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I have a fascination for Queen of Sheba of Ethiopia's story. In this connection I came to know about Solomon of Israel. By reading about him a little, a great desire rose in my heart to read about him. I liked the account of his life so much that I decided to include it here, so that our Hindu people can know about him. After reading it I felt that we have yet to see such a great king in our Hindu people. We have many great kings in our history but not like him. King Vikramaaditya's throne, with 32 figures, is very famous in our Indian history, but after reading the description of Solomon's throne, it seems it is nothing.

The following article has been adapted from Wikipedia, but contains much more information than that.

There are many figures in Bible who are very famous and worthy to be mentioned. Of course one was Jesus. Another one is Solomon. According to the Book of Kings, the Book of Chronicles. and the Quran was the King of Israel and the son of David. His conventional dates of reign are 970-931 BC - 40 years. He was the 3rd king of the united kingdom of Israel just before its split. Following the split his descendents ruled Judah alone. According to Talmud he was one of the 48 prophets. In Quran also he is regarded as a prophet and Muslims call him Sulaymaan, the Son of David.

The Hebrew Bible portrays him great in wisdom, wealth and power. He was a poet also - Solomon's Songs are a part of Bible. In later years, Solomon also came to be known as a magician and an exorcist, with numerous amulets and medallion seals dating from the Hellenistic period invoking his name.

Solomon's Temple
The Hebrew Bible credits him the builder of the first temple in Jerusalem His father David started building a temple a few years before his death as as safe place to keep the Ark of Covenant, later Solomon completed it. It is believed that Angels also helped Solomon in building the Temple; though not by choice. The edifice was, according to rabbinical legend, miraculously constructed throughout, the large heavy stones rising and settling in their respective places of themselves.

The general opinion of the Rabbis is that Solomon hewed the stones by means of a Shamir, a mythical worm whose mere touch cleft rocks. According to Midrash Tehillim, the Shamir was brought from paradise by Solomon's eagle; but most of the Rabbis state that Solomon was informed of the worm's haunts by Asmodeus. The Shamir had been entrusted by the Prince of the sea to the mountain rooster alone, and the rooster had sworn to guard it well, but Solomon's men found the bird's nest, and covered it with glass. When the bird returned, it used the Shamir to break the glass, whereupon the men scared the bird, causing it to drop the worm, which the men could then bring to Solomon. After 300 years this temple was destroyed.

He was the son of David. Bible says that he had 700 wives and 300 concubines.
Only one wife is known as she was the mother of his heir Rehoboam. Her name was Naamah.
When he married the daughter of Pharaoh of Egypt, a sandbank formed which eventually became the Great Nation of Rome and the destroyer of the second temple - the Herod's Temple.

Solomon's Wisdom
Solomon is known for his wisdom. How he got his wisdom? One he went to Gibeon to sacrifice there. He offered 1,000 burnt offerings at the altar. God got pleased and appeared before him in the night in his dream. He asked him to ask for anything he desired for. Solomon said - "As you were very pleased with my father and you gave him an heir to sit on the throne and he is now before you. But I am still a child and I have lots of people to judge, please give me the understanding to judge the people, so that I can differentiate good from bad."

God said to him - "Since you have asked only this, and have not asked for the wealth or long life or death of your enemies, I give you what you have asked for." [1 Kings, 3:11-12] The Hebrew Bible also says - "The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart." [1 Kings, 3:4-9]

Solomon's Other Qualities
Solomon had some more qualities also.

Solomon Knew the Languages of all Creatures
He could understand the language of all creatures living on Earth, water and air.
According to Islam, Solomon was also known to have other supernatural abilities (bestowed upon him by God) such as controlling the wind, ruling over the Jinn and talking to Ants.

Solomon Orders a Bird to Bring the Queen of Sheba to Him
According to Rabbinical account (Targum Sheni), Solomon was accustomed to ordering the living creatures of the world to dance before him (Rabbinical accounts say that Solomon had been given control over all living things by Yahweh), but one day upon discovering that the mountain-cock or hoopoe (Hebrew name: shade) was absent, he summoned it to him, and the bird told him that it had been searching for somewhere new. The bird had discovered a land in the East, exceedingly rich in gold, silver, and plants, whose capital was called Kitor and whose ruler was the Queen of Sheba, and the bird, on its own advice, was sent by Solomon to request the queen's immediate attendance at Solomon's court. Sheba was once a region on the coasts of what now is Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen (in Arabia)

Control Over all the Terrestrial Globe
According to the Rabbinical literature, on account of his modest request for wisdom only, Solomon was rewarded with riches and an unprecedented glorious realm, which extended over the upper world inhabited by the angels and over the whole of the terrestrial globe with all its inhabitants, including all the beasts, fowl, and reptiles, as well as the demons and spirits. His control over the demons, spirits, and animals augmented his splendor, the demons bringing him precious stones, besides water from distant countries to irrigate his exotic plants. The beasts and fowl of their own accord entered the kitchen of Solomon's palace, so that they might be used as food for him, and extravagant meals for him were prepared daily by each of his 700 wives and 300 concubines, with the thought that perhaps the king would feast that day in her house.

Seal of Solomon or Solomon's Ring
Solomon had a seal ring - a magic ring called the "Seal of Solomon". According to Jews' scripture Talmud, it was given to Solomon by Yahweh at the time when he started ruling and gave him power over demons. The magical symbol said to have been on the Seal of Solomon which made it work is now better known as the Star of David. It was studded by four gems - (1) Carbuncle - One was the Carbuncle, This gem was the master of all the four directions and it could take him anywhere above the sky at his order. (2) Emerald - The second one was Emerald which ruled waters whether it is in lakes, or in rivers or in seas. (3) Ruby - The third one was Ruby which ruled all living beings, wild animals, birds, fishes etc. and (4) Sapphire - The fourth one was the Sapphire which kept all good and bad souls away from the wearer.

It is said that this ring was first given by Yahweh to Adam when he was in the Garden of Eden. He was given this ring only till that time till he would be obeying Yahweh's orders, but as soon as he was expelled from the Garden of Eden, the ring came out from his hand and flew to Yahweh and hid under one of His throne's legs. When Solomon became the king, Yahweh sent that ring to him through His Angel Gabriel, so that he could rule the whole Earth.

In one tale, the King of Tyre Huram who was a very good friend of Solomon and like his ring very much, offered him 10 villages in exchange to have his ring, but Solomon unheard him just by smiling.

Asmodeus, the King of Demons, was one day, captured by Benaiah using the ring, and was forced to remain in Solomon's service. In one tale, Asmodeus brought a man with two heads from under the Earth to show to Solomon. The man was unable to return so he married a woman from Jerusalem and had seven sons from her, six of whom resembled the mother, while one resembled the father in having two heads. After their father's death, the son with two heads claimed two shares of the inheritance, arguing that he was two men instead of one. Solomon decided that the son with two heads was only one man.

Solomon and the King of Demons
There is another story about the King of Demons Asmodeus and Solomon. Once Solomon asked Asmodeus what could make demons powerful over man. Asmodeus asked him to free him and give his Seal of Ring so that he could demonstrate. Solomon freed him and gave his Ring to him but Asmodeus threw the ring into the sea and it was swallowed by a fish. Asmodeus then swallowed the king, and stood up fully with one wing touching heaven and the other one touching the Earth, and spat out Solomon to a distance of 400 miles.

The Rabbis claim this was a divine punishment for Solomon as he failed to follow three divine commands (see Solomon's Sins below), and Solomon was forced to wander from city to city, until he eventually arrived in an Ammonite city where he was forced to work in the king's kitchens. Solomon gained a chance to prepare a meal for the Ammonite king, which the king found so impressive that the previous cook was sacked and Solomon was put in his place. The king's daughter, Naamah, subsequently fell in love with Solomon, but the family (thinking Solomon a commoner) disapproved, so the king decided to kill them both by sending them into the desert.

Naamah went with Solomon and both Solomon and the King’s daughter wandered the desert until they reached a coastal city, where they bought a fish to eat, which just happened to be the one which had swallowed the magic ring. Solomon was then able to regain his throne and expel Asmodeus. (The element of a Ring thrown into the sea and found back in a fish's belly also appeared in Herodotus' account of Polycrates, the tyrant of Samos from c. 538 BC to 522 BC.)

Solomon's Throne
Solomon's throne is described at length in "Targum Sheni", which is compiled from three different sources, and in two later Midrash. According to these, there were on the steps of the throne twelve golden lions, each facing a golden eagle. There were six steps to the throne, on which animals, all of gold, were arranged in the following order - on the first step a lion is opposite an ox; on the second step, a wolf is opposite a sheep; on the third step, a tiger is opposite a camel; on the fourth step, an eagle is opposite a peacock, on the fifth step, a cat is opposite a cock; on the sixth step, a sparrow-hawk is opposite a dove.

On the top of the throne was a dove holding a sparrow-hawk in its claws, symbolizing the dominion of Israel over the Gentiles. The first Midrash says that six steps were constructed because Solomon foresaw that six kings would sit on the throne, namely, Solomon, Rehoboam, Hezekiah, Manasseh, Amon, and Josiah. There was also on the top of the throne a golden candelabrum, on the seven branches of the one side of which were engraved the names of the seven patriarchs Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job, and on the seven branches of the other side were engraved the names of Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses, Aaron, Eldad, Medad, and, in addition, Hur. Above the candelabrum was a golden jar filled with olive-oil and beneath it was a golden basin which supplied the jar with oil and on which the names of Nadab, Abihu, and Eli and his two sons were engraved. Over the throne, 24 vines were fixed to cast a shadow on the king's head.

The throne followed Solomon wherever he wished to go by a mechanical contrivance. Supposedly, due to another mechanical trick, when the King reached the first step, the ox stretched forth its leg, on which Solomon leaned, a similar action taking place in the case of the animals on each of the six steps. From the sixth step the eagles raised the king and placed him in his seat, near which a golden serpent lay coiled. When the king was seated the large eagle placed the crown on his head, the serpent uncoiled itself, and the lions and eagles moved upward to form a shade over him. The dove then descended, took the scroll of the Law from the Ark, and placed it on Solomon's knees.

When the king sat, surrounded by the Sanhedrin, to judge the people, the wheels began to turn, and the beasts and fowls began to utter their respective cries, which frightened those who had intended to bear false testimony. Moreover, while Solomon was ascending the throne, the lions scattered all kinds of fragrant spices. After Solomon's death, Pharaoh Shishak, took away the treasures of the Temple (I Kings xiv. 26), so he carried off his throne too, which remained in Egypt until Sennacherib conquered that country. After Sennacherib's fall Hezekiah gained possession of it, but when Josiah was slain by Pharaoh Necho, the latter took it away. However, according to rabbinical accounts, Necho did not know how the mechanism worked and so accidentally struck himself with one of the lions causing him to become lame; Nebuchadnezzar, into whose possession the throne subsequently came, shared a similar fate. The throne then passed to the Persians, whose king Darius was the first to sit successfully on Solomon's throne after his death; subsequently the throne came into the possession of the Greeks and Ahasuerus.

Solomon's Justice
Solomon was famous for his justice. His early events are very famous about his justice since the time when he was only a 7-year child. He used to sit near his father David in his court to listen to the cases of his public which came for justice and his father's solution to them.

(1) Once two people came to his father David's court. He was sitting at his father's feet as usual. One man said - "I bought an olive garden from this man a while ago. I found some gold while digging under a tree. Since I did not buy this gold when I bought the garden, I went to him and asked him to take his gold, because it belonged to him. But this man says, "This gold does not belong to me because I have already sold everything to this man along with this garden and now I have no right on any of the things belonging to it, so I cannot accept anything."

David asked the other man - "Why don't you take your gold?" The other man said - "O King, This gold is not mine and I do not even know that who it belongs to, because from whom I bought this garden, he has died a few years ago. He has no heir also." At this the King said - "Then you both distribute it between yourselves." Both said in one voice - "How can we do that when this gold is not ours?"

The court was full. Everybody was waiting for David's solution to this problem. Then David asked his boy Solomon - "If you were in my place, what would you do?" The child first looked at the first man and asked him - "Do you have any son?" The first man said - "No Prince, I have only one daughter." Then the boy asked another man - "Do you any son?" The second man replied - "Yes Prince, I have a son." The boy looked at the King and said - "Let both the children get married and enjoy this wealth." And the same thing happened.

Solomon's Sins
In Deuteronomy 17:16-17, a king is commanded not to multiply horses or wives, neither greatly multiply to himself gold or silver. Solomon sins in all three of these areas. Solomon collects 666 talents of gold each year, [1 Kings 10:14]. Solomon gathered a large number of horses and chariots and even brought them from Egypt. Finally, Solomon married foreign women, and these women turned Solomon to other gods. That is why Lord punished him by taking away 10 out of 12 tribes of Israel from the Israelites.

It is said that Lord appeared before him twice and warned about his turning away from God but Solomon did not listen to Him. God said - "Because of David I will not tear your kingdom in your days but after your death. I will give one tribe to your son." And after the death of Solomon the kingdom was divided in two. His son ruled the southern kingdom of Judah.

He was builder of first temple.
He was the last ruler of the united Israel.
According to Hebrew Bible Solomon ruled for 40 years and died at the age of 80.
According to Jewish tradition he has written three books of Bible - Mishlei (Book of Proverbs), Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), and Shir ha-Shirim (Song of Songs)


Solomon and the Queen of Sheba of Ethiopia
His one story which is related to Ethiopia comes in Hebrew Bible. This story shows how the Ethiopian kings were his children. This story is famous as the Story of the Queen of Sheba and is a part of "Kebra Negast" (the Glory of Kings) - a main book of Ethiopia in which the ancestry of their kings has been recorded. According to this book, around 3,000 BC there lived a queen in Ethiopia, named Makeda, who was the Queen of Sheba kingdom also, that is why she was called The Queen of Sheba. Once she heard the glory of Solomon from one of her traders and she went to see him. When she met him, it is said the he was only 22 years old. There she got pregnant from Solomon. When she came back to Ethiopia, she gave birth to a son, named Menelik. According to Solomon's instructions, when he became 16 years old, she sent him to Solomon and Solomon crowned him as the King of Ethiopia and sent many of his people along with him back to Ethiopia. Those people are called Falasha. Falasha means "foreigners". And thus, since then Menelik's descendents had been ruled the country till 1974, almost for 2,900 years, when the last king Haile Selassie was killed.

It is said that when Menelik was crowned the King of Ethiopia and was sent back to Ethiopia to rule, he brought the Ark of Covenant also with him. Ethiopian Church claims that it is still with them, but both the Ethiopian government and church deny all requests to view the alleged ark.

But the Biblical and Quranic accounts have no hint of any kind of physical relationship between the Queen of Sheba and Solomon.

A Palace Without the Gate
According to one legend, while traveling magically, Solomon noticed a magnificent palace to which there appeared to be no entrance. He ordered the demons to climb to the roof and see if they could discover any living being within the building but the demons only found an eagle, which said that it was 700 years old, but that it had never seen an entrance. An elder brother of the eagle, 900 years old, was then found, but it also did not know the entrance. The eldest brother of these two birds, which was 1,300 years old, then declared it had been informed by its father that the door was on the west side, but that it had become hidden by sand drifted by the wind. Having discovered the entrance, Solomon entered the palace and found an idol inside that had in its mouth a silver tablet saying in Greek (a language not thought by modern scholars to have existed 1000 years before the time of Solomon) that the statue was of Shaddad, the son of 'Ad, and that it had reigned over a million cities, rode on a million horses, had under it a million vassals and slew a million warriors, yet it could not resist the angel of death.

Solomon in One Thousand and One Nights Stories
--A special story comes in One Thousand and One Nights, that a Genie who had displeased King Solomon and was punished by being locked in a bottle and thrown into the sea. Since the bottle was sealed with Solomon's seal, the Genie was helpless to free himself, until freed many centuries later by a fisherman who discovered the bottle. Read this story here.

A bibliography has been prepared for the interested readers about Solomon And Solomon and the Queen of Sheba - See NEXT PAGE


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Created by Sushma Gupta on 3/15/06
Updated on 09/15/13