1 Kings 3-5
Solomon ‘made an alliance’ with the pharaoh and married his daughter! Huh? What about all of Yahweh’s laws against intermarriage (see Deut 7:3-4)???? Obviously political deals win over religious dogma. And am I the only one who noticed? Even the SAB gave that verse a pass… But Solomon gets away with it because he sucks up to Yahweh by slaughtering 1000 animals for burnt offerings. And because Solomon is such a good suck-up (v 3-9), god promises fame, fortune, and longevity in addition to the wisdom he requested! (Read v 12 – Does this mean he was wiser than Jesus?).
So Solomon’s first act of wisdom is his judgement about the two women fighting over the baby (v 18-27). Did you learn this story in Sunday school? and if so, did your teacher tell you that the two women involved were both prostitutes? Didn’t think so… Watch this 6 minute clip from the movie Solomon and see if you can pick out the baby’s mother.
There’s nothing much to comment on in chapter 4, except to note the titles of some of the officials that Solomon appoints to his ‘cabinet’. At the top of the list is the priest – no separation of church and state here. There are governors and property managers and an army commander, pretty typical of any government. But there is no minister of labor – there is, however, a minister of ‘forced labor’. And one of the governors is named Ben Hur. However this is NOT the Ben Hur of movie fame – that Ben Hur is a different fictional character from this one. (‘Ben’ means ‘son of’, so there could be lots of men named Ben Hur.) The rest of the chapter sounds like it was written by Solomon’s PR department – it just lists his assets and his accomplishments.
Solomon rules a vast empire that is now (finally) at peace. How come? After all those years of war, why does the fighting suddenly cease for Solomon? Does he have some special gift for negotiation? Is it a result of the political alliances he made when he married the pharaoh’s daughter? Or has Yahweh put an end to it? In peacetime, Solomon goes ahead with plans to build the grand temple (as foretold in 2 Sam 7: 12-13), and King Hiram of Tyre (in Phoenicia, see map) agrees to help him as part of a trade deal. It promises to be a massive undertaking, but not impossible when you have 30,000 slaves to help (v 13).