King Solomon was a Biblical Jewish King, his name derives from the Hebrew word for peace and he was the last king of Israel to rule over all 12 of the 12 tribes. The Book of Kings and Chronicles record Solomon’s life and the Talmud even calls him a prophet. The Muslim Qur’an also names Solomon (Sulaiman) as a prophet. King Solomon was born in approximately 1030BC and was the son of King David and Bathsheva. Solomon followed David as Israel’s leader and ruled for 40 years.
His greatest achievement was the construction of the First Temple of Jerusalem (Chronicles). Solomon took on other construction projects in the nation’s capital as well as the First Temple which eventually was destroyed after Solomon died. Extensive excavation in Jerusalem has not uncovered much evidence of Solomon’s building projects although areas under the Temple Mount have not been excavated. The temple out lasted Solomon who strayed from his righteous ways towards the end of his life and indulged in idolatry and other sins.
One of the best known stories illustrating Salomon’s wisdom is that of the two women claiming to be the mother of a baby, Solomon offers to cut the baby in half to share him between the women. The woman who surrenders the child rather than having him cut in half is declared the true mother.
Solomon developed Israel’s trade relations throughout the region and he accumulated wealth and riches from many nations. He brought prosperity and wealth to Israel during the initial years of his reign. He also made politically motivated marriages accumulating 700 wives and 300 concubines from nations he traded with, these included the Egyptian Pharaoh’s daughter. It was the foreign marriage unions which lead to his downfall as the wives turned him away from the Jewish god and he was also disobeying Biblical laws by having so many wives. Solomon’s son Rehoboam succeeded him and eventually his rule lead to the dissolution of the kingdom’s unification.