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The Empires of the Bible from the Confusion of Tongues to the Babylonian Captivity

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    SOLOMON was made king over Israel “when David was old and full of days.” David called together “all the princes of Israel, the princes of the tribes, and the captains of the companies that ministered to the king by course, and the captains over the thousands, and captains over the hundreds, and the stewards over all the substance and possession of the king, and of his sons, with the officers, and with the mighty men, and with all the valiant men, unto Jerusalem.”EB 181.1

    2. In the presence of all the assembly, David told how God had chosen Solomon to succeed him in the throne, and gave to Solomon the charge: “And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the Lord searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek Him, He will be found of thee; but if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off forever.” He then gave to Solomon the pattern of all the temple that was to be built, “and for all the work of the service of the house of the Lord;” and formally transferred to him all the gold and silver for the building and decorating of the house. He also called upon all to consecrate their service unto the Lord, and it was done willingly. Then David “blessed the Lord before all the congregation,” and prayed for the people and committed them to the Lord. “And all the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshiped.” “And they made Solomon the son of David king the second time, and anointed him unto the Lord to be the chief governor, and Zadok to be priest. Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Lord as king instead of David his father.” 1[Page 181] 1 Chronicles 28 and 29.EB 181.2

    3. Solomon reigned forty years: the first twenty in the service of God; the last twenty in the service of his wives and himself. The word “Solomon” means “Peaceable.” He was so named nine years before his birth, when David first suggested the building of a house for the Lord. At that time the Lord said to David that he should not build the house that he had in his heart to build; but, “Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days. He shall build an house for my name.” 2[Page 182] 1 Chronicles 2:9EB 182.1

    4. The great ability manifested by David in every way, because the Lord was with him, had assured to the kingdom and reign of Solomon this condition of peace. And “Judah and Israel were many, as the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry. And Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the river [Euphrates] unto the land of the Philistines, and unto the border of Egypt: they brought presents, and served Solomon all the days of his life.... He had dominion over all the region on this side of the river, from Tiphsah [Thapsacus] even to Azzah [Gaza], over all the kings on this side of the river: and he had peace on all sides round about him. And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even unto Beer-sheba, all the days of Solomon.”EB 182.2

    5. “And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding exceeding much, and largeness of heart, even as the sand that is on the seashore. And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men; ... and his fame was in all nations round about.”EB 182.3

    6. He was a universal proverbialist; for “he spake three thousand proverbs.” He was a poet; for “his songs were a thousand and five.” He was a universal scientist: a thorough botanist, for “he spake of trees, from the cedar tree that is in Lebanon even unto the hyssop that springeth out of the wall;” a zoologist, for “he spake also of beasts;” an ornithologist, for he spake “of fowl;” an entomologist, for he spake “of creeping things;” an ichthyologist, for he spake “of fishes;” and a meteorologist, for he spake of the course of the wind “according to his circuits,” and of the “return” of the rivers “unto the place from whence the rivers come.” 3[Page 183] 1 Kings 4:32, 33; Ecclesiastes 1:6, 7. This was genuine science, too; for it was the revelation of the wisdom of God.EB 182.4

    7. “And all the kings of the earth sought the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom, that God had put in his heart.” They came, too, not as mere curiosity seekers, but to recognize his supremacy and to do him honor in it; for “they brought every man his present, vessels of silver, and vessels of gold, and raiment, harness, and spices, horses, and mules, a rate year by year.” The “presents” themselves were a recognition of sovereignty, and their bringing them “year by year” shows that they were an annual tribute rendered in recognition of the sovereignty of Solomon and of the kingdom of Israel, by all the kings of the earth. It is true that this conquest of all the kingdoms was not by force of arms and the carnage of battle; yet it was none the less a fact. For there is more power in the wisdom and righteousness of God manifested through sincere hearts of men, than in all the governments, armies, and weapons of war, that this world can ever know.EB 183.1

    8. His wealth was accordingly great. The gold that was left to him by David amounted to 108,000 talents. The gold that came to him in a single year was 666 talents. His navy brought at one voyage from Ophir 420 talents; and at another, 450 talents. The Queen of Sheba gave him 120 talents; and Hiram of Tyre gave him 120 talents. All this was “besides that he had of the merchantmen, and of the traffic of the spice merchants, and of all the kings of Arabia, and of the governors of the country;” that is, all this was besides the regular customs, duties, and taxes, from his own kingdom. And all this was of gold alone, not counting silver; for silver “was nothing to be accounted of in the days of Solomon,” he “made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones.”EB 183.2

    9. Solomon was also a great builder. Besides the temple of God, which will not be described here, except to say that nothing on the earth ever surpassed it for glory and beauty, he says, “I builded me houses.” The chief one of these was one hundred and fifty feet long, seventy-five feet wide, and forty-five feet high; and was in three stories. It had a grand porch seventy-five feet long and forty-five feet broad. All the pillars, and beams, and floors, of the house, were of the finest cedar of Lebanon; and the pillars were so many and so costly, and those in the porch were so tall, that the building was called “The House of the Forest of Lebanon.” There was also the “Porch of Judgment,” where was placed the royal throne which was of ivory inlaid with gold; having six steps, with a footstool of gold; two graven lions on each step and one at each arm; the back formed a half-circle; and the seat was a golden bull. “There was not the like made in any kingdom.” Close to this building was the “Tower of David built for an armory,” on the walls of which there hung “a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.” 4[Page 184] Josephus’s “Antiquities,” book viii, chap 5. Then there was the house of Pharaoh’s daughter, his wife. These all were built with walls and foundations of costly stones, many of them twelve or fifteen feet in length. All were supported with pillars and beams of cedar and fir, decked with gold and silver, and the ceilings and walls were ornamented with beautiful stones set with gold and silver, after the style of the temple. He also built a summer palace in Lebanon.EB 183.3

    10. He says, “I made me great works.” He built “Millo, and the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, and Megiddo, and Gezer.” “And he built Tadmor in the wilderness, and all the store cities, which he built in Hamath. Also he built Beth-horon the upper, and Beth-horon the nether, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars; and Baalath, and all the store cities that Solomon had, and all the chariot cities, and the cities of the horsemen, and all that Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and throughout all the land of his dominion.”EB 184.1

    11. “Millo” was a strong fortification, or tower, that protected the city of Jerusalem on the north. 5[Page 184] It was renewed by Herod the Great, and by him named Hippicus in honor of one of his friends; and as it stood completed by Herod, it was about one hundred feet high, and made of marble—each stone being about thirty feet long by fifteen wide seven and a half feet thick.EB 184.2

    12. “The wall of Jerusalem” began at Millo, and extended entirely round the city; and upon it were sixty towers. 6[Page 185] As the city grew and spread beyond this wall, a second one was built in course of time; and yet beyond this there finally was built a third wall: so that at the time of the destruction of the city by the Romans, it had three very strong walls. The third, or outer wall had ninety towers, the second had forty towers, and the first, or “old wall” had sixty towers, besides two special towers corresponding to Hippicus, built also by Herod, and named by him respectively Phasaelus and Mariamne.EB 185.1

    13. “Hazor” was the principal city, and the stronghold, of the whole of North Palestine. It lay in the territory of the tribe of Naphtali, “apparently on the high ground overlooking the lake of Merom.”EB 185.2

    14. “Gezer” was also a fortified city, that commanded the Mediterranean coast-road of communication between Egypt and Jerusalem. The king of Egypt had taken it from the original inhabitants of the land—the Canaanites—and had given it as a present to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. At the taking of it, Pharaoh had burnt it and left it in ruins.EB 185.3

    15. The two Beth-horons—“the upper” and “the nether”—lay on the boundary line between the tribes of Ephraim and Benjamin, and guarded a pass on the road from Gibeon to the Philistine plain. Through this pass was the main way into the country of Israel from Philistia on the west, and from Moab and Ammon on the east.EB 185.4

    16. “Tadmor,” called also Palmyra, was built in an oasis in the desert of Hamath on the east. It was “two days’ journey [about 120 miles] from upper Syria, and one day’s journey from the Euphrates, and six long days’ journey from Babylon the Great.”—Josephus. 7[Page 185] “Antiquities,” book viii, chap 6, par.1. This city was built that Solomon might control the caravan trade from the East. Even the ruins of Tadmor are a wonder, and what magnificence must have been displayed when it stood in its splendor!EB 185.5

    17. “I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits.” Literally, “I made me paradises”—beautiful parks for pleasure grounds. The principal one was at Etham, about six miles from Jerusalem. To this place he would go in the morning, in stately progress, dressed in snow-white raiment; riding in his chariot of state which was made of the finest cedar, decked with gold and silver and purple, and carpeted with the costliest tapestry worked by the daughters of Jerusalem; and attended by a body-guard of sixty valiant men, of the tallest and handsomest of the young men of all Israel, arrayed in Tyrian purple, with their long black hair, freshly sprinkled with gold-dust every day, glittering in the sun.EB 185.6

    18. “I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees.” These were necessary to keep his parks fresh and beautiful. There were three notable pools built in the side of the valley of Etham. The upper pool was 380 feet long, 236 feet wide at the eastern end, and 229 at the western, and 25 feet deep. One hundred and sixty feet from this was the middle pool, 423 feet long, 250 feet broad at the eastern end, and 160 at the western, and 30 feet deep. Two hundred and forty-eight feet from the middle pool lay the lower pool, 582 feet long, 207 feet wide at the eastern end, and 148 at the western, and 50 feet deep. They were partly hewn out of the solid rock, and partly built of masonry. All were lined with cement; all had flights of steps from top to bottom; and all three were connected together by conduits, and with Jerusalem by an aqueduct, so that not only his paradise at Etham, but also the city of Jerusalem, was supplied with water from them.EB 186.1

    19. Twenty years Solomon spent in building his own royal house, and the temple of the Lord. Then he turned from following the Lord, to following his own way. The Lord had caused special directions to be written for the king who should sit upon the throne of Israel. “And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book, ... and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life.” And that which was particularly said therein to the king was this: “He shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall be greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”EB 186.2

    20. As we have seen, Solomon did greatly multiply unto himself silver and gold. David “in his poverty” multiplied silver and gold for the house of the Lord. In multiplying silver and gold for the house of the Lord, Solomon went beyond and multiplied them also for himself. But he did not stop here: he had “forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots;” “and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, whom he bestowed in the cities for chariots, and with the king at Jerusalem.” Nor was this all: “The horses which Solomon had were brought out of Egypt; and the king’s merchants received them in droves, each drove at a price.” “And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver [$328.50], and an horse for an hundred and fifty [$82.12]: and so for all the kings of the Hittites, and for the kings of Syria, did they bring them out by their means.”EB 187.1

    21. Nor yet was this all. He went the whole length of disobedience to the Lord. He multiplied silver and gold to himself; he multiplied horses from Egypt to himself, and carried on a great traffic in them in order that he might the more multiply silver and gold to himself; and now he took the other forbidden step—he multiplied wives to himself.EB 187.2

    22. His original wife was the daughter of Pharaoh—a woman of a strange nation, and from Egypt at that. But now, “King Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; of the nations concerning which the Lord said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart. For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom [Molech] the abomination of the Ammonites.” “Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the Lord was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the Lord God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he kept not that which the Lord commanded.”EB 187.3

    23. But “even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.” Solomon sowed abundantly to evil, and now he begins to reap the fruits of it. For “the Lord said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it, for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen.” No more can he write as he did in his youth to Hiram, “Now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side, so that there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.” Now there is evil “occurrent” everywhere and unrest on every side. For we read in quick succession, “The Lord stirred up an adversary unto Solomon;” “and God stirred up another adversary;” “and Jeroboam, ... even he lifted up his hand against the king.” Thus there were adversaries on all sides: from the kings abroad and from his own subjects at home.EB 188.1

    24. The first of these adversaries that arose was Hadad, of Edom. At the time when David subdued Edom, the king of Edom and all his family, except this son Hadad, were slain. But Hadad being a little child, some of the servants of the royal household succeeded in escaping with him; first to Midian, then to Paran, and finally to Egypt. In Egypt he was taken by the servants to Pharaoh himself, who received him kindly and maintained him in the standing that became him as a king’s son. Indeed he found such favor in the eyes of Pharaoh, that the king “gave him to wife the sister of his own wife, the sister of Tahpenes the queen.” In Egypt was born to Hadad a son whom he named Genubath, and who was brought up in Pharaoh’s household among the princes of Egypt.EB 188.2

    25. Hadad now determined to have a kingdom for his son by setting himself against Solomon. He persuaded Pharaoh to allow him to leave Egypt; but carefully concealed from Pharaoh his purpose. He first went to his own native country of Edom; but Solomon had that country so thoroughly garrisoned that it was impossible for him to raise a revolt. He then went up to Syria, and there found, and joined himself to, a certain Rezon, the son of Eliadah, the second of Solomon’s adversaries. This Rezon had been a servant to Hadadezer, king of Zobah. At the time when David overran and captured Zobah, Rezon ran away from Hadadezer and became the leader of a company of robbers in the country of Damascus. Hadad, the Edomite, now joined himself to Rezon and his robbers; and set himself up as king of Syria, and reigned at Damascus. Thus originated the kingdom of Syria, so often mentioned in the Bible.EB 189.1

    26. Jeroboam, who “lifted up his hand against the king,” was the son of Nebat. His mother’s name was Zeruah, and she was a widow when Jeroboam thus first comes into notice. While Solomon was building Millo and repairing the breaches of the city of David, he noticed Jeroboam among the workmen. “And Solomon seeing the young man that he was industrious, he made him ruler over all the charge of the house of Joseph [Ephraim].”EB 189.2

    27. Some time after this, as Jeroboam was passing out of the city of Jerusalem, he was met by the prophet Ahijah who drew him aside into the field. Then Ahijah took his own outer garment and tore it into twelve pieces and said to Jeroboam: “Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee.” And though the Lord at that time plainly told him that this was not to be while Solomon lived, yet like many others, Jeroboam was not willing to wait the Lord’s time and way, but attempted to seize the kingdom at once. Being already governor over so important a part of the kingdom, he began to scheme for the setting up of himself as king in fact. “He lifted up his hand against the king.” Therefore Solomon sought to kill him; but Jeroboam escaped “and fled into Egypt, unto Shishak king of Egypt, and was in Egypt until the death of Solomon.”EB 189.3

    28. Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, succeeded immediately to the throne of David as king over all the tribes of Israel. “And Rehoboam went to Shechem; for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king.” And Jeroboam was among them; for as soon as he had heard of the death of Solomon, he returned from Egypt. And with the ambitious designs that he had in mind while yet Solomon lived, it may well be supposed that he would suffer nothing to be settled that would give to Rehoboam the dominion over all the tribes.EB 190.1

    29. In addition to the attitude of Jeroboam, the people had a real grievance of which they might ask to be redressed: they had burdens which they might properly ask to be lightened. In Solomon had been largely fulfilled the prophecy of Samuel when the people had asked for a king at the first. “He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, ... and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants.”EB 190.2

    30. Much, if not all, of this had been done by Solomon. And much of that which had been done by him, had been done to support his heathen wives in their abominable practises. The burdens of the people had really been made heavy. And now “Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.”EB 190.3

    31. Rehoboam asked for three days in which to consider their plea. He first consulted the old men who had been the counselors and aids of Solomon, and who therefore knew that the plea of the people was just. They gave him the advice that he needed, and which every king needs, in order to be the right kind of king. They told him, “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants forever.” But Rehoboam had no mind to be a servant to the people: he would be master only. He did not care to be the right kind of king: he wanted to be only a lord. He therefore called “the young men that were grown up with him,” and consulted them.EB 191.1

    32. That we may the better understand what kind of counselors these would be, let us see what the influences were, under which Rehoboam and these young men had been brought up. Rehoboam himself was the son of Naamah, an Ammonitess, who had brought with her into Israel the worship of Molech “the abomination of the children of Ammon.” Yet, as we have seen, this woman was only one of many such among Solomon’s seven hundred wives. And it was under the tutorship of such women as these, and amid the scenes and influences of the inhuman and abominable worship of such gods as these, that the young men had been brought up, whom Rehoboam chose now to consult with reference to the government of a people who were to be governed in the fear of God, and who were to be totally separated from any connection whatever with any such gods.EB 191.2

    33. Such were the counselors whom Rehoboam chose in an emergency that involved the everlasting interests of the greatest kingdom then in the world! Of course he obtained the counsel that he most desired. They told him to say to the people: “My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.” As the king had received the counsel that he wanted, so he was prompt in applying it. When the people came together to him the third day to receive his reply, he gave them the very words which he had received from the young men. There could be but one result: Again was raised the cry that was sounded by Sheba, the son of Bichri, when the ten tribes revolted in the reign of David—“What portion have we in David ? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse. To your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David.”EB 191.3

    34. Rehoboam was really surprised at the storm that he had raised: he was probably the only man in the kingdom who was surprised at it. This was natural enough, however; for when he was so dull as not to be able to see that what he was advised by the young heathen to do was the wrong thing to do, it was natural enough that he should be surprised at the result. He tried to mend the matter by sending Adoram, his treasurer, to pacify the people with apologies and explanations; but instead of listening to him they stoned him to death at once. This frightened Rehoboam, and he “made speed” to his chariot, and fled to Jerusalem. Arrived at Jerusalem, he decided to force the submission of the ten tribes, and mustered a hundred and eighty thousand men for the purpose; but the word of God came by Shemaiah, the prophet, commanding them not to go up nor fight against their brethren, because it was from Him that the kingdom should be divided. “And they obeyed the words of the Lord, and returned from going against Jeroboam.”EB 192.1

    35. And so ended the greatness of the kingdom, and indeed the kingdom itself, of united Israel.EB 192.2

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