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d. c.930 B.C., king of the ancient Hebrews (c.970–c.930 B.C.), son and successor of DavidDavid,
d. c.970 B.C., king of ancient Israel (c.1010–970 B.C.), successor of Saul. The Book of First Samuel introduces him as the youngest of eight sons who is anointed king by Samuel to replace Saul, who had been deemed a failure.
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. His mother was Bath-shebaBath-sheba
, in the Bible, wife of Uriah the Hittite. David seduced her, effected the death of her husband, and then married her. Her second son by David was Solomon.
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. His accession has been dated to c.970 B.C. According to the Bible. Solomon's reign was marked by foreign alliances (notably with Egypt and Phoenicia) and the greatest extension of Israel's territory in biblical times. He built numerous cities, constructed copper smelting furnaces in the Negev, and had the first temple built at Jerusalem. However, his despotism resulted in the alienation of N Israel and the revolt of Jeroboam IJeroboam I
, in the Bible, first king of the northern kingdom of Israel. He was an Ephraimite and led a revolt against Solomon, inspired probably by the restlessness of N Palestine under southern rule.
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. The biblical account of Solomon derives from the "Succession Narrative" in Second Samuel and First and Second Kings; Temple archives; and various folk-tales, but what the Bible says about the glory of his reign is impossible to confirm from the archaeological record.

Solomon's wisdom is proverbial. Proverbs and Ecclesiastes were ascribed to him, as was Wisdom of SolomonWisdom of Solomon
or Wisdom,
early Jewish book included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate but not in the Hebrew Bible. The book opens with an exhortation to seek wisdom, followed by a statement on worldly attitudes.
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, a book of the Old Testament ApocryphaApocrypha
[Gr.,=hidden things], term signifying a collection of early Jewish writings excluded from the canon of the Hebrew scriptures. It is not clear why the term was chosen.
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, and the Song of SolomonSong of Solomon,
 Song of Songs,
or Canticles,
book of the Bible, 22d in the order of the Authorized Version. Although traditionally ascribed to King Solomon, many scholars date it as late as the 3d cent. B.C. It is in form a collection of love poems.
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 bears his name. The Psalms of Solomon (1st cent. B.C.) and the Odes of Solomon (early 2d cent. A.D.) are found in the Old Testament PseudepigraphaPseudepigrapha
[Gr.,=things falsely ascribed], a collection of early Jewish and some Jewish-Christian writings composed between c.200 B.C. and c.A.D. 200, not found in the Bible or rabbinic writings.
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. Solomon's original name was Jedidiah.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Israel reached its height of power and wealth about 1000 BCE during the reign of Solomon, its third king. Solomon was the son of the great King David and his famous queen, Bathsheba.

These were the years the first Great Temple and Solomon's palace were built (see also Masons). (Solomon's priorities, however, are a little suspect. He built the Great Temple in seven years. But 1 Kings 7:1 reads, "It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace.") The so-called Wailing Wall, or Western Wall, now standing in Jerusalem is holy to the Jews. This center for prayer is the last remnant of the wall Solomon had built around the city three thousand years ago. Those who travel to this most holy Jewish place are awed by the fact that they can actually touch stones from Solomon's time.

But Solomon was more than a builder. He was a brilliant, and sometimes ruthless, political leader. Through a series of treaties and alliances, he expanded Israel's borders until the nation occupied more area than it had ever controlled before and more than it has possessed since. Commerce expanded greatly. Ships and caravans traveled throughout the whole known world, bringing wealth into a capital that was the talk of the whole Middle East. The "Queen of Sheba" (perhaps Ethiopia) is said to have traveled all the way north from her home just to get a glimpse of the great ruler of Israel. (Perhaps she got more than a glimpse; see Ark of the Covenant; Rastafarianism.)

His wisdom was reported to be far beyond that of normal kings. A famous story, retold in the Bible, is that two women were brought before him, each claiming to be the mother of a small child. He was asked to determine which was the true mother. He ordered the baby cut in two, so that each woman could take home half a child. One woman thought that sounded fair. The other was appalled and offered to give up her half so the baby could live. Solomon, being the smartest man in the world, immediately deduced that the second woman was the baby's mother.

Solomon is also credited with being a great philosopher. The biblical books of Proverbs ("Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall"), Song of Solomon ("Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth"), and Ecclesiastes ("For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under Heaven") are all attributed to him, along with some of the Psalms.

All this empire building came at great cost, however. Taxes were so high and conscripted labor so extensive that only an iron-handed tyrant could hold the whole thing together. When Solomon died (probably of exhaustion—according to 1 Kings 11, he had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines), his son Rehoboam saw the whole thing fall apart when the leaders of Solomon's old regime begged for some relief. Rehoboam made the mistake of thinking he could continue Solomon's policies forever. He decided even to outdo the master. It didn't happen, of course. Civil war broke out. The United Kingdom of Israel was torn in half (see Babylonian Captivity) and never recovered.

Perhaps Solomon saw it coming. Psalm 127 is attributed to him and seems very prophetic. It begins, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain."

The Religion Book: Places, Prophets, Saints, and Seers © 2004 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



ruler of the Israelite-Judean kingdom from 965 to 928 B.C., the period of the kingdom’s zenith. Son of King David and his coruler from 967 to 965 B.C.

In place of the old tribal division of the kingdom, Solomon instituted a system of 12 administrative districts and set up an extensive administrative apparatus. He introduced labor and military obligations and a codified system of taxation. He strengthened the army, undertook vast building projects, including the Temple of Solomon in Jerusalem, and began large-scale copper mining. He enhanced the international status of his realm by entering into diplomatic and marital alliances, notably his marriage to the daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh; he also promoted the development of foreign trade. Several books of the Bible—the Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs—are attributed to him.

The burden on the population of Solomon’s extensive building projects, the oppressive labor obligations, and taxes led to increasing discontent, especially among the northern tribes of the Israelite-Judean kingdom. Uprisings among the subjugated Edomites and Aramaeans began during his lifetime. Immediately following Solomon’s death one such uprising caused the unified kingdom to split into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


perspicaciously resolves dilemma of baby’s ownership. [O.T.: I Kings 16–28]
See: Justice


fabulous riches garnered from gifts and tolls. [O.T.: I Kings 10:14–25]
See: Wealth


invested by God with unprecedented sagacity. [O.T.: I Kings 3:7–13; 4:29–34]
See: Wisdom
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


10th century bc, king of Israel, son of David and Bathsheba, credited with great wisdom
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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Once Traig hears that the Binyans claim to be descendants of the Lost Tribe of Israel, and that they have lived in the Americas since the time of King Solomon, his curiosity is piqued.
A group of American archaeologists claim they have discovered a palatial building dating all the way back to the King Solomon era in Israel.
Sheba had heard of King Solomon and wanted to meet the man who was known to surpass all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
In addition to Cruise, museum visitors with a keen eye may spot another of Hollywood's well-known proponents of Scientology, John Travolta, in the role of King Solomon. Other big-name celebrities turned into biblical characters include Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and George Harrison.
1975: The last descendant of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Haile Selassie (pictured) of Ethiopia, died, aged 83.