King Solomon-was he REALLY a BIG SHOT?

I ask this because the OT falls over itself in adulating Solomon. He supposedly had a large kingdom, and was in communication with the “Queen of Sheba”(supposedly an Egyptian princess). He built a magnificent temple in Jerusalem , sheathed in gold. He regularly sent out expeditions to mine copper, and had a fleet of ships in the Red Sea (from present day Etzion-Geber). But now, archaeologists are saying that far from being an important ruler of a wealthy kingdom, Solomon most probably was a petty little tribal chief. Therre is no mention of him in the Egyptian’s history, and his wars/battles appear to have been piddling little affairs.
So who is right? Did Solomon rule over a rich and important kingdom, or was he the chief of a ratty little tribe, whose “place” was probably a mud hut?:confused:

And how much of the credit really belongs to Hiram of Tyre, who appears to have been a dynamic and impressive leader in non-biblical sources? Solomon’s kingdom decayed pretty rapidly, but the Phoenicians were around for centuries. The city of Tyre itself was an early engineering marvel.

The last update that I saw (in the last couple weeks) from the archaeologists, they have no solid evidence that there was a King Solomon.

As Barry Farber used to say, the three most important words in the English language are, “Compared to what?”

Even at its peak, Israel was not a mighty empire like Persia, Egypt, Babylonia or Rome. It was a middle-sized kingdom at the crossroads of the world. Its location made it part of major trade routes, and hence, during the time of Solomon, Israel grew quite rich for its size. Let’s say Solomon’s palace was a lot more than a mud hut, a lot less than Versailles.

But Israel was always surrounded by much more powerful empires, which either ignored Israel, viewed them as a source of booty and tribute, or regarded them as a choice piece of land, ripe for conquest.

Babylonia and Assyria were among the nations looking at Israel with an eye toward conquest. Egypt fell into the first two categories- occasionally they’d raid Israel and make off with some loot, but mostly they ignored Israel. To the Egyptians, with their great riches and vast stretches of land, Solomon’s kingdom was relatively small potatoes.

Keep in mind also, conflicts and wars that seem of monumental importance to one nation may be of little significance to others. To the Greeks, after all, the Persian War was of epic importance. They wrote poems about it, built statues of its heroes, made it out to be the most historically significant conflict ever. To the Greeks, the battle of Marathon was a turning point in history. The Persians, on the other hand, don’t seem to have viewed the conflict in such terms at all. To them, the entire war was a skirmish on the fringes of their empire.

So… was the Persian War a “piddling little affair” or a clash of titans, for the future of civilization? Did the Greeks lie or exaggerate about the importance of the war? It all depends who you ask, of course.

Same goes for Solomon’s Israel. Was it a mighty empire? No. But it was a highly prosperous regional power. To subsequent generations of Jews, especially the ones who had to endure the Babylonian conquest, it’s small wonder that the earlier splendor of Solomon’s kingdom seemed like a Golden Age.

In an interview with Pr. Briquel-Chatonnet titled “the historian, the archeologist and the bible”, Salomon got the shortest answer :

Q: “And what about Salomon?”

A: “There are no elements about Salomon except in the Bible”

So, that not only “solid evidences” are lacking, but that there are no evidence at all except the sacred book itself.
Anyway, it seems there’s no archeological/historical evidences about anything contained in the bible before the IX° century B.C., except for a XIII° century egyptian engraving stating “Israel has been destroyed forever”. The bible itself wouldn’t provide any element which could be linked to events/figures known from other sources (for instance the actual name of a Pharaoh instead of the generic word “pharaoh”) for this period.
For the period between the IX° and the VI° century B.C. , there would be only extremely scarce external evidences corroborating the supposed history of Israel (for instance the only evidence that David existed apart from the bible would be a late stele calling the kingdom of Juda “house of David”, for instance). When these evidences do exist, they sometimes contradict the content of the bible (for instance, events during the reign of Achab seem to have been deliberatly mispresented by the bible’s redactors). For the same period, the bible itself refers to “foreign” events/figures which are identifiable and known from other sources.

As Cecil himself has said, hardly anybody in the ancient world has any historical evidence backing up his/her existence. Such records were simply not kept in many cases, and when they were, most of them have been destroyed. If you went solely on the basis of “solid historical evidence,” then you would have to conclude that the entire ancient world was populated by about 100 people, all kings of large, empty tracts of land (because there’s no solid historical evidence that their subjects existed :stuck_out_tongue: )

One of the problems with determining the validity of the Biblical tale of Solomon comes with dating when he lived. The more traditional dating is for an Early Iron Age period. However, the “cities” and buildings of Israel in the Early Iron Age are quite miserable. There are very nice structures dating just a few decades earlier from the Late Bronze Age. Many of these are more consistent with the Biblical tale.

So if you go by the traditional dating, you get basically a village chieftan. If you modify the time scale slightly, you get a standard Bronze Age king. See this page for more (esp. note the “Construction of Solomon’s Temple” section.)

And Diceman, the lands were obviously not empty. Bones, dishes and buildings prove that thousands lived there. Names are another matter.

Certainly. But many people like to believe that every word in the bible is backed by tons of archeological evidences. I wanted to point out it’s simply not so. When someone write “there are no solid evidences” apart in the bible, it implies that there are some evidences. Which is plain false. There are none. Period. Some people need to face it : the bible is in most case the only evidence about most of the events/figures appearing in it. This would avoid claims about the content of the book being massively backed by archeology, something that an impressive number of people believe, or questions about the color of Moses coat when he crossed the red sea.

You are not perchance confusing Moses and Joseph, are you?