What did King Solomon look like?
Solomon is king of Israel between 972 and 932 BC. Its name is derived from the Hebrew word "Shalom - peace". Solomon expands the empire that he has taken over from his father David, has cities built into fortresses and garrisons, and adds a troop of horsemen to his army. With his own fleet, Solomon participates in trade in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean and gains access to ore and gold mines.
After long years of bloody wars under King David, Solomon tries to establish peaceful relations with his neighbors. He is related by marriage to several ruling houses.
Solomon finally embarks on a work that God forbade his father David to do: building the temple. According to the Bible, the work on the temple, the royal palace and the city wall of Jerusalem took twenty years. The new capital becomes the political and religious center of the kingdom.
Solomon gains power and prestige. The display of splendor in his palace encourages the people to have exaggerated ideas of his immense wealth. Solomon is also active as a writer. Several psalms, the Song of Songs and the "Book of Wisdom" are ascribed to him. Other kings and rulers respect him and even come to Jerusalem to get to know him. "Praise be to Yahweh your God, who took pleasure in you and put you on the throne of Israel," exclaims the Queen of Sheba. "He made you king so that you might do justice and justice."
Solomon had specifically asked God for help and wisdom. "I am still very young and do not know how to behave as a king. Therefore give your servant a heart that hears so that he can rule your people and distinguish between good and evil." (1 Kings 3.7ff)
In addition to the duties of the king, who, like a good shepherd, has to care for the well-being of the people entrusted to him and to exercise justice against everyone, the new aspect of "wise rule" is added. To govern wisely means, among other things, to deal responsibly with the power conferred, to recognize one's own limits and to have an attentive eye (and ear) for the worries and needs of the people. In the Old Testament, wisdom is not understood as a purely intellectual matter. It is the epitome of a religiously and morally anchored way of life. This becomes clear in the literal "Solomonic judgment" (1 Kg 3,16ff): Two women come to Solomon. You are fighting over a child. Both claim to be the mother. Solomon should decide who owns the child. Solomon commands: "Cut the child in two so that each of the women may have half." But then the desperate mother of the child asks him: "Don't kill it, give it to that woman!" Your mother's love triumphs over the desire for justice and justice. The scene teaches: observance of the law is one thing - but the good shepherd must have more: wisdom, love and mercy.
Was Solomon Really That Wise? Or did later generations glorify his image, as had already happened with David? The historical reality was different: the luxury of keeping court, the cost of Solomon's brisk building activity and the military armaments burdened the country with oppressive taxes. Tens of thousands had to do labor. More and more Solomon developed into a despot. When the influence of his foreign wives finally led to the establishment of places of worship for pagan deities in Jerusalem, there were revolts against him. Just a few years after his death, old tribal conflicts broke out and split the empire.
But the 40 or so years of his reign are remembered by the Jewish people as years of peace. Psalm 72, which is attributed to Solomon and which bears the title "The Prince of Peace", says: "He will bring justice to the bowed in the people, bring help to the children of the poor and crush the oppressors. Let justice flourish in his days and great peace. " This is how the Jewish people imagined a just and wise ruler, a true shepherd of the people - and it is no coincidence that the prophet Isaiah later gave the expected Messiah the nickname "Prince of Peace" in memory of King Solomon.
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