Containing The Interval Of One Hundred And Sixty-Three Years.
From The Death Of David To The Death Of Ahab.
How Solomon Grew Rich, And Fell Desperately In Love With Women And How God, Being Incensed At It, Raised Up Ader And Jeroboam Against Him. Concerning The Death Of Solomon.
1. ABOUT the same time there were brought to the king from the Aurea Chersonesus, a country so called, precious stones, and pine trees, and these trees he made use of for supporting the temple and the palace, as also for the materials of musical instruments, the harps and the psalteries, that the Levites might make use of them in their hymns to God. The wood which was brought to him at this time was larger and finer than any that had ever been brought before; but let no one imagine that these pine trees were like those which are now so named, and which take that their denomination from the merchants, who so call them, that they may procure them to be admired by those that purchase them; for those we speak of were to the sight like the wood of the fig tree, but were whiter, and more shining. Now we have said thus much, that nobody may be ignorant of the difference between these sorts of wood, nor unacquainted with the nature of the genuine pine tree; and we thought it both a seasonable and humane thing, when we mentioned it, and the uses the king made of it, to explain this difference so far as we have done.
2. Now the weight of gold that was brought him was six hundred and sixty-six talents, not including in that sum what was brought by the merchants, nor what the toparchs and kings of Arabia gave him in presents. He also cast two hundred targets of gold, each of them weighing six hundred shekels. He also made three hundred shields, every one weighing three pounds of gold, and he had them carried and put into that house which was called The Forest of Lebanon. He also made cups of gold, and of [precious] stones, for the entertainment of his guests, and had them adorned in the most artificial manner; and he contrived that all his other furniture of vessels should be of gold, for there was nothing then to be sold or bought for silver; for the king had many ships which lay upon the sea of Tarsus, these he commanded to carry out all sorts of merchandise unto the remotest nations, by the sale of which silver and gold were brought to the king, and a great quantity of ivory, and Ethiopians, and apes; and they finished their voyage, going and returning, in three years' time.
3. Accordingly there went a great fame all around the neighboring countries, which proclaimed the virtue and wisdom of Solomon, insomuch that all the kings every where were desirous to see him, as not giving credit to what was reported, on account of its being almost incredible: they also demonstrated the regard they had for him by the presents they made him; for they sent him vessels of gold, and silver, and purple garments, and many sorts of spices, and horses, and chariots, and as many mules for his carriages as they could find proper to please the king's eyes, by their strength and beauty. This addition that he made to those chariots and horses which he had before from those that were sent him, augmented the number of his chariots by above four hundred, for he had a thousand before, and augmented the number of his horses by two thousand, for he had twenty thousand before. These horses also were so much exercised, in order to their making a fine appearance, and running swiftly, that no others could, upon the comparison, appear either finer or swifter; but they were at once the most beautiful of all others, and their swiftness was incomparable also.
Their riders also were a further ornament to them, being, in the first place, young men in the most delightful flower of their age, and being eminent for their largeness, and far taller than other men. They had also very long heads of hair hanging down, and were clothed in garments of Tyrian purple. They had also dust of gold every day sprinkled on their hair, so that their heads sparkled with the reflection of the sun-beams from the gold. The king himself rode upon a chariot in the midst of these men, who were still in armor, and had their bows fitted to them. He had on a white garment, and used to take his progress out of the city in the morning. There was a certain place about fifty furlongs distant from Jerusalem, which is called Etham, very pleasant it is in fine gardens, and abounding in rivulets of water; (19) thither did he use to go out in the morning, sitting on high [in his chariot.]
4. Now Solomon had a divine sagacity in all things, and was very diligent and studious to have things done after an elegant manner; so he did not neglect the care of the ways, but he laid a causeway of black stone along the roads that led to Jerusalem, which was the royal city, both to render them easy for travelers, and to manifest the grandeur of his riches and government. He also parted his chariots, and set them in a regular order, that a certain number of them should be in every city, still keeping a few about him; and those cities he called the cities of his chariots. And the king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stones in the street; and so multiplied cedar trees in the plains of Judea, which did not grow there before, that they were like the multitude of common sycamore trees. He also ordained the Egyptian merchants that brought him their merchandise to sell him a chariot, with a pair of horses, for six hundred drachmae of silver, and he sent them to the kings of Syria, and to those kings that were beyond Euphrates.
5. But although Solomon was become the most glorious of kings, and the best beloved by God, and had exceeded in wisdom and riches those that had been rulers of the Hebrews before him, yet did not he persevere in this happy state till he died. Nay, he forsook the observation of the laws of his fathers, and came to an end no way suitable to our foregoing history of him. He grew mad in his love of women, and laid no restraint on himself in his lusts; nor was he satisfied with the women of his country alone, but he married many wives out of foreign nations; Sidontans, and Tyrians, and Ammonites, and Edomites; and he transgressed the laws of Moses, which forbade Jews to marry any but those that were of their own people. He also began to worship their gods, which he did in order to the gratification of his wives, and out of his affection for them.
This very thing our legislator suspected, and so admonished us beforehand, that we should not marry women of other countries, lest we should be entangled with foreign customs, and apostatize from our own; lest we should leave off to honor our own God, and should worship their gods. But Solomon was Gllen headlong into unreasonable pleasures, and regarded not those admonitions; for when he had married seven hundred wives, (20) the daughters of princes and of eminent persons, and three hundred concubines, and those besides the king of Egypt's daughter, he soon was governed by them, till he came to imitate their practices. He was forced to give them this demonstration of his kindness and affection to them, to live according to the laws of their countries.
And as he grew into years, and his reason became weaker by length of time, it was not sufficient to recall to his mind the institutions of his own country; so he still more and more contemned his own God, and continued to regard the gods that his marriages had introduced nay, before this happened, he sinned, and fell into an error about the observation of the laws, when he made the images of brazen oxen that supported the brazen sea, (21) and the images of lions about his own throne; for these he made, although it was not agreeable to piety so to do; and this he did, notwithstanding that he had his father as a most excellent and domestic pattern of virtue, and knew what a glorious character he had left behind him, because of his piety towards God.
Nor did he imitate David, although God had twice appeared to him in his sleep, and exhorted him to imitate his father. So he died ingloriously. There came therefore a prophet to him, who was sent by God, and told him that his wicked actions were not concealed from God; and threatened him that he should not long rejoice in what he had done; that, indeed, the kingdom should not be taken from him while he was alive, because God had promised to his father David that he would make him his successor, but that he would take care that this should befall his son when he :was dead; not that he would withdraw all the people from him, but that he would give ten tribes to a servant of his, and leave only two tribes to David's grandson for his sake, because he loved God, and for the sake of the city of Jerusalem, wherein he should have a temple.
6. When Solomon heard this he was grieved, and greatly confounded, upon this change of almost all that happiness which had made him to be admired, into so bad a state; nor had there much time passed after the prophet had foretold what was coming before God raised up an enemy against him, whose name was Ader, who took the following occasion of his enmity to him. He was a child of the stock of the Edomites, and of the blood royal; and when Joab, the captain of David's host, laid waste the land of Edom, and destroyed all that were men grown, and able to bear arms, for six months' time, this Hadad fled away, and came to Pharaoh the king of Egypt, who received him kindly, and assigned him a house to dwell in, and a country to supply him with food; and when he was grown up he loved him exceedingly, insomuch that he gave him his wife's sister, whose name was Tahpenes, to wife, by whom he had a son; who was brought up with the king's children.
When Hadad heard in Egypt that both David and Joab were dead, he came to Pharaoh, and desired that he would permit him to go to his own country; upon which the king asked what it was that he wanted, and what hardship he had met with, that he was so desirous to leave him. And when he was often troublesome to him, and entreated him to dismiss him, he did not then do it; but at the time when Solomon's affairs began to grow worse, on account of his forementioned transgressions (22) and God's anger against him for the same, Hadad, by Pharaoh's permission, came to Edom; and when he was not able to make the people forsake Solomon, for it was kept under by many garrisons, and an innovation was not to be made with safety, he removed thence, and came into Syria; there he lighted upon one Rezon, who had run away from Hadadezer, king of Zobah, his master, and was become a robber in that country, and joined friendship with him, who had already a band of robbers about him. So he went up, and seized upon that part of Syria, and was made king thereof. He also made incursions into the land of Israel, and did it no small mischief, and spoiled it, and that in the lifetime of Solomon. And this was the calamity which the Hebrews suffered by Hadad.
7. There was also one of Solomon's own nation that made an attempt against him, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had an expectation of rising, from a prophecy that had been made to him long before. He was left a child by his father, and brought up by his mother; and when Solomon saw that he was of an active and bold disposition, he made him the curator of the walls which he built round about Jerusalem; and he took such care of those works, that the king approved of his behavior, and gave him, as a reward for the same, the charge of the tribe of Joseph. And when about that time Jeroboam was once going out of Jerusalem, a prophet of the city Shilo, whose name was Ahijah, met him and saluted him; and when he had taken him a little aside to a place out of the way, where there was not one other person present, he rent the garment he had on into twelve pieces, and bid Jeroboam take ten of them; and told him beforehand, that
"this is the will of God; he will part the dominion of Solomon, and give one tribe, with that which is next it, to his son, because of the promise made to David for his succession, and will have ten tribes to thee, because Solomon hath sinned against him, and delivered up himself to women, and to their gods. Seeing therefore thou knowest the cause for which God hath changed his mind, and is alienated from Solomon, be thou"
8. So Jeroboam was elevated by these words of the prophet; and being a young man, (23) of a warm temper, and ambitious of greatness, he could not be quiet; and when he had so great a charge in the government, and called to mind what had been revealed to him by Ahijah, he endeavored to persuade the people to forsake Solomon, to make a disturbance, and to bring the government over to himself. But when Solomon understood his intention and treachery, he sought to catch him and kill him; but Jeroboam was informed of it beforehand, and fled to Shishak, the king of Egypt, and there abode till the death of Solomon; by which means he gained these two advantages to suffer no harm from Solomon, and to be preserved for the kingdom. So Solomon died when he was already an old man, having reigned eighty years, and lived ninety-four. He was buried in Jerusalem, having been superior to all other kings in happiness, and riches, and wisdom, excepting that when he was growing into years he was deluded by women, and transgressed the law; concerning which transgressions, and the miseries which befell the Hebrews thereby, I think proper to discourse at another opportunity.
(19) Whether these fine gardens and rivulets of Etham, about six miles from Jerusalem, whither Solomon rode so often in state, be not those alluded to, Ecclesiastes 2:5-6, where he says,
" He made him gardens and orchards, and planted trees in them of all kinds of fruits: he made him pools of water, to water the wood that bringeth forth trees;"
and to the finest part whereof he seems to allude, when, in the Canticles, he compares his spouse to a garden "enclosed," to a "spring shut up," to a "fountain sealed," (Ch. 4. 12)(part of which from rains are still extant, as Mr. Matmdrell informs us, page 87, 88); cannot now be certainly determined, but may very probably be conjectured. But whether this Etham has any relation to those rivers of Etham, which Providence once dried up in a miraculous manner, Psalm 74:15, in the Septuagint, I cannot say.
(20) These seven hundred wives, or the daughters of great men, and the three hundred concubines, the daughters of the ignoble, make one thousand in all; and are, I suppose, those very one thousand women intimated elsewhere by Solomon himself, when he speaks of his not having found one [good] woman among that very number, Ecclesiastes 7:28.
(21) Josephus is here certainly too severe upon Solomon, who, in making the cherubims, and these twelve brazen oxen, seems to have done no more than imitate the patterns left him by David, which were all given David by Divine inspiration. See my Description of the Temples, Ch. 10. And although God gave no direction for the lions that adorned his throne, yet does not Solomon seem therein to have broken any law of Moses; for although the Pharisees and latter Rabbins have extended the second commandment, to forbid the very making of any image, though without any intention to have it worshipped, yet do not I suppose that Solomon so understood it, nor that it ought to be so understood. The making any other altar for worship but that at the tabernacle was equally forbidden by Moses, Antiq. B. IV. Ch. 8. Sect. 5; yet did not the two tribes and a half offend when they made an altar for a memorial only, Joshua 22; Antiq. B. V. Ch. 1. Sect. 26, 27.
(22) Since the beginning of Solomon's evil life and adversity was the time when Hadad or Ader, who was born at least twenty or thirty years before Solomon came to the crown, in the days of David, began to give him disturbance, this implies that Solomon's evil life began early, and continued very long, which the multitude of his wives and concubines does imply also; I suppose when he was not fifty years of age.
(23) This youth of Jeroboam, when Solomon built the walls of righteous and keep the laws, because he hath proposed to thee the greatest of all rewards for thy piety, and the honor thou shalt pay to God, namely, to be as greatly exalted as thou knowest David to have been.
"Jerusalem, not very long after he had finished his twenty years building of the temple and his own palace, or not very long after the twenty-fourth of his reign. " (1 Kings 9:24; 2 Chronicles 8:11)
and his youth here still mentioned, when Solomon's wickedness was become intolerable, fully confirm my former observation, that such his wickedness began early, and continued very long. See Ecclus. 47:14.