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The Court and the Temple of King Solomon
The Court of Solomon
The Kingdom of Judah and Israel reached its greatest degree of splendour, prosperity, and strength under Solomon, the son of David. Peace reigned throughout the whole land, and Jerusalem became one of the most attractive and famous cities of the East. The Court of Solomon was conducted upon a scale of magnificence absolutely bewildering; but all this magnificence was transcended by the personal qualities of Solomon himself. He was the wisest man of his day, and to his great mental gifts was added the fascination and the grace of a noble presence. Seated "high on his throne of royal state," which shone with "the wealth of Ormuz and Ind," and " exceeding all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom," Solomon dispensed justice, and received the visitors from all parts of the world, who came to hear his wisdom, bringing their presents of vessels of gold and silver, garments, armour, spices, horses, and mules. He received tribute from almost the whole of Western Asia, and conducted a great and prosperous trade with India and other Eastern nations.
Arrival Of The Queen Of Sheba At The Court Of Solomon
One most noted visitor at the Court of Solomon was the Queen of Sheba. Having heard of the great wisdom of King Solomon, The Queen of Sheba undertook a journey to Jerusalem to see and converse with the wisest of men. She brought with her rich and valuable presents, and was received and entertained by him with a splendid hospitality worthy of his great fame. Her kingdom of Sheba embraced the greater part of the Yemen or Arabia Felix. Its chief cities, and probably successive capitals, were Seba, Sana (Uzal), and Zafar (Se-phar). The city of Seba was the centre of the ancient power of the Joktanite Arabs. It was named after Sheba, the son of Joktan, who was the grandson of the Patriarch Shem.
Building the Temple
One of Solomon’s most notable accomplishments was the completion of the temple project started by his father King David. For assistance with this project Solomon turned to a friend and ally, King Hiram of the Phoenician city of Tyre. At the establishment of the Israelitish monarchy, Phoenicia was the chief commercial nation of the globe. Tyre had brought Phoenicia under her supremacy and had become the capital of the kingdom. Her ships covered every sea, and brought to her ports the wealth of every land. Hiram, King of Tyre, made an alliance with David, and became the friend and ally of David's son and successor, Solomon. At the commencement of Solomon's reign, Hiram sent him rich presents. Through this alliance Solomon secured the services of the Phoenician architects, the most skilful of their day, and the wood and stone needed, for the construction of the temple at Jerusalem. The Phoenician architects also constructed a palace for David on Mount Zion, and a larger and more splendid palace for Solomon, which is believed to have stood on Mount Moriah, adjoining the temple. The alliance with Phoenicia was of the greatest value to Solomon, but of little service to his people, It enabled him to establish a valuable commerce with India and other nations which yielded large sums as profits to the royal treasury. It added nothing to the wealth of the people, who were required to contribute to its expenses without enjoying any of its profits. The connection of Israel with Phoenicia had a most pernicious effect upon the former nation. It fastened upon it the worship of Baal and Ashtoreth, the chief deities of Phoenicia, and led the nation into a deep and most degrading idolatry, from which only the severest punishments could draw it, and then only after centuries of suffering.
Dedication of Solomon's Tem ple
The magnificent ceremonies of the Dedication of Solomon's Temple are recorded at length in 1 Kings and 2 Chronicles, together with the sublime prayer of the king. This prayer was followed by a miraculous sign of God's presence in the House built unto his name. The fire came down from heaven, and consumed the sacrifices, while the Shekinah again filled the house, preventing the entrance of the priests, as if for that one day God claimed the sanctuary as his very own, to the exclusion of all mere creatures. Then Solomon and all the people offered their sacrifices on the altar, the priests executing their office, while the Levites played upon their musical instruments and sang in the order and to the words of David. A great feast followed, and lasted fourteen days, seven for the Feast of Tabernacles, and seven for the Dedication, and on the 23d day of the month Solomon dismissed the people to their homes, and they departed from Jerusalem with rejoicing, glad and merry in heart for all the goodness that Jehovah had showed unto David, and to Solomon, and to Israel, his people.
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From: The Devotional and Practical Pictorial Family Bible, Copyright, by J. R. Jones, 1879.