Catholic Dictionary




The third King of Israel, son of David and Bath-Sheba, ruled his country from 961-922 B.C. Because it was a peaceful period in Jewish history, Solomon was able to extend Israel's borders farther than they had ever been before and to increase its prosperity and power to a level never equaled since. His accession to the throne was threatened by his brother, Adonijah, who conspired against him (I Kings 1, 2). But their father, David, preferred Solomon and had him secretly anointed. Eventually Adonijah and his military supporter, Joab, were executed for their conspiratorial efforts. Solomon displayed such remarkable intellectual qualities that his court became a center of culture (I Kings 5:14). He composed an extraordinary number of songs, and it seems certain that a great part of the Book of Proverbs had Solomon for its author (I Kings 5:12). He launched an impressive building campaign that included the Temple of Yahweh and a magnificient royal palace (I Kings 6:1, 7:1). He built a fleet of ships and extended Israel's trade to many nations. One device Solomon employed to extend his power was marrying many wives who belonged to ruling families in neighboring countries. While this was shrewd strategy, it led to his decline: he antagonized Yahweh, who resented this infiltration of pagan religions and threatened punishment (I Kings 11:1-8). During the reign of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, Yahweh lived up to his threat. "Israel has been separated from the House of David until the present day" (I Kings 12:19).