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Solomon was King David’s son, and his designated successor as King of Israel. During Solomon’s reign the nation reached its pinnacle of power, and he was entrusted by God to build the temple in Jerusalem.
Once David had consolidated the Israelite empire, under the guidance of God, he chose his son Solomon to be his successor as God had instructed him to do: “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 and quietness to Israel in his days” (1 Chronicles 22:9).
Solomon’s prayer, at the beginning of his reign, asking for the gift of wisdom to rule the nation, is recorded in I Kings 3:7-12. God grants Solomon’s request and the Kingdom of Israel increases in wealth and influence throughout the region.
Historical records and archaeological evidence have been discovered supporting the biblical account of this development. Also, during the time of Israel’s rise to power contemporary Egyptian, Assyrian and Babylonian inscriptions confirm these once-powerful kingdoms became much less influential and were afflicted by military weakness.
Assyria was involved in disputes with the Arameans and internal strife over dynastic disputes, enabling David and later Solomon to extend their territory into south Syria.
The once great Egyptian empire was also experiencing a decline: “After the empire [of the previous centuries], Egypt never regained her former dominance in the eastern Mediterranean world … From the time of Samuel to the fall of the kingdom of Israel, Egypt was ... in a state of divided weakness” (The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Abingdon, Nashville,1962, Vol. 2, p. 52).
This situation is faithfully reflected in the biblical account. Egypt made great concessions to Solomon because of his increasing power and influence, with the Egyptian pharaoh even giving his own daughter to Solomon as his wife, a gesture almost without parallel in Egyptian history. 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; A Test of Time: The Bible-From Myth to History, David Rohl, Arrow Books, London, 1996, pp. 173-185).
Not only did Solomon lack foreign enemies, he found a powerful ally in King Hiram, a faithful friend of his father, 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). Jewish historian Josephus notes that copies of this alliance could be read in the public archives in Tyre.
Owing to God’s blessings peace enveloped Israel, enabling Solomon to develop and enrich his nation, even importing technicians from Phoenicia and Tyre to build the temple and fortify the cities: “And this is the reason for the labour 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).
Archaeologist Yigael Yadin was the first to find evidence of this in the 1950s. He writes about Hazor, “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).
During the excavation of 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 also comments: “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).
Most people have heard about the famous visit of the Queen of Sheba to Solomon described in I Kings 10:1-10. Archaeologists have found evidence of the rich and once flourishing ancient kingdom of Sheba in the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, now called Yemen, which was largely off-limits to archaeologists until this century. The area is quite isolated and desolate now, but it is obvious this has not always been the case. Up to 4,000 inscriptions of this ancient kingdom have come to light, confirming that one of the four nations in the area was called Sheba and that the population of at least one of its cities totalled a million inhabitants.
As time goes by, more archaeological evidence continues to indicate that Solomon’s reign was actually as magnificent as the Bible faithfully records.
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