King Solomon - World History

King Solomon - World History
Posted on 28-12-2022

King Solomon ( 975 ) Solomon succeeds David on the throne of Israel.

One of the issues that caused King David the most problems was the succession. On one side was the house of Saul. Now that times were good, it was easy for Israelite (anti-Jewish) nationalist currents to arise and demand an Israelite king. Under one pretext or another, David managed to execute all of Saul's descendants who could claim a right of succession. There was only one crippled son left, unable to reign, so David welcomed him into his house, as a sign of goodwill towards the house of Saul. More trouble was caused by his own children. It was the custom among Eastern monarchs to have as large a harem as possible. This gave an image of magnificence to both subjects and foreigners. One way to seal an alliance with another people was to incorporate one of their princesses into the harem. It was quite an honour. The problem was that the different women competed with each other, and they all tried to make their children enjoy greater privileges than those of the others. Particularly delicate was the question of which of them would inherit the throne. It was common that when the king died, one of the sons would kill his brothers, thus settling all disputes over the succession. However, a smart move might be to kill both the king and his brothers while they were lying unawares awaiting the death of his father.

Israel's monarchy was young, but it fell for all these platitudes. David's favorite son was Absalom, who gradually gained supporters until in 970 he assembled an army against his father and marched against Jerusalem. David was caught by surprise, but he was still a good tactician. Rather than withstand a siege in the capital (it would have been humiliating) he slipped away, fled across the Jordan, organized all the loyal troops he could command, and returned to Jerusalem, where he had no difficulty in crushing the inexperienced son. of the. David ordered to capture him alive, but Joab, the commander of the army, considered it wiser to kill him.

The crisis encouraged Israelites discontent with a Jewish king. A Benjaminite named Sheba led an uprising that David put down with relative ease. Although the king demonstrated for the second time that he had the reins tight, the truth is that these rebellions showed that his government was not as well established as he had claimed.

Meanwhile, Abibaal, the king of Tyre, died. In 969 he was succeeded by Hiram, who furthered the expansion of the Phoenicians into the Mediterranean. It seems that it was around this time that the Phoenicians learned to orient themselves in the open sea by means of the stars, which facilitated the great expeditions to distant lands.

Returning to Israel and King David, in 961 he was close to death and the succession tensions were greater than ever. Apparently, David had designated Adonijah, his eldest son, as heir after Absalom's death. Adonijah had the support of Joab and Abimelech, the priest. However, David's favorite wife was Bathsheba, who enjoyed a certain influence, the necessary to intrigue in favor of her son Solomon. She won the support of the general Banaiah, who undoubtedly saw the possibility of replacing Joab, and that of the priest Zadok,who saw the possibility of replacing Abimelech. Apparently, Adonijah saw himself practically crowned king and before his father's death he already celebrated it with a banquet. The queen played his cards well. She, Banaiah, and Zadok claimed that David had expressed to them on his deathbed his will that Solomon should be his successor. They accused Adonijah of being a usurper and managed to turn the people against him. Joab and Abimelech could not do anything. The first was assassinated and the priest had to withdraw from public life. Banaiah got the army leadership and Zadok the high priesthood.

Around 960, the city of Tire founded its first overseas colony: it was Utica, located on the African coast just to the southwest of the island of Sicily. Undoubtedly, the long Phoenician expeditions needed intermediate cities to stop over. The Mediterranean was free of competition, since Greece and Crete practically did not exist and Egypt hardly existed either.

Returning to Solomon, the new king did what a usurper with means has often done on his accession to the throne: display such magnificence that no one dares question his kingship. The Bible describes Solomon's harem, made up of about a thousand women, including wives and concubines. Solomon ordered the construction of a magnificent temple to Yahveh in Jerusalem, where the Ark of the Alliance would reside. The construction was left to the care of the architects and craftsmen of Tyre.

King Hiram placed two fleets at Solomon's disposal, one in the Mediterranean and one in the Red Sea. The first reached Spain and even passed the Strait of Gibraltar, thus, for the first time, a ship sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. At the mouth of the Guadalquivir they founded the city of Tartesos, and a short distance away the city of Gades, present-day Cádiz. The second fleet was based at Elat, at the northern end of the Red Sea, and in its expeditions it reached as far as southern Arabia.

In 954 the temple was completed, after which Solomon began the construction of a royal palace, much grander than the temple, as well as other temples for other gods other than Yahveh, especially for the main gods of the subject kingdoms of Moab and amun.

The Bible proudly describes that Solomon had an Egyptian princess in his harem. This is true, but the Egypt of the time was not the one of yesteryear. Solomon's Egyptian wife was the daughter of Psusennes II, who ruled only over the Nile delta, in a kingdom less than Solomon's. Her army was made up mostly of Libyan mercenaries. Her commander was called Sheshonk.Sheshonk undoubtedly ended up having royal power in his hands, to the point that Psusennes II must have been forced to marry one of his daughters to Sheshonk's son, a sign that the latter harbored aspirations to the throne. It was probably this situation that led Psusennes II to request Solomon's help, so it was probably the pharaoh who considered it an honor that a daughter of his was part of Solomon's harem, and not the other way around.

With the wealth he earned from trade, Solomon increased his army, bought horses in Asia Minor, and built chariots. Gradually, the expenses of the court began to exceed the income. Solomon had to reform the collection of taxes. For this he divided the empire into twelve districts that had nothing to do with the old tribal borders, and put a governor in charge of each one. The greater efficiency in the collection of taxes caused a logical discontent of the people, who also saw themselves forced to collaborate in the great constructions. In addition, Solomon freed Judah from paying taxes, while the Israelites were equated with the conquered peoples, such as Amun, Moab and Edom. This caused even greater resentment. Some Israelite religious authorities began to question the legitimacy of the Jerusalem temple, recalling that the true sanctuary of Yahveh must be in ancient Shiloh.

On the other hand, the external situation, until then so favorable to Israel, began to change. In 940 Psusennes II died, ending the 21st dynasty. The first king of the XXII Dynasty was, naturally, Sheshonk I, who established his capital at Bubastis .and soon after he managed to gain control of Thebes, bringing Egypt back together. Meanwhile, the Aramaic tribes that had been infiltrating and harassing Assyria for more than a century began to organize. The Aramaeans do not seem to have contributed any new culture, but absorbed that of the peoples they encountered, especially that of some Neo-Hittite kingdoms. To the north of Israel, Aramaic principalities were formed. A man named Rezon was made king and established his capital at Damascus, very close to the Israelite border. The new kingdom is known as Syria, although this is the name that the Greeks gave it much later.

The situation exploded in 938, when an Ephraimite named Jeroboam was in charge of the forced labor groups in charge of construction. Influenced by Ahab, a religious leader who defended the restoration of Shiloh, he started a rebellion that Solomon was able to put down, but Jeroboam received much popular support and managed to flee to Egypt, where Sheshonk I welcomed him in a friendly way. He was not the first Israeli fugitive that Sheshonk had taken in. He already had Hadad lodged ,an Edomite who had also tried unsuccessfully to rebel against Solomon. Sheshonk I probably saw Israel as a threat ever since his predecessor entered into an alliance with Solomon, and was now slowly planning an attack.

The occasion would present itself with the death of Solomon, which took place in 931. He was succeeded by his son Rehoboam.He had no difficulty in performing the ritual necessary to be proclaimed king of Judah, but to be accepted as king of Israel he had to undergo other rituals in Shechem, the ancient political center of Ephraim. The Israelites tried to obtain concessions and demanded a decrease in taxes. Rehoboam responded with a haughty negative, and Israel rebelled. Sheshonk probably stirred up the rebellion, and immediately sent Jeroboam, who was proclaimed king of Israel and established his capital at Shechem, although he soon moved it to Tirzah,something further north. This meant not only a partition of the kingdom, but a complete dismemberment. Syria seized northern Israel, Ammon regained its independence, while Israel barely held on to Moab. Judah retained Edom. In 926 Sheshonk I invaded Judah, sacked Jerusalem and carried off a good part of the treasures that Solomon had accumulated. Judah undoubtedly became a tributary of Egypt for a time.

Meanwhile, Jeroboam found himself with certain political problems that he had to solve. During the reigns of David and Solomon a considerable effort was made to unite all Israelites and Jews around a common cult, centered in Jerusalem. However, this cult was now a threat to the Israelite monarchy. If Israel continued to worship the god of Jerusalem, her armies might refuse to attack Judah if necessary for religious reasons. Jeroboam could have rebuilt Shiloh, but perhaps he considered sharing a god with Judah dangerous anyway. Instead, he fostered two religious centers, one to the south, at Bethel, just 10 miles from Jerusalem, and another to the north, in Dan. In both he placed the figure of a young bull, whose cult was deeply rooted in Ephraim, and organized a priestly class to take care of the rituals. This originated a perpetual enmity between the royalty and the still powerful priestly class dedicated to the worship of Yahveh or, rather, of Eloim, which was the name that the Israelites gave to the biblical god.

The oldest known documents on the Judeo-Israelite religion date from this time. In them we can appreciate the efforts made during the reigns of David and Solomon to endow Jews and Israelites with a common tradition. Supposedly, the twelve tribes of Israel arrived in Canaan together led first by Moses and then by Joshua. In reality Joshua must have been one of the judges or leaders that each tribe had, but the simultaneous mandates of these leaders are presented as successive, so that apparently the twelve tribes were always under a common command even before the monarchy. The god of Moses, identified with that of Abraham, it plays a central role in the fate of Israel: every time the Israelites suffer a setback, this is interpreted as divine retaliation for an offense attributed to the people or their leaders (usually the worship of other gods); every time things go well, it is a sign of God's favor towards some virtuous man. (Among the most forced cases is that of a plague epidemic that occurred during the reign of David. According to the Bible, the cause was that David offended God by ordering a census of Israel.) this is interpreted as divine retaliation for an offense attributed to the people or their leaders (usually the worship of other gods); every time things go well, it is a sign of God's favor towards some virtuous man. (Among the most forced cases is that of a plague epidemic that occurred during the reign of David. According to the Bible, the cause was that David offended God by ordering a census of Israel.) this is interpreted as divine retaliation for an offense attributed to the people or their leaders (usually the worship of other gods); every time things go well, it is a sign of God's favor towards some virtuous man. (Among the most forced cases is that of a plague epidemic that occurred during the reign of David. According to the Bible, the cause was that David offended God by ordering a census of Israel.)

In addition to the historical and pseudo-historical texts (with the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob-Israel, his twelve sons, etc.) we also find Canaanite myths of Sumerian origin adapted to the Judeo-Israelite worldview. There is a vague history of the creation of man, as well as a version of the universal deluge followed by extensive genealogies of the patriarchs, which correspond to the names of towns and tribes. For example, Noah, the survivor of the flood according to the Israelite version of the myth, had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japhet.From the latter descended the most distant peoples, including the Egyptians, from Shem descended the Israelites themselves and related peoples, such as the Hebrews, while Ham was the ancestor of the Canaanites and other subjugated peoples (Canaan was one of the sons of Ham). . In an early version, Ham (or Canaan) castrated his father while he slept drunk. The final version of the Bible softened Ham's crime by reducing it to "seeing his father naked and not covering him." In any case, Noah cursed Ham (and his descendants), condemning him to be "a slave to the slaves of his brothers",which justified the Israelites killing or enslaving the Canaanites. The Egyptians had long imported black slaves from central Africa. The Israelites explained the black color of their skin as a sign that they were descendants of the accursed Cam, and thus introduced into history an idea that, although it is not explicitly stated in the Bible, would be taken up on many occasions from Jewish tradition due to its extreme convenience. : that blacks are made to be slaves.

Meanwhile, in 919 , the king of Egypt Sheshonk I died and was succeeded by Osorkon I, who inherited a relatively prosperous Egypt, although the new king was unable or unable to do more than barely maintain it.

King Rehoboam of Judah died in 913 and was succeeded by his son Abiyyam, who died at the age of two and was succeeded by his son Asa in 911. The Jews remembered David's reign as his most glorious era, and they never questioned the right to the throne of their descendants. The same was not the case in Israel, whose greatest weakness was at all times the lack of both a political and a religious tradition. By this time the Arameans were firmly established in Syria. The kingdom of Damascus, under King Benhadad I,it had spread in recent years to become as large a nation as Israel. However, neighboring Assyria was also making a comeback. The same year that Asa ascended the throne of Judah, King Adad-Narari II was on the throne of Assyria and began to reorganize it. He soon began to show his power over the Aramaic principalities.

Jeroboam died in 910 and was succeeded by his son Nadab,   but he failed to hold his throne for more than a year. A general named Basa staged a coup in 909 and seized the throne. To consolidate his questionable right to the throne he encouraged war against Judah. King Asa sent gifts to the Syrian king, begging him to attack Israel. Benhadad I was pleased to agree to this possibility of expansion, and thus an alliance was formed thanks to which the weak Judah was able to resist Israel.

Thank You