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Solomon

Solomon (approximately 970-928 BCE), the second son of King David and Bathsheba, was the King of Israel. During his 40 year reign Solomon first led the nation to superpower status and then to its downfall. Most information about King Solomon is derived from the biblical books of Kings I and Chronicles II.

Solomon was a prolific writer. He composed 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He wrote the Song of Songs, the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

Solomon's wisdom is proverbial. The following famous story illustrates his wisdom as a judge. Two women came to his court, each claiming that she was the mother of the same baby. Solomon threatened to split the baby in half. One woman was prepared to accept the decision, but the other begged the King to give the live baby to the other woman. Solomon then knew the second woman was the mother.

He amassed great wealth, and had a passion for magnificence. Solomon's reign was marked by foreign alliances (notably with Egypt and Phoenicia) and the greatest extension of Israel's territory in biblical times. Solomon built numerous cities, constructed copper smelting furnaces in the Negev, and built the first holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Temple took seven years to complete. It was built of stone and cedar, carved within and overlaid with pure gold.

Towards the end of his reign, the expense of Solomon's building projects and his despotism led to the alienation of Israel's northern tribes and revolt. After Solomon died and was buried in the City of David, his son, Rehoboam succeeded him as king. Under Rehobaum’s rule, Solomon’s empire was lost and his kingdom was divided into two parts.

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