon is additionally described as having amassed a thousand and four hundred chariots and twelve thousand horsemen. Though the location of Solomon's port of Ezion-Geber is known, no remains have ever been found. More archaeological success has been achieved with the major cities Solomon is said to have strengthened or rebuilt (for example, Hazor , Megiddo and Gezer — 1 Kings 9:15); these all have substantial ancient remains, including impressive six-chambered gates, and ashlar palaces, as well as trough-like structures outside buildings that early archaeologists have identified as the stables for Solomon's horses.

According to the Bible, during Solomon's reign Israel enjoyed great commercial prosperity, with extensive traffic being carried on by land with Tyre, Egypt, and Arabia, and by sea with Tarshish (Spain), Ophir, and South India.

Historical figure

Historical evidence of King Solomon, independent of the biblical accounts, is scarce. Nothing indisputably of Solomon's reign has been found. Archaeological excavations at Hazor, Megiddo, Bethshan and Gezer have uncovered structures that Israeli archaeologists Amnon Ben-Tor, Amihai Mazar and US Professor William G. Dever argue all belong to his reign and all were simultaneously destroyed by a raid of Shishaq,[13] but Finkelstein and Silberman argue that these structures are dated to the Omride period, more than a century after Solomon's reign,[14] although they believe that David and Solomon were kings in the region.[15][16] Excavations on these sites are ongoing. Recently researchers have dated a copper smelting plant at Khirbat en-Nahas in southern Jordan to the 10th century BCE.[17]

Biblical criticism

Some feel that based on the archeological evidence,[14] the kingdom of Israel at the time of Solomon was little more than a small city state, so they consider the collection of tribute of 666 talents of gold to be an implausibly large amount of money. According to Israel Finkelstein and Neil Silberman, authors of The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts,[18] at the time of the Davidic and Solomonic kingdoms, Jerusalem may have been unpopulated, or at most with only a few hundred residents. They consider this insufficient to have ruled an empire stretching from the Euphrates to Eilath. Although both Finkelstein and Silberman do accept that David and Solomon were real kings of Judah about the 10th century BCE,[19] they write that the earliest independent reference to the Kingdom of Israel is about 890 BCE, whilst for that of Judah is about 750 BCE. They suggest that due to religious prejudice, later writers (i.e., the Biblical authors) suppressed the achievements of the Omrides (whom the Bible describes as being polytheist), and instead pushed them back to a supposed golden age of godly rulers, i.e., monotheist, and Yahweh-worshiping. Some go further like the biblical minimalists, notably Thomas L. Thompson, who state that Jerusalem only became a city and capable of acting as a state capital in the middle of the seventh century.[20]

These views are strongly criticized by William G. Dever,[21] Helga Weippert, Amihai Mazar and Amnon Ben-Tor.

André Lemaire states in Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple[22] that the principal points of the biblical tradition with Solomon as generally trustworthy, as does Kenneth Kitchen, who argue that Solomon ruled over a comparatively wealthy "mini-empire", rather than a small city-state, so consider this sum to be a rather modest amount of money. Mr. Kitchen calculates that over a 30-year period such a kingdom might have accumulated from this up to 500 tons of gold, which is small when compared to other examples, such as the 1,180 tons of gold that Alexander the Great took from Susa.[23] Likewise, the magnitude of Solomon's temple is considered excessively large by some, for example, Finkelstein; however, others, such as Kenneth Kitchen,[24] consider it a reasonable and typically sized structure for the region at the time.

A sketch of Solomon's Temple, based on descriptions in the Scriptures.

William G. Dever states "that we now have direct Bronze and Iron Age parallels for every feature of the 'Solomonic temple' as described in the Hebrew Bible".[25]

The archaeological remains that are still considered to actually date from the time of Solomon are notable for the fact that Canaanite material culture appears to have continued unabated; there is a distinct lack of magnificent empire, or cultural development - indeed comparing pottery from areas traditionally assigned to Israel with that of the Philistines points to the Philistines having been significantly more sophisticated. However, there is a lack of physical evidence of its existence, despite some archaeological work in the area.[14] This is not unexpected as the area was devastated by the Babylonians, then rebuilt and destroyed several times.[24] Also it should be noted that little archaeological excavation has been conducted around the area known as the Temple Mount; in what is thought to be the foundation of Solomon's Temple as attempts to do so are met with protest from adherents to the Muslim and Jewish faiths.[26]

From a critical point of view, Solomon's building of a temple for Yahweh should not be seen as an act resulting from particular devotion to Yahweh, since Solomon is also described as erecting temples for a number of other deities[11] (1 Kings 11:4). Solomon's apparent initial devotion to Yahweh appearing in for example his dedication prayer (1 Kings 8:14-66) are seen by some textual scholars as a product of a much later writer, Solomon being credited with the views only after Jerusalem had actually become the religious centre of the kingdom (rather than, for example, Shiloh, or Bethel). Some textual scholars consider the authorship of passages such as these in the Books of Kings to be separate from the remainder of the text, and consider these passages to be probably the result of the Deuteronomist.[27] Such views have been challenged by other textual scholars who maintain that there are evidences that these passages in Kings are derived from official court records from the time of Solomon and from other contemporaneous writings that were incorporated into the canonical books of Kings.[28][29][30] See also the discussion in "Chronological Notes" below.

The description of the temple is remarkably similar to that of surviving remains of Phoenician temples of the time, and it is certainly plausible, from the point of view of archaeology, that the temple was constructed to the design of Phoenicians. It has also been suggested that the Phoenicians built it for themselves.[14]

Solomon's Pools

View inside a Roman aqueduct from Solomon's Pools to Jerusalem.

Solomon's Pools are located near the town of al-Khader about 5 miles southwest of Bethlehem. They are named after the Biblical Solomon, probably because of his mention in Ecclesiastes 2.6, that "I made myself pools from which to water the forest of growing trees".[2] However the pools of more recent evidence were probably the work of the Romans under Herod the Great to provide source water for the aqueduct built to supply water to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem where it terminated under the Temple Mount. These source pools consist of three open cisterns, each at different elevations, fed from an underground spring. The total water capacity is about 3 million gallons (about 10 million liters). [3]

Jewish scriptures

King Solomon is one of the central Biblical figures in Jewish heritage that have lasting religious, national and political aspects. As the constructor of the First Temple in Jerusalem and last ruler of the united Kingdom of Israel before its division into the northern Kingdom of Israel and the southern Kingdom of Judah, Solomon is associated with the peak "golden age" of the independent Kingdom of Israel as well as a source of judicial and religious wisdom. According to Jewish tradition, King Solomon wrote three books of the Bible:

  • Mishlei (Book of Proverbs), a collection of fables and wisdom of life
  • Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), a book of contemplation and his self-reflection.
  • Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs), a chronicle of erotic love (there are contrasting opinions whether its subject is a woman or God).

The Hebrew word "To Solomon" (which can also be translated as "by Solomon") appears in the title of two hymns in the book of Psalms (Tehillim), suggesting to some that Solomon wrote them.

In modern Israel, the extent of the First Temple Solomonic empire and Second Temple Hasmonean and Herodian kingdoms, is relied upon by nationalists who support an exclusive Israeli-Jewish territorial claim to the entire Land of Israel.

Religions and Solomon


Russian icon of King Solomon. He is depicted holding a model of the Temple. (18th century, iconostasis of Kizhi monastery, Russia).

Christianity has traditionally accepted the historical existence of Solomon, though some modern Christian scholars have also questioned at least his authorship of those biblical texts ascribed to him. Such disputes tend to divide Christians into traditionalist and modernist camps.

Of the two genealogies of Jesus given in the Gospels, Matthew mentions Solomon, but Luke does not. Jesus mentions Solomon twice. The first reference is the famous simile of Matthew 6:28-29 and Luke 12:27, in which Jesus compares the lilies of the field with "Solomon in his glory". In the second reference Jesus alludes to the Queen of Sheba's visit to the court of David (Matthew 12:42, Luke 11:31). Saint Stephen, in his testimony before the Sanhedrin, mentions Solomon's construction of the Temple (Acts 7:47).

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Solomon is commemorated as a saint, with the title of "Righteous Prophet and King". His feast day is celebrated on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers (two Sundays before the Great Feast of the Nativity of the Lord).

The staunchly Catholic King Philip II of Spain sought to model himself after King Solomon. Statues of King David and Solomon stand on either side of the entrance to the basilica of El Escorial, Philip's palace, and Solomon is also depicted in a great fresco at the center of El Escorial's library. Philip identified the warrior-king David with his own father Charles V, and himself sought to emulate the thoughtful and logical character which he perceived in Solomon. Moreover, Escorial's structure was inspired by that of Solomon's Temple.[31]


According to the doctrines of Freemasonry, Freemasons were involved in the building of Solomon's Temple.[32]


Main article Islamic view of Solomon
See also Biblical narratives and the Qur'an

Solomon also appears in the Qur'an, where he is called سليمان in Arabic, which is transliterated in English variously as Sulayman, Suleiman, Sulaimaan etc. The Qur'an refers to Sulayman as the son of David (Arabic: Dawud, Dawood, or Dawoud), a prophet and a great ruler imparted by God with tremendous wisdom, favor, and special powers (like his father). The Qur'an states that Sulayman ruled not only people, but also hosts of Jinn, was able to understand the language of the birds and ants, and to see some of the hidden glory in the world that was not accessible to most other human beings. Ruling a large kingdom that extended south into Yemen, he was famed throughout the lands for his wisdom and fair judgments.

And they followed what the Shayatin(devils) chanted of sorcery in the reign of Sulaiman, and Sulaiman was not an unbeliever, but the Shayatin(devils) disbelieved, they teach people sorcery and such things that came down to the two angels at Babel, Harut and Marut, yet they(the two Angels) taught no person until they had said to them, "Surely, we are only a trial, therefore do not be a disbeliever." So they learn from them(the two Angels) that by which they might cause a separation between a man and his wife; and they cannot hurt with it any one except with Allah's permission, and they learned what harmed them and did not profit them, and certainly they know that he who bought it should have no share of good in the hereafter and evil was the price for which they sold their souls, had they but known this. (Holy Quran, chapter 2.102)

Solomon is said to have been given control over various things, such as the wind, and transportation. Thus the Qur'an says,

And to Solomon (We subjected) the wind, its morning (stride from sunrise till midnoon) was a month's (journey), and its afternoon (stride from the midday decline of the sun to sunset) was a month's (journey i.e. in one day he could travel two months' journey). And We caused a fount of (molten) brass to flow for him, and there were jinn that worked in front of him, by the Leave of his Lord, And whosoever of them turned aside from Our Command, We shall cause him to taste of the torment of the blazing Fire. Quran 34:12

And before Sulayman were marshaled his hosts,- of Jinns and men and birds, and they were all kept in order and ranks. Quran 27:17

And Solomon, accordingly grateful of God, says

"O ye people! We have been taught the speech of birds, and on us has been bestowed from everything: this is indeed the Grace manifest (from God)." Quran 27:16


According to the Qur'an, the death of Solomon held a lesson to be learned:

Then, when We decreed (Solomon's) death, nothing showed them his death except a little worm of the earth, which kept (slowly) gnawing away at his staff: so when he fell down, the Jinns saw plainly that if they had known the unseen, they would not have tarried in the humiliating Penalty (of their Task). Quran 34:14

According to tradition, when Solomon died he was standing watching the work of his Jinn, while leaning on his cane. There he silently died, but did not fall. He remained in this position, and the Jinn, thinking he was still alive watching them work, kept working. But termites were eating the cane, so that the body of Solomon fell after forty days. Thereafter, the Jinn (along with all humans) regretted that they did not know more than God had allotted them to know.

According to the Bible and archeological research, Solomon died of natural causes. He was around 80 years of age. Israel and Judah were divided after his death.

Fictional accounts and legends

One Thousand and One Nights

A well-known story in the One Thousand and One Nights describes a genie who had displeased King Solomon and was punished by being locked in a bottle and thrown into the sea. Since the bottle was sealed with Solomon's seal, the genie was helpless to free himself, until freed many centuries later by a fisherman who discovered the bottle.

Demons and magic

According to the Rabbinical literature, on account of his modest request for wisdom only, Solomon was rewarded with riches and an unprecedentedly glorious realm, which extended over the upper world inhabited by the angels and over the whole of the terrestrial globe with all its inhabitants, including all the beasts, fowl, and reptiles, as well as the demons and spirits. 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 fowl of their own accord entered the kitchen of Solomon's palace, so that they might be used as food for him, and extravagant meals for him were prepared daily by each of his 700 wives and 300 concubines, with the thought that perhaps the king would feast that day in her house.

A magic ring called the "Seal of Solomon" was supposedly given to Solomon, and gave him power over demons. The magical symbol said to have been on the Seal of Solomon which made it work is now better known as the Star of David. Asmodeus, king of demons, was one day, according to the classical Rabbis, captured by Benaiah using the ring, and was forced to remain in Solomon's service. In one tale, Asmodeus brought a man with two heads from under the earth to show Solomon; the man, unable to return, married a woman from Jerusalem and had 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; Solomon, owing to his huge wisdom, decided that the son with two heads was only one man.

The Seal of Solomon, in some legends known as the Ring of Aandaleeb, was a highly sought after symbol of power. In several legends, different groups or individuals attempted to steal it or attain it in some manner.

One legend concerning Asmodeus goes on to state that Solomon one day asked Asmodeus what could make demons powerful over man, and Asmodeus asked to be freed and given the ring so that he could demonstrate; Solomon agreed but Asmodeus threw the ring into the sea and it was swallowed by a fish. Asmodeus then swallowed the king, stood up fully with one wing touching heaven and the other earth, and spat out Solomon to a distance of 400 miles. The Rabbis claim this was a divine punishment for Solomon having failed to follow three divine commands, and Solomon was forced to wander from city to city, until he eventually arrived in an Ammonite city where he was forced to work in the king's kitchens. Solomon gained a chance to prepare a meal for the Ammonite king, which the king found so impressive that the previous cook was sacked and Solomon put in his place; the king's daughter, Naamah, subsequently fell in love with Solomon, but the family (thinking Solomon a commoner) disapproved, so the king decided to kill them both by sending them into the desert. Solomon and the king's daughter wandered the desert until they reached a coastal city, where they bought a fish to eat, which just happened to be the one which had swallowed the magic ring. Solomon was then able to regain his throne and expel Asmodeus. (The element of a ring thrown into the sea and found back in a fish's belly earlier appeared in Herodotus' account of Polycrates of Samos).

In another familiar version of the legend of the Seal of Solomon, Asmodeus disguises himself. In some myths, he's disguised as King Solomon himself, while in more frequently heard versions he's disguised as a falcon, calling himself Gavyn (Gavinn or Gavin), one of King Solomon's trusted friends. The concealed Asmodeus tells travelers who have ventured up to King Solomon's grand lofty palace that the Seal of Solomon was thrown into the sea. He then convinces them to plunge in and attempt to retrieve it, for if they do they would take the throne as king.

Other magical items attributed to Solomon are his key and his Table. The latter was said to be held in Toledo, Spain during the Visigothic rule and was part of the loot taken by Tarik ibn Ziyad during the Umayyad Conquest of Iberia, according to Ibn Abd-el-Hakem's History of the Conquest of Spain. The former appears in the title of the Lesser Key of Solomon, a grimoire whose framing tale is Solomon capturing demons using his ring, and forcing them to explain themselves to him.

Demons also help out Solomon in building the Temple; though not by choice. The edifice was, according to rabbinical legend, throughout miraculously constructed, the large, heavy stones rising to and settling in their respective places of themselves. The general opinion of the Rabbis is that Solomon hewed the stones by means of a shamir, a mythical worm whose mere touch cleft rocks. According to Midrash Tehillim, the shamir was brought from paradise by Solomon's eagle; but most of the rabbis state that Solomon was informed of the worm's haunts by Asmodeus. The shamir had been entrusted by the prince of the sea to the mountain cock alone, and the cock had sworn to guard it well, but Solomon's men found the bird's nest, and covered it with glass. When the bird returned, it used the shamir to break the glass, whereupon the men scared the bird, causing it to drop the worm, which the men could then bring to Solomon.

Early adherents of the Kabbalah portray Solomon as having sailed through the air on a throne of light placed on an eagle, which brought him near the heavenly gates 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, using the magic ring, would compel the two angels to reveal every mystery he desired to know. Solomon is also portrayed as forcing demons to take Solomon's friends, including Hiram, on day return trips to hell.

Other forms of Solomon legend describe Solomon as having had a flying carpet that was 60 miles square, and could travel so fast that it could get from Damascus to Medina within a day. One day, due to Solomon exhibiting pride, the wind shook the carpet and caused 40,000 men to fall from it; Solomon on being told by the wind why this had happened, felt ashamed. Another day Solomon was flying over an ant-infested valley and overheard an ant warning its fellow ants to hide lest Solomon destroy them; Solomon desired to ask the ant a question, but was told it was not becoming for the interrogator to be above and the interrogated below. Solomon then lifted the ant above the valley, but the ant said it was not fitting that Solomon should sit on a throne while the ant remained on the ground, so Solomon placed the ant upon his hand, and asked it whether there was any one in the world greater than he. The ant replied that she was much greater as otherwise God would not have sent him there to place it upon his hand; this offended Solomon and he threw the ant down reminding it who he was, but the ant told him that it knew Solomon was created from a corrupted drop, causing Solomon to feel ashamed.

According to one legend, while magically traveling 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 but the demons only found an eagle, which said that it was 700 years old, but that it had never seen 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 an idol inside that had in its mouth a silver tablet saying in Greek (a language not thought by modern scholars to have existed 1000 years before the time of Solomon) that the statue was of Shaddad, the son of 'Ad, and that it had reigned over a million cities, rode on a million horses, had under it a million vassals, and slew a million warriors, yet it could not resist the angel of death.


Solomon's throne is described at length in Targum Sheni, which is compiled from three different sources, and in two later midrash. According to these, there were on the steps of the throne twelve golden lions, each facing a golden eagle. There were six steps to the throne, 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. The first midrash claims that six steps were constructed because Solomon foresaw that six kings would sit on the throne, namely, Solomon, Rehoboam, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah. There was also on the top of the throne a golden candelabrum, 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 candelabrum was a golden jar filled with olive-oil and 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. Supposedly, due to another mechanical trick, when the king reached the first step, the ox 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. After Solomon's death King Shishak, when taking away the treasures of the Temple (comp. I Kings xiv. 26), carried off the throne, which remained in Egypt till Sennacherib conquered that country. After Sennacherib's fall Hezekiah gained possession of it, but when Josiah was slain by Pharaoh Necho the latter took it away. However, according to rabbinical accounts, Necho did not know how the mechanism worked and so accidentally struck himself with one of the lions causing him to become lame; Nebuchadnezzar, into whose possession the throne subsequently came, shared a similar fate. The throne then passed to the Persians, who their king Darius was the first to sit successfully on Solomon's throne since his death, and after that the throne passed into the possession of the Greeks and Ahasuerus.

Chronological notes

Biblical scholars who believe in a historical Solomon argue that his regnal dates can be derived by independent methods: The division of the kingdom following Solomon's death occurred at some time in the year beginning in Nisan (in the spring) of 931 BCE, as argued by Edwin Thiele,[33] so that his fourth year would have begun in Tishri (in the fall) of 968/967 BCE. Solomon's fourth year, in which Temple construction allegedly began, is calculated by modern scholars[34][35][36] from the Tyrian king list of Menander as the year 968 BCE without the use of biblical texts. Edward Lipinski suggests that the length of Solomon's reign, which is unknown, would have likely been 20 to 25 years starting ca. 956/5 or 951/0.[37]

Contemporary fiction


  • Solomon's Angels: A Novel (2008), by Doreen Virtue, is a historically researched, novelized biography of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, focusing on metaphysical aspects.
  • In Friedrich Dürrenmatt's Die Physiker, the physicist Möbius claims that Solomon appears to him and dictates the "theory of all possible inventions" (based on Unified Field Theory).
  • In The Divine Comedy the spirit of Solomon appears to Dante Alighieri in the Heaven of the Sun with other exemplars of inspired wisdom.
  • In Neal Stephenson's three-volume The Baroque Cycle, 17th century alchemists like Isaac Newton believe that Solomon created a kind of "heavier" gold with mystical properties and that it was cached in the Solomon Islands where it was accidentally discovered by the crew of a wayward Spanish galleon.
    In the third volume of The Baroque Cycle, The System of the World, a mysterious member of the entourage of Czar Peter I of Russia, named "Solomon Kohan" appears in early 18th century London. The czar, traveling incognito to purchase English-made ships for his navy, explains that he added him to his court after the Sack of Azov, where Kohan had been a guest of the Pasha. Solomon Kohan is later revealed as one of the extremely long-lived "Wise" (like Enoch Root), and compares a courtyard full of inventors' workstations to "an operation I used to have in Jerusalem a long time ago," denominating either facility as "a temple."
  • Isaac Rosenberg, the famous 20th century Jewish poet, references Solomon in a great number of his early poems.
  • King Solomon is the subject of the Afrikaans poem 'Salomo O Salomo'
  • King Solomon is depicted as a very powerful magician in The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud.
  • Solomon Kane is given The Staff of Solomon by his shaman friend N'longa, and uses it throughout his various adventures.
  • Charles Williams speaks about the Stone of Suleiman in his novel Many Dimensions (1931).


  • The Israeli musical King Solomon and Shalmai the Shoemaker based on a Jewish folk story about King Solomon and a shoemaker that looks exactly like him.
  • Solomon is a featured character in a one-act play by playwright John Guare, entitled "The General of Hot Desire"
  • King Solomon is featured in a two-act play by Swiss playwright Friedrich Dürrenmatt, entitled Die Physiker
  • The Solomon Song is found in the Brecht/Weild musical The Threepenny Opera


  • The Kingdom of Solomon (2010) from IRAN, Director Shahriar Bahrani
  • Solomon and Sheba (1959)
  • There have been at least 3 English language versions filmed of the Allan Quatermain story, "King Solomon's Mines", written by Sir Henry Rider Haggard. "King Solomon's Mines" is also a famous Walt Disney comic story featuring the character Uncle Scrooge, written and drawn by Carl Barks. The diamond mines of King Solomon are also sought after in the book and in the movie Congo by the author of Jurassic Park Michael Crichton.


  • Händel composed an oratorio entitled Solomon in 1748. The story follows the basic Biblical plot.
  • Ernest Bloch composed a Hebraic Rhapsody for cello and orchestra entitled Schelomo, based on King Solomon.
  • Mort Garson synthetic music album named Solomon's Ring.
  • Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band's song 'To all the lights in the windows', from the 2009 album Outer South refers to Solomon.
  • Sean Paul's song 'We Be Burnin, refers to King Solomon's grave
  • The Clash song 'Straight to Hell', from the 1982 album Combat Rock refers to King Solomon.
  • The Grateful Dead have a song on their 1975 album "Blues For Allah" called King Solomon's Marbles

See also


  • Dever, William G. (2003). Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From?. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-0975-8. 
  • Finkelstein, Israel; Neil Asher Silberman (2006). David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition. Free Press. ISBN 0-7432-4362-5. 
  • Finkelstein, Israel; Neil Asher Silberman (2002). The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0684869131. 
  • Thomas E. Levy & Thomas Higham (eds.), ed. The Bible and Radiocarbon Dating: Archaeology, Text and Science. London ; Oakville, CT.: Equinox Publishing (UK). ISBN 978-1845530563. OCLC 60453952. 
  • Dever, William G.. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?: What Archaeology Can Tell Us about the Reality of Ancient Israel. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Pub.. ISBN 978-0802847942. OCLC 45487499. 
  • Kitchen, Kenneth A.. On the reliability of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-4960-1. 


  1. 1.0 1.1 Barton, George A.. "Temple of Solomon". Jewish Encyclopedia. New York, NY.: Funk & Wagnalls. pp. 98–101. doi:10.1038/2151043a0. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Peter J. Leithart, A House for My Name, 157, Canon Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-885767-169-1
  3. 1 Kings 11:1-3
  4. 1 Kings 14:21 and 2 Chronicles 12:13
  5. 5.0 5.1 1 Kings 1 (ESV)
  6. Peter J. Leithart, A House for My Name, 164, Canon Press, 2000. ISBN 978-1-885767-169-1
  7. Jewish Encyclopedia
  8. 8.0 8.1
  10. Confirmed anew in the recent History Channel quasi-promotional production about Indiana Jones's positive impact on archaeology. (released Mid-May 2008, the week before the 22 May 2008 USA release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) History Channel producers were shown interviewing the guardian priest, and expert discussions about the Ark were part of the fare served up.
  11. 11.0 11.1 This article incorporates text from the 1901–1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, a publication now in the public domain.
  12. " - Solomon, Testament of:". 
  13. Dever 2001
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Finkelstein The Bible Unearthed
  15. David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition by Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman
  18. Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001). The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. Simon and Schuster. 
  19. David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible's Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition pp20
  20. Thompson, Thomas L., 1999, The Bible in History: How Writers Create a Past, Jonathan Cape, London, ISBN 978-0224039772 p. 207
  21. Dever 2001, p. 160
  22. Ancient Israel: From Abraham to the Roman Destruction of the Temple, by Hershel Shanks, p113
  23. Kitchen 2003, p. 135
  24. 24.0 24.1 Kitchen 2003, p. 123
  25. Dever 2001, p. 145
  27. ibid
  28. Harrison, R. K. (1969). Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) pp. 722–724.
  29. Archer, G. L. (1964). A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago: Moody Press) pp. 276–277.
  30. Thiele, E. R. (1983) The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings (3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondevan/Kregel) pp. 193–204.
  31. René Taylor 1. Arquitectura y Magia. Consideraciones sobre la Idea de El Escorial, Ediciones Siruela, Madrid, enhanced from monograph in Rudolph Wittkower's 1968 festschrift. 2. Hermetism and the Mystical Architecture of the Society of Jesus in "Baroque Art: The Jesuit Contribution" by Rudolf Wittkower & Irma Jaffe
  32. Gruber, Hermann (1910-10-01). "Masonry (Freemasonry)". in Remy Lafort, Censor. The Catholic encyclopedia: an international work of reference on the constitution, doctrine, discipline, and history of the Catholic Church. IX. New York: Robert Appleton Company. OCLC 1017058. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  33. Thiele, Mysterious Numbers p. 78.
  34. J. Liver, "The Chronology of Tyre at the Beginning of the First Millennium B.C.," Israel Exploration Journal 3 (1953) 113-120.
  35. Frank Moore Cross, "An Interpretation of the Nora Stone," Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 208 (1972) 17, n. 11.
  36. William H. Barnes, Studies in the Chronology of the Divided Monarch of Israel (Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1991) 29-55.
  37. Lipinski, Edward On the skirts of Canaan in the Iron age Peeters Publishers ISBN 978-9042917989 p.99 [1]

External links

Regnal titles
Preceded by
King of the United Kingdom
of Israel and Judah

971 – 931 BCE
Succeeded by
in Judah
Succeeded by
Jeroboam I
in Israel

Template:Adam to Jesus

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