1 Kings 9&10: Solomon's Reputation and Wealth

Solomon's great wealth and wisdom are expounded upon. We also meet the Queen of Sheba.

Introduction

God appears to Solomon for a second time after Solomon has finished building the Temple and the palace. God confirms that He will dwell there and reiterates His promise, passed down from David to Solomon. As long as the House of David remained obedient, they would rule Israel and God would dwell in the Temple. As with all of God's promises, it hinged on obedience. If the house of David was to became disobedient, they would lose their right to the land (which they do). Spoiler alert: due to disobedience Israel is eventually split into two kingdoms. The northern kingdom is taken captive by Assyria and the southern kingdom is taken captive by Babylon. Although some of the Israelites make their way back to Israel, this cycle continues. We see that in Jesus' day, the Israelites are overruled by Rome. After the resurrection the are dispersed once again for over 2,000 years. The modern state of Israel wasn't formed until 1963.
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Gifts

Photocredit: FreeImages.com/Christoph Burseg
Hiram, the king of Tyre, was given gifts from Solomon in gratitude for his help constructing the Temple. The agreement was that Solomon would provide food for the king, but Solomon also gives him 20 cities in Galilee. Hiram is not pleased with the cities Solomon gives him, however. What is depicted here is a cultural difference. The men of Tyre were used to being near the water and made their way by navigating the seas. Contrarily, the Israelites were farmers and herdsmen, who made their living through the land. Solomon likely thought the cities were a generous gift, but from Hiram's perspective and experience the cities were worthless.[1] No hard feelings abound between the two because we see that Hiram gives Solomon 120 talents of gold. This not only shows the wealth of both kings but shows their gratitude and appreciation of one another.

I can give you a modern day example of these different perspectives from personal experience. I am from the southeastern coast of the United States. I grew up around pine trees, oaks, squirrels and pigeons. When I went to the southwest to visit family, I was taken aback by how lifeless it seemed. My family lived in the city (I lived in the country), and there was no grass. There was nothing green, and I didn't see any animals moving. This was most unsettling to me. Conversely, when they came to the southeast, they found the trees claustrophobic. They were used to seeing the sky over wide expanses of land. Neither land is "good" or "bad," we simply view them as such based on our upbringing. The same was likely true of Hiram and Solomon.

In addition to the gifts exchanged between Hiram and Solomon, Solomon receives a gift from Pharaoh of Egypt. Pharaoh had attacked and defeated Gezer, which was on the border of Egypt and Israel. Just as the Israelites had been commanded to do, Pharaoh burned the city with fire and killed all of the Canaanites that were there. What was left was given to his daughter, Solomon's wife. The inhabitants who were not killed (women and children) were made into bondservants for Israel.
Top Israel had always had an army, but Solomon created a navy. In all things, Solomon kept the Israelites in high positions, employing them to over see servants and slaves from the Canaanite nations. Nonetheless, foreign men added great value to Solomon's navy. Hiram sends men from Tyre with navigation skills and knowledge concerning the sea to aid Solomon. This navy was deployed off the red sea, though likely, Solomon expanded and covered other seas to keep up with trade routes.
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Talents of Gold

Solomon sends his men to Ophir, but how many talents of gold did Ophir give them? 1 Kings 9:28 says that Solomon was given 420 talents, but 2 Chronicles 8:18 says he was given 450. Scholars attribute this error to copyists, suggesting the Hebrew numbers 2 and 5 are said to be easily confusable. Others suggest the difference is from money used for wages.2 I am more inclined to believe the former explanation because the text surrounded the numbers is almost identical. There is nothing that hints why different values should be given. This is likely just a copyist error with the original version reading the correct value in both places. 
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Queen of Sheba

The queen of Sheba was curious about Solomon's wisdom and sought to see if he was as wise as people said. She comes bearing gifts to establish a trade. Solomon shows his wisdom by answering her riddles. He also shows off his wealth. Although both the queen and Solomon give credit to God for the wealth and wisdom he possesses, this chapter hints at the opulence that would eventually be the downfall of the kingdom. When the rich man approaches Jesus, Jesus suggests he cast away his riches. We must be careful when God blesses us with wealth, that we do not lose sight of God as we enjoy the wealth.

The queen gives Solomon 120 talents of gold. Which would be roughly 9047.77 pounds or 4104 kilograms of gold.[5] On January 21, 2017, the price of gold was $38,998.83 per kilogram.[6] This would make her gift worth approximately $160 million dollars. Top

Where is Sheba?

Despite Hollywood's tendancy to whitewash the Bible, Sheba is thought to be located across Ethiopia and Yemen.[3][4] In fact, a gold mine thought to be the source of the queen's wealth, was found in the proposed territory of Ethiopia by British archeologists.[4] The queen of Sheba was likely black or Arab.
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Wealth Through Trade

Solomon received a great deal of wealth through trade, both on the land and through his navy. He had so much wealth that all he drank from gold cups. Can you imagine? Solomon was indeed blessed by God. I have a feeling this level of wealth mimicked what we will see in heaven, only there, wealth will not have the same meaning or negative influence.

The gold and precious stones Solomon used are expensive in our world. They cost money and labor. Possession of these items represent your ability to buy things you need such as food or shelter. Wealth also secures positions of power for people. However, these jewels are also simply wonderful to look at; their value is not just monetary. In heaven, we won't have to worry about paying a landlord or supermarket for what we need, nor will we have doctor bills and such. The ornate gold and precious stones there will be for visual aesthetics.

References

  1. Matthew Henry. "1 Kings 9 Commentary". via BibleStudyTools.com; visited January 2017
  2. William MacDonald. Believer's Bible Commentary, pg. 468. 1995
  3. Jamieson Fausset Brown. "1 Kings 10 Commentary". BibleStudyTools.com. visited January 2017
  4. Damien Gayle."Archaeologists strike Biblical gold with discovery of the Queen of Sheba's fabled mines". The Daily Mail. February 13, 2012
  5. Talents (Biblical Hebrew) to Pounds Conversion". UnitConversion.org; visited January 2017
  6. Price of Gold". APMEX; visited January 2017

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Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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