Keith Hunt - Ancient Israel History - Page Four   Restitution of All Things

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Ancient Israel History NOT taught #4

Solomon's world wealth and falling away!

             ANCIENT ISRAEL HISTORY YOU'VE NOT BEEN TAUGHT #4


Continued from previous page:


King Solomon and the "Golden Age" of Israel


     His resources were such that there was no meaningful
financial limitation on how expansive his gardens could become.
Solomon became a great patron of the arts as well. He collected
all types of musical instruments, and combined them with the best
singers he could find (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Can you imagine the
majestic music which resulted from combining the world's best
musicians with the world's best singers? The same passage also
cites Solomon as saying: "I gathered ... the peculiar treasure of
kings and of the provinces." These "peculiar treasures" must have
included many examples of rare and beautiful art works. I
Chronicles 9:23-24 states:

"all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon ...
and they brought every man his present ... a rate year by year."

     With royal gifts accumulating in Jerusalem on an annual
basis, Solomon had to have places to store or exhibit these
"peculiar treasures." Solomon must have had the best art and
treasure museums then present on the earth, and Jerusalem must
have become the tourist attraction of the ancient world! No
wonder many kings travelled annually to Jerusalem. They not only
wanted to "seek the presence of Solomon," but also sample some of
Solomon's lifestyle.
     One reason why so much wealth flowed into Israel was that
the kings of the earth likely tried to outdo each other in
impressing Solomon with their nations gifts. Since Solomon
already "had everything," the various kings must have been quite
creative to find something new to give to Solomon. Before the
reader thinks that all these ancient kings were being altruistic
in their gifts, remember the geopolitics of the time. Solomon was
the leader of a tripartite alliance of Israel, Egypt and
Phoenicia, which constituted the greatest military alliance at
that time. This alliance had a lock-hold on maritime trading
routes and controlled many critical overland trade routes.
Everyone had a compelling self-interest to "get along" with
Solomon. Many nations undoubtedly gave their gifts to Solomon out
of a sense of political self-interest rather than altruism.
However, many of the national leaders, such as King Hiram of Tyre
(Phoenicia) and the queen of Sheba genuinely liked Solomon, and
were enthusiastically allied to him. Also, Solomon was hardly
greedy; he also gave huge reciprocal gifts to monarchs that came
to visit him (I Kings 10:13).
     Did all these other kings come occasionally throughout the
year, or was there a fixed schedule for coordinating these visits
(after all, one couldn't simply call "long distance" in that
time, such visits needed considerable preparation). It is this
book's opinion that such visits likely occurred during the Holy
Days of God, which Israel observed as scheduled times of national
rejoicing. I Kings 8:65-66 states one of Solomon's great national
"feasts" (Israel's Holy Days were called "feast" days) lasted
fourteen days, and that Solomon dismissed the happy crowds "on
the eighth day." This "feast" had to be The Feast of Tabernacles,
which consisted of seven days of feasting climaxed by an eighth
day (Leviticus 23:34-43). The reference to "fourteen days"
indicates that Solomon added an extra week of rejoicing prior to
the first seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles followed by the
climactic "eighth day." Why the extra week for rejoicing? It was
because that particular Feast of Tabernacles was like none other
in history.
     That particular Feast of Tabernacles was unprecedented as it
included the dedication of the Temple of God, which had taken
years to build. I Kings 8 describes the placing of the Ark of the
Covenant (the very "ark" depicted in the popular movie "Raiders
of the Lost Ark") in the Temple's Holy of Holies, and verses
10-11 states:

"And when the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled
the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to
minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled
the house of the Lord."

     That a huge assembly witnessed a supernatural (perhaps
glowing) cloud fill the Temple just after the priests placed the
Ark in the "Holy Place" powerfully attested to God's divine
arrival in the Temple itself! This "cloud" was so intense that no
human being could stay in the Temple! Can you imagine the sense
of awe that must have been present in the viewers? This one event
undoubtedly did much to secure Solomon's position in the ancient
world as all foreign ambassadors who witnessed this event no
doubt spread the news of it far and wide! It also illustrates
that other nations were not only in awe of Solomon, they were in
awe of Solomon's God! The God of Israel was not some dumb idol
who was carved and then worshipped by the people who made it; the
God of Israel was real!
     I Kings 9:22-61 records that Solomon, while the glowing
cloud of God was present in the Temple, "stood before the altar
of the Lord in the presence of all the congregation of Israel,
and spread forth his hands toward heaven" as he offered his
prayer to dedicate the Temple. Solomon showed his humble,
worshipful attitude toward God in these words (verses 22-30):

"O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like thee, in heaven
above, or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing
steadfast love to thy servants ... Who hast kept with thy
servant David my father what thou didst declare to him ... But
will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the
highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house
which I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of thy servant
and to his supplication, O Lord my God ... And hearken thou to
the supplication of thy servant and of thy people Israel, when
they pray toward this place; and when thou hearest, forgive. "
(RSV)

     After asking God to cut short droughts, wars, and
pestilences which might occur due to the nation's future
disobedience, he asked God to listen also to non-Israelites who
would come to serve him. His dedication proved prophetic as he
even asked God to forgive future generations of Israelites if
they repented after they were carried into captivity as a result
of their sins. It is an indication of Solomon's unimaginable
wealth that he offered a burnt offering of 22,000 oxen and
120,000 sheep to climax the Temple dedication.
     Since Solomon was faithful to God for many years, it is
likely that Solomon invited the kings of the earth to visit
Jerusalem, with their retainers and tribute gifts, at the time of
Israel's Feast of Tabernacles, an appointed time for annual
convocations. I Kings 10:24-25 states these royal gifts happened
"year by year," implying these events were on an annual,
predictable schedule.

     Based on the assumption that these royal visits coincided
with the Feast of Tabernacles, let us try to visualize what
occurred. Surely, the excitement mounted as the Feast neared, and
the annual visits of the world's kings (and/or their
representatives) to Jerusalem were about to begin. As the date
arrived, many kings would arrive via caravan routes. Also, the
worldwide fleets of the tripartite alliance (Israel, Phoenicia
and Egypt) could easily bring royalty from other continents.
Given the evidence presented earlier that these fleets were
present in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans and in the New
World, some of Solomon's royal visitors could have come from the
New World. These national delegations would each be bringing
gifts of gold, animals and botanical specimens for Solomon's
gardens, treasured artworks, etc. Visualize the spectacle as
royalty from all over the earth proceeded with their entourages
through the streets of Jerusalem, with baggage trains of precious
metals, unusual animals, etc.!

     In such an event, we can see ways in which the reign of
Solomon typifies the prophesied reign of Jesus Christ on earth
(Jewish readers could visualize the reign of the promised
Messiah). Solomon presided over a period of general peace (I
Kings 4:21-25), and reigned from his capital in Jerusalem. Like
Solomon, Christ will preside over an era of world peace (Isaiah
2:2-4) as he reigns from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:16-17). Solomon
was a de facto "king of kings," dominating all other contemporary
kings. Jesus Christ will be a literal "King of Kings," serving as
a world ruler with his saints serving as subordinate kings over
the nations (Daniel 7:18, Revelation 5:8-10, 19:16, 20:4). Even
as Solomon's reign of peace was preceded by violent wars, Jesus
Christ's reign will be preceded by violent wars (Zechariah
14:1-14, Matthew 24:3-6, Revelation 19:11-21). Even as the
world's wealth flowed to King Solomon at Jerusalem, the wealth of
the nations will flow to Christ at Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:14).
Even as the kings of the earth likely journeyed to Jerusalem at
the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, all nations will send
delegations to Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles when
Jesus Christ rules (Zechariah 14:16). In fact, he will require
all nations to observe the Feast of Tabernacles at that time
(Zechariah 14:17-19). However, there will be one major
difference. Unlike Solomon's reign, which degenerated into
corruptions, the reign of Christ will never degenerate.
In Solomon's golden age, a great deal of scientific knowledge was
being accumulated. Solomon's comments in Ecclesiastes 1:6-7
confirm that the worldwide pattern of circular trade winds
(knowledge gained by the transoceanic voyages of the
Phoenicians), and the entire water cycle (that the water of
rivers flowing to oceans would evaporate, condense into water
droplets and furnish rain to replenish the inland rivers) was
known at that time.

     It is clear that the ancient world was far more advanced and
interconnected than has generally been acknowledged. In fact,
during the time of King Solomon, the ancients knew far more than
did more modern mankind during "The Dark Ages." During the Dark
Ages of the early Medieval period, turmoil, superstition and
ignorance dominated society. In the Dark Ages, the Old World even
lost its knowledge of the New World which ancient civilizations
had explored, mined and colonized. As we will see in a later
chapter, ancient civilizations were far more advanced than were
the more recent Medieval civilizations.
     It must be pointed out that there is no evidence that any
other nation on earth actually converted to the worship of the
True God of Israel during Solomon's reign. The nations
undoubtedly stood in awe of Israel's God, but there is every
indication that they continued to serve their pagan gods. Indeed,
this golden age of peaceful international relations and worldwide
scientific pursuits began to unravel during Solomon's reign. The
Bible shows that the worship of pagan gods began to permeate
Israel through the acts of Solomon himself. In addition to
collecting precious metals, world treasures, art works, flora and
fauna, orchestras and singers, etc., Solomon also began a large
collection of women.
     He collected a harem of 1000 women, and I Kings 11:1-9 makes
the following observation about King Solomon:

"When Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other
gods. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the
Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites ...
Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of
Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites ... And so
he did for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and
sacrificed to their gods." (RSV)

     Since Solomon reigned forty years (I Kings 11:42), his
golden age (which paralleled his obedience to God) apparently
lasted for most of that time, and his period of degeneracy
occurred in the waning years of his life. It is significant that
one of the Phoenician deities worshipped by Solomon was Ashtoreth
of Sidon, a "mothergoddess" associated with fertility worship.
This mother-goddess cult, whose worship included fertility
celebrations, phallic monuments, etc. was also found to be
pervasive in the Phoenician settlements of ancient America. From
that point on, the northern ten tribes (known as "Israel") became
inextricably linked with pagan gods such as Baal and Ashteroth.
The "mother-goddess" was worshipped in many civilizations and was
known by a variety of names; Ashteroth being her Sidonian name.
It is incredible that Solomon went from personally speaking with
God himself (I Kings 11:9) to worshipping pagan gods associated
with human sacrifice and sensual abandonment. It is highly
unlikely that Solomon woke up one morning and decided he had the
world's most voracious libido and needed 1000 wives and
concubines. More likely it started innocently enough. Remember
that Pharaoh had given Solomon a royal daughter as a wife? As the
nations of the world brought Solomon gifts of gold, art
treasures, animals for his zoos, etc., it is highly likely that
many other kings also gave Solomon royal-born women as wives to
cement the political ties of those nations with Solomon. I Kings
11:3 indicates this was the case as it lists "princesses" among
his many wives.
     Since such women were royal-born, they would have travelled
with retainers and the paraphernalia of their native culture. As
these foreign princesses began to settle in Israel, they and
their servants would continue to worship their particular pagan
gods. Very likely, Jerusalem's "embassy row" had many idols
present, and perhaps even foreign priests were present to attend
the idols. As this trend continued, it is easy to see that each
foreign addition to Solomon's harem resulted in a microcosm of
each foreign nations pagan culture being present in Israel.
     Solomon's character and personality deteriorated as his
idolatries grew, and his charisma and aura of leadership also
deteriorated. Nations and subjects began to lose their respect
for him, and problems began to beset the nation (a testimony that
when national leaders are sinful, their nations will suffer as
well). I Kings 11:14-40 records that an Edomite prince and an
Aramaean named Rezon became adversaries of Solomon, and notes
that a high Israelite official named Jeroboam (who was governor
of the chief tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh) was told by God
through a prophet that he would be king over the northern ten
tribes of Israel after Solomon's death. When Solomon learned
this, he tried to kill Jeroboam (even as the degenerate King Saul
had tried to kill young David when God chose David to replace
Saul). This account affords insights into how fast Solomon's
domination of the world around him was fading away.
     The Pharaoh of Egypt, who formerly had given his daughter to
Solomon as a wife and conquered a city to present to Solomon as a
gift, gave sanctuary to Jeroboam, the king-in-waiting over most
of Solomon's kingdom. As we shall see in the next chapter, the
fact that Pharaoh sheltered Solomon's dissidents was soon to bear
bitter fruit for Solomon's successor over Judah and Benjamin, and
Jeroboam's period of exile in Egypt was to bear bitter fruit for
Israel (the northern ten tribes). We see in this account a
harbinger of a rearrangement of the tripartite alliance that
existed under King Solomon. Undoubtedly, resentment grew between
Solomon and Pharaoh, and Pharaoh drew closer to Jeroboam, who was
destined to rule the northern ten tribes after Solomon's death.
This would soon result in Jeroboam retaining close alliances with
Egypt and the city states of Tyre, Sidon, etc., while Judah
(ruled by Solomon's son) would become the "odd man out."

     At this juncture, this chapter on Solomon's rule draws to an
end. What began so impressively ended ignominiously. Solomon
actually exhibited a suicidal attitude in his final years
(Ecclesiastes 2:17, 4:2). One reason that Israel's golden age is
largely missed by historians is that it lasted for so short a
time. While Israel and Judah still would have major roles in the
ancient world, their "golden age" was over. The remaining history
(which includes surprising information) of the separate kingdoms
of Israel and Judah will be presented in the next chapter.

ENDNOTES: CHAPTER TWO

1. Harper's Bible Dictionary, "Tiphsah," p.1076 
2. Hitti, Short History of the Near East, p.20 
3. Ibid, pp.30-31
4. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 21, "Suez Canal," p.516 
5. Ibid, p.516
6. Ibid, p.516
7. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, p.26 and 56-57
8. Fell, America B.C. pp.176 and 179, and Bronze Age America, pp.
278-282 
9. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, pp.56-71 and 164; Waddell, Phoenician
Origin of the Britons, Scots, & Anglo-Saxons, pp. 159-160 
10. Fell, America B.C., p.58
11. Ibid, pp.100-101 
12. Ibid, p.101
13. Ibid, pp.81-92 
14. Ibid, p.83
15. Ibid, pp.90-91 
16. Ibid, p.92 
17. Ibid, p.85 
18. Ibid, p.83 
19. Ibid, p.84 
20. Ibid, p.84
21. Ibid, pp.93-99,157,163 
22. Ibid, p.93 (see also p.163) 
23. Ibid, pp.50 and 61
24. Ibid, pp.130-131 
25. Ibid, p.176
26. Knudsen, "Egyptian Signs in the Hawaiian Islands," Epigraphic
SocietyOccasional Publications, Vol. 13, 1985, pp.67-95 
27. Ibid, p.90
28. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, p.29 
29. Fell, America B.C., p.263 
30. Ibid, p.261
31. Ibid, p.261 
32. Ibid. p.268 
33. Ibid, p.163 
34. Ibid, pp.263 and 268 
35. Ibid, p.270
36. Ibid, p.270-275
37. Ibid, p.159 
38. Ibid, p.159 
39. Ibid, p.164-165
40. Fell, America B.C. (1989 Revised Edition), p.310
41. Ibid, p.310; and Morehouse, "The Los Lunas Inscriptions: A
Geological Study," Epigrapahic Society Occasional Publications,
Vol. 13, 1985, p.49
42. Morehouse, (cited above), p.48
43. Fell, America B.C. (1989 Revised Edition), p.310
44. Fell, "Ancient Punctuation and the Los Lunas Text,"
Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 13, 1985, p.35
45. Leonard and McGlone, "An Epigraphic Hoax on Trial in New
Mexico," Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 17,
1988, p.206 (see also whole article, pp.206-219)
46. "Tanslation of the Decalogue Tablet from Ohio," Bloom and
Polansky, Epigraphic Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 8,
Part One, 1980, p.15
47. Savage, "The Decalogue Tablet, Newark, Ohio," Epigraphic
Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 7, Part 2, 1979, p.194
48. Ibid, p.196 
49. Ibid, p.196 
52. Boland, "They All Discovered America," pp.40-47 and plates
7-9 following p.126 
53. Fell, America B.C., p.168
54. Fell, America B.C., pp.253-260 
55. Ibid, pp.270-272
56. Knudsen, "Egyptian Signs in the Hawaiian Islands," Epigraphic
Society Occasional Publications, Vol. 13, 1985, p.906 
57. Fell, America B.C., p.185
58. Ibid, p.185 
59. Ibid, p.186 
60. Hitti, Short History of the Near East, p.47 
61. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, p.1
62. Encyclopedia Judaica, Vol. 13, p.473 
63. Ibid, p.473
64. Halley, Halley's Bible Handbook, p.134
65. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 11, "Homer," p.689 
66. Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 14, "Homer," p.326
67. Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 21, "Phoenicians," p.947 
68. Hitti, Short History of the Near East, p.40
69. Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 21, "Phoenicians," p.948 
70. Rawlinson, Phoenicia, pp.87-88
71. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 1, "Alphabet," pp.679-681 
72. Ibid, Vol. 17, "Phoenicia," p.766
73. Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, "Alphabet," p.408 
74. Ibid, pp. 408-409
75. Encyclopedia Americana, Vol. 21, "Phoenicians," p.948 
76. Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, "Alphabet," p.409
77. Piggott, Ancient Europe, p.189 
78. Harden, The Phoenicians, p.20 
79. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 1, "Alphabet," p.684 
80. Edey, The Sea Traders, p.46
81. Millard, "Does the Bible Exaggerate King Solomon's Golden
Wealth," Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1989, p.31 
82. Ibid, p.31
83. Ibid, p.21-31
84. Fell, America B.C., pp.219-245

                      ..............................


To be continued with "Israel - the Forgotten World Empire"


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